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Lietuvos tűkstantmečio programos kilnojama paroda „Lietuva: kultűra ir istorija“ / Exhibition “Lithuania: Culture and History”, marking the  Millennium Of Lithuania

Virtuali paroda. I dalis / Virtual Exhibition. I part

An Informative Exhibition Marking 1000 Years of lithuanian in History / Informacinë paroda, skirta Lietuvos vardo paminëjimo tűkstantmečiui

The Birth of Lithuania / Lietuvos gimimas

 “In the year 1009, St Bruno, also known as Boniface, archbishop and monk, during his eleventh year after having become a monk, was killed by pagans at the border of Rus’ and Lithuania on the 9th of March with 18 of his brethren, all of whom went to heaven.”                                                                                      – Quedlinburg Annals, St Servatius Monastery, Germany

This is the first time Lithuania’s name is known to have been mentioned in a well-known historical source. In 1009, Archbishop Bruno christened Lithuania’s Duke Netimeras and his followers with the hope of spreading Christianity. Shortly afterwards, however, Bruno was murdered. His mission ended in utter failure as Christianity lacked the strength to take root in Lithuania. In the early part of the 13th century, a duke by the name of Mindaugas took control of much of what was then Lithuania. In 1251, he was baptized and later in 1253, crowned Lithuania’s first and only king with the consensus of Pope Innocent IV. Mindaugas established himself among Europe’s royal families as a sovereign ruler. Lithuania became an equal member of medieval Europe’s community as a kingdom. When Mindaugas was murdered by his pagan enemies, Lithuania was left without a successor to the royal throne. However, Lithuania as a political entity, a state, remained. 

1. Oldest known form of Lithuanian money – Lithuanian bullion, late 12th century – early 14th century
2. Authentic writ of reprieve with seal (1255) by Lithuania’s King Mindaugas
3. Mindaugas’ coronation. A. Varnas, 1951–1955
4. The Baptism of Netimeras by St Bruno, Paţaislis Camaldolese Monastery fresco, 17th century
5. Quedlinburg Annals, 16th-century copy
6. Crude ceramic pot and other works, 5th-8th centuries

Century of Might / Galybës amţius
By the end of the 13th century, the Gediminids dynasty had taken control of the country. The Grand Dukes of Lithuania – Vytenis (1295–1316), Gediminas (1316–1341), Algirdas (1345–1377), and Kćstutis (1381–1382) – continued the state’s expansion, begun by Mindaugas, into the lands of Kievan Rus’, which earlier had been devastated by the Mongol-Tartar invasions. During this time, Lithuania’s Grand Dukes were at battle with the aggressive Teutonic Order situated on the eastern Baltic coast. At the beginning of the 13th century, the Order, which was supported by all of Europe’s nobility, had begun a crusade against pagan Lithuania and its neighbors – a crusade that was to last two hundred years. With adjoining territories in Ruthenian Orthodox lands, Lithuania became a land – or “cultural bridge” – known for its tolerance of both Eastern Byzantine and Western Latin cultures. The rulers of Lithuania remained pagan for a long time, delaying attempts of conversion to Christianity. An important turning-point in Lithuanian history is the coronation of the Grand Duke of Lithuania Jogaila (later known as Wůadysůaw II Jagieůůo) as the King of Poland. In 1385, as a result of the Union of Krëva and Jogaila’s marriage to St. Jadwiga of Anjou, Jogaila began a process that quickly led to the Christianization and Europeanization of Lithuania. Lithuania’s Grand Duke Vytautas the Great (1392–1430) was undoubtedly the most famous of Lithuania’s rulers. Vytautas expanded the state’s territory, strengthened the state’s internal integration, and instituted a new administrative system. Lithuania’s military union with Poland allowed the country to experience an overwhelming victory against the Teutonic Order at Grunwald (Tannenberg). The state under Vytautas the Great stretched from the Baltic to the Black Seas and has remained for all times a symbol of Lithuania’s political autonomy.
1. Picture of Grand Duke Gediminas at the Gate of Kiev. The city was annexed by Lithuania in the 14th century
2. View of Vilnius in a fragment of a parchment, Mappa Mundi, made by Bohemian artisans in 1370–1390
3. Small exquisite gothic ivory altar (diptych) carved by French masters in the late 14th century. Tradition says that Jogaila received the altar as a gift from the pope and later donated it to Vilnius Cathedral
4. Act of Krëva of 1385, which created a personal union between Lithuania and Poland
5. Portrait of Grand Duke of Lithuania Vytautas the Great. Unknown artist, 17th century
6. Battle of Grunwald – one of the greatest battles in medieval Europe. M. Bielski, Kronika Polska, Krakow, 1597
Lithuania’s Modernization / Lietuvos modernëjimas
At the end of the Middle Ages, Lithuanian society underwent a period of intense change. During the 15th century, the authority of the sovereign waned, and many changes were initiated by the noble elite, the aristocracy. The condition of the state’s treasury improved due to the Valakai Reform. The initiator of  the reform was Bona Sforza, daughter of the Duke of Milan, Gian Galeazzo Sforza, and wife of Sigismund the Old, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland. During this time, the first moves towards implementing the European agricultural system were introduced. As a result of Lithuania’s dynastic ties, Renaissance art and humanistic ideas were to reach Lithuania and Poland relatively early on, in the beginning of the 16th century. The Reformation spread to Lithuania while at the same time Catholic reforms also gained momentum. Three modern codes of law (Lithuanian Statutes) were codified. In the 16th century the first books in the Lithuanian language were published in Prussia and the Lithuanian Grand Duchy. A tremendous step was taken in education and in the sciences when the Jesuit Vilnius University was opened in 1579.
1. First Lithuanian book. M. Maţvydas, Catechismusa prasty szadei... , Karaliaučius, 1547
2. Commemorative medal of Sigismund the Old, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1506-1544). H. Schwarz, 1527
3. Tile from the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania with the crest of Bona Sforza, 16th century
4.  “Lyricorum libri IV. Epodon lib. unus...” by the “Sarmatian Horace,” Motiejus Kazimieras Sarbievijus, 1632 edition. Within the work, there is an illustration by one of the most famous Baroque painters, Peter Paul Rubens.
5. First book on Lithuanian history, written in Latin, by A. Vijűkas-Kojelavičius, 1650
6. The Grand Courtyard of Vilnius University. F. Benua, A. Bajo, 1850
7. View of Vilnius, 16th century. G. Braun, F. Hogenberg, Civitates orbis terrarum, Köln, 1581

