F.A.Q. Skins/Themes

    Banderia Prutenorum

: Deli2 , : Jul-01-2005

Tomas Baranauskas



      Research Goals and the Concept of the State

      The formation of the Lithuanian state has been an object of research for many years. This problem arises at the juncture of Lithuanian history and prehistory, but information about Lithuanian society in those times is still rather scanty. The lack of information makes this problem a rather complicated one, and researchers fail to come to indisputable conclusions. The written sources usually contain casual and vague hints, and these are interpreted according to various theoretical views or simply according to one's imagination. The main task of research into the formation of the Lithuanian state is to minimize the inevitable part played by imagination and to make the reconstruction as plausible as possible. It is necessary to avoid groundless stereotypes, evaluate the historical record, and make good use of the work of earlier historians. Of course, any investigation into this problem is impossible without a definition of the concept of the state itself. We can tentatively distinguish two main concepts of the state - a narrow one and a broad one. In the broad sense the state is any political organization, whereas in the narrow sense the state represents only one type of political organization. It may be defined as a regional political organization ruled by professional officers maintained by taxpayers.

      I. Sources

      Lithuania is mentioned for the first time in relation to St. Bruno's mission to Prussia in 1009 and his death. The sources containing information about these events can be divided into two versions - Wibert's and Thietmar's. Wibert's version is based on the narrative of Bruno's companion Wibert. A brief version of Wibert's narrative (ca. 1020) and adaptations of a more extensive variant - in Peter Damiani's Life of St. Romuald (ca. 1040) and in Life and Passion of St. Bruno (ca. 1400) - have survived until today. Thietmar's (Saxon) version has survived in short narratives by Saxon annalists: Thietmar of Merseburg's Chronicle (1014), the Quedlinburg Annals, Works of Magdeburg Bishops (12th century), etc. The original source of the Saxon version is the lost Book of Bruno's Works, which was most probably written by Bruno's schoolmate and relative Thietmar of Merseburg.

      In the 11th century the first information about Lithuania also appeared in the Ruthenian (Rus') chronicles. Most of them begin with Nestor's Narrative of the Old Times (which has not survived as a separate work; its best transcripts are found in Laurentius' chronicle and that of Volhynia). It is supposed that the Novgorod chronicles begin with an older work - Initial Codex, written in 1093 - although some researchers take it as a shortened variant of the Narrative of the Old Times. These sources contain only a few references to Lithuania. The Novgorod chronicles and the Narrative of the Old Times mention only one raid against the Lithuanians, but it is dated differently - 1040 (Nestor) and 1044 (Initial Codex). It is not clear whether there were two raids (the original text of the chronicle may have been shortened) or one of the indicated dates is erroneous. Besides this information, the Lithuanians are mentioned in the preface of Nestor's Chronicle as tributaries of Ruthenia (Rus').

      The first Novgorod Chronicle is the oldest surviving Ruthenian chronicle (its synodal manuscript dates from the end of the 13th century). It is an important source for events, which occurred in the second half of the 12th and in the 13th centuries. From it we learn about the first Lithuanian raid on Ruthenia in 1183. Laurentius' Chronicle is the second oldest surviving Ruthenian chronicle (the Tver Chronicle of 1305 copied by the monk Laurentius in 1377). It devotes comparatively little space to the early history of Lithuania. However, a few important facts are mentioned from the second half of the 13th century. The so-called Radziwill Chronicle - the oldest illustrated Ruthenian chronicle-was also compiled in the land of Vladimir-Suzdal. It represents a copy of another illustrated chronicle of 1206 made at the end of the 15th century. Its two miniatures are directly related to Lithuanian history (tributary peoples of Ruthenia and a Ruthenian raid against the Yatvingians in 1113). There are also some illustrations of events from Ruthenian history, which were important for Lithuania.

      One of the most important sources for research into the formation of the Lithuanian state is the Volhynian (Ipat'evskaya) Chronicle, which describes events that took place before 1290. It has survived as the Ipat'evsky manuscript dating from about 1420 and the Khlebnikov manuscript dating from the 16th century. The publishers of this Chronicle chose the Ipat'evsky manuscript as their source. However, M. Hrushevski assumes that Khlebnikov's manuscript contains the more archaic text. The Volhynian Chronicle contains much original information about Lithuania in the second half of the 12th and in the 13th centuries. It is composed of three main parts: Narrative of the Old Times (up to 1118), the Kiev Chronicle (1119-1200), and the Galician-Volhynian Chronicle (1205-1290). The third part, which is the most important for us, was written in Kholm (until 1262) and Vladimir of Volhynia (1264-1292). The weakest point in this part is the chronology. In Khlebnikov's manuscript the events of the 13th century are given without dates, whereas in the Ipat'evsky manuscript the dates are inaccurate because they were added later.

      The military actions of Lithuania in the north are widely mirrored in the Livonian chronicles. Henricus de Lettis' Chronicle gives an account of events which occurred in 1184-1227 (the oldest manuscript is the Zamojski Codex from the beginning of the 14th century. The author - a contemporary of the events described - unfortunately had no knowledge of Lithuanian internal politics. For this reason, the greatest number of references relates only to frequent Lithuanian attacks. The Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, written in 1295-1297, is one of the most valuable sources for 13th-century Lithuanian history (it contains descriptions of events up to 1290). Its oldest manuscript is the Riga Codex, which dates from the middle of the 14th century. Special attention is devoted to Lithuania. Therefore, of all the sources for the 13th century it is the one that contains the greatest number of references to the internal life of the Lithuanian state. Particularly important is the one about Mindaugas' father - a king who had no equals.

      A very important source for our theme is The Lay of lgor's Campaign (1185; the only manuscript, from the 16th century, was lost during the Moscow fire of 1812, but two copies of it have survived). There have been a few attempts in historiography to doubt the authenticity of The Lay. Researchers who maintain this position have made unsuccessful attempts to prove that the 14th-century poem

is its source. However, many facts prove that Zadonshchina was actually modeled after The Lay and thus prove its authentic character.

      Worthy of attention are the references in historical tradition. The main part of Lithuanian historical tradition is recorded in the Lithuanian chronicles of the beginning of the 16th century, whereas Russian tradition is mirrored in byliny recorded in the 19th - 20th centuries. The material of both traditions about early Lithuanian history is multi-layered, confused, and unreliable. However, its analysis, when compared with known historical facts, may provide additional data for the investigation of some problems. Byliny abound in references to Lithuania. However, in most cases they are related to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania after the Union of Lublin rather than to ethnic Lithuania. In Russian folklore, lands and events are often linked to Lithuania even though they actually had nothing to do with it. Perhaps the most interesting narrative from early Lithuanian history is The Lithuanian Assault. It tells about two nephews of a Lithuanian king who take part in an unsuccessful raid on the lands of Roman, Duke of Bryansk. It is known that Mindaugas really did suffer a defeat in his assault against this duke in 1263.

