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Subject: Lechites, Name of Poland, Lviv, Lesser Poland, Kievan Rus'
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Cherven Towns as part of Poland until 981

The Lendians (Polish: Lędzianie) were a West Slavic 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 Eastern European geography was often vague, numerous speculations have accrued to their name, which include Lendzanenoi, Lendzaninoi, Lz’njn, Lachy, Landzaneh and Lendizi.


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 (ca. 959, as Λενζανηνοί), by Josippon (ca. 953, as Lz’njn), by the Primary Chronicle (ca. 981, as ляхи), by Ali al-Masudi (ca. 940, as Landzaneh).


The name "Lędzianie" (*lęd-jan-inъ) was derived from Proto-Slavic and Old-Polish word "lęda" meaning "field".[1][2] In modern Polish language the word "ląd" still exists, which means "land". The name of tribe Lędzianie comes from slash-and-burn agricultural technique which involved cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields.[3] Accordingly in this meaning a Lendian was a farmer "wood burner".[4]

The Lendians also left their mark in Polish names such as Lachy Sądeckie which was an endonym used by Poles in south-eastern Poland. The north-eastern region of Podlaskie (Podlasie) signifies "under the Poles", with the Lithuanian name for the region Palenkė having the same meaning.

Tribal area

Although the extent and borders of Lendians territories are still not clearly known, it is very likely that most of it was similar to the area of Ruthenian Voivodeship of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.

Constantine VII reports that in the year 944 Lendians were tributaries to the 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.[5]

Based on Constantine's report, it appears likely that the Lendians occupied the historical region of Chervona Rus, centred on Przemyśl.[6] This conclusion is at variance with the Primary Chronicle which implies that the region was settled by the White Croats. 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.[7]

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.[5] Attempts to positively identify the Lendians with the Buzhans[6] or Dulebes[8] lose in probability in light of these considerations.[5]

Lendians vs Liakhy

Lendians are often considered to be a tribe that the Ruthenian chronicles referred to as Liakhy (Лѧховѣ).

The Hypatian Codex however states the following:

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). According to Šafárik, the word Liakh has its origin in a generic name, Lech, deriving from a Slavic word for furrow, trough, or field.

According to Pyotr Lavrovsky, the contemporary "я" in the word Liakh ("лях") replaced a former nasal "ѧ" (Polish: ę, en). He links "лѧх" with "лѧдина" (hence Lendians) which in Russian means clearing or pochinok (type of a settlement). Clearing activities, during which sowing was conducted in places of cut down and burned forest, were common among the northwestern Slavs, hence, Lavrovsky concludes that in ancient times the words Liakh=Lech (лѧх = лях = лех) referred to a person who conducted clearings, a farmer, or a landowner.


Map showing an approximation location of Polish tribes. Lendians (Lędzianie) can be found in the bottom-right corner.

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.[9] 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.[10]

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".[11] 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.[12]

The region returned to 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, but was again ruled by Poland in 1069-1086; t 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 the Lendians were assimilated by East Slavs by that period. The most important factors contributing to their fate could be:

See also


  1. ^ Henryk Łowmiański "Historia Polski", PWN, Warszawa 1964
  2. ^ Henryk Łowmiański "Studia nad dziejami słowiańszczyzny Polski i Rusi w wiekach średnich", UAM, Poznań 1986
  3. ^ Henryk Łowmiański "Studia nad dziejami słowiańszczyzny Polski i Rusi w wiekach średnich", UAM, Poznań 1986
  4. ^ L.Krzywicki, "Spoleczeństwo pierwotne, jego rozmiary i wzrost", Warszawa 1937
  5. ^ a b c Alexander Nazarenko. Древняя Русь на международных путях: Междисциплинарные очерки культурных, торговых, политических связей IX-XII веков. Moscow, 2001. ISBN 5-7859-0085-8. Pages 401–404.
  6. ^ a b Labuda, G. Czechy, Rus i kraj Ledzian w drugiej potowie X wieku. // Labuda G. Studia nad poczatkami panstwa polskiego. Poznan, 1988. T. II. Pages 167–211.
  7. ^ Kotlarczyk J. Siedziby Chorwatów wschodnich. // Acta Archaeologica Carpathica. T. 12. Krakow, 1971. Pages 161–186.
  8. ^ Wasilewski T. Dulebowie - Lędzianie - Chorwaci. // Przegląd Historyczny. T. 67. Warsaw, 1976. Pages 181–193.
  9. ^ Die Chronik der Böhmen des Cosmas von Prag. Berlin, 1923 (MGH SS rer. Germ. NS, 2). I, 33–34. Page 60.
  10. ^ The entire vicinity of Krakow was to be administered from Prague: " orientem hos fluvios habet terminos: Bug scilicet et Ztir cum Cracouua civitate provintiaque cui Uuag nomen est cum omnibus regionibus ad predictam urbem pertinentibus, que Cracouua est".
  11. ^ Relacja Ibrahima Ibn Ja'kuba z podróży do krajów słowiańskich w przekazie Al-Bekriego. Krakow, 1946 (MPH NS. 1). Page 50.
  12. ^ The later Halych-Volhynian Chronicle, when describing King Danylo's expedition to Kalisz in 1227, remarks that "no other prince had entered so far into Poland, apart from Vladimir the Great, who had christened that land".
  13. ^ Въ лЂто 6534 [1026] - 6562 [1054]. Лаврентіївський літопис
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