The Decline of Lithuania / Lietuvos susilpnëjimas

In the second half of the 15th century, the members of the Gediminid-Jagiellon dynasty reigned not only over the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland but also exerted control throughout much of Central and Eastern Europe. At the height of its expansion in the mid-15th century, Lithuania was constantly engaged in war against Muscovy. From 1492 until its final days as a state, military conflicts were to engulf the Grand Duchy. Although there were periods of peace – some short and others long – war devestated the country. In 1514, Lithuania’s victory at Orsha had major repercussions in Europe – there, Lithuanians troops smashed the Muscovite army which was four times its size. Lithuania’s power – considered relatively weak at the time – nevertheless managed to stun the Swedes at the Battle of Kirchholm (Salaspils) in 1605. In the mid-17th century, wars with both Sweden and Russia left Lithuania in an economic and demographic crisis. Nearly all of Lithuania had been occupied by enemy troops. Consequent plagues and famines killed around 40% of the population. One of the major reasons for Lithuania’s relative lack of strength lies in the fact that it lacked a tax system; consequently, its government – both the judicial and legislative branches – succumbed to anarchy.
1. Alexander, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1492–1506), on the throne and his parliament – Seimas (Sejm)
2. Battle between Lithuania and Sweden at Pilypavas (1656). In the etching’s foreground, the retreating Lithuanian army is depicted. S. Pufendorf, De rebus a Carolo Gustavo Sveciae Rege gestis commentariorum libri septem... Nürnberg, 1729
3. The Battle of Kůecko (1506) with Tartars. M. Bielski, Kronika Polska.., Kraków, 1597.
4. The Battle of Orsha (1514) with Moscow’s army. M. Bielski, Kronika Polska.., Kraków, 1597
5. Portrait of Casimir Jagiellon, Grand Duke of Lithuania (1440–1492). Unknown artist, 19th century
6. At the beginning of the 16th century, a defensive wall was built in Vilnius. It included several gates to the city. One of the most impressive of these gates was Subačius Gate. P. Smuglevičius, late 18th century
7. Last of the Gediminid-Jagiellon dynasty, Grand Duke Sigismund Augustus. Unknown artist, 18th century

