VARNIAI - A RESOURCEFUL RENAISSANCE CENTER OF 16th CENTURY CULTURAL AND NATIONAL IDEOLOGY

Following are excerpts of Dr. Darius Kuolis’ article "Pilietiskumos tevas, valstybingumo sargas" (1995) ["The Father of Citizenship, the Guardian of Statehood"] first published by the Samogitian Cultural Society in the book entitled Mikalojaus Dauksos Katekizmui 400 ["The 400th Anniversary of Mikalojus Dauksa’s Catechism"]. Church Chatedral of Varniai

"Two schools of nationalism emerge in the cultural works of 16th century Lithuania: the political and the ethnocultural. In Latin, Lithuanian, and Polish texts of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the ‘Lithuanian, Samogitian, and Belarussian nations’ are regarded as citizens of Lithuania’s political community. The ‘Lithuanian nation’ is an ethnic society with common traditions, language, heritage, and historical fate. In propagating the ideology of national statehood, the

Lithuanian humanists of the Renaissance attempted to merge these two schools of thought."

"The works of Dauksa were in keeping with the political and cultural beliefs of his contemporary Lithuanian nobles and humanists. Dauksa created a complete, modern, national statehood project based on the national, political goals and ideas of the western European Renaissance.

The Lithuanian senator and Samogitian bishop Merkelis Giedraitis (c. 1536-1609), educated in the Protestant universities of Koenigsberg, Wittenberg, Tuebingen, and Leipzig, is doubtless among Dauksa’s inspirations. Giedraitis was termed the ‘second Christener of Samogitia’ who was a politician ‘traveling along the road
designated by Archduke Vytautas the Great.’ " Varniai"Merkelis Giedraitis, along with Mikalojus Dauksa, became benefactors of Motiejus Strijkovskis. In supporting the writing of Strijkovskis’ Kronika, Giedraitis turned Varniai into a resourceful Renaissance center of 16th century cultural and national ideology, which actively responded to the intellectual pursuits of western Europe. It is no coincidence that Varniai is the refinement site of ideas of a modern nation and a state based on native Lithuanian culture. It is on this foundation that the modern person forms a world-view."

"Dauksa, following the example of Italian, French, German, Polish, and Belarussian humanists, strongly suggested that the living Lithuanian vernacular replace the lingua franca Latin as the base for the Lithuanian state. Dauksa concurred with idea of Italian humanists (in Postile’s introduction) that language is the essential springboard for the existence of a nation and state."

"Dauksa elevated not only his own nation by valuing the Lithuanian language as the bedrock for the development of a state’s citizens. This view also exalted the ideal of the Lithuanian person interconnected with the world community. The humanist of Varniai led the average citizen of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania to history, and urged this citizen to be a conscientious and responsible participant in this history."


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Samogitian Cultural Association Editorial Board, 1998.
Comments to: samogitia@mch.mii.lt

Page updated 2003.05.15.