Monday, 18 June 2012

Why Belarus is Lithuania?

Foreigners often wonder why educated Belarusians speak of Belarus "Belarus is Lithuania." Why is it called? Indeed, Lithuania is a neighboring state with its capital, its culture, language.



The fact that the territory which is called Lithuania, during the Middle Ages was located much further south: in the territory of modern Belarus. Now there are Novogrudok, Grodno, Lida, settlement Kreva.

The first major Belarusian state is also called the "Grand Duchy of Lithuania." In its heyday, it took almost half of Eastern Europe and stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea (included not only the Belarusian and Lithuanian lands, but even Ukrainian).

And the territory of modern Lithuania was then called in another way: Samogitia or Zhmud. My ancestors called themselves Litvin, and their language - Lithuanian. Contemporary Belarus and Lithuania long time have been a unified country, our people share a common history. Even the Lithuanian capital Vilnius more than 600 years has been the Belarusian capital city of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Name of the city in those days was Vilna or Vilnia. Only in 1939 the Communists gave the city and the territory around to modern Lithuania. And if you ever read about ancient Lithuanian princes Mindovg, Vytautas, Gediminas, you must know: there are Belarusian princes too.

The name "Byelorussian" appeared only in the 19th century, when the land of my country went to the Russian Empire. Then Litvin was imposed on the new name of lands: Belorussia, and the people were called Belorussians. The name "Lithuania" departed to the northern part of the land. Now the modern state Lithuania located there.

And so people have become confused in terms of historical realities. This is understandable: Belarusians and Lithuanians are the neighboring peoples. We live together, Belarusians frequent Vilyunyus, go back to university, go shopping. Lithuanians are also frequent visitors to Belarus. For many centuries we have lived together in a single state whose name was the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

119 comments:

  1. For me it is also strange why Western people think that Poland is part of Russia :)

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    1. One reason is that immigrants listed themselves as Russian at Ellis Island and on US Census'. My grandparents listed themselves as Russian, spoke Polish and now I find they were actually from Belarus.

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  2. Don't forget, belorussians - are baltic tribes mixed with slavic, like modern lithuanians, just mostly speaking russian :). So called litvins are both modern belorussians, and modern lithuanians, they just now speaks different languages.

    Samogitia is only a part (33% at most) of modern Lithuania (just google about duchy of Samogitia). Btw, region of Samogitia speaks a lot different from remaining part of current Lithuania, different dialect and different culture. Remaining part of Lithuania is NOT and have NEVER been part of dutchy of Samogitia (Biržai, Utena, Ukmergė, Traikai, Kaunas, Vilkaviškis, Klaipėda (Memel)). By the way, first time the name of Lithuania was mentioned in Annales Quedlinburgenses in 1009, that "Lituae a paganis" and killed St. Bruno. But it seems that in Kievan Rus (duchy of Polotsk, nowaday Belorus) Christianity came a lot earlier, so belorussians weren't pagans and that territory weren't Lituae - Lithuania. I suggest to read less Mihal Jermalovich stuff, and read more polish and russian historics. What about Vilnius - it is in ethnographic baltic region of "Dzūkija". Some of people were baltic and spoke lithuanian. Some got mixed with slavic and spoke slavic, so ethnographically Vilnius NEVER was only modern belorussian people town. And if Belorus is the real succesor of Grand Duchy of Lithuania, why don't you rename country to Litva and bring Pahonia to flag and coats of arm? :)

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    1. Our country was not renamed. It has its name, which appeared historically in the 20th century. Exactly the same question I ask and you, why not take a Lithuania old historical name?
      Now I want to say about the flag and coat of arms: in 1996 there was a referendum, then was chosen as the new emblem and flag. From 1991 to 1996, Belarus had a white-red-white flag and coat of arms "Pagonya" (as symbols of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania). In 1996 I was too small and I had the opportunity to participate in the referendum. I would have left "Pagonya" - this emblem is much older than the modern one.
      In Vilnius, lived many Belarusian writers, poets, sculptors and statesmen. Street names were nelitovskie name. This was my grandmother told me that all my life lived in Vilnius. By the way, I own 50% of Lithuanian nationality.
      And again, in the Middle Ages in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the official language of Old Belarusian. I am a linguist and I studied the Old Church Slavonic, Old Russian, Old Belarusian, and other ancient languages. So Belarus is also a descendant of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania.

      And in his post, I did not want to "take away" this honor in Lithuania. I just wanted to tell you that our states have a common history, our peoples have long lived in one state and should be equally proud of our past.

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    2. The history of Belarus does not start with the region of present day Belarus becoming part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Slavic tribes Kryvians, Drehovians and Radzimians lived in the region from at least 7th century later becoming part of Rus. Some Baltic tribes may had lived in the region but they were never in great numbers as it was also the case with Ukraine and Russia. There is early architecture dating to those days found in Polotsk and numerous archaeological Slavic artefacts uncovered prior to Lithuanian expansion. To this day Latvians are calling Belarusians and Russians Krievi naming them of a Slavic tribe that lived in Belarus and Russia.

      The Grand Duchy of Lithuania and later Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth was always a political rather than a cultural union and widespread cultural assimilation as it happened in other regions such northern Russia or eastern Germany was never occurred. In fact, the term ‘proper Lithuania’ was used to indicate where ethnical Lithuanians lived.

      Belarusians were farmers and peasants and I don’t mean any disrespect. The Russian and Ukrainian populations were predominantly (over 80% by some accounts) peasants too. These very people preserved beautiful Slavic languages, dialects, folk culture and traditions. People of other ethniticies (Jewish and Poles) belonged to another social class.

      In the past Belarusians identified themselves as Litvins, This term was referred to the region in which Belarusian people lived more than anything. As it was the case with Ukraine (the region) or Pomory (seashore dwellers) in northern Russia and northern Poland on the Baltic coast etc. Some people are let to believe that because Belarusians identified themselves as Litvins therefore Belarusians are of Balts origin which is not true and Belarusians know this.

      Later Belarus became part of Russian Empire and Soviet Union which is another 200 years of not being independent. So, for half of the recorded history Belarusians were not under Lithuanian rule. In present day Belarusians speak Slavic language, have Slavic culture and traditions. The majority of people are Christian Orthodox or had ancestors who were Christian Orthodox.

      This maybe harsh for you because you are half Lithuanian. Recently, scientific papers were released discussing genetic distance between Belarusians and other Slavic peoples as well as Lithuanians. Genetically, the closest people to Belarusians are Poles, Russians (central region) and Ukrainians (northern regions). In this order. Even Slovenes from central Europe are genetically closer to Belarusians than Lithuanians. I can link you two scientific articles published in English and Russian. The reason for this difference is because ethnical assimilation between Lithuanians and Slavs (Belarusians /Poles) was never widespread.

      There is a regional Lithuanian cultural influence such as architecture from medieval times. There are certain elements in Belarusian folk being influenced by Lithuanians.But this is also true for regions near eastern, western and southern borders of Belarus being influenced by the cultures of neighbouring countries. There may have been intermarriages between Belarusians and Lithuanians and some Lithuanians being assimilated into Belarusian society in Hrodna region. In other words, there is a continuum from west to east and from north to south which is not unique to Belarus.

      Belarusians are a separate ethnical identity and I would love to see them stop associating themselves with Poles, Lithuanians or Russians. Or LIthuanians, Russian, Poles and Ukrainians claiming Belarusians are their direct decedents. If I were a Belarusian I would be proud of having the beautiful language and traditional culture Belarusians inherited from their ancestors.

      Sorry for this rant.

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    3. Решила ответить вам на русском языке, поскольку, скорее всего, именно мое неполное владение английским языком и породило столько комментариев к этому посту.

      Я учитель, причем учитель белорусского языка и литературы. Поэтому согласна с Вашими мыслями на все 100%. Я люблю белорусский язык и стараюсь передать эту любовь своим ученикам. Наверно, у меня все-таки это получается (дело в том, что большинство моих учеников переехало в Беларусь пару лет назад из бывших советских республик, и дети неохотно воспринимают белорусский язык, им намного проще воспринимать информацию на русском). Но это так, к слову.

      А данный пост я создала по вот какой причине: в Беларуси транслируются российские телеканалы (правда, в весьма урезанном виде), и частенько в различных викторинах, телешоу ведущие начинают говорить" старинные литовские князья", "древний литовский..." и так далее, сообщая после данных слов о фактах белорусской истории. Я хотела, чтобы все понимали, что у современных Беларуси и Литвы общая история, и меня очень раздражает попытки каждого государства (и нашего тоже) перетянуть одеяло на себя, указывать соседям, "что тут наше, а что ваше". Именно это я и хотела сказать.

