On February 14, 1009 name of Lithuania was first mentioned in writing. The oldest known historical source to have noted Lithuania is the Quendlinburg year-books. Therein, the tragic end of the mission of St. Bruno of Querfurt was documented: "St. Bruno, an archbishop and monk, who was called Boniface, was struck in the head by Pagans during the 11th year of his conversion at the Russian and Lithuanian border (in confi nio Rusciae et Lit uae), and along with 18 of his followers, entered heaven on March 9th (or February 14th)". The mission of St. Bruno had been organised by King Boleslav I the Brave of Poland, who had been seeking to extend his influence into Prussian lands.
He had sent St. Adalbert (also known as Adalbert Wojciech) to Prussia as early as 997, however he had perished in Pomerania without having accomplished anything. When Archbishop Bruno of Querfurt decided he wanted to repeat the missions of St. Adalbert, Boleslav sent him to the lands of the Jatvingians, which were located at another end of Prussia. Boleslav was in competition with Russian Grand Duke Vladimir, who had forced the Jatvingians to accept his rule as early as 983, for these lands. As soon as Bruno had stepped onto Jatvingian lands, he was immediately led to the estate of the local chieftain, Nethimer, whereupon he proceeded to begin preaching. When Nethimer refused to be christened, Bruno flung the deities of the chief into a fire. Furious, Nethimer ordered Bruno to be burned on a stake.
The missionary was seated on a spot for the bonfire, however the fire refused to light for a considerable time. Nethimer considered this to be a miracle, thus he released Bruno, and had himself, along with 300 men (apparently, a rural meeting had been taking place), baptised. Later, he went so far as to order his brother murdered, because he had not wanted to be baptised. Nevertheless, further efforts of Bruno's mission had not proved successful.
After arriving at another district, also under the rule of Nethimer, Bruno was apprehended by the local duke, named as Zebeden in later historical sources. By order of Duke Zebeden, the archbishop was beheaded, and his followers, hung. Later sources indicate that Bruno's head was tossed into a river, named the Alstra. This is likely to be the river, currently named J atra (or Aitra in Lithuanian) at the Mol chad tributary near Novogrudok, which then was at the edge of lands, settled by Lithuanians, Jatvingians and Ruthanians (a Slavic ethnic group, primarily of Western Ukraine, Galicia, and Bucovina). Certain historians considered Nethimer to be Lithuanian. Such an assumption was based on the fact that Bruno had died at the border of Lithuania, and furthermore, that Lithuania was being described in the name of Prussia in historical texts about Prussia.
However, this explanation is not fully credible, because Bruno perished, only after he had left the estate of Nethimer. One source indicates that he died at the border of Russia and Lithuania, another - at the border of Prussia and Russia, and yet a third - at the border of Prussia, Lithuania and Russia. All these sources had based their facts on Bruno's Log of Work, a book which has not survived the times. The last version is probably the most accurate, because it coincides with the location of the aforementioned Alstra-Aitra stream.
In that case, Bruno died before entering Lithuania. Some time later, Boleslav I the Brave recovered the remains of the murdered martyrs, and had a church built in their memory. The mission of Bruno was not entirely without results. Poland was able to exert influence on the Jatvingians, then ruled by Nethimer, for a time. Jatvingian lands bordered Masovia, which was under Polish jurisdiction. The duke of Masovia was most likely responsible for the influence exerted.
However, soon after the death of Boleslav I the Brave, internal battles erupted within Poland. 1038 was the year Meclav, the Duke of Masovia, went into battle with Polish Duke Casimir I the Reviver. He not only drew the Jatvingians into the battle, but also the Lithuanians. The Grand Duke of Kiev Yaroslav took advantage of the situation. He offered his aid to Casimir I the Reviver, and attacked Jatvingia the same year of 1038.1040 was the date Yaroslav organised a march into Lithuania.
In 1041 he invaded Masovia, and in 1044, apparently, he again attacked Lithuania. Finally, in 1047, Yaroslav prepared for a decisive march into Masovia, where Meclav was killed. Masovia again united with Poland, whereas Jatvingia and Lithuania became subject to Russia. Lithuania remained subject to Russia for nearly one hundred and fifty years.
Lithuania had to pay tribute, collected by the Polotsk Dukes, because Polotsk bordered Lithuania. Thereby, the relationship between Lithuania and Russia, which had begun some time earlier, became more intensified. Lithuania adopted some advances in agriculture and the crafts adopted in Russia. At the same, significant changes began taking place in the social and political structure of Lithuania.
