Knowing history of Medieval Lithuania helps to understand the history of the East and Central Europe. During the Middle Ages the area of Lithuania included the territory of modern Belarus, the majority of Ukraine and greatly impacted the history of Poland and other states.
Lithuania was formed in 1183, and in the 14th century it expanded into a powerful empire, which endured and grew stronger during ongoing fights with the Teutonic Order; the Order then had support from the Catholic Europe, the tartar order and Russia.
In 1386 Lithuanian ruler Jogaila became the king of Poland. Baptism of Jogaila and later of Lithuania laid a basis for future Lithuanian-Polish state. During the 15th-16th centuries Jogaila’s successors successfully expanded their political authority in Europe. At the end of the Middle Ages almost all Central Europe was ruled by Jagiellonian dynasty of Lithuanian descent.
However in the 15th century Lithuania confronted the developing state of Moscow. Series of wars which continued throughout the whole existence of Grand Duchy of Lithuania impoverished the land and caused many historical shifts. Lithuania couldn’t cope with Moscow; therefore it was forced to sign the Union of Lublin in 1569 which established the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth.
Biography of Grand Duke Vytautas
The Grand Duke Vytautas the Great (born 1350 in Senieji Trakai, died in 1430 in Trakai) was the most famous Lithuanian ruler, the only one to be called The Great. Vytautas was the son of Grand Duke Kęstutis, also, Jogaila’s cousin.
He was a great organizer, strong ruler, good diplomat and general. Vytautas expanded and strengthened Lithuanian lands. United Lithuanian-Polish army defeated the German Order in the battle of Grunwald in 1410. The Order was destroyed and never threatened Lithuania again.
In 1429 Vytautas was offered the Lithuanian crown but because of Polish opposition and Vytautas death in 1430 the coronation didn’t happen. Lithuania in Vytautas’ times reached its peak of power: the territory from the Baltic to the Black Sea remained a symbol and ideal of Lithuania’s political independence.
Lithuanian history in the Middle Ages
Ethnic origin of Lithuanians and the beginning of state