Gediminas

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Gediminas (ca. 1275 – winter 1341) was the ruler of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania from 1316–1341. He is credited with founding this political entity and expanding its territory. As part of his legacy he obtained a reputation of being an inveterate pagan who resisted attempts to Christianize his country, after attempted negotiations with Pope and other Christian states.

Contents

Title used in correspondence

Gediminas' normal Latin style is as follows:

  • Gedeminne Dei gratia Letwinorum et multorum Ruthenorum rex[1]

Which translates as:

  • "Gediminas, by the grace of God, of the Lithuanians and many Rus'ians, king"[1]

In his letters to the papacy in 1322 and 1323, he adds Princeps et Duke Semigallie (Prince and Duke of Semigallia).[2] In contemporary Low German he is styled simply Koningh van Lettowen, mirroring the Latin Rex Lethowye (both "King of Lithuania").[1] Gediminas' right to use Latin rex, which the papacy had been claiming the right to grant from the 13th century, was controversial in some Catholic sources. So for instance he was called rex sive dux ("King or Duke") by one source; Pope John XXII, in a letter to the King of France, refers to Gediminas as "the one who calls himself rex"; however the pope did call Gediminas rex when addressing him (regem sive ducem, "king or duke").[2]

Origin

He was supposed by the earlier chroniclers to have been the hostler of Vytenis, Grand Duke of Lithuania, but more probably he was Vytenis' younger brother and the son of Butvydas (Pukuwer), another Lithuanian grand duke. In any case, his purported Rurikid origin was a later fake. According to the latest research, even his grandfather cannot be named with certainty. Gediminas became Grand Duke (didysis kunigaikštis) of Lithuania in 1316 at the age of 40 and ruled for 25 years.

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