Litva: The Rise and Fall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

Litva: The Rise and Fall of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania

A Selection from Vanished Kingdoms (Penguin Tracks)

Format
ePub
Price
$2.99
 
Additional Formats
  • ePub
  • ISBN 9781101630822
  • 90  Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult

Overview

The fascinating history of a Baltic empire’s dominance and decline—excerpted from internationally bestselling author Norman Davies’s Vanished Kingdoms

Vanished Kingdoms introduces readers to once-powerful European empires that have left scant traces on the modern map. In this excerpt from his widely acclaimed book, Norman Davies tells the ill-fated story of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Founded in the mid-thirteenth century in one of the continent’s first settled regions, where the oldest of its Indo-European languages is spoken, the Grand Duchy at its peak was the largest country in Europe, stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and it commanded yet greater influence after uniting with its western neighbor, the Kingdom of Poland, to form the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Grand Duchy’s huge territory included the great cities of Kiev, Vilnius, Riga, Minsk, and Brest. Despite being ahead of its time as an elective republic in an age of absolute monarchy, power struggles and foreign incursions led to its ultimate demise and forced partition by Russia, Prussia, and Austria in 1795.

In this selection from a work The Boston Globe has called “commendably accessible, magisterial, and uncommonly humane,” Davies chronicles these rich yet unfamiliar chapters in the history of modern Lithuania, Belarus, and Latvia with his signature acuity and verve.

Praise

“An alternative history of Europe that is . . . densely packed yet commendably accessible, magisterial, and uncommonly humane.”
The Boston Globe
 
“Hugely ambitious . . . From the mists, Mr. Davies summons the kingdoms; he records their emergence, their flowering and their demise—whether by ‘internall diseases’ or ‘forraign warre’ in Thomas Hobbes’s words. And he examines the traces that the kingdoms have left behind, in works of art or a piece of rock or perhaps just a place name.”
The Wall Street Journal
 
“Davies resurrects the lands and peoples that were lost in the brutal tide of history. . . . It takes a tremendous feat of empathy to write about countries and peoples that no longer exist. And the amount of information in Vanished Kingdoms that will be new to all but the most expert students of European history is staggering. . . . Fascinating facts and insights flutter on its many pages.”
San Francisco Chronicle

 
“Davies is well known as an iconoclast who punctures the comforting myths of countries that history has blessed. . . . Vanished Kingdoms gives full rein to his historical imagination and enthusiasms, imparting a powerful sense of places lost in time. All across Europe ghosts will bless him for telling their long-forgotten stories.”

The Economist

“Davies is certainly one of the best British historical writers of the past half century, and every gauntlet he throws down is bejeweled. His literary gifts and his capacity for what he nicely calls ‘imaginative sympathy’ are stretched to their limits by this challenging project. . . . Yet Davies succeeds, and it is quite a success.”

– Timothy Snyder, The Guardian (London)
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