      The Lithuanian tradition goes back to the 16th century. Therefore, it does not confuse different periods as much. The legends in the Lithuanian chronicles contain rather accurate descriptions of events such as, for example, the settling of Germans in Livonia after the Lithuanian raid (1185-1186). However, the Lithuanian tradition has come down to us in altered form. Unrelated legends were artificially combined into a single narrative. Today we have to separate them and treat each of them as a different source of information. The various manuscripts of the Lithuanian chronicles are inconsistent in their representations of Lithuanian history. Probably, the protograph contained contradictory accounts, and differences occurred when making abridgements of the original texts. Even in the manuscripts as they are known today, different versions of the same event or different forms of the same name are sometimes given. At present, there are seven known manuscripts of these partly legendary Lithuanian chronicles.

      Research into the formation of the Lithuanian state is impossible without the help of archaeology. The relevant data come from the Brushed Pottery culture (1300 BC-400 AD) and the East Lithuanian Barrow culture (400-1200).

      Archaeological data can be interpreted through comparison with other societies at similar stages of development. There are three possible sources of information:

      1) knowledge of other Baltic peoples and their closest neighbors;

      2) knowledge of other (primarily Slavonic and Germanic) countries in the European forest zone;

      3) ethnographic material about primitive peoples (general theories of state formation, also important for understanding the formation of the Lithuanian state, are based on this material).

      II. Historiography

      The first conception of the formation of the Lithuanian state was formulated by M. Stryjkowski in his Chronicle (1582). In his opinion the ancestors of the Lithuanians "were savages living in forests." In 1577 M. Stryjkowski attempted to support this idea with an ethnographic analogy: "Today this way of life is characteristic of the Lapps outside Sweden...." According to him state organization was brought to Lithuania by Italians who arrived in the 1st century BC. "The founder of Lithuania and its first duke" was Kernius, a descendant of Italians whose rule began in 1040 (this date is related to the first mention of the name of Lithuania known to M. Stryjkowski). M. Stryjkowski raised one more question: "When did the name Grand Duchy of Lithuania appear?" In his opinion Rimgaudas, the legendary father of Mindaugas, who came into power in 1219, was the "first to adopt the title Grand Duke of Lithuania, Samogitia, and Ruthenia. This title was not - and could not have been - used by his predecessors because these states had always had their own rulers." M. Stryjkowski used the legends contained in the Lithuanian chronicles but did not base any of his interpretations on them. He understood that the stories about the legendary dukes (up to 1200) were doubtful: "their lives remain obscure because they wrote with swords on their neighbors' foreheads." Unfortunately, after M. Stryjkowski there is a long gap in the investigation of Lithuanian history. Even in the 19th century romantically minded historians simply repeated the legends interpreted by M. Stryjkowski. This kind of historiography reached its climax in Teodoras Narbutas' works, where the account presented of the formation of the Lithuanian state is sophisticated but has no basis in reality.

      Only in 1818 did a Russian historian, Nikolay Karamzin, rely on authentic sources for the history of Lithuania. He was the first to determine the true importance of the date 1183 in Lithuanian and Ruthenian history. "In this year western Russia got to know new enemies - dangerous and cruel ones." However, N. Karamzin did not attempt to determine when the Lithuanian state was established.

      Somewhat deeper insight into the problem of the establishment of the Lithuanian state was sought by a Ukrainian historian, Vladimir Antonovich, who founded the historiographical school which was dominant at the turn of the 19th - 20th centuries. His doctoral dissertation, An Essay on the History of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1878), served as a basis for research into Lithuanian history. However, Lithuanian history interested V. Antonovich primarily as part of Ukrainian history, and for this reason, he tended to look for the sources of the Lithuanian state in later times. The author sought to bring them nearer to the beginning of the Lithuanian period in Ukrainian history: "The first attempt to establish a Lithuanian state and, at the same time, the first appearance of Lithuanians in Russian territory took place in the middle of the 13th century; this attempt was ultimately crowned with success only at the beginning of the 14th century, when almost all western Russian lands were united under the power of Lithuanian dukes." Besides, according to the author Mindaugas, who had undertaken the first attempt to create a state, could not have managed without Ruthenian assistance.

      The most exhaustive 19th-century study about the establishment of the Lithuanian state was written by Juliusz Latkowski in 1892. He distinguished two important turning points in the history of Lithuania - the beginning of Ruthenian raids on Lithuania and the beginning of Lithuanian raids on Ruthenia - which were related to new stages of political consolidation in Lithuania. In the 11th century, during the defense of Lithuania against Ruthenian attacks, there appeared small dukes; in the 12th century there appeared greater (more powerful) dukes who organized attacks on Ruthenia. Although the author recognized that these dukes acted jointly, he believed that this unity was based on a simple agreement. What encouraged J. Latkowski to deny that these dukes were a political unit was the treaty of 1219, in which five "senior dukes" were mentioned. J. Latkowski understood that those dukes were independent. This and similar interpretations of the treaty of 1219 were dominant in historiography for a long time. J. Latkowski ascribed the establishment of the Lithuanian state to Mindaugas and dated his coming to power to 1236.

      Henryk Paszkiewicz was, in 1930, the first to present a well-argued reinterpretation of Lithuanian political organization at the turn of the 12th - 13th centuries. In his opinion the history of the Lithuanian state goes back to the last quarter of the 12th century, and there is no good reason to assert that Mindaugas was the founder of the Lithuanian state. A distinct change indicating the existence of a state was the beginning of Lithuanian raids. H. Paszkiewicz calculated that of 75 Lithuanian raids that took place in 1200 - 1263 42 were organized before Mindaugas came to power (1236), and 33 - under Mindaugas' rule. Their frequency remained the same; therefore, no substantial changes occurred in Lithuanian society at that time. The treaty of 1219 does not prove the absence of a grand duke. In the Lithuanian treaties of the 14th century many dukes also participated, including senior ones, but their existence does not contradict the fact that there were already grand dukes.

      H. Paszkiewicz's views were disputed by another famous Polish historian, Henryk Lowmianski. He formulated and solved many new problems relating to the history of the Lithuanian state, but many of his conclusions were hasty. In his opinion Mindaugas united all of Aukstaitija only in 1254 - 1258 and annexed Samogitia in 1261 (actually this was only an elimination of the consequences brought on by an internal war). H. Lowmianski assumed that even then Mindaugas was unable to establish a state through his own efforts. He needed the assistance of the crusaders. More successful were the investigations conducted by H. Lowmianski in the fields of Lithuanian (actually Baltic) social structure, demography, and political division in the 13th century.

