Figure 3. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania at Its Greatest Extent,
Early Fifteenth Century
Source: Based on information from Paul Robert Magocsi, Ukraine:
A Historical Atlas, Toronto, 1985, 9, 24.
Belarus's origins can be traced from the emergence in
late ninth century A.D. of Kievan Rus', the first East
state. After the death of its ruler, Prince Yaroslav the
1054, Kievan Rus' split into a number of principalities,
centered on a city. One, Polatsk (Polotsk, in Russian),
the nucleus of modern-day Belarus.
In 1240, after the Tatar overthrow of Kiev, the
principality of Kievan Rus', Belorussia and part of
under the control of Lithuania. The resulting state was
the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Rus', and Samogitia
Because territories inhabited by East Slavs made up about
percent of the Grand Duchy, they exerted a great cultural
influence on the new state. Official business was
conducted in a
Slavic language (a predecessor of both Belorussian and
Old Church Slavonic (see Glossary), and the law
based on that of Kievan Rus'.
Data as of June 1995