Last updated

King Mindaugas
King of Lithuania
Mindaugas, as depicted in the chronicles of Alexander Guagnini
Coronation 6 July 1253
Successor Treniota
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Bornc. 1203
DiedAutumn 1263
Spouse NN, sister of Morta
Issue NN daughter
House House of Mindaugas

Mindaugas (German : Myndowen, Latin : Mindowe, Old East Slavic : Мендог, Belarusian : Міндоўг, Polish : Mendog c. 1203 – autumn 1263) was the first known Grand Duke of Lithuania and the only Christian King of Lithuania. Little is known of his origins, early life, or rise to power; he is mentioned in a 1219 treaty as an elder duke, and in 1236 as the leader of all the Lithuanians. The contemporary and modern sources discussing his ascent mention strategic marriages along with banishment or murder of his rivals. He extended his domain into regions southeast of Lithuania proper during the 1230s and 1240s. In 1250 or 1251, during the course of internal power struggles, he was baptised as a Roman Catholic; this action enabled him to establish an alliance with the Livonian Order, a long-standing antagonist of the Lithuanians. During the summer of 1253 he was crowned King of Lithuania, ruling between 300,000 and 400,000 subjects. [1]


While his ten-year reign was marked by various state-building accomplishments, Mindaugas's conflicts with relatives and other dukes continued, and Samogitia (western Lithuania) strongly resisted the alliance's rule. His gains in the southeast were challenged by the Tatars. He broke peace with the Livonian Order in 1261, possibly renouncing Christianity, and was assassinated in 1263 by his nephew Treniota and another rival, Duke Daumantas. His three immediate successors were assassinated as well. The disorder was not resolved until Traidenis gained the title of Grand Duke c. 1270.

Although his reputation was unsettled during the following centuries and his descendants were not notable, he gained standing during the 19th and 20th centuries. Mindaugas was the only King of Lithuania; [2] while most of the Lithuanian Grand Dukes from Jogaila onward also reigned as Kings of Poland, the titles remained separate. Now generally considered the founder of the Lithuanian state, he is also now credited with stopping the advance of the Tatars towards the Baltic Sea, establishing international recognition of Lithuania, and turning it towards Western civilization. [2] [3] In the 1990s the historian Edvardas Gudavičius published research supporting an exact coronation date – 6 July 1253. This day is now an official national holiday in Lithuania, Statehood Day.

Sources, family, and name

Baptism of Mindaugas, 17th century portrait Mindouh, Vit. Mindoug, Vit (XVII).jpg
Baptism of Mindaugas, 17th century portrait

Contemporary written sources about Mindaugas are very scarce. Much what is known about his reign is obtained from the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle and the Hypatian Codex. Both of these chronicles were produced by enemies of Lithuania and thus have anti-Lithuanian bias, particularly the Hypatian Codex. [4] They are also incomplete: both of them lack dates and locations even for the most important events. For example, the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle devoted 125 poetry lines to Mindaugas's coronation, but failed to mention either the date or the location. [5] Other important sources are the papal bulls regarding baptism and coronation of Mindaugas. The Lithuanians did not produce any surviving records themselves, except for a series of acts granting lands to the Livonian Order, but their authenticity is disputed. Due to lack of sources, some important questions regarding Mindaugas and his reign cannot be answered. [4]

Because written sources covering the era are scarce, Mindaugas's origins and family tree have not been conclusively established. The Bychowiec Chronicles, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, have been discredited in this regard, since they assert an ancestry from the Palemonids, a noble family said to have originated within the Roman Empire. [6] His year of birth, sometimes given as c. 1200, is at other times left as a question mark. [7] [8] His father is mentioned in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle as a powerful duke (ein kunic grôß), but is not named; later chronicles give his name as Ryngold. [9] [10] Dausprungas, mentioned in the text of a 1219 treaty, is presumed to have been his brother, and Dausprungas' sons Tautvilas and Gedvydas his nephews. He is thought to have had two sisters, one married to Vykintas and another to Daniel of Halych. Vykintas and his son Treniota played major roles in later power struggles. Mindaugas had at least two wives, Morta and Morta's sister, whose name is unknown, and possibly an earlier wife; her existence is presumed because two children – a son named Vaišvilkas and an unnamed daughter married to Svarn in 1255 – were already leading independent lives when Morta's children were still young. In addition to Vaišvilkas and his sister, two sons, Ruklys and Rupeikis, are mentioned in written sources. The latter two were assassinated along with Mindaugas. Information on his sons is limited and historians continue to discuss their number. He may have had two other sons whose names were later conflated by scribes into Ruklys and Rupeikis. [9]

In the 13th century Lithuania had little contact with foreign lands. Lithuanian names sounded obscure and unfamiliar to various chroniclers, who altered them to sound more like names in their native language. [11] Mindaugas's name in historic texts was recorded in various distorted forms: [12] Mindowe in Latin; Mindouwe, Myndow, Myndawe, and Mindaw in German; Mendog, Mondog, Mendoch, and Mindovg in Polish; and Mindovg, Mindog, and Mindowh in Rus', among others. [11] Since Rus' sources provide the most information about Mindaugas's life, they were judged the most reliable by linguists reconstructing his original Lithuanian name. The most popular Rus' rendition was Mindovg, which can quite easily and naturally be reconstructed as Mindaugas or Mindaugis. [11] In 1909 the Lithuanian linguist Kazimieras Būga published a research paper supporting the suffix -as, which has since been widely accepted. Mindaugas is an archaic disyllabic Lithuanian name, used before the Christianization of Lithuania, and consists of two components: min and daug. [12] Its etymology may be traced to "daug menąs" (much wisdom) or "daugio minimas" (much fame). [11]

