The Lithuanian state, founded around 1200 A.D. in response to the attacks upon the pagan Baltic-speaking tribes of the German Crusading Orders, grew as a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-religious empire occupying the largest and area of any European state during the Middle Ages. The Grand Duchy of Lithuania occupied the geographic center of Europe. Committed to political policies of pluralism and religious tolerance, the Lithuanian princes welcomed the settlement of, and afforded protection to, religious minorities including Jews, Karaites, and Orthodox Old Believers. Large groups of Tartars swore allegiance to Lithuania, and were granted land and status as nobility in exchange. Many other Tartars were brought home as prisoners of war, and settled in Lithuania as serfs. Over the centuries, Lithuania attracted settlement by Germans, Armenians, Swedes, and Scots in significant numbers.