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Mindaugas was the first and only crowned king of Lithuania, the founder of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania that included the big part of the present-day territory of Belarus. It was the first Lithuanian prince, who became a Christian and got the crown from the Pope. He was a man who later denied the new faith. Mindaugas also became the first Lithuanian prince, who made an agreement with Russia to fight against the Livonian Order.
The name Mindaugas means «thinking a lot». The first mention of the Grand Duke was found in the Ipatievskaya Chronicle and refers to 1219. At that time Novogrudok was a capital of a small slavic principality. Its territory bordered with the lands of the baltic tribe Lithuania where there were the civil wars among local princes. Many of them, deprived of their lands, with a few warriors went to the nearest slavic principalities, offering their swords to Polotsk, Pskov and Novogrudok. According to one legend once upon a time a few tired riders appeared at the gates of Novogrudok castle. The armed soldiers, dressed in animal skins, hardly were riding their horses. They were balts, banished from the Lithuanian lands. Some historians believe that one of these soldiers was Mindaugas.
At that time the popular assembly of Novogrudok were trying to choose a new prince. Mindaugas was a good candidate - a neutral person and military companion of the Novogrudok Prince Vladimir who died earlier. According to some resources the main condition for Mindaugas to become the Grand Duke was his acceptance of Christianity. According to the Gustynskaya chronicle, after becoming the Duke of Novogrudok, Mindaugas accepted Orthodoxy. But there are other information supposing that Mindaugas had remained a pagan until 1252, when the war with Galitsino-Volynskoe principality forced him to make an agreement with Livonia. Than Mindaugas became a Catholic Christian. He underwent baptism in 1252 in the city of Kernovo - an ancient residence of Lithuanian dukes, and his coronation was held in Novogrudok. According to these facts Novogrudok is considered to be a capital and a basis for creation of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania (GDL).
Today in Novogrudok you can see the reminders of the past. One of them is «Mindaugas Hill» - an ancient hill, where according to a legend in the XIII century Mindaugas was buried - the founder of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. As it says, after the death of the Grand Duke, his companions took the body of the ruler to Novogrudok and during one night built a mound over him using pure sand of Neman.
In the XVII-XVIII centuries on the «Mindaugas Hill» was a local city cemetery. There had being buried Orthodox and Catholic belivers until the beginning of the XX century. Today the oldest gravestone on the hill dates back to 1820. Nearby there is the Dominican cemetery with the graves of Adam Mickiewicz”s parents and his younger brother Anton.
In 1993, at 740-anniversary of the coronation of Mindaugas a memorial sign was placed on the «Mindaugas Hill» in Novogrudok. reveal all text