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A guide to medieval manuscript books in Polish collections

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Polonica: Manuscript books of Polish provenance in collections outside Poland

The observation that, ever since the beginnings of literacy in Poland manuscript books travelled in and out of the country, is perhaps trivial. The Codex of Matilda of Swabia (Liber de divinis officiis; c. 1125, Sankt Gallen), today in possession of the Universitäts- und Landesbibliothek in Düsseldorf, or the manuscript books copied at the University of Cracow during the 15th c., which accompanied their owners, students and professors, in their international journeys (numerous instances e.g. in Universitätsbibliothek Erfurt or Národní knihovna in Prague) are a case in point in this respect. Similarly, in the following centuries, Poles interested in particular books took them out of the country on their foreign travels and foreigners visiting Poland acquired books during their visits and brought them out upon leaving. Apart from that, starting with the Swedish-Polish conflicts of the 17th century, individual volumes and whole book collections would become war booty. Looting Polish libraries became particularly devastating with the Russian repressions following the national uprisings in the 18th and 19th centuries, and the desolation brought about by the Germans during World War II. Moreover, secularisation of monasteries in the 19th century resulted in dispersion of collections, items of which can now be found in various libraries all around Europe. And finally, the changes of Polish boundaries after World War II decided that numerous Polish collections found themselves outside of Poland, while other, of non-Polish origins, became possessions of contemporary Polish libraries.

Attempts at gathering information about medieval Polonica in foreign libraries are not new, but, all previous projects were limited to registering manuscript books pertinent to a given library or a vicinity (cf. below). Within the Manuscripta.pl project we aim for the first time to collect information systematically, and restrict not the scope of our research to a particular locality; to build up over a longer period of time a regular database and present our findings on the Internet.

Hence, we need to start with defining a "Polonicum" chronologically and geographically. For the purpose of this project we will consider of interest books, which at a certain moment in history were present within the Polish cultural sphere and now are in possession of foreign owners. On the contrary to frequent practice, we assume as the chronological boundary the year 1550. We confine our sphere of interest to the so-called library volumes (i.e. excluding administrative and judicial materials). As the historically Polish cultural sphere are to be understood territories of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and its dependencies until 1525, as well as territories encompassed by new Polish boundaries after 1945. Thus, we have in mind the territories which belong to contemporary states of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia (partly), Belarus, and considerable parts of Ukraine and Russia (the enclave of Kaliningrad and the Smolensk regions).

Sławomir Szyller

Selected bibliography

ABRAHAM, Władysław, Sprawozdanie z poszukiwań w archiwach i bibliotekach rzymskich w latach 1896/7 i 1897/8. O materyałach do dziejów polskich w wiekach średnich, w dodatku sprawozdanie z poszukiwań za listopad i początek grudnia r. 1898. Kraków, 1899.

BARAN, Władysław [et al.], Sprawozdanie z poszukiwań na Węgrzech dokonanych z ramienia Akademii Umiejętności przez Władysława Barana, Jana Dąbrowskiego, Jana Łosia, Jana Ptaśnika i Stan. Zachorowskiego. Kraków, 1919.

BARWIŃSKI Eugeniusz, BIRKENMAJER Ludwik A., ŁOŚ Jan, Sprawozdanie z poszukiwań w Szwecji dokonanych z ramienia Akademii Umiejętności przez ... Kraków-Warszawa, 1914.

BISKUP Marian, ‘Kwerenda w kopernikanach szwedzkich,’ Kwartalnik Historii Nauki i Techniki, 13:1968, z. 3, 747-750.

BURDA, Elżbieta, KOZŁOWSKA, Anna, Handschriftliche Polonica in den Sammlungen der Universitätsbibliothek Jena. Jena, 1989.

DIRSYTE, Rima, ‘«Polonica» w zbiorach rękopisów Litewskiej Biblioteki Narodowej w Wilnie,’ Krakowski Rocznik Archiwalny, 3:1997, 174-179.

KORZENIOWSKI, Józef, ‘Zapiski z rękopisów Cesarskiej Biblioteki Publicznej w Petersburgu i innych bibliotek petersburskich. Sprawozdanie z podróży naukowych odbytych w 1891-1892 i w 1907 r.,’ Archiwum do Dziejów Literatury i Oświaty w Polsce, 11:1910.

KOT, Stanisław, ‘Anglo-polonica. Angielskie źródła rękopiśmienne do dziejów stosunków kulturalnych Polski z Anglją,’ Nauka Polska, 20:1935, 49-140.

MATWIJÓW, Maciej, OSTROMĘCKA, Elżbieta, Informator o polonikach w zbiorach rękopiśmiennych Lwowskiej Narodowej Naukowej Biblioteki Ukrainy im. Wasyla Stefanyka. Cz. 1, Zbiory Biblioteki Zakładu Narodowego im. Ossolińskich zinwentaryzowane przed 1945 r. Wrocław, 2010.

PIOTROWICZ, Karol, ‘Polonica w Niemczech,’ Nauka Polska 18:1934, 1-228.

TATARZYŃSKI Ryszard, Polonica w średniowiecznych rękopisach łacińskich Herzog August Bibliothek w Wolfenbüttel. Kraków, 2004.

WŁODEK Zofia, Polonica w średniowiecznych rękopisach bibliotek niemieckich: Aschaffenburg, Augsburg, Bamberg, Eichstatt, Harburg, Moguncja, Norymberga. Wrocław, 1974.

WOLNY Jerzy, MARKOWSKI Mieczysław, KUKSEWICZ Zdzisław, Polonica w średniowiecznych rękopisach bibliotek monachijskich. Wrocław, 1969.

ZAWADZKI Romanus Maria, Catalogus codicum manu s. Ioannis Cantii scriptorum qui in Bibliotheca Apostolica Vaticana asservantur. Katalog watykańskich rękopisów św. Jana Kantego. Cracoviae, 1997.

See also:

MIECZKOWSKA, Halina, ‘«Polonicum» - definicja pojęcia, zakres doboru materiału, zastosowanie w bibliografii’, Z Badań nad Książką i Księgozbiorami Historycznymi, 9:2015, 21-29.

TAFIŁOWSKI, Piotr, ‘Rejestracja rękopiśmiennych i drukowanych poloników. Problem wciąż otwarty’, Roczniki Biblioteczne, 58:2014, 87-100.