Microhistories: Social and Cultural Relations in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1387-1795)

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Date / time: 20 March - 21 March, 9:00 am - 6:30 pm

School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Microhistories: Social and Cultural Relations in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (1387-1795)

The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was one of the largest and most linguistically, ethnically and religiously diverse polities in late medieval and early modern Europe. On its territory Eastern and Western Christendom overlapped, the Protestant Reformation made significant inroads, one of the most numerous Jewish communities in the world grew to maturity, while Muslims, Karaites, Old Believers and others found their niches. Integrated into a predominantly agrarian economy and society were several hundred urban communities, many of whom flourished for centuries.

In the mid-1380s the Grand Duchy of Lithuania entered into a long and often difficult process of union with the Kingdom of Poland, culminating in the formation of a joint ‘Commonwealth of the Two Nations’ in 1569. Since the destruction of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795, the history and memory of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania have been much contested among its successor nations, including modern Lithuanians, Belarusians, Poles, Ukrainians, Tatars, Latvians, Russians and Israelis. This conference aims to excavate a level below these largely incompatible meta-narratives, exploring new stories about the communities, clans and cultures of the Grand Duchy in ‘microhistories’.

With Professor David Frick (University of California at Berkeley) as the keynote speaker and seventeen other historians from Belarus, Lithuania, Poland, the UK and the USA, the conference will address questions of social and cultural relations through papers that concentrate on ‘microhistories’ of particular individuals, families, corporations and neighbourhoods, on the basis of hitherto neglected or under-exploited sources.

Among these questions, speakers will explore:

  • Patterns of intra-, inter- and transconfessional relations in smaller cities and of rural neighbourhoods within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania
  • Bonds of patronage and clientage
  • Interactions between municipal, ecclesiastical, academic corporations and   private individuals and families
  • Social and legal barriers between different strata of the nobility
  • Social and cultural boundaries of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Commonwealth of the Two Nations

Conference website

Tickets can be purchased for general (£30) and concessionary admission (£20; non-UCL students, SSEES alumni, senior citizens), and in some cases free admission is available (for dignitaries, speakers, convenors, UCL staff and students) here.