Rise to power

Seimyniskeliai Hillfort, possibly the site of Voruta Castle, alleged capital of Mindaugas Seimyniskeliai hillfort.jpg
Šeimyniškėliai Hillfort, possibly the site of Voruta Castle, alleged capital of Mindaugas

Lithuania was ruled during the early 13th century by a number of dukes and princes presiding over various fiefdoms and tribes. [13] They were loosely bonded by commonalities of religion and tradition, trade, kinship, joint military campaigns, and the presence of captured prisoners from neighboring areas. [8] [14] Western merchants and missionaries began seeking control of the area during the 12th century, establishing the city of Riga, Latvia in 1201. Their efforts in Lithuania were temporarily halted by defeat at the Battle of Saule in 1236, but armed Christian orders continued to pose a threat. [15] The country had also undergone incursions by the Mongol Empire. [16]

A treaty with Galicia–Volhynia, signed in 1219, is usually considered the first conclusive evidence that the Baltic tribes in the area were uniting in response to these threats. [17] The treaty's signatories include twenty Lithuanian dukes and one dowager duchess; it specifies that five of these were elder and thus took precedence over the remaining sixteen. [18] Mindaugas, despite his youth, as well as his brother Dausprungas are listed among the elder dukes, implying that they had inherited their titles. [19] The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle describes him as the ruler of all Lithuania in 1236. [20] [21] His path to this title is not clear. Ruthenian chronicles mention that he murdered or expelled several other dukes, including his relatives. [3] [17] Historian S.C. Rowell has described his rise to power as taking place through "the familiar processes of marriage, murder and military conquest." [22]

During the 1230s and 1240s, Mindaugas strengthened and established his power in various Baltic and Slavic lands. [9] Warfare in the region intensified; he battled German forces in Kurland, while the Mongols destroyed Kiev in 1240 and entered Poland in 1241, defeating two Polish armies and burning Kraków. [14] The Lithuanian victory in the Battle of Saule temporarily stabilized the northern front, but the Christian orders continued to make gains along the Baltic coast, founding the city of Klaipėda (Memel). Constrained in the north and west, Mindaugas moved to the east and southeast, conquering Navahrudak, Hrodna, Vawkavysk, and the Principality of Polotsk, [23] but there is no information about any battles for those cities. In 1246 by Chronic of Gustynia he was baptized by Orthodox church in Navahrudak, but later because of political situation he was re-baptized by Catholic church. In about 1239 he appointed his son Vaišvilkas to govern these areas, then known as Black Ruthenia. [20] In 1248, he sent his nephews Tautvilas and Edivydas, the sons of his brother Dausprungas, along with Vykintas, the Duke of Samogitia, to conquer Smolensk, but they were unsuccessful. His attempts to consolidate his rule in Lithuania met with mixed success; in 1249, an internal war erupted when he sought to seize his nephews' and Vykintas' lands. [20]

Path to coronation

The Papal bull issued by Pope Innocent IV establishing Lithuania's placement under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, and discussing Mindaugas's baptism and coronation Papal bull regarding Lithuanian ruler Mindaugas 1251.jpg
The Papal bull issued by Pope Innocent IV establishing Lithuania's placement under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, and discussing Mindaugas's baptism and coronation

Tautvilas, Edivydas, and Vykintas formed a powerful coalition in opposition to Mindaugas, along with the Samogitians of western Lithuania, the Livonian Order, Daniel of Galicia (Tautvilas and Edivydas' brother-in-law), and Vasilko of Volhynia. [20] The princes of Galicia and Volhynia managed to gain control over Black Ruthenia, disrupting Vaišvilkas' supremacy. Tautvilas strengthened his position by traveling to Riga and accepting baptism by the Archbishop. [8] In 1250, the Order organized a major raid through the lands of Nalšia into the domains of Mindaugas in Lithuania proper, and a raid into those parts of Samogitia that still supported him. [21] Attacked from the north and south and facing the possibility of unrest elsewhere, Mindaugas was placed in an extremely difficult position, but managed to use the conflicts between the Livonian Order and the Archbishop of Riga to further his own interests. He succeeded in bribing Order Master Andreas von Stierland, who was still angry at Vykintas for the defeat at the Battle of Saule in 1236, by sending him "many gifts". [19] [21] [24]

Mindaugas monument in Vilnius Mindaugas in Vilnius.JPG
Mindaugas monument in Vilnius

