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Grand Duke Rimgaudas of Lithuania

carved by P. Butkevičius
(photo from website)

Lithuanian legends & lore:

The geneology of Mindaugas, the first and only king of Lithuania, is not known and this mystery prompted stories about a powerful ruler of Lithuania who preceded Mindaugas and may have been his father by the name of Rimgaudas (or Ringaudas, Ryngold).

It is said that Rimgaudas saved Europe by stopping the advance of the Mongol army of Genghis Kahn and seriously wounding his eldest son Jochi in a duel. Jochi died in 1227.

It is well known that the Mongol forces appeared in southern Ukraine in early 1223 and kept moving northward subjugating Ukrainian and Russian territories. It is quite likely that eventually they reached Lithuanian territories as well.

The Mongols were superior horsemen and archers. They were masters at warfare on the open plains. Much of Lithuanian territory, however, consisted of wet, bog-filled primeval forest and Lithuanians were skilled as forest fighters. The Mongols were at a disadvantage in this to them unfamiliar environment and it is quite possible that Lithuanians were able to stop them at the forest's edge.

It is, however, fairly certain that Rimgaudas was not alive by 1219 and that Mindaugas was consolidating his power in Lithuania at this time and would have been responsible for stopping the Mongols. (Click here to read more legends.)