Palemonids

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The Palemonids were a legendary dynasty of Grand Dukes of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Ruthenia. The legend was born in the 15th or 16th century as proof that Lithuanians and the Grand Duchy are of Roman origins. Already Jan Długosz (1415–1480) wrote that the Lithuanians were of Roman origin, but did not provide any proof. The legend is first recorded in the second edition of the Lithuanian Chronicle produced in the 1530s.[1] At the time the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was quarrelling with the Kingdom of Poland, rejecting the claims that Poland had civilized the pagan and barbaric Lithuania. The Lithuanian nobility felt a need for the ruling dynasty to show upstanding origins, as the only available chronicles at the time were written by the Teutonic Knights, a long-standing enemy, and depicted Gediminas as a hostler of Vytenis.[2]

In this new Lithuanian chronicle, Palemon (Could be Polemon II of Pontus), a relative of Roman Emperor Nero, escaped Rome together with 500 noble families. The company traveled north, through the Baltic Sea, and reached the Nemunas Delta. After that they decided to sail upstream until they reached the mouth of Dubysa. There the Palemonids settled on a large hill and ruled the country for generations until the Gediminids emerged.[1] The chronicle skips over Mindaugas and Traidenis, attested Grand Dukes of Lithuania, entirely.[2] It incorporated the account of the Gediminid line from the first edition. To make the story more believable, the chronicler presented a very detailed account of the journey. Because there were not enough generations to cover the gap between the 1st century when Palemon arrived and the 14th century when Gediminas died, the third edition of the chronicle, also known as the Bychowiec Chronicle, placed Palemon in the 5th century instead of the 1st, when Rome was devastated by Attila the Hun,[1] and included Mindaugas and other attested dukes. But it was not enough and historians like Maciej Stryjkowski and Kazimierz Kojałowicz-Wijuk moved the account further, into the 10th century.[3] Multiple contradictory versions of the legend survive to this day as historians tried to patch up some obvious mistakes and make it more historically sound.

At the end of the 19th century there were some attempts, for example in a history written by Maironis, to tie the legend with the expansion of vikings.[1] While many historians up until the dawn of the 20th century believed the legend to be true, it is now largely discarded as a fictional story that only serves to illustrate political ideology in 16th century Lithuania.[4]

Genealogical tree[edit]

                                     
Palemon
From Column family
   
   
Borkus
Duke of Samogitia
Founder of Jurbarkas
Kunos
Duke of Aukštaitija
Founder of Kaunas
Spera
Duke of Eastern Lithuania
Name: Lake Spėra
   
   
Daumantas
Duke of Deltuva
From Centaurus family
Kernius
Duke of Lithuania
Founder of Kernavė
Gimbutas
Duke of Samogitia
     
    Montvilas
Duke of Samogitia
       
         
Kiras
Duke of Deltuva
Pajauta
Name: valley in Kernavė
Nemunas
Name: Neman River
Erdvilas
Duke of Navahradak
Skirmantas Vykintas
Duke of Samogitia
       
  Mingaila
Duke of Navahradak and Polatsk
Živinbudas
Duke of Samogitia
     
     
Kukovaitis
Duke of Lithuania
Skirmantas
Duke of Navahradak, Pinsk, Turaŭ, etc.
Ginvilas
Duke of Polatsk
Kukovaitis
Duke of Samogitia
   
       
  Traidenis
Grand Duke of Navahradak
Liubartas
Grand Duke of Karachev
Pisimantas
Duke of Turaŭ
Rogvolodas
Duke of Polatsk
   
     
  Algimantas
Duke of Navahradak
Gleb
Duke of Polatsk
Paraskeva
 
Utenis
Duke of Lithuania and Samogitia
Founder of Utena
Ryngold
Duke of Navahradak
 
  Vaišvilkas
Duke of Navahradak
 
Šventaragis
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Name: valley in Vilnius
 
Skirmantas
Grand Duke of Lithuania
 
 
Trabus
Duke of Samogitia
Koliginas
Duke of Lithuania and Rus'
 
Romanas
Grand Duke of Lithuania
 
       
Narimantas
Grand Duke of Lithuania
Daumantas
Killed Traidenis
Olshan
Ancestor of Olshanski
Giedrius
Ancestor of Giedraičiai
Traidenis
Grand Duke of Lithuania
 
Rimantas
Grand Duke of Lithuania
 
Source: Jučas, Mečislovas (2003). Lietuvos metraščiai ir kronikos (in Lithuanian). Vilnius: Aidai. p. 53. ISBN 9955-445-40-8.  The table was prepared according to the second edition of the Lithuanian Chronicles, so-called transcription of Archeological Society. Other editions, transcriptions, chronicles, and later historians presented significantly different genealogical trees.

Note: Darker shaded cells represent dukes who share their names with real historical figures. Dukes with the title Grand Duke of Lithuania ruled the unified country: i.e. they ruled Lithuania, Samogitia, and Rus'.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Palemonas". Lietuvių enciklopedija 21. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 400–401. LCC 55020366. 
  2. ^ a b (Lithuanian) Ivinskis, Zenonas (1953–1966). "Metraščiai". Lietuvių enciklopedija 18. Boston, Massachusetts: Lietuvių enciklopedijos leidykla. pp. 307–310. LCC 55020366. 
  3. ^ Jonynas, Ignas (1936). "Borkus". In Vaclovas Biržiška. Lietuviškoji enciklopedija (in Lithuanian) 4. Kaunas: Spaudos Fondas. pp. 251–255. 
  4. ^ Rowell, S. C. (1994). Lithuania Ascending: A Pagan Empire Within East-Central Europe, 1295-1345. Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought: Fourth Series. Cambridge University Press. p. 41. ISBN 978-0-521-45011-9.