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From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. Until 1387 the country was pagan. How this huge state came to expand, defend itself against western European crusaders and play a conspicuous part in European life are the main subjects of this book. Chapters are devoted to the types of sources used, to the religion of the ancient Balts (and the discovery of a pagan temple in Vilnius in the late 1980s), and to Lithuanian relations and wars with Poland and the Germans. Under Grand Duke Gediminas, Lithuania came to control more of Russia than the prince of Moscow and, though pagan, competed with Moscow to gain a special church structure. Many of the general crises in this book have a familiar ring: crusade, famine, collapse of central authority in the German empire and the papacy. In this deeply-researched study, first published in 1994, the middle ages emerge as interesting and as varied as our own times.
S. C. Rowell
Cambridge University Press
Date of Publication
Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series