Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum 9782503569512, 9782503569529

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Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum
 9782503569512, 9782503569529

Table of contents :
Front Matter ("Contents", "List of Illustrations", "Acknowledgements"), p. i

Free Access

Introduction, p. ix
Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum, p. 1
Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Vincentius’s Background and Family Origins: The Evidence and Hypotheses, p. 19
Jacek Maciejewski

Motives and Inspirations: An Exploration of When and Why the Chronica Polonorum Was Written, p. 43
Józef Dobosz

A History of the Manuscripts of the Chronica Polonorum: The Influence of Vincentius on History Writing, p. 63
Marian Zwiercan

The Language of Vincentius’s Chronicle, p. 79
Edward Skibiński

The Narrative in Vincentius’s Chronicle, p. 99
Edward Skibiński

The Impact and Influence of Antiquity and the Bible in the Chronica Polonorum, p. 119
Katarzyna Chmielewska

Vincentius’s Chronicle and Intellectual Culture of the Twelfth Century, p. 139
Zénon Kałuża

Vincentius’s Construct of a Nation: Poland as res publica, p. 175
Paweł Żmudzki

The Power of a Prince: Vincentius on the Dynasty’s Source of Power, p. 199
Przemysław Wiszewski

Values and Virtues: Church Life and Courtly Culture, p. 221
Robert Bubczyk

Lords and Peasants: Polish Society and Economy in Transition, p. 243
Marcin Rafał Pauk

Back Matter ("Appendix 1: The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230)", "Appendix 2: The Chronology of Polish History c. 920–1230", "Index"), p. 267

Citation preview

Writing History in Medieval Poland

CURSOR MUNDI Cursor Mundi is produced under the auspices of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of California, Los Angeles. Executive Editor Blair Sullivan, University of California, Los Angeles Editorial Board Michael D. Bailey, Iowa State University Christopher Baswell, Columbia University and Barnard College Florin Curta, University of Florida Elizabeth Freeman, University of Tasmania Yitzhak Hen, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev Lauren Kassell, Pembroke College, Cambridge David Lines, University of Warwick Cary Nederman, Texas A&M University Teofilo Ruiz, University of California, Los Angeles

Previously published volumes in this series are listed at the back of the book.

Volume 28

Writing History in Medieval Poland Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum Edited by

Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.

© 2017, Brepols Publishers n.v., Turnhout, Belgium All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher. D/2017/0095/77 ISBN: 978-2-503-56951-2 e-ISBN: 978-2-503-56952-9 DOI: 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.111624 Printed on acid-free paper


List of Illustrations


Acknowledgements viii Introduction Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins: The Evidence and Hypotheses Jacek Maciejewski

Motives and Inspirations: An Exploration of When and Why the Chronica Polonorum Was Written Józef Dobosz

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum: The Influence of Vin­cen­tius on History Writing Marian Zwiercan

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle Edward Skibiński









The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle Edward Skibiński

The Impact and Influence of Antiquity and the Bible in the Chronica Polonorum Katarzyna Chmielewska

Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle and Intellectual Culture of the Twelfth Century Zénon Kałuża

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation: Poland as res publica Paweł Żmudzki

The Power of a Prince: Vin­cen­tius on the Dynasty’s Source of Power Przemysław Wiszewski

Values and Virtues: Church Life and Courtly Culture Robert Bubczyk

Lords and Peasants: Polish Society and Economy in Transition Marcin Rafał Pauk








Appendix 1: The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230) 267 Appendix 2: The Chronology of Polish History c. 920–1230 275 Index


List of Illustrations

Figure 1. The early Piasts (a simplified family tree). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Figure 2. An extant charter with a seal of Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow . . . . . 5 Figure 3. The Piast descendants of Bolesław III the Wrymouth. . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Map 1. The division of the Piast patrimony according to the 1138 Act of Succession. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Map 2. The Piast dynastic settlement following the deposition of Władysław II in 1146. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Map 3. The key ecclesiastical sees in Piast Poland with the dates of their establishment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29



his book, its theme, and its papers took shape whilst I was a visiting fellow at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw. In particular, I would like to thank Professor Eduard Mühle for supporting this work and for organizing a colloquium at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw where each of the papers was presented and discussed. This volume’s conception and development would not have been possible without his support and the generous sponsorship of the German Historical Institute in Warsaw. Georgia von Güttner-Sporzyńska not only read and commented on many of the essays, but also were a steady source of advice, encouragement, and support. I am also grateful to Anne Marmo and Janet Wade for editorial assistance.