The first fortresses to be constructed of wood made their appearance during this time. The dukes began making them their place of residence. Possibly, they evolved as a result of the need for defence against Russian expansion. A hierarchy amongst the dukes began being more pronounced. Over time, the dukes developed to be accomplished rulers, who were provided for by the public.
In other words, the early structure of statehood began forming in Lithuania. Although it is difficult to find specific data to back this statement, such a conclusion can be made in the light of the later rise of Lithuania. Lithuania proved to be the only tribe of all the Balts, which succeeded at developing the structure of a mature country, and thus, was able to firmly institute statehood. XI century Lithuanian territory included the eastern part of the present-day Lithuania, and the western part of the present-day Belarus. The only information available about other Upland Lithuania lands appears in X century sources. The same is true, regarding the Samogitian territories, which extended to the west.
More information is available about the Semigallians, living in the northern part of Lithuania and central Latvia. The Scan-dinavians had been able to demand payment of tribute from these people during certain earlier periods. A Swedish military hero Ingvar was able to again extract tribute payments at about 1035-1040. The Semigallians are noted 4 separate times in the inscriptions on Swedish runes.
Also, three rocks with rune inscriptions were erected in memory of the persons, who had traveled to Semigallia to trade. Furthermore, an XI century copper container for weights with an inscription, that it had been received from a Semigallian, has survived to this day. The evidence of these inscriptions indicates close trading contacts between the Semigallians and Swedes. XI century was prosperity period for the Curonian culture, which was settled in the area of the present-day western Lithuania. Although these people were affluent, they did engage in pirating and did not indicate an appropriate appreciation of their property. Much of their goods would be buried with their deceased.
The Curonians lived at the Baltic Seashore, thus they frequently warred and traded with the Scandinavians, and at times, were forced to pay them tribute. The Danes had to frequently protect their shores from attacks by the Curonians from the middle to the end of the XI century. A prayer heard in Danish churches was: "God, protect us from the Curonians". Adam of Bremen had described the Curonians as "the most cruel tribe" in 1075.
However, he also noted that they were becoming widely renowned for their prophets, who were able to foretell the future. And that the Greek and the Spanish were coming to them for consultation. The usual explanation of this statement is that Russians of the Greek Orthodox faith were being referred to as Greeks. The Spanish, he noted, was no more than an incorrectly transcribed phrase, which actually was "his pagans (these Pagans)".
Pirating Curonian dignitaries were difficult to control, thus the process of political integration was slow. In the meantime, Lithuania was successfully developing its political organization, thus the future was to belong to it. XII century In early XII century, a Russian writer of chronicles Nestor named the tribes which "pay tribute to Russia" in his work titled Russian Primary Chronicle. Certain Baltic tribes were also named, among them the Lithuanians, Semigallians, Curonians and Lettigallians. Probably, only the naming of the Curonians could raise some doubt. The Semigallian tribe had in fact been subject to Polotsk, however the tribe freed themselves in 1106, when they defeated the dukes of Polotsk.
The Lettigallians did indeed pay tribute to Russia until the X century. Interestingly, the Jatvingian tribe was not named. Possibly, they had again fallen under the influence of Poland, or they had already freed themselves. It is known that the Ruthanians (a Slavic ethnic group, primarily of Western Ukraine, Galicia, and Bucovina) had repeatedly attacked and defeated the Jatvingians in 1112. The dukedom of Polotsk began expressing separatist ambitions early. Because the Lithuanian tribe had been paying tribute to Polotsk, it was also influenced by such ambitions.
1128 brought the invasion of Polotsk by a huge coalition of dukes, which had been organised by Grand Duke Mstislav of Kiev. In 1130, Mstislav managed to exile two Polotsk dukes, both named Borisovich, and took Polotsk under his own direct rule. 1131 was the year, when Mstislav also arranged an invasion into Lithuanian territory. His coalition of dukes devastated the land by fire, and took "numerous prisoners".
However, as the army was retreating, the Lithuanians were able to soundly beat the Kiev division, which had lagged behind. Though not a major victory, it did indicate that Lithuania was gaining strength. The battle did not alter the dependence on Polotsk, because the Lithuanians had merely dealt a blow to Mstislav, the enemy of Polotsk, and not to the dukes of Polotsk. In the meantime, the rule of Mstislav did not remain for long in Polotsk. 1140 was the date of the return of the two Dukes Borisovich from their exile in Byzantium. They were determined to regain their rule, and their efforts met with success in 1146.
