Lithuania proper

Lithuania proper

Lithuania proper ( _la. Lithuania propria; _lt. Lietuva siaurąją prasme, "tikroji Lietuva", literally: "Lithuania in a narrow sense", "Genuine Lithuania"; _yi. ליטע, "Lite") refers to a region which existed within Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The primary meaning is identical to the Duchy of Lithuania, a land around which Grand Duchy of Lithuania evolved. The territory can be traced by Christian parishes established in pagan balts lands of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania subsequent to the Christianization of Lithuania in 1387. They were quite distinguishable, as the Ruthenian parts of the Duchy were already baptised in orthodox manner [Гаучас П. К вопросу о восточных и южных границах литовской этнической территории в средневековье // Балто-славянские исследования. 1986. М., 1988. С. 195, 196.] [Safarewicz J. Studia językoznawcze. Warszawa, 1967. S. 257-259] . The term in Latin was widely used during the Middle Ages and can be found in numerous historical [] maps until World War I.

Evolution of a term

Before the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Historians designate Lithuania Proper (or Land of Lithuania in a narrow sense) as a Lithuanian land that existed prior to Grand Duchy of Lithuania, near other lands: Land of Nalšia, Land of Deltuva, Land of Upytė. According Henryk Łowmiański Lithuania Proper was in nucleus of future Trakai Voivodeship between rivers: Nemunas, Neris and Merkys. Tomas Baranauskas suggests [cite journal |last=Baranauskas |first=Tomas |year=2002 |url= |title=Kur buvo Lietuvos žemė? |journal=Lituanistica |volume=2 |pages=3–18] that Lithuania Proper was around Ashmyany area, then ethnic Lithuanian lands now in Belarus. According to Mikola Yermalovich (his reliability is utterly discussed by academic scholars [cite journal |last=Gudavičius |first=Edvardas| authorlink=Edvardas Gudavičius|year=1996 |url= |title=Following the Tracks of a Myth |journal=Lithuanian Historical Studies |volume=1 |pages=38–58] [Насевіч В.Л. Працэс утварэння Вялікага княства Літоўскага (13-14 стст.) // Актуальныя пытанні гісторыі Беларусі ад старажытных часоў да нашых дзён. Мн., 1992. С. 54-63.] ) Lithuania ( _be. Летапiсная Лiтва) (literary: Lithuania of chronicles) was in upper Neman region [ cite web |url=|title=Карта летапiснай Лiтвы |author=Виктор Верас |accessdate=2007-05-30be icon] [ cite web |url= |title=У истоков исторической правды / Летописи о местонахождении Литвы |author=Виктор Верас |accessdate=2007-05-30ru icon] , now in modern Belarus, formed in fifth decade of 20th century.

In the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Scholars often use term "Lithuania proper" to refer to lands inhabited by ethnic Lithuanians [cite web | first=Tomas | last=Venclova | url= |title= Native Realm Revisited: Mickiewicz's Lithuania and Mickiewicz in Lithuania|accessdate=2007-04-24 |authorlink=Tomas Venclova] as opposed to lands controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania inhabited by Ruthenians (ancestors of modern Belarusians and Ukrainians), Russians, Poles, Lithuanian Jews or many other nationalitiesFact|date=December 2007. Already during the Grand Duchy times, Lithuania Proper was a term designated to land where Lithuanians live [cite book |last= Ochmański |first= Jerzy |authorlink= Jerzy Ochmański |title= Litewska granica etniczna na wschodzie od epoki plemiennej do XVI wieku |url= |accessdate=2006-04-26 |year= 1981 |publisher= Wydawn. Nauk. Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza |language= Polish |pages= 69-73 ] . Administratively it consisted of Vilnius Voivodeship and Trakai Voivodeship. [lt icon Viduramžių Lietuva [ Viduramžių Lietuvos provincijos] . Retrieved on 2007.04.11] Such division existed even after Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was partitioned. Samogitian Eldership was not a part of Lithuania Proper. [Authentic maps showing "Lithuania Propria":
cite web |url= |title=Poloniae Regnum ut et Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae Accuratiss |accessdate=2007-04-22
cite web |url=
title=Poloniae Regnum ut et Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae Accuratiss |accessdate=2007-04-22
] Thus Grand Duchy of Lithuania was divided into such historical regions: Samogitia, Lithuania Proper and White Ruthenia. [ Authentic map showing Lithuania Proper and adjustant White ( or Lithuanian) Ruthenia:
cite web |url=|title=Carte des Estats de Suede , de Dannemarq, et de Pologne ; sur la Mer Baltique |year=1700 |accessdate=2007-08-17
] .

Eastern part of Lithuania Propria

For centuries, eastern and southern lands of this territory, that had direct contacts with Ruthenia and Poland, initially inhabited by ethnic Lithuanians were slowly Ruthenised, Polonised and Russified, and Lithuanian speaking territory shrunk. Eastern parts of Lithuania Propria suffered heavy population losses during the Deluge, and further on during the Great Northern War and following plague epidemic in 1710-1711. Subsequent immigration of Ruthenians and Poles into these territories accelerated the process. A significant push to the de-Lithuanisation ensued when Lithuania became a part of the Russian Empire, and especially, after Lithuanian language books were forbidden to print in Latin letters in 1864. The process continued at the time of Polish rule, as Lithuanian language schools and libraries were closed, and later under Soviet rule, as no Lithuanian schools were in these territories at all. Nowadays significant "islands" of Lithuanian-speaking people remain in what is now Western Belarus (see Gerviaty and Northern Poland - see Punsk. Although many} people in these territories now speaking Belarussian do refer to themselwes as Lithuanians cite journal|title= Etnokonfesiniai Santykiai Pietryčių Lietuvoje Istorinės Antropologijos Aspektu|journal=Kultūrologija|date=2003|first=Viriginijus|last=Savukynas|coauthors=|volume=10|issue=|pages=80–98|id= |url=|format=|accessdate=2007-12-11 ] .

Modern developments

At the end of World War I, the Council of Lithuania declared that an independent Lithuanian state is re-established in the ethnic Lithuanian lands.

After negotiations with Bolshevik Russia a large part of Lithuania Proper was acknowledged by Soviets as part of Lithuanian Republic by signing the Soviet-Lithuanian Treaty of 1920. Some of these territories were also claimed by Second Republic of Poland. This led to series of military conflicts and eventually to war.

In 1943, Antanas Smetona in exile began working on a study "Lithuania Propria" [cite journal |last = Smetona
first = Antanas |authorlink = Antanas Smetona |title = Lithuania Propria |journal = Darbai ir dienos
volume = 2(11) |pages = 191–234 |language = Lithuanian
] . The book was dedicated to the history of Lithuanian lands before Polonisation, Russification, and Germanisation hoping that it would help to substantiate a claim to not returned territories in a peace conference after World war II. His work was left unfinished, and for a long time was available only as a manuscript and was virtually unknown. [cite journal |last = Aleksandravičius |first = Egidijus|authorlink = Egidijus Aleksandravičius|title = Istorija ir politika|journal = Darbai ir dienos |volume = 2(11) |pages = 185–190 |language = Lithuanian ]

Currently the Republic of Lithuania has no territorial claims.


ee also

* Central Lithuania
* Ethnographic Lithuania

External links

* [ map of the ethnic groups of the eastern Poland in 1921] , after Norman Davies, "God's Playground: A History of Poland: Volume II, 1795 to the Present"; Columbia University Press: 1982

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