Lithuanian ancestors settle along the Baltic coast.
1009 A.D. Lithuania is
first mentioned in chronicles. Lithuanians already have a reputation as fierce
1200 While much of Europe has
already converted to Christianity, Lithuania is still pagan and
will remain so for several hundred more years. Lithuanians believed fire
embodies the divine. A sacred flame is kept at a Vilnius temple
tended to by vestal virgins. If they break their vows of chastity or the
flame goes out, the penalty is death.
1236 Lithuania is united
by Mindaugas and later crowned king. Unification helps Lithuania fend off German
1323 Vilnius founded by
Grand Duke Gediminas.
1386 To keep the Germans
at bay, the Lithuanian Grand Duke and Polish Queen wed, creating a monarchial union.
This leads to Lithuania's final conversion to Christianity. The first act of faith
is felling sacred trees and statues to pagan gods.
stretches to the Black Sea. In 1410, Lithuanians and allies crush the Teutonic
Knights, ending the Teutonic Knight's military might in the region for good.
1400s Jews begin
to settle in Lithuania. In time, Vilnius becomes a center of Jewish culture and learning
in the world.
1569 Weakening Lithuania
enters a formal Commonwealth with Poland.
1657 The plague strikes
and half the Vilnius residents die.
1795 The Commonwealth is
cut up by the partitions; Lithuania ends up in Russia.
1860-1885 Lithuanian uprisings;
Czar outlaws public use of Lithuanian.
begin emigrating en mass to escape Czarist persecution.
The émigrés spread their influence far and wide. Among those who are
either from Lithuania themselves or whose parents were: British actor Sir
John Gielgud, singer Al Jolson, actor Charles Bronson,
the Three Stooges, and American composer Aaron Copland.
The father of former Israeli premier Ehud Barak was from
Lithuania. Today, some 800,000 Americans claim Lithuanian heritage.
After battling Russia and other powers, Lithuania secures independence. Poles occupy Vilnius; Kaunas becomes Lithuanias
provisional capital. Catholic Lithuania breaks relations with the
Vatican after Rome recognizes Polish rule over Vilnius.
1939 In March, a
long-running dispute between Lithuania and Germany over the
jurisdiction of Klaipeda comes to a head when Berlin demands that
Lithuania give up the coastal city, or face a Nazi invasion.
Lithuania, figuring it couldnt depend on support from either
Russia or any Western powers, gives in to the ultimatum. On March
22, Hitler arrives in Klaipeda.
1939 In August, Hitler
and Stalin carve up Europe, with the Baltics in the Soviet sphere.
Before, the Baltics were able to play Germany and Russia off each
other, but theyre now virtually within U.S.S.R. occupies
Lithuania; mass deportations to Siberia begin. Moscow hands Vilnius
back to Lithuania.
Nazis occupy Lithuania. Most of Lithuanias 240,000 Jews are killed.
Lithuania again. Over 500,000 Lithuanians are either deported,
forced into exile, jailed or shot.
1987 First open
protests against Soviets.
Communists vote to break with the Soviet Party, a daring, even
dangerous move at the time.
declares independence, the first Soviet republic to do so. Earlier,
Soviet leader Gorbachev visited Lithuania hoping to talk Lithuanians
into sticking with Moscow.
1991 Soviet crackdown
kills 13 civilians in Vilnius; in August, after a failed Kremlin
coup, Lithuania wins independence.
29, 2004 Lithuania is accepted into NATO.
1, 2004 Lithuania joins the European Union.
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