Ignas Jonynas

Historian, Deceased Person

1884 – 1954


Who was Ignas Jonynas?

Ignas Jonynas was a Lithuanian diplomat, historian, and university professor. As a diplomat he is known for negotiations with the Second Polish Republic and League of Nations regarding Vilnius Region. As a historian he specialized in the history of Lithuania in the 13–16th centuries. He published little, but had a formative influence on subsequent generations of historians.

From 1904, Jonynas studied history at the University of Moscow under Matvei Kuzmich Liubavskii, an expert on Lithuanian Metrica—medieval archives of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Liubavskii's critical approach to historical sources greatly influenced Jonynas. Jonynas participated in the Russian Revolution of 1905 and thus had to transfer to the University of Grenoble to study French language and literature. He also attended lectures on history at the University of Berlin. Acquitted by Russian courts he returned to Moscow to finish his studies. After graduation in 1911 he worked as a school teacher in Noginsk and Moscow until 1919.

At the end of World War I, he returned to Lithuania and joined the People's Commissariat of Education of the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic. After the failure of the Soviet government, he lived in Vilnius, worked as a school principal, and opposed Polish ambitions in the city. For a few months in mid-1920 he was the chief Lithuanian commissioner in the Vilnius Region. After the 1920 Żeligowski's Mutiny, during which Polish forces captured Vilnius, Jonynas moved to Kaunas and joined the control commission of the League of Nations to negotiate the dispute over the Vilnius Region. After the diplomatic efforts failed in 1922, Jonynas continued to be employed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania until 1929. From 1924 until his death he lectured at the University of Lithuania and Vilnius University, attaining professorship in 1932.

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Jan 24, 1884
  • Lithuania
  • Moscow State University
Jul 14, 1954

on July 23, 2013


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