Podlaskie Voivodeship (1513–1795)

The Podlaskie Voivodeship was formed in 1513 by Sigismund I the Old as a voivodeship in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, from a split off part of the Trakai Voivodeship.[2][3] After Lithuania's union with the Kingdom of Poland in 1569 and formation of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the voivodeship was transferred to the Polish Crown,[4][5] where it belonged to the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown.

Podlaskie Voivodeship
Latin: Palatinatus Podlachiae
Polish: Województwo Podlaskie
Voivodeship of Lithuania (1513–1569)
and then Poland (1569–1795)
Coat of arms of Podlaskie
Coat of arms

The Podlaskie Voivodeship in
the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1619.
 • MottoPar putat esse nihil (Latin for 'Par thinks there is nothing')[1]
• Established
24 October 1795
Political subdivisions3 lands, which were equivalent to counties
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Trakai Voivodeship
Białystok Department
West Galicia
Today part ofPoland
¹ South-eastern part of the pre-1566 territory of the voivodeship.



In ca. 1274, the historical Podlachia region was added to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. In 1391, the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila attempted to transfer the region to Duke Vytautas' brother-in-law, Janusz I of Warsaw, Duke of Masovia, but from 1413 on Podlaskie was managed as part of Lithuania's Trakai Voivodeship.


Map of the Podlaskie Voivodeship from 1795

After the administrative reform of 1514, Podlaskie was isolated from Trakai Voivodeship as a separate voivodeship, with the capital at the town of Drohiczyn. King of Poland Sigismund gave a privilege to Ioannes Sapieha [pl] to form a government of Podlaskie Voivodeship on 29 August 1513.[3] It originally consisted of the following former Trakai lands: Drohiczyn, Mielnik, Bielsk, and Brest Litovsk.[3] In 1566 based on Brest Litovsk lands, the separate Brest Litovsk Voivodeship was formed.[3]

In 1569, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania Sigismund II Augustus transferred Podlaskie voivodeship, together with the Kiev, Volhynian and Bracław Voivodeships to the Polish Crown. Podlaskie remained part of Poland until the Partitions of Poland.

Zygmunt Gloger gives the following description of Podlasie Voivodeship:

"Historic Podlasie stretched from north to south for some 30 miles, and was located between Mazovia and Rus principalities of Brześć and Grodno (...) It was a sparsely populated province, covered by dense forests, with four major rivers: the Biebrza, the Narew, the Bug and the Krzna. Due to population growth in Mazovia and Rus, Podlasie became a settlement area - Mazovians settled near Tykocin, Rajgród and Goniądz, while Ruthenians settled near Bielsk Podlaski. In northern districts of Podlasie, near Augustów, the Yotvingians resided (...) After the 1241 Mongol invasion of Poland, Podlasie turned into a desert, with population decimated by Asiatic hordes. Poles did not return here until the late 13th century, despite the fact that the province was already controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (...)

King Sigismund I the Old created Podlasie Voivodeship, which was part of Lithuania, but in 1569 was transferred to Poland, after the Union of Lublin (...) After the third partition of Poland, most of the voivodeship was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia. When in 1815, Congress Poland was divided into new provinces, the Podlasie Voivodeship was re-created, but it covered only a small part of Podlasie itself, together with areas belonging to historic Mazovia, Polesie and Lesser Poland. As a result, boundaries of Podlasie proper changed.

In the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, the voivodeship had two senators, who were the voivode and the castellan of Podlasie. It was divided into three lands, those of Drohiczyn, Bielsko and Mielnik. Each land had its own regional government, and elected two envoys to the Sejm. Furthermore, the voivodeship sent two deputies to the Lesser Poland Tribunal at Lublin or Radom".

Białystok in the mid-18th century



In 1795, most of it was taken over by the Kingdom of Prussia as part of New East Prussia, but these lands were later part of the Duchy of Warsaw. Then, parts of it belonged to Congress Poland or the Russian Empire until 1915.

Administrative Subdivisions


The Voivodeship consisted of the following ziemias:


Coat of arms of Podlaskie Voivodship in 1555 and 1720

The emblem of the region is connected by two arms of Polish and Lithuanian – the Polish Piast Eagle without a crown on a red field, and the Pogoń, depicting a Lithuanian knight.

Cities and towns


Cities and towns of the voivodeship after 1566:[6]

Bielsk County


Drohiczyn County


Mielnik County



Jan Zbigniew Ossoliński Voivode of the Podlaskie Voivodeship from 1605 and the Sandomierz Voivodeship from 1613, Poland

The governor of the Podlaskie Voivodeship was first located in Bielsk Podlaski, but later moved to Drohiczyn.

Voivodes included


  1. ^ Stefan Krzysztof Kuczyński, Polskie herby ziemskie. Geneza, treści, funkcje, Warszawa 1993, s. 215.
  2. ^ Volumina Legum T. II s. 77
  3. ^ a b c d e Mykhailovskyi, V. Podlaskie Voivodeship (ПІДЛЯСЬКЕ ВОЄВОДСТВО). Encyclopedia of History of Ukraine
  4. ^ Lukowski, Jerzy; Zawadzki, Hubert (20 September 2001). A Concise History of Poland. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521559171.
  5. ^ Riasanovsky, Nicholas Valentine (2000). A History of Russia. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512179-7.
  6. ^ Atlas historyczny Polski. Województwo podlaskie w drugiej połowie XVI wieku. Część I. Mapy, plany (in Polish). Warszawa: Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk. 2021. p. 1.

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