While there was mention of Lithuania as some form of state in the 11th century, it wasn’t until the 13th century that the Liths or Lithuanians united under the rule of Mindaugas. Mindaugas became king in 1251
united in the 12th century under the rule of Mindaugas, who became king in 1251. It is said the Kingdom of Lithuania was formally created on 6 July 1253. Ten years later Mindaugas was assassinated and soon after the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a pagan warrior state, was established.
In 1386, Poland and Lithuania united, eventually creating the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that would last until 1795. From almost two centuries, Poland and Lithuania were one of medieval Europe’s Europe’s largest empires, conquering lands from the Black Sea almost to Moscow.
As a consequence of the Partitions of Poland, Lithuania came under Soviet rule in 1795 but there was strong anti-Russian sentiment in the country. In 1918, following the collapse of Russia and the end of WWI, Lithuania declared independence and was re-established as a democratic state under German protection. During WWII, it was briefly occupied by the Nazis while they fought the Soviet Union and in 1940, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet Union.
From 1988 there was a strong push for independence growing in Lithuania and in March 1990, Lithuania restored its sovereignty with the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania.
The Soviet Union, in response, placed economic sanctions on Lithuania and in January 1991, Soviet authorities attempted to overthrow the Lithuanian government. Soviet troops stormed Vilnius and killed 14 civilians, injuring many others. However, this failed to crush the Lithuanian independence movement and during the national referendum the next month over 90% of Lithuanians voted in favour of a democratic and independent Lithuania. Lithuania’s independence was recognised by major European nations, as well as other important countries like the United States. The Soviet Union finally recognised the independence of Lithuania, and other Baltic states, on Sept. 6, 1991.