A Short Visit

  Į Lietuvos Statutų ekspoziciją

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 14th-18th centuries

Catalog of the Exhibition

The First Lithuanian Statute (FLS). Drafted in 1529. First Page from text of Lavrentij Copy

The Second Lithuanian Statute (SLS). Drafted in 1566. First Page from text of Luck Copy

The Third Lithuanian Statute (TLS). Printed in Vilnius, 1588. Title Page

The Lithuanian Statutes (LS) were three legal codes (1529, 1566, 1588), which constituted the system of law for the government of the ancient Lithuanian state, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania - GDL - which existed from 1240 to 1795. The Lithuanian Statutes were drawn when Lithuania, the last European country to accept Christianity (1387), having thoroughly embraced the values of western Latin culture during the 15th century, finally became an integral part of Middle Europe in the 16th century. The Lithuanian Statutes not only demonstrated the GDL's equality with other Middle European states, and Lithuania's ability to accomplish civilizing steps (required of no other European country, all having Christianized much earlier, in what was considered a timely manner), but was also a very important influence on neighboring countries. The Statutes were cited as precedent in Polish and Livonian courts, and in 1649 the Russian legal code was rewritten according to Lithuania's Statutes. During union with Poland, both the personal (dynastic) epoch (1385-1569) and the epoch of confederated statehood with Poland (1569-1795), Lithuania's Statutes were her greatest expression of independence. The Lithuanian Statutes, especially the Third, were so well-written that they answered society's needs for 250 years. In 1791, efforts were made to change the system and do away with the privileges of the nobility, creating a constitutional monarchy with a modern citizenry. However, these plans came to naught when Russia, abetted by Austria and Prussia, destroyed the Polish-Lithuanian state, although leaving the Lithuanian Statutes in effect in Lithuania until 1840. Despite Russian hindrance a modern civic society developed and Independence was re-asserted twice during the 20th century (1918 and 1990), and this may be viewed as an indirect result of the earlier discussions about the nobility and citizenry for the Lithuanian Statutes.


Text and illustrations prepared and presented by Vilnius University Faculty of History, Department of Theory of History and History of Culture.

Ekskursija The Website (in Lithuanian) presents four aspects of the Lithuanian Statutes: LS - the foundation of the legal system of Ancient Lithuania (GDL); LS - a sign of Lithuania's integration into Middle Europe; LS structure, text and languages; LS - its influence and fate. This site is managed by Vilnius University Faculty of History, Department of Theory of  History and History of Culture.

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