      After World War II the Lithuanian émigré press reflected an increased interest in early Lithuanian history. However, because primary sources were lacking, research into Lithuanian history by the diaspora was a rather difficult task. A higher professional level could be maintained only by historians who had started their research work in independent Lithuania. Nevertheless, the problem of the origins of the Lithuanian state was discussed - and not only by historians - especially after the idea arose to celebrate its anniversary. Suggested dates for its establishment were 1219, 1236, 1251, and 1253. The idea that the state had been established before Mindaugas' reign was also popular.

      After the annexation of Lithuania by the Soviet Union, Russian historians were faced with the necessity of determining the origins of the Lithuanian state from a Marxist viewpoint. This task was undertaken by Vladimir Pashuto. Although his monograph was entitled The Formation of the Lithuanian State, it focused mainly on various problems that arose during this period. Little attention was devoted to the establishment of the state itself. In V. Pashuto's opinion, the transitional form of entering into a state political organization was a confederation of lands. He saw an example of this in Prussia, even though its eleven lands had hardly ever acted jointly, whereas in Lithuania the sources do not yet indicate such organization. The treaty of 1219, in V. Pashuto's opinion, "proved that Lithuania was a comparatively unified state," a union of lands. Zivinbutas, who headed the list of senior dukes, was a grand duke. In later years the power of the grand duke became more consolidated. Mindaugas united the Lithuanian lands, and as a result in the middle of the 13th century the confederation of lands was converted into a monarchy. In view of the unfavorable conditions for investigating Lithuanian history, V Pashuto's book was an important event. Favorable responses to V. Pashuto's study also appeared in the emigre press.

      Recently Edvardas Gudavicius has again come out in support of a hypothesis that the Lithuanian state was established in the times of Mindaugas. In the process of Lithuanian state formation he distinguishes three stages: 1) the "collective seniorate," which can be traced in the description of the treaty of 1219; 2) the "individual seniorate," which Mindaugas created around 1240; 3) Mindaugas' becoming a "real sovereign" as a result of the internal war of 1249 -1253. Like many other authors, E. Gudavicius points out the changes that took place at the end of the 12th century and determined the beginning of Lithuanian raids. He has dated the establishment of the federation of lands to the last two decades of the 12th century. According to him, the political order of the federation of lands could be defined as a "collective seniorate." E. Gudavicius' views on the state are strictly Marxist. He still remains true to a Leninist definition, which, according to him, "accurately and essentially" describes the state as a "means for exploiters to subjugate the exploited." Therefore, military forces played a decisive role in the formation of the state by forcing their will upon society. Such views, presumably, account for E. Gudavicius' wish to "let" the warrior retinues of Lithuanian dukes rage chaotically for at least sixty years, accumulating riches and power, until a duke eventually appeared who was strong enough to force his will on all of society. E. Gudavicius' status as an historian is one of the reasons why this hypothesis continues to be popular today.

      III. The Development of Political Organization in Lithuanian Territory before the Establishment of the State

      Society can exist only by coordinating the activities of its members. Therefore, all societies require a certain form of authority. The main functions of authority (preserving the integrity of the social organism and ensuring its normal functioning) have never changed; what have changed are only the ways in which authority is organized. In the narrow sense the state is the highest form of political organization. An understanding of its formation requires certain knowledge of the previous development of political organization.

      In the 10th - 5th millennia BC society in what later became Lithuania consisted of autonomous but unstable nuclear families. They joined into bands (local groups) which lived and hunted together seasonally. In other seasons these bands would split up into small groups or families. Such communities could include 12-15 families.

      The transition to a productive economy coincided approximately with the appearance of tribal organization. The tribe represented an unstable temporary regional political organization that united at certain times - usually in the face of an external threat. The dominance of agriculture and Indo-European expansion in the Late Neolithic Period (2600 - 1900 BC) made tribal organization indispensable. Sharpening military conflicts resulted in the establishment of fortified settlements, or hill-forts (about 1300 BC), in the territory of the Narva culture (Figs. 17, 18), which was transformed into the Brushed Pottery culture. Separate communities continued to play the leading role, but they became more settled and stable. In the Late Neolithic there appeared settlements inhabited by a few tens of families. Such hill-fort communities may have contained 60-100 people, and the size of these settlements remained almost unchanged until historical times. The increasing number of military conflicts and growing complexity of social life required greater attention to the ruling function. For this reason, the choice of chiefs had to depend more and more on their ability to act as leaders rather than to set an example in everyday work. This situation created the conditions for the appearance of permanent regional political organizations - chiefdoms.

      Chiefdom may be described as a small permanent regional political organization, which contains several communities. It does not yet require professional ruling machinery. The existence of chiefdoms is proved by elite burials. In western Lithuania they appeared around 150-200 AD; in Samogitia, northern, and central Lithuania - in the 3rd-4th centuries. Somewhat later, in the 4th - 5th centuries, there appeared rich burials of Sudovian "dukes." At the same time, the earliest chief burials appeared in eastern Lithuania (the most famous is that of a Taurapilis "duke" at the end of the 5th century; Utena district). Thus, chiefdoms may have developed somewhat later in eastern Lithuania - around 400 AD.

      Chiefdoms developed at a time of increased military activity: the graves of this period contain more weapons. The Gothic migration at the turn of the 2nd - 3rd centuries caused a wave of migration in the Baltic lands. Many hill-forts were abandoned in the 5th century because their inhabitants were unable to withstand the onslaught of nomadic tribes. Although the professional ruling and defense machinery was not yet fully developed, the need arose to strengthen the solidarity of society. A situation in which some people lived in hill-forts and others in settlements on open ground did not add to feelings of solidarity. The hill-fort inhabitants understood that it was better to come down to their neighbors for collective defense than to remain an isolated community in a hill-fort. Therefore, the hill-forts may have been abandoned for the sake of social consolidation.

      Written sources of the 2nd-4th centuries AD already contain references to Baltic tribes, which are later described in the 13th century (Galindians, Sudovians, probably Selonians and Curonians). However, in size they most likely corresponded to the later lands that consisted of several districts (valsciai in Lithuanian). For long time districts remained the highest-ranking permanent political organizations. They usually united into lands, which for a long time remained confederations of districts (when tribes expanded, their territory may have included several lands). Some of the Baltic lands preserved this character until historical times. However, the ties between most lands acquired in the course of time the character of a federation: they became the nuclei of duchies.

