Ethnicity Lithuanian, Ruthenian
Current region Eastern Orthodox
Place of origin Olelko Volodymyrovych
Members Semen Olelkovych
Mykhailo Olelkovych
Yurii Olelkovych
Connected families Radziwill
Estate Duchy of Slutsk
Name origin and meaning Olelko Volodymyrovych

The Olelkovich (Polish: Olelkowicze) family was a 15th–16th-century noble family from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Their main possession was the Duchy of Slutsk–Kapyl; therefore, they are sometimes known as Slutskys. They hailed from the Lithuanian Gediminids (male line) and Russian Rurikids (female line). According to the 1528 military census, the family was the fourth wealthiest magnate family in the Grand Duchy.[1] However, its influence declined after the Union of Lublin (1569). The last member of the family was Sophia Olelkovich Radziwill (1585–1612), wife of Janusz Radziwiłł and saint of the Eastern Orthodox Church. After her death, considerable wealth and the Duchy of Slutsk passed to the Radziwiłł family.[1]

Family history

Olelko Volodymyrovych (died in 1455)[2] was the ancestor of the family. He was a son of Vladimir, Duke of Kiev, and grandson of Algirdas, Grand Duke of Lithuania.[3] Alexander inherited his father's domains in the Duchy of SlutskKapyl and in 1440 restored family's dynastic interest in the Principality of Kiev, which was confiscated from Vladimir in 1395 after a power struggle with Grand Duke Vytautas and given to Skirgaila.[4] Alexander married Anastasia, daughter of Sophia of Lithuania and Vasily I of Moscow, and had two sons Semen (died in 1505) and Mikhailo Olelkovich (died in 1481).[1]

Semen married Maria, a daughter of Jonas Goštautas. In mid-1450s Goštautas planned to depose Grand Duke Casimir IV Jagiellon and to install his son-in-law Semen Olelkovich.[5] Semen inherited the Principality of Kiev, but after his death it was converted into the Kiev Voivodeship. His descendants continued to claim the rights in the region, but the voivodeship was ruled by appointed officials (voivodes) from other noble families. The loss of Kiev could be attributed to Olelkovich's faith (Eastern Orthodoxy rather than Catholicism) and their close kinship with the Grand Princes of Moscow, who threatened Lithuania's eastern borders.[6] However, the Duchy of Slutsk–Kapyl was not converted into a powiat and remained in the family's hands. Disappointed by such politics, Mikhailo Olelkovich organized opposition to Casimir IV and even attempted a coup in 1481. The plot was discovered, possibly by voivode of Kiev Ivan Chodkiewicz, and Mikhailo was executed.[6] In 1471, Mikhailo was also involved in a brief affair when Novgorod Republic invited him to become its ruler in a bid to break away from Moscow's influence. However, the attempt ended in a decisive defeat in the Battle of Shelon.[7]

After Mikhailo's death, the Olelkovichs did not occupy any state offices. They submitted their bids for the throne of the Grand Duke in 1492 and 1572, but gained little support.[1] Semen II moved his court from Kapyl to Slutsk thus establishing the so-called Slutsk line.[3] His descendants are often known as Slutsky. During the Muscovite–Lithuanian Wars, Semen also won a September 1502 battle near Babruysk against the Crimean Khanate.[8] Yuri I also had possessions in Veisiejai, where he funded a Catholic church, and Liškiava.[1]

Family tree

Vladimir, son of Algirdas
Olelko Volodymyrovych
(died in 1455)
Ivan of Bely
(died after 1445)
Andrei Vladimirovich
Simeon I Olelkovich
(died in 1470)
Mikhailo Olelkovich
(died in 1481)
(wife of Stephen III of Moldavia)
TheodosiaBelsky family
(wife of Mikhail III of Tver)
AleksanderSimeon II Olelkovich
(died in 1505)
Yuri I Olelkovich
(died in 1542)
Yuri II
(died in 1579)
Simeon IIISophia[9]
(wife of Yurii Chodkiewicz)
Yuri III
(died in 1586)
Simeon IV
(died in 1592)
(died in 1591)
Sophia Olelkovich


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 (Lithuanian) Jonas Zinkus; et al., eds. (1985–1988). "Olelkaičiai". Tarybų Lietuvos enciklopedija. 3. Vilnius: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 237. LCC 86232954.
  2. Olelko Volodymyrovych at the Encyclopedia of Ukraine
  3. 1 2 Simas Sužiedėlis, ed. (1970–1978). "Olelko family". Encyclopedia Lituanica. IV. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 113–114. LCC 74-114275.
  4. Petrauskas, Rimvydas; Jūratė Kiaupienė (2009). Lietuvos istorija. Nauji horizontai: dinastija, visoumenė, valstybė (in Lithuanian). IV. Baltos lankos. p. 68. ISBN 978-9955-23-239-1.
  5. Petrauskas, Rimvydas (2003). Lietuvos diduomenė XIV a. pabaigoje – XV a. (in Lithuanian). Aidai. pp. 115, 189. ISBN 9955-445-67-X.
  6. 1 2 Kirkienė, Genutė (2008). "Chodkevičių giminės ištakos". LDK politikos elito galingieji: Chodkevičiai XV–XVI amžiuje (in Lithuanian). Vilniaus universiteto leidykla. p. 90. ISBN 978-9955-33-359-3.
  7. Naroll, Raoul; Vern L. Bullough; Frada Naroll (1974). Military deterrence in history: a pilot cross-historical survey. SUNY Press. p. 131. ISBN 0-87395-047-X.
  8. Batūra, Romas (September 2006). "Klecko mūšiui – 500 metų" (PDF). Kariūnas (in Lithuanian). 3 (90): 21.
  9. Kirkienė, Genutė (2008). "Chodkevičių giminės ištakos". LDK politikos elito galingieji: Chodkevičiai XV–XVI amžiuje (in Lithuanian). Vilniaus universiteto leidykla. p. 146. ISBN 978-9955-33-359-3.
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