Introduction Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński


ishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow (c. 1150–1223) was the first Pole to write a comprehensive history of Poland. This native history is called the Chronica Polonorum and is acknowledged as a masterpiece of medi­eval scholarship in the Latin language. Even before his election as bishop of Cracow, Vin­cen­tius was an influential prelate and statesman in Poland, and was closely connected to the ruling Piast dynasty. The Chronica Polonorum charts the history of the Poles from time immemorial to the early years of the thirteenth century. This volume offers an examination of Vin­cen­tius’s impact on the writing of the history of Poland and the region. It explores the circumstances surrounding his authorship of the Chronica Polonorum. This volume presents original research on Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow and his work the Chronica Polonorum. It also contributes to a wider understanding of the history of Europe by bringing the findings of recent research by leading Polish scholars to an English-reading audience. The book covers aspects of the subject not dealt with in English and explores the fertile subjects of twelfthcentury Poland and its dynasty, nation-making, and the integration of the Polish monarchy into Christendom. It also considers the influence of Western Europe on Polish elites. The articles contribute to current debates about the formation of Europe, the nature of the Polish state in the twelfth century, and also go some way to dispel the myth (still persistent in the historiography) that Poland was distinctly different from other countries of Christendom. The articles in this volume include new and traditional approaches to the study of the work of Bishop Vin­c en­tius of Cracow. Methodologically, the essays offer important new strides towards redefining the study of the Chronica Polonorum. Many of the articles engage in a process of reading and analysis of the work against the grain, that is, they are reconstructive, and they strive to Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. ix–xii BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114755

Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński


recreate the collective medi­e val mentality that gave meaning to the creation and embedding of memories and a culture of remembrance. The volume opens with an overview of Vin­cen­tius’s life and works by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński and is followed by examination of Vin­cen­tius’s family background and origins by Jacek Maciejewski, who is building upon some of his arguments presented in his earlier work.1 Next, Józef Dobosz gives a historiographical overview of scholarship on the context of Vin­cen­tius’s work and reviews the motivation of the court circles who commissioned the Chronica. Dobosz also reasons why Vin­cen­tius, probably a canon at the time, accepted the commission to write the Chronica, the allegorical ‘burden of Atlas’. Marian Zwiercan argues that Vin­cen­tius had a major impact on the writing of history in Poland, including through the embedding of contemporary mentalities such as acceptance of the mythical origins of the Piast family, the first dynasty of Poland. Edward Skibiński provides a theoretical examination of the language and the narrative style used by Vin­cen­tius. Skibiński deals with the ‘difficult’ and ‘ornate’ aspects of the language and provides many examples of Vin­cen­ tius’s style, often contrasting it to the less elaborate language and style of the (non-native) author of an earlier work, the Gesta principum Polonorum. The theme of influence and the references to the authors of antiquity is taken up by Katarzyna Chmielewska who not only offers compelling evidence of Vin­ cen­tius’s deep immersion in the works of ancient Greece and Rome, but also of Vin­cen­tius’s deliberate use and exploitation of the terminology and legal frameworks presented in these ancient works to establish the origins of the Poles as being part of a similarly valiant and glorious heritage. The wider context of Vin­cen­tius’s sources, argues Zénon Kałuża, can be seen from Vin­cen­tius’s erudition and use of sophisticated language, phraseology, and construction. Paweł Żmudzki examines the nature of Vin­cen­tius’s construct of Poland as res publica. This deliberate creation of memory and manufacturing of tradition, Paweł Żmudzki argues, is the true legacy of Vin­cen­tius and establishes him as the most influential historian of the Poles. Przemysław Wiszewski examines Vin­ cen­tius’s conception of the dynasty’s source of power. Robert Bubczyk analyses Vin­cen­tius’s perception of values and virtues. The volume closes with an essay on the society of the realm of the Piasts by Marcin R. Pauk which shows that Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle contains a wealth of information which is useful to scholars of economic and social history, as well as those engaged in the political and ecclesiastical aspects of the Middle Ages. 1 

Maciejewski, Episkopat polski doby dzielnicowej; Maciejewski, ‘Places of Bishops’ Consecration’, pp. 35–57.