      IV. The Formation of the Duchy of Lithuania

      The consolidation of political organization in the Baltic lands was stimulated by the need to organize defense against Poland and Ruthenia - great Slavonic states that came into being in the 9th - 10th centuries. Of all Baltic lands Lithuania developed political organization most successfully. In the 12th century it was increasingly active in the internal wars of the dukes of Polotsk (Polatsak). More references to Lithuania started to appear in the Ruthenian chronicles. Lithuania alone was able to develop into a grand duchy and defend its independence.

      The earliest evidence of Ruthenian expansion in the direction of Lithuania goes back to 945, when a Yatvingian was mentioned as being in the Ruthenian legation in Byzantium. This expansion increased in the times of the Grand Duke of Kiev Vladimir I (978 - 1015). At the end of the 10th century he made his son Izyaslav duke of Polotsk and built castles for him in Izyaslavl (Zaslauye) and Minsk. These castles served as fortifications in the fight with Lithuania. Probably as a result of the clash with Vladimir's Ruthenia, the word valdymieras (ruler, master) was introduced into the Lithuanian language. It was related to Vladimir I's name and implied the formation of a new type of authority. Although there is no direct evidence of Vladimir's raids on Lithuania, we may guess that he was active in this region. We know about the raid on Yatvingia that ended in Vladimir's victory.

      The lands of Aukstaitija (i.e., the highlands) made up the nucleus of the Lithuanian state (one of them became the original Duchy of Lithuania). Because of a lack of data it is difficult today to determine the boundaries of Aukstaitija. For this reason, the most controversial theories have appeared in historiography. Adolfas Tautavicius' hypothesis has recently become particularly popular. According to this hypothesis, there existed a system of three tribes: Lithuanians (in eastern Lithuania), Aukstaiciai (highlanders, in central Lithuania) and Samogitians (Zemaiciai, or lowlanders, in western Lithuania). This hypothesis was created to account for the existence of three different archaeological cultures in the territory of Aukstaitija and Samogitia. However, the sources contain no evidence of such a system of tribes: Samogitians-Aukstaiciai-Lithuanians. In the 14th century ethnic Lithuania included only Aukstaitija and Samogitia. The existence of three archaeological cultures does not necessarily mean the existence of three tribes. Although tribes usually have a distinctive culture, historical circumstances may bring about the cultural heterogeneity of a tribe.

      The original center of Samogitian culture had to be the central Lithuanian cultural area because only such a geographical situation justifies the name Samogitians (Zemaiciai is Lithuanian for Lowlanders). The inhabitants of the Samogitian upland (Samogitia in historical times) could not have been the first to call themselves Samogitians because this name does not describe their geographical situation (an upland in the upper courses of several rivers). The historical boundary of Samogitia, known from the end of the 14th century, ran along the Nevezis River, dividing the territory of the former central Lithuanian culture into two parts - a Samogitian one and an Aukstaitian one. This boundary along the lower course of the Nevezis is already mentioned at the end of the 13th century. This was a boundary intentionally determined by a state power. Inasmuch as Samogitia was a peripheral region and its dependence on the Lithuanian rulers was weak, it is questionable whether these rulers would have expanded Samogitian territory at the expense of Aukstaitija. Therefore, we may assume that in earlier times this entire culture was Samogitian. The Samogitian character of central Lithuania is also proved by certain indirect evidence. In the 15th - 16th centuries the regions {pavietai) of Kaunas and Upyte were included in the Palatinate of Trakai and not in the Palatinate of Vilnius (in the 14th century the duke of Trakai was Samogitia's suzerain). These regions also resembled Samogitia in some of the services rendered to their dukes. Besides, the "German border" along the Sventoji River, mentioned in the historical tradition of the 15th - 16th centuries, may have been the eastern boundary of "all Samogitia," which Mindaugas gave to the Livonian Order in 1259. All this evidence makes it possible to relate the Aukstaitian territories to the East Lithuanian Barrow culture and localize Samogitians within the area of flat burial grounds in central Lithuania and the Samogitian upland.

      In Aukstaitija we can count up to five lands. They are mentioned in written sources only in the 13th century. Their more precise boundaries can be determined only by the distribution of archaeological sites (lands and districts were separated by smaller or larger areas of wilderness). In this way we can localize Deltuva as being situated along the middle course of the Sventoji and in the east up to the watershed between the Sventoji and Zeimena basins. Nalsia included the greater part of the Utena administrative region, the Svencionys district, and neighboring Belarusian areas. The Neris land was situated on both sides of the Neris middle course. The Lithuanian land had to be in the border area with Ruthenia, i.e., in the Asmena-Svyriai region (at the end of the 14th century an already expanded Lithuania in the narrow sense of the word was identified with the Duchy of Vilnius, which bordered in the east on the Duchy of Kreva). The land that can easily be distinguished in the area between the Nemunas, Merkys, and Neris may be identified with the land of Deremela mentioned in The Lay of lgor's Campaign.

      The name of Lithuania is mentioned for the first time in Saxon sources describing St. Bruno's death in the Lithuanian-Ruthenian borderlands. The recent theory that Duke Netimer, who was baptized by Bruno, governed Lithuania is unfounded. It seems more probable to connect him with the neighboring Yatvingian lands. After baptizing Netimer, Bruno proceeded toward Lithuania but was killed near the border. However, on the basis of surviving information about Netimer's principality we may draw a few conclusions about Lithuania: 1) the borders were protected; 2) the duke had religious power ("king's idols" are mentioned; religious power was also characteristic of 13th-century dukes); 3) the duke had the right and power to condemn to death or pardon (later grand dukes of Lithuania also took pride in this power); 4) a gathering of the central district (valscius) contained 300 men (Wibert mentions that Netimer was baptized along with 300 men; this figure corresponds to the number of families in an average district); 5) the political organization led by Netimer had several hierarchical levels (according to Wibert, Bruno was killed by "a duke of that land," whereas Netimer is called the king); 6) seniorate power was hereditary; it went to the oldest man in the family - in most cases to a brother (according to Damiani, when this king wanted to leave his kingdom to his son, he had to kill his brother).

      All these features may be characteristic both of a chiefdom and of a state. The type of organization depends on whether other districts paid tribute to Netimer or he lived off his own property and gifts given to him by the inhabitants of his district. Unfortunately, we learn nothing about these matters from the available sources. However, Netimer's broad authority and the simple hierarchy imply that his principality may have had a state structure.

