LITHUANIANS and LETTS, two kindred peoples of IndoEuropean origin, which inhabit several western provinces of Russia and the north-eastern parts of Poland and Prussia, on the shores of the Baltic Sea, and in the basins of the Niemen and of the Duna. Large colonies of Lithuanian and Lettic emigrants have been established in the United States. The two races number about 3,500,000, of whom 1,300,000 are Letts. Little is known about their origin, and nothing about the time of their appearance in the country they now inhabit. Ptolemy mentions (iii. 5) two clans, the Galindae and Sudeni, who probably belonged to the western subdivision of this racial group, the Borussians. In the 10th century the Lithuanians were already known under the name of Litva, and, together with two other branches of the same stem the Borussians and the Letts they occupied the south-eastern coast of the Baltic Sea from the Vistula to the Duna, extending north-east towards the Lakes Vierzi-jarvi and Peipus, south-east to the watershed between the affluents of the Baltic and those of the Black Sea, and south to the middle course of the Vistula (Brest Litovsk) a tract bounded by Finnish tribes in the north, and by Slavs elsewhere.
Inhabiting a forested, marshy country the Lithuanians have been able to maintain their national character, notwithstanding the vicissitudes of their history. Their chief priest, KriveKriveyto (the judge of the judges), under whom were seventeen classes of priests and elders, worshipped in the forests; the Waidelots brought their offerings to the divinities at the foot of oaks; even now, the veneration of great oaks is a widely spread custom in the villages of the Lithuanians, and even of the Letts.
Even' in the 10th century the Lithuanian stem was divided into three main branches: the Borussians or Prussians; the Letts (who call themselves Lalvis, whilst the name under which they are known in Russian chronicles, Lelygola, is an abbreviation of Lalvin-galas, " the confines of Lithuania ") ; and the Lithuanians, or rather Lituanians, Litva or Letuvininkai, these last being subdivided into Lithuanians proper, and Zhmud? (Zmudz, Samogitians or Zemailey), the " Lowlanders." To these main branches must be added the Yatvyags, or Yadzvings, a warlike, blackhaired people who inhabited the forests at the upper tributaries of the Niemen and Bug, and the survivors of whom are easily distinguishable as a mixture with White-Russians and Mazurs in some parts of Grodno, Plotsk, Lomza and Warsaw. Nestor's chronicle distinguishes also the Zhemgala, who later became known under the name of Semigallia, and in the 10th century inhabited the left bank of the Duna. Several authors consider also as Lithuanians the Kors of Russian chronicles, or Courons of Western authors, who inhabited the peninsula of Courland, and the Golad, a clan settled on the banks of the Porotva, tributary of the Moskva river, which seems to have been thrown far from the main stem during its migration to the north. The Krivichi, who inhabited what is now the government of Smolensk, seem to belong to the same stem. Their name recalls the Krive-Kriveyto, and their ethnological features recall the Lithuanians; but they are now as much Slavonic as Lithuanian.
All these peoples are only ethnographical subdivisions, and each of them was subdivided into numerous independent clans and villages, separated from one another by forests and marshes; they had no towns or fortified places. The Lithuanian territory thus lay open to foreign invasions, and the Russians as well as the German crusaders availed themselves of the opportunity. The Borussians soon fell under the dominion of Germans, and ceased to constitute a separate nationality, leaving only their name to the state which later became Prussia. The Letts were driven farther to 'the north, mixing there with Livs and Ehsts, and fell under the dominion of the Livonian order. Only the Lithuanians proper, together with Samogitians, succeeded in forming an independent state. The early history of this state is imperfectly known. During the continuous petty war carried on against Slavonic invasions, the military chief of one of the clans, Ryngold, acquired, in the first half of the 13th century, a certain preponderance over other clans of Lithuania and Black Russia (Yatvyags), as well as over the republics of Red Russia. At this time, the invasions of the Livonian order becoming more frequent, and always extending southward, there was a general feeling of the necessity of some organization to resist them, and Ryngold's son, Mendowg, availed himself of this opportunity to pursue the policy of his father. He made different concessions to the order, ceded to it several parts of Lithuania, and even agreed to be baptized, in 1250, at Novograd Litovsk, receiving in exchange a crown from Innocent IV., with which he was crowned king of Lithuanians. He also ceded the whole of Lithuania to the order in case he should die without leaving offspring. But he had accepted Christianity only to increase his influence among other clans; and, as soon as he had consolidated a union between Lithuanians, Samogitians and Cours, he relapsed, proclaiming, in 1260, a general uprising of the Lithuanian people against the Livonian order. The yoke was shaken off, but internal wars followed, and three years later Mendowg was killed. About the end of the 13th century a new dynasty of rulers of