Translation of Names and Conventions Used in This Volume In translating the articles of individual authors, originally composed in Polish, I strived to keep the expression of the original and to follow closely the meaning of the original text. Wherever I encountered ambiguity I aimed for clarity and simplicity. For the English reader not familiar with Polish, names can appear daunting. Place names can be a minefield, particularly as there is not always an established convention for the translation of a place name into English and a German translation of the name may also be in popular use. I have used the following naming conventions in this book: Greater Poland (Latin: Polonia Maior, Polish: Wielkopolska) Lesser Poland (Latin: Polonia Minor, Polish: Małopolska) Sandomierz (Latin: Sandomiria, German: Sandomir) Pomerelia (Latin: Pomerelia, Polish: Pomorze Gdańskie or Pomorze Wschodnie, German: Pommerellen) Pomerania (Latin: Pomerania, Polish: Pomorze, German: Pommern, Latin: Pomerania or Pomorania) Prussia (Latin: Prussia, Borussia, or Pruthenia, Polish: Prusy, German: Preußen). For the Polish rulers, on first usage, I provide their full Polish name together with their nickname in Polish which is then translated, and on subsequent use only their translated nickname is used. Thus on the first use ‘Bolesław I Chrobry (the Brave)’ and thereafter ‘Bolesław the Brave’ or ‘Bolesław I’. The only exception is Henryk Sandomierski who in this book is consequently referred to as ‘Henry of Sandomierz’. There are two conventions of Polish historiography which also need to be explained here. The author of the Gesta principum Polonorum is almost always referred to by Polish authors as ‘Gall Anonim’ (Gallus Anonymous). This is simply a matter of convention as the author has never been convincingly identified. This established convention is followed in this volume and this author has referred to him as Gallus. Similarly, the author of the Chronica Polonorum is referred to in Polish historiography as ‘Mistrz Wincenty zwany Kadłubkiem’ (Master Vin­cen­tius called Kadłubek) or ‘Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek’ (Master Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek). In this volume, he is referred to using the Latin name ‘Vin­cen­tius’ with which he signed the extant charters and, as he was canonically

Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński


elected bishop of Cracow he is referred to as ‘Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’. In my view, the use of the highly dubious patronymic Kadłubek only complicates the issue of the author’s identity.

Translation of the Latin Text of the Chronica Polonorum In this volume, all English translations of the original Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum were made by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński on the basis of the critical Latin edition of the Chronica Polonorum prepared by Marian Plezia and published in the Monumenta Poloniae Historica. Nova Series, volume 11, by Polska Akademia Umiejętności (Kraków, 1994).

Polish Language Polish names and words may appear difficult but their pronunciation is consistent. All vowels are simple and of even length, as in Italian, and their sound is best rendered by the English words ‘sum’ (a), ‘ten’ (e), ‘ease’ (i), ‘lot’ (o), ‘book’ (u), ‘sit’ (y). Most of the consonants behave the same way as in English, except for ‘c’ (which is pronounced ‘ts’), ‘j’ (which is soft as in ‘yes’), and ‘w’ (which is equivalent to the English ‘v’). As in German, some consonants are softened when they fall at the end of a word and ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘f ’, ‘w’, ‘z’ became ‘p’, ‘t’, ‘k’, ‘f ’, ‘s’ respectively. There are also several accented letters and combinations peculiar to Polish of which the following is a rough list: ó u, as in ‘cook’, hence Kraków is pronounced ‘krakooff ’.

ł English w, as in ‘wood’, hence Bolesław be­ comes ‘Boleswaf ’, Władysław ‘Vwadiswaf ’.

u as ‘ó’.

w v as in ‘virago’.

ą nasal a, approximating to ‘om’ or ‘on’, hence sąd is pronounced ‘sont’.

ń soft n as in Spanish ‘mañana’ or ‘news’.

ę nasal e, approximating to ‘em’ or ‘en’, hence Łęczyca is pronounced ‘wenchytsa’.

ś soft sh as in ‘sheer’ or ‘sheep’.

ć soft ch as in ‘cheese’. cz hard ch, as in ‘chalk’ or ‘catch’. ch guttural h as in ‘loch’.

rz French j as in ‘je’, or hard zh as in ‘measure’. sz hard sh as in ‘bush’ or ‘shot’. ż as rz. ź a similar sound, but sharper as in French ‘gigot’.

Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński


he history of medi­eval Poland offers a fascinating insight into processes of state formation and societal development at the periphery of Latin Christendom.1 The narrative of the Polish history was initiated and profoundly influenced by two chronicles — the Gesta principum Polonorum by an anonymous author (probably a Frank) known conventionally as Gallus and the Chronica Polonorum by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow.2 Both chronicles crystallized and preserved knowledge and myths, previously the domain of oral tradition. The chronicles focused on early Piast dynastic history and reflect contemporary concerns and interpretations of the events and the origins of the Poles.3 Both works fit the genre of the gesta and celebrate power in the exploits of the dynastic heroes. Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow (c. 1150–1223) was the first native chronicler of Poland and a key political actor of late twelfth and early thirteenth-century 1 

See for example Wiszewski, Domus Bolezlai; Pleszczyński, The Birth of a Stereotype. von Güttner-Sporzyński, ‘Gallus Anonymus’, pp. 659–60. The Gesta is now available in parallel Latin-English edition Gesta principum Polonorum, ed. by Knoll and Schaer. The first English-Latin critical edition of the Chronica Polonorum by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 3  The experience of power in twelfth-century Poland and the struggles for the throne are examined in Bisson, ‘On Not Eating Polish Bread in Vain’, pp. 275–89; Bisson, ‘Witness to Crisis?’, pp. 205–13. 2 

Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, Research Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, The University of Melbourne

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 1–17 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114756

2 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Poland.4 Vin­cen­tius’s impact on the writing of history was profound. Despite his role in the history of Poland, the details of Vin­cen­tius’s life are scarce, perhaps a reflection of the general lack of written sources for twelfth and early thirteenth-century Poland. What is known or rather what is suspected about Vin­ cen­tius is subject to ongoing debate among historians. Even his date of birth is uncertain. It is generally acknowledged that Vin­cen­tius was born in Poland about 1150. He acquired his education and perfected his literary skill during studies in Italy and/or France, which opened to him a career in the Church. After his return to Poland between 1183 and 1189, he became a canon of the Cathedral of Cracow and formed a close association with the magnate faction supporting Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just). Kazimierz II (1136–94) had ruled as the suzerain (princeps) of Poland since 1177, when he emerged as the surprise victor of a bloody feud among the Piast dynasty.5 Kazimierz’s patronage of Vin­cen­tius resulted in a commission for the cleric to compose a written history of the realm. The nature of the commission is reflected in the Chronicle’s content. It offers a sympathetic critique of Poland’s system of government under Kazimierz and at the same time, it presents the antique origins of the Poles by largely inventing their roots. The important task of giving the Poles a noble, valiant, and above all honourable lineage is not, however, the sole purpose of the Chronicle. The context of Kazimierz’s commission for Vin­ cen­tius necessitates another aim: the Chronicle instructs Poland’s elites on how they should obey and aid their sovereign in accordance with natural law and God’s command. Kazimierz’s claim to the throne was only as strong as the support of the local elites of Lesser Poland (Polonia Minor), a key province of the Piast realm, and the Chronicle perhaps played a part in a strategy to cement their allegiance. In the Chronicle, Vin­cen­tius comments on the behaviour of the key figures of Polish history and sets a moral standard by making parallels and comparisons to antiquity. The theme of virtue and duty to one’s home4 

Bishop Vin­c en­tius of Cracow is referred to in Polish historiography as Wincenty Kałubek. The origins of the patronymic Kadłubek are unknown. Some hypotheses are outlined in Die Chronik der Polen, ed. and trans. by Mühle, p. 17. Whether ‘Kadłubek’ referred to ‘dłubać’, a Polish word inferring ‘picking’, ‘digging’ or to Vin­cen­tius’s ‘nitpicking’ of the dynastic history is a subject of unresolved scholarly speculation. 5  I use the term princeps (as used by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow in reference to the first member by precedence of the Piast dynasty) to denote the suzerain of Poland after 1138. Other terms used in the historiography for the princeps are senior duke or high duke. For an overview of the use of various royal titles in Piast Poland see Berend, Urbańczyk, and Wiszewski, Central Europe in the High Middle Ages, pp. 187–89.

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


Figure 1. The early Piasts (a simplified family tree).

land is interwoven with the celebration of acts of martial selflessness by the princes of the realm. These qualities, according to Vin­cen­tius, specifically make the Poles and their princes worthy of fame and lead directly to the well-being of its subjects. The Chronicle constitutes an important and authoritative text which, notwithstanding the intention of its sponsor and the author, over centuries acquired the character of a history of the Poles approved by the dynasty and endorsed by the Church.6 6 

Cf. von Güttner-Sporzyński, ‘Constructing Memory’, pp. 276–91.

