THE ROLE OF PAGAN LITHUANIA IN ROMAN CATHOLIC AND GREEK ORTHODOX RELIGIOUS DIPLOMACY IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE (1345-1377) (HUNGARY, POLAND)

RASA JOAN MAZEIKA, Fordham University

Abstract

A militarily and politically powerful pagan state lay between Western Europe and Muscovite Russia in the fourteenth century. Its rulers were the Lithuanians, whose homeland was on the eastern shore of the Baltic Sea, but who had conquered much of Russia and Ukrainia.^ This dissertation investigates the following questions pertinent to the reign of Lithuanian Grand Prince Algirdas Olgerd (1345-77): Was Algirdas really a pagan or was he a Greek Orthodox Christian? How could a pagan ruler participate in East-Central European secular and ecclesiastical diplomacy, in an age which we consider dominated by religious ideology? How important, in fact, was religion in relations between the pagan Lithuanians with their Christian neighbours? Was it the object or the tool of diplomacy?^ Chapter I contains an analysis of the historiographical debate and documentary evidence on the question of Grand Prince Algirdas' personal religion. Chapter II is a discussion of Algirdas' relations with Greek Orthodox Christians: his efforts to obtain a Metropolitan of Lithuania, his eventual rapprochement with Byzantium, and the question of why Algirdas, who was known for his religious tolerance, executed three Lithuanian converts to Eastern Christianity. A new date of 1370 is proposed for this incident. Chapter III presents new interpretations of four attempts, in 1349, 1351, 1358 and 1373, to negotiate the acceptance of Roman Catholic baptism by the Lithuanian princes. Historical context is provided by a comparison with baptism negotiations conducted by Algirdas' predecessors Mindaugas, Vytenis and Gediminas.^ Sources employed include Latin and Old Russian chronicles, papal letters and registers, letters by the Patriarchs of Constantinople, texts of treaties made by the Lithuanians and their neighbours, as well as secondary literature in Polish, Russian, German, Lithuanian, Russian and French, much of which has never been utilized in an English-language publication.^ The author concludes that Algirdas was indeed a pagan, and made clever use of his position as a potential convert to facilitate relations with Christian powers, who also benefitted politically from negotiations concerning religion in Lithuania. ^

Subject Area

History, Medieval

Recommended Citation

RASA JOAN MAZEIKA, "THE ROLE OF PAGAN LITHUANIA IN ROMAN CATHOLIC AND GREEK ORTHODOX RELIGIOUS DIPLOMACY IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE (1345-1377) (HUNGARY, POLAND)" (January 1, 1987). ETD Collection for Fordham University. Paper AAI8714573.
http://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8714573

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