Lorenzo Lotto was an Italian painter and illustrator, traditionally placed in the Venetian school, though much of his career was spent in other North Italian cities. He painted altarpieces, religious subjects and portraits, he was active during the High Renaissance and the first half of the Mannerist period, but his work maintained a similar High Renaissance style throughout his career, although his nervous and eccentric posings and distortions represented a transitional stage to the Florentine and Roman Mannerists. During his lifetime Lotto was a well respected painter and popular in Northern Italy, he was not as regarded in Venice as in the other towns where he worked, for he had a stylistic individuality an idiosyncratic style and, after his death, he became neglected and almost forgotten. Born in Venice, he worked in Treviso. Little is known of his training; as a Venetian he was influenced by Giovanni Bellini as he had a good knowledge of contemporary Venetian painting. Though Bellini was doubtless not his teacher, the influence is clear in his early painting Virgin and Child with St. Jerome.
However, in his portraits and in his early painting Allegory of Virtue and Vice, he shows the influence of Giorgione's Naturalism. As he grew older his style changed evolving, from a detached Giorgionesque classicism, to a more vibrant dramatic setpiece, more reminiscent of his contemporary from Parma, Correggio. Lotto soon left Venice, because there the competition for a young painter would have been too great, with established names such as Giorgione, Palma the Elder and with Titian. Giorgio Vasari mentions in the third part of his book Vite that Lotto was a friend of Palma the Elder. In Treviso, a prospering town within the domain of the republic of Venice, he came under the patronage of bishop Bernardo de' Rossi; the mentioned painting Allegory of Virtue and Vice was intended as an allegorical cover of his portrait of the bishop, who had survived an assassination attempt. The painting St. Jerome in the Desert shows his youthful inexperience as a draughtsman, however the dramatic rocky landscape is accentuated by the red garment of the saint, while at the same time giving an early impression of his skill as a miniaturist.
He painted his first altarpieces for the parish church San Cristina al Tiverone and the baptistery of the Cathedral of Asolo, both still on display in those churches. In 1508 he began the Recanati Polyptych altarpiece for the church of San Domenico, his portrait Young Man against a White Curtain in the Kunsthistorisches Museum and Adoration of the Child in the National Museum in Kraków with Catherine Cornaro, Queen of Cyprus portraited as Saint Catherine, are paintings from this period. As he became a respected painter, he came to the attention of Bramante, the papal architect, passing through Loreto. Lotto was invited to Rome to decorate the papal apartments, but nothing survives of this work, as it was destroyed a few years later; this was because he had imitated the style of Raphael, a rising star in the Papal court. In 1511 he was at work for the confraternity of the Buon Gesù in Jesi, painting an Entombment, his work in Bergamo, the westernmost town of the Venetian republic, was to prove his best and most productive artistic period, when he received many commissions from wealthy merchants, well educated professionals and local aristocrats.
He had become a rich colourist and an experienced draughtsman, who developed the concept of the psychological portrait that revealed the thoughts and emotions of his subjects. In this he was continuing the tradition begun by Antonello da Messina and a good example would be his Portrait of a Young Man with a Book, he began 1513 with a monumental altarpiece: the "Martinengo Altarpiece" in the Dominican church of the Santi Bartolomeo e Stefano in Bergamo. This altarpiece was commissioned by Count Alessandro Martinengo-Colleoni, grandson of the famous condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni, which would be finished in 1516 and shows us the influence of Bramante and Giorgione, his next assignment was the decoration of the churches of S Bernardino and of Sant'Alessandro in Colonna, with frescoes and distemper paintings. He would finish five more altarpieces between 1521 and 1523. In 1523 he went for a brief stay in the Marches, obtaining there several commissions for altarpieces, which he would paint during his stay in Venice.