4 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Vin­cen­tius started work on the Chronicle in the late 1180s or the early 1190s at the behest of Kazimierz II.7 The inclusion of the references to the Muslim leader Saladin (c. 1138–93) and the 1187 siege of Jerusalem are important markers in this regard. Vin­cen­tius had completed his text before 1208 when he became one of the leading ecclesiastical officials of the Piast monarchy with his election as bishop of Cracow.8 In 1215 he took part in the Fourth Lateran Council and a general assumption holds that he was active in the implementation of the Gregorian reform in his diocese. Vin­cen­tius’s resignation of his episcopacy in 1218 remains unexplained other than the elderly bishop’s wish to enter the Cistercian convent in Jędrzejów and spend the rest of his days in contemplation.9 He may have also edited the final manu­script of his Chronicle there before his death in 1223. The Chronicle provides an outline of the history of the Poles with particular emphasis on the events of the twelfth century, which justified Kazimierz’s claim to the throne of Cracow, and with it suzerainty of all Poland. Created against the background of the twelfth-century renaissance, the Chronicle was written by a native Pole and demonstrates the erudition of the Polish elite and the recognition and appreciation of literary skill by the ruling dynasty. Vin­cen­ tius offers a commentary on patterns of human behaviour and his own view of morality through an elaborate use of philosophical and poetic digression and didactic admonition, sourced primarily from the works of philosophers, the poets of antiquity, and the Bible.10 Classical authors, including Ovid, Virgil, and Horace, are quoted on some 150 occasions and biblical texts appear in approximately 140 instances, with the most numerous quotations taken from the Old Testament, particularly the Books of Kings and the Book of Psalms. 7 

The Chronicle itself contains only one mention of the author. ‘Vidit enim Vin­cen­tius qui scripsit hec’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13. This apparent self-identification is confirmed in the oldest of the extant manu­scripts. ‘Hic nominat se ipsum Vincencius confectorem operis huius’: Codex Eugenianus, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 480, fol. 221v. 8  Discussion of the documentary evidence in Die Chronik der Polen, ed. and trans. by Mühle, pp. 13–14. 9  Two voices in the debate about the reasons of Vin­cen­tius’s resignation are Bełch, ‘Dlaczego Kadłubek zrezygnował z biskupstwa?’, pp. 137–47; Kozłowska-Budkowa, ‘Rezygnacje biskupów’, pp. 35–44. 10  The full extent of Vin­cen­tius’s learning is uncertain and his knowledge of the key texts of antiquity was probably, in significant ways, derived from a variety of florilegia. During his studies Vin­cen­tius is likely to have encountered these systematic collections of extracts or compilations taken from a variety of classical writings.

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum

Figure 2. An extant charter with a seal of Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow (the penultimate one). The charter was issued by Władysław Odonic and dated 29 July 1210. Sächsisches Staatsarchiv, Hauptstaatsarchiv Dresden, 10001 Ältere Urkunden, Nr. 171.


6 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

This broad base of reference suggests that Vin­cen­tius directed his work towards a sophisticated, classically educated readership that could understand and appreciate the complex plot, refined poetic form, and many literary references. The Prologue provides instruction to the reader on how to read the Chronicle, advising that it is a serious work and that understanding it requires an educated mind and careful study. He then introduces a metaphor using three figures of antiquity, Codrus, Alcibiades, and Diogenes. Vin­cen­tius notes their virtues and vanities, and that they despised ‘causis theatrales’ (theatrical performances).11 With the use of this metaphor Vin­cen­tius strongly emphasizes that his Chronicle is to be treated more seriously than a mere theatrical performance; he implies that the contents are worthy and memorable. The didactic and metaphor-laden style of the Chronicle is deliberate. Vin­ cen­tius addresses his work to those who were used to enjoying a refined Latin text. At the same time, he reveals his expectation that the uneducated or uncivilized would not understand his work. The Chronicle’s Prologue also suggests that Vin­cen­tius sought to pre-empt criticism by implying that anyone who did not understand and support the work was not clever enough to do so. The Prologue concludes with a direct statement to its reader in which Vin­cen­tius requests that ‘illud denique aput omnes precor esse inpetratum, ne omnibus passim de nobis detur iudicium, set eis dumtaxat quos ingenii elegantia uel urbanitatis commendat claritudo, ne cui nos prius liceat despicere quam perdiligentissime dispexisse’ (not everyone be allowed to judge us before they thoroughly understand us, but only those who are recommended by an elegant mind or outstanding refinement).12 Vin­cen­tius underscores his point further with another metaphor, this time using the concept of culinary taste. He uses the metaphor of taste throughout the Chronicle to illustrate and contrast a shallow interpretation with a deeper understanding on a particular point. In this instance (the first use of the taste metaphor in the Chronicle), Vin­cen­tius cautions the reader that the work is challenging and is best understood, savoured even, if read and considered slowly and deeply. Vin­cen­tius argues, ‘Non enim sapit gingiber nisi masticatum nec est aliquid quod in transitu delectet, set est incivile re inperspecta de re iudicare’ (Indeed, ginger tastes only when chewed and nothing will captivate us if we will glance at it but casually, so it would be uncivil to judge the matter without studying it carefully).13 11 

Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 1.1. Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.4. 13  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.4. 12 

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


Vin­cen­tius’s work outlines an extraordinarily ancient heritage for the Poles and claims Polish antiquity as an integral part of universal history. His explanation of the Poles’ mythical and historical past places the Piast dynasty at the centre of the events of the ancient past. The reader discovers for himself that the Chronicle was written for the glorification of the dynasty whose leading figures are presented as the heirs of the translatio imperii, the shifting centre of the world’s power throughout history. Vin­cen­tius establishes the progenitors of the Poles as the most recent example of such a great power, thus making them the direct successors to the power and magnificence of the ancient Persians, Greeks, and Romans. This is an approach influenced by the writings of the Roman historian Justin whose works are quoted on more than fifty occasions in the Chronicle.14 The influence of antiquity is apparent from the very first sentences of the Chronicle, in Vin­c en­tius’s mastery of allegory and historical metaphor. He implies that his work builds on the writings of ancient authors in comparison with whom he is but an apprentice. Vin­cen­tius likens himself to a dwarf on whose shoulders his sponsor placed the task of writing the Chronicle as if ‘the burden of Atlas’.15 Vin­c en­tius’s choice of style for the composition of Books  i–iii of the Chronicle perhaps reflects his humility, or it could be interpreted as a sign of both his restraint and his eagerness to add authority and weight to the tale he presents. The first three books of the Chronicle are written in the form of a rhetorical dialogue between two prelates, Mateusz and Jan, who serve the reader as respected guides to the history of the Poles. The interlocutors chosen by Vin­ cen­tius are identified as Bishop Mateusz of Cracow (d. 1166) and Archbishop Jan of Gniezno (d. 1168 × 1176).16 Their presentation follows a strict pattern of dialogue: Mateusz presents the events of Polish history and Jan provides an appropriate supporting example from the history of other peoples and a didactic commentary on the episode. This literary device emphasizes the significance of the event described and associates the deeds of the Poles with actions on the universal stage of history. The dialogue between the hierarchs continues until the final sentences of Book iii. Vin­cen­tius only excuses his narrators at the moment chronologically corresponding to their deaths. Mateusz and Jan are excused from further fatigue and allowed to ‘fall asleep in the Lord’.17 14 

Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Justyn’, pp. 30–31. Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.4. 16  Dobosz, Monarchia i możni, pp. 303–04, 308–09. 17  ‘Set et te sompnus urget et nos nostre dormitionis hora premit. Immo tantus in me 15 

8 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

The retirement of Mateusz and Jan closes a chapter in both the Chronicle and in Polish history and opens the way for Vin­cen­tius to reveal himself as the historian of Poland in Book iv. Book iv is directly narrated by the author and Vin­cen­tius outlines the task and the scope of the mandate given to him by his patron Kazimierz II. Vin­cen­tius opens this book with a parable where the host of a feast (presumably Vin­cen­tius’s patron, Kazimierz II) appoints ‘a certain servant who carried the quill and the inkwell’ as the ‘only and extraordinary record-keeper’.18 The record-keeper is to give a reasoned account (ratio) of what happened because he is the one who understands the true nature of events. Despite this high commission Vin­cen­tius despairs that the task given to him is overwhelming. He writes of his struggle as author, giving insight into the realities of Polish court life and perhaps seeking to convince the reader of his accurate reportage of events: Vin­cen­tius is concerned that if he writes the truth he will become an object of hate and if he refuses the commission he will be punished by his lord. ‘Nam quis horrentes, queso, tribulos nudo pede inpingere non horruit?’ (Who does not hesitate to stand with bare feet upon thorny thistles?), he asks.19 In spite of these misgivings or perhaps because of them, Vin­cen­tius places himself and his work as the official, authorized, and true record of court events. He claims a further moral dimension to his work, not only by virtue of his office as bishop, but through the value that comes from the preservation, transmission, and analysis of these courtly events, which might serve to instruct others. Throughout the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius reminds his audience that the task he undertakes is serious and important. He reminds the reader that the writing of history is a grand affair, solemn and responsible. Vin­cen­tius places a very strong emphasis on the importance and significance of history writing and he uses vivid, suggestive, and striking images in order to illustrate this point, perhaps deliberately using the image-based mnemonic techniques widely practised by contemporary clerics. The specific task for history writing, suggests Vin­cen­tius, is to praise ‘aureas patrie columpnas’ (the golden foundation of our homeland), and ‘non puppas fictiles, set veras patrum effigies de sinu oblivionis’ (to recover sompni sopor irruit, ut citra gratiarum actionem lingue officium amputetur. Ideoque, quod superest, erratorum venia, ineptiarum indultione a convivis expetita, obdormiscamus in Domino’: Chronica Polonorum, iii.31.2. 18  ‘Aderat autem quidam vernaculus, atramentarium gestans cum calamo ac fumantem demungens faculam’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.1. ‘Esto deinceps unicus ac singularis huius rei publice rationalis’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.3. 19  Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.4.

