Mindaugas of Lithuania

Orfeas Katsoulis | Feb 25, 2023

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Mindaugas (Belorussian: Міндоўг?, transliterated: Mindowh; Polish: Mendog; Lithuania, c. 1200 - Lithuania, 1263) was the first grand duke of Lithuania and the only king to actually assume the office in Lithuanian history. Although most Lithuanian grand dukes from Jogaila onward also reigned as kings of Poland, the two titles remained separate.

Little is known about his origins, childhood, and rise to power; he is mentioned in a 1219 treatise along with the senior (or most influential) dukes of Lithuania, and in 1236 he is mentioned as the leader of all Lithuanians. Sources of the time and modern ones focusing on his rise describe strategically contracted marriages, targeted exiles of possible opponents, and murders of his rivals. After extending his rule into the southeastern regions of present-day Lithuania in the 1230s and 1240s, he received baptism according to the Catholic rite in 1250 or 1251 as internal power struggles raged. Through this maneuver, he was able to seal an alliance with the Order of Livonia, a longtime opponent of the Lithuanians. During the summer of 1253 he was crowned king and, at the height of his conquests, came to exercise his rule over some 100,000 sq. km. of so-called Lithuania proper, an area populated by an estimated 300,000 inhabitants (270,000 of whom were in Lithuania alone). The lands of the Slavs in his possession or under his sphere of influence extended over another 100,000 km².

While his ten-year reign was marked by various successes in state-building, Mindaugas's conflicts with his relatives and other dukes continued, and Samogitia (western Lithuania) vigorously resisted subjugation. The towns conquered by Mindaugas in the southeast were raiding grounds for the Mongols on several occasions, against which the Baltics were powerless. The king broke peace with the Order of Livonia in 1261, likely also renouncing Christianity, and was assassinated in 1263 by his nephew Treniota as part of a plot hatched with another rival, Duke Dovmont of Pskov. Exactly like Mindaugas, his three successors did not perish of natural death, and the period of unrest unleashed at the king's death subsided only when Traidenis established himself as grand duke in about 1270.

Although historiographical opinion of his figure remained negative in the following centuries, perhaps partly due to the fact that his descendants did not have great fortunes, Mindaugas was reevaluated during the 19th and 20th centuries. Considered today the founder of the Lithuanian state, he is credited, among other things, with halting the advance of the Tatars to the Baltic Sea, granting Lithuania international recognition, and enabling it to become known even in Western courts. In the 1990s, historian Edvardas Gudavičius published research in order to reconstruct an exact coronation date, which he identified as July 6, 1253. Currently, that date marks "State Day" (Lithuanian: Valstybės diena) in Lithuania.

In the 13th century Lithuania had few relations with foreign lands. Lithuanian names seemed obscure and unfamiliar to various chroniclers, who altered them to make them more similar to names in their native language. Mindaugas in historical texts were recorded in various distorted forms, including Mindowe in Latin; Mindouwe, Myndow, Myndawe and Mindaw in German; Mendog, Mondog, Mendoch and Mindovg in Polish; and Mindovg, Mindog and Mindowh in Ruthenian. Since Slavic sources provide most of the information about Mindaugas' life, they are judged the most reliable by linguists who reconstruct his original Lithuanian name. The most common indication in Rus' texts is Mindovg. In 1909 Lithuanian linguist Kazimieras Būga published an essay aimed at proving the existence of the suffix -as, a reconstruction widely accepted even today. Mindaugas is an archaic Lithuanian disyllabic name, omposed by min and daug, used before the Christianization of Lithuania. The etymon can be traced back to "daug menąs" (great wisdom) or "daugio minimas" (great fame).


Reconstructing the origins of Mindaugas and a genealogy for him has proved particularly problematic. Bychowiec's chronicle, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, while narrating his lineage, is considered to lack historical reliability. In fact, the work traces the lineage of the Polemonids, a noble family that, according to the text, dated back to none other than the Roman Empire, more specifically to the time of Nero. A further mystery concerns his date of birth, sometimes given as around 1200. The rhymed chronicle of Livonia speaks of his father as a powerful duke (later chronicles give him the appellation Ryngold, son in turn of the equally legendary Algimantas. Dausprungas, mentioned in the text of a 1219 treaty concluded with the Principality of Galicia-Volinia, is presumed to have been his brother, while Dausprungas' sons, Tautvila and Edvydas, his nephews. He is thought to have had two sisters, one married to Vykintas and the other to Danilo of Galicia.