      Вот, даже писать по-русски оказалось для меня немного сложно, привыкла выражать свои мысли на белорусском и поймала себя на том, что на автопилоте перевожу все эти слова на русский )))

      Надеюсь, я угадала, и вы понимаете русский (если судить по нику, то должны). Так что Вы никоим образом не затронули мои чувства, я даже благодарна Ваим, что Вы так горячо отстативаете интересы нашего народа. НАм это сейчас очень нужно, потому что в последнее время кое-кто из влиятельных лиц в государстве стал говорить "мы - русский народ". Очень хочется, чтобы все вокруг поняли, что есть такое государство Беларусь, что у него имеются свои вековые традиции. И не надо нам навязывать свою культуру, свои точки зрения, мы прекрасно справимся сами. Еще в начале 290 века белорусский поэт Янка Купала написал пьесу "Тутэйшыя", которая до сих пор запрещена к постановке. В ней он выразил стремнение белорусского народа к самоиндентификации (по ходу действия появляются Западный и Восточный ученые, представляющие, соответственно, Польшу и Россию). Данные ученые не воспринимают белорусов как отдельный народ, а лишь как часть польского/русского, и язык у белорусов также польский/русский "с большой примесью непонятных слов".

      Поэтому, повторяюсь, я полностью согласна с Вашими мыслями. Я всего лишь хотела указать, что Беларусь и Литва имеют общую историю, но литовцы об этом помнят, а мы - нет, у нас история начинается с конца Великой Отечественной войны. Это очень грустно, увы, но пока ничего нельзя поделать.

      И спасибо, что читаете мой блог!

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    4. Прочитала написанное: все равно немного не то, что я хотела сказать.
      Короче: у Беларуси и Литвы есть общее прошлое, но это прошлое воспринимается однобоко, россиянам Беларусь представляется как этакий придаток бывшей империи, которую населяют немного не такие русские. Опять-таки, в нынешнее время соседи Беларуси начинают делить историю, а делить-то нечего, если она общая. А я хочу, чтобы в России поняли, что и Беларуси есть, чем гордиться, и сами белорусы об этом вспомнили. Потому как для многих, действительно, история начинается с освобождения наших земель от фашистских войск, словно до этого момента здесь ничего не существовало.

      И заодно объяснить это всем остальным моим читателям.

      Вот такие мысли я пыталась донести до читателей. Наверно, у меня это вышло коряво, но ничего менять я не буду: инетресно, что же будет дальше. ))

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    5. Спасибо за развернутый ответ. Я давно читаю ваш дневник, но впервые решил отметиться. Ваши небольшие рассказы о культурной жизни Беларуси читаю с большим удовольствием.

      По национальности я русский и украинец со стороны матери. Только из украинского у нас в семье девичья фамилия матери.

      У Литвы и Беларуси имеется общая богатая история и об этом ни в коем случае не следует забывать. Но кроме общей истории с ВКЛ у белорусов имеется свое культурное наследие и не менее богатая история до ВЛК и после ВЛК. В древности белорусы (тогда союзы славянских племен) хоронили своих умерших в курганах наряжая их в красивые украшениями. По Днепру плавали варяги и славяне. В Полоцке построили Спасо-Приоброженскую церковь. Также остались красивые древние славянские традиции и праздники. И многое другое, которое не связывает белорусов с ВКЛ.

      В похожих условиях с белорусами оказалось множество европейских народов. Некоторые народы утратили свою культуру и язык, а другие сумели сохранить. В состав соседней австро-венгерской империи вошли несколько славянских народов. Это -хорваты, словенцы, богемцы, моравы, словаки, часть Польши и западня Украина. Ни один из этих народов не записывает себя к венграм или австрийцам. В отдельном промежутке времени у этих народов общая история и отчасти народы подверглись культурному влиянию империи, но не более того.

      Я иногда читаю случайные комментарии белорусов в Интернете и складывается впечатление, что некоторые белорусы готовы переписать свою историю и записать себя кем угодно только не белорусами. У меня есть некоторые предположения почему это происходит. Я наверно приблизительно также поступил оказавшись не месте белорусов. Грустно наблюдать за происходящим, поверьте мне на слово.

      За дневник ваш еще раз спасибо!

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    6. Хочу добавить к предыдущему сообщению, что переписывать историю и записывать себя к балтам (больше уже не к кому) – это неправильно. Правильно то, что вы делаете. Учите детей белорусском языку и литературе, и рассказываете всему миру о белорусской культуре.

      И еще я бы с удовольствием выучил белорусский язык. Может только чтение для начала. Мне на мой слух белорусская речь приятно звучит. Одна только буква чего стоит 'Ў' Заслушаешься...))

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    7. Michael Advdveev Ты дурак?Ты историю по методичкам КГБ учишь или прочитал у какого то сказачниика?
      Наша история старше вашей Московско татарской и мы сами знаем что нам учить.
      Во первых какие похороны в курганах в нарядах?Где ты это нашел?
      Тебе любой школьник скажет что славяне Лужицкой культуры хоронили своих предков в курганах сжигая их и слаживая останки и обгоревшие кости в горшочки,так же как и Кривичи некоторые,

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  3. Belarus had a white-red-white flag and coat of arms "Pagonya" also in 1918-1919 (Белару́ская Наро́дная Рэспу́бліка, БНР). Well, what can I say. Belarus people didn't create a democratic republic after WWI, they do not create it also now, and that is a really sad sad thing.
    In Вільня (Vilnius) there lived many nationalities. Most of them were jews and polonized Lithuanians and polonized Belorussians. Most of street names, I believe, were Russians, because after last partition of Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth Grand Duchy was part of Russian empire, so naturally names of street of Vilnius were not Lithuanian. From Vilnius came also great Polish and Lithuanian people.

    And it is a big false statement, that official language of Grand Duchy was old Belorussian. First of all, there were NO official language at all, there was only CLERICAL language. Not the first, not the last. At the beginning all documents were written in Latin language. Later in old Belarussian. At the end - in Polish. So it means official languages in Grand Duchy were Latin and Polish also? I don't think so, written documents do not define official language status at all.

    But I agree, that Belarus is ALSO a descendant of Grand Duchy, but not the ONLY one. And it is very offensive to call modern Lithuania - Samogitia or Zhmud, simply because, like I said before, Samogitia is a small part of teritory of modern Lithuania. It is just the same to say, that all Belorussians are Russians. So let's live in sense and let's share our great common history friendly :)

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    1. Belarus tried many times to created its Democratic state. But Letuvis was lucky that Bolsheviks didn't have time for them , like Belarus,who was rusificate since end of 18 centuary trough 19 centuary, when Uniats, and Luterans temples and churches was closed and remodeled to a Moskov Russian ortodox style.
      Don't blame my coutry decent of Ducatus of Zhemaitia , we had more tragedies and drammas in hard time of endless wars, but we are not like you , who captured Vilnya and renamed old Belarus-Lithuanian towns like Vilnya to Vilnus, Troki to Trakai, Kovna to kaunas in the 1939, and added 'AS" to all the famous persons in ancient Litwa, Like mindougAS, VitautAS, gediminAS> WTF???????>
      Yes OLD belarusian was original Lithuanian Language , oficial state language and diplomatical language, every documents was sighned in it and in Latin, Latin was used for Western diplomacy afair,
      Funny that we have no evidence any documentations in Letuvis language , exept katehesiz that was written in the Kinnigsberg by ALbert duke of Prussia to minister uneducated people of Estern Prussia and North Vestern Samagotia,
      It never been two parts of historic Litwa. Even world 'LITWA" comes from Slavic interpretations,
      Also thanks to Teutonic Order and its influence , you carried your idenity and language and wasn't slavinized completly by Kriviches and Lutiches(Polabic slavs, who was migrating from Germany due to SAXsons invations) , later Lutichi =Lutva = Litva , created their first state and conqured big parts of Samagotia.
      I'm offensive that you stealing big portions of our cultury and history, call us decents of Russia and making up diffrent teorries, that is breaking down under scientific critics .

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  4. На мой взгляд интересная статья историка Беларуси по поводу идеализации литовского наследия.
    Пожалуй историк однобоко высказывает свою точку зрения и все-таки доля правды в его замечаниях присутствует.
    В вашем же списке известных людей этнических белорусов не очень много. Статья
    http://oko-planet.su/history/historydiscussions/112305-ekspert-v-belorusskoy-istorii-hvataet-geroev-i-bez-polsko-litovskih-feodalov.html
    Отказываться от общей истории не надо, но и идеализировать то, что белорусского народа касалось в меньшей степени в пределах одних политических границ, по-моему, тоже не следует.
    С другой стороны, выбор за белорусским народом. Хотят идеализировать литовских феодалов и польских панов, то это их право.

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  5. i see history revisionism is strong in belarus ...

