Procedural Aspects of the Work of Land and Castle Courts in Samogitia (1600–1630)

  • Darius Vilimas
Keywords: manuscript books of Samogitian castle and land courts, juridical culture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Third Statute of Lithuania, nobles of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, history of Samogitia


Juridical culture of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania is a multi-faceted phenomenon in the life of a “nation of nobles” of that time and it needs to be examined on a broader scale. In addition to other collections, the main part of a set of historical sources is stored at the Manuscript Department of the Vilnius University Library. Seventy-four manuscript books of Samogitian courts (1600–1630) have survived to the present time: two books of castle courts and 72 books of land courts. If the books of castle courts serve as an example of just a fragmentary activity, the books of the land courts are highly multisided and represent diverse aspects of the life of the nobles. The books of the land court of Samogitia of that period are divided into the groups of court acts (series A) and the court cases (series B). For the research into juridical culture, the books of the court case group, of which there are 47 units and which are further subdivided into the subgroups of proceedings and currents affairs, are of the greater interest. The Samogitian court books offer a sufficient basis of sources for the examination of the judicial culture of the nobility at the beginning of the seventeen century. It is therefore highly likely that research will be productive and will reveal intriguing shifts in the mentality of the Samogitian nobles.