      Since the times of Vladimir I and through the 11th century Lithuania was constantly under pressure from Ruthenia. However, close contacts also created the conditions for a civilizing influence from Ruthenia, especially since there existed a political link between the two countries - the payment of tribute. Many Ruthenian loanwords were introduced into Lithuanian before the 12th century. The progress of material culture was manifested in agriculture (improved sickles, rotary querns, etc.) and crafts (the improvement of forging technology, wood processing tools, the appearance of the potter's wheel) as well as in active trade relations and changes in social structure (the appearance of castles, warriors with splendid clothing, and horse burials).

      In different Baltic lands castles appeared at different times and, most likely, bore a local character. In the 11th - 12th centuries hill-forts appeared as the residences of dukes (Mazulonys, Kaukai) in Lithuania and neighboring lands. In the 13th - 14th centuries such hill-forts served as residences for the grand dukes of Lithuania where they stayed when travelling throughout their state (Ukmerge, Palatavys). Thus, it seems likely that such hill-forts served as centers for the collection of tribute from the time of their appearance. The maintenance of the castles was also related to a complex of services. It should be pointed out that in the middle of the 13th century the collection of tribute in Yatvingian lands was a well-developed system; the tributes included marten furs and silver. Besides, Yatvingians were used for different services, including the building of castles in their land. This system of service had probably been developing since the 11th century in Yatvingian duchies, which closely resembled Netimer's "kingdom."

      Castles were military sites. The chieftains residing in them had the important and difficult duty of defending the land. Thus, the fact that chiefs moved their residences to castles was an important step toward professional government. The link between castles and the specialization of authority is indirectly proved by the increasing social differentiation, which became evident precisely at that time. All these factors, together with the growing importance of Lithuania, allow us to conclude that the Duchy of Lithuania was established or began to develop in the 11th century.

      The Duchy of Polotsk was the center of permanent Ruthenian expansion into Lithuania. Minsk and Izyaslavl - the strongholds of this expansion - belonged to precisely this duchy. By the 11th century the Duchy of Polotsk had grown strong and manifested an independence from Kiev. The 11th century was an age of prosperity for this duchy. Most of the raids organized by the dukes of Polotsk remain unknown to us. However, the grand dukes of Kiev sometimes intervened. When in 1038-1047 the duke of Mazovia, Meclaw, fought for independence from the duke of Poland, Casimir the Restorer, the grand duke of Kiev, Yaroslav, rendered assistance to Casimir. His first attacks were directed at Meclaw's allies, the Yatvingians and Lithuanians: in 1038 a raid on Yatvingia, in 1040 - on Lithuania, in 1040 - on Mazovia, and in 1044 -probably again on Lithuania. In 1047 Meclaw was completely defeated.

      In the introduction to the Narrative of the Old Times (the beginning of the 12th century) Nestor lists the peoples (tribes), including Lithuanians, who paid tribute to Ruthenia. Lithuanians are listed as tributaries to Polotsk.

      Conflict arose among the dukes of Polotsk in the 12th century, and the power of the Duchy of Polotsk began to decline. This situation created new opportunities for Lithuania. In 1130 the grand duke Mstislav invaded Polotsk, banished to Constantinople Rogvolod Vasily and Ivan - sons of the dead duke of Polotsk Boris Rogvolod - and brought Polotsk under his power. Seeking to undermine the opposition of the dukes of Polotsk, Mstislav organized a raid against Lithuania in 1131. His coalition of dukes ravaged the country with fire and took "many captives." However, on the way back a subunit behind the main forces was beaten by the Lithuanians. The Lithuanians acted as allies of the dukes of Polotsk, demonstrating that their relations with Polotsk were still strong. These events had to increase the significance of the Lithuanians, who could expect a reward for their military assistance.

      In 1140 the Borisoviches (Boris' sons) returned from their exile in Byzantium, and around 1146 one of them, Rogvolod Vasily, became duke of Polotsk. However, in 1151 - and especially in 1158 - a heated fight for power developed between the Borisoviches and the Gleboviches (Gleb's sons). The Lithuanians also became involved in this fight. In 1159 Volodar Glebovich "marched through forests under Lithuanian leadership" in order to get their help later on. His decisive battle with Rogvolod took place in 1162 in the vicinity of Gorodets. With Lithuanian assistance Volodar defeated Rogvolod but gained nothing. The Vasilkoviches came to power in Polotsk though they had not participated in the fighting. They continued fighting the Gleboviches and eventually defeated them. It seems likely that the Lithuanians had some time ago abandoned the Gleboviches and joined the victors - the Vasilkoviches.

      V. The Formation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

      In 1179 there developed a conflict between two dukes of Kiev - Rurik Rostislavich and Svyatoslav Vsevolodovich. Svyatoslav was supported by all the dukes of Polotsk except the duke of Drutsk, Gleb Rogvolodovich. In 1180 Drutsk, while being besieged by Svyatoslav's brother, was approached by the army of Polotsk, which had in its ranks "Lyvians and Lithuanians" (the Lithuanians were presumably commanded by the Lithuanian borderland dukes Andrew Volodshich, Vasilko Bryachislavich, and the duke of Logoisk, Vseslav). Thus, the Lithuanians and the dukes most closely related to Lithuania were at this time still subject to the central power in Polotsk. In this respect, the reference to Lithuanians and Lyvians is rather informative. The latter still recognized the power of the duke of Polotsk at the beginning of the 13th century and paid tribute to him.

      In all the events of the 12th century the Lithuanians took part as a small force. They did not act independently and only supported the dukes of Polotsk. But even in this alliance the Lithuanian role was not great. We can observe a different situation in 1183, when the Lithuanians began to organize their own raids.

      After hardly being noticeable in the background of conflict among the dukes of Polotsk, why did Lithuania suddenly emerge as a threatening power even to these dukes themselves?

      The 12th century was marked by Ruthenian disunity. However, Lithuanian expansion began at a time that was not the most critical one for Ruthenia. The war of 1158-1167 between the Borisoviches and Gleboviches can be pointed to as the greatest crisis in the history of the Duchy of Polotsk. However, the Lithuanians did not take advantage of it. They also failed to take advantage of the unrest in Ruthenia in 1169 and 1179 - 1180. When the second period of unrest ended in Svyatoslav and Rurik's duumvirate, the conflicts among Ruthenian dukes temporarily ceased. Precisely at that time, Lithuanian expansion began. Thus, we must look for its causes not in the weakening of Ruthenia but in Lithuania's gaining power.

