Vilnius Old Town

The first GDL cities with Magdeburg Rights

Communities of city burghers created self-governing cities as a result of the city burghers’ struggles with sovereigns for cities’ rights and freedoms at first in Western Europe from the 11th century to the 13th century, and in Central Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries. The self-governing city burgher communities were legally separated from the state and received independence from the noble class. […]

Vilnius University

Studies by GDL Vilnius residents in Europe

Studies abroad reflect the direction of a country’s integration into educational and cultural spheres as well as its degree. The scope of university studies that had grown in Europe in the 17th-18th century was tied to the processes of professionalization and rationalisation, which accompanied the strengthening of the role and bureaucratization of the state. In the Commonwealth, these trends expressed themselves somewhat less which is why the need for experts with a university education was small. […]

No Picture

Papermaking in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Paper mills, their key characteristic being the use of water energy, were an important element of the technology revolution. The production of paper, which replaced parchment, encouraged the spread of literacy and book reading, because the price of paper could sometimes account to as much as half of all costs of printed materials. […]


Coffee, tea and chocolate in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Coffee, tea and chocolate were exotic drinks in Europe as they became popular in the 17th and 18th century reflecting the increasing integration between the Old World and other regions and Europe’s certain openness to the world as a consequence of geographic discoveries and the development of the colonial system. Chocolate was the most exquisite product followed by tea. Tea became very popular in Russia and England. It was coffee though that eventually claimed the top spot throughout Europe leaving tea and chocolate behind. Coffee was not always used in its pure form as the noblemen enjoyed genuine coffee while peasants could only afford “coffee”. […]


When did potatoes enter Lithuania?

Potatoes (lat. solanum tuberosum) represent one of the vital staples in the whole world. They serve as a key ingredient in making more than 200 food and other products. It was in the mid-19th century that potatoes spread in Lithuania on a massive scale. Very little is known, however, about how and when potatoes first entered the country. Therefore, the historical literature on the matter sometimes features certain mythologized assertions. […]


What did burghers wear in Medieval Lithuania?

Clothes, just like tableware, were a form of demonstrating the social prestige of certain individuals. In Lithuania, clothing could reveal a person’s social standing yet not always. No costume specific to city residents developed as the members of the elite followed the fashions set by the nobility. Poor city residents effectively dressed the same as peasants. […]

Gate of Dawn

The Guest (Merchant) House in 15th century Vilnius

Vilnius was a vibrant trade centre in Eastern Europe in the mid 15th century. Merchants from various countries flowed into the city, and Vilnius residents were active in a wide area (Antwerpen-Tallinn-Moscow-Istanbul). Due to growing competition with the merchants of neighbouring countries, which became fiercer after trade between merchants was banned in Gdansk in 1442, restrictions were also put in place for visiting merchants in Vilnius in the middle of the 15th century, eventually leading to the construction of guest housing specifically for foreign merchants. […]

Modern day beggar in Vilnius

The brotherhood of beggars in the Late Middle Ages Vilnius

In popular historical Lithuanian literature of the 17th and 18th century, there was a corporation of beggars that existed in Vilnius called the “beggars’ guild.” In pursuing historical exoticness and sensation, this name has been […]