The first written mention of Lithuania is found in a medieval German manuscript, the Quedlinburg Chronicle, on 14 February 1009. The Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas in 1236, and neighbouring countries referred to it as "the state of Lithuania." The official coronation of Mindaugas as King of Lithuania was on July 6, 1253, and the official recognition of Lithuanian statehood as the Kingdom of Lithuania.
Vytautas the Great, under his reign Lithuania reached zenith of power (17th century painting)
During the early period of Vytautas the Great (1316 1430), the state occupied the territories of present-day Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia. By the end of the fourteenth century, Lithuania was the largest country in Europe, and was also the only remaining pagan state. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania stretched across a substantial part of Europe, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Lithuanian nobility, city dwellers and peasants accepted Christianity in 1386, following Poland's offer of its crown to Jogaila, the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Grand Duke Jogaila was crowned King of Poland on February 2, 1386. Lithuania and Poland were joined into a personal union, as both countries were ruled by the same House of Gediminas branch, the Jagiellon dynasty.
In 1401, the formal union was dissolved as a result of disputes over legal terminology, and Vytautas, the cousin of Jogaila, became the Grand Duke of Lithuania. Thanks to close cooperation, the armies of Poland and Lithuania achieved a great victory over the Teutonic Knights in 1410 at the Battle of Grunwald, one of the largest battles of medieval Europe.
A royal crown had been bestowed upon Vytautas in 1429 by Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor, but Polish magnates prevented his coronation by seizing the crown as it was being brought to him. New attempts were made to send a crown, but a month later Vytautas died as the result of an accident.
As a result of the growing...