In 1250 or 1251, Mindaugas agreed to receive baptism and relinquish control over some lands in western Lithuania, in return for an acknowledgment by Pope Innocent IV as king. The Pope welcomed a Christian Lithuania as a bulwark against Mongol threats; in turn, Mindaugas sought papal intervention in the ongoing Lithuanian conflicts with the Christian orders. [8] [25] On 17 July 1251, the pope signed two crucial papal bulls. One ordered the Bishop of Chełmno to crown Mindaugas as King of Lithuania, appoint a bishop for Lithuania, and build a cathedral. [26] The other bull specified that the new bishop was to be directly subordinate to the Holy See, rather than to the Archbishop of Riga. [21] This autonomy was a welcome development. [17] The precise date of Mindaugas's baptism is not known. [8] His wife, two sons, and members of his court were baptized; Pope Innocent wrote later that a multitude of Mindaugas's subjects also received Christianity. [8]

The process of coronation and the establishment of Christian institutions would take two years. Internal conflicts persisted; during the spring or summer of 1251, Tautvilas and his remaining allies attacked Mindaugas's warriors and the Livonian Order's crossbow-men in Voruta Castle. The attack failed, and Tautvilas' forces retreated to defend themselves in Tviremet Castle (presumed to be Tverai in Samogitia). [27] Vykintas died in 1251 or 1252, and Tautvilas was forced to rejoin Daniel of Galicia. [20]

The Kingdom of Lithuania

Mindaugas's acts granting territories
to the Livonian Order [28]
July 1253Portions of Samogitia (half of Raseiniai, Betygala, Ariogala, and Laukuva – the other half went to Bishop Christian in March 1254), half of Dainava and Nadruva [29]
October 1255 Selonia
1257 Karšuva, Nadruva, portions of Samogitia
7 August 1259Portions of Dainava, all of Skalva and Samogitia
June 1260All of Lithuania (if Mindaugas died without an heir)
7 August 1261All of Selonia

Mindaugas and his wife Morta were crowned during the summer of 1253. Bishop Henry Heidenreich of Kulm presided over the ecclesiastical ceremonies and Andreas Stirland conferred the crown. [8] 6 July is now celebrated as Statehood Day (Lithuanian: Valstybės diena); it is an official holiday in modern Lithuania. [30] The exact date of the coronation is not known; the scholarship of historian Edvardas Gudavičius, who promulgated this precise date, is sometimes challenged. [31] The location of the coronation also remains unknown.

Relative peace and stability prevailed for about eight years. Mindaugas used this opportunity to concentrate on the expansion to the east, and to establish and organize state institutions. He strengthened his influence in Black Ruthenia, in Polatsk, a major center of commerce in the Daugava River basin, and in Pinsk. [20] He also negotiated a peace with Galicia–Volhynia, and married his daughter to Svarn, the son of Daniel of Galicia, who would later become Grand Duke of Lithuania. Lithuanian relationships with western Europe and the Holy See were reinforced. In 1255, Mindaugas received permission from Pope Alexander IV to crown his son as King of Lithuania. [21] A noble court, an administrative system, and a diplomatic service were initiated. [9] Silver long coins, an index of statehood, were issued. [9] He sponsored the construction of a cathedral in Vilnius, possibly on the site of today's Vilnius Cathedral. [32]

The Seal of Mindaugas, attached to the Act of October 1255, could be a medieval forgery by the Teutonic Knights Seal of Mindaugas.jpg
The Seal of Mindaugas, attached to the Act of October 1255, could be a medieval forgery by the Teutonic Knights

Immediately after his coronation, Mindaugas transferred some lands to the Livonian Order – portions of Samogitia, Nadruva, and Dainava—although his control over these western lands was tenuous. [16] [31] There has been much discussion among historians as to whether in later years (1255–1261) Mindaugas gave even more lands to the order. The deeds might have been falsified by the order; [20] the case for this scenario is bolstered by the fact that some of the documents mention lands that were not actually under the control of Mindaugas [17] and by various irregularities in treaty witnesses and seals. [28]

Mindaugas and his antagonist Daniel reached a reconciliation in 1255; the Black Ruthenian lands were transferred to Roman, Daniel's son. Afterwards Mindaugas's son Vaišvilkas received baptism as a member of the Orthodox faith, becoming a monk and later founding a convent and monastery. [9] [33] Tautvilas's antagonism was temporarily resolved when he recognized Mindaugas's superiority and received Polatsk as a fiefdom. [20] A direct confrontation with the Mongols occurred in 1258 or 1259, when Berke Khan sent his general Burundai to challenge Lithuanian rule, ordering Daniel and other regional princes to participate. The Novgorod Chronicle describes the following action as a defeat of the Lithuanians, but it has also been seen as a net gain for Mindaugas. [24]

A single sentence in the Hypatian Chronicle mentions Mindaugas defending himself in Voruta against his nephews and Duke Vykintas; two other sources mention "his castle". The location of Voruta is not specified, and this has led to considerable speculation, along with archeological research, concerning the seat of his court. At least fourteen different locations have been proposed, including Kernavė and Vilnius. [34] The ongoing formal archeological digs at Kernavė began in 1979 after a portion of the site named "Mindaugas Throne hill-fort" collapsed. [35] The town now hosts a major celebration on Statehood Day. [36]

Assassination and aftermath

Expansion of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between the 13th and 15th centuries Lithuanian state in 13-15th centuries.png
Expansion of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania between the 13th and 15th centuries

