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Written documents in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania oral culture

Pre-Christian Lithuania was a land of oral culture. Peter of Dusburg, the chronicler of the German Order, retold an ironic joke in the early 14th century about the pagans gazing at written characters for the first time: “[Prussians] did not use writing /…/ They were completely amazed to find out that a human was able to convey his wishes to another person, who was not here, through writing.” If we leave the theories about “Lithuanian runes” aside as legends, we can safely assume that Lithuanians did not use writing for communication between themselves until the late 14th century. […]

Monument to King Mindaugas

The last medieval dukedom: the coronation of Mindaugas

The Lithuanian dukedom was in existence for 10 years only: from the coronation of Mindaugas in July 1253 to his murder in 1263. Later two more attempts to create the Lithuanian Dukedom were known. Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas tried to do that at the end of his life in 1429–1430. In 1526, a new plan was born at the Council of Lords of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to establish a separate Kingdom of Lithuania by crowning Sigismund August, the juvenile son of Sigismund the Old. Both of these attempts failed. […]

GDL Grand Duke Aleksandras and his wife Elena

Medieval Lithuanian princesses in foreign countries – diplomacy of men and stories of women

Around 1250, with the help of great military and diplomatic efforts Mindaugas managed to dissolve a union that posed a serious threat to his power. During political negotiations Mindaugas’ daughter of unknown name was engaged, and later she was married off to Švarnas, a son of Duke Daniel of Galitch-Voluin who was one of the greatest rivals to the Lithuanian King in the region. That was the first marriage of the family of the Lithuanian Rulers, which can be called interdynastic. […]

A knight

War Tourism in the 14 Century: what were European knights looking for in Lithuania?

The Teutonic Order was the first Western Christian state that Lithuania came into contact with. The members of the ecclesiastical knights’ order came from the Holy Lands in the 13th century to Prussia and Livonia still not knowing at the beginning that a minor part of their endeavors would gradually turn into the Order’s territorial state. It was only because of their setbacks (in the Holy Land, Hungary, and Cyprus) that forced the knights to focus their energy on the Baltic region. […]