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Heraldry

The Lithuanian Royal Nobility Association

Background:

 

The Lithuanian State was founded as a monarchy in the middle of the thirteenth century. In the second half of the fourteenth century it had reached the peak of its political power. Under the rule and alliance of two brothers, Kiejstut (Kestutis), Duke of Troki; and Olgierd (Algirdas), the Grand Duke of Lithuania, the state stubbornly defended its western frontiers from the encroachment of the Teutonic Order. At the same time Lithuania extended her original territories (Aukstote, the highlands, and Samogitia [Zmudz], the lowlands) to embrace vast areas of the future Ukraine and Belorussia up to Smolensk, Bryansk and the Black Sea Steppes. The military nature of the challenge that faced the state of Lithuania helped to concentrate all authority in the hands of the Grand Duke. While Lithuania proper clung to pagan beliefs (despite repeated attempts made to convert them), the Russian population in the major part of the Grand Duchy professed the Orthodox Christian faith. Russian customs and Russian literary culture characterised the whole of the nobility, including the reigning House, but the native Lithuanian knights played a leading role in the State government and were loath to share their power with the Russian boyars.

 

Jagiello, son of Olgierd, removed the power from his uncle Kiejstut and became the head of the Grand Duchy in 1382, and from there took the guidance of the political issues into his own skillful hands. Poland was fully aware of the value of an alliance with Lithuania and by an act drawn up at Krewno in 1385, a union was effected between Poland and Lithuania. The following year this was further cemented when Jagiello was baptized as a Roman Catholic and took the name of Wladyslaw. An arranged marriage took place between himself and Queen Jadwiga of Poland, and upon his marriage to the Queen he became King of Poland.

 

On the 15 July 1410, at a place called Tannenberg (Grunwald) a combined army made up of knights from the Kingdom of Poland and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania fought one of the greatest and most decisive battles of the middle ages against the heavily armoured knights of the Teutonic Order. The Polish-Lithuanian army was personally commanded by King Wladyslaw, and by the days end the Grand Master of the Order and most of his senior knights had either been killed in battle or captured. From that moment onward the Commonwealth was regarded as a single entity 'Poland', and the history of the nobility of both nations became a mirror image.

 

In this century Lithuania has suffered badly under Nazi occupation and more recently almost fifty years of Soviet dominance, during which period virtually all of Lithuania's history and culture were stifled to such an extent that the current generation know almost nothing of their nations chivalric past.

 

Establishment of the LNA:

 

During the period of Soviet occupation everything was done so that Lithuanians knew very little of their nation's history, culture, important historic personalities, etc. Historic monuments were destroyed, so were many of the nations cemeteries. The churches were desecrated, the castles of the Old nobility were left to ruin, and the land was neglected.

 

The people of Lithuania lost their historic memory, their national pride and dignity. A great many of the young people knew little about their nations glorious past, their ancestors, and some did not even know the names of their grandparents. Wishing to restore respect for the nation's history, noble ancestry and at the same time re-establish the nations culture and traditions, many members of the nobility of old felt that it was their duty to establish an organisation or association through which these goals could be realised. The formative meeting of the Lithuanian Royal Nobility Association took place on 23 April 1994 at Vilnius and was attended by more than 300 members of the nobility, from Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Australia and the United States. At the meeting the Association was formed, the statute was adopted and the governing body was elected. Chevalier Dr. Jonas Lada-Stankus GCStS was elected to the office of President and on the 26 June 1994 the LNA and its statute was officially registered with the Lithuanian Ministry of Justice.

 

At present the LNA has a membership worldwide of approximately 500 members with almost half producing accredited documentation of their noble heritage. There are several categories of membership and the doors of the Association are open to all descendants of the nobility, regardless of their nationality, religion or political affiliation, as long as they support an independent nation of Lithuania. Many members of the LNA are descendents of the most ancient nobility and have taken a very great interest in the activities of the association. Amongst its many chivalric and heraldic interests the LNA also provides name search services, researched along similar lines to the Polish Nobility Association and as well a very professionally produced journal entitled "Lithuanian Nobility" is published annually.

 

For more information please feel free to contact the author at: kusza@ihug.co.nz or write to the LNA personally as follows:

 

Lietuvos Bajoru Draugija
Chevalier Dr. Jonas Lada-Stankus GCStS,
B. Sruogos 36-20,
2040 Vilnius,
LITHUANIA / LIETUVA

 

Copyright © 1997 Michael Subritzky-Kusza. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.

  
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