Sun, 25 November 2007
Beginning at the age of 40, Grand Duke, or High King, Gediminas was ruler of Lithuania from 1316 to 1341. He became the monarch of the Lithuanians 80 years after the Battle of the Sun. Gediminas ruled for 25 years and he inherited lands that included what is now Lithuania as well as parts of Belarus. Gediminas was very loyal to his subjects, giving them the freedom to worship the traditional Lithuanian gods, Christianity or Judaism. He’s the true founder of the modern idea of a Lithuanian nation.
He created a large, powerful Lithuanian army; defended Lithuania with a series of strong forts and built castles in towns including Vilnius. He originally placed the capital at Trakai, near Vilnius, but later decided on Vilnius itself.
His reputation is that of a man who worshipped the old Lithuanian gods and who resisted every attempt to christianize his country, but the reality is a little different from the legend.
Wanting to create a strong nation and needing help to defend Lithuania from the German Teutonic Knights, Gediminas asked for help from Pope John XXII. He promised to become Christian himself and invited members of different Christian orders to build churches in Lithuania. However, his subjects were uneasy with his plans to convert to the new religion. He eventually reneged on his promise to convert, strengthened his relationship with his people and withdrew from the process of christianization. It’s not clear whether Gediminas actually intended to become Christian. The conversion was probably just a political move to help fight his Teutonic enemies.
According to historian Stephen Christopher Rowell, in about 1339-40 Gediminas executed two Franciscan friars from Bohemia, Ulrich and Martin, they had gone beyond what Gediminas had allowed and had publicly preached against the Lithuanian religion. Gediminas ordered them to renounce Christianity, and had them killed when they refused.
Gediminas died in 1341 from wounds he received in either a fight or a battle. His funeral included a traditional Lithuanian cremation, including the human sacrifice of his favorite servant and many German slaves burned in the fire along with his corpse.
Gediminas is a central figure in one of the most popular Lithuanian legends.
Once upon a time the Grand Duke of Lithuania, Gediminas, was hunting in the holy woods near where Vilnius would later be built. Tired after a successful day’s hunt the Grand Duke settled in for the night. He fell soundly asleep and had a dream. A huge iron wolf was standing on top of a hill and the sound of hundreds of wolves inside the hill filled the surrounding fields and woods. When he woke up, the Duke asked a Lithuanian priest to reveal the secrets of the dream. The priest said, "What is destined for the ruler and the state of Lithuania, is this: the iron wolf represents a castle and a town which will be built by the ruler on this site. The town will be the capital of the Lithuanian lands and the dwelling of rulers and the glory of their deeds shall echo throughout the world."
Today let’s work a little bit on some unusual Lithuanian words. Most masculine nouns end in –as, -is, -ys, and –us. Most feminine nouns end in either –a or –ė.
vieta a location
Now, let’s go over some words that have non-standard declensions in the genitive or kilmininkas. First, the masculine nouns in vardininkas…
Now, some unusual feminine nouns in vardininkas…
note that most nouns which end in an “s" are masculine, however, moteris is feminine.
moteris a woman
Okay, now let’s “decline" these words in the genitive. You can see the spellings of these words on the Lithuanian Out Loud blogpage.
dog, or šuo changes to šuns
stone, or akmuo changes to akmens
the stone’s color akmens spalva
person, or asmuo changes to asmens
the person’s name asmens vardas
water, or vanduo changes to vandens
the water’s color vandens spalva
uncle, or dėdė changes to dėdės
the uncle’s dog dėdės šuo
woman, or moteris changes to moters
the woman’s house moters namas
station, or stotis changes to stoties
the station’s toilet stoties tualetas
sister, or sesuo changes to sesers
the sister’s name sesers vardas
daughter, or duktė changes to dukters
the daughter’s flat dukters butas
and finally, the daughter-in-law, or marti changes to marios
the daughter-in-law’s name marčios vardas
Okay, good job, I know that that was an awful lot of information