The Livonian Order used their alliance with Mindaugas to gain control over Samogitian lands. In 1252 he approved the Order's construction of Klaipeda Castle. [37] Their governance, however, was seen as oppressive. Local merchants could only conduct transactions via Order-approved intermediaries; inheritance laws were changed; and the choices among marriage partners and residencies were restricted. [14] Several pitched battles ensued. In 1259 the Order lost the Battle of Skuodas, and in 1260 it lost the Battle of Durbe. The first defeat encouraged a rebellion by the Semigalians, and the defeat at Durbe spurred the Prussians into the Great Prussian Rebellion, which lasted for 14 years. [9] Encouraged by these developments and by his nephew Treniota, Mindaugas broke peace with the Order. The gains he had expected from Christianization had proven to be minor. [15]

Mindaugas may have reverted to paganism afterwards. His motivation for conversion is often described by modern historians as merely strategic. [38] [39] The case for his apostasy rests largely on two near-contemporary sources: a 1324 assertion by Pope John XXII that Mindaugas had returned to error, and the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle. [8] The chronicler writes that Mindaugas continued to practice paganism, making sacrifices to his gods, burning corpses, and conducting pagan rites in public. [40] Historians have pointed to the possibility of bias in this account, since Mindaugas had been at war with Volhynia. [8] [41] Pope Clement IV, on the other hand, wrote in 1268 of "Mindaugas of happy memory" (clare memorie Mindota), expressing regret at his murder. [8]

In any event, the Lithuanians were not prepared to accept Christianity, and Mindaugas's baptism had little impact on further developments. [9] The majority of the population and the nobility remained pagan; his subjects were not required to convert. [1] [39] The cathedral he had built in Vilnius was superseded by a pagan temple, and all the diplomatic achievements made after his coronation were lost, although the practice of Christianity and intermarriage were well tolerated. [9] [15] [25]

Regional conflicts with the Order escalated. Alexander Nevsky of Novgorod, Tautvilas, and Tautvilas's son Constantine agreed to form a coalition in opposition to Mindaugas, but their plans were unsuccessful. [8] Treniota emerged as the leader of the Samogitian resistance; he led an army to Cēsis (now in Latvia), reaching the Estonian coast, and battled Masovia (now in Poland). His goal was to encourage all the conquered Baltic tribes to rise up against the Christian orders and unite under Lithuanian leadership. [8] His personal influence grew while Mindaugas was concentrating on the conquest of Ruthenian lands, dispatching a large army to Bryansk. Treniota and Mindaugas began to pursue different priorities. [19] The Rhymed Chronicle mentions Mindaugas's displeasure at the fact that Treniota did not create any alliances in Latvia or Estonia; he may have come to prefer diplomacy. [8] In the midst of these events his wife Morta died, and Mindaugas took her sister as his new wife. The only problem was that the sister was already married to Daumantas. [2] [21] [42] In retaliation, Daumantas and Treniota assassinated Mindaugas and two of his sons in fall 1263. [17] According to a late medieval tradition, the assassination took place in Aglona. [43] He was buried along with his horses, in accordance with ancestral tradition. [44] After Mindaugas's death, Lithuania lapsed into internal disorder. Three of his successors—Treniota, his son-in-law Svarn, and his son Vaišvilkas—were assassinated during the next seven years. Stability did not return until the reign of Traidenis, designated Grand Duke c. 1270. [22]


Litas Commemorative coin dedicated to King Mindaugas, with the inscription Mindaugas King of Lithuania LT-1996-50litu-Mindaugas-b.png
Litas Commemorative coin dedicated to King Mindaugas, with the inscription Mindaugas King of Lithuania

Mindaugas held a dubious position in Lithuanian historiography until the Lithuanian national revival of the 19th century. [2] While pagan sympathizers held him in disregard for betraying his religion, Christians saw his support as lukewarm. [2] He received only passing references from Grand Duke Gediminas and was not mentioned at all by Vytautas the Great. [2] His known family relations end with his children; no historic records note any connections between his descendants and the Gediminids dynasty that ruled Lithuania and Poland until 1572. [45] A 17th-century rector of Vilnius University held him responsible for the troubles then being experienced by the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth ("the seed of internal discord among the Lithuanians had been sown".) [2] A 20th-century historian charged him with the "destruction of the organization of the Lithuanian state". [2] The first academic study of his life by a Lithuanian scholar, Jonas Totoraitis (Die Litauer unter dem König Mindowe bis zum Jahre 1263) was not published until 1905. [2] In the 1990s historian Edvardas Gudavičius published his findings [2] pinpointing a coronation date, which became a national holiday. The 750th anniversary of his coronation was marked in 2003 by the dedication of the Mindaugas Bridge in Vilnius, numerous festivals and concerts, and visits from other heads of state. [46] [47] [48] In Belarus, there is the legendary Mindaugas's Hill  [ be ] in Navahrudak, mentioned by Adam Mickiewicz in his 1828 poem Konrad Wallenrod . A memorial stone on the Mindaugas's hill was installed in 1993 and a metal sculpture of Mindaugas in 2014.