However, a battle erupted between the Borisoviches and the Gleboviches in 1151, which did not desist until 1167. The Lithuanians entered into this war as well. The Lithuanians could have expected recompense for providing assistance to one or another group of the warring Polotsk dukes. Whereas the Lithuanians did extend military aid to the Polotsk dukes, they expected to receive assistance in kind. 1159 was the year that Polotsk Duke Rogvolod Borisovich forced Rostislav Glebovich to concur with a treaty of peace. However, his brother, Volodar, "refused to kiss the cross, because he was marching through the forests, being led by the Lithuanians".
The participation of the Lithuanians in this military manoeuvre was conditional on their desire for military aid. By engaging the army of the Polotsk dukes in this manner, Lithuania was able to incorporate the remaining lands of the Upland Lithuanians into its own sphere of influence. Thus, it became a natural centre for the political integration of Baltic territories. 1162 was the year, when the Lithuanians came to the assistance of Volodar.
This same year, Rogvolod had surrounded Volodar in Gorodeco Castle at the border of Lithuania. Volodar refused to enter into the battle during the day, however, together with the Lithuanians, he attacked from the castle at night, and completely annihilated the forces of Rogvolod. Because he had lost such a large portion of the Polotsk army, Rogvolod did not dare return to Polotsk, and withdrew to Dru tsk instead. The populace of Polotsk selected a new duke - Vseslav Vasilkovich. Thus, Volodar had won nothing. It appeared that the Lithuanians immediately went to the side of the new Duke of Polotsk, and recognised him as their ruler.
This may explain why a XVI century legend related that Duke Ming aila, who had been the ruler of the Lithuanians, became the Duke of Polotsk after the Battle of Gorodeco. In the meantime, Vseslav conclusively beat Volodar in 1167. The battles between the Gleboviches and Borisoviches ended in a victory for Vasilkovich. 1180 was a time, when Lithuanians, together with the tribes of Livonia, who also paid tribute to Polotsk, participated in the march of the army of the Polotsk dukes, as a rather insignificant force. Thus, it would appear that Lithuania had no intentions of breaking their ties with Polotsk for some time, and continued to obey and pay tribute to its dukes. Nevertheless, once the situation had stabilised in the Dukedom of Polotsk, the old relationship ceased to be beneficial for Lithuania.
Lithuania had also gained in strength and influence. Additionally, the situation had become threatening. The squabbles amongst the Russian dukes died down after 1180, and it appeared that Russia could again gain in strength. By this time, Lithuania no longer wanted to remain dependent. Following the defeat of Henryk the Lion of Saxony by Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa in 1180, Denmark became the hegemony of the southern Baltic seacoast.
This indicated that significant changes were developing in the Baltic Sea region. The internal wars of Denmark, which had lasted for a quarter of a century, had come to an end in 1157. King Waldemar I the Great, who had begun a headlong expansion into the southern and eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, came into power. Sparse data has survived, regarding the attacks on the lands of the Balts. However, later sources indicate that the Danes had seized the castle of the Curonians at Pa langa. Archaeological data indicates that the power of the Curonians was broken during these attacks, and a period of demise in their material standing occurred.
It is likely that the Samogitians also felt a threat to their security from Denmark, and this forced them to seek closer contacts with the Lithuanians. Right at this time, a turning point occurred in the historical events of Lithuania. In winter of 1183-1184, Lithuanians suddenly undertook the first large-scale invasion into the lands of Russia. They not only devastated the Dukedom of Polotsk, but managed to reach as far as Pskov, then a part of the lands of Novogrudok. The Lithuanians did a great deal of damage there, as well. Because Yaroslav, the Duke of Novogrudok had been unable to stop the Lithuanians, he was driven out of the land by his own people in a few months.
Many of the Dukes of Polotsk, having been taken by surprise by the attack, could not seem to bring themselves to an active resistance. "Iziaslav, son of Vasilko, was the only one to have rattled his sharp sword on the helmets of the Lithuanians, darkening the glory of his elder, Vseslav, and took it for himself into his [death] bed, where he was laid under his red shield on the bloody grass by Lithuanian swordsmen", wrote the author of The Tale of Igor's Raid. In writing of these events, he also made mention of the tremendous sound of the "Grodno (also known as Gardinas) trumpets". This may lead to surmise, that the Lithuanians had also attacked Grodno the same year.