His next works are wall paintings: in 1524 he painted a series of frescoes with the lives of saints in the Suardi chapel in Trescore. In the details he depicts sce
Italy the Italian Republic, is a country in Southern Europe. Located in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, Italy shares open land borders with France, Austria and the enclaved microstates San Marino and Vatican City. Italy covers an area of 301,340 km2 and has a temperate seasonal and Mediterranean climate. With around 61 million inhabitants, it is the fourth-most populous EU member state and the most populous country in Southern Europe. Due to its central geographic location in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, Italy has been home to a myriad of peoples and cultures. In addition to the various ancient peoples dispersed throughout modern-day Italy, the most famous of which being the Indo-European Italics who gave the peninsula its name, beginning from the classical era and Carthaginians founded colonies in insular Italy and Genoa, Greeks established settlements in the so-called Magna Graecia, while Etruscans and Celts inhabited central and northern Italy respectively; the Italic tribe known as the Latins formed the Roman Kingdom in the 8th century BC, which became a republic with a government of the Senate and the People.
The Roman Republic conquered and assimilated its neighbours on the peninsula, in some cases through the establishment of federations, the Republic expanded and conquered parts of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. By the first century BC, the Roman Empire emerged as the dominant power in the Mediterranean Basin and became the leading cultural and religious centre of Western civilisation, inaugurating the Pax Romana, a period of more than 200 years during which Italy's technology, economy and literature flourished. Italy remained the metropole of the Roman Empire; the legacy of the Roman Empire endured its fall and can be observed in the global distribution of culture, governments and the Latin script. During the Early Middle Ages, Italy endured sociopolitical collapse and barbarian invasions, but by the 11th century, numerous rival city-states and maritime republics in the northern and central regions of Italy, rose to great prosperity through shipping and banking, laying the groundwork for modern capitalism.
These independent statelets served as Europe's main trading hubs with Asia and the Near East enjoying a greater degree of democracy than the larger feudal monarchies that were consolidating throughout Europe. The Renaissance began in Italy and spread to the rest of Europe, bringing a renewed interest in humanism, science and art. Italian culture flourished, producing famous scholars and polymaths such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Machiavelli. During the Middle Ages, Italian explorers such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, John Cabot and Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered new routes to the Far East and the New World, helping to usher in the European Age of Discovery. Italy's commercial and political power waned with the opening of trade routes that bypassed the Mediterranean. Centuries of infighting between the Italian city-states, such as the Italian Wars of the 15th and 16th centuries, left the region fragmented, it was subsequently conquered and further divided by European powers such as France and Austria.
By the mid-19th century, rising Italian nationalism and calls for independence from foreign control led to a period of revolutionary political upheaval. After centuries of foreign domination and political division, Italy was entirely unified in 1871, establishing the Kingdom of Italy as a great power. From the late 19th century to the early 20th century, Italy industrialised, namely in the north, acquired a colonial empire, while the south remained impoverished and excluded from industrialisation, fuelling a large and influential diaspora. Despite being one of the main victors in World War I, Italy entered a period of economic crisis and social turmoil, leading to the rise of a fascist dictatorship in 1922. Participation in World War II on the Axis side ended in military defeat, economic destruction and the Italian Civil War. Following the liberation of Italy and the rise of the resistance, the country abolished the monarchy, reinstated democracy, enjoyed a prolonged economic boom and, despite periods of sociopolitical turmoil became a developed country.
Today, Italy is considered to be one of the world's most culturally and economically advanced countries, with the sixth-largest worldwide national wealth. Its advanced economy ranks eighth-largest in the world and third in the Eurozone by nominal GDP. Italy owns the third-largest central bank gold reserve, it has a high level of human development, it stands among the top countries for life expectancy. The country plays a prominent role in regional and global economic, military and diplomatic affairs. Italy is a founding and leading member of the European Union and a member of numerous international institutions, including the UN, NATO, the OECD, the OSCE, the WTO, the G7, the G20, the Union for the Mediterranean, the Council of Europe, Uniting for Consensus, the Schengen Area and many more; as a reflection
Mannerism known as Late Renaissance, is a style in European art that emerged in the years of the Italian High Renaissance around 1520, spreading by about 1530 and lasting until about the end of the 16th century in Italy, when the Baroque style replaced it. Northern Mannerism continued into the early 17th century. Stylistically, Mannerism encompasses a variety of approaches influenced by, reacting to, the harmonious ideals associated with artists such as Leonardo da Vinci and early Michelangelo. Where High Renaissance art emphasizes proportion and ideal beauty, Mannerism exaggerates such qualities resulting in compositions that are asymmetrical or unnaturally elegant; the style is notable for its intellectual sophistication as well as its artificial qualities. It favors compositional tension and instability rather than the balance and clarity of earlier Renaissance painting. Mannerism in literature and music is notable for its florid style and intellectual sophistication; the definition of Mannerism and the phases within it continue to be a subject of debate among art historians.