Mindaugas is the primary subject of the 1829 drama Mindowe, by Juliusz Słowacki, one of the Three Bards. [49] [50] He has been portrayed in several 20th-century literary works: the Latvian author Mārtiņš Zīverts' tragedy Vara (Power, 1944), Justinas Marcinkevičius' drama-poem Mindaugas (1968), Romualdas Granauskas' Jaučio aukojimas (The Offering of the Bull, 1975), and Juozas Kralikauskas' Mindaugas (1995). [51] Coronation of Mindaugas and creation of the Grand Duchy is the main topic of the 2002 Belarusian novel Alhierd's Lance by Volha Ipatava  [ be ] dedicated to the 750th anniversary of the coronation.

See also

Related Research Articles

Morta Queen consort of Lithuania

Morta was wife of Mindaugas, the first known ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. She was the Grand Duchess of Lithuania and later Queen consort of Lithuania (1253–1262). Very little is known about her life. Probably, Morta was Mindaugas' second wife as Vaišvilkas, the eldest son of Mindaugas, was already a mature man active in international politics when Morta's sons were still young and dependent on the parents. After her death, Mindaugas married her sister, the wife of Daumantas. In revenge, Daumantas allied with Treniota and assassinated Mindaugas and two of Morta's sons in 1263.

Grand Duchy of Lithuania European state from the 12th century until 1795

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state that lasted from the 13th century to 1795, when the territory was partitioned among the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia and Austria. The state was founded by the Lithuanians, a polytheistic Baltic tribe from Aukštaitija.

Treniota Grand Duke of Lithuania

Treniota was the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1263–1264).

Battle of Saule Battle fought on September 22, 1236 between the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and the Samogitians

The Battle of Saule was fought on 22 September 1236, between the Livonian Brothers of the Sword and pagan troops of Samogitians and Semigallians. Between 48 and 60 knights were killed, including the Livonian Master, Volkwin. It was the earliest large-scale defeat suffered by the orders in Baltic lands. The Sword-Brothers, the first Catholic military order established in the Baltic lands, was soundly defeated and its remnants accepted incorporation into the Teutonic Order in 1237. The battle inspired rebellions among the Curonians, Semigallians, Selonians, Oeselians, tribes previously conquered by the Sword-Brothers. Some thirty years' worth of conquests on the left bank of Daugava were lost. To commemorate the battle, in 2000 the Lithuanian and Latvian parliaments declared September 22 to be the Baltic Unity Day.

Vaišvilkas Grand Duke of Lithuania

Vaišelga or Vaišvilkas was the Grand Duke of Lithuania (1264–1267). He was son of Mindaugas, the first and only King of Lithuania.

Tautvilas or Towtwil was one of the sons of Kęstutis, Grand Duke of Lithuania, and a strong supporter of his brother Vytautas the Great in his struggles against their cousin Jogaila.

Dausprungas was the older brother of Mindaugas, the first King of Lithuania. Dausprungas is mentioned in the peace treaty with Galicia–Volhynia in 1219 among the 21 early dukes of Lithuania as one of the five elder dukes, the other four being Živinbudas, Daujotas, Mindaugas and Viligaila. Since Dausprungas is the only known brother of Mindaugas, Mindaugas' nephews Edivydas and Tautvilas are presumed to be his sons. If that is true, then Dausprungas is father-in-law of Daniel of Halych and he was also married to Vykintas' sister. Because it is known that Mindaugas used to kill his relatives to gain power and because Dausprungas is not mentioned in any other sources, some imply that he was killed by Mindaugas, but others rebut since his sons still ruled their lands in 1248.

Ryngold mythological Grand Duke of Lithuania

Ryngold or Ringaudas was a mythological Grand Duke of Lithuania from the Palemonids legends and supposed father of Mindaugas, the first King of Lithuania (1251–1263). In fact there is nothing known about Mindaugas' father from reliable sources. The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, a contemporary source, just mentions that he was a powerful duke, but does not provide his name.

The Palemonids were a legendary dynasty of Grand Dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The legend was born in the 15th or 16th century as proof that Lithuanians and the Grand Duchy are of Roman origins. Already Jan Długosz (1415–1480) wrote that the Lithuanians were of Roman origin, but did not provide any proof. The legend is first recorded in the second edition of the Lithuanian Chronicle produced in the 1530s. At the time the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was quarrelling with the Kingdom of Poland, rejecting the claims that Poland had civilized the pagan and barbaric Lithuania. The Lithuanian nobility felt a need for the ruling dynasty to show upstanding origins, as the only available chronicles at the time were written by the Teutonic Knights, a long-standing enemy, and depicted Gediminas, ancestor of the Gediminids dynasty, as a hostler of Vytenis.

Kingdom of Lithuania short lived baltic kingdom in the middle ages

The Kingdom of Lithuania was a Lithuanian monarchy which existed from 1251 to roughly 1263. King Mindaugas was the first and only crowned king of Lithuania. The status of a kingdom was lost after Mindaugas' assassination in 1263. Other monarchs of Lithuania are referred to as Grand Dukes, even though their status was almost identical to that of a king. Three attempts were made to re-establish the Kingdom – by Vytautas the Great in 1430, by Švitrigaila who wanted to continue Vytautas' attempts of coronation and by the Council of Lithuania in 1918.