      The conflicts among the dukes of Polotsk involved Lithuania in the internal life of that duchy. The Lithuanians could choose which side to support. Their choice depended on the reward. Precisely the kind of reward reveals the secret of Lithuania's prosperity. By rendering military aid to the dukes of Polotsk the Lithuanians acquired, in turn, the right to ask them for help in subjugating the neighboring duchies of Aukstaitija. When Rogvolod, in 1159, forced Rostislav Glebovich to make peace, "Volodar did not kiss the cross because he marched through forests under Lithuanian leadership." And only after that did the Lithuanians come to his aid. In this way, i.e., by taking advantage of conflict among the dukes of Polotsk, the Lithuanians laid the foundation for the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

      The growth of Lithuanian military power around 1183 may be accounted for by the fact that the duchies, which were included in the Lithuanian sphere of influence, finally united into one state. A relative strengthening of Ruthenia after 1180 and the threat of new expansion probably speeded up the process of unification of these duchies around Lithuania. Besides, the second half of the 12th century marked the beginning of rapid Danish expansion along the southern and eastern coasts of the Baltic Sea (in 1161 the Danes captured Palanga castle in Curonia, and after 1180 their activities on the Baltic Sea intensified). This development may have compelled the Samogitians (who were the neighbors of the Curonians) to provide for their security. In the Danish Book of Duties (1231), which contains references to previous Danish claims, we can find Lithuania mentioned among the Danish tributaries. Thus, a relatively stronger Ruthenia on one side and Danish expansion on the other compelled the neighbors of Lithuania to show greater concern for their security. It was an easy task for Lithuania to convince or force her neighbors to accept her overlordship.

      The united Lithuanian state, which included the Duchy of Lithuania and a few other duchies, may be tentatively called the Grand Duchy of Lithuania: in the Ruthenian tradition grand dukes were the ones who had a few minor dukes as their subjects (Mindaugas was to be awarded this title in the Ruthenian chronicles). The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was in its essence a new united state, though its nucleus, the Duchy of Lithuania, had most likely also been a state.

      The growth of Lithuanian military power in 1180-1183 was one of the great turning points in Lithuanian history. Before 1180 Lithuania was a relatively weak duchy and was not militarily active. In 1183 she assumed the offensive. The entry for 1183 in the first Novgorod Chronicle tells us that: "In that winter the people of Pskov fought with the Lithuanians and suffered great losses." Thus, in the winter of 1183 - 1184 the Lithuanians organized their first independent raid on Ruthenian lands and even passed through the Duchy of Polotsk on the way to Pskov.

      The information found in The Lay of lgor's Campaign (1185) makes Lithuanian power still more evident. It turns out that the Lithuanians were as threatening to Polotsk as the Cumans were to southern Ruthenia. From The Lay we learn that the Duchy of Polotsk was completely crushed by the Lithuanian assault. The ruling Vasilkovich family was routed: Izyaslav perished, and Bryachislav and Vsevolod even refused to join the battle. The duke of Novgorod, Yaroslav Vladimirovich, apparently acted in the same way because according to The Lay he lost the "glory of his ancestors" just like the dukes of Polotsk. From the first Novgorod Chronicle we also learn that in the first half of 1184 Yaroslav had to abandon Novgorod: "the inhabitants of Novgorod were discontented because they (i.e., the Lithuanians) did much harm to the land of Novgorod."

      The raid of 1183 broke the chains of Lithuania's subjugation to Polotsk. Not only the Vasilkoviches but also "all the grandchildren of Vseslav" were routed, i.e., all the dukes of Polotsk. It is possible that in 1183 the Lithuanians also organized an assault on Grodno (there are some vague hints in The Lay, in addition, there is evidence that in 1183 an Orthodox church burned down in Grodno).

      References to the events of 1183 can also be found in the Lithuanian historical tradition. Although legends are not sufficiently trustworthy to make well-founded conclusions, they allow a hypothetical reconstruction of some details that are not mentioned in the sources. The legends in Lithuanian chronicles related to the time under consideration frequently mention the name Skirmantas (ascribed to three dukes), which is not known from historical sources. These legends may reflect the activities of a Lithuanian sovereign even though we cannot be sure about the authenticity of the name. It is interesting to point out that the "creation" of the name of Lithuania is ascribed to Kernius (the name is derived from the settlement of Kernave), who was also connected with the events described.

      The year 1183 marks a boundary between two epochs. From this year onward we have a number of references to Lithuanian raids. In 1185 the Lithuanians ravaged Livonia to such an extent that the Lyvians were compelled to accept Bishop Meinhard's overlordship. There are three known instances from the last decade of the 12th century when Ruthenian dukes planned to march on Lithuania but could not make up their minds to do so. Rurik Rostislavich marched on Lithuania in the winter of 1190 but came to a stop in Pinsk. There, he celebrated the wedding of the local duke Yaropolk until spring, when "the weather warmed up, and the snow melted, and it became impossible to reach their [Lithuanian] lands." In 1193 Rurik again intended to organize a raid on Lithuania, but Duke Svyatoslav dissuaded him. In 1191 the dukes of Polotsk and Novgorod consulted with each other about a raid against the Lithuanians or Estonians and finally chose the Estonians. The plans to raid Lithuania were provoked by the activities of the Lithuanians themselves. From a letter on a birch bark found in Novgorod we learn that apparently in the same year (1191) "the Lithuanians marched out to Karelia". In the conflict of 1188 between Sweden and Novgorod, the Karelians sided with Novgorod. Fighting against them, the Lithuanians supported the Swedes. From this episode we can judge how far Lithuanian interests extended.

      Some scanty information is also available about Lithuanian activities in the south. Before 1192 the Yatvingians had already begun their raids on Poland. In 1192 the Polish sovereign Casimir II the Just organized a punitive attack against them. The participation of Lithuanians in attacks on Poland seems plausible because Polish sources do not always distinguish between Lithuanians and Prussians. There are references to Yatvingian attacks on Volhynia in 1196 and to an extended raid by Lithuanians and Yatvingians on southern Ruthenia in 1209. The earlier raids by the Yatvingians were apparently organized jointly with the Lithuanians and even inspired by them. According to information from The Lay of Igor's Campaign, shortly after 1183 Volhynia had an armed conflict with both the Lithuanians and Yatvingians.

      By 1198 the Livonian Duchy of Koknese, which had been ruled by Ruthenians, had fallen under the influence of Lithuania. Izyaslav, the son of the duke of Novgorod Yaroslav, died in 1198 in Velikiye Luki, where he had been sent to "defend Novgorod against Lithuania." In the autumn of the same year the Lithuanians together with warriors from Polotsk (forced by the Lithuanians) made a raid on Velikiye Luki.