It is known, that a supposed bolt of lightening burned down an Orthodox Christian church in Grodno in 1183. What was the explanation for so sudden a rise in the military might of Lithuania, when it seemed so relatively insignificant, just a short while ago in 1180? Probably, Lithuania was finally able to make use of the fruits of influence, which it had been accumulating thus far, and forge an alliance among the many lands of the Balts (most likely the Upland Lithuanians and the Samogitians) into one country. Henceforth, Lithuanians engaged in large-scale military expeditions each year. The intensity of such military maneuvers did not in essence change for two hundred years. Little is known about the internal structure of Lithuania of those times.
However, historical sources, which became more plentiful 60 years later, testify that there were clear indications of statehood. The sources do not necessarily indicate that the state was forming during the time the information about Lithuania was becoming more plentiful. A clear turning point in the ongoing historical events of Lithuania occurred at the time of the aforementioned beginning of large-scale military movements. Thus, these can be related to the formation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Albeit there may be comparatively little known about the Lithuanian military expeditions of the late XII century, nevertheless, the surviving data does indicate that Lithuania had gained great military power, and was frequently attacking neighboring lands. 1185 was marked by the devastation of Livonia by the Lithuanians.
The frightened residents agreed to allow Mein hard, a German missionary, to build two brick castles in Livonia. At the same time, the Ikskile diocese, later to become the Riga diocese, was also established. These events marked the beginning of the Germanic take-over of Livonia. In winter 1190, Duke Rurik of Kiev prepared to attack Lithuania, but once he arrived in Pinsk, he began to delay his march. He stayed on too long at the wedding of Duke Yaropolk of Pinsk.
By that time, spring had arrived, the snow had melted, and it was no longer possible to reach Lithuania. 1191 was the year of a planned attack on Lithuania by the Dukes of Polotsk and Novogrudok, however they did not fulfill their plan. It appeared that the citizenry of Novogrudok wanted vengeance on the Lithuanians, because during their war with Sweden, the Lithuanians had attacked their allies from Karel a. Such facts show that Lithuania had political interests in far-off lands as well. 1193 was the year of a planned second attack on Lithuania by Rurik. However, he retreated at the demand of Sviatoslav, the Duke of Kiev.
1196 was the first-known time of the incursions of the Jatvingians into the Volynia Duchy. The Lithuanians may have inspired such aggression, or, possibly, they participated in it, similarly to what occurred later in 1209.1198 was a time, when the attacks by Lithuanians on Novogrudok had become an accustomed occurrence. Much can be inferred by the words of a chronicler, who wrote that Iziaslav, son of Duke Yaroslav of Novogrudok "had been seated at Velikiye Luki (also known as Grand Luck) to be the Duke and defend Novogrudok from Lithuania, and there he died (in 1198)". By fall of the same year, the Polotskans and Lithuanians attacked Velikiye Luki together.
When Yaroslav marched against Polotsk that winter, "the Polotskans greeted (him) by bowing", and entered into a peace treaty. It would appear that they had only attacked the lands of Novogrudok at the insistence of the Lithuanians. XII century was a time of the greatest breakthroughs in Lithuanian history. From being no more than a duchy, subject to Russia, it evolved to become a strong country, which was destined to play an important role in the history of Central and Eastern Europe. X century 1201 dated a peace treaty, drawn by the Lithuanian delegates with the Germans, after their arrival at the newly established town of Riga. This was the first known international agreement for Lithuania.
All of the agreements signed by Lithuania in the X century were similar, being short term and usually, for the purpose of defence from one side, while acting in the offence in some other direction. During the X -XIV centuries, Lithuania could be referred to as a military monarchy. Preparations for marches of the army into war each year had become the norm. 1202 was marked by the establishment of the knightly Brotherhood Order of Christ's Militia (also known as the Livonian Order or the Order of Sword Bearers) by the Bishop of Riga. The Germanic settlements, which he supported in Padauguvys, rapidly grew in strength. 1213 was the year, when a ruler of Lithuania was killed in Livonia near Lielvarde.
Early in 1214, the new ruler Steksys began to attack Livonia, but he was also killed. From that time, incursions into Livonia were organised less frequently. 1219 was the date of the peace treaty between Lithuania and Volynia. There were 5 elder and 16 common dukes, representing the Lithuanian side.
