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The Lendians (Polish : Lędzianie) were a Lechitic tribe who lived in the area of East Lesser Poland and Cherven Towns between the 7th and 11th centuries. Since they were documented primarily by foreign authors whose knowledge of Central and East Europe geography was often vague, they were recorded by different names, which include Lendzanenoi, Lendzaninoi, Lz’njn, Lachy, Landzaneh, Lendizi, Licicaviki and Litziki.



Sources mentioning Lendians:

Annales regni Francorum (805), Annales Mettenses (805), Annales Fuldenses (805)Lechum
Bavarian Geographer (843) – Lendizi – (33) on the map
Josippon (Jewish chronicler), 890–953) – Lz’njn
Constantine VII (912–959) – Lendzanenoi, Lendzaninoi, Litziki
Al-Masudi (Arabian chronicler, c. 940) – Landzaneh
Widukind of Corvey (Saxon chronicler, 10th century) – Licicaviki
Nestor the Chronicler (Kievan Rus' chronicler, 11th century under the date of 981) – Lachy
Kinamos (Byzantine chronicler, 11th century) – Lechoi

In Latin historiography the Bavarian Geographer (generally dated to the mid-9th century) attests that Lendizi habent civitates XCVIII, that is, that the "Lendizi" had 98 gords, or settlements. The Lendians are mentioned, among others, by De administrando imperio (c. 959, as Λενζανηνοί), by Josippon (c. 953, as Lz’njn), by the Primary Chronicle (c. 981, as ляхи), by Ali al-Masudi (c. 940, as Landzaneh).

They are also identified to the Licicaviki from the 10th-century chronicle Res gestae saxonicae sive annalium libri tres by Widukind of Corvey, who recorded that Mieszko I of Poland (960–992) ruled over the Sclavi tribe. The same name is additionally considered to be related to the oral tradition of Michael of Zahumlje from DAI that his family originates from the unbaptized inhabitants of the river Vistula called as Litziki, [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] and the recount by Thomas the Archdeacon in his Historia Salonitana (13th century), where seven or eight tribes of nobles, who he called Lingones, arrived from Poland and settled in Croatia under Totila's leadership. [7] [8] [9] [10]


The name "Lędzianie" (*lęd-jan-inъ) derives from the Proto-Slavic and Old Polish word "lęda", meaning "field". [11] [12] In modern Polish, the word "ląd" means "land". The Lędzianie tribe's name comes from their use of slash-and-burn agriculture, which involved cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields. [13] Accordingly, in this meaning Lendians were a woodland-burning farmers, [14] or "inhabitants of fields". [15] Several European nations source their ethnonym for Poles, and hence Poland, from the name of Lendians: Lithuanians (lenkai, Lenkija) and Hungarians (Lengyelország). [16]


Lendians are often considered to be a tribe that the Ruthenian chronicles referred to as Liakhy (Лѧховѣ). The Hypatian Codex however states the following:

Словѣне же ѡви пришєдшє и сѣдоша на Вислѣ и прозвашасѧ Лѧховѣ а ѿ тѣхъ Лѧховъ прозвашасѧ Полѧне Лѧховѣ друзии Лютицѣ инии Мазовшане а нии Поморѧне

Which translates as: "The Slavs who came and settled along Wisla and were called Liakhove from whom descended Lechitic Polans, Lutici, Masovians, and Pomeranians."

After the Polish Piast dynasty united many West Slavic tribes, the ethnonym Liakhy was used to refer to all those tribes and subsequently to the newly established Polish people. It was mainly an exonym — rarely used by Poles themselves in historic times, with the exception of the Lachy Sadeckie — though one of the Old Czech Chronicles states that a legendary person named Lech was the founder of Poland (see Lech, Čech, and Rus).

Tribal area

Map showing an approximation location of Polish tribes. Lendians (Ledzianie) are found at the bottom-right corner. Plemiona polskie.png
Map showing an approximation location of Polish tribes. Lendians (Lędzianie) are found at the bottom-right corner.