      From the beginning of the 13th century onward, Lithuanian raids are rather exhaustively highlighted in the sources. However, the beginning of the 13th century is the turning point in our knowledge rather than in real life. The abundant data about Lithuanian raids can already be statistically evaluated. Of 68 Lithuanian raids, 37 were organized in 1201-1236, and 31 - in the reign of Mindaugas (1237-1263). In other words, there were no changes in the military activities of the Lithuanians in the times of Mindaugas. This fact does not very well match with the role of founder of a state, which is ascribed to Mindaugas. It seems strange that the unification of the state produced no effect on his military might. The absence of change in the frequency of raids implies that there were no important changes in Lithuanian society either.

      Lithuania in the 13th - 14th centuries may be called a military monarchy. Raids were a daily routine. They had a twofold purpose: to amass plunder and concomitantly to force political influence on neighboring countries. The raids were a reflection of the domestic life of Lithuania, mirroring even short-term internal unrest. J. Latkowski already connected the date of Mindaugas' coming to power with a period of reduced military activity by the Lithuanians. The diagram of the frequency of military acts proves that the highest level of military activity by the Lithuanians occurred in the first two decades of the 13th century. In the next two decades (just before Mindaugas came to power) it decreased considerably - presumably as a result of a prolonged struggle for power that ended in Mindaugas' victory. The first decade of Mindaugas' reign is again marked by a rise in military activity, which decreased in the next ten years. The latter decade covers Mindaugas' fight with Tautvilas and the elimination of the consequences of this internal war. In the last years of Mindaugas' reign military activity increased again, decreasing after his death as a result of unrest. The frequency of military raids in the reign of Traidenis and in later years became the same as at the beginning of the 13th century.

      The appearance of Lithuania in the broad sense may also be taken as evidence of the functioning of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Lithuania in the narrow sense - the former territory of the Duchy of Lithuania - was the nucleus of this state. The use of the name of Lithuania to define a wider area (approximately corresponding to the territory of Lithuania today) had to be related to the appearance of a sufficiently strong political organization ruled by Lithuania in the narrow sense. There is not a single known source that implies the existence of Lithuania in the broad sense before 1183, but in 1208 we already have evidence of this situation. In this year the Semigallian duke Viestarts invaded neighboring Lithuania to take revenge for previous attacks by the Lithuanians. In 1201-1202 a Lithuanian raid on Semigallia was interrupted when the duke of Polotsk invaded Lithuania. Thus, the Semigallians were threatened by both the Lithuanians living in their neighborhood and the Lithuanians in the neighborhood of Polotsk. These events imply that Lithuania in the broad sense was already an integrated political organism when it was first mentioned.

      VI. The Development of the Lithuanian State in the 13th Century

      The words spoken by Treniota to Mindaugas in 1261 and retold in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle have long since been noted: "Your father was a great king, and he had no equals in his life." The words that a king had no equals mean that he was a sovereign enjoying full rights and corresponded to the ideal image of a king. These words also prove that Mindaugas' father was a Grand Duke of Lithuania. The years of his reign can be reconstructed from some information given by Henricus de Lettis.

      Henricus de Lettis often mentions Lithuanian attacks, but in only a few passages in his Chronicle can we find references to Lithuanian dukes. Duke Zvelgaitis, who participated in a raid on Estonia with 2,000 mounted warriors in 1205, is referred to as a "rich and mighty man." Zvelgaitis perished, but the leader of the raiding party survived and routed Livonia in 1207. This leader referred to the Lithuanian army as his own army; thus, we may conclude that he was the ruler of all of Lithuania. In 1213, in a battle with crusaders near Lielvarde, there perished the Lithuanian "ruler and senior" (we may tentatively call him Lielvardian - after the name of the location where he died). In 1209 and 1213 Henricus de Lettis mentions another "powerful Lithuanian," Daugerutis, who committed suicide in 1214 while a German captive. However, Henricus de Lettis does not call him a ruler (princeps), whereas in 1214 there perished the Lithuanian "duke and ruler Steksys." Thus, the second ruler appears only after Lielvardian's death and is probably his successor.

      A large group of Lithuanian dukes was, for the first time, named in the list of dukes who concluded a peace treaty with Volhynia in 1219 (the list is included in the Volhynian Chronicle). Among twenty dukes named in the list five "senior dukes" can be identified: Zivinbutas and two pairs of brothers - Daujotas and Viligaila, Dausprungas and Mindaugas. It seems likely that two rulers, Lielvardian and Steksys, who perished in 1213-1214, were the fathers of these two pairs of brothers. Thus, we may assume that the group of senior dukes included the sovereign Zivinbutas and the sons of his two predecessors (apparently brothers). Judging from the description in the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, we may infer that Lielvardian was Mindaugas' father rather than Steksys, who perished after he had been in power for less than one year.

      The fact that no duke was identified as the sovereign in the description of the treaty of 1219 is often interpreted as evidence that Lithuania was not yet a unified state. However, we must bear in mind that the hierarchical relationships between Lithuanian rulers were not indicated even in some armistice acts of the 14th century between Lithuania and the Teutonic Order (in 1367 Algirdas and Kestutis and in 1382 Jogaila and Skirgaila were all referred to as kings, though all were well aware of the differences in their status). At the beginning of the 13th century Lithuania was not so well known to her neighbors; therefore, it is only natural that the hierarchical relationships between Lithuanian dukes were not fully elucidated. Besides, from the acts of the 14th century we learn about "senior dukes" who were members of the ruling clan. The treaty of 1219 is important as proof that Lithuania was ruled by one dynasty.

      In the 13th - 14th and partly in the 15th century the sovereign's manors formed the basis of Lithuanian state structure. The sovereign and his council were at the center of state life, i.e., the only central institution of state power. Manors were local residences of the sovereign and, at the same time, district centers.

      We find explicit information about the sovereign's manors in the 13th century in Mindaugas' donation acts, which contain the names of many districts. The act of 1259 reveals that Mindaugas had specific property in Yatvingia and that he was fully aware of its size.

      Only a few villages in the districts belonged to the sovereign. The local dukes also possessed a few villages. Villages in the direct possession of the sovereign and local dukes were a rarity. Most of the villages in a district were free communities. The latter were divided between the sovereign and local dukes on the basis of hierarchy.

      According to A. Dubonis' research data, in the 15th - first half of the 16th century many Lithuanian lands and districts included part of the sovereign's property, which was called Lithuania. Peasants living on it were called leiciai - the old name for Lithuanians. During this period the sovereign's manors also included other groups of peasants. However, in the beginning the sovereign's manors were inhabited only by leiciai. In the 13th century the domains of the Swedish sovereign were distinguished according to the same principle. They were also located all over the country but were called by a name derived from the capital of the kingdom: Uppsala domain (Upsalaoþ) or Uppsala manor (Upsala bo).