The first named of the elder dukes in the document was Zivinbutas. Following his name were Daujotas and his brother Viligaila, and Dausprungas and his brother Mindaugas. The document leads to surmise that Zivinbutas came into power in Lithuania after the death of Steksys. Most likely, he had been the brother of the two previous Lithuanian rulers. The other 4 elder dukes were probably the sons of those same 2 rulers. The Livonian Chronicle, which had been composed in verse, retains the information that Mindaugas (also documented in foreign sources as Mend owe or Mindovg) was the descendant of "a great King, and none equal to him could be found during his time".
This information leads to believe that the father of Mindaugas and Dausprungas had probably been the Lithuanian ruler, who had been killed near Lietlvarde in 1213, whereas Steksys, who had ruled but a short time, had been the father of Daujotas and Viligaila. 1228-1237 was a period, when no more than two raids of the Lithuanian army are known, one in 1230 and the other in 1234. The fact leads to conclude that a lengthy internal struggle for power was occurring in Lithuania, after the death of Zivinbutas. The struggle may have ended as a result of an external threat. In September 1236 the Order of Sword Bearers, acting jointly with the pilgrims, laid waste to a portion of Lithuania, then turned back before reaching Siauliai.
However, the Lithuanian army, then led by Vykintas, blocked their path on swamp grounds near a stream, and defeated them on September 22nd. Master Volkewin and 48 cavalrymen of the Order were killed. On May 27, 1237 the Order of Sword Bearers entered into an alliance with the Germanic (also known as the Teutonic) Order, which had been established in Prussia in 1230. Lithuania found itself between the Livonian and Prussian divisions of the Teutonic Order. 1238 was the first year in which Mindaugas is documented as the ruler of Lithuania. 1239-1248 was a period of frequent attacks on Russia by Lithuania, which was taking advantage of Russia's weakened condition after the Tartar invasions.
It was probably at this time that Lithuania took control of Black Russia with the Novogrudok Castle. One Lithuanian duke even managed to seize Smolensk in 1239. However, soon thereafter, he was beaten and taken prisoner by Yaroslav, the Grand Duke of Vladimir. 1248 was the year, when Mindaugas dispatched the sons of his brother, Tautvilas and Gedivydas, and the brother of their mother, Vykintas, to act against Smolensk.
They were able to successfully cross the Smolensk Duchy and invade the lands of Moscow. They defeated the army of Duke Michael of Moscow, who died in battle near Pro tva. Soon thereafter, the Dukes of Suz dal beat the Lithuanians near Zubtsov. Mindaugas passed a decision to expel the defeated dukes from Lithuania, and sent his soldiers against them. 1249 was the time that Tautvilas, Gedivydas and Vykintas fled to the father-in-law of Gedivydas and Vykintas, Daniel the Duke of Volynia. Daniel agreed to back the refugees.
He proceeded to attack Black Russia, and seized numerous castles in the area. In the meantime, Vykintas managed to bribe the Jatvingians and half of the Samogitians, and come to an agreement with the Order. 1250 was marked by the attacks of the Livonian army on the lands under the rule of Mindaugas. Tautvilas joined them, along with the army, which had been provided by Daniel. After these attacks, Tautvilas had himself christened in Riga.
Mindaugas, however, bribed Andrew Shirland (sometimes, known as Andrew of Shirland), the Livonian Land Master, and events took a different turn than expected. In spring 1251 Andrew Shirland christened Mindaugas, and drove Tautvilas out of Riga. Tautvilas proceeded to launch an attack on Mindaugas. But by barricading himself in Vo ruta Castle, Mindaugas was able to repel the attack with the assistance of the Teutonic cavalrymen. Next, Mindaugas took the offensive and surrounded Tautvilas at the fortress of Vykintas in Tvirimantas. Once again, Tautvilas had to flee to Volynia, whereupon he continued in his war against Lithuania.
On July 17, 1251 Pope Innocent IV declared Lithuania to be the ownership of St. Peter, and delegated the Bishop of Kul m to crown Mindaugas, as the King of Lithuania. On July 6, 1253 the coronation of Mindaugas and his wife, Morta (Martha) was held, probably at Lata va. At the same time, Mindaugas incurred an obligation to the Livonian Order, and at the time of his coronation, he had no choice but to sign over a part of Samogitia and Jatvingia. In time this donation was further enlarged. In August 1253 Albert, the Archbishop of Riga, blessed Christian, a member of the Livonian Order, as the Bishop of Lithuania. Because the Livonian Order was in disagreement with the Archbishop of Riga, it provided assistance to Mindaugas for achieving his purpose.