Finally, it is believed that he was originally from eastern Lithuania, Aukštaitija, where his power base was based.

Rise to power

Lithuania was ruled in the early 13th century by a vast series of dukes and princes who exercised their rule over small portions of territory and various communities. The ties between them, though tenuous until the 13th century, were to be found in religious and folkloric, commercial, kinship, warfare, and the exchange of prisoners captured in the surrounding areas. The treaty with Galicia-Volinia signed in 1219 is usually considered the first concrete evidence of the process of unification of the Baltic tribes, initiated in response to external threats. The signatories to the treaty were twenty Lithuanian dukes and a widowed duchess; five of these are mentioned first by virtue of their age (or influence), presumably because they enjoyed special privileges. Mindaugas, despite his youth, is listed among the senior dukes in the same breath as his brother Dausprungas, suggesting that he had already inherited titles.

Having been interested in it before, Western merchants and missionaries began to push into the Baltic-populated regions all the more after the city of Riga, in modern Latvia, was built in 1201. For their part, the religious orders of knighthood intended to establish themselves militarily in Lithuania and more generally in today's Baltic countries, which is why they gave rise to a numerous series of campaigns in the first part of the 13th century that were more or less fruitful. In 1236, one of these conquest operations ended in a resounding defeat against the Lithuanians at the Battle of Šiauliai, but the knightly orders, represented in the Northern Crusades scenario essentially by the Teutonic Knights and the Order of Livonia, continued to pose a threat to Lithuania.


Mindaugas is referred to as ruler in the rhymed chronicle of Livonia as early as 1236, but there is a tendency to believe that the process of assimilation and assumption of the position of leader of the Lithuanians took place fully in 1238. The means by which he managed to work his way into the Lithuanian ducal hierarchy are not well known. Ruthenian chronicles refer to the killing and

During the 1230s and 1240s, Mindaugas strengthened and asserted his supremacy in various Baltic and Slavic lands. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that the unification process ended in a short span of time, with attempts at reconstruction performed by historians being made even more difficult by the lack of knowledge of the conquests actually completed by the duke. The Lithuanian victory at the Battle of Šiauliai attributed to Vykintas, Duke of Samogizia and brother-in-law of Mindaugas, temporarily stabilized the northern front, but the Christian orders continued to gain ground along the Baltic coast, founding the city of Klaipėda (Memel) in 1252. Simultaneous with the events in the north and west of Lithuania, Mindaugas moved east and southeast, conquering in so-called Black Ruthenia Navahrudak (Novogrodok), Hrodna, Vaŭkavysk, Slonim, and the Principality of Polock. There is no available reconstruction recounting the clashes that took place in those cities, but what is likely is that Mindaugas' power extended from southern Selonia to Minsk: this explains why in 1245 he was referred to in some documents as the "supreme king." In 1244-1245 he targeted Courlandia, planning in vain to subdue it, as the Lithuanian state did not yet have the strength to garrison an even larger territory. His ambitions did not stop there, as his fleeting contacts with the duchy of Pomerelia show how he intended to accredit his state as a credible power. There is little evidence to support this, but it is speculated that in 1246 the duke converted to the Orthodox faith in Navahrudak, but later, due to political circumstances, embraced Catholicism.

The presence of nobles who exercised their authority more or less independently was an obstacle to the vision of united Lithuania that Mindaugas envisioned, bearing in mind that they were unwilling to submit to him. For this reason, around 1246, he came into conflict with some active rulers in northern Lithuania; despite his victories on those occasions, there still remained potential rivals who could undermine his position. In 1248, Mindaugas sent his nephews Tautvila and Edivydas, the sons of Dausprungas and Vykintas, to conquer Smolensk. According to the Hypatian Codex, Mindaugas tried to motivate them by promising that they could keep for themselves "whatever they would plunder," but the operation ended in defeat. While they were still engaged in the east, Mindaugas took the opportunity to settle in their possessions and sent men to kill his nephews and Vykintas, thus triggering an internal war.

