Lithuania Mindaugas 2009

Mon, Jul 6, 2009

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Appeared in Google Lithuania

Lithuania Mindaugas 2009

Mindaugas was the first, and only, King of Lithuania and the one to first introduce Christianity to the country.

Little is known about Mindaugas’ origins, except that he was one of 20 powerful Lithuanian princes. Even before his reign began, the emerging centre of Lithuania was in the Trakai/Vilnius region.

Against the ever encroaching Teutonic Order, Mindaugas united the various princes into a single state and was formally recognized as the ruler, and was crowned by the Pope. There were many reasons for Mindaugas’s conversion to Christianity and his drive to unite the various regions. One of the most paramount was to avoid the same fate as the Prussians – who were conquered by the Teutonic Order, which was searching for lands for themselves. The Prussians, as a culture, eventually died out, after several centuries of assimilation. With the acceptance of Christianity, Mindaugas was hoping that this would stop a Crusading order from “enforcing” the “true and proper faith” onto the heathen-Lithuanians. In the end, this did not happen, there was still military pressure.

Mindaugas began the unification of Lithuania around the time of the Fall of Kiev Rus’, in 1240, to the Golden Horde. With the fall of Kiev Rus’ there was a power vacuum in Eastern Europe and Mindauga took advantage of this by expanding Lithuania’s power -taking control of Novgorod. Mindaugas was the first ruler to begin the two-fold policy of subsequent Lithuanian Grand Dukes: internal consolidation of the state, and expansion into the Eastern Slavic regions.

Though Mindaugas and his immediate family became Christians, it was a difficult task to Christianize the entire people. Mindaugas had a rival, Prince Treniota of Samogitia, who preferred military resistance to the Teutonics as opposed to Mindaugas’ policy of trying to build alliances with the Livonian Order. As well, there was resentment from the various Princes over Mindaugas introducing Christianity to the people. In the end, Mindaugas was assasinated. His death triggered internal conflict and strife which was not put to rest until the time of Gediminas.

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