The Commonwealth of Two Nations / Dviejř Tautř Respublika

In 1569, the Union of Lublin united Lithuania and Poland into a federal republic of Two Nations (otherwise known as Poland-Lithuania, or simply as the Republic). This marked the end of Lithuania’s Gediminid-Jagiellon dynasty; from now on, the leaders of the Republic were to be elected by noblemen. Within the dual Republic, Lithuania secured a good deal of its sovereignty: Lithuania maintained its own territory and borders, its own government, army, treasury, and judicial system. Lithuania and Poland were united by a common ruler and legislative body – the Seimas (Sejm). The Republic was run as an electoral monarchy formally administered by the boyars (gentry), whose elite, in fact, held the power, and by the aristocracy, who also helped to solidify the country’s oligarchical government. The king was chosen by the boyars, when they gathered at a certain location for a general election. The king’s powers were severely limited. The legislative government was paralyzed by the liberum veto, which prevented any piece of legislation from being ratified unless it was unanimously accepted. Feuds among the oligarchs and the influence of foreign governments paved the way toward anarchy, which gradually engulfed most areas of public life within the state. Lithuania was in essence ruled by dukes (i.e. the Radvila and Sapiega families) and the Pac landgraves. After the Gediminid-Jagiellon dynasty had come to its end, those leaders chosen to govern the Republic included the future King of France Henry III Valois, the Duke of Transylvania Stephen Báthory, the heirs to Sweden’s Vasa dynasty, the noblemen of Lithuania and Poland (i.e. Michaů Korybut Wiúniowiecki, Jan Sobieski, and Stanisůaw Leszczyński), and the dukes of Saxony (House of Wettin).
Gospel funded by the Lithuanian nobleman, Leonas Sapiega (16th century). The book is decorated with four masterfully gilded miniatures
Interior of the Vilnius’ Great Synagogue. The number of Jews increased in Lithuania from the 16th–17th century and Vilnius became an important center of Judaism throughout the world, earning the title “the Jerusalem of Lithuania”. P. Smuglevičius, late 18th century
1. Portrait of Stephen Báthory, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1576–1586). A. Lafosse, 1856
2. Portrait of Sigismund Vasa, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1587–1632). Józef Ozićbůowski Printers of Lithographs
3. Europe in 1569
4. Peasants and boyars, G. Braun, F. Hogenberg, civitates orbis terrarum, Köln, 1581
5. The Union of Lublin of 1569, which united Lithuania and Poland.
6. Bugler’s flag, early 17th century
7. Commemorative medal of Henri de Valois, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1572–1574), King of France Henri III (from 1574). Warsaw, late 18th century
8. Commemorative medal of John Sobieski, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1674–1696). J. J. Reichel, 1792–1797
9. Commemorative medal of Augustus III, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1733–1763). J. J. Reichel, 1792–1797