Tautvila, Edivydas, and Vykintas formed a powerful coalition with the Samogites, the Order of Livonia, Danilo of Galicia (brother-in-law of Edivydas and Tautvila), and Vasilko of Volinia against Mindaugas. Only the Poles, despite Danilo's suggestion, refused to take part in the coalition. The dukes of Galicia and Volinia managed to retake Black Ruthenia, a region ruled by Mindaugas' son Vaišvilkas. Tautvila meanwhile went to Riga, where he received baptism from the archbishop. Besieged from north and south and with the risk of unrest breaking out elsewhere, Mindaugas was in an extremely difficult position; however, he was able to exploit the contrasts between the Order of Livonia, the most formidable enemy, and the archbishop of Riga for his own interests. Indeed, he succeeded in pleasing Andreas von Stirland, grand master of the Order, by declaring himself ready to convert while at the same time obtaining what he really aspired to, namely, the cessation of external aid from Christians to Tautvila. It is plausible to assume that he had to send several gifts, such as horses and precious metals. In Zigmantas Kiaupa's opinion, the fact that the Knights of Livonia were negotiating with Mindaugas should not go unnoticed, as it would testify that they indirectly ended up recognizing Lithuania as a state in the true sense, albeit of pagan faith.

In 1251, Mindaugas agreed to receive the sacrament of baptism and relinquish control over some lands in western Lithuania in exchange for the crown. Pope Innocent IV hoped that Christian Lithuania would thwart the Mongol threat; from his perspective, Mindaugas hoped for papal intervention in the ongoing Lithuanian conflicts with the Christian orders. On July 17, 1251, the pontiff signed two crucial bulls. One of them ordered the bishop of Chełmno to crown Mindaugas as king of Lithuania, appoint a bishop for Lithuania, and build a cathedral. The other specified that the new prelate should be directly subordinate to the Holy See, rather than to the archdiocese of Riga. The two acts were viewed favorably by the Lithuanians, as closer control of the pope would have prevented longtime antagonists, the Knights of Livonia or the diocese of Riga, from taking over the reins of the country and making it a de facto puppet.

Despite being bound to the construction of new religious buildings, the ruler did little to encourage the Christianization of his subjects and the building of churches. One reason why this did not happen must be sought in internal conflicts, which had not been exhausted; Tautvila and allies still at his side, including Danilo, attacked Mindaugas at Voruta in the spring-summer of 1251, a settlement whose location remains unknown that was perhaps the first capital of Lithuania. The attempt to oust him failed, abetted by the changing sides of the Jatvingi and the Samogites, and Tautvila's forces retreated to defend themselves in the castle of Tviremet (this may have been Tverai, in the present-day municipality of Rietavas). Vykintas died in about 1253, and Tautvila found himself forced to take refuge with Danilo of Galicia. Danilo made peace with Mindaugas in 1254, and it is interesting to note that the prince of Galicia-Volinia was in negotiations with Rome at the same time in history to also obtain a crown. The lands of Black Ruthenia were ceded to Roman Danilovič, son of Danilo, while Vaišvilkas, son of Mindaugas, decided instead to become a monk; Tautvila, on the other hand, recognized Mindaugas' supremacy and received Polack as a fief.

As promised, Mindaugas and his wife Morta were crowned during the summer of 1253, despite the fact that neither the exact date nor the place where it took place is known; some historians believe that the ceremony took place in one of the Lithuanian's castles, specifically Vilnius or Navahrudak. Two of his sons and some members of his court were also baptized, and such confirmation evinces from a letter written by Innocent IV. The "large multitude" of Lithuanians who allegedly attended the ceremony should be taken as the result of a clearly biased view of the Christian world. Bishop Henry Heidenreich of Kulm presided over the ecclesiastical ceremonies and Grand Master Andreas von Stirland conferred the crown. Thanks to a study made by Edvardas Gudavičius, July 6 has been identified as the date on which the event took place, and on that day today "State Day" (Lithuanian: Valstybės diena) is celebrated in Lithuania. The constitution of the kingdom sealed the international recognition of the state by the Western Christian powers.

Immediately after his coronation, Mindaugas handed over some western possessions to the Livonians, specifically portions of Samogitia and Nadruvia. It is not known with certainty whether any cessions took place in subsequent years (1255, 1257, 1259, 1261), for although they appear they may have been artificially attested by the Order. Such a reconstruction is supported by the fact that some of the documents found mention lands that were never under Mindaugas rule. According to Claudio Carpini, this was a bold and at the same time nevertheless inevitable sacrifice, "given the debt of gratitude he had contracted with the Order, to which he owed much of his political fortune." Further irregularities were found on the treaty witnesses and the seal.