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  6. It's a shame that such kind of history interpretation is ongoing in Belarus these days. It is false. All those "belarus" rulers (Mindaugas, Vytautas etc.)... There is quite a lot things that prove Lithuanian-Baltic ethnicity of nobles in Grand Duchy of Lithuania. I will mention only one of those, though it should be more than enough. Form of their names. It is totally Baltic, it is composed usually of two words meaning something. For instance, Mindaugas - Min ("minėti" - to mention, to talk about) + daug ("daugelis" - many) = Mindaugas (famous, mentioned by many people). And there are much more facts that prove Grand Duchy to have been ruled by Lithuanians (ancestors of modern Lithuanians). However, I do not deny that Belorussians had a huge impact to Grand Duchy of Lithuania. This kind of history interpretation might be justifiable. Belarussian culture needs a myth to keep its own culture which is now endangered. Lithuanians had their own myth long time ago about their roman origins. This myth helped Lithuanian culture to survive but now it is well known to be false. Hopefully Belarus culture also survives and then we can talk about our common history without those crazy ideas that are now spread across Belarus ;)

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  7. Hello Alena!

    I lile your blog!

    There are some inaccuracies and incomplete information in your post which may mislead your readers.

    1.
    Ethnical Belarusians were called Lithuanians (Litvins to be precise), but so were other ethnicities living in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. An analogous term to Lithuanian living in the GDL would be British of Great Britain. There are ethnical Scotts, Welsh, Anglo-Saxons, Irish and Cornish living in the GB who are all British citizens. A more accurate term describing Slavic speaking population of eastern Orthodox faith living on the territories of Belarus during the GDL times was 'Ruthenian'. The term Ruthenian was applied to ancestors of Belarusians before the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was formed and through much of the history of the GDL. As you know 'Rus' in Belarus and Ruthenian (Latin term) is essentially the same term. In fact, Belarusian linguists counted 8 different meaning for the term Lithuanian (Litvin) and by far the most common meaning of Litvin was applied to citizens of the GDL despite belonging to different ethnicities.
    Article : http://beldumka.belta.by/isfiles/000167_347097.pdf

    2.
    Ancient Lithuania existed on the territories of modern southern-eastern Lithuania ( ethnographical regions of Dzukij, Suvalkija and southern Aukstaitija) and north-western Belarus (mostly northern Hrodna and Mensk voblast’) .This is a general consensus among most Belarusian, Lithuanian, Polish, Ukrainian and Russian historians and archaeologists. Moreover, the archaeological culture of the aforementioned territory was a Baltic culture. It’s no surprising all early rulers of the GDL had Baltic names, who later were Ruthenisied and Polonised . Samogitia was not part of the original Lithuania; however, it's only one ethnographical region in Lithuania.

    3.
    Vilna as well as half of Belarus were occupied by Poland between 1918-1939. Vilna was transferred from Poland to Lithuania by communists rather than from Belarus to Lithuania. If the city was not transferred to Lithuania, it's unlikely we would have seen many Belarusians living in Vilnia region anyway. The population of Vilnius was mostly Polish and Jewish. There were few ethnical Lithuanians and Belarusians living in it. After WWII ended Poles were repatriated from Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine to resettle newly acquired territories in present day of western Poland, while Ukrainians and Belarusians living in Poland were moved to Ukraine and Belarus.
    Moreover, if Vilna was the capital of the GDL and much of Belarusian gravitated to Vilna as to its cultural centre, then ethnographical region of Polessie (southern Belarus) had always had cultural affinity to Kiev. I think Mensk being located in the centre of Belarus is the best choice as the capital city for all Belarusian regions.

    I understand many Belarusians are feeling they were denied their history dated to the GDL period. I sympathise and feel for Belarusians. I think it’s a great period any nation can be proud of. I realise there were political reasons behind the lies created by Polish, Imperial Russian and Soviet scholars. However, there are things being promoted by “Litsvins” are simply not true. Some Belarusians are trying to replace one lie they inherited with another. It's not going to work in the long run.

    Modern Belarus is divided in at least 4 ethnographical regions each influenced by neighbouring regions laying across the border. Most European countries including all Belarusian neighbours also have different ethnographical regions in their respective countries. Yet , these nations are proud trying to unite their people creating a coherent society, whereas some Belarusians are still searching for their national identity creating myths with Litsvinism & Baltisms. What’s wrong with the name of Belarus? I think it’s a beautiful name in its original name of Ruthenian. The term is also appropriate for Paleshyuks and Pinchuks of Palessie.
    My two penny worth on the subject.


    PS З Масленіцай і гуканнем вясны!

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    2. OK, your version has the right to exist, as well as mine. We can not talk about the falsification of history, we are just ordinary people. I repeat: Belarusians and Lithuanians lived alongside for centuries lived in the same state and we must keep this in mind and meet troubles and enemies of our borders together. And what is the enemy, I think, you'll decide for yourself.

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  8. We should call Belarusians our BROTHERS! Not Latvians, They didn't fight and die for us like Belarusians (Litvins) did. Atmerkit akis lietuviai (open your eyes Lithuanians)

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    1. Indeed, I wish more Lithuanians were like you!

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    2. http://en.delfi.lt/opinion/opinion-why-are-our-neighbours-poaching-our-history.d?id=65308552

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    3. When you caling them litvins(Lithuanians) they think that they created and ruled gdl, but they was ruthenians not litvins it's slavic name of Lithuanians. I agree whith you we have common history ruthenians fought whith us side by side.

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  9. Dear Lithuanian Sister,

    The notions expressed in this article mirror a pseudo historical propaganda.

    You are correct when you say that Belarus is Lithuania, in fact the northeastern parts such as Gardinas (Hrodno), and Vileyka are ethnographically/historically speaking Lithuanian lands. Byelorussians are Lithuanians, the northeastern lands belonged to the Baltic tribes, thus the name Belarus (in Lithuanian Baltarusija, white Russia, from the merging of ethnic Baltic tribes and the Ruthenian peoples the current cities of Vileika (Vileyka), Ašmena (Ashmyany), Lyda (Lida), Naugardukas (Navahrudak) and Gardinas (Hrodna). These cities and territories are historically/ethnically Lithuanian cities and thus the people of these regions are indeed Lithuanians or Dzūkai, and ethnographically do and did belong to Lithuania today as it did during the years of the LDK (Or the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania). These cities also have a rich Lithuania heritage and culture, in terms of its manor houses and the families to whom the land belonged. Most of whom were indeed Lithuanian families.

    Vilnius has not always been the capital of Lithuania, however, it has always been a Lithuanian city and always belonged to Lithuania ethnographically and historically speaking (it never belonged to Belarus, because Belarus did not even exist; Belarus was Lithuania at the time), and it was not given 'back' to us by the communists, Vilnius has always rested upon the Lithuanian territory. Lithuanians fought for and rightfully regained the claim to their own city. Vilnius has always been called Vilnius; it has been called Vilno due to non-Lithuanian language used in order to refer to it. You dare call yourself a Litvin, yet you insult your own ancestors who sacrificed their blood fighting for Lithuania and its lands. The Litvins as you call them were in fact the same Lithuanians, there was no such a thing as a Belorussian, and all Byelorussians are Lithuanians. Belarus until the tsarist take over was always ruled by the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania and Lithuanian kings, and the Lithuanian (Gediminaičių) lineage which continued with Lithuania establishing the Lithuanian-Polish Commonwealth.

    Modern day Belarus is a split faction from its original culture and motherland - Lithuania. Belarus has been Russified and its true Baltic/Lithuanian roots have been hidden from the people of Belarus due to the Russian propaganda machine. The Byelorussians are our brothers in arms, because Byelorussians are Lithuanians; they are Balts, part of the same Baltic tribes as Lithuanians, Latvians and Prussians. Byelorussians have always been ruled by Lithuanians, because Byelorussians were Lithuanians and still are. A study of some maps and a quick read of history of the Baltic tribes and Lithuanians will suffice enough to prove all what I am saying as true. I suggest you read my article where I delve deeper into the historical and ethnographic lands of Lithuania. http://fromsamogitia.blogspot.com/2013/11/lithuania-land-and-ethnographic-regions.html


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    1. What a crap, Lithuania is a product of a bunch of Polish speaking intellectuals from Congress Poland. The main cities of modern Lithuania in those times were the villages of Liuksai and Vilkaviskis since nobody was speaking Lithuanian language in Vilnius in that time and Vilnius was not inhabited by Lithuanians.

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    3. Are you stupid? It was Grand Duchy of Lithuania, not Grand Duchy of Belarus.
      Off course it was inhabited by lithuanians.

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  10. Бред. Бред. Бред.

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  11. Lithuania=Samogitis (Zemaitija) + Propria Lithuania (Aukstaitija). Here live from ages Lithuanian speaking nation - lithuanians. Castles lithuanians are in line like wall: Gardinas, Lyda (Gediminas castle), Krėva, Medelis, Brėslauja. Now, Slavians people belorus (Alba Rusia) lives to the east from this wall and in another bank river Nemunas, f.e. from Novogrudok to east.

