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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Witch-King of Lithuania

Europe's last pagan monarch was Gediminas (ca. 1275-1341), Grand Duke of Lithuania. He championed the Old Worship throughout his life, and although he tolerated various forms of Christianity—he even formed a political alliance with the pope against the Teutonic Knights—it was his policy to punish proselytizing with death; he was cremated according to traditional rites (including, allegedly, human sacrifice) in 1342.

Although his heirs eventually decided to throw in their lot with the Roman church, the Gediminid dynasty ruled Lithuania for more than 200 years. History remembers Gediminas as a tolerant and enlightened ruler.

Lithuanian folklore remembers its last pagan prince with fondness. He is credited with the founding of Vilnius, Lithuania's capital city. On a hunting trip he is said to have dreamed of an iron wolf, standing on a hill at the confluence of the Vilnia and Neris, whose howls filled the world. The high priest of Lithuania interpreted this dream to mean that a city built on that hill would be known throughout the world.

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