Lithuanian version

LITHUANIA. 16th CENTURY

A Map of Lithuania, 16th century
The 16th century witnessed the spread of humanistic ideas from West Europe to Lithuania. Aspirations for science, art and wisdom advocated by Humanism brought about the reformation movement in Lithuania. The struggle between the catholic Church and the partisans of the reformation urged both sides to take a keen interest in science and education. In 1547 the first Lithuanian book was printed.

Vilnius University, the first higher school in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, was founded in 1579. With the polonization assuming a larger scale, the first buds of the Lithuanian national culture appeared, despite unfavourable political conditions.

In the second half of the 16th century the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was drawn into the Livonian war. Lithuania was too weak to fight alone. It was forced into a reluctant alliance with Poland. Besides, the Lithuanian nobility wanted to enjoy the same rights as their counterparts in Poland. In 1569 the polish and Lithuanian nobility met in Lublin, Poland, and concluded there a pact which united the two states into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Rzeczpospolita). The new commonwealth had a king, a Senate, a common currency and conducted the same foreign policy. The Lublin Union was ruinous for Lithuania’s independence and provided legal prerequisites for the further decline of Lithuanian statehood.

However even after this Union pact the independence state organisation of Lithuania was not totally destroyed. Lithuania preserved the indivisibility of her territory structure, army and law (the Lithuanian Statute). It took two hundred years more to have Lithuania’s independence completely liquidated.

At the end of the 16th century the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth plunged into war with Sweden , at the beginning of the 17th century it was at war with Russia, later on, in 1655-1667, it fought for the Ukrainian lands.

Plan of Vilnius in 16th century


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Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial Board, 1998.
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Page updated 2003.05.15.