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    1. I just wrote my point of view here, my thoughts shouldn]t take as an axiom. And I believe that Belarus and Lithuania is a unified whole. Our countries have a shared history, I think. And Francis Skaryna printed Orthodox Bible in the ancient Belarusian language. It was in 1517 - Grand Duchy of Lithuania. By the way, I did not give reason to call me and my nation stupid and cheap.

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    4. Because our politicians warned us about people like you who'll try to destroy our identity & history through net, before sending armies in here. I think it's called "information wars"...

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    6. Your comments cheered me, thank you for that.

      1. Nobody steals Lithuanian history, if you have not noticed this, I pity you.

      2. I have no one called propagandist who leads the information war. Thank you, you make me laugh.

      3. I know my roots. And Polish. And Ukrainian. And Belarus. And Lithuanian. Maybe we kin and I'm your second cousin?

      4. Moscow paid me? Of course, I got a lot of money. I hid them and continue to work in a small village in the radiation zone, because I want to get even more money, more and more... I'll buy your store in London (oh my God, you live in London!) and I'll live in a personal island with a private yacht and have a personal troll. Maybe you)))

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  13. My apologies... Sorry I misread your article. . Yes you are right once we were strong and powerful country. I think till now we exist only because of union amog our nations. But we were like children who got separated by evil Russia. In time we grew separated ways made new friends and created new identities... Its nice to remember past, but we need to look in the future. For Lithuania the best way is to be part of Northern Europe instead of chasing ghosts... There are many other articles written by Belarus government created to discredit Lithuania by taking our history, by calling us only a province of Grand Dutchy of Lithuania... while forgetting to mention that all capitals of Dutchy were only in Nowadays Lithuanian territory... And all dukes besides Mindaugas who took catholicism, before Jogaila who also took catholicism were pagans while areas of Belarus & Ukraine became Orthodox long time before they were part of Lithuanian Grand Dutchy. In here Slavic language was used in official documents, not because ruling class spoke slavic, but because at that moment Lithuanian written language still didn't existed...

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  14. If you don't believe me, please google " Opinion: Why are our neighbours
    poaching our history"

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    1. I accept your apology. Also I read the article you recommended. I even laughed, it's true! Journalist looking for a double bottom in the joke about Kaliningrad. Perhaps this is the work of a journalist - he is looking for sensation. When I heard these words of the president, I laughed - it was a joke. Just a joke.

      Well, we have come to this conclusion: I love my country, you love your country. That is correct, this is called patriotism. And we're neighbors. Maybe we should be friends. Some big neighbor can conceive evil for our countries, I think.

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    2. At the moment lithuania is trying to lead your country towards democracy.... and I believe in five or ten years time Belarus will be part of European family... If mother Russia won't put her feet down, soon our countries could live side by side as really good neighbours.

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    3. Yes, I want to believe in a good future for my country.

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  15. You know there is really big chance that after putin takes over Ukraine... Belarus will be next target.

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    1. I really hope that this variant will not be realized

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    2. I don't want to live in Russia.

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  16. First and foremost, Migalayte, I want to say that I really like your blog. You are really putting a lot of effort into it.

    Regarding Belarusian and Lithuanian history I would like to recommend a book by an American historian: Timothy Snyder. The Reconstruction of Nations. Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569–1999. Yale University Press, New Haven 2003.

    I'm not sure whether a belarusian language edition exists, however I believe an ukrainian edition has been published.

    His subsequent work „Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin“ is also very recommendable.

    Unfortunately east european history is still a minefield due to nationalism and past (and present) traumas, but I think Snyder's account is the by far most even handed and fair one.

    Cheers

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    1. Thanks for the flattering words about my blog! I will try to find on the internet books that you mentioned. Indeed, I know Ukrainian and I hope that reading will bring much pleasure.

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  17. I have checked again and it seems that a russian edition exists as well. It might be a bit more readily available in your area. I hope I do not give offense with that or presume anything. I have also double checked for the belarusian edition but found nothing.

    Here is the link to the google preview of the english version:

    http://books.google.de/books?id=xSpEynLxJ1MC&printsec=frontcover&dq=the+reconstruction+of+nations&hl=de&sa=X&ei=Vd0DVLOVMYypOuv0gegJ&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=the%20reconstruction%20of%20nations&f=false

    Русский перевод: Снайдер Т. Реконструкция наций. — М.-Вроцлав: Летний сад; Коллегия Восточной Европы им. Яна Новака-Езераньского во Вроцлаве, 2013.

    Український переклад: «Перетворення націй. Польща, Україна, Литва, Білорусь» (Дух і лiтера, 2012)

    Український переклад: «Криваві землі» (Грані-Т, 2011)

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  18. You saying that we should share history frinedly but you caling Lithuanians zmudzins..... thats very rude and huge nonsense... Lithuanians always was lithuanians so stop distoring history... belarrussians are ruthenians .... this is from vytautas the great letter to emperos zigimund read it and read more hsitory books...
    You have made and anounced the decision over Samogitian lands which are our inheritance and fatherland, from our lawful ancestors and antecedents heirloom. And even now we hold it in our possession; it is and always will be one and the same - land of Lithuania, because there is same language and the same people. As Samogitian land is situated lower when Lithuania, for this reason it is called Samogitia, because in Lithuanian language lowland is called in this way. While lowlanders calls Lithuania Aukštaitija [Upper land], because from lowland it is as upper land. Lowlanders have been calling themselves Lithuanians from ancient times, but never as Samogitians and for this sameness we do not write about Samogitia, because all is the same, one land and same people."

    Original text in Latin: Sentenciastis enim et pronuncciastis primo in terra Samaytarum, que est hereditas et patrimonium nostrum ex legittima attavorum et avorum nostrorum successione, quam et nunc possidemus, que eciam est et semper fuit unum et idem cum terra Lythwanie, nam unum ydeoma et uni homines. Sed quod terra Samaytarum est terra inferior ad terram Lythwanie, ideo Szomoyth vocatur, quod in lythwanico terra inferior interpretatur. Samoyte vero Lythwaniam appelant Auxtote, quod est terra superior respectu terre Samaytarum. Samagitte quoque homines se Lythwanos ab antiquis temporibus et nunquam Samaytas appelant, et proper talem ydemptitatem in titulo nostro de Samagicia non scribimus, quia totum unim est, terra una et homines uni.

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  19. Isn't Migalaite, a Lithuanian (Baltic) surname?

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    1. Yes, it's the Lithuanian version of my name. My grandfather was a Lithuanian, and my nickname is an expression of my inner world (probably)

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  20. How about Belarusians return to the Lithuanian language, adopt it and then LT and BY becomes one country called Lithuania (Lietuva) just like it was many centuries ago, before the Russian occupation.

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    1. I think that we could live together. But the language ... I guess it would be a country with two official languages)

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  21. I must note that MINDOVG is a Polonized, Slavicized name of a Lithuanian (Baltic) king MINDAUGAS. In Slavic languages there is no word, root, or ending -DOVG-. DAUG is a Lithuanian word meaning "a lot, lots, many". Same applies to VITOVT, OLGIERD, which were Lithuanian knights or kings VYTAUTAS, ALGIRDAS. There is no such word or root or ending in any of Slavic languages such as TOVT (Lithuanian: tauta "nation") or GIERD (Lithuanian: girdet "to hear"). Even the "Slavic" word "vitjazj" derives from Lithuanian VYTIS (to chase).

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    1. The word DOWGI (DOUGI) - long - is in Belarusian language. And as a linguist, I can say that many of the words ...are even older. They originate from pre-European language, which is much older than the Lithuanian, Belarusian or Polish. The root can be changed, distorted beyond recognition.

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  23. Hi Migalayte,

    You have started an interesting discussion with your post. Thank you for it.

    I must confess at first I was bit offended by attempt to put modern Lithuania as merely a part of Zemaitija. And some other interesting interpretations.
    Perhaps it is necessary in current situation in regards to Russia's cultural influence. I do hope belarusians will not be just another extinct ethnic group some day, even if it takes some improved history for a while.

    And sorry for some comments from fellow lithuanians, anti-russian media is very strong and bit biased now in our country (especially delfi portal), hence the reaction. I guess that is how we fight russian influence there. Though it seems more like punching a dead man now. And Belorus is not Russian, maybe influenced but not a puppet.

    I was visiting Belarus last summer and was amazed by the work done to preserve national heritage from the GDL period. Perhaps there is bit of envy among our historians that we can't do same here, while our not so democratic sister state does splendid work.

    On the topic of recreating Litvania or state of Lithuania and Belarus - it is interesting idea. Altough many people forget that GDL did not impose language or faith or many other things. Some commenters there could learn a bit from history before offering millions of people to change their native tonge.
    I do believe that people could learn to live respecting each other customs, language regardless if they are in one state or not. Though we have more or less similar customs, being in same state for so long.
    For one - I would really enjoy visa free travel to Belarus and have pleasure to visit even more places of our common history.