Vykintas Duke of Samogitia

Vykintas was Duke of Samogitia and a rival to the future King of Lithuania, Mindaugas. In 1236 he probably led the Samogitian forces in the Battle of Saule against the Livonian Order. The Order suffered a great defeat and was near the brink of collapse, forcing it to become a branch of the Teutonic Knights.

The Battle of Skuodas or Schoden was a medieval battle fought in ca. 1259 near Skuodas in present-day Lithuania during the Lithuanian Crusade. The Samogitian army of 3,000 invaded Courland and on their way back defeated the Livonian Order, killing 33 knights and many more low-rank soldiers. In terms of knights killed, it was the eighth largest defeat of the Livonian Order in the 13th century. This victory led to a Semigallian insurrection against the Livonian crusaders, which lasted from 1259 to 1272.

Battle of Durbe

The Battle of Durbe was a medieval battle fought near Durbe, 23 km (14 mi) east of Liepāja, in present-day Latvia during the Livonian Crusade. On 13 July 1260, the Samogitians soundly defeated the joint forces of the Teutonic Knights from Prussia and Livonian Order from Livonia. Some 150 knights were killed, including Livonian Master Burchard von Hornhausen and Prussian Land Marshal Henrik Botel. It was by far the largest defeat of the knights in the 13th century: in the second-largest, the Battle of Aizkraukle, 71 knights were killed. The battle inspired the Great Prussian Uprising and the rebellions of the Semigallians, the Couronians, and the Oeselians. The battle undid two decades of Livonian conquests and it took some thirty years for the Livonian Order to restore its control.

The House of Mindaugas was the first royal family of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, centered on Mindaugas, the first known and undoubted sovereign of Lithuania. He was crowned as King of Lithuania in 1253 and assassinated ten years later. His known family relations end with children; there is no data on his great-grandchildren or any relations with the Gediminids, a dynasty of sovereigns of Lithuania and Poland that started with Butigeidis ca. 1285 and ended with Sigismund II Augustus in 1572.

Gedvydas was one of the sons of Dausprungas and nephews of King of Lithuania Mindaugas. Gedvydas together with his brother Tautvilas and uncle Vykintas waged a civil war against Mindaugas. Gedvydas' brother and uncle were more active and Gedvydas played just a secondary role in the conflict. The war resulted in coronation of Mindaugas.

The Treaty of Dubysa or Treaty of Dubissa consisted of three legal acts formulated on 31 October 1382 between Jogaila, Grand Duke of Lithuania, with his brother Skirgaila and Konrad von Wallenrode, Marshal of the Teutonic Order. During the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–84), Teutonic Order helped Jogaila and Skirgaila to defeat their uncle Kęstutis and his son Vytautas. Trying to realize promises given by Jogaila during the war, Teutonic Order organized the negotiations for the treaty. The acts were signed after six days of negotiations on an island in the mouth of the Dubysa River. The treaty was never ratified and never came into effect. The civil war resumed in summer 1383.

The Treaty of Lyck was a treaty between Vytautas the Great, future Grand Duke of Lithuania, and the Teutonic Knights, represented by Marquard von Salzbach, komtur Arnold von Bürglen, and Thomas, son of Lithuanian duke Survila. It was signed on 19 January 1390 in Lyck, State of the Teutonic Order,. Vytautas, in exchange for a military alliance against his cousin Jogaila during the Lithuanian Civil War (1389–1392), agreed to cede Samogitia up to the Nevėžis River and become the Order's vassal. In essence Vytautas confirmed the Treaty of Königsberg (1384) that he had signed with the Knights during the Lithuanian Civil War (1381–1384). Once betrayed, the Knights now asked for hostages as a guarantee of Vytautas' loyalty. The Order demanded as hostages his two brothers Sigismund and Tautvilas, wife Anna, daughter Sophia, sister Rymgajla, brother-in-law Ivan Olshanski, and a number of other nobles.

History of Lithuania (1219–95) history of Lithuania between 1219 and 1295

The history of Lithuania between 1219 and 1295 concerns the establishment and early history of the first Lithuanian state, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The beginning of the 13th century marks the end of the prehistory of Lithuania. From this point on the history of Lithuania is recorded in chronicles, treaties, and other written documents. In 1219, 21 Lithuanian dukes signed a peace treaty with Galicia–Volhynia. This event is widely accepted as the first proof that the Baltic tribes were uniting and consolidating. Despite continuous warfare with two Christian orders, the Livonian Order and the Teutonic Knights, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was established and gained some control over the lands of Black Ruthenia, Polatsk, Minsk, and other territories east of modern-day Lithuania that had become weak and vulnerable after the collapse of Kievan Rus'.

Tautvilas was Duke of Polatsk and one of the sons of Dausprungas and nephews of King of Lithuania Mindaugas. Tautvilas together with his brother Edivydas and uncle Vykintas waged a civil war against Mindaugas. The war resulted in coronation of Mindaugas.

The Battle of the Vikhra River took place on 29 April 1386 on the Vikhra River, tributary of the Sozh River, near Mstislavl between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Principality of Smolensk. The Lithuanians achieved a decisive victory and Smolensk was forced to accept being a vassal of Lithuania.