For example, some scholars have applied the label to certain early modern forms of literature and music of the 16th and 17th centuries. The term is used to refer to some late Gothic painters working in northern Europe from about 1500 to 1530 the Antwerp Mannerists—a group unrelated to the Italian movement. Mannerism has been applied by analogy to the Silver Age of Latin literature; the word mannerism derives from the Italian maniera, meaning "style" or "manner". Like the English word "style", maniera can either indicate a specific type of style or indicate an absolute that needs no qualification. In the second edition of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters and Architects, Giorgio Vasari used maniera in three different contexts: to discuss an artist's manner or method of working. Vasari was a Mannerist artist, he described the period in which he worked as "la maniera moderna", or the "modern style". James V. Mirollo describes how "bella maniera" poets attempted to surpass in virtuosity the sonnets of Petrarch.
This notion of "bella maniera" suggests that artists who were thus inspired looked to copying and bettering their predecessors, rather than confronting nature directly. In essence, "bella maniera" utilized the best from a number of source materials, synthesizing it into something new; as a stylistic label, "Mannerism" is not defined. It was used by Swiss historian Jacob Burckhardt and popularized by German art historians in the early 20th century to categorize the uncategorizable art of the Italian 16th century — art, no longer found to exhibit the harmonious and rational approaches associated with the High Renaissance. “High Renaissance” connoted a period distinguished by harmony and the revival of classical antiquity. The term Mannerist was redefined in 1967 by John Shearman following the exhibition of Mannerist paintings organised by Fritz Grossmann at Manchester City Art Gallery in 1965; the label “Mannerism” was used during the 16th century to comment on social behaviour and to convey a refined virtuoso quality or to signify a certain technique.
However, for writers, such as the 17th-century Gian Pietro Bellori, "la maniera" was a derogatory term for the perceived decline of art after Raphael in the 1530s and 1540s. From the late 19th century on, art historians have used the term to describe art that follows Renaissance classicism and precedes the Baroque, yet historians differ as to whether Mannerism is a movement, or a period. By the end of the High Renaissance, young artists experienced a crisis: it seemed that everything that could be achieved was achieved. No more difficulties, technical or otherwise, remained to be solved; the detailed knowledge of anatomy, light and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, the innovative use of the human form in figurative composition, the use of the subtle gradation of tone, all had reached near perfection. The young artists needed to find a new goal, they sought new approaches. At this point Mannerism started to emerge; the new style developed between 1510 and 1520 either in Florence, or in Rome, or in both cities simultaneously.
This period has been described as a "natural extension" of the art of Andrea del Sarto and Raphael. Michelangelo developed his own style at an early age, a original one, admired at first often copied and imitated by other artists of the era. One of the qualities most admired by his contemporaries was his terribilità, a sense of awe-inspiring grandeur, subsequent artists attempted to imitate it. Other artists learned Michelangelo's impassioned and personal style by copying the works of the master, a standard way that students learned to paint and sculpt, his Sistine Chapel ceiling provided examples for them to follow, in particular his representation of collected figures called ignudi and of the Libyan Sibyl, his vestibule to the Laurentian Library, the figures on his Medici tombs, above all his Last Judgment. The Michelangelo was one of the great role models of Mannerism. Young artists stole drawings from him. In his book Lives of the Most Eminent Painters and Architects
Boston University is a private research university in Boston, Massachusetts. The university is nonsectarian, but has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church; the university has more than 3,900 faculty members and nearly 33,000 students, is one of Boston's largest employers. It offers bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, doctorates, medical, dental and law degrees through 17 schools and colleges on two urban campuses; the main campus is situated along the Charles River in Boston's Fenway-Kenmore and Allston neighborhoods, while the Boston University Medical Campus is in Boston's South End neighborhood. BU is categorized as an R1: Doctoral University in the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. BU is a member of the Boston Consortium for Higher Education and the Association of American Universities; the university was ranked 42nd among undergraduate programs at national universities, 46th among global universities by U. S. News & World Report in its 2018 rankings.
