“None of Gediminas’ original letters have survived, so this transcript is the most authentic document testifying to the birth of the city of Vilnius. It is he who can be considered the “culprit” of Vilnius’ 700-year celebration, because, written down and thus preserved in the Riga city archive, it revealed the date of the first commemoration of Vilnius,” said museum manager Rūta Kačkutė.
This transcript will be exhibited in the tower of Gediminas Castle from January 25. The first mention of Vilnius in it is considered the beginning of the creation of the city, which is recorded in the letter with the words: “(…)in our city Vilnius in the year of the Lord 1323, on the day of the conversion of the Holy Apostle Paul (…)”.
None of Gediminas’ original letters have survived, so this transcript is the most authentic document testifying to the birth of the city of Vilnius.
With the aforementioned letter, merchants, soldiers, artisans, farmers and clergy from all over the world, especially from Lübeck, Stralsund, Bremen, Magdeburg and Cologne, were invited to come and settle in Lithuania.
“This transcript is simultaneous, that is, it was made immediately after receiving the original letter in Riga. It was copied in accordance with the instruction of Gedimin in the letter: We ask all the councilors of the city that this letter be written down, and that it is written and fastened to the door of the church, and that the letter itself, out of love for us, be forwarded to the neighboring city without any delay, so that the glory of God will acquaint everyone with with it”, said the curator of the exhibition, museum archaeologist Valdas Steponaitis.
“Unfortunately, the letters themselves were destroyed on the way, only their copies survived,” he added.
Historians are aware of six letters sent by Gediminas that have survived in transcripts, and it is difficult to say how many of them were sent in total.
Together with the exhibited document, the exhibition “Gedimin’s letters: then and now” will run, which will interactively present the meaning and importance of all Gedimin’s letters.
“Judging by today’s standards, Duke Gediminas performed both the roles of president and mayor of Vilnius during his reign. As a ruler of that time, he was very progressive. The exhibition will be open at the height of the mayoral elections, so we invite you to consider in the advertising campaign of the exhibition – who is a good visionary of the city”, said Jurga Strimaitienė, head of communication and marketing of the museum.
The copy of Gedimin’s letter will be exhibited in Lithuania until June 4, after which it will be replaced by a facsimile in the exhibition that will be open until the end of the year.