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


from the depths of oblivion not clay figurines, but the real images of our forebears) and through the process to make them immortal for posterity as if ‘de ebore antiquissimo iubemur excidere’ (to carve them in ancient ivory).20 Vin­cen­tius advises his reader that this worthy subject, the history of the Poles, demands both great attention and skill and he lays his credentials before us as sufficient for the task. He compares his position to that of a harvester who gathers the precious wheat and ignores the unimportant: ‘Set longe aliud messoris est munus, aliud officium agricole. Spinetis occupetur agricola, nostri sudoris est spicas licet sparsas unam in messem colligere’ (Let the farmer deal with the stubble field. Our task is to collect the ears of wheat into one sheaf, though they are scattered).21 Vin­cen­tius’s description and interpretation of history had a major impact on the self-image and conceptualization of the position of suzerain and on subsequent historiography. The term princeps was defined by Vin­cen­tius as the suzerain of the whole Piast realm, a formulation which has withstood the test of time. Vin­cen­tius also establishes that a prince derives his authority from the highest will of God.22 Similarly, Vin­cen­tius provides in his Chronicle the oldest extant Polish source which uses the antique term republic or commonwealth (res publica) to describe the Polish system of government. The use of the Chronicle as a textbook in cathedral schools from the thirteenth century perhaps cemented the association of the term ‘commonwealth’ with the memory of Poland’s past. In the sixteenth century, the Poles would officially use the term and call their homeland ‘Serenissima res publica Poloniae’ (the Most Serene Republic of Poland) in an example of reality imitating and associating itself with Vin­cen­tius’s fictional allegory — at a time when Poland was very obviously a kingdom. The use of ‘republic’ in the sixteenth century is evidence of the enduring influence the Chronicle had on the formation of Polish national identity, and the extent to which this identity was shaped by the collective memory of its past, a past constructed and labelled by Vin­cen­tius.


Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 2.2. ‘Non enim adolescentularum inter Musas collascivire choris, set sacri senatus assistere tenemur suggestui; non umbratiles palustrium harundines, set aureas patrie columpnas, non puppas fictiles, set veras patrum effigies de sinu oblivionis, de ebore antiquissimo iubemur excidere.’ 21  Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.5. 22  ‘Adeo de auctoritate iuris principum pendet auctoritas. Ius uero divinum humano preiudicat. Lex namque Domini irreprehensibilis, lex inmaculata, convertens animas. Omnium ergo, filii, que agis, e divine speculo iustitie formam mutuare’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.10.3.

10 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Figure 3. The Piast descendants of Bolesław III the Wrymouth.

According to Vin­cen­tius, the foundation of Poland’s contemporary morals and laws were established during the prehistory of the Polish people. The ancient Poles are idealized by Vin­cen­tius and frequently referred to throughout the Chronicle where their example is used as a measure of model behaviour and principles. Vin­cen­tius’s homeland (patria) is defended by the bravery of its citizens (cives) and has always been a monarchy ruled by law. Further, the law was enacted by lawful rulers, rulers who were elected by their community. The rulers were not tyrants who had usurped power. These two groups, the rulers and citizens, formed one society and took part in the key events of universal history. Participation in the great historical events and processes, according to Vin­cen­tius, had enabled the Poles to learn from the experiences of other peoples and form their own identity and their own culture (‘idemptitas mater est societatis’).23 Vin­cen­tius describes the national attributes of his compatriots past and present. For example, for the progenitors of the Poles, virtue is more valued than ownership. He says that they did not care about the boundaries of their lands and conquered distant lands for the sake of developing and exercising their martial skill.24 23  24 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.1.1. Chronica Polonorum, i.2.2–4.