    BR, Vaidas

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  24. Hi Migalayte,

    You have started an interesting discussion with your post. Thank you for it.

    I must confess at first I was bit offended by attempt to put modern Lithuania as merely a part of Zemaitija. And some other interesting interpretations.
    Perhaps it is necessary in current situation in regards to Russia's cultural influence. I do hope belarusians will not be just another extinct ethnic group some day, even if it takes some improved history for a while.

    And sorry for some comments from fellow lithuanians, anti-russian media is very strong and bit biased now in our country (especially delfi portal), hence the reaction. I guess that is how we fight russian influence there. Though it seems more like punching a dead man now. And Belorus is not Russian, maybe influenced but not a puppet.

    I was visiting Belarus last summer and was amazed by the work done to preserve national heritage from the GDL period. Perhaps there is bit of envy among our historians that we can't do same here, while our not so democratic sister state does splendid work.

    On the topic of recreating Litvania or state of Lithuania and Belarus - it is interesting idea. Altough many people forget that GDL did not impose language or faith or many other things. Some commenters there could learn a bit from history before offering millions of people to change their native tonge.
    I do believe that people could learn to live respecting each other customs, language regardless if they are in one state or not. Though we have more or less similar customs, being in same state for so long.
    For one - I would really enjoy visa free travel to Belarus and have pleasure to visit even more places of our common history.

    BR, Vaidas

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    1. Hello, Vaidas!

      I am very glad that you understand my point. I am glad that you liked my country, thank you for your wonderful words about Belarus and the Belarusian people. I would love to visit in Lithuania, because I'm half Lithuanian, and I would like to see their historic homeland. But I also Belarusian and I love my country. I feel sad that some Lithuanian readers do not understand my post. I wish that we did not quarrel and shared history. We should be friends, and together defend our neutrality

      Best wishes, Alena

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  25. Belarusians are western Balts , Lithanians are eastern balts. Belarusians founded Grand Duchy of Lithuania because the could understand languages of Estern Balts Zhemoits and Aukshaits and other,
    Sorry Lituanians but this was already

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    1. oh serioga remmember Veras good to know your bullshit makes it so far to even this page.

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  26. Proved by English and American historians and Genetic test. Yet Belarusians was called litvins in mid ages , ukranians Rusins and Russians Moscovian.
    So i understand your pain but yes truth hurts.

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    1. What DNA Ancient Lithuanians had specific DNA? Nope but some Balts did Gediminas had South Baltic Sub clade Thats only found in Lithuania and Latvia, all American and English Historians identify Lithuania as a Baltic entity Norman Davies holds but a simply stupid Theory critizised by modern Belarussians as well. Litvins came in 16th century. Any way serioga where have you been buddy?

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  27. Migalayte не обращайте на них внимание, когда с ними начинаешь спорить , они всегда так реагируют . У них вобще одни фантазии по поводу ВКЛ,
    Когда их просишь предоставить доказательства что Витаут и Миндоуг назывались Миндоугас и Витаутас, и таму подобное, они говорят сказки.
    Например Миндоуг короновался в Вильне , хотя центр владений его был Навагрудок а Вильню основал Гедымин , они начинают психовать и злится, переходя на личности.

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    1. Hi Serge,

      Most of western part of Belarus was in fact lived by Balts, i.e. Gardinas, Kernave etc. You would find this in every history book in Lithuania. So don't think you need to refer to Americans or others...

      However, most of those lands were more or less assimilated by Slav cultures and settlers by the time GDL was formed. Still you can find many baltic (lithuanian) language site names in this teritory. You can check many sources of linguistic research if you on this subject if you find it interesting.

      Speaking about genealogy - generaly people living west of Minsk has large likelihood to have baltic genes. Less so going to east.

      Sorry, but you should recheck you facts my friend. I have studien multiple sources of XVI-XVIII and they all indicate Trakai and Vilnius being core provinces of GDL. Also, most of current Belorus provinces (Minsk, Vitebsk etc.) were incorporated to GDL much later after it was actually formed. Have a look at Lithuanian Metrica and GDL Court books as primary source and avoid XX-XXI c. creations by historians (both belorussian and lithuanian).

      Its a fact that, many current Belorusians are actually descendants of the Baltic tribes, you might even find some with comparably small percentage of Slavic DNA.
      It does make our nations much more related than say Lithuanians and Polish.

      Regards, Vaidas

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    2. Serge Kay я спокойно реагирую на споры: пройдет пару десятилетий - и историю снова перепишут в угоду какому-нибудь политику. Поэтому и существуют различные точки зрения, разные теории и учения, ведь до конца быть уверенным в чем-либо в истории нельзя: везде хватает белых пятен. Я высказала свое мнение, мои читатели - свое, а раз из этого получился спор, значт, я затронула интересную тему)

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    3. Vaidas you know, my teacher at school told me that the Belarusians have Balt roots. And during my university studies, I found a lot of very common words in Lithuanian and Belarusian languages, which proves that our peoples are brothers.

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  28. Хорошо что у поляков начинают работать мозги.
    "Współczesna Letuva to nie Litwa, gdyż nie przypomina w niczym Wielkiego Księstwa Litewskiego, także terytorialnie, co jest oczywistością i o czym wie każdy, kto ma blade pojęcie o historii i kiedykolwiek widział mapę...
    Białoruska tradycja jest tak naprawdę tradycją litewską, a Białoruś – Litwą historyczną..."

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    1. А с чего бы полякам что-то искажать? У них в этом вопросе заинтересованности нет)

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    2. Belarus is Rhutenian, they were called Litvins because people of GDL were called like that, even JEWS. They were slavs, that's why even now they speak slavic language, and are orthodox. The kings name has baltic root, even now towns in north belarus have baltic names which are seen even on google maps. Polaks after the fall of commonwelath wanted to take all the efforts and wins of GDL and commonwealth to them, krajova groups killed many lithuanians, they also deny cities built by germans in their country. They even not let Lithuanians to reach higher ups with France and other countries so Prussian lands well into the hands of Russia, there was plan to unite lands of old balts. They have many reasons to alter... there's a reason they're disliked, Polaks vilno nasho, Belarus lithuanians are fake we litvins, but litvins were even jews whoever was in GDL, Samogitians are minority of curonians which speak different baltic language in west lithuania , capital Telsiai. High Land Lithuanians are different, we're not samogtian - zhmuds. Learn it geez. This ignorance. None says being Rhutenian is bad, nor that they didn't contribute, it's sad that old Rhutenians which were force of GDL don't even use their own language and try to pretend being balts. Balts with slavic language,and orthodoxy, with 1,5k lithuanian loan words in their language, names, hydronims... king with baltic name,, yes sure. ...

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  29. Мигалая , уже не перепишут уж очень много у всех доступа к информации.

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    1. В безбрежном море информации легко спрятать истину, скрывая ее за многословной правдой. Лет сто назад русские занялись вопросом самоопределения - и тут же возникли древние источники, летописи. Это уже в наше время при помощи проведенных анализов чернил доказано, что это подделка, а тогда ученые целые теории строили на их основе, с пеной у рта отстаивая древность русской идеи. А в советское время анализировали античную литературу и утверждали, что Спартак мечтал о коммунизме. А сейчас еще проще: найти в интернете статьи и псевдоисследования вообще плевое дело, да сослаться всегда можно обтекаемо: из достоверных источников, мол. А остальную, не подходящую под основную идеологию информацию можно и запретить. И интернет свой отдельный сделать, как в Северной Корее.

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  30. Тема эта очень интересная последнее время и мы ведем много споров с Летувиской общественностью.
    У них своя богатая история а у нас наша.
    Воровать просто так наше наследие очень не красиво .поэтому мы их просим идти на компромисс.

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    1. У меня немного иная точка зрения. Беларусь и Литва это как две сестры: получили наследство от родителей и теперь делят, попутно выясняя, кого мама больше любила, кого чаще папа мудрым советом одарял (а тому и сервиз фамильный).

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  31. Vaidas the main mistake of Lithunians historics that they monopolize the whole Culture of BALTS and consider belarusians as slavs who was divided and separated from Rus etc.

    In Fact as we read ancient resources
    We know that half of the Belarus was populated with Baltic tribes as a Yatvyagians, Dainova,Sudova Litwa,
    These tribes was assumulated by Slavics like Krivichis because their culture in 10 ,11 centures was more advanced and they had alphabet ,
    city of Navagrudak and Grodno was build in those lands , what is showing that balts started unite with Kriviches and the began develop new Ethnic group then was complete by the 13,14 centure and was known as Litvins(Belarusians)
    Your people Lithunians from old times was known as Samogotians or Zhemaits, and we can read that in old chronicles, although Litvins counted them as relative ethic group.
    Belarusian language very diffrent ftom Russian and Ukranian ,
    We have lot of Cz,Dz sounds that not typical for the Slavik languages.
    We have very rich Folk inheritance and paganism cult and customs,
    And i'd say mentality of Belarus is very Diffrent then Russians and Ukrainians.
    I would say more like Latvian and Lithunians.
    Yes We have Lukashenko who destroyed our White red White flag
    And still worships USSR and kissing with Putin , beggging for the new Credit Lines and loans.