  1. 1 2 O'Connor, Kevin (2003). The History of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing. p. 15. ISBN   0-313-32355-0.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Dubonis, Artūras (2005). "Belated Praise for King Mindaugas of Lithuania". Mindaugo knyga: istorijos šaltiniai apie Lietuvos karalių. Lithuanian Institute of History. pp. 17–22. ISBN   9986-780-68-3. Archived from the original on 28 September 2011.
  3. 1 2 Baranauskas, Tomas (2000). "The Formation of the Lithuanian State". Lietuvos valstybės ištakos. Vaga. pp. 245–272. ISBN   5-415-01495-0 . Retrieved 20 February 2009. The Volhynian Chronicle gives the following description of Mindaugas' activity: Mindaugas "was a duke in the Lithuanian land, and he killed his brothers and his brothers' sons and banished others from the land and began to rule alone over the entire Lithuanian land. And he started to put on airs and enjoyed glory and might and would not put up with any opposition."
  4. 1 2 Ivinskis, Zenonas (1978). Lietuvos istorija iki Vytauto Didžiojo mirties (in Lithuanian). Rome: Lietuvių katalikų mokslo akademija. pp. 153–154. LCC   79346776.
  5. Ivinskis, Zenonas (2008). "Mindaugas ir jo karūna. Kritiškos pastabos septynių šimtmečių (1253–1953) perspektyvoje". In Vytautas Ališausklas (ed.). Mindaugas karalius (in Lithuanian). Aidai. p. 66. ISBN   978-9955-656-56-2.
  6. Jonynas, Ignas (1935). "Bychovco kronika". In Vaclovas Biržiška (ed.). Lietuviškoji enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). III. Kaunas: Spaudos Fondas. pp. 875–878.
  7. Stone, Daniel (2001). A History of East Central Europe. University of Washington Press. p. 3. ISBN   0-295-98093-1.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 Sužiedėlis, Simas, ed. (1970–1978). "Mindaugas". Encyclopedia Lituanica . III. Boston, Massachusetts: Juozas Kapočius. pp. 538–543. LCC   74-114275.
  9. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Kiaupa, Zigmantas; Jūratė Kiaupienė; Albinas Kunevičius (2000) [1995]. The History of Lithuania Before 1795 (English ed.). Vilnius: Lithuanian Institute of History. pp. 43–127. ISBN   9986-810-13-2.
  10. Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Ringaudas". Lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). 25. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 308–309. LCC   55020366.
  11. 1 2 3 4 Salys, Antanas (1953–1966). "Mindaugas". Lietuvių enciklopedija (in Lithuanian). XXVIII. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 493–495. LCC   55020366.
  12. 1 2 Zinkevičius, Zigmas (2007). Senosios Lietuvos valstybės vardynas (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Science and Encyclopaedia Publishing Institute. pp. 48–49. ISBN   5-420-01606-0.
  13. Frucht, Richard C. (2005). Eastern Europe: An Introduction to the People, Lands, and Culture. ABC-CLIO. p. 169. ISBN   1-57607-800-0.
  14. 1 2 3 Urban, William (Winter 1975). "The Prussian-Lithuanian Frontier of 1242". Lituanus . 4 (21). ISSN   0024-5089 . Retrieved 17 February 2009.
  15. 1 2 3 Vardys, Vytas Stanley; Judith B. Sedaitis (1997). Lithuania: The Rebel Nation. Westview Series on the Post-Soviet Republics. Westview Press. p. 10. ISBN   0-8133-1839-4.
  16. 1 2 Bojtár, Endre (1999). Foreword to the Past: A Cultural History of the Baltic People. Central European University Press. p. 179. ISBN   963-9116-42-4.
  17. 1 2 3 4 5 Jakštas, Juozas (1969). "Lithuania to World War I". In Albertas Gerutis (ed.). Lithuania: 700 Years . translated by Algirdas Budreckis. New York: Manyland Books. pp.  43–58. LCC   75-80057.
  18. Rowell, S.C. (1995). "Baltic Europe". The New Cambridge Medieval History, c.1300–c.1415. VI. Cambridge University Press. p. 705. ISBN   0-521-36290-3.
  19. 1 2 3 Kiaupa, Zigmantas (2002). "Baltų žemių vienijimosi priežastys". Gimtoji istorija. Nuo 7 iki 12 klasės (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Elektroninės leidybos namai. ISBN   9986-9216-9-4 . Retrieved 11 March 2007.
  20. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Lietuvos valdovai (XIII-XVIII a.): enciklopedinis žinynas (in Lithuanian). Vytautas Spečiūnas (compiler). Vilnius: Mokslo ir enciklopedijų leidybos institutas. 2004. pp. 15–78. ISBN   5-420-01535-8.CS1 maint: others (link)
  21. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Butkevičienė, Birutė; Vytautas Gricius (July 2003). "Mindaugas – Lietuvos karalius". Mokslas ir gyvenimas (in Lithuanian). 7 (547). ISSN   0134-3084. Archived from the original on 23 May 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2006.
  22. 1 2 Rowell, S. C. (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295–1345. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series. Cambridge University Press. pp. 51–52. ISBN   978-0-521-45011-9.