Lithuania was founded by Lutuwer, whose second son, Gedymin (1316-1341), with the aid of fresh forces he organized through his relations with Red Russia, established something like regular government; he at the same time extended his dominions over Russian countries over Black Russia (Novogrodok, Zditov, Grodno, Slonim and Volkovysk) and the principalities of Polotsk, Tourovsk, Pinsk, Vitebsk and Volhynia. He named himself Rex Lethowinorum et multorum Ruthenorum. In 1325 he concluded a treaty with Poland against the Livonian order, which treaty was the first step towards the union of both countries realized two centuries later. The seven sons of Gedymin considered themselves as quite independent; but two of them, Olgierd and Keistut, soon became the more powerful. They represented two different tendencies which existed at that time in Lithuania. Olgierd, whose family relations attracted him towards the south, was the advocate of union with Russia; rather politician than warrior, he increased his influence by diplomacy and by organization. His wife and sons being Christians, he also soon agreed to be baptized in the Greek Church. Keistut represented the revival of the Lithuanian nationality. Continually engaged in wars with Livonia, and remaining true to the national religion, he became the national legendary hero. In 1345 both brothers agreed to re-establish the great principality of Lithuania, and, after having taken Vilna, the old sanctuary of the country, all the brothers recognized the supremacy of Olgierd. His son, Jagiello, who married the queen of Poland, Yadviga, after having been baptized in the Latin Church, was crowned, on the 14th of February 1386, king of Poland. At the beginning of the 15th century Lithuania extended her dominions as far east as Vyazma on the banks of the Moskva river, the present government of Kaluga, and Poutivl, and south-east as far as Poltava, the shores of the Sea of Azov, and Haji-bey (Odessa), thus including Kiev and Lutsk. The union with Poland remained, however, but nominal until 1569, when Sigismund Augustus was king of Poland. In the 16th century Lithuania did not extend its power so far east and south-east as two centuries before, but it constituted a compact state, including Polotsk, Moghilev, Minsk, Grodno, Kovno, Vilna, Brest, and reaching as far south-east as Chernigov. From the union with Poland, the history of Lithuania becomes a part of Poland's history, Lithuanians and White-Russians partaking of the fate of the Polish kingdom (see POLAND: History). After its three partitions, they fell under the dominion of the Russian empire. In 1792 Russia took the provinces of Moghilev and Polotsk, and in 1793 those of Vilna, Troki, Novgorod-Syeversk, Brest and Vitebsk. In 1797 all these provinces were united together, constituting the " Lithuanian government " (Litovskaya Gubernia). But the name of Lithuanian provinces was usually given only to the governments of Vilna and Kovno, and, though Nicholas I. prohibited the use of this name, it is still used, even in official documents. In Russia, all the White-Russian population of the former Polish Lithuania are usually considered as Lithuanians, the name of Zhmud being restricted to Lithuanians proper.
The ethnographical limits of the Lithuanians are undefined, and their number is variously estimated. The Letts occupy a part of the Courland peninsula of Livonia and of Vitebsk, a few other settlements being spread also in the governments of Kovno, St Petersburg and Moghilev. The Lithuanians proper inhabit the governments of Kovno, Vilna, Suvalki and Grodno; while the Samogitians or Zhmud inhabit the governments of Kovno and Suvalki. To these must be added about 200,000 Borussians, the whole number of Lithuanians and Letts in Russia being, according to the census of 1897, 3,094,469. They are slowly extending towards the south, especially the Letts; numerous emigrants have penetrated into Slavonic lands as far as the government of Voronezh.
The Lithuanians are well built ; the face is mostly elongated, the features fine; the very fair hair, blue eyes and delicate skin distinguish them from Poles and Russians. Their dress is usually plain in comparison with that of Poles, and the predominance in it of greyish colours has been frequently noticed. Their chief occupation is agriculture. The trades in towns are generally carried on by men of other races mostly by Germans, Jews or Poles. The only exception is afforded to some extent by the Letts. The Samogitians are good hunters, and all Lithuanians are given to apiculture and cattle breeding. But the Lithuanians, as well in the Baltic provinces as in the central ones, were not until the most recent time proprietors of the soil they tilled. They have given a few families to the Russian nobility, but the great mass of the people became serfs of foreign landowners, German and Polish, who reduced them to the greatest misery. Since the Polish insurrection of 1863, the Russian government has given to the Lithuanians the land of the Polish proprietors on much easier terms than in central Russia ; but the allotments of soil and the redemption taxes are very unequally distributed; and a not insignificant number of peasants (the chinsheviki) were even deprived of the land they had for centuries considered their own. The Letts remain in the same state as before, and are restrained from emigrating en masse only by coercive measures.
