History of Lithuania

By | April 28, 2022

Separate feudal principalities existed on the territory of Lithuania as early as the 9th century. According to historyaah, the first written mention of the Lithuanians dates back to 1009. The Lithuanian lands were united into a single state by Prince Mindaugas ca. 1236. It was an early feudal monarchy. From the very beginning, the state had to face the expansion of the crusaders – the Teutonic and Livonian orders. In the 13th-16th centuries. Lithuania repeatedly repelled German aggression. In order to prevent the capture of Lithuania by the Crusaders and defeat opponents within the country, Mindaugas converted to Catholicism in 1251, having received the support of the Pope. In 1253 Mindaugas became the king of Lithuania. In the battle near Lake Durbe in 1260, the troops of the Livonian Order were defeated. With the coming to power of Prince Vityanis (1295-1316), the period of civil strife ended, a military reform was carried out, a professional army was created.

In the 1st floor. 14th c. a strong state appeared in Europe – the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Russia. It owes its origin to the Grand Duke Gediminas (1316-41), who during the years of his reign significantly strengthened the centralized state of Lithuania. Many Russian lands, seeking to find protection from the Mongol-Tatars, joined Lithuania voluntarily. In 1410, in alliance with the Polish and Russian troops, the Teutonic Order was defeated in the Battle of Grunwald. In 1558–83, Lithuania, together with Russia, took part in the Livonian War, and in 1569 it united with Poland to form the Commonwealth (the Union of Lublin).

After the third partition of the Commonwealth (1795), most of Lithuania was annexed to the Russian Empire. From the very beginning of the 1st World War, Lithuania became the scene of military operations of the armies of Germany and Russia. In the autumn of 1915, German troops almost completely occupied the country. Since the demand for granting autonomy to Lithuania was ignored by the tsarist government, prominent political figures led by A. Smetona reoriented towards Germany. With the consent of the occupying authorities, on September 21, 1917, the Lithuanian Tariba was elected, which on February 16, 1918 adopted a decision on the independence of the Lithuanian state. The Provisional Workers’ and Peasants’ Government, established in December 1918, announced the overthrow of the government and Tariba and the proclamation of the Lithuanian Soviet Republic. See ehistorylib for more about Lithuania history.

After the offensive of the German troops in August 1919, the Red Army detachments left Lithuania. In 1920 the Soviet government recognized the independence of Lithuania. In 1922 the Constitution was adopted and Lithuania was declared a democratic republic. Smetona became the first president. From 1920 to 1926 a bourgeois-parliamentary regime existed in the country. As a result of a military coup d’état in December 1926, the authoritarian presidential regime of Smetona was established (1927–40).

As a result of the defeat of Poland in the war with Germany, in accordance with the Soviet-German agreements, the Vilnius Territory, along with the Western Ukrainian and Western Belarusian lands, came under the control of the Red Army. In October 1939, an agreement was signed on mutual assistance between the Soviet Union and Lithuania and on the transfer of Vilnius and the Vilnius region to it. Soviet military bases with up to 20,000 troops were stationed on its territory. On July 21, 1940, the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed, and in August 1940 it was admitted to the USSR.

During the 2nd World War, the German army was on the territory of Lithuania. In 1945-50 Lithuanians tried to resist the return to the USSR, but were suppressed by the Soviet troops.

In the summer of 1988, the Sąjūdis Movement for Perestroika took shape, setting the task of restoring the independence of Lithuania. The activity of the Lithuanian Freedom League (formed in 1978), headed by A. Brazauskas, became more active. The elections to the Supreme Council (February 24, 1990) were won by supporters of the Sąjūdis, headed by V. Landsbergis, on March 11 the Act on the Restoration of the Independence of the State of Lithuania – the Republic of Lithuania was adopted, and in September 1991 the independence of democratic Lithuania was recognized by the State Council of the USSR.

Science and culture of Lithuania

Children enter primary school at the age of 7 and study in it for 3 years, 5 or 8 years of secondary school (depending on the type of school). Graduates of secondary schools can further study in vocational or higher education institutions. The language of instruction is Lithuanian, but in areas where national minorities are concentrated, Polish and Russian are used. Educational institutions are mostly state-owned, there are private gymnasiums, lyceums, universities, business schools.

In the 2001-2002 academic year, there were 2,428 educational institutions in Lithuania, incl. 42 private. 45.3 thousand students studied in 2261 state and 19 private general education schools; in 123 vocational colleges and schools (20 private) – 44.8 thousand students; in 16 universities (9 private) and 19 universities (4 private) – 11.6 thousand students. Major universities: Vilnius University (founded in 1579), Vitaus Magnus University (Kaunas), Vilnius Technical University, Vilnius Pedagogical University, Kaunas University of Technology, Kaunas Medical Academy, Klaipeda University. During the reform of higher education, a two-stage system was introduced, in which in all universities (except Vilnius University), after 4 years of study, a student receives a bachelor’s degree, after another 2 years – a master’s degree. The scientific degree of a doctor involves another 2 years of doctoral studies and the defense of scientific work. In 1994 Lithuania ratified the UNESCO Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Diplomas and Degrees in the European Region.

An important problem of Lithuanian science is the insufficient amount of funds allocated by the budget. The share of spending on science in GDP decreased from 1.24% in 1998 to 0.68% in 2001, and the number of scientific workers decreased to 5130 people. (in 1998 – 5588 people). Scientific research is carried out at Vilnius University and other universities in Vilnius and Kaunas. The Lithuanian Academy of Sciences was transformed into a personal one, and its institutions became state institutions. There are two largest libraries in the country: the National. Mažvydas in Vilnius and Vilnius University. Large funds are also available in the Central Library of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Kaunas University of Technology.

The national culture of Lithuania developed under relatively favorable conditions. Well-known monuments of Lithuanian culture (14th-15th centuries) are written in Old Church Slavonic, Latin, and Polish. Only in the 16th century The first books in Lithuanian were printed. The classics of Lithuanian literature are the poem “Metai” (“The Seasons”) by the Lutheran pastor Kristijonas Donelaitis (1714-80) and the poem “Anikshchyu silelis” (Anikshchiai Forest), written in 1859 by A. Baranauskas (1835-1902). Prominent figures of Lithuanian literature are the poet J. Maciulis (1862–1932), the writer V. Mikolaitis-Putinas (1893–1967), and the poet and playwright J. Marcinkevičius (b. 1930). The works of writers M.Slutskis, J.Hrushas, K.Boruta, poets E.Mezhelaitis and J.Marcinkevicius are well-known. A great contribution to Lithuanian painting was made by M.K. Čiurlionis (1875-1911), one of the first modernists in European painting,

Lithuanian theatrical art reached a high level in the second half of the 20th century. (Young Spectator Theatre, Youth Theater and State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater in Vilnius, Panevezys Drama Theater and Kaunas Musical Theatre). The folk ensemble “Lietuva”, the Chamber Orchestra of S. Sondeckis, the Chamber Choir of Vilnius “Jauna Muzyka” gained worldwide fame. Lithuanian cinematography has achieved great success. The films of the Lithuanian Film Studio (directors V.Zalakyavichyus, A.Žebryūnas, M.Gedris, etc.) have been repeatedly awarded prizes at international film festivals. Actors such as D. Banionis, R. Adomaitis, Y. Budraitis, I. Dapkunaite gained fame.

In 1994 Vilnius Old Town was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

History of Lithuania