Among its alumni and current or past faculty, the university counts eight Nobel Laureates, 23 Pulitzer Prize winners, 10 Rhodes Scholars, six Marshall Scholars, 48 Sloan Fellows, nine Academy Award winners, several Emmy and Tony Award winners. BU has MacArthur, Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowship holders as well as American Academy of Arts and Sciences and National Academy of Sciences members among its past and present graduates and faculty. In 1876, BU professor Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone in a BU lab; the Boston University Terriers compete in the NCAA Division I. BU athletic teams compete in the Patriot League, Hockey East conferences, their mascot is Rhett the Boston Terrier. Boston University is well known for men's hockey, in which it has won five national championships, most in 2009. Boston University traces its roots to the establishment of the Newbury Biblical Institute in Newbury, Vermont in 1839, was chartered with the name "Boston University" by the Massachusetts Legislature in 1869.
The University organized formal Centennial observances both in 1939 and 1969. On April 24–25, 1839 a group of Methodist ministers and laymen at the Old Bromfield Street Church in Boston elected to establish a Methodist theological school. Set up in Newbury, the school was named the "Newbury Biblical Institute". In 1847, the Congregational Society in Concord, New Hampshire, invited the Institute to relocate to Concord and offered a disused Congregational church building with a capacity of 1200 people. Other citizens of Concord covered the remodeling costs. One stipulation of the invitation was; the charter issued by New Hampshire designated the school the "Methodist General Biblical Institute", but it was called the "Concord Biblical Institute." With the agreed twenty years coming to a close, the trustees of the Concord Biblical Institute purchased 30 acres on Aspinwall Hill in Brookline, Massachusetts, as a possible relocation site. The institute moved in 1867 to 23 Pinkney Street in Boston, received a Massachusetts Charter as the "Boston Theological Seminary".
In 1869, three trustees of the Boston Theological Institute obtained from the Massachusetts Legislature a charter for a university by name of "Boston University". These trustees were successful Boston businessmen and Methodist laymen, with a history of involvement in educational enterprises and became the founders of Boston University, they were Isaac Rich, Lee Claflin, Jacob Sleeper, for whom Boston University's three West Campus dormitories are named. Lee Claflin's son, was Governor of Massachusetts and signed the University Charter on May 26, 1869 after it was passed by the Legislature; as reported by Kathleen Kilgore in her book, Transformations, A History of Boston University, the founders directed the inclusion in the Charter of the following provision, unusual for its time: No instructor in said University shall be required by the Trustees to profess any particular religious opinions as a test of office, no student shall be refused admission... on account of the religious opinions he may entertain.
Every department of the new university was open to all on an equal footing regardless of sex, race, or religion. The Boston Theological Institute was absorbed into Boston University in 1871 as the BU School of Theology. In January 1872 Isaac Rich died, leaving the vast bulk of his estate to a trust that would go to Boston University after ten years of growth while the University was organized. Most of this bequest consisted of real estate throughout the core of the city of Boston, appraised at more than $1.5 million. Kilgore describes this as the largest single donation to an American college or university to that time. By December, the Great Boston Fire of 1872 had destroyed all but one of the buildings Rich had left to the University, the insurance companies with which they had been insured were bankrupt; the value of his estate, when turned over to the University in 1882, was half what it had been in 1872. As a result, the University was unable to build its contemplated campus on Aspinwall Hill, the land was sold piecemeal as development sites.