The Letts of Courland, with the exception of about 50,000 who belong to the Greek Church, are Lutherans. Nearly all can read. Those of the government of Vitebsk, who were under Polish dominion, are Roman Catholics, as well as the Lithuanians proper, a part of whom, however, have returned to the Greek Church, in which they were before the union with Poland. The Samogitians are Roman Catholics; they more than other Lithuanians have conserved their national features. But all Lithuanians have maintained much of their heathen practices and creed; the names of pagan divinities, very numerous in the former mythology, are continually mentioned in songs, and also in common speech.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. Schiemann, Russland, Polen und Livland bis ins l?te Jahrhundert (2 vols., Berlin, 1886-1887); S. Daukantas, Lietuvos Istorija (Plymouth, Pa., 1893); J. de Brye, jtude historigue sur la Lithuanie (Paris, 1894); P. D. Bryantsev, Istoriya Litovskago Gosudarstva (Vilna, 1899). (P. A. K.)
Language and Literature. The Lithuanian, Lettic or Lettish and Borussian or Old Prussian languages together constitute a distinct linguistic subdivision, commonly called the Baltic subdivision, within the Indo-European family. They have many affinities to the Slavonic languages, and are sometimes included with them in a single linguistic group, the Balto-Slavic. In their phonology, however, though not in their structure the Baltic languages appear to be more primitive than the Slavonic. Lithuanian, for example, retains the archaic diphthongs which disappear in Slavonic Lith. veidas, " face," Gr. tldos, O.S. tiidu. Among other noteworthy phonological characteristics of Lithuanian are the conversion of k into a sibilant, the loss of h and change of all aspirates into tenues and the retention of primitive consonantal noun-terminations, e.g. the final j in Sans. Vrkas, Lith. vilkas, O.S. iiulku. Lettic is phonologically less archaic than Lithuanian, although in a few cases it has preserved Indo-European forms which have been changed in Lithuanian, e.g. the s and z which have become Lith. sz (sh) and z (zh). The accent in Lithuanian is free; in Lettic, and apparently in Old Prussian, it ultimately became fixed on the first syllable.
In its morphology Lettic represents a later stage of development than Lithuanian, their mutual relationship being analogous to that between Old High German and Gothic. Both languages have preserved seven out of the eight Indo-European cases; Lithuanian has three numbers, but Lettic has lost the dual (except in diwi, " two " and abbi, " both ") ; the neuter gender, which still appears in Lithuanian pronouns, has also been entirely lost in Lettic; in Lithuanian there are four simple tenses (present, future, imperfect, preterite), but in Lettic the imperfect is wanting. In both languages the number of periphrastic verb-forms and of diminutives is large; in both there are traces of a suffix article; and both have enriched their vocabularies with many words of foreign, especially German, Russian and Polish origin. The numerous Lithuanian dialects are commonly divided into High or Southern, which changes ty and dy into cz, dz, and Low or Northern, which retains ty, dy. Lettic is divided into High (the eastern dialects), Low (spoken in N.W. Courland) and Middle (the literary language). Old Prussian ceased to be a spoken language in the 17th century; its literary remains, consisting chiefly of three catechisms and two brief vocabularies, date almost entirely from the period 1517-1561 and are insufficient to permit of any thorough reconstruction of the grammar.
The literary history of the Lithuanians and Letts dates from the Reformation and comprises three clearly defined periods, (i) Up to 1700 the chief printed books were of a liturgical character. (2) During the 18th century a vigorous educational movement began; dictionaries, grammars and other instructive works were compiled, and written poems began to take the place of songs preserved by oral tradition. (3) The revival of national sentiment at the beginning of the igth century resulted in the establishment of newspapers and the collection and publication of the national folk-poetry. In both literatures, works of a religious character predominate, and both are rich in popular ballads, folk-tales and fables.