Mindaugas had sought to have the Bishopric of Lithuania be directly responsible to the Pope. Christian proved to be completely under the influence of the Livonian Order. Due to the resistance of the Samogitians, neither Bishop Christian nor the Order were able to gain power in Lithuania. However, the close relationship with the Order assisted Mindaugas in modernising the structure of the country. Using the example of Church tithing, he introduced a new tribute payment in grain. The tax was used for the most part to support the garrisons of his fortresses.
1254 was the date of the peace treaty between Lithuania and Volynia. Mindaugas also made peace with Tautvilas, who later took control of Polotsk, and served as a subordinate of Mindaugas. In January 1256 the Samogitians, under the leadership of Duke Al minas, entered into an active battle with the Livonian Crusaders, and raided Curonian lands, then under Livonian rule. The Samogitians negotiated a 2-year cease-fire with the Crusaders in the spring of 1257, following successful battles. 1259 marked the end of the negotiated cease-fire, and the battles between the Samogitians and the Crusaders were renewed. Mindaugas, in the meantime, had been striving to retain friendly relations with the Order, particularly after the Tartars had plundered his lands during the winter.
To this end, he signed over all of Samogitia to the Order on August 7th. At about the same time, the Samogitian army of 3,000 raided Curonian lands. This army soundly defeated the Livonian army of Crusaders, led by Bernhardt Haven, Officer of Kuldyga, in a battle near Skuodas. The Order lost 33 of its cavalrymen in the battle. This victory of the Samogitians prompted the Semigallians to begin an insurrection against the Livonian Order, which lasted from 1259 to 1272. Notwithstanding such events, Mindaugas remained in no hurry to change his policies.
On July 13, 1260 the Samogitians crushed the joint forces of the Prussian and Livonian Crusaders in Curonian lands near Dur be Lake. Livonian Land Magistrate Burkhard of Hornhausen, Prussian Land Marshall Botel, and 150 cavalrymen were killed. This was the greatest defeat, suffered by the Order during the X and XIV century. It gave rise to battles for liberation throughout the Baltic Sea area. One such fight was the Great Prussian Insurrection, which lasted for 14 years between 1260 and 1274. In autumn 1261 Mindaugas, convinced by the arguments of his military commander Treniota and the Samogitians, took the Samogitians under his own jurisdiction, renounced Christianity, and entered into a war with the Order.
Unfortunately, the war effort did not go well, and Mindaugas blamed Treniota. In autumn 1263 Treniota conspired with Duke Daumantas of Nals ia, and had Mindaugas assassinated. He then declared himself to be the Grand Duke of Lithuania. In spring 1264 Treniota was murdered by the servants of Mindaugas. Vaisalgas, a son of Mindaugas, who had converted to the Orthodox Christian faith and become a monk, took the seat of the capital of Lithuania. With the help of the Dukes of Volynia, he managed to quell the resistance, occurring in Lithuania.
Daumantas, who had arranged the assassination of Mindaugas, fled to Pskov in 1265. There, he had himself baptised, was appointed the Duke of Pskov, and ruled successfully until his death in 1299. He was declared a saint for his merits to Pskov. 1267 was the year of the return to the monastery by Vaisalgas, who passed the seat of rule to Svarnas, the husband of his sister and son of Duke Daniel of Volynia. It proved to be an ill-fated move. Soon thereafter, Levas, a brother of Svarnas had Vaisalgas murdered, because he had not been granted the rule of Lithuania.
Svarnas died not long after. 1269 was the year, when Traidenis came into power in Lithuania. Possibly, he had been a descendant of the rivals of Mindaugas, because during the early days of his rule, he retained friendly relations with Levas, who had assassinated Vaisalgas. Additionally, in 1279 he gave the hand of his daughter Gaudimante in marriage to Duke Boleslas (Boleslav) II, the son of Duke Ziemovit (Ziemowit) I of Masovia, who had been killed by the warriors of Mindaugas in 1262. Boleslas II named his son after Traidenis, even though he was born after Traidenis had already died. Traidenis actively fought the Teutonic Order.