Street names in the area, including Claflin Road, Claflin Path, University Road, are the only remaining evidence of University ownership in this area. Following the fire, Boston University established its new facilities in buildings scattered throughout Beacon Hill and expanded into the Boyls
Sanskrit is a language of ancient India with a history going back about 3,500 years. It is the primary liturgical language of Hinduism and the predominant language of most works of Hindu philosophy as well as some of the principal texts of Buddhism and Jainism. Sanskrit, in its variants and numerous dialects, was the lingua franca of ancient and medieval India. In the early 1st millennium CE, along with Buddhism and Hinduism, Sanskrit migrated to Southeast Asia, parts of East Asia and Central Asia, emerging as a language of high culture and of local ruling elites in these regions. Sanskrit is an Old Indo-Aryan language; as one of the oldest documented members of the Indo-European family of languages, Sanskrit holds a prominent position in Indo-European studies. It is related to Greek and Latin, as well as Hittite, Old Avestan and many other extinct languages with historical significance to Europe, West Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, it traces its linguistic ancestry to the Proto-Indo-Aryan language, Proto-Indo-Iranian and the Proto-Indo-European languages.
Sanskrit is traceable to the 2nd millennium BCE in a form known as the Vedic Sanskrit, with the Rigveda as the earliest known composition. A more refined and standardized grammatical form called the Classical Sanskrit emerged in mid-1st millennium BCE with the Aṣṭādhyāyī treatise of Pāṇini. Sanskrit, though not Classical Sanskrit, is the root language of many Prakrit languages. Examples include numerous modern daughter Northern Indian subcontinental languages such as Hindi, Bengali and Nepali; the body of Sanskrit literature encompasses a rich tradition of philosophical and religious texts, as well as poetry, drama, scientific and other texts. In the ancient era, Sanskrit compositions were orally transmitted by methods of memorisation of exceptional complexity and fidelity; the earliest known inscriptions in Sanskrit are from the 1st-century BCE, such as the few discovered in Ayodhya and Ghosundi-Hathibada. Sanskrit texts dated to the 1st millennium CE were written in the Brahmi script, the Nāgarī script, the historic South Indian scripts and their derivative scripts.
Sanskrit is one of the 22 languages listed in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. It continues to be used as a ceremonial and ritual language in Hinduism and some Buddhist practices such as hymns and chants; the Sanskrit verbal adjective sáṃskṛta- is a compound word consisting of sam and krta-. It connotes a work, "well prepared and perfect, sacred". According to Biderman, the perfection contextually being referred to in the etymological origins of the word is its tonal qualities, rather than semantic. Sound and oral transmission were valued quality in ancient India, its sages refined the alphabet, the structure of words and its exacting grammar into a "collection of sounds, a kind of sublime musical mold", states Biderman, as an integral language they called Sanskrit. From late Vedic period onwards, state Annette Wilke and Oliver Moebus, resonating sound and its musical foundations attracted an "exceptionally large amount of linguistic and religious literature" in India; the sound was visualized as "pervading all creation", another representation of the world itself, the "mysterious magnum" of the Hindu thought.
The search for perfection in thought and of salvation was one of the dimensions of sacred sound, the common thread to weave all ideas and inspirations became the quest for what the ancient Indians believed to be a perfect language, the "phonocentric episteme" of Sanskrit. Sanskrit as a language competed with numerous less exact vernacular Indian languages called Prakritic languages; the term prakrta means "original, normal, artless", states Franklin Southworth. The relationship between Prakrit and Sanskrit is found in the Indian texts dated to the 1st millennium CE. Patanjali acknowledged that Prakrit is the first language, one instinctively adopted by every child with all its imperfections and leads to the problems of interpretation and misunderstanding; the purifying structure of the Sanskrit language removes these imperfections. The early Sanskrit grammarian Dandin states, for example, that much in the Prakrit languages is etymologically rooted in Sanskrit but involve "loss of sounds" and corruptions that result from a "disregard of the grammar".