Having overcome the hostilities that were tearing Lithuania apart from within, peace and stability persisted in the kingdom for several years, allowing Mindaugas the opportunity to concentrate on expanding eastward. Once he had strengthened his influence in Black Ruthenia in Pinsk, taking advantage of the collapse of Kievan Rus, he focused on conquering Polack, an important trading post on the Daugava River. He negotiated a peace with Galicia-Volynia and gave one of his daughters in marriage to Švarnas, son of Danilo of Galicia, who would later become grand duke of Lithuania. Diplomatic relations with Western Europe and the Holy See were also further cemented, with Mindaugas receiving permission in 1255 from Pope Alexander IV to crown his son as king of Lithuania. His army was put to the test in 1258 or 1259, when Berke sent his general Burundai to attack the kingdom, with the eastern regions suffering Mongol incursions. The First Chronicle of Novgorod relates that the Mongol incursion of Lithuania in the years 1258-1259 ended in victory for the Golden Horde, with the sources reporting on the devastation caused by the Asians and what was "probably the most horrible event of the 13th century" in Lithuanian history.

Lithuania's rise could only be made possible by a stable internal organization, of which Lithuania was almost devoid before its union. Support for Mindaugas, however, depended not on a central administration but on the dukes who exercised their authority locally in the various areas of the duchy first and the kingdom later. The pillars on which Mindaugas' office rested were his personal domains, his estate, and the lands he had taken from other princes. The maintenance of the court and the army occupied the bulk of the expenses that were covered by the tax system in place in Lithuania; however, it remains difficult to reconstruct how this system functioned in the 13th century. A substantial percentage of the costs incurred by the treasury concerned "the construction of castles, other defensive structures or the construction and maintenance of roads." The mechanism governing the relationship between the nobles and the ruler was similar to the feudal type, in that in return for managing the various lands Mindaugas demanded conscription and recruitment of their subjects.

A separate case should be considered Samogizia, which enjoyed a special status. Until it was ceded to the Order of Livonia, relations between Mindaugas and Samogizia did not appear stable, despite the fact that the region was undoubtedly part of Lithuania. In 1252-1261, Samogizia acted more like a confederation of lands, and when it returned to Lithuania in 1261 autonomy survived. Experiencing a similar condition were the lands of the Jatvingians, also included in Lithuanian territory. Because of the insufficiency of available troops, a contributing factor to this condition probably concerned Mindaugas' military inability to protect such a vast domain with his own soldiers without ensuring a minimum regime of self-management. In Black Ruthenia, which differed from Lithuania in ethnic composition and a few other respects, vassalage appeared to be a well-established practice, the management of which, initially delegated to the son of the Baltic ruler Vaišvilkas, shifted from 1254 to the head of a descendant of Danilo of Galicia. A similar status, but with a greater degree of independence, may have been established by Polock, ruled by Tautvilas. Located to the west of Samogitia, Nadruvia and Skalvia were probably the territories least attached to the state of Mindaugas, so much so that they are believed to have recognized the authority of the duke

The presence of a royal treasury of the ruler and the state, indeed quite rich, can be inferred from the substantial donations Mindaugas made to the Jatvingians to invite them to rebel against the Order in Livonia. The revenue increased through war expeditions, the taxes that the nobles had to pay, and the customs duties in force. With reference to the economic sphere, it was the so-called Lithuanian long silver coin (Lithuanian: Lietuvos ilgieji) that circulated and in time gave a semblance of state currency.

A lively debate arose with reference to where the capital of Mindaugas was located, which is identified in Voruta (literally "fortress," castle"), a location reported in written records in Lithuania with the expression curia nostra or burg. Navahrudak, Kernave and Vilnius have been proposed as possible capitals, since the latter settlement existed already around the year 1000 as modern research suggests. Zigmantas Kiaupa, considers plausible the hypothesis that Mindaugas may not have had a permanent capital, compensated by the presence of an itinerant court. During the years when the Lithuanian kingdom existed, Mindaugas focused on establishing state institutions, strengthening the state, and establishing diplomatic relations.