The first book printed in Lithuanian was a translation of Luther's shorter Catechism (Konigsberg, 1547); other translations of devotional or liturgical works followed, and by 1701 59 Lithuanian books had appeared, the most noteworthy being those of the preacher J. Bretkun (1535-1602). The spread of Calvinism led to the publication, in 1701, of a Lithuanian New Testament. The first dictionary was printed in 1749. But perhaps the most remarkable work of the second period was The Four Seasons, a pastoral poem in hexameters by Christian Donalitius (1714-1780), which was edited by Nesselmann (Konigsberg, 1869) with a German translation and notes. In the 19th century various collections of fables and folk-tales were published, and an epic, the Onikshla Grove, was written by Bishop Baranoski. But it was in journalism that the chief original work of the third period was done. F. Kelch (1801-1877) founded the first Lithuanian newspaper, and between 1834 and 1895 no fewer than 34 Lithuanian periodicals were published in the United States alone.
Luther's Catechism (Konigsberg, 1586) was the first book printed in Lettic, as in the sister speech. In the 17th century various translations of psalms, hymns and other religious works were published, the majority being Calvinistic in tone. The educational movement of the 18th century was inaugurated by G. F. Slender (1714-1796), author of a Lettic dictionary and grammar, of poems, tales and of a Book of Wisdom which treats of elementary science and history. Much educational work was subsequently done by the Lettic Literary Society, which publishes a magazine (Magazin, Mitau, from 1827), and by the " Young Letts," who published various periodicals and translations of foreign classics, and endeavoured to free their language and thought from German influences. Somewhat similar tasks were undertaken by the " Young Lithuanians," whose first magazine the Auszra (" Dawn ") was founded in 1883. From 1890 to 1910 the literature of both peoples was marked by an ever-increasing nationalism; among the names most prominent during this period may be mentioned those of the dramatist Steperman and the poet Martin Lap, both of whom wrote in Lettic.
BIBLIOGRAPHY. Lithuanian dictionaries: Nesselmann, Worterbuch der litauischen Sprache (Konigsberg, 1851); Kurschat, Wiirterbuch der litauischen Sprache (Halle, 1870-1883); A. Juszkiewicz, Litovskiy Slovar (St Petersburg, 1897, etc.); P. Saurusaitis, An Abridged Dictionary of the English-Lithuanian Languages, 2 pts. (Waterbury, Conn., 1899-1900); A. Lalis, Dictionary of the Lithuanian and English Languages (Chicago, 1903, etc.). Grammar and Linguistic : Schleicher, Handbuch der litauischen Sprache (Prague, 1856-1857); O. Wiedemann, Handbuch der litauischen Sprache (Strassburg, 1897); A. Bezzenberger , Beitrage zur Geschichte der litauischen Sprache (Gottingen, 1877); J. Schiekopp, Gramatyka litewska poczatkowa (Cracow, 1902). Literature: Nesselmann, Litauische Volkslieder (Berlin, 1853); A. Juszkiewicz, Liettiwiskos Dajnos Uzrasytos, etc. (Kazan, 1881); A. Leskien and C. Brugman, Litauische Volkslieder (Strassburg, 1882); C. Bartsch. Melodieen litauischer Volksheder (Heidelberg, 1886); A. Juszkiewicz, Melodje ludowe litewskie (Cracow, 1900, etc.) ; E. A. Vol'ter, Litovskaya Khrestomatiya (St Petersburg, 1901, etc.).
Lettic dictionaries and grammars: Bielenstein, Die Lettische Sprache (Berlin, 1863-1864); id., Lettische Grammatik (Mitau, 1863) ; Ulmann and Brasche, Lettisches Worterbuch (Riga, 1872-1880); A. Bezzenberger, Uber die Sprache der preussischen Letten and lettische Dialekt-Studien (Gottingen, 1885)- Bielenstein, Grenzen des lettischen Vplksstammes und der lettischen Sprache (St Petersburg, 1892), Literature: Bielenstein Tausend lettische Rathsel (Mitau, 1881); T. Treuland, Latyshskiya Narodnyya Skazki (Moscow, 1887, etc.); K. Baron and H. Wissendorff , Latwju dainas (Mitau 1894, etc.) ; V. Andreyanov, Lettische Volkslieder und My then (Halle ; 1896).
Old Prussian: Nesselmann, Die Sprache der alien Preussen (Berlin, 1845); id., Thesaurus linguae prussicae (Berlin, 1873); Berneker, Die preussische Sprache (Strassburg, 1896); M. Schultze, Grammatik der altpreussischen Sprache (Leipzig, 1897).