Dandin acknowledged that there are words and confusing structures in Prakrit that thrive independent of Sanskrit. This view is found in the writing of the author of the ancient Natyasastra text; the early Jain scholar Namisadhu acknowledged the difference, but disagreed that the Prakrit language was a corruption of Sanskrit. Namisadhu stated that the Prakrit language was the purvam and they came to women and children, that Sanskrit was a refinement of the Prakrit through a "purification by grammar". Sanskrit belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, it is one of the three ancient documented languages that arose from a common root language now referred to as the Proto-Indo-European language: Vedic Sanskrit. Mycenaean Greek and Ancient Greek. Mycenaean Greek is the older recorded form of Greek, but the limited material that has survived has a ambiguous writing system. More important to Indo-European studies is Ancient Greek, documented extensively beginning with the two Homeric poems. Hittite.
This is the earliest-recorded of all Indo-European languages, distinguishable into Old Hittite, Middle Hittite and Neo-Hittite. I
In art history, "Old Master" refers to any painter of skill who worked in Europe before about 1800, or a painting by such an artist. An "old master print" is an original print made by an artist in the same period; the term "old master drawing" is used in the same way. In theory, "Old Master" applies only to artists who were trained, were Masters of their local artists' guild, worked independently, but in practice, paintings produced by pupils or workshops are included in the scope of the term. Therefore, beyond a certain level of competence, date rather than quality is the criterion for using the term. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the term was understood as having a starting date of 1450 or 1470; the Oxford English Dictionary defines the term as "A pre-eminent artist of the period before the modern. A pre-eminent western European painter of the 13th to 18th centuries." The first quotation given is from 1696, in the diary of John Evelyn: "My L: Pembroke..shewed me divers rare Pictures of many of the old & best Masters that of M: Angelo..& a large booke of the best drawings of the old Masters."
The term is used to refer to a painting or sculpture made by an Old Master, a usage datable to 1824. There are comparable terms in Dutch and German. Les Maitres d'autrefois of 1876 by Eugene Fromentin may have helped to popularize the concept, although "vieux maitres" is used in French; the famous collection in Dresden at the Gemäldegalerie Alte Meister is one of the few museums to include the term in its actual name, although many more use it in the title of departments or sections. The collection in the Dresden museum stops at the Baroque period; the end date is vague – for example, Goya is an Old Master, though he was still painting and printmaking at his death in 1828. The term might be used for John Constable or Eugène Delacroix, but is not; the term tends to be avoided by art historians as too vague when discussing paintings, although the terms "Old Master Prints" and "Old Master drawings" are still used. It remains current in the art trade. Auction houses still divide their sales between, for example, "Old Master Paintings", "Nineteenth-century paintings" and "Modern paintings".
Christie's defines the term as ranging "from the 14th to the early 19th century". Artists, most from early periods, whose hand has been identified by art historians, but to whom no identity can be confidently attached, are given names by art historians such as Master E. S. Master of Flémalle, Master of Mary of Burgundy, Master of Latin 757, Master of the Brunswick Diptych or Master of Schloss Lichtenstein. Cimabue, frescoes in the Basilica of San Francesco d'Assisi Giotto di Bondone, first Renaissance fresco painter Duccio, Sienese painter Simone Martini, Gothic painter of the Sienese School Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Gothic painter Pietro Lorenzetti, Sienese school Gentile da Fabriano, International gothic painter Lorenzo Monaco, International gothic style Masolino, Goldsmith trained painter Pisanello, International gothic painter and medallist Sassetta, Sienese International Gothic painter Paolo Uccello, schematic use of foreshortening Fra Angelico, noted for San Marco convent frescoes Masaccio, first to use linear perspective thereby giving sense of three-dimensionality plus developed new realism Fra Filippo Lippi, father of Filippino Andrea del Castagno Piero della Francesca, painter who pioneered linear perspective Benozzo Gozzoli Alesso Baldovinetti Vincenzo Foppa Antonello da Messina, painter who pioneered oil painting Cosimo Tura Andrea Mantegna, master of perspective and detail Antonio Pollaiuolo Francesco Cossa Melozzo da Forli Luca Signorelli Perugino, Raphael was his pupil Verrocchio Sandro Botticelli, great Florentine master Domenico Ghirlandaio, prolific Florentine fresco painter Pinturicchio Filippino Lippi, son of Filippo Cima da Conegliano Piero di Cosimo Francesco Francia Leonardo da Vinci, acclaimed oil painter and draughtsman Lorenzo Costa Fra Bartolommeo Michelangelo, acclaimed sculptor and architect Bernardino Luini Raphael, acclaimed painter Il Garofalo Ridolfo Ghirlandaio Andrea del Sarto Correggio, painter from Parma noted for illusionistic frescoes and altarpiece oils Giulio Romano Domenico Veneziano, Early Renaissance Jacopo Bellini (
Lithuania the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in the Baltic region of Europe. Lithuania is considered to be one of the Baltic states, it is situated to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, Kaliningrad Oblast to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.8 million people as of 2019, its capital and largest city is Vilnius. Other major cities are Klaipėda. Lithuanians are Baltic people; the official language, along with Latvian, is one of only two living languages in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family. For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state personal union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth.
