Lithuania was first mentioned in the Annales Quedlinburgenses (or, Quedlinburg Chronicles) of 1009 CE, as Litua. (In modern Lithuanian, it is Lietuva.) Crusaders from the late 11th century onwards visited the area, to fight against the native pagans. By the mid-13th century, Mindaugas had risen to power, was baptised and crowned ruler of the Kingdom of Lithuania.
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Lithuania itself did not begin to officially convert to Christianity until 1387, under the Grand Duke Jogaila. The last region to be Christianised was Samogitia in 1413, however pagan practices continued until after the 16th century.
At the Duchy's peak, the country encompassed land from the Baltic to the Black Seas, including the modern-day countries of Belarus and Ukraine, and the myriad of different cultures and peoples included. Official languages spoken at court in the Duchy included Old Ruthenian, Latin, German and Polish.
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was formed by the union of the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 1569. Its political system was not a traditional monarchy. Instead the nobility directly influenced legislation and the commonwealth's ruler was elected to his post. This system was called the Golden Liberty.
Pre-17th century Lithuanians
References and More Information
- History of Medieval Lithuania
- Longworth, Phillip. 1997 The Making of Eastern Europe: From Prehistory to Postcommunism. [Second edition] (New York: St. Martin's Press).
- Mažiulis, Vytautas. 2005. Dėl Lietuvos vardo 1009 metais (šv. Brunono misija) Baltistica 40(1).
- Urban, William. 1987. The Conversion of Lithuania 1387. Lituanus 33(4).