In 1252 Mindaugas did not oppose the Order of Livonia's construction of Klaipėda Castle. The knights, despite the alliance, held some grudges and were particularly cautious in economic matters, authorizing, for example, Baltic merchants to trade only through intermediaries approved by the Order. The subjects of the knights rose up, as evidenced by the Battle of Skuodas (1259) and the Battle of Durbe (1260), both won by the Samogites and thanks to which on the one hand the region regained its autonomy, and on the other hand it stayed away from war scenes for decades. The first defeat caused a rebellion by the Semigalli, while the second spurred the Prussians to unleash what would become known as the Great Revolt, which lasted almost fifteen years. In 1261, Mindaugas entered into an alliance in an anti-Teutonic vein with Aleksandr Nevsky, prince of Novgorod. It was through this collaboration that several smaller-scale raids commanded by Lithuanian-supported Russian princes in Livonia and Estonia between 1261 and 1263 took place.

In 1262 Mindaugas executed a major raid into Masovia, which enabled him to sack Kulm and gain new supporters in the ranks of the Prussians, who were hostile to the Crusaders. The success proved possible thanks to the cooperation of his nephew Treniota, with whom, also in 1262, he secretly prepared to carry out a campaign in Livonia. Having recently become duke of Samogitia, Treniota was perhaps the son of Vykintas and therefore grandson of Mindaugas; a proud opponent of the Teutonic, the young man won his relative's trust in the early 1260s. In that historical context, conversion had created a rift among the Baltic nobles, as many bangs were hostile to Christianity and considered the risk of Teutonic meddling in Lithuania a real possibility. Treniota urged his uncle to take a stand when he reported the words of his messengers, who reported there were droves of Livonians ready to re-embrace paganism as soon as they were freed from the Teutonic. The pro-Christians frowned upon Treniota's plans, so much so that Queen Morta, a very pious woman according to sources, disdainfully compared the Duke of Samogitia to a monkey.

In the end, between the prospect of continuing the alliance with the Christians and the prospect of not losing the support of the aristocrats Mindaugas chose to repudiate Christianity. The monarch also took into account the religious situation at the time, considering that various pagan practices survived steadily and that no efforts had been made so that Christian missions could take place. The monarch's laxity suggests that the conversion took place for political purposes only, all the more so considering that, according to the chronicles, he would never stop secretly practicing pagan rites. All diplomatic achievements made after his coronation were lost, and the Christians in his court were rejected. Mindaugas personally led attacks on various centers in Latvia, the most important of which was aimed at acquiring Cēsis, the site of a mighty fortification. While Treniota succeeded in prevailing with his warriors further south, in the regions bordering the Vistula River (Mazovia, Kulm, and Pomesania), Mindaugas became furious at not receiving the hoped-for assistance from the Livonians, at trusting his nephew without careful thought, and at the inconsistency of his ally Aleksandr Nevsky's maneuvers.

Mindaugas began to ponder the advisability of not continuing his close relationship with his nephew. The victorious campaigns had undoubtedly made the latter the most celebrated duke of Lithuania, even though in hereditary legitimation the crown would fall to one of the king's sons. The conditions for a profound dualism with the duke of Samogitia were all there.

In the religious field, when and whether the Mindaugas Cathedral was built remains another mystery; new blood may be generated by recent archaeological research, which was decisive in uncovering the remains of a 13th-century brick building on the site of the present Vilnius Cathedral. Whether this was the religious building under discussion or not is unknown. Even when it was indeed completed, it was merely a complacency to fulfill the agreement with the pope: Lithuanian nobles and others opposed Christianization, and the baptism of Mindaugas had a temporary impact.

Murder and aftermath

At the height of his conquests, Mindaugas exercised his rule over about 100,000 km² of so-called Lithuania proper, an area populated by an estimated 300,000 inhabitants (including 270,000 in Lithuania alone). The lands of the Slavs in her possession or under her sphere of influence extended over another 100,000 km². When Morta passed away in 1262, the king of Lithuania had already engaged in an adulterous affair with Dovmont of Pskov's wife and later even married her, thus taking her away from her rightful husband. This decision inevitably gave rise to Dovmont's intentions of revenge. As contemporary sources testify, the "brutal attitude" Mindaugas took toward some of the rulers loyal to him prompted some nobles to hold secret meetings attended by his nephew in which they discussed how to depose the incumbent ruler.

