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Although legacies, in respect of value, make up the smallest of the categories of sums recorded in the source that we distinguished, undoubtedly resulted from the donors’ piety. Among the issuers of charity obligations in favour of the Jednota, mentioned in the two documents we analysed, dominates middle nobility. However, there also occur representatives of poorer noblemen, burghers, and even foreigners. In the group of the most generous donors, eight people, usually members of the middle nobility, bequeathed 1,000 zlotys and more.
Similar to legacies, which probably resulted from primarily spiritual needs, are high bequeathed foundation sums connected with the church in Kiejdany (25,000 zlotys) and Dziewaltow (14,000 zlotys). The former is part of the foundation of Krzysztof Radziwill and his wife Anna who granted resources to build a new church, preachers’ lodgings and school buildings in 1631 (LLAS, f. 40 nr 1, pp. 1-7). The latter, in turn, was connected with the donation (before 1630) of 10,000 by Braslaw marshal Jerzy Podbereski. The history of foundations is similar to that of legacies, the enforcement of which was not easy, as in the case of the sums, mentioned in the list of 1668, donated both by the mother and the sister of Nowogrodek ensign Stefan Frqckiewicz Radzimihski. The synod eventually left them in his hands, probably not wanting to annoy one of the most prominent co-religionists of that time.
We can guess that the sums of legacies and foundations recorded in the sources, or basically rents derived from them every year, served current needs of particular churches. The foundation document of a new Kiejdany church shows that from 25,000 zlotys donated by the Radziwill family, ‘a ready rent of 2,500 Polish zlotys’ (VUL, f. 4, man. 16408, p. 4) were paid for the needs of the church, the school, and the hospital. The acquired funds could be and probably often were a source of capital saved by particular communities and secondarily allocated for the credit market.
Even though the aforementioned canon of the Synod in Vilna in 1621 pointed at somewhat negative attitude towards usury, it does not mean aversion to capital turnover. Among the tasks of the church actor defined by the Synod of 1644, were, as it was written:
So that, over the expensa and expenditures, for the working at different churches, for buildings and rights some of the aforementioned benefits were left, the actor is expected to preserve fideliter in integro, and if someone well-settled and reliable occurred, he is supposed to provide profits.
(LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136,p. 69)
It was no novelty. Even earlier the synods formulated instructions for the supervisors of the church material property, as in 1629, recommending the actor and his assistants ‘not to lend money sums, especially those larger, on bonds but on a secure bequest of a secure and legally reliable property’ (Akta synodow, 2011, p. 53).
The two collations of district sums we analyse confirm the little effectiveness of the synod’s recommendations as regards the loans, since only four (absolute minority) were secured on estates (in comparison with 45 secured by bond). However, their amounts were high. Among them, there were loans granted to Jerzy Wolan (7,000 zlotys), Elzbieta Abramowicz (7,000 zlotys), and the amount of 5,000 zlotys to be paid off by Marcjan Oginski (the only borrower who was not Calvinist). A particular role in the Jednota’s financial fate was also played by a loan provided for Krzysztof Radziwill (48,000 zlotys).
The synod had such serious problems with reclaiming the first two sums, as well as the interest therefrom, that in 1654, a special canon was adopted ordering the church actor: ‘if the aforementioned debtors refused to return the sums sponte and in a friendly manner, His Grace the actor legally bring the satisfaction and immediately, if God allows for that, presented the future Synod with the sum’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 191). Within a year, however, they did not manage to reclaim both sums and again the actor was ordered to ‘proceed legally after still friendly and second requisition’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 205). The following war turmoil was not conducive to paying off the liabilities. Still, the Synod of 1665 recommended the actor to reclaim the sum from Lady Abramowicz (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 257) and, in the following year, they proposed she has to pay five zlotys from a hundred, or in various grain being in trade or in ready money (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 271).
The largest liability recorded in both sources was a loan of 48,000 zlotys granted in 1636 to Vilna voivode, Krzysztof II Radziwill. As the borrower confirmed himself in the Vilna Tribunal books: ‘being in need for a sum of money, I took the sum of ready money of forty and eight thousand Polish zlotys from the churche’s own treasury’ (NLL, fond 93, man. 1, p. 135 v.). With the borrowed sum, Radziwill was expected to pay an annual rent of 3,360 zlotys in two instalments and the loan was secured on his estates. After Krzysztof II Radziwill’s death in 1640, his liabilities were inherited by his son Janusz but he did not meet them according to the agreement. In 1643, the Synod asked him for regular payments or, at least, giving them another estate as a collateral guaranteeing the inflow of cash to the Jednota’s treasury (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 59). In subsequent years, Janusz’s financial obligations to the Evangelicals increased. Their scale is recorded in the files of provincial synod of 1650. According to them, it was necessary to add to the old loan of 48,000 zlotys another sum of 13,250 from which the combined annual rent should bring the Church 4,277.5 zlotys (7% per year) and was to be returned to the Vilna church.
Moreover, Janusz Radziwill brought in bonds for 13,600 zlotys for the unpaid rent of the previous years which was to be paid off after three years (without interest). The remaining liabilities, which Radziwill had promised to pay back ‘without fail’, were 4,992 zlotys (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 150).
