Pagėgiai municipality is situated in Pajūris Lowland in the west of Lithuania. The territory once was one of the most important parts of the historical Scalovia region. As Christianity was growing stronger and stronger in Europe, the lands belonged to the German Order from the 13 th century, and later on they belonged to the Duchy of Prussia.
In 1701, Friedrich II, an elector of the Holy Roman Empire, established the Kingdom of Prussia instead of the Duchy of Prussia. The capital of the kingdom was Königsberg from 1701, Berlin – from 1772, and Klaipėda – from 1806 to 1807. The terms Duchy of Prussia and Kingdom of Prussia name historical states that no longer exist, but that had a great impact of the history of Germany and the entire Europe over several decades.
The Kingdom of Prussia occupied a large territory, so it was repeatedly divided into 10 areas in 1752. The largest region was Įsrutis (Eastern Prussia) that consisted of Įsrutis, Ragainė, Tilžė and Klaipėda region. Pagėgiai belonged to Klaipėda region, Sovetsk – to Tilsit. Given the dominant nationality, some regions were called Lithuanian, other – Polish, still others – German.
On 24 December 1793, Luise Auguste Wilhelmine Amalie, a duchess from Mecklenburg, married Frederick Wilhelm III, the heir of the throne of Prussia, at the age of 17 and became a Queen of Prussia. Willing to learn about her country, Luise visited the most remote places of the province, where happily welcomed by ordinary people.
The queen visited Klaipėda (Memel) for the first time on 10 June 1802. The next visit of the royal family to Klaipėda region was a forced one. Friedrich Wilhelm III declared a war against the French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte on 9 October 1806. However, after the battle of Jena, Friedrich Wilhelm III with his family, royal palace, government and part of Prussian army had to flee to the East Prussia. Friedrich Wilhelm III, his wife Luise and children lived in Klaipėda from January 1807 to January 1808. After that they moved to Königsberg.
Peace negotiations were started in Tilsit on 25 June 1807, and the French emperor Napoleon dictated the conditions. Piktupėnai (Pagėgiai municipality) became a residence of Friedrich Wilhelm III, King of Prussia, his wife Luise and their large family for four weeks, i.e. during the negotiations. Alexander I, Tsar of Russia that was an ally of Prussia, had a short visit at Piktupėnai. It is known that they were staying with escort at Piktupėnai School (precentorate) and at the priest’s house (the building has not survived).
The French emperor Napoleon and Russian Tsar Alexander I signed Treaty of Tilsit on a specially constructed raft in the middle of the Nemunas, by Tilsit and Panemunė, on 7 July 1807.
Although the Treaty of Tilsit was especially unfavourable to Prussia, a visit of the Prussian Queen Luise in Pagėgiai region left a significant trace in the memory of the local people. They say that after the mission at Napoleon’s place failed and the treaty that was unfavourable to Prussia was approved, Luise was crying bitterly under the linden trees in the garden (Piktupėnai) for a long time. Later on, in memory of the royal couple, two linden trees were planted in the former garden of the school. Eventually, they were named the Linden Treest of the Queen Luise, and marked with a little memorial plate. Linden trees were almost considered to be a visit card of Piktupėnai during the pre-war period and they were depicted on the post cards dedicated to the town. The bridge that was built over the Nemunas River in 1907, was named after the Queen Luise. The bridge connects Lithuania and Kaliningrad (Karaliaučius) Oblast of the Russian Federation at the moment.
The unification of Germany took place in the middle of the 19th century. After the unification, the Kingdom of Prussia became an autonomous part of the German Imperial Reich. In 1918, after the monarchy collapsed in Germany, East Prussia remained an autonomous part of Germany. In 1920, the most northernmost territories (the so-called Klaipėda region) were separated from the region and were given back to Lithuania. By the decision of the countries that won World War II, the region was taken away from Germany (as the so-called centre of German militarism) and divided to two countries that won the war on 25 February 1947. The northern part of the region was given to Russia, where Kaliningrad Oblast was formed, and the southern part of the region was given to Poland. The northern part is under the governance of Russia (Kaliningrad Oblast), and Lithuania (Klaipėda region), and the southern part belongs to Poland.