Balts

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Balts

(bôlts), peoples of the east coast of the Baltic Sea. They include the Latvians, the Lithuanians, and the now extinct Old Prussians. Their original home was farther east, but from the 6th cent. they were pushed westward by the SlavsSlavs
, the largest ethnic and linguistic group of peoples in Europe belonging to the Indo-European linguistic family. It is estimated that the Slavs number over 300 million in the world. They are usually classified in three main divisions.
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. In the 13th cent. the Teutonic KnightsTeutonic Knights
or Teutonic Order
, German military religious order founded (1190–91) during the siege of Acre in the Third Crusade. It was originally known as the Order of the Knights of the Hospital of St. Mary of the Teutons in Jerusalem.
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 and the Livonian Brothers of the SwordLivonian Brothers of the Sword
or Livonian Knights
, German military and religious order, founded in 1202 by Bishop Albert of Livonia for the purpose of conquest and Christianization in the Baltic lands.
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 conquered the region later comprising Estonia and Latvia and forced Christianity on the inhabitants. Pressed by the Teutonic Order, the Lithuanians formed (13th cent.) a unified state of LithuaniaLithuania
, Lithuanian Lietuva, officially Republic of Lithuania, republic (2005 est. pop. 3,597,000), 25,174 sq mi (65,201 sq km), N central Europe. Lithuania borders on the Baltic Sea in the west, Latvia in the north, Belarus in the east and southeast, Poland in the
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, which successfully resisted annexation and became one of the largest states of medieval Europe. In 1387, under Grand Duke Jagiello (King Ladislaus II of Poland), Lithuania officially adopted Christianity. The Teutonic Order lost (15th cent.) all but East Prussia, but descendants of the German knights and settlers continued to control land and commerce in Latvia and Estonia until the 20th cent. After the union (1569) of Lithuania with Poland, the Lithuanian nobility became thoroughly Polish in language and politics. The Estonians, a Finnic rather than a Baltic people, came under Swedish rule in 1561 and in 1721 passed to Russia, which by 1795 acquired all the Baltic lands. The incorporation of the Baltic nations of Lithuania, LatviaLatvia
, Latvian Latvija, officially Republic of Latvia, republic (2011 provisional pop. 2,067,887), 24,590 sq mi (63,688 sq km), north central Europe. It borders on Estonia in the north, Lithuania in the south, the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Riga in the west, Russia in
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, and EstoniaEstonia
, Estonian Eesti, officially Republic of Estonia, republic (2005 est. pop. 1,333,000), 17,505 sq mi (45,339 sq km). It borders on the Baltic Sea in the west; the gulfs of Riga and Finland (both arms of the Baltic) in the southwest and north, respectively; Latvia
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 into the Soviet Union (1940) became a source of political disputes. All three countries gained independence in 1991. For earliest history to the 13th cent. see Marija Gimbutas, The Balts (1963).
References in periodicals archive ?
This sad scenario of security issues justifying any level of even gratuitous violence repeated itself during the Great Patriotic War, when hundreds of thousands of Baltic peoples, Poles again, Chechen, Ingush, and Crimean Tatars were forcibly uprooted and either executed or deported to Siberia, Central Asia, or the Far North.
But it was only with the collapse of the German and Russian Empires at the end of the First World War that all three Baltic peoples established independent nation-states.
Together, they celebrate the longest and brightest day in the northern hemisphere, in its unique beauty of the long, bright midnight, appreciated by Nordic and Baltic peoples throughout centuries and still.
As with the tens of millions other peoples of the captive nations who fell behind the Iron Curtain, the Baltic peoples were subjected to a "Russification" program, aimed at wiping out their national and spiritual identity.
In these decades of struggle and purpose, the Baltic peoples kept a long vigil of suffering and hope.
Veljo Tormis of Estonia - Kyr describes him as "a national hero for his work; he has endeavored to preserve the ancient song traditions of the Estonians and many of the Baltic peoples through his compositions.
It was the highlight of Baltic cooperation--never before or since have the Baltic peoples been able to act in such a well-coordinated way.
The non-violent protest gave the world an image of the Baltic peoples in the same light as India's peaceful independence movement led by Mahatma Gandhi.