To a certain degree, Janusz settled the arrears in 1651 when he paid to the Vilna Evangelicals 5,000 zlotys and 3,570 zlotys in the next year (LLAS, f 40, man. 711, p. 1). The capital, however, was paid off neither by Janusz Radziwill nor his son-in-law and nephew Boguslaw Radziwill. There were also more and more problems with reclaiming the interest from the loan. In 1663 the Synod asked to return ‘both repurchase and bond sums being in His Grace the Duke’s hands [...] to the Vilna church’ (LLAS, f 40, man. 1136, p. 223). A year later, the synod ordered the Samogitian superintendent ‘to write to His Grace the Duke with a fervent request so that he ordered to return the sum of 2,000 to the seniors of the Kiejdany church’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 230). In response to the demand from the synod, Boguslaw wrote a letter informing that from the capital sum secured on Kiejdany ‘I assign 3,000 Polish zlotys for each year [...] They are supposed to be returned to the hands of the seniors of the Vilna church’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 711, p. 2). Unfortunately, this liability also had probably no chance for being paid off since the synod of 1666 received another declaration of Radziwill that the duke equerry wants, in return for ‘the interest from the sums, to give an estate in possession to the God’s Church’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 265). This did not come to force and Boguslaw Radziwill’s death at the end of 1669 undermined the stability of financial relations between the
RadziwiHs and the Evangelicals even more. In 1672, stewards of Ludwika Karolina (Boguslaw’s daughter) ‘declared [to the Synod] to return the bond sums (...) next year’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 342) but, in 1675, the synod ordered the church actor to legally assert the sums remaining with the duchess (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 382). The register of the sums belonging to the Vilna church of 1674 shows that the RadziwiHs, altogether, beside 48,000 secured on the estates, owed additionally 39,150 zlotys guaranteed by bonds. Part of the bond sums was paid off in the subsequent years but, in 1687, their debt (resulting from the loans) to the Vilna church was still 61,000 zlotys, the interest from which was 4,400 zlotys a year (NLL, f. 93 man. 8, pp. 1-2). The capital sums were practically not returned, whereas, at least theoretically, they guaranteed a stable income. The interest registered in 1687 was slightly above 7.2% a year and did not differ considerably from that determined at the moment of signing the agreements between the Evangelicals and Krzysztof II and Janusz Radziwill (7%) in the first half of the 17th century. A simple economic calculation shows that, for instance, 48,000 zlotys lent in 1636 should be returned to the Evangelicals as soon as in nearly 15 years, which is before the war with Moscow and Sweden (1654/55), but the problems with the enforcement of the interest, signalled by the Synod, show that this certainly did not happen. The warfare, political turmoil connected with the RadziwiHs, and the crisis in managing their property in the second half of the 17th century resulted in no growth in effectiveness of reclaiming the income from the lent resources. Meanwhile, there also occurred a considerable fall in the money value. At the moment of taking the resources by Krzysztof II Radziwill, the ducat rate was maximum 180 zlotys and when Karolina Ludwika issued her document, over a half century later, nearly 400 zlotys were paid for one ducat. From a purely financial point of view, the loans granted by the Evangelicals to Krzysztof and Janusz Radziwill and never paid back were an unsuccessful venture. However, maybe the aim of the Lithuanian Evangelicals was not a financial profit but a guarantee of political protection from the mighty family and survival of the whole religious community.
In the case of other borrowers, those who secured their debts with bonds only, the Jednota’s debt collection was no much more successful, even though the group was dominated by wealthy and moderate well-off nobility. In the period of the deep economic crisis mostly resulting from warfare (1654-1667), the authorities of the Jednota came to the conclusion that it is more beneficial to gather resources than their turnover. In 1665, the Synod decided that: ‘The church sums, when reclaimed are not to be lent to anyone against the bond, or a collateral, but will remain in loco certo, because temporum experiencia demonstrated how difficultates their parties were and still are’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 241).
A certain chance of improving the debt collectability was seen in manipulating the interest rate. A normal rate with loans was 7% but, in 1666, they decided to lower it for the people in arrears down to 5%, especially in the lands conquered by the enemy (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 272). A year later, the Synod came to the conclusion that after the cessation of hostilities in the GDL, the economic situation would improve and decided: ‘Now, at the peace decision, Their Graces Lords debtors should pay the interest ab bine octo pro centum from the church sums’ (LLAS, f. 40, man. 1136, p. 279). Thus, it was an ordinary rate, not different from the market rate. More or less at the time when Krzysztof II Radziwill borrowed 48,000 zlotys from Jednota (1636), he also signed a contract with the Stolpec Dominicans (1639) by virtue of which he took 10,000 zlotys. He secured the loan against the estate Ostaszyn and promised to pay an annual rent worth 8% of the loan value (CAHRW, AR, dz. VIII, man. 557, p. 1). In the 1660s, Boguslaw Radziwill borrowed money at the same rate several times from the Minsk Dominicans (CAHRW, AR, dz. VIII, man. 248, pp. 2-14). In both cases: ‘Catolic’ loans, likewise ‘Evangelical’ loans, the capital sums were not paid off by the debtors and the rent from them was still paid by Ludwika Karolina (CAHRW, AR, dz. VIII, man. 248, p. 60; man. 557, pp. 5, 7). We can also note that the contracting parties ignored the Parliament Act of 1635, which pointed out that ‘We guarantee for the future repurchase rents to churches, orders, hospitals, colleges and other clergy persons [...] seven zlotys from a hundred’ (Volumina Constitutionum, vol. 3, part 2, 2013, p. 259).