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    1. Sergey there is no Proof of what you are saying no documents Belorussians are a mix of Balto Slavs but the term Litvin first came in the 16th century and is a slavicized word for Lithuanian Lithuanians were a baltic tribe and Zemaiciai lived much further than vilnius they lived in the coastal areas in old Polotskan and Kievan Rus And Galician Volnhian chronicled they identify the Lithuanians as a Baltic tribe Living in todays Vilnius and other areas of modern Lithuania its time to say put this endless search down it will only cause pain and disturbance to you.

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    2. There are proofs .
      Acording to archeologist researches Slavik method of burying their deads and burning body , placing them in kurgans, was originally Luzhitskaya culture of Slavs in Germany, after invasion

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    3. Of saxs into their Lands, Slavs started migrate to the lower Neman trough prusia,
      Kievsn rus chrinicles call them (migrated slavs, Lutuchi =lutva, which gave the name of Lithuania.
      I have no pain at all, im just came here to mock all you people who belive that Samagotians were

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    4. Of GDL, which is not true.

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    5. Serge we are not samogitians we are Lithuanians Litvins came in 16th century samogitians only lived in the north west in small communities the Aukstaiciai lived in the other parts as real Lithuanians.

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  32. Vytis They lived close to each other and part of baltic lands were colonized. There is no need for the proof,just look in the mythology and folklore Belarusian, it is unusual for Belarus to have such of rich culture and Mithology,
    Vytis I don't have pain and buthurt like you People who always hate Polaks and Us.
    Also your big mistake that you monopolize all the baltics tribe as Lithuanians ,but this is wrong.
    You only were a samagotians Zhemaiti, who only became part of GDL in 1420 after battle in Grunwald.

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    1. sorry serioga but Zemaiciai were also Lithuanians Vytautas has said this and it is also true that the people living in white ruthenia were baltic pagans who spoke Lithuanians its even registered in the wikipedia domain just do some study they lived in Grodno Lida and Novahrodak in world war 2 the soviets expelled 130,000 Lithuanians in north belarus to south Lithuania in their new borders and about 40 thousand were killed because they refused to leave.

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    2. Sorry i don't know any Vytautas . Maybe you meant Vitaut?
      Yes Vitaut wrote letter to the Magister of Teuton Order saying that Zhematia is the land of their Fathers founder of GDL, , which is means that he had right to claim these terrritories .
      Are you sirrous? 130,000? when dummy??? Stalin granted you a Vilnya in the 1939 maybe this fact should be remained to you?

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    3. Hey we had Vilnius in 1918 before any one granted it to us it was already ours and thats were our first government as formed any thing else stupid you will say,
      .

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  33. Hahaha... Poor Belarussians... Feel inferior because they didn't have their country and now are looking for it where it doesn't exist... You just make Lithuanians laugh with these funny ideas...

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  34. Migalayte is daughter of Migala and is a Baltic (Lithuanian) surname of an unmarried Balt woman. Lithuanians is a Baltic tribe, not a Slavic tribe. Belarusians are Slavic, therefore they can not be Lithuanians. Be proud of your Belarusan heritage, there is nothing wrong with it, but if your real surname is Migalaite, it means that you are Lithuanian by descent although probably raised in Belarus. Therefore you are a Belarusan-Lithuanian. Belarus can not be named Lithuania, because Lithuanians are a Baltic tribe and they speak a Baltic language that is similar to Samogitian, Latvian, Prussian, Jotvingian, Sambian languages. Lithuanians tribes lived around Gardinas-Hrodna as well as most of the western Belarus. Lithuania in its ethnic territory would be considered somewhere from Kaunas to Gardinas-Hrodna and to the environs of Minsk and it is a Baltic country of a Balt heritage.

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    1. Everything is just like that. And I'm half Lithuanian and half Belarusian. This is what is tearing me apart, I feel my belonging to both nations.

      Happy New Year!

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    2. Migalyte, My grandfather came to America in 1912 and my father in 1931. They were from what they called White Russia (Belarus). After all this discussion, I am no longer sure where they were from.

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    3. Steve, I think your relatives were from Belarus. My country has this name since 20th century.

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  35. Migalayte: Thank you for your discussion on Belarus/Lithuania. I'm studying my Lithuanian ancestry and I've learned that Lith & Belarus have a long shared history (as well as differing histories too!). Both nations have the Vytis knight symbol, and both have the Cross of Lorriane/Euphrosyne.

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  36. As always history gets mixed up and "coined" by people who often seek political agenda. I don't know what kind of agenda Belarusian government is following by promoting this pseudo history but Belarusians are NOT Lithuanians or Balts.

    First, let us ask who were the ethnic Lithuanians?

    To answer this question it is important to understand that Lithuanians were a Baltic tribe who lived in the lands of modern day Lithuania. It is hard to find maps which precisely depict the native inhabitant of Lithuanians but it is believed to be somewhere around the capital Vilnius.
    Now, before we go any further one must understand that at first Lithuanians were only a part of Aukštaičiai(Highlanders, Eastern Balts) union. The union was comprised of:
    Nalšėnai and their land Nalšia
    Deltuviai and their land Deltuva
    Neris (people who lived near Neris river)
    Lietuviai(Lithuanians) and their land Lietuva(Lithuania)
    Deremela (tribe who lived near Nemunas river)

    This map below can give you a small glimpse of where the tribes were located:
    http://teiwas.eu/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/1071127377-660714412.jpg

    Some tribes were even divided more than that but I will not go into detail as that is not important. Under the pressure of impending danger from the East, North and South King Mindaugas's had no choice but to unify Baltic lands (blue line on the map). The unified lands largely consisted of Lithuanian(Highlander) lands and were unified by a Lithuanian thus the country was called Lithuania.

    Naturally, all of the Highlander tribes had their language peculiarities, BUT they were all mutually interchangeable and people had no problem communicating with each other.

    However, Samogitians who lived on the West, North-West of present day Lithuania spoke quite a different language albeit Baltic. We have a saying "Highlander(Aukštaitis) can not understand a Lowlander(Samogitian/Žemaitis) and this is very true. Even to this day there are Samogitias who do not consider themselves Lithuanians and there are still few people left who speak the Samogitian dialect and it is nothing like Lithuanian. Comparing it to Lithuanian is like comparing it to Latvian. It sounds really familiar but you can't understand half the words they are saying even though they are Baltic people.
    This map below will help you understand where Highlanders and Lowlanders were situated:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Lithuania_%281219%E2%80%9395%29#/media/File:Baltic_Tribes_c_1200.svg

    Now this map may raise you questions why Lithuanians take up both parts of Highlands and Lowlands. The answer is simple: tribe wars. This is a map before King Mindaugas's(King of Lithuanians) land unification. In this context and often if various literature you will see Lithuanians and Highlanders being used interchangeably. This is because, as mentioned before, Lithuanians were a part of Highlanders union and they not only seized the command of the union but also conquered Samogitians. It should be noted: although under Lithuanian influence and rule, Samogitians were never really "Lithuanised". They have retained their culture to this day, they were betrayed by Lithuanians(Highlanders) on many occasions during the medieval times. Just another point to take before claiming that modern day Lithuania is Samogitia.

    Indeed, there were other Baltic tribes who existed (as seen on the map above). Some of them were assimilated or destroyed by either German or Polish, some managed to maintain small part of their culture by joining Lithuanians like Yotvingians(Sudovians). Not long after King Mindaugas majority of Baltic lands were unified. After that, began the expansion and many Slavic lands were annexed either by means of war or marriage. It got so big to a point that Baltic/Lithuanian people became a minority in their own country. At that time everyone who lived in the Grand Duchy of Lithuanian was considered a "Litvin".

    CONTINUED BELOW...

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  37. It is indeed true that Belarusian people had a respectable play in the Grand Duchy of Lihtuania(further referred as GDL) history as participants in various battles and vassals(I do not mean this in any disrespecting way).

    We share a decent part of history, but calling modern day Belarus Lithuania would be as wrong as calling English people Romans. Lithuania was, initially a Baltic country and remains like that to this day. It's true that majority of GDL at some point were Slavic people and most frequently used language was of Slavic origin. That leads to a point that majority of documents were written in Ruthenian language as Lithuanians did not have their own writing system (although some historians would disagree with this statement) AND Lithuanians were a minority in their own established country; therefore writing in a language barely anyone understood outside of Baltic lands would not have made sense.