The ideal opportunity presented itself in 1263: Mindaugas had sent his troops led by Dovmont to Bryansk, while Treniota was in Samogitia. Dovmont abandoned the army and on the way back (Mindaugas had accompanied the soldiers up to a certain point) met and killed his target and two of his sons. Probably the guards following the king were bribed before the ambush. Vaišvilkas, the oldest of the papal heirs, was in the Pinsk monastery and fled there as soon as he heard the news. According to a late medieval tradition, the assassination took place in Aglona. Mindaugas was buried according to pagan customs along with his horses after a lavish funeral.

Soon after Mindaugas was killed, Tautvila, one of the late king's two grandsons who participated in the clashes at Voruta a decade earlier, was fraudulently assassinated after being invited to Samogitia with a promise from Treniota to protect him from any popular uprisings. The conspiracy to gain power could at that point be said to be complete. Lithuania entered a period of internal instability, but the Grand Duchy did not disintegrate. However, the foundation on which it stood was fragile: only a year later than its establishment, in 1264, Treniota was killed by Mindaugas's old servants and Lithuania passed into the hands of Vaišvilkas, the eldest son of the Lithuanian king supported by his brother-in-law Švarnas of Volinia. The first ruler to ensure greater prosperity for Lithuania and the first in the history of the Grand Duchy to die of natural causes was Traidenis, who came to power in 1270 under obscure circumstances.

What saved Lithuania from its dissolution was due to a number of circumstances, the chief of which was surely the fragility of the neighboring states at that moment in history; Prussian revolts kept the Teutonic Knights and those of Livonia busy until about 1290. Principalities to the east and south of the Grand Duchy often clashed with each other, and the greatest threat, the Principality of Galicia-Volinia, was escaped through strategic marriages or peace treaties.

An interesting comment to note on Mindaugas' death is that of Pope Clement IV. The pontiff expressed regret for her murder in 1268 by writing "the happy memory of Mindaugas" (clare memorie Mindota).

Written sources coeval with Mindaugas are very scarce. Most of the available information about his reign has been extrapolated from the rhymed chronicle of Livonia and the Hypatian codex. Both works were written by non-Lithuanian writers and therefore provide a fairly negative assessment of him, especially the Hypatian Codex. These are, by the way, not entirely comprehensive writings, considering that both in fact omit pure dates and places for major events. For example, the rhymed chronicle of Livonia devotes 125 verses to the coronation of Mindaugas, but does not indicate either time or space. Other valuable sources are papal bulls concerning the baptism and coronation of Mindaugas. The Lithuanians did not produce any documents that have survived to us, except for the above-mentioned series of acts by which they granted lands to the Livonian Order whose authenticity is disputed. The dearth of texts leaves unanswered several important questions that arise about Mindaugas and his reign.

Mindaugas married at least two wives, namely Morta and, later, Morta's sister, whose name is unknown. Equally unknown is whether he had a wife before Morta, but his existence is presumed because two descendants (a son named Vaišvilkas and one whose identity remains unknown, who married Švarnas in 1255) were already living independently, while Morta's children were still young. In addition to Vaišvilkas and his sister, there are records of two other sons, Ruklys and Rupeikis, who were murdered along with Mindaugas. This is the only information available on the two, and historians are not certain about their actual existence; it is possible that there were actually four sons or that the name was distorted or wrongly transcribed by the scribes. The only people known to have claimed the crown after the assassination of the first grand duke are only Vaišvilkas and Tautvila; this would imply that regardless of whether there were two or four sons, in the second hypothesis Ruklys and Rupeikis had died in their youth.

Although he is credited today with establishing the Lithuanian state, the figure of Mindaugas never received much attention in Lithuanian historiography until the national revival of the 19th century. While sympathizers to paganism despised him for betraying his religion, Christians considered his conversion insincere. Although he is mentioned a few times by Grand Duke Gediminas, he is not mentioned at all by Vitoldo the Great. Genealogical interest in him ends with his sons; no historical records discuss the connection between his descendants and the Gediminid dynasty that ruled Lithuania and Poland until 1572. A 17th-century rector of Vilnius University held him responsible for the problems later experienced by the Polish-Lithuanian Confederation ("the seed of internal discord had been sown among the Lithuanians"). Also in the same vein, a 20th-century historian blamed him for the "interruption of the process of Lithuanian state formation." The first academically conducted investigation of his life by a Lithuanian scholar was by Jonas Totoraitis in 1905 (Die Litauer unter dem König Mindowe bis zum Jahre 1263). Other scholars have also credited him with halting the advance of the Tatars to the Baltic Sea, granting Lithuania international recognition, and enabling it to become known in Western courts as well.

