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Duchy of Belz or principality of Belz was a Rus duchy, formed in the late 12th century, that in the late 14th century was incorporated into Poland as the Bełz Voivodeship.
The duchy formed in 1170 because of the feudal fragmentation of Kievan Rus'. Throughout most of its history, it was dependent on the stronger, neighboring principalities. At first, it was dependent on the the Duchy of Vladimir. In the early 13th century, Alexander Vsevolodovich, the most notable of the Dukes of Belz, tried to unite nearby fragmented territories, but his bid for local dominance was thwarted and in 1234 Daniel of Galicia evicted Alexander from Belz and incorporated Belz into the Duchy of Galicia–Volhynia, which would control Belz till 1340. Soon afterwards, in 1240 and 1241, it was ravaged by the Mongols, as were most other Rus principalities; the town was burned, the local castle destroyed and locals had to recognize the Mongol sovereignty. The Mongol influence waned in the following decades, because of the decline of the Mongol Empire and Pax Mongolica.
Early in the 14th century, the Duchy was inherited by Boleslaw-Yuri II of Galicia. He left no heirs, and the Duchy was in turn inherited by a prince Yuri, son of Narimantas (Jerzy Narymuntowicz) of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The period of Yuri's rule of Belz (1340-1377) saw the Galicia–Volhynia Wars; Belz was besieged several times (in 1351, 1352 and 1355). From 1378 to 1387 it fell into the sphere of influence of the Kingdom of Hungary, as in 1377 Belz was captured by Louis I of Hungary; for several years, the duchy was governed in Louis's name by prince Władysław Opolczyk. At that time, Poland was in a brief union with Hungary, but in 1387, after the end of the union, Belz was taken by Queen Jadwiga of Kingdom of Poland.
At first it was part of another Polish fiefdom, the Duchy of Masovia, as in 1388 the king of Poland, Władysław Jagiełło, granted Belz to Siemowit IV, Duke of Masovia, for his recognition of Masovia as a fiefdom of Poland and as a dowry for Siemowit's marriage with Jagiełło's sister, Alexandra. In 1462, after the death of Władysław II of Płock, the last of Siemowit's IV direct descendants, Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland attempted to incorporate the entire Duchy of Masovia to Poland; eventually he succeeded only in incorporating the Duchy of Belz into the administrative structure of Poland as the Bełz Voivodeship (palatinate). Eventually, the Duchy of Masovia was incorporated in 1526. Belz remained part of Poland (later, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth) till its partitions in the late 18th century.
The duchy's capital was in Belz.
- Vasylko Romanovich (1207–1211)
- Alexander Vsevolodovich (?-1234)
- Yuri, son of Narimantas (1340-1377/1378)
- Siemowit IV, Duke of Masovia (1388-1426)
- Kazimierz II of Belz (1426-1442, till 1434 with brothers (Władysław I of Płock, Siemowit V, Trojden II (d.1427)))
- Władysław II of Płock (1455-1462)
- ^ a b c d e (Polish) Bełskie księstwo entry in S. Orgelbranda encyklopedja powszechna, Volume 2, Wydawn. Towarzystwa Akcyjnego odlewni czcionek i drukarni S. Orgelbranda synów, 1898, Google Print, p.298-299 (public domain)
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l (Polish) Grzegorz Rąkowski, Przewodnik krajoznawczo-historyczny po Ukrainie Zachodniej: Ziemia lwowska, Oficyna Wydawnicza "Rewasz", 2007, ISBN 838918866X, Google Print, p.172-174
- ^ a b Paul R. Magocsi, The roots of Ukrainian nationalism: Galicia as Ukraine's Piedmont, University of Toronto Press, 2002, ISBN 0802047386, Google Print, p.7
- ^ (Polish) Władysław Smoleński, Szkice z dziejów szlachty mazowieckiej', 1908, Google Print, p.129 (public domain)
- ^ (Polish) Ziemowit IV entry in S. Orgelbranda encyklopedja powszechna, Volume 28, Wydawn. Towarzystwa Akcyjnego odlewni czcionek i drukarni S. Orgelbranda synów, Google Print, 577-578 (public domain)
- ^ (Polish) Antoni Porchaska, Hołdy Mazowieckie 1386-1430, Nakł. Polskiej Akademii Umiejętności; skł. gł. w księg. G. Gebethnera, 1905, Google Print, p.4 (public domain)