Volume 33

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, vol. 33Verbum movet, exemplum trahit. The Emerging Christian Community in the Eastern Baltic

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XXXIII

Editor: Marius Ščavinskas in cooperation with Vasilijus Safronovas

Klaipėda, 2016

The east Baltic region was the last European region to join Christian Europe. Nevertheless, the emergence of the Christian community there poses no less controversy and speculation than in regions where Christianity was established much earlier. This volume of Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis does not deal with specific controversies, but it brings a certain clarity to issues of the formation, development and activities of Christian communities on the east coast of the Baltic region. Estonian, Lithuanian and Polish historians and archaeologists examine the role of hostages, forms of Christianity, and mendicant monks during the formation of Christian communities. The activities of the first Christian communities in Vilnius, the conversion of Lithuania in 1387, the activities of mansionaries in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, and changes in the processing of amber and its use before and after the introduction of Christianity are discussed. The changes are disclosed in individual sections, which allows us to (re)consider a number of our ideas about Christianisation on the east Baltic coast.

Editor’s note


First Steps towards Consolidation

The Lives of Hostages and their Influence on the Conversion and Acculturation of Livonia and Prussia during the Baltic Crusades in the 13th Century

Chronicles of the 13th-century Crusades in Livonia and Prussia are full of descriptions of the Catholic conquerors demanding hostages from local elites, but the fate of these hostages and the influence they may have had on the processes of religious conversion and societal change in the east Baltic has attracted little attention. This paper explores the lives of Livonian and Prussian hostages, and argues that they may have functioned as vessels of acculturation, who furthered the Christianisation and ‘Europeanisation’ of their homelands, and cemented new power relations and world-views.

Key words: hostages, Medieval history, Baltic history, Crusades, Northern Crusades, Christianisation, Europeanisation, intercultural relations.

Christianisation and cura animarum in the First Christian Communities in Livonia and Prussia during the Period of the Crusades

The paper deals with the relationship between Christianisation and the pastoral care in the first Christian Balt communities on the east Baltic coast during the period of the Crusades. It has to be noted that at the turn of and throughout the 13th century, Christian missions were influenced by the attitudes of the new religious movements of the 12th and 13th centuries proclaiming the ‘humanisation’ of the idea of God, and the efforts of the human soul to seek the ‘individualisation’ of salvation. Given these ideas, the paper analyses the forms in which Christianity spread in the Baltic communities, and the impact the inception of the Crusades had on these communities. The research proves that the spread of Christianity took place not only in a ‘theologised’ and therefore ‘difficult’ to understand form, but also in common, knightly (during the Crusades), and other forms of piety. These forms unfolded through the Christian missions and the pastoral care that were carried out in parallel, so that they functioned in the first Christian Balt communities in the 13th century.

Key words: Christianisation, Christian communities, cura animarum, militia Christi, Crusade.

Lithuania’s 1387 Conversion: before and after

Panašūs ar skirtingi? Dvi krikščioniškos bendruomenės pagoniškame Vilniuje
EN title: Similar or Different? Two Christian Communities in Pagan Vilnius

In the 13th and 14th centuries, Lithuania’s neighbours were already Christians: Orthodox to the east, Catholics to the north and south. Members of these two branches of Christianity met in pagan Vilnius, which was already looking at choosing a new faith. By consolidating historical, archaeological, architectural and geological sources, this article explores the reasons for and the circumstances of Christian settlement in pagan Vilnius, analyses the living spaces of both communities, and aims to determine the importance of Christians and the changes to their role in developing Vilnius. Differences between the Orthodox and Catholic communities are emphasised, but points of connection between the two communities are also sought. The position of Christians in the town reflects the generic state of emerging Vilnius, is inseparably intertwined with shifts in its history, and also shows how Lithuania’s rulers wavered between the Latin and Greek rites.

Key words: Medieval Vilnius, pagans, Christians, ‘Civitas Rutenica’, ‘German Town’.

Marian DYGO
‘Rudis illa nacio et pannosa’: Concerning Jan Długosz’s Description of Lithuania’s 1387 Conversion in his Annals

In his famous Annals, the 15th-century chronicler Jan Długosz provided a wealth of information on the way of life of the Lithuanians in pagan times, as well as in the period immediately following their conversion in 1387. In drawing attention to the consumption of material goods such as food, clothing and shelter, Długosz portrayed the pagan Lithuanians as a people who could not satisfy even their most basic material needs. After their conversion to Christianity, their faith nevertheless wavered for a long time, and so their needs were only met thanks to the help of the Polish king, Władysław II Jogaila (Jagiełło), whom the chronicler held up as the ‘apostle’ of Lithuania. Długosz’s description of the way of life of the Lithuanians is rich in theological themes, based on the Gospels and the writings of the Prophets. The author examines the reliability of Długosz’s account on the way of life of both pagan and converted Lithuanians.

Key words: Lithuania, paganism, conversion, way of life.