Following the defeat of the Great Prussian Insurrection, he provided haven for the refugees from Prussia, supported the Jatvingians and Samogitians, and renewed the military incursions into Livonia. On February 16, 1270 the Lithuanians soundly defeated the Livonian Crusaders at the Battle of Ice near Kar usa, Estonia. Livonian Land Master Ott on of Luttenberg and 52 cavalry soldiers were killed. On March 5, 1279 Traidenis beat the Livonian army near Aizkraukle in Livonia. At the time, this army had been in process of retreat from an incursion into Lithuania. Livonian Land Master Ernest of Rass burg and 71 cavalry soldiers were killed.
After this victory, the Semigallians, who had persistently fought for their liberation throughout the X century, rebelled against the rule of the Order for a final time. Traidenis took their lands under his own jurisdiction. It was not until 1290, before the Order was finally able to take control of Semigallia. Many Semigallians fled to Lithuania at that time. 1281 was the year in which Traidenis died, and Daumantas came into power in Lithuania. A XVI century genealogical legend named Daumantas as the son of Mindaugas.
At this time, the oldest Lithuanian chronicle, still surviving as part of the Halich-Volynia Chronicle, was written in Novogrudok, then under jurisdiction of Lithuania (Halich is also written as Halich and is also known as Galicia). Therein, Vaisalgas, the son of Mindaugas was glorified, and Traidenis was cursed. One of the most loyal allies of Traidenis in Jatvingia, Skomantas, had defected to the side of the Crusaders. 1283 was the time, when the Crusaders were finally able to overcome the resistance of the Jatvingians (Sudovians). Part of the Jatvingian population fled to Lithuania, and another part was exiled to Sambi a. The lands of Jatvingia became deserted.
The Prussian Crusaders attacked Lithuania for the first time this same year. A continual war began with the Crusaders. On March 24, 1285 Daumantas invaded the territory under jurisdiction of the Tver Bishop, and was killed there. Butigeidis, most likely his son, became the ruler of Lithuania.
He continued a policy of persecuting enemies of the family of Mindaugas and the allies of Traidenis. When the Lithuanians, together with the dukes of Volynia, attacked the territory of Masovian Duke Boleslas, a brother-in-law to Traidenis in 1286, Levas, the man responsible for the execution of Vaisalgas, was known to have advised his son not to march with the Lithuanians, because they could be seeking vengeance for the death of Vaisalgas. In about 1268 was an incident, whereby Pelusis, insulted by "the second in command to the King of Lithuania", defected to the Crusaders. Secretly he arrived at the wedding of his enemy with a band of soldiers he had been provided.
There, he slaughtered 70 dukes of Lithuania, along with the host. 1289 was the year, when the Prussian Crusaders seized Skal va, and built R againe Castle at the Nemunas River. The castle became the major buttress in the fight against Lithuania. Butigeidis and his brother, Butvydas entered into a peace pact with Mstislav, the Duke of Lusk by providing him with Volkovysk in return. In about 1291, the leader of Lithuania became Butvydas, the brother of Butigeidis. The brief period of his rule was marked by continual battles with the Teutonic Order.
Vytenis, the son of Butvydas, organised several marches into Poland, where he proved himself a strong military leader and diplomat. He was able to re-establish friendly relations with Masovian Duke Boleslas. On June 10, 1294 Vytenis defeated the army of Casimir (Casimir) II, the Duke of Leczyca in a battle near Troja now. Casimir II, himself and numerous cavalry soldiers were killed. The battle was the most significant military victory for Lithuania in Poland. In about 1295, Vytenis was declared the ruler of Lithuania.
On September 30, 1296 a conflict erupted between the Riga townspeople and the Livonian Order. Vytenis invaded Livonia in winter of the same year. The Archbishop of Riga and the townspeople became determined to enter into closer contact with Lithuania. On March 30, 1298 Vytenis entered into an alliance with Riga city and its Archbishop against the Livonian Order. He promised that Lithuania would accept Christianity, just as it had during the times of Mindaugas.
The citizenry of Riga and Lithuania manage to deal several painful blows to the Livonian Order. During the Tura ida Battle on June 1st, the Livonian Land Master Bruno and 22 knights were killed. Then, the townspeople built a castle for the Lithuanians at the approach to Riga, which was called the Castle of the Lithuanians during the entire XIV century. However, the allied army of the Prussian and Livonian Crusaders beat the Lithuanians and the Riga townspeople on June 29th. Although at that point Riga was forced into drawing a cease-fire pact with the Order, its alliance with Lithuania continued.