Daumantas of Pskov

Daumantas or Dovmont[1] (Russian: Довмонт, Belarusian: Даўмонт, Christian name Timothy[2] (Russian: Тимофей), ; c. 1240? – May 17, 1299), was a Lithuanian prince best remembered as a military leader of the Principality of Pskov between 1266 and 1299. During his term in office, Pskov became de facto independent from Novgorod.

Fresco of Dovmont in the Trinity Cathedral in Pskov
Our Lady of Mirozh with Daumantas and his wife Maria from the Mirozhsky Monastery

He is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church with his feast day observed on May 20.[3]

In LithuaniaEdit

Until 1265, Daumantas[4] was Duke of Nalšia, a northern province of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and was an ally of King Mindaugas. Mindaugas' and Daumantas' wives were sisters. In spite of the family relationship, Daumantas chose to ally himself with Mindaugas' nephew Treniota, who was Duke of Samogitia. Treniota had been steadily increasing his personal power within the kingdom as he tried to spark an all-Balts rebellion against the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order.

In 1263, Daumantas assassinated Mindaugas and two of his sons. It has been suggested that he acted in collusion with Treniota. As a result, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania relapsed into paganism for another one hundred and twenty years. Some Russian chronicles say that Daumantas' motive for the murder was to further his power and get revenge: after Queen Morta's death c. 1262, Mindaugas took Daumantas' wife for himself. When Mindaugas dispatched a large army towards Bryansk, Daumantas participated in the expedition, but suddenly returned and killed Mindaugas and two of his sons.

According to the Bychowiec Chronicle (a late and not very reliable source), Daumantas received the title of Duke of Utena as his reward.

When Vaišelga, the eldest son of Mindaugas, entered into an alliance with Shvarn of Halych-Volhynia in 1264, he was able to take revenge for his father's death by killing Treniota. Daumantas and his followers fled to Pskov.

Ruler of PskovEdit

Daumantas on the Millennium of Russia monument in Veliky Novgorod

After arriving in Pskov, Daumantas was baptized into Eastern Orthodoxy, assumed the Christian name Timotheus (Russian: Timofei) and married a daughter of Dmitry of Pereslavl, son of Alexander Nevsky. He led Pskovian armies against the Lithuanians and defeated them on the bank of the Western Dvina, proceeded to devastate the land of Duke Gerdenis, and captured his two sons and wife. Daumantas' daring spirit, his friendly ways, and the success of his military enterprise persuaded the Pskovians to elect him as their knyaz, or military leader.

Daumantas' election was never sanctioned by the Novgorod Republic, which had traditionally controlled the Pskovian affairs. Prince Yaroslav of Novgorod planned to punish the Pskovians for their willfulness and oust Daumantas from the city, but the Novgorodians refused to support Yaroslav's campaign and, joining their forces with the Pskovians, invaded Lithuania the following year. Daumantas was again in command and returned to Pskov in triumph.

In January 1268 the Pskovian-Novgorodian alliance was cemented when they invaded Danish Estonia together. The Pskovians, led by Daumantas, joined their forces with the Novgorodians led by Alexander Nevsky's son Dmitry and looted the Danish Estonian countryside, but were defeated by the combined forces of vassals of the Danish crown, Livonian Knights and local Estonian militia[5] in the Battle of Rakvere (February 18, 1268, near modern-day Rakvere). The following year Master of the Livonian Order, Otto von Lutterberg, led the Livonian forces to the territory of Pskov, burned Izborsk castle and laid siege to Pskov itself, but Daumantas, after receiving support from the Novgorodians, managed to conclude a truce with the Livonians.[6]

Later years and legacyEdit

Daumantas Town in Pskov.

In 1270, Yaroslav again attempted to interfere into Pskovian affairs and to replace Daumantas with a puppet ruler. The Pskovians stood up for Daumantas, forcing Yaroslav to abandon his plans. In order to strengthen his position, Daumantas married Dmitry's daughter, Maria. In 1282, when his father-in-law was ousted from Vladimir to Koporye, Daumantas made a sally into Ladoga, where he captured Dmitry's treasury from the Novgorodians and transported it to Koporye. Thereupon his name disappears from the chronicles for some seventeen years.

In 1299, the Livonian Order unexpectedly invaded north-western Russia and laid siege to Pskov. Having expelled them from the republic, Daumantas abruptly lapsed into illness and died, survived by his alleged son, David of Hrodna. His body was buried in the Trinity Cathedral, where his sword and personal effects would be on exhibit until the 20th century.

According to Pskovian chronicles, no ruler was loved by the citizens of Pskov more than Daumantas; they particularly praise his military skills and wisdom. After the Russian Orthodox Church canonized him, he came to be regarded as a patron saint of Pskov (on par with Vsevolod Mstislavich). The fortifications erected by Dovmont in Pskov's downtown became known as the "Daumantas Town". A church to the memory of the blessed prince Daumantas-Timofei was consecrated there in 1574.

In the 1990s, Russian author Sergey Kalitin wrote a novel, Hour of the Wolf, about the life of Daumantas and his transition from a "minor Lithuanian noble" to Prince of Pskov.


  1. ^ For the sake of simplicity, the original Lithuanian personal name Daumantas is used in the first part of this article concerning his activities in Lithuania, while the Russian version Dovmont is used in his affairs connected with Pskov.
  2. ^ "Orthodox Lithuania". Orthodox England. Retrieved 2007-12-17. St Dovmont or Timothy
  3. ^ (in Greek) Ὁ Ἅγιος Τιμόθεος τοῦ Πσκώφ. 20 Μαΐου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
  4. ^ .S.C.Rowell. Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe.1994, p.178
  5. ^ The Livonian rhymed chronicle. Smith, Jerry Christopher, 1941-, Urban, William L., 1939- (2nd ed., rev. and enl ed.). Chicago, IL: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. 2001. pp. 77–78. ISBN 0929700341. OCLC 48921064.CS1 maint: others (link)
  6. ^ The Livonian rhymed chronicle. Smith, Jerry Christopher, 1941-, Urban, William L., 1939- (2nd ed., rev. and enl ed.). Chicago, IL: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. 2001. pp. 78–79. ISBN 0929700341. OCLC 48921064.CS1 maint: others (link)
  • Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Daumantas". Encyclopedia Lituanica (in Lithuanian). II. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 39–40. OCLC 95559.
  • Ivinskis, Zenonas (1937). "Daumantai". In Vaclovas Biržiška (ed.). Lietuviškoji enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). VI. Kaunas: Spaudos Fondas. pp. 172–177. OCLC 1012854.
  • Entries for the years 1265-1299 in The Pskov 3rd Chronicle. provide information on Daumantas as the ruler of Pskov.