    As for my final statement, I would like to point out that many Lithuanians up to WW1/WW2 lived outside of modern day Lithuania(there are some living in Belarus and Poland) and majority of them were either killed or "slavinised" by either Poles, German or Belarusian.

    This map below shows modern day Lithuanian ethnicities along with pre-war occupied zones. In Lithuania Minor majority of speaking were either Prussian, Samogitians or Skalvians, then you've got Samogitians and Highlanders which we are already familiar with. Suvalkija - this region played a part in standardisation of modern Lithuanian language. You could say standard Lithuanian is based on some of the rules based on that region. Also big part of Suvalkija is still occupied by Poland, which is now nearly all Polish-speaking except for a few towns like Punskas. Finally, you've got "Dzūkija". Very few people actually know how to speak with this dialect. It was very similar to Highlanders dialect but it had 1 major differerce - people from Dzūkija would constantly add sound "dz" when speaking and that's how you would instantly distinguish a native person from Dzūkija. Personally, I have only met 1 person in my entire life who spoke like that. You could say they are an extinct breed...
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuanians#/media/File:Etnoregionai.png
    Also, as you can see big part of Dzūkija is in the modern Belarus. There are undeniable facts that those lands were inhabited by Baltic people. Minorities, city names and so on. For example, Ašmena (brus. Ашмяны) meaning "blade" in English. It is also true that there were some cities established by Slavic people (primarily Ruthenians) in modern day Lithuania. Like "Bezdonis" near Vilnius. However, nearly all of the sources indicate that Slavic cultural "invasion" mainly began in 1700s or mid 1800s as a process of active polonisation and Lithuanian cultural repression by Russians. But that is a different topic which I will not go into this time.

    I am sorry for the typing mistakes I may have made as I was in a hurry, but I hope this provided enough information to prove that under no circumstances Belarus could be Lithuania as Lithuanians were and are Baltic people, we always spoke a Baltic language and we originated from a Highlander tribes, which lived in present day Lithuania. One must understand that present day Lithuania is not the same as Grand Duchy of Lithuania. However, Belarusians are indeed successors to Grand Duchy of Lithuania as are Lithuanians, Ukrainians and even some Russians along with few other ethnicities. You should be proud of the common past our countries share and seek to preserve Belarusian culture and language for the future generations. Cheers!

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  40. Sorry Lietuva, but Litvins were in the heart of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Zhemaity and other Lietuvisi never had even any cities, lived in the woods and didn't even know the wheel, as ancestors of Belarusians created developed city-states, principalities, flourishing trade, big cathedrals, written language (Ruthenian, used in most important official documents of GDL: the Metrics and the Statutes of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia, and Zhemoitia ).
    NB: Ruthenian language is the origin of the present-day Belarusian and Ukrainian. Has no direct relationship with present Russian.

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  41. Don't forget that Kauna and Vil'nia were built by more advanced Slavic-speaking people, not by Zhemoity or similar tribes.
    Also note that neither Mindoug nor Vitaut Vialiki nor any other Prince of GDL(RZ) were never called in any official historic documents the way Lietuvisi call them. Never!
    The first capital of GDL was... Navagrudak, almost central Belarus.
    In addition, even in Zhemaitia, not speaking of other parts of present-day Lietuva, according to data of Perapis Voiska or military personnel list of GDL, 95% or more of schliahta, the ruling class never ever had any last names typical of Lietuvisi. All or almost all schliachta had typical belarusian last names!
    Finally, Vitaut Vialiki (sometimes called Vitold in chronicles but NEVER Vitautas!!!) first traded-in Zhemoitia principality, practically all present day Lietuva except Vilnia region, with Kauna being the border city) to Teutonic knights in 1386. And took it back in 1410. He couldn't have traded it back and forth so easily if this part of GDL(RZ) really mattered much to him and was not merely a periphery, the core being the territory of present day Belarus +Vilnia region.

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    1. Lithuanian Grand Dukes were pagans until they became Catholics... That's all you need to know. I think there was only one duke who embraced your religion.

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  42. Also consider old names of Belarusian cities:
    Mensk-Litouski (Minsk-Litewski)
    Brest-Lieowsk (Brest-Litewki)
    Navagrudak-Litouski(Nauvagrudek-Litewski)
    and many-many names of towns and villages like Litva, Litany, Litwinki, etc. all over the map of Belarus.

    The fact that Ukrainians traditionally called Belarusians Litwiny, which is illustrated by many typical proverbs from all times up to early XXth century. As explained below by most respected Russian Lexicography expert Uladzimir Dal (text in Belarusian)
    (ДЗЕКАТЬ У. Даль тлумачыць, што гэта значыць вымаўляць дз замест д, як беларусы і мазуры... Дзеканье говор этот, дз вместо д. Как ни закаивайся литвин, а дзекнет. Только мертвый литвин не дзекнет. Разве лихо возьмет литвина, чтоб он не дзекнул. [1, с. 434-435].

    З прыведзенага відаць, што паміж этнонімамі ліцвін і беларус У.
    Даль ставіў знак роўнасці. Сапраўды, доўгі час нашых продкаў у Расіі называлі ліцвінамі ў
    адпаведнасці з назвай іх дзяржавы – Вялікага Княства Літоўскага.)

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  43. While Lietusvisi - Zhemoity traditionally called ancestors of Belarusians - Gudy. Perhaps, they thought that our ancestors were originating from East German tribes of Goty or Gotts, who had indeed passed through the present territory of Belarus many centuries before GDL was formed. Or simply called so all foreigners.

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    1. ''Also consider old names of Belarusian cities:
      Mensk-Litouski (Minsk-Litewski)
      Brest-Lieowsk (Brest-Litewki)
      Navagrudak-Litouski(Nauvagrudek-Litewski)
      and many-many names of towns and villages like Litva, Litany, Litwinki, etc. all over the map of Belarus.

      The fact that Ukrainians traditionally called Belarusians Litwiny, which is illustrated by many typical proverbs from all times up to early XXth century. As explained below by most respected Russian Lexicography expert Uladzimir Dal (text in Belarusian)''

      This makes no difference, Latvians also called us Lithuanians for centuries, Belarussians became known as Litvins because they were citizens of Lithuania, How else could they have been called? Maciej Strijkowski in the 15th century wrote that Lithuanians were most similar to Samogitians and Latvians in terms of Language, Culture, Religion and Livonian writers in the 12 - 14th centuries wrote the exact same.

      ''While Lietusvisi - Zhemoity traditionally called ancestors of Belarusians - Gudy. Perhaps, they thought that our ancestors were originating from East German tribes of Goty or Gotts, who had indeed passed through the present territory of Belarus many centuries before GDL was formed. Or simply called so all foreigners.''

      And this helps prove that Original Lithuanians were Baltic, Konstantinas Sirvydas who was a lecturer at Vilnius university in the 16th century used the term Gudai to distinguish Belarussian and Ruthenian speaking students in the university, He even wrote a Lithuanian dictionary called the Lithuanian key, Note it was not called the Samogitian key, Sirvydas also spoke in Mass twice a day, once in Polish and once in Lithuanian, If Lithuanians really practically did not exist in Vilnius then why would he even bother? Let me also remind you that Sirvydas was from no where near to Samogitia, He came from a village just a few miles north of Vilnius.

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    2. Pavel, You are making too many conceptions, ''Sorry Lietuva, but Litvins were in the heart of Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Zhemaity and other Lietuvisi never had even any cities, lived in the woods and didn't even know the wheel, as ancestors of Belarusians created developed city-states, principalities, flourishing trade, big cathedrals, written language (Ruthenian, used in most important official documents of GDL: the Metrics and the Statutes of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Ruthenia, and Zhemoitia ).
      NB: Ruthenian language is the origin of the present-day Belarusian and Ukrainian. Has no direct relationship with present Russian.''

      I can see you have an extreme Bias against Lithuanians and Samogitians, But what you said is utter non-sense, Maybe it sounds funny to you, But sounds stupid to any normal person, In the 12th century Samogitians and Lithuanians were in wars with the Teutons and had already been quite developed, German Livonian and Teutonic written documents from those days show that Lithuanian and Samogitians were already well Armed, During battles they were on par with the Teutons, And had built many Fortresses and Cities around their Lands, They were developed, Knew how to smelt Iron and create weapons, Knew how to rear Animals, How to build fortresses and Buildings, How to Hunt and track, And most importantly did not live in Forests, Peter Von Dusburg wrote in the 13th century that Lithuanians and Samogitians lived in Hill forts and Towns. Kernave is one perfect example.

