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Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345 (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series) [Paperback]

S. C. Rowell

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Book Description

6 Mar 2014 Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series
From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. Until 1387 the country was pagan. How this huge state came to expand, defend itself against western European crusaders and play a conspicuous part in European life are the main subjects of this book. Chapters are devoted to the types of sources used, to the religion of the ancient Balts (and the discovery of a pagan temple in Vilnius in the late 1980s), and to Lithuanian relations and wars with Poland and the Germans. Under Grand Duke Gediminas, Lithuania came to control more of Russia than the prince of Moscow and, though pagan, competed with Moscow to gain a special church structure. Many of the general crises in this book have a familiar ring: crusade, famine, collapse of central authority in the German empire and the papacy. In this deeply-researched study, first published in 1994, the middle ages emerge as interesting and as varied as our own times.


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"...[a] superb scholarly study....whose balanced narrative and analysis effectively portray the many vivid personalities and dramatic developments of this crucial period in the history of east central Europe. General and academic collections at all levels." Choice

"English (and in some respects the first time in any language), the rise of pagan Lithuania during the rule of Grand Duke Gediminas, with attention given also to the reigns of his predecessor Vytenis and successor Jaunutis." Choice

"It deserves careful attention from every serious student of medieval Russia and East Central Europe." Jean W. Sedlar, American Historical Review

"He [Rowell] has utilized the archives of ten different countries and an astounding array of published primary sources, Quellenforschungen, and specialized studies. He carefully introduces and re-introduces his cast of geographic, ethnic, institutional, and human characters, so that the reader does not get lost...Rowell has written a splendid book and has done so with erudition and zest....There is nothing at all like this book in any western language." International History Review

"This superb book is a major contribution to the history of east-central Europe in the Middle Ages, and to medieval history in general. It is an exceptionally welcome and original addition to a series of recent works about east-central Europe in the medieval period that are conceived in...English and that situate this region, and the countries and peoples that make it up, within a new and informed comparative perspective. In exceptionally clear and polished prose, it weaves together political, dynastic, economic, diplomatic, and ecclesiastical history to trace and explain the rise of the Jogaila dynasty to Christianity and the series of unions with Poland that followed in the late fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The book...is, above all else, astonishingly learned." Piotr Górecki, Speculum

Book Description

From 1250 to 1795 Lithuania covered a vast area of eastern and central Europe. Until 1387 the country was pagan. How this huge state came to expand, defend itself against western European crusaders and play a conspicuous part in European life are the main subjects of this book, first published in 1994.

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