      Small manors belonging to the sovereign evidently go back to the times when duchies were being formed. State revenues consisted of taxes collected from their inhabitants. Therefore, district centers were not only manors belonging to the sovereign but also centers for collecting taxes. We may doubt whether the sovereigns of the newly-founded Grand Duchy of Lithuania had manors in every district.

      The hypothetical manors of 13th-century Lithuanian dukes and the itineraries of their travels may perhaps be reconstructed from the data of Mindaugas' acts (Samogitia, Selonia, and partly Yatvingia) and from some other sources of the 13th century (Latava, Kernave, Voruta). The data gaps of the 13th century may be filled in with data from later times, especially if leiciai lived on the manors of later sovereigns. The oldest indirect hints about the manors of Lithuanian sovereigns go back to the times before Mindaugas' reign.

      The state structure was strengthened during the reign of the first known Lithuanian sovereign, Mindaugas. The Volhynian Chronicle (based on the lost Lithuanian Novogrudok [Navahradak] 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." Historians who look for the beginning of the Lithuanian state in Mindaugas' times do not have any doubts that this narration tells us about the founding of the Lithuanian state. However, the reference to the banishment of brothers' sons is a reflection of events that took place in 1248-1249, whereas in 1244 the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle already describes Mindaugas as the "supreme king." Therefore, we may assume that this passage is not telling us about the founding of a state. Besides, in the Middle Ages sovereigns always consulted their councils. Thus, by making decisions without consulting his councilors (as, probably, was the decision to banish his brothers' sons) Mindaugas could have easily become an example of a "bad" duke and is accordingly characterized in the Chronicle.

      Mindaugas' ruthlessness toward other dukes is comparatively well reflected in the sources. We can name nine dukes who in one way or another suffered from him. Their misfortunes were related to three conflicts: in 1245 (Tuskys, Milgerinas, and Ginteikis were driven out of the state), in 1249 (Tautvilas, Gedivydas, and Vykintas were also driven out of the state), and in 1251-1252 (Vismantas, Gedivilas, and Sprudeikis of the Bulaitis family were killed). There are no available specific data about brothers and brothers' sons killed by Mindaugas. They may have been the victims of a power struggle. Perhaps they were Daujotas and Viligaila, who are assumed to have been Mindaugas' cousins. However, the chronicler may have made such a generalization because he knew about only one act of killing and about Tautvilas' and Gedivydas' banishment. Therefore, we can with certainty supplement the known list of nine with only one more victim.

      When evaluating Mindaugas' treatment of his enemies, we must recognize that most, if not all, of the time it was unrelated to the founding of the state. Tautvilas, Gedivydas, Vykintas, and three members of the Bulaitis family suffered because of the internal war of 1249-1254. Before this war they were already Mindaugas' subjects (he may have sent them to Ruthenia). The support he rendered to Lengvenis (the banishment of Tuskys, Milgerinas, and Ginteikis) was also related to the suppression of a rebellion.

      On the other hand, it was perhaps more characteristic of Mindaugas to pursue his aims by means of agreement, compromise, and bribery. He was not eager to fight, and he was usually not the commander in his raids. We know of only three instances in which Mindaugas led his army - each time unsuccessfully (in 1244, 1251, and 1262). Therefore, the proposition, popular in historiography, that Mindaugas united Lithuania by "Merovingian methods" sounds strange. Actually, apart from anything else, Mindaugas' poor understanding of military matters does not fit the image of a state founder. Mindaugas was a master of negotiation and intrigue. As such, he could easily capture state power but could hardly be the founder of a state.

      However, although Mindaugas did not establish the Lithuanian state, he did reform it and consolidate the central power. We have little information about his reforms. However, some indirect hints and later information allow us to trace some of them. Evidently, his efforts to consolidate the central power caused the internal war of 1249-1254. However, Mindaugas strengthened the position of the ruling clan not only by suppressing rebellions but also by advancing and supporting his relatives. For example, he made his son Vaisalgas (Vaiselga) duke of Novogrudok; in 1245 he supported his sister's husband Lengvenis; at the end of Mindaugas' reign his sister's son Treniota (perhaps Lengvenis' son) played an important role in the state. Daumantas -the duke of Nalsia - was Mindaugas' brother-in-law. Mindaugas' activities may have also been directed toward the establishment or expansion of the sovereign's domains in the districts.

      After the internal war Mindaugas fell under the influence of the Livonian Order. Making use of advice from the Order, he had an opportunity to improve the state structure of Lithuania. H. Lowmianski even assumed that in this way he created the Lithuanian state. This is an obvious overstatement. However, worthy of attention is his observation that in the 15th - 16th centuries there already existed in the former state territory of Mindaugas a grain tribute (dekla in Lithuanian) which very much resembled the tax in Livonia (where a tithe was paid) and was perhaps introduced at its example. Of course, we have no good reason to assert that dekla was the first tax introduced in the Lithuanian state. In Lithuania, as, for example, also in Ruthenia, the duke was provided for by his subjects during his travels and given presents (furs, honey, etc.). Dekla as a tithe is already mentioned in a letter written in 1323 by the Grand Duke Gediminas.

      The Lithuanian state strengthened by Mindaugas' reforms obtained international recognition and a new title: in 1253 Mindaugas was crowned king of Lithuania. From a legal point of view the Lithuanian kingdom was founded on July 17, 1251, when the Pope granted permission to crown Mindaugas. The crowning took place two years later, in the first half of July or at the end of June. Probably, the most suitable date for this event was June 29 - a Sunday and the feast of SS Peter and Paul.

      In the 13th century the Livonian Germans called the king kunic, kunig. Precisely at that time this word was introduced into Lithuanian. It is very likely that this happened during Mindaugas' crowning. When in 1386 Jogaila received in Poland the Slavonic title karalius, the word kunigas acquired the meaning of duke and in later years - the meaning of Catholic priest. Mindaugas' influence was of particular importance for the further development of the Lithuanian state. Mindaugas played an historic role as the king who brought Lithuania nearer to Western civilization.


      In about the 11th century the Duchy of Lithuania was established, and it most probably had the form of an early state. In the 12th century, taking advantage of conflict among the dukes of Polotsk, it became the most powerful Baltic duchy. Around 1183 the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was founded. Its beginning was marked by a sudden increase in the military might of Lithuania. The early structure of the Lithuanian state was based on the maintenance tribute system. During the period of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania the tax collection centers developed into sovereign's manors. Mindaugas strengthened the economic basis of the sovereign and was the first to orient Lithuania toward Western European civilization. However, the opinion that he was the founder of the Lithuanian state should be rejected as unfounded.

      (Text from: Tomas Baranauskas. Lietuvos valstybes istakos. Vilnius: "Vaga", 2000. P. 245-272.)

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