  23. Dvornik, Francis (1992). The Slavs in European History and Civilization. Rutgers University Press. p. 215. ISBN   0-8135-0799-5.
  24. 1 2 John Meyendorff (1981). Byzantium and the Rise of Russia. Cambridge University Press, reprinted by St Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1989. p. 56. ISBN   978-0-88141-079-2.
  25. 1 2 Vauchez, Andre; Richard Barrie Dobson; Adrian Walford; Michael Lapidge (2000). Encyclopedia of the Middle Ages. Routledge. p. 855. ISBN   1-57958-282-6.
  26. "History of the Catholic Church in Lithuania". Catholic Church in Lithuania. Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  27. Semaška, Algimantas (2006). Kelionių vadovas po Lietuvą: 1000 lankytinų vietovių norintiems geriau pažinti gimtąjį kraštą (in Lithuanian) (4th ed.). Vilnius: Algimantas. p. 510. ISBN   9986-509-90-4.
  28. 1 2 Ivinskis, Zenonas (1978). Lietuvos istorija iki Vytauto Didžiojo mirties (in Lithuanian). Rome: Lietuvių katalikų mokslo akademija. pp. 178–179, 186. LCC   79346776.
  29. Gudavičius, Edvardas (1998). Mindaugas (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Žara. pp. 239–240. ISBN   9986-34-020-9.
  30. (in Lithuanian) Lietuvos Respublikos švenčių dienų įstatymas, Žin., 1990, Nr. 31-757, Seimas. Retrieved on 17 September 2006.
  31. 1 2 Baranauskas, Tomas (23 March 2003). "Mindaugo karūnavimo ir Lietuvos karalystės problemos". Voruta (in Lithuanian). 6 (504). ISSN   1392-0677 . Retrieved 17 September 2006.
  32. Kajackas, Algimintas (Spring 1990). "The History and Recent Archeological Investigations of the Vilnius Cathedral". Lituanus . 1 (36). ISSN   0024-5089.
  33. Rowell, S.C. (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295–1345. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series. Cambridge University Press. p. 149. ISBN   978-0-521-45011-9.
  34. Zabiela, Gintautas (1995). Lietuvos medinės pilys (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Diemedis. p. 175. ISBN   9986-23-018-7.
  35. "Reserve – Archaeological Site". Administration of the State Cultural Reserve of Kernavė. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  36. "Cultural life". Lithuanian National Tourism Office. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 4 February 2009.
  37. "The Gimpse on the History of Klaipeda Port". Klaipeda State Seaport Authority. Archived from the original on 17 February 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  38. O'Connor, Kevin (2006). Culture and Customs of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing. p. 42. ISBN   0-313-32355-0. Unlike the insincere conversion of the Lithuanian chief Mindaugas in 1251, Jogaila's embrace of Christianity, although strategic to be sure – it was the price he paid for the Polish crown – was permanent.
  39. 1 2 Ignatow, Gabriel (2007). Transnational Identity Politics and the Environment. Lexington Books. p. 100. ISBN   0-7391-2015-8.
  40. Jones, Prudence; Nigel Pennick (1997). A History of Pagan Europe. Routledge. p. 172. ISBN   0-415-15804-4.
  41. Plokhy, Serhii (2006). The Origins of the Slavic Nations: Premodern Identities in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus. Cambridge University Press. p. 91. ISBN   0-521-86403-8.
  42. Marcinkevičius, Justinas (Winter 1971). "Honor and Suffering, The Second Part of the Drama-Poem Mindaugas". Lituanus . 4 (17). ISSN   0024-5089 . Retrieved 20 February 2009.
  43. Ivinskis, Zenonas (1978). Lietuvos istorija iki Vytauto Didžiojo mirties (in Lithuanian). Rome: Lietuvių katalikų mokslo akademija. p. 195. LCC   79346776.
  44. Lieven, Anatol (1993). The Baltic Revolution. Yale University Press. p. 47. ISBN   0-300-06078-5.
  45. Nikžentaitis, Alvydas (1989). Gediminas (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Vyriausioji enciklopedijų redakcija. p. 8. OCLC   27471995.
  46. "Celebrations in Honor of Mindaugas the King" (PDF). Lithuanian American Community, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 March 2009. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  47. "Polish President pleased with the opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of King Mindaugas' coronation together with the people of Lithuania". President of the Republic of Lithuania. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  48. "Lithuania's Cooperation with Estonia". Foreign Ministry of Lithuania. Retrieved 24 February 2009.
  49. "Juliusz Słowacki". Polski Słownik Biograficzny (in Polish). XXXIX/1. 1999. pp. 58–73. Archived from the original on 4 March 2009.
  50. Šešplaukis, Alfonsas (Fall 1970). "Shakespearian Traits in Lithuanian Literature". Lituanus . 3 (16). ISSN   0024-5089 . Retrieved 15 February 2009.
  51. Dundzila, Audrius Vilius (Spring 1990). "King and Power". Lituanus . 1 (36). ISSN   0024-5089 . Retrieved 8 February 2009.
Preceded by
Title created
Grand Duke/King of Lithuania
Succeeded by