The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighbouring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empire annexing most of Lithuania's territory. As World War I neared its end, Lithuania's Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the founding of the modern Republic of Lithuania. In the midst of the Second World War, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and by Nazi Germany; as World War II neared its end and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania. On 11 March 1990, a year before the formal dissolution of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Baltic state to declare itself independent, resulting in the restoration of an independent State of Lithuania. Lithuania is a developed country, it is a member of the European Union, the Council of Europe, Schengen Agreement, NATO and OECD. It is a member of the Nordic Investment Bank, part of Nordic-Baltic cooperation of Northern European countries; the United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a "very high human development" country.
The first known record of the name of Lithuania is in a 9 March 1009 story of Saint Bruno in the Quedlinburg Chronicle. The Chronicle recorded a Latinized form of the name Lietuva: Litua. Due to the lack of reliable evidence, the true meaning of the name is unknown. Nowadays, scholars still debate the meaning of the word and there are a few plausible versions. Since Lietuva has a suffix, the original word should have no suffix. A candidate is Lietā; because many Baltic ethnonyms originated from hydronyms, linguists have searched for its origin among local hydronyms. Such names evolved through the following process: hydronym → toponym → ethnonym. Lietava, a small river not far from Kernavė, the core area of the early Lithuanian state and a possible first capital of the eventual Grand Duchy of Lithuania, is credited as the source of the name. However, the river is small and some find it improbable that such a small and local object could have lent its name to an entire nation. On the other hand, such a naming is not unprecedented in world history.
Artūras Dubonis proposed another hypothesis. From the middle of the 13th century, leičiai were a distinct warrior social group of the Lithuanian society subordinate to the Lithuanian ruler or the state itself; the word leičiai is used in the 14–16th-century historical sources as an ethnonym for Lithuanians and is still used poetically or in historical contexts, in the Latvian language, related to Lithuanian. The first people settled in the territory of Lithuania after the last glacial period in the 10th millennium BC: Kunda and Narva cultures, they did not form stable settlements. In the 8th millennium BC, the climate became much warmer, forests developed; the inhabitants of what is now Lithuania traveled less and engaged in local hunting and fresh-water fishing. Agriculture did not emerge until the 3rd millennium BC due to a harsh climate and terrain and a lack of suitable tools to cultivate the land. Crafts and trade started to form at this time. Over a millennium, the Indo-Europeans, who arrived in the 3rd – 2nd millennium BC, mixed with the local population and formed various Baltic tribes.
The Baltic tribes did not maintain close cultural or political contacts with the Roman Empire, but they did maintain trade contacts. Tacitus, in his study Germania, described the Aesti people, inhabitants of the south-eastern Baltic Sea shores who were Balts, around the year 97 AD; the Western Balts became known to outside chroniclers first. Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD knew of the Galindians and Yotvingians, early medieval chroniclers mentioned Old Prussians and Semigallians; the Lithuanian language is considered to be conservative for its close connection to Indo-European roots. It is believed to have differentiated from the Latvian language, the most related existing language, around the 7th century. Traditional Lithuanian pagan customs and mythology, with many archaic elements, were long preserved. Rulers' bodies were cremated up until the conversion to Christianity: the descriptions of the cremation ceremonies of the grand d