In the 1990s, historian Edvardas Gudavičius published his findings indicating a coronation date of July 6, later converted into a national holiday. The 750th anniversary of his coronation was celebrated in 2003 with the dedication of a bridge at Mindaugas near Vilnius, numerous festivals and concerts, and official visits by other heads of state. The legendary hill mentioned by Adam Mickiewicz in his 1828 novel Konrad Wallenrod, believed to be Mindaugas' burial place, was located near Navahrudak, Belarus. A memorial stone was placed at the site in 1993, and a metal sculpture of Mindaugas was unveiled in 2014.

Mindaugas is the main subject of Juliusz Słowacki's 1829 drama Mindowe, one of the Three Bards. It has also been portrayed in several 20th-century literary works: the tragedy Vara (Power, 1944) by Latvian author Mārtiņš Zīverts, Justinas Marcinkevičius's dramatic poem Mindaugas (1968), Romualdas Granauskas's Jaučio aukojimas (The Offering of the Bull, 1975), and Juozas Kralikauskas's Mindaugas (1995). Mindaugas' acquisition of the crown and the creation of the Grand Duchy form the main kernel of the 2002 Belarusian novel The Spear of Alhierd by Volha Ipatava, published ahead of the 750th anniversary of the coronation.

In 1992 Lithuanian director Juozas Sabolius dedicated the film Valdžia to the figure of Mindaugas.


  1. Mindaugas of Lithuania
  2. Mindaugas
  3. ^ Polemonidi secondo le leggende raccontate nelle cronache lituane.
  4. ^ Si verificarono due tentativi di ripristino della monarchia nel Paese baltico: il primo durante il dominio di Vitoldo il Grande (1401-1430), ma il sovrano non fu mai incoronato perché la corona di depredata dalle forze polacche. Il secondo caso, avvenuto nel 1918, riguardò Guglielmo di Urach, intenzionato ad assumere il nome regale di Mindaugas II. Questi non mise però mai piede in Lituania per cause legate alla sconfitta tedesca rimediata nella prima guerra mondiale. Per approfondire: Tentativi di ripristino della monarchia in Lituania.
  5. ^ Pur dovendo sempre ricordare che le informazioni su Mindaugas possono essere ricostruite soltanto sulla base di fonti non redatte da lituani, la sua apostasia è stata ritenuta abbastanza verosimile sulla base di due fonti quasi coeve, ovvero una missiva del 1324 di papa Giovanni XXII in cui egli affermava Mindaugas aveva riabbracciato il vecchio credo e la cronaca di Galizia e Volinia. L'autore di quest'ultima opera riferisce che Mindaugas continuò a praticare il paganesimo effettuando sacrifici ai suoi dei, anche umani, e conducendo riti non cristiani in pubblico.
  6. ^ "Mindaugas | ruler of Lithuania". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  7. ^ Gudavičius, Edvardas. "Mindaugas". Universal Lithuanian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  8. ^ a b O'Connor, Kevin (2003). The History of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing. p. 15. ISBN 0-313-32355-0.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j 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.
  10. ^ a b en Baranauskas, Tomas (2000). „The Formation of the Lithuanian State”. Lietuvos valstybės ištakos. Vaga. pp. 245–272. ISBN 5-415-01495-0. Arhivat din original la 16 aprilie 2009. Accesat în 12 septembrie 2010. 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."
  11. ^ lt Jonynas, Ignas (1935). „Bychovco kronika”. În Vaclovas Biržiška. Lietuviškoji enciklopedija. III. Kaunas: Spaudos Fondas. pp. 875–878.
  12. a b O'Connor, Kevin. The History of the Baltic States. Greenwood Publishing, 15. o. (2003). ISBN 0-313-32355-0
  13. a b c d e f g h i Dubonis, Artūras. Belated Praise for King Mindaugas of Lithuania, Mindaugo knyga: istorijos šaltiniai apie Lietuvos karalių. Lithuanian Institute of History, 17–22. o. (2005). ISBN 9986-780-68-3

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