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


Vin­cen­tius advises that ‘Polonos autem animi virtute, corporis duritia non opibus censeri’ (the Poles should be measured and appraised according to the strength of their spirit and the strength of their bodies rather than their wealth).25 This accords with the values of the ancient Poles who chose not to count their own wealth and instead preferred to rule over others who were wealthy. The Poles taught this lesson to Alexander the Great. They achieved military and moral victory over Alexander, who is portrayed by Vin­cen­tius as a wealthy, greedy, and corrupt leader.26 In his telling of this episode, Vin­cen­tius establishes a theme to which he returns later in numerous instances: the Poles were victorious in wars fought for high moral principles; those they fought who were motivated by worldly greed and envy ended in defeat and sorrow.

Historical Context of the Writing by Vin­cen­tius Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle was written in the last decades of the twelfth century, a period when the throne of Poland was contested by rival members of the ruling Piast dynasty in a series of bloody civil wars.27 Vin­cen­tius as canon and later as bishop attended the court of the Piast ruler of Cracow and was an eyewitness to the bloody feuds of the Piast family.28 He is highly critical of the Piasts’ fraternal violence, describing it in the Chronicle as ‘sacrilegium’ (sacrilege). The Chronicle describes with first-hand intimacy the devastating effects of the hostilities on the family: ‘Filiatio paternitati reverentiam exhibet, non filiationi paternitas ignoscit, non fraternitatem fraternitas, non consanguinitas consanguinitatem’ (No son pays the father respect, no father pardons the son, no brother acknowledges brother).29 The origins of the struggle for the throne are direct consequences of the enactment of a new rule of inheritance for the Piast dynasty, known as the 25 

Chronica Polonorum, i.9.4. Chronica Polonorum, i.9.1–11. 27  Cf. Die Chronik der Polen, ed. and trans. by Mühle, pp. 33–39. Eduard Mühle’s interpretation does not depart in any major way from the interpretation offered by Brygida Kürbis in the introduction to the Polish translation of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle. See Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. iii–cxxxi. 28  Vin­cen­tius’s allusions in the text suggest that he was an eyewitness of many events he chose to include in his work. He attempts to strengthen his authority by paraphrasing of the Evangelist ( John 19. 35); ‘It was Vin­cen­tius who saw it and he has written testimony, and his testimony is true’ = ‘Vidit enim Vin­cen­tius qui scripsit hec, et scimus quia uerum est testimonium eius’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13. 29  Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.5. 26 

12 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński






Gniezno Poznań

Płock Łęczyca

Wrocław Sandomierz Wiślica Kraków

Map 1. The division of the Piast patrimony according to the 1138 Act of Succession.

1138 Act of Succession. According to Vin­cen­tius, Bolesław III Krzywousty (the Wrymouth) (r. 1102–38) made these new rules on his deathbed, aiming to balance power between his eldest son Władysław II as his heir and successor, and his three younger sons.30 The act instituted a form of government referred to in the Polish historiography as the Principate (or seniorate) with the eldest Piast and the suzerain referred to as princeps — the first among the Piast dukes and the head of the dynasty. The Chronicle is the only twelfth-century source to outline the provision of Bolesław’s 1138 disposition: no other written evidence is extant and no charter is known to exist. According to Vin­cen­ tius, in 1138 ‘Succedit autem patri Wladislaus, tam primogeniture privilegiis 30 

Bolesław III married twice, first to Zbyslava of Kiev (d. c. 1114), who gave birth to Władysław II; and secondly to Salome of Berg (d. 1144), who was the mother of Bolesław IV, Mieszko III, Henry and Kazimierz II (collectively known as the younger Piasts).

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


insignis quam regni successione sublimis’ (Władysław succeeded his father, elevated to the throne by the right of primogeniture and the right of succession of the kingdom).31 The Principate rules provided for Bolesław’s eldest son Władysław II to exercise suzerainty over the Piast patrimony. The exact rules of succession and the rights and obligations of the princeps as the suzerain are no longer known but they are subject to historiographical debate abounding in hypotheses. In effect, the princeps held supreme authority and resided in Cracow, the capital city of the key province of Lesser Poland. According to Vin­cen­tius, under the 1138 act, three of Władysław’s younger brothers were allotted their own provinces as appanage within the realm, whilst the youngest brother, who was probably not born until after his father’s death, was not included in the settlement. Thus, the Piast realm was de facto divided into four duchies under the suzerainty of the princeps Władysław II.32 Within a decade of his accession, Władysław II attempted to assert his dominance over the whole of the realm and take direct control of the Piast provinces by removing his brothers from their individual domains. Vin­cen­tius claims in the Chronicle that this violation of the dynastic settlement of 1138 precipitated the civil war, during which Władysław II was supported by ‘innumeras barbarorum legiones’ (innumerable legions of barbarