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Morta was born circa 1210 in Šiauliai, Lithuania and died 1262 in Vilnius, Lithuania of unspecified causes. She married Vismantas Bulaičiai (?-1251) circa 1228 JL . She married Mindaugas (c1200-1263) circa 1245 JL in Vilnius, Lithuania.


Morta of Šiauliai was Grand Duchess of Lithuania (until 1252) and later Queen of Lithuania (1253-1262). She married Grand Duke Mindaugas and both converted to Christianity and were baptized in 1253 by the bishop of Chełmno. She died in 1262.

Biography

Very little is known about her life; even her name before her conversion is unknown. The only clue into her origin or birth place is a short mention in the comments of the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle (which did not survive, but is quoted by the Hypatian Codex. In discussing the events following the signature in 1219 of the treaty between the Lithuanian dukes and Galicia–Volhynia, it says that at a later unindicated date, " ... and here Vismantas Bulaičiai was killed by Mindaugas who had taken his wife so that they became deadly rivals, and who also killed his brothers Edivilas and Sprudeika... "

While some historians consider there is no proof, it is generally assumed that Morta was Vismantas' wife. Edvardas Gudavičius, a modern Lithuanian historian, based on toponyms, determined that the Bulaičiai family most likely came from the Šiauliai region. Based on this evidence and hypotheses, residents of Šiauliai call the city home of Morta.[1]

It is known that Mindaugas had more than one wife. Probably, Morta was his second wife as Vaišvilkas, eldest son of Mindaugas, was already a mature man active in international politics when Morta's sons were still young and dependent on their parents. While some historians consider Vaišvilkas to be Morta's son, this is highly improbable, as Morta was only about 13 years old at the date of his birth.

Assuming that the statements about Mindaugas taking Morta from Vismantas, this could probably have happened during the wars between Mindaugas and Vismantas, around 1245. The chronicle seems to indicate that the abduction of Morta enraged her husband Vismantas who became a mortal enemy of Mindaugas and who tried to take revenge. This date would also be consistent with the birth of their two sons, a short time afterwards and also with the influence exerted by the Morta in determining the Christianisation of Mindaugas.

Some historians, such as Vytautas Baškys, consider that the conflict between Mindaugas and Vismantas are a misrepresentation of the facts by an unfriendly Volhynian chronicler. They situate the meeting between Mindaugas and Morta a short time after the battle of Saule in 1236, indicating that in 1254 king Mindaugas claimed that his two sons were already involved in public affairs. This would however contradict the claims made in 1262 by the same Mindaugas that his sons were underaged and needed the help of his sister-in-law after the death of their mother.

Crowning of Mindaugas and Morta

Coronation of King Mindaugas and Queen Morta.
Reverse of the commemorative medal of Juozas Kalinauskas

Conversion and coronation

The circumstances of the conversion of Mindaugas to Christianity are not known in detail. According to legend, Morta had a great influence on Mindaugas and was instrumental in this conversion. This is a reason why the Morta's marriage to Mindaugas could be placed a few years before the actual conversion took place.

The main historical source, which refers to the queen Morta is the Livonian Rhymed Chronicle, which says that the Grand Master of the Livonian Order Andreas von Velven came from Riga to Vilnius and solemnly baptized by Mindaugas together with his wife, Princess Morta, two sons Ruklys and Rupeikis and many soldiers. 1253 in Pope Innocent IV approved the request of Mindaugas to be crowned King of Lithuania. Costly and artistic crowns and other royal insignia were created by the goldsmiths of Riga following which Mindaugas and Marta were crowned by the Bishop of Chełmno Heidenreich.

The Lithuanian chronicles speek very highly of queen Morta. She was active in public affairs, being associated in decisions related to major events in the development of the Kingdom of Lithuania. She was in charge of the public affairs when Mindaugas was away in his military campaigns. She is also presented as a loving and caring mother for her sons Ruklys and Rupeikis.

Death

Queen Morta died in 1262. Though they differ in the details, according to the Galician–Volhynian Chronicle and also to the Bychowiec Chronicle, after Queen Morta's death, king Mindaugas made arrangements for her funeral. Her sister, Agna, wife of Daumantas, prince of Nalšia, a northern province of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania attended Queen Morta's funeral. For some reason, her husband Daumantas was not present.

Mindaugas claimed that the Queen Morta's last wish was that he marry her sister, so that she could take care of her young sons, though this reason is difficult to accept, as they were about 12-15 years old. According to other accounts, Mindaugas simply fell in love with his young sister in law, who was about 20 years old while he was over 60. Apparently, Agna did not submit willingly to Mindaugas' demands and she was kept prisoner by force. There are no information that Mindaugas formally married her. She seems to have fallen ill and to have never recovered, dying after a short time.


Family

The written sources contain little information on Morta's family and it is not entirely clear how many children she had. The chronicles mention two sons, Replys and Gerstukas, in 1261. In 1263 two sons, Ruklys and Rupeikis, were assassinated together with Mindaugas. This is the only information available and historians disagree on whether these were the same two sons, whose names were distorted by medieval scribes, or whether there were four sons.

Remembrance

1993 on, noting the 740-anniversary of the coronation anniversary of Lithuanian Culture Fund Siauliai region on an initiative set up every year in July 6 - Day of Mindaugas Coronation - National Day or the day before solemnly handed Lithuanian Queen Martha prize darbščiausiems, kūrybingiausiems and talented Lithuanian children under the age of 16 for achievements in music, art, theater, literature and other arts.

See also

References

  1. ^ (Lithuanian) Tomas Baranauskas, Karalienė Morta ir Šiauliai (Queen Morta and Šiauliai), Vartiklis.lt. Accessed July 9, 2006.
  • Romas Batūra - Lietuvos Karalienė Morta ir valstybės aušra. Lietuvos karalienė Morta. Karalystės šviesa istorijoje ir valstybės dabartyje. Saulės delta, 2008 m. p. 9-11
  • Vytautas Baškys - Lietuvos istorijos tituliniame lape – Karalienė Morta. Lietuvos karalienė Morta. Karalystės šviesa istorijoje ir valstybės dabartyje. Saulės delta, 2008 m. p. 16-18



Children


Offspring of Morta and Mindaugas (c1200-1263)
Name Birth Death Joined with
Ruklys of Lithuania (c1247-1263) 1247 Vilnius, Lithuania 1263 Aglona, Latvia
Rupeikis of Lithuania (c1249-1263) 1249 Vilnius, Lithuania 1263 Aglona, Latvia



Footnotes (including sources)

Contributors

  Afil

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