The founding myth of Vilnius has many affinities with legends of Rome and other great cities. Though hardly historically accurate, it was necessary to legitimize the royal seat of a medieval grand duke. […]
Lithuania remained pagan until the late Middle Ages and, as such, was an object of curiosity as well as hostility for Christian Europe. Paganism, wrote thirteenth-century Franciscan scholar Bartholomew the Englishman, was “ritus mirabilis”. Christian scholars who described pagan rituals did not shy away from negative stereotyping, although sometimes their writings give neutral, almost ethnographic descriptions.
In Lithuanian historical consciousness, Barbora Radvilaitė (or Barbara Radziwill, 1522-1551), the Grand Duchess of Lithuania and the Queen of Poland, occupies a special place. She is arguably the best-known woman in Lithuania’s history and one whose life has become a source of myth and fiction.