Destruction of a State / Valstybës ţlugimas

The elite of Lithuanian society came to the belief that if they truly wished to prevent their state’s collapse, changes with the Republic were necessary. In 1764, the last ruler of the Republic was chosen to be Stanisůaw August Poniatowski. Although he was supported by Russia, he swore to oversee state and social reforms. As a direct result of these attempts, Austria, Prussia, and Russia partitioned the Republic. Poland-Lithuania was reduced to one third of its size and population. The last attempt to reform the ailing state was the Constitution of the Four-Year Sejm (1788–1792) ratified on May 3, 1791. It is considered the third constitution to have been created in the world, after the U.S. and French constitutions. Refusing to accept these reforms, Prussia and Russia partitioned Poland-Lithuania for a second time in 1793. What resulted was an uprising in the Republic. Tadeusz Koúciuszko, a descendant of noblemen from Lithuania and general who had fought on the side of the revolutionaries in the U.S. War of Independence, was the leader of the revolt. After having quashed the rebellion, Russia, Austria, and Prussia for a third time partitioned the Republic. The Lithuanian Grand Duchy, a state that had existed for over five hundred years, ceased to exist. Throughout this rather disastrous political period, the state saw marked development in Lithuanian cultural life. The Central European late Baroque style thrived. In the last quarter of the 18th century, Classicism came to the fore. In 1773, the Jesuits were disbanded, and the revenues from their manors were used for educational reform, establishing one of the world’s first ministries of education in Europe – the Education Commission.
1. Caricature of the partition of Poland and Lithuania. Depicted in the caricature are Yekaterina the Great, her minister N. Panin, Austria’s Emperor Joseph II, and Prussia’s King Fredrick II (1772). They all stand round a map of Lithuania and Poland as they carve pieces of the Republic for themselves. Unknown artist, mid-19th century
2. Portrait of Stanisůaw August Poniatowski, last King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania (1764–1795). Artist J. F. Pitschmann
3. Portrait of Jakubas Jasinskis (1759–1794), military engineer, initiator of the 1794 uprising in Lithuania, chief commander of the Lithuanian rebels’ armed forces. J. A. Duruy, The Lemercier Printers of Lithographs in Paris
4. Portrait of Tadeusz Koúciuszko (1746–1817), participant in battles of the American War of Independence, Commander-in-Chief of the 1794 uprising. Unknown artist, 19th century
5. Forefather of Lithuanian literature K. Donelaitis’ (1714–1780) masterpiece “Metai” (The Seasons), translation in English
6. The title page of a Mutual Obligation for the Republic of Two Nations (1791). It was in essence an amendment to the May 3, 1791 Constitution, guaranteeing Lithuanian autonomy in a reformed Polish-Lithuanian state
7. Partitions of Poland-Lithuania
Tsarist Occupation / Caro okupacija
For well over a century (1795–1918), Lithuania existed neither as a political nor as a geographical entity. The former Grand Duchy of Lithuania was annexed by the Russian Tsar and its territories renamed according to the Russian Empire’s administrative system. Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign against Russia was greeted with enthusiasm both in Poland and Lithuania. There was hope that the Republic of Two Nations would be restored. Two uprisings against imperial Russia occurred in 1831 and 1863, during both of which attempts were made to recreate the Polish-Lithuanian state. The suppression of the first revolt resulted in rather harsh conditions for Lithuania: the majority of Catholic churches, monasteries, and schools were closed, while works of culture and art were destroyed or plundered. Vilnius University – the region’s center for education and science – was closed. Having lost the second uprising, the Russian administration even prohibited the printing of the Lithuanian language using the Latin alphabet. Prohibited from printing in Lithuania itself, the Lithuanian press established printing houses in Lithuania Minor (East Prussia; today, the Kaliningrad district) and had publications illegally transported across the Russian border.
1. Emilija Pliaterytë (1806–1831), “Lithuania’s Joan of Arc,” participant of the 1831 uprising
2. The residence of Vilnius Governor General. F. Benua, 1857
3. Napoleon’s retreating army at the Vilnius Town Hall. V. Adams, A. Bichebois, 1846
4. First historian who wrote on the history of Lithuania in Lithuanian S. Daukantas (1793–1864). J. Zenkiewicz, 1850
5. ortrait of Adam Mickiewicz (1798–1855), famous poet, author of the famous lines “Oh, Lithuania, my Motherland…”. W. Wańkowicz, 1882
6. Portrait of Motiejus Valančius (1801–1875), bishop, writer, historian. He opposed the efforts of the tsarist authorities to denationalize Lithuanians. A. Lafosse, 1857
7. Cyrilic alphabet for the Lithuanian language, published during the Lithuanian book ban
National Revival / Tautinis atgimimas
In the latter part of the 19th century, Lithuania experienced a national reawakening which was to set the foundation for a modern nation-state. Despite the Tsarist government’s initial success in quelling the uprisings, the Russians failed to suppress growing national sentiments among Lithuanians. In the second half of the 19th century, peasants began to form an intelligentsia that had a strong understanding of their Lithuanian identity. Members of this intelligentsia began to demand rights not only for themselves but also for their fellow kinsmen. They considered such rights the fundamental rights of each nation. This phenomenon is known as Lithuania’s National Revival. In 1905, a Lithuanian congress, called the Great Vilnius Seimas, took place in Vilnius. Members included the representatives of many different political persuasions and political parties. They weighed both Russia’s political situation as well as the question of Lithuania’s autonomy within the framework of the Russian Empire. In the second half of the 19th century, Lithuanian literature experienced a rebirth. At the same time, the famous Lithuanian composer and artist, Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis, began to prepare the first exhibitions of Lithuanian artists. In Palanga, the first play in the Lithuanian language was performed in public.
1. First amateur Lithuanian playbill “Amerika pirtyje” (America in the Bathhouse), August 20, 1899
2. One of the first Lithuanian records “Atvaţiavo međka” (The Bear has arrived). Zonophon Records, Riga, 1907–1908
3. J. Basanavičius (1851-1927) – the most well-known supporter of Lithuania's National Revival
4. Museum of Antiquity in Vilnius. Artist C. Bachelier, mid-19th century
5. Sculpture “Lithuanian School 1864–1904”. P. Rimđa, 1914
6. First Lithuanian newspaper “Auđra” (The Dawn) (1883–1886). First issue

II part / II dalis     III part / III dalis


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