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    3. ''Don't forget that Kauna and Vil'nia were built by more advanced Slavic-speaking people, not by Zhemoity or similar tribes.
      Also note that neither Mindoug nor Vitaut Vialiki nor any other Prince of GDL(RZ) were never called in any official historic documents the way Lietuvisi call them. Never!
      The first capital of GDL was... Navagrudak, almost central Belarus.
      In addition, even in Zhemaitia, not speaking of other parts of present-day Lietuva, according to data of Perapis Voiska or military personnel list of GDL, 95% or more of schliahta, the ruling class never ever had any last names typical of Lietuvisi. All or almost all schliachta had typical belarusian last names!
      Finally, Vitaut Vialiki (sometimes called Vitold in chronicles but NEVER Vitautas!!!) first traded-in Zhemoitia principality, practically all present day Lietuva except Vilnia region, with Kauna being the border city) to Teutonic knights in 1386. And took it back in 1410. He couldn't have traded it back and forth so easily if this part of GDL(RZ) really mattered much to him and was not merely a periphery, the core being the territory of present day Belarus +Vilnia region.''

      Again i can see you really dont like Lithuanians and Samogitians, Firstly Vilnius and Kaunas were Built by many different groups of People, Gediminas in His letters invited Germans, Austrians, Poles, Hungarians, Danes and Franks to come to Vilnius and help build the city, There is a street named after Germans, Because they inhabited parts of the city in large numbers, They mostly worked as Carpenters, Painters, Architects because Prior to their arrival there were not many opportunities for Balts and Ruthenians to learn such things, Eastern Europe including the Baltics and the Slavic lands had much poorer education compared to Western Europe, Most Bishops of Vilnius were also Poles or Germans, However in terms of Builders, The people who worked under the Architects supervision were always Locals, And from what we can tell from History is that even in 1387 Vilnius had a large Baltic speaking Lithuanian population,This is evident, Jogaila and Vytautas travelled to Vilnius in 1387 to baptise the local Pagan majority, however Slavic pagans did not Exist in Europe at this time, Meaning that these pagans were Baltic speaking people. I understand your point that Mindaugas and Vytautas or any ruler was ever refered to as by the way we say it, But let me counter-act your point, In 1219 Lithuanians and the Halych-Volhnians signed a peace treaty, In this treaty we are given a list of Lithuanian dukes, Including two Samogitians rulers, And none of them even when written in slavic have slavic names, none of their names have Slavic toponyms or meanings, Or endings, The Samogitians have similar names to the Lithuanians including Mindaugas, Slavic rulers at this time had names like, Svyatlopolk, Mstslavl, Ceslavl, Names like Vitaut or Hedimin have nothing in common, Here is a link to the treaty - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_early_Lithuanian_dukes. Mindaugas was also a Pagan and Ruthenian chronicles of his century write that he was a worshipper of Diviriks, Teliovelis and Zvoruna, These are all Baltic gods.

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    4. And im sorry to point it out, But there is no evidence that the first capital of Lithuania was Navagrudak, it is only a theory, We dont know where the first Lithuanian capital was, Historians have been looking into it for centuries and still dont know, The first Officially known capital was in the time of Gediminas and it was Trakai, There is more evidence that old ethnic Lithuanian towns Like Kernave, Seiminiskeliai and Trakai were the areas of the capital, They are all in Lithuania Proper, Navagrudak is far from Central Belarus, Its not far from the Lithuanian border, There was practically no Military survey taken that showed surnames of Schliachta who served in the army, Then again most of the top Nobles of Lithuania in 1528 had Lithuanian surnames with Lithuanian toponyms, And many spoke Lithuania aswell,In the 1528 Military census All 5 out of 6 top nobles with the biggest armies were of Baltic descent, Many were Voivodes of ethnic Lithuanian lands such as, Trakai vaivada, Samogitian Eldership and Vilnius vaivada, These included, Kęsgailos 768 12288
      2 Radziwiłł 760 12160
      3 Albrech Gashtold 466 7456
      4 Yuri Olelkovich 433 6928
      5 Konstanty Ostrogski 426 6816
      6 Astikai

      Kesgailos, Radvilos, Gostautai, Alelkaicia, Astikiai, Are all proven Lithuanian - Baltic speaking families, If you dont know this i suggest you go out and find out for yourself, All of these family genealogies prove this.

      Vytautas traded in Samogitia because it was the closest to the Teutonic order, If he kept Samogitia and instead traded in Vilnius region it would leave a massive akward Gap in the country, And then Both Western lithuania and Eastern would be surrounded by Enemies from the centre, If Samogitia was un-important and no one cared about the region Vytautas would not have risked hes life to get the region back in 1409.

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  44. Samogitians never existed, Lithuanian Historian Aivaras Lileika said this Himself. Samogitian was just a term Vytautas the Great created to make it easier to split lands to hand over to the Teutons and keep for Lithuania, This ridiculous story he created about Lower Lithuania (Samogitia) and higher Lithuania (Aukstaitija).

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  48. Lovely blog. I have enjoyed reading this subject of Pol/Lith/Bela ethnicity, as it is a subject of great frustration for me. Perhaps your commentators can tell me what they think, in terms of ethnicity, of the following:
    My father's surname was Umbras. He was born in Pupiai near Seduva Lithuania, 1912 because his father worked on the railways. My father's paternal ancestors, from pre-1780 to early 1900s, all came from the tiny village of Zatokai, now in Utena area, as well as the adjacent Zasalocie which were both in the catholic parish of Smolwy/Smalvas. My father's mother was a Raginska, born in Budiniai (with some connection to the village of Karasino) in the catholic parish of Dryswiaty. Because his father worked on the railways they lived in the Turmantas/Dvinsk area for some years, then moved to Opsa near Braslaw from early 1920's until 1939.
    His mother was referred to as "the Lithuanian", I'm told, while she lived in Opsa, Belarus. A curious descriptive. My father only spoke Polish. I have, in the Braslaw area, descendants of my father's sisters. They have mixed with Russians, Belarussians and Poles. The younger folk speak Belarussian and Russian, but all seem to understand the older folk's "Polish" language. I understand that the languages have merged and various terms have become common to them all - but it's confusing. In Australia, my father has been called a Litvin by old ethnic Poles who arrived there after WWII (Great Patriot War to some).
    I have been to Belarus three times in the last 12 years.
    So, what was he? Litvin, Pole, Belarussian?

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    1. The surname is Lithuanian, the polish language could have come from times when people used to talk Polish to feel more noble so it can be not relevant. I would say Litvin is the most accurate!

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  49. It's so beautiful to read some real history of the Baltics in this blog! People usually say that Lithuania is a new country, a part of Russia. It was never like that and it hurts a lot to hear things like that. The fact that it was pretty big means that it existed and that's the most important. Thank you, our great neighbours for remembering the old times!

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  50. My name is.Mrs.Anna Daniel. I live in Ukraine i am a happy woman today? i need to use this time to tell all people how i got my loan from this honest and God fearing man loan lender that help me with a loan of $84,000 please contact him. if you also need a loan without any problem he name is Dr Purva Pius email (urgentloan22@gmail.com) tell him that is Mrs.Anna Daniel that refer you to he contact Email (urgentloan22@gmail.com)

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  51. Lithuanian Grand Duchy was a commonwealth made out of many nations. It was established by pagan tribes. To prove that you can see at their religion. All Lithuanian Grand dukes were pagans besides Svitrigaila who was an Orthodox. Many of Lithuanian Grand duchess and minor sons were orthodox. The reason for that is that Lithuanian Grand dukes married Slavic women to build alliance with Slavic houses. Svitrigaila was an orthodox, because he supposed to be a minor son of the ruler, but accidentally he became our grand duke.
    Also, once Jogaila & Vytautas became Catholic. All of our grand dukes were Catholic.
    Can I ask you a question. Do you know ancient Roman Empire. Rome or even Italy was a minor comparing to all empire, but Egyptians or British don't call themselves as Italians because they understand that Roman empire was established and ruled by Romans aka Italians.
    Lithuanian Grand duchy was divided between Semogitians, Lithuanians and Slavic ( Orthodox ) ( we call them Gudija ) regions. Semogitians are Lowland, Lithuanians are High land, Slavic ( Orthodox ) region is Belarus. Some Northern Part of Belarus once belonged to Lithuanians region. Through history it was Slavinised and it lost ancient Baltic people and culture. Historically speaking you can edit the name of this post. You can write. "Why Northern Part of Belarus once were the part were Lithuanian people lived."

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  52. Dear creator of this bog. Your're a fucking retard and the worst troll I've ever seen! Giving all our achievments to your post soviet russified country with litterly no culture. That is unbelievable. Grand Duchy of Lithuania then was modern Belarus, modern Lithuania then was Samogitia. Are actually Belarutard people any different from rutard people? If you know how to use a computer and you have enough money for internet (which you probably don't because your clones of Russians can only drink vodka and recieves very little money") that you probably don't have enough brain to research what actually Samogitia is. IS FUCKING ETHNOGRAPHICAL REGION OF LITHUANIA AND SAMOGITIAN IS A DIALECT OF LITHUANIAN LANGUAGE. Your just a retard who's really jealous of Lithuanian history and now just want to claim it. SHAME SHAME SHAME!

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