Constantine VII reports that in the year 944 Lendians were tributaries to the Kievan Rus' and that their monoxylae sailed under prince Wlodzislav downstream to Kiev to take part in the naval expeditions against Byzantium. This may be taken as an indication that the Lendians had access to some waterways leading to the Dnieper, e.g., the Styr River. [17] Based on Constantine's and Nestor's report, Gerard Labuda concludes that the Lendians occupied the area between the Upper Bug, Styr, and Upper Dniestr rivers in the east and the Wisłoka river in the west. [18] According to Leontii Voitovych, the Lendians lived east of Vistulans and south of Mazovians, more specifically, in the area between Sandomierz and Lublin, including settlements till the Bug river, indicating they at least partly occupied the historical region of Cherven Cities until 981, but possibly excluding Przemyśl.[ need quotation to verify ] [19] It indicates that through their land crossed an important route that connected Prague, Krakow, Kiev and the Khazars. [16] [20]

White Croats

This conclusion is at variance with the Primary Chronicle, which implies that near region were settled the White Croats in 992. In order to remove the perceived discrepancy, some Polish historians proposed alternative readings of the text in question, which would move the location of the White Croats considerably to the east, for instance, to the Vorskla River basin. This alleged discrepancy can be easily explained with the fact that Chervona Rus extended over a vast territory between Carpathian Mountains and Przemyśl on the south (inhabited by White Croats) and Volhinia on the north (inhabited by Lendians). [21] The uncertainty of extant 10th-century descriptions of the upper Dniester and Bug River region makes it plausible to infer that the White Croats, Lendians and probably some other peoples shared this vast territory along the border of modern-day Ukraine and Poland. [17] Attempts to positively identify the Lendians with the Buzhans, [22] or Dulebes, [23] lose in probability in light of these considerations. [17] Whether the Cherven Cities were inhabited by the Lendians or White Croats, and were independent from both Poland and Kievan Rus', it is part of a wider ethnographic dispute between Polish and Ukrainian-Russian historians. [24] [25] [26] Some Polish historians like Henryk Łowmiański argued that the Lendians, and Vistulans, were tribes of White Croats. [27] [28]


Cherven Cities, inhabited by the Lendians, as part of Poland under the rule of Mieszko I until 981 AD. Polska 960 - 992.png
Cherven Cities, inhabited by the Lendians, as part of Poland under the rule of Mieszko I until 981 AD.

In pre-Slavic times the region was populated by the Lugii and Anarti, associated with the Przeworsk and Puchov cultures. They were followed by East Germanic tribes, the Goths, and Vandals. After these vacated the territory, the West Slavs (Lendians and Vistulans) moved in. Around 833 the land of the Lendians was incorporated into the Great Moravian state. Upon the invasion of the Hungarian tribes into the heart of Central Europe around 899, the Lendians submitted to their authority (Masudi). In the first half of the 10th century, they paid tribute to Igor I of Kiev (Constantine VII).

From the mid-950s onward, the Lendians were politically anchored in the Bohemian sphere of influence. Cosmas of Prague relates that the land of Krakow was controlled by the Přemyslids of Bohemia until 999. [29] His report is buttressed by the foundation charter of the Archdiocese of Prague (1086), which traces the eastern border of the archdiocese, as established in 973, along the Bug and Styr (or Stryi) rivers. [30] Abraham ben Jacob, who travelled in Eastern Europe in 965, remarks that Boleslaus II of Bohemia ruled the country "stretching from the city of Prague to the city of Krakow". [31] At one point around 960, the region seems to have been taken over by Mieszko I of Poland. This may be inferred from the Primary Chronicle, which reports that Vladimir I of Kiev conquered the "Cherven towns" from the Poles in 981. [32]

The region returned to the Polish sphere of influence in 1018, when Boleslaw I of Poland took the Cherven towns on his way to Kiev. Yaroslav I of Kiev reconquered the borderland in 1031 remained part of Kievan Rus and its successor state of Halych-Volhynia until 1340 when it was once again taken over by Kingdom of Poland under Casimir III of Poland. It is presumed that most of the Lendians were assimilated by the East Slavs, with a small portion remaining tied to West Slavs and Poland. The most important factors contributing to their fate were linguistic and ethnic similarity, influence of Kievan Rus' and Orthodox Christianity, deportations to central Ukraine by Yaroslav I the Wise after 1031 [33] and colonization of their lands by Ruthenians fleeing west during Mongol assaults on Ruthenia during reign of Danylo of Halych.