Practical Activities in Communities

Mendicant Orders in Medieval Prussia and Livonia: Pastoral Activities in Towns

The paper presents the general conditions in which the pastoral work of mendicant orders was conducted in the domains of the Teutonic Order and particular bishoprics in Prussia and Livonia, at the same time indicating similarities and differences in the situations in which friars had to work in these areas. The research focuses exclusively on pastoral work conducted among the urban population. The network of mendicant friaries in Prussia and Livonia was a reflection of the demographic potential and the degree of urbanisation of both parts of the domains of the Teutonic Order. The scale of effectiveness of the friars is authenticated by numerous references to prayer agreements concluded with members of religious orders and guilds of craftsmen, burials in friary churches (tombstones), and bequests of townspeople. The degree of success of mendicant orders and the support of the townspeople is confirmed in the partially preserved great hall-type churches erected by mendicants in the main towns (Gdańsk, Toruń, Tallinn, Riga).

Key words: mendicant orders, domains of the Teutonic Order, Prussia, Livonia, pastoral activities in towns.

Imitating a Cathedral, or Safeguarding Parochial Foundations? Why Establish a Mansionary Chapel in the Dioceses of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the Sixteenth Century?

A mansionary (from the Latin mansio, ‘a dwelling’) was a member of a community of four to ten secular priests governed by a provost and required to reside by and serve a chantry chapel, similar to a cathedral canon or beneficed chantry priest. Every day they would sing the Hours of Our Lady and offer two Masses, one in honour of Our Lady or the Holy Trinity, and the other for the dead kin of the chantry founder. The chapels they served were attached to a cathedral or a parish church. Those established by the monarch often had pastoral duties, sometimes involving a school or hospice. In Lithuania, they appear from the late 15th century at the cathedrals of Vilnius, Varniai and Lutsk (in Janów Podlaski), and represented a considerable financial investment to establish and maintain. After the Council of Trent, they become even rarer, and concentrate more on pastoral and other educational duties. The paper discusses what a mansionary priest was, and how many of them served in the Diocese of Vilnius and other sees within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Why was it deemed meet and fit to establish a mansionariate in Lithuania at the turn of the 15th and 16th centuries, and how were such foundations affected by local Reform movements?

Key words: mansionary, chantry, cathedral, parish, Little Hours of Our Lady, memorial, pastoral duties, Lithuania, Poland, Vilnius, Podlasie.

Gintaras kaip simbolis: kultūrų kaita ir tęstinumas Vokiečių ordino valdose Baltijos pajūryje
EN title: Amber as a Symbol: Cultural Change and Continuity in the Teutonic Order-Ruled Areas of the Baltic Coast

The article explores the changes in the gathering, processing and use of amber on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea at the end of the Viking Age and in the 12th to 16th century. In the pagan sacral space, works in amber reflected mythological elements, and later they were transformed and adapted to Christian practice, at the same time as maintaining the commercial value of amber as a material. Archaeological material from the above-mentioned period illustrates the gradual diffusion of Christian elements in the pagan territories. Their expression is visible in new forms of amber works.

Key words: amber, Prussia, Courland, Teutonic Order, paternoster beads.

Book Reviews

Ar lotyniškoji Europa vykdė kryžiaus žygius prieš ortodoksiškąją Rusią? Knyga apie Livonijos ir Rusios santykius XIII a.
SELART, Anti. Livonia, Rus’ and the Baltic Crusades in the Thirteenth Century (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, vol. 29). Leiden, Boston, MA: Brill, 2015. – 386 p. ISBN 978-90-04-28474-6; ISSN 1872-8103

Prūsų (ir kitų baltų) pagonybės byla: atradimas ar išradimas?
BRAUER, Michael. Die Entdeckung des ‚Heidentums‘ in Preußen. Die Prußen in den Reformdiskursen den Spätmittelalters und der Reformation (Europa in Mittelalter: Abhandlungen und Beiträge zur historischen Komparatistik, Bd. 17). Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2011. – 339 S. ISBN 978-3-05-005078-2

„Kitatikių“ vaizdinys XV a. Lenkijos kanonų teisės teisininkų darbuose
ŚWIEBODA, Wojciech. Innowiercy w opiniach prawnych uczonych polskich w XV wieku. Poganie, żydzi, muzułmanie. Kraków: Towarzystwo naukowe Societas Vistulana, 2013. – 424 s. ISBN 978-83-61033-67-7

Inventoriai – Lietuvos Didžiosios Kunigaikštystės istorijos šaltiniai „ieško“ istorikų
XVII a. pradžios Lietuvos vietovių istoriniai šaltiniai. 1622 m. Vilniaus ekonomijos inventorius. Sud. Darius VILIMAS. Vilnius: Lietuvos istorijos instituto leidykla, 2014. – 264 p. ISBN 978-9955-84-785-4

Das Baltikum als Konstrukt (18.–19. Jahrhundert). Von einer Kolonialwahrnehmung zu einem nationalen Diskurs. Hrsg. von Anne SOMMERLAT-MICHAS. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 2015. – 264 S. ISBN 978-3-8260-5422-8


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