November 26, 2016

2881 LITHUANIA - The map of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Founded by the Lithuanians, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania existed from the 13th century until 1795, and expanded to include large portions of the former Kievan Rus' and other Slavic lands, including territory of present-day Belarus, parts of Ukraine, Poland and Russia, but also of Estonia and Latvia. At its greatest extent in the 15th century, it was the largest state in Europe, a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state with great diversity in languages, religion, and cultural heritage.

Consolidation of the state began in the late 12th century, when Mindaugas was crowned as Catholic King of Lithuania in 1253. The pagan state was targeted in the religious crusade by the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Order. The multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state emerged only at the late reign of Gediminas and continued to expand under his son Algirdas. Algirdas's successor Jogaila signed the Union of Krewo in 1386, that meant the conversion to Catholicism and establishment of a dynastic union between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Crown of the Kingdom of Poland.

The reign of Vytautas the Great marked both the greatest territorial expansion of the Grand Duchy and the defeat of the Teutonic Knights in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410. After Vytautas's death, Lithuania's relationship with the Kingdom of Poland greatly deteriorated. Lithuanian noblemen, including the Radvila family (Radziwiłłs), attempted to break the personal union with Poland. However, the unsuccessful Muscovite-Lithuanian Wars with the Grand Duchy of Moscow forced the union to remain intact.

The Union of Lublin of 1569 created a new state, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, in which the Grand Duchy of Lithuania maintained its political distinctiveness. Since 1791, this federation was supposed to be a single country - Respublica Poloniae. The newly reformed Commonwealth was invaded by Russia in 1792 and partitioned between the neighbours. After the Kościuszko Uprising, the territory was partitioned among the Russian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, and Austria in 1795.

About the stamps
The first, the third and the fourth stamp are part of the Garden Flowers series, about which I wrote here. The second is part of the Wild animals series, about which I wrote here.

Grand Duchy of Lithuania - Wikipedia

Sender: Margarita Savostyuk (direct swap)
Sent from Minsk (Minsk / Belarus), on 03.03.2012

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