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Ritterswerder (German for "knight's ait") was a short-lived wooden castle built by the Teutonic Knights in fall 1391. It was located on an island in the Neman River near Lampėdžiai, now part of the city of Kaunas.[1]

The Knights built the castle after they failed to capture Vilnius, capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, in a five-week siege in September–October 1390. It became the headquarters of Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great while he fought in the Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392) against his cousin Jogaila, King of Poland.[2] In spring 1392 Henry of Masovia, Bishop of Płock, arrived to the castle to secretly negotiate an agreement between Vytautas and Jogaila. Here about three weeks later Henry married Rymgajla, Vytautas' sister, amongst many rumors and speculations.[3] When the cousins reconciled, Vytautas turned against the Teutonic Knights and burned Ritterswerder and two other Teutonic castles on the Neman River before returning to Vilnius.[4]

During a campaign in 1394 the Knights attempted to rebuilt the castle but did not complete it as they were attacked by Lithuanians.[2] The Order decided to abandon the construction and besiege Vilnius for the second time.[5] When in 1404 Vytautas confirmed the Peace of Raciąż in Kaunas, the Grand Master issued several documents from the island but did not mention the castle.[3] The island has since disappeared as the river changed its course during the ages.[2] It is believed that the island is now a hill covered in pines on the right bank of the Neman River in Lampėdžiai.[3]


  1. (Lithuanian) Jonas Zinkus; et al., eds. (1985–1988). "Ritersverderis". Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija. 3. Vilnius, Lithuania: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 555. LCC 86232954.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Ritterswerder". Encyclopedia Lituanica. IV. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. p. 502. LCC 74-114275.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Ritterswerder". Lietuvių enciklopedija. XXV. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. p. 348. LCC 55020366.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1978). Lietuvos istorija iki Vytauto Didžiojo mirties. Rome: Lietuvių katalikų mokslo akademija. p. 308. LCC 79346776.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. Urban, William (2006). Samogitian Crusade. Chicago: Lithuanian Research and Studies Center. pp. 208–209. ISBN 0-929700-56-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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