Some Aspects of the Customs Service’s Practical Work on the Lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Larysa Zherebtsova
Candidate of Historical Sciences (Ph.D. in History), Associate Professor,
Oles Honchar Dnipro National University (Ukraine, Dnipro),
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Download PDF



In article some aspects of practical work of customs service on the lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (henceforce – GDL) are considered. At rent of customs duties the staff of customs (not necessarily everyone) consisted from: customs officer, companions and servants, clerk. 1) The customs officer headed customs, examined goods, collected duties, organized work of customs and selected the personnel. At system of management of the customs duties, customs headed special officer – [spravtsa]. This term appears in the 1530-ies in connection with carrying out in 1536 by Queen Bona the customs reform. 2) Companions or servants – helped the main customs officer, represented his interests on places at joint rent, acted as observers at collection of duties, operated customs from his name, and also carried out functions of customs guards. 3) Clerks – made registers of goods which passed customs inspection and wrote down the size of duty rose from them.

Customs officers were special category of civil servants who irrespective of the ethnic origin had judicial immunity from local government and were subject to court of the grand duke and land treasurer [podskarbii zemskii] since 1531. Land treasurer acquired the right to judge customs officers and their servants, to accept at them reports each half a year, to write out receipts [kvitatsiya], and also to separate customs officers from customs duties in case of not performance of a lease terms. Land treasurer only supervised the income from the customs duties; however didn’t head customs service of the GDL.

After the termination of rent customs officers reported to the grand duke or treasurer about the income and expenses on receipts of the grand duke from the customs duties. The customs officer gave to treasury only the sum stipulated in document of the rent, and everything that came from above, remained to him. Therefore they had to conduct real records of arrivals and expenses from the customs duties. Thus, customs officers had to organize office-work at customs.

Private character of the customs service organization affected a terminological imprecition in designation of the persons which are collected duties, accurate delimitation of professional duties between employees of customs, absence of the actual head of customs service of the GDL and the uncertain status of customs officers. It testifies that customs service as the state structure was in process of an institutionalizing.


Key words

Customs service, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, customs reform, Queen Bona, land treasurer [podskarbii].



Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych w Warszawie [Main Archive of Early Acts].
Российский государственный архив древних актов [Russian State Archive of Early Acts].
Центральний державний історичний архів України, м. Київ [The Ukraine State Historical Archive in Kyiv].



  1. Berkowski, W. (2007). Struktury administracyjne komór celnych i mytnych na Wołyniu od XVI do połowy XVII Nad społecheństwem staropolskim, (1), Białystok, 320–330. [in Ukrainian].
  2. Diachok, O. O. (2010). Merezha mytnyts na ukrainskykh zemliakh seredyny XIV – seredyny XVII st. Zb. nauk. prats: "Istoriia torhivli, podatkiv ta myta", (1 (1)), 65-70. [in Ukrainian].
  3. Polyshchuk, V. (2010). Revyzyia volynskykh myt y osobennosty dokumentalnoho sostava knyhy Lytovskoi Metryky № 22 (1547 h.). Istorijos šaltinių tyrimai, (2), Vilnius: LII leidykla, 129–160. [in Ukrainian].
  4. Vashchuk, D., & Zherebtsova, L. (2011). Mytni pryvilei yak dzherelo do vyvchennia pravovoho stanovyshcha yevreiv-mytnykiv na terytorii Velykoho kniazivstva Lytovskoho (kinets XV – seredyna XVI st.). Problemy istorii krain Tsentralnoi ta Skhidnoi Yevropy. Zb.nauk.prats, (2), Kamianets-Podilskyi, 59–66. [in Ukrainian].
  5. Zherebtsova, L. (2007). Orhanizatsiia mytnoi sluzhby na zemliakh Velykoho kniazivstva Lytovskoho naprykintsi XV – v seredyni XVI st. (do 1569 r.). Istoriia torhivli, podatkiv ta myta. Dnipropetrovsk, 52–57. [in Ukrainian].
  6. Zherebtsova, L. (2009). Struktura mytnoi systemy Velykoho kniazivstva Lytovskoho u kintsi XV – seredyni XVI st. Ukraina Lithuanica: studii z istorii Velykoho kniazivstva Lytovskoho, (I), Kyiv: Instytut istorii Ukrainy NASU, 144–163. [in Ukrainian].
  7. Zherebtsova, L. (2011). Osoblyvosti pidzvitnosti mytnykiv pidskarbiiu zemskomu u Velykomu kniazivstvi Lytovskomu. Piata mizhn. shkola-seminar "Istoriia torhivli, podatkiv ta myta", Dnipropetrovsk, 27–28 zhovtnia 2011 r. Kyiv, 39–41. [in Ukrainian].
  8. Zherebtsova, L. (2011). Vlyianye velykokniazheskoi kantseliaryy na pervychnuiu biurokratyzatsyiu tamozhennoi systemy Velykoho kniazhestva Lytovskoho. Dzieje biurokracji. (IV, cz. 1), Lublin–Siedlice, 111–123. [in Ukrainian].
  9. Zherebtsova, L. (2012). Mytna reforma korolevy Bony u Velykomu kniazivstvi Lytovskomu. Shosta mizhnarodna naukova shkola-seminar, Dnipropetrovsk, 11–12 zhovtnia 2012 r. Kyiv, 10–17. [in Ukrainian].
  10. Zherebtsova, L. Yu. (2010). Superechka mizh Ostrozkymy ta Zaslavskymy z pryvodu ostrozkoho myta. Istoriia torhivli, podatkiv ta myta. Dnipropetrovsk, (2 (2)), 70–79. [in Ukrainian].