See also

Related Research Articles

Mieszko I was the ruler of Poland from about 960 until his death in 992 AD as well as the founder of the first, independent Polish state- Duchy of Poland. He was a member of the Piast dynasty, a son of Siemomysł, and a grandson of Lestek. He was the father of Bolesław I the Brave and of Gunhild of Wenden. Most sources make Mieszko I the father of Sigrid the Haughty, a Scandinavian queen, the grandfather of Canute the Great and the great-grandfather of Gunhilda of Denmark, Canute the Great's daughter and wife of Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor.


The Severians or Severyans or Siverians were a tribe or tribal confederation of early East Slavs occupying areas to the east of the middle Dnieper River and the Danube River. They are mentioned by the Bavarian Geographer, Emperor Constantine VII (956–959), the Khazar ruler Joseph, and in the Primary Chronicle (1113).

Bavarian Geographer

The epithet "Bavarian Geographer" is the conventional name for the anonymous author of a short Latin medieval text containing a list of the tribes in Central-Eastern Europe, headed Descriptio civitatum et regionum ad septentrionalem plagam Danubii.

Red Ruthenia Historic Region in Central and Eastern Europe

Red Ruthenia or Red Rus' (Latin: Ruthenia Rubra; Russia Rubra; Ukrainian: Червона Русь, romanized: Chervona Rus'; Polish: Ruś Czerwona, Ruś Halicka; Russian: Червонная Русь, romanized: Chervonnaya Rus'; Romanian: Rutenia Roșie) is a term used since the Middle Ages for the south-western principalities of the Kievan Rus', namely the Principality of Peremyshl and the Principality of Belz. Nowadays the region comprises parts of western Ukraine and adjoining parts of south-eastern Poland. It has also sometimes included parts of Lesser Poland, Podolia, "Right-bank Ukraine" and Volhynia. Centred on Przemyśl (Peremyshl) and Belz, it has included major cities such as: Chełm, Zamość, Rzeszów, Krosno and Sanok, as well as Lviv and Ternopil.

Ruthenian Voivodeship

The Ruthenian Voivodeship (Latin: Palatinatus russiae, Polish: województwo ruskie was a voivodeship of the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland from 1434 until the 1772 First Partition of Poland with a center in the city of Lviv. Together with a number of other voivodeships of southern and eastern part of the Kingdom of Poland, it formed Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown, with its capital city in Kraków. Following the Partitions of Poland, most of Ruthenian Voivodeship, except for its northeastern corner, was annexed by the Habsburg Monarchy, as part of the province of Galicia. Today, the former Ruthenian Voivodeship is divided between Poland and Ukraine.

Cherven Cities

The Cherven Cities or Cherven Grods, often literally translated as Red Cities, Red Forts or Red Boroughs, was a point of dispute between the Kingdom of Poland and Kievan Rus' at the turn of 10th and 11th centuries, with both sides claiming their rights to the land.


The Drevlians were a tribe of Early East Slavs between the 6th and the 10th century, which inhabited the territories of Polesia and Right-bank Ukraine, west of the eastern Polans and along the lower reaches of the rivers Teteriv, Uzh, Ubort, and Stviga. To the west, the Drevlians' territories reached the Sluch River, where the Volynians and Buzhans lived. To the north, the Drevlians' neighbors were the Dregovichs.

Gerard Labuda Polish historian

Gerard Labuda was a Polish historian whose main fields of interest were the Middle Ages and the Western Slavs. He was born in Kashubia. He lived and died in Poznań, Poland.


The Vistulans, or Vistulanians, were an early medieval Lechitic tribe inhabiting the western part of modern Lesser Poland.

White Croats

White Croats, or simply known as Croats, were a group of Early Slavic tribes who lived among other West and East Slavic tribes in the area of modern-day Lesser Poland, Galicia, Western Ukraine, and Northeastern Bohemia. They were documented primarily by foreign medieval authors and managed to preserve their ethnic name until the early 20th century, primarily in Lesser Poland. It is considered that they were assimilated into Czech, Polish and Ukrainian ethnos, and are one of the predecessors of the Rusyn people. In the 7th century, some White Croats migrated from their homeland, White Croatia, to the territory of modern-day Croatia in Southeast Europe along the Adriatic Sea, forming the ancestors of the South Slavic ethnic group of Croats.

White Croatia

White Croatia is the region from which part of the White Croats supposedly emigrated to the Western Balkans. Some historians believe that, after the migration of the White Croats in the 7th century, their former homeland gradually lost its primacy and was influenced by other Slavic peoples, such as Czechs and Poles. Others say there was never a distinct polity known as White Croatia. According to the medieval Chronicle of the Priest of Duklja, another area referred to as White Croatia was located along with Red Croatia in Dalmatia. In the Slavic tradition, the colour white designates "north", thus the name of the region means "Northern Croatia". The area to the west of White Croatia was known as White Serbia.

Henryk Łowmiański

Henryk Łowmiański was a Polish historian and academic who was an authority on the early history of the Slavic and Baltic people. A researcher of the ancient history of Poland, Lithuania and the Slavs in general, Łowmiański was the author of many works, including most prominently the six-volume monumental monograph Początki Polski.

Lechites Speakers of Lechitic West Slavic languages in the region of Poland

Lechites, also known as the Lechitic tribes, is a name given to certain West Slavic tribes, which inhabited modern-day Poland and were speakers of the Lechitic languages. Distinct from the Czech–Slovak subgroup, they are the closest ancestors of ethnic Poles and the extinct Pomeranians and Polabians.

Poland in the Early Middle Ages

The most important phenomenon that took place within the lands of Poland in the Early Middle Ages, as well as other parts of Central Europe was the arrival and permanent settlement of the West Slavic or Lechitic peoples. The Slavic migrations to the area of contemporary Poland started in the second half of the 5th century AD, about a half century after these territories were vacated by Germanic tribes fleeing from the Huns. The first waves of the incoming Slavs settled the vicinity of the upper Vistula River and elsewhere in the lands of present southeastern Poland and southern Masovia. Coming from the east, from the upper and middle regions of the Dnieper River, the immigrants would have had come primarily from the western branch of the early Slavs known as Sclaveni, and since their arrival are classified as West Slavs and Lechites, who are the closest ancestors of Poles.

Kievan Rus Former federation of East Slavic and Finnic tribes

Kievan Rus' or Kyivan Rus' was a loose federation of East Slavic and Uralic peoples in Europe from the late 9th to the mid-13th century, under the reign of the Rurik dynasty, founded by the Varangian prince Rurik. The modern nations of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine all claim Kievan Rus' as their cultural ancestors, with Belarus and Russia deriving their names from it. The Rurik dynasty would continue to rule parts of Rus' until the 16th century with the Tsardom of Russia. At its greatest extent, in the mid-11th century, it stretched from the White Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south and from the headwaters of the Vistula in the west to the Taman Peninsula in the east, uniting the majority of East Slavic tribes.

The Zeriuani or Zeruiani was an unknown Slavic tribe mentioned by the 9th-century Bavarian Geographer (BG). It states that the Zeruiani "which is so great a realm that from it, as their tradition relates, all the tribes of the Slavs are sprung and trace their origin".

Lech was a Bohemian tribal ruler, one of the earliest named rulers in early Slavic Bohemia. The first reference to him is in the 805 entry of Annales Regni Francorum when Charles, son of Charlemagne, was sent to Bohemia to pacify the Slavs and according to the chronicle "laid waste to the country and killed their leader named Lecho". It is doubtful that Lecho ruled the whole territory now known as Bohemia. It probably consisted of more or less independent tribes, perhaps with some vassalage relationships with the emerging Great Moravia. The creation of early medieval Bohemian state probably occurred no sooner than at the end of the 9th century under Bořivoj, Spytihněv or perhaps even later dukes of the Přemyslid dynasty.

Włodzisław or Władysław was a Duke of Lendians.

Znetalici was a Slavic tribe mentioned by the 9th-century Bavarian Geographer. They are mentioned as inhabiting 74 civitates (settlements).

Polish–Bohemian War (990)

The Polish–Bohemian War or Polish–Czech War was a conflict in Europe in 990 between the Polish duke Mieszko I of the Duchy of Poland and the Bohemian duke Boleslaus II of the Duchy of Bohemia. It ended with the Bohemians' defeat and with Poland acquiring the territory of Silesia.


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