King Mindaugas’ Day is an annual Lithuanian celebration and public holiday that is held each year on 6 July. It is also known as Statehood Day.
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The holiday is designed to celebrate the coronation of Mindaugas in 1253. Mindaugas was the first King to be crowned in Lithuania as well as the only King in the country’s history.
While the exact date of the celebration has been historically in much debate, the day of 6 July was finally chosen based on a hypothesis developed in 1989 by Edvardas GudaviÄius, a modern Lithuanian historian. As a result, King Mindaugas’ Day has been celebrated since 1991.
Little is actually known about Mindaugas. What is known is he was born some time around 1203. He was also the first Grand Duke of Lithuania to become known. Across the Slavic and Baltic regions during the 1230s and 1240s, Mindaugas began building his power. He then sought baptism by the Roman Catholic church and gave up certain lands in present-day Lithunia for the sole purpose of receiving blessings as king from Pope Innocent IV.
Mindaugas’ move to be baptised helped him create an alliance with what was known as the Livonian Order. Crowned the summer of 1253 alongside his wife Morta, King Mindaugas ruled somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000 people. The ecclesiastical ceremonies at the time were overseen by Bishop Henry Heidenreich of Kulm. Similarly, the crown was conferred by Andreas Stirland.
Following the coronation, peace predominantly held in the area for about eight years. This is the time Mindaugas chose to focus on expanding his power to the east. He created state institutions which helped to strengthen his influence in areas such as Black Ruthenia and Polatsk. He negotiated with Galicia-Volhynia. All in all, Mindaugas had a very interesting role as being the only person in the history of Lithuania to have such a title.