Hello Olga! Welcome to Slavorum! 

Lithuania appeared on the map only in 1930s when Stalin gave them the area of Vilna (which they call Vilnius). There’s no evidence that there ever existed any tribe like “litva”. Moreover, when Vilno and the area were given away to Samogitians 90% of the locals were of Slavic ancestry.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that tribe Litva existed before Mindaugas was crowned as the King of Lithuania in 1253. The tribe Litva had Baltic origins as most of northern Belarusian population confirmed by linguistic, archaeological, ethnographic, anthropological and genetic evidence published by scholars. For example, Nestor in the Tale of Bygone Years accurately separated Slavic speaking tribes from non-Slavic. Litva was not a Slavic speaking tribe according to Monk Nestor.

Vilna was a predominantly Slavic speaking city in the late 19th century as per census conducted in imperial Russia. So was Kaunas – the second largest city of  Lithuania. But that’s not to say that the surrounding rural areas were predominantly Slavic. Rural area of South Eastern Lithuania was populated by the Balts as was northern Belarus. Northern Belarus still has ethnic Baltic villages in which archaic Baltic dialect is spoken. Although there are very few of Baltic speakers left as they have been assimilated into the Belarusian community.

This topic has been discussed multiple times on Belarusian forums.  The very version of Slavic origin of the Grand Duchy seems to be denied based on the whole concept of “inferior Slavs” which has been popularized since the 18th century.

There are a lot of myths on some Belarusian forums circulating among younger people preferring myths to historical facts from academic literature. Most Belarusian historians or Polish, Russian, Ukrainian or Lithuanian for that matter will not favour un-academic stories written by ethnographer Mikola Ermalavich in the 70s which have been adopted by Litvin movement recently.  Ermalavich published his near academic book in the late 80s which was popularised in the 90s.

Please quote Lithuanian sources popularising the concept of inferior Slavs, when in fact Lithuanian (Baltic) nobility was Ruthenised and Polonised with Vilna being a Slavic speaking city till 1920s. 

The Grand Duchy has Baltic and Slavic origins being consolidated as a political entity sometime in the 13th century. Two ethnicities living on the frontier of Baltic and Slavic settlements for at least 400 years before Mindaugas was crowned. It’s been attested in historical chronicles first Lithuanian Dukes were Balts. It has been shown that ancestors of  Gedimids have N1c1 haplogroup of specific sub-clades, namely L1025+ and L550+, which are south Baltic rather than Finno-Ugric. This is yet another myth about Lithuanians being Finno-Ugric circulating on some forums.

There are no “ethnic Lithuanians” ‘because what is mostly meant by this name is made from Aukshtaitians and Samogitians who derived from Latvians. So called “Lithuanians” are a mix of Eastern Balts (Finno-Ugric based), Slavs, and Jews. Also there’s an obvious political interest in the falsified version of that the GDL was founded by the ancestry of today’s “Lithuanians” (aka Samogitians).

There are many inaccuracies in regards Balts’ origins in your statement.The following tribes took part in ethnogenesis of the Balts

Eastern Baltic tribes: Latgalians, Selonians, Semigalians.
Western Baltic tribe: Curonians.
Finno-Ugric: Livonians

Balts were the prevailing majority in Latvian ethnogenesis.

Eastern Balts: Samogitians, Aukshtaitians. Possibly Semigalians too.
Some western Baltic tribes
There is little evidence to suggest Finno-Ugric speakers were in sagnificant numbers living in Lithuania.

It’s inaccurate and misleading to state that eastern Balts in Lithuania are being Finno-Ugric based, Slavs and Jews.  Do you have any evidence to support your claim?

The distribution of Y-DNA haplogroup published by Lithuanian author Kasperaviciūte D et al . She sampled all ethnographical regions of Lithuania proportationally. The most frequenty haplogroups: R1a – 45%, N1c1 – 37%. The specific subclades of N1c1 haplogroup is southern Baltic, which is also present in Belarus (10%), northern Belarus around 15%. Russia – 7%, but Russians also have Finno-Ugric subclades of N1c haplogroup. There are different subclades in N1c1 haplogroup, as there are in R1a haplogroup. You won’t claim that Indians, Pushtu, Kyrgyz and Slavs are the same people just because they have a high frequency of R1a haplogroup. It is the same with N1c1 haplogroup.

Y-DNA is only a marker in male sex chromosome useful in knowing distant ancestry back to the times when there were no Slavs, Balts, Germans as separate ethnicities. In fact, there are several quality scientific studies showing that genetically Lithuanians are close to Latvians and Belarusians. Then, the western Russians and Poles. In that order.

Y-DNA:  N1c1 – South-Baltic Subclades (L550+,L1025+)) – 36.7%. The distribution of Lithuanian R1a subclades closely resemble those of Belarusian. It’s Z280 clade followed by M458 and other.

Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA variation in Lithuanians.(2004) Kasperaviciūte D et al

Autosomal DNA  is in nuclei of 22 pairs of chromosomes out of 23 pairs inherited from both parents containing nearly complete genetic record unlike Y-DNA or mtDNA.  Autosomal DNA cannot be used to test distant ancestry.

Title: The Caucasus as an Asymmetric Semipermeable Barrier to Ancient Human Migrations (2012)  Yunusbayev, Rootsi, Behar et. al

PCA plot

Admixture analysis

Nelis, M et al.  2009, ‘Genetic structure of Europeans: a view from the North-East‘, PLoS One, vol. 4, no. 5, p. e5472.

MDS Plot Samples: Russia-Tver only; Latvia – Riga, Lithuania – all ethnographic regions.

Larger resolutions

This chart is produced by Eurogenes project. David Weselowski living in Australia.

Larger resolution image

Moreover, Lithuanians do not have any Jewish admixture, as the majority of Lithuanians were living in rural areas, whereas Jews were allowed to live in urban areas by law. It was similar for the Belarusians. More importantly, the religion was a determining factor preventing Jewish mixing with autochthonous in those days.  There are scientific studies on Jews’ Autosomal DNA none of which are showing Jews are genetically being similar to Poles, Belarusians or Lithuanians.

Yes, Lithuanians and some Slavs are genetically similar. The genetic differences between them are negligible in a wider European context. You can explore on the subject if you want to know more on the subject. There is no need to re-iterate ill-informed claims on the ancestry of any of our neighbours.

The very name is originally “Великое княжество литовское, русское,  жемойтское и иных” which to me would be more accurately translated to English as “the Grand Duchy of Litva, Rus, Samogitia, and others”. I think this makes a difference since this name isn’t automatically associated with today’s “Lithuania”. Why is the English name of the duchy  abbreviated? Why doesn’t it have the two other names? Maybe it’s to not let “westerners” know that there was something else in the duchy apart from Samogitia?

I find it annoying too. Anything originated on the territory of Belarus being referred to as Lithuanian is assumed to have Baltic origins. There are  many such examples which are frustrating.

The origin of the Gedimids is officially unknown. But does it mean that Samogitians can claim that they founded the duchy only because they were given the capital city area? Why can’t we, Slavs, also claim that this country was Slavic only because someone wants us to believe that we’re inferior? Moreover, there’s still some evidence for the “Slavic” version.

The names of Gedimids do not sound Slavic in my ears. Gedimids also happened to have N1c1(L550+ & L551+) haplogroup which are found in high frequency among Lithuanian (south-Baltic) population.  Not Finno-Ugric subclade!

But Gedimids were Ruthenian (Slavic) rulers, as much as Rurikids were Russian rulers regardless of ethnicity or language spoken by the rulers. We cannot consider our past rulers based on ethnicity alone. So , Gedimids were rulers of our ancestors and it’s a historical fact.

Say, Soviet Union took Eastern Prussia after the WWII. Why wouldn’t Russia relocate the capital from Moscow to Kaliningrad and claim that Russia founded Prussia and Germany based on it? Doesn’t it sound absurd?

In the original name of the duchy “Litva” and Samogitia are distinguished. What is more, Samogitia is placed third in the name after “Rus”. Why so if Samogitia was the founding province?


Here is an article about how Samogitians are afraid of that Belarusians will claim Vilno back)). Why are they so scared if according to their version there’s no doubt that they have the right for this city?

Belarus remained part the Grand Duchy after Lublin union, while Ukraine became part of the Kingdom of Poland. This is one of the reasons why the Belarusians have  strong feelings about the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. After Polish-Commonwealth division, south -eastern Lithuania and much of northern Belarus were part of Vilna Governate. Moreover, Vilna was a cultural centre for many Belarusian ancestors to which they gravitated for a  long time.  But it’s also the same for the Lithuanian ancestors. They also considered Vilna as their cultural capital and the Grand Duchy is also a part of their heritage.  Don’t you think it’d be fair to say that our ancestors shared common past, therefore the history should be shared by two ethnicities?

How far in the past does one want to go?

The Balts may have claims against our land suggesting the ancestors of the Belarusians assimilated Baltic tribes living in Belarus. Baltic toponyms, hydronyms and austronyms found all over Belarus. Many archaeological cultures existed on the Belarusian territory were suggest to be those of the Balts. You saw the autosomal charts I put above which can also be used as evidence. The expedition of Linguistic institute of Lithuania found around 50 villages in Viciebsk region alone in the 50s. There were even more in northern Mensk and Hrodna voblast’. I am not trying to be a pro Lithuanian, I am against all the myths that have been circulating around in the last 15-20 years promoted by Erlmalavich.

As far as the territory of ancient Lithuania is concerned, it’s  accepted in Belarusian and Lithuanian historiographies that borders of ancient Lithuania are outlined by the borders of eastern Lithuanian mound burial culture which was Baltic.

There is a  Belarusian historian for whom I have a lot of respect. His concept on most controversial subjects surrounding the GDL history was used in much anticipated Encyclopaedia on the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in 3 volumes published in Belarus recently. He was also one of the main editors of the encyclopaedia. He wrote an article for a seminar held in Vilnius university which was translated in Lithuania. I very much recommend his article on “The problems of origins of the Grand Duchy of Lithunia: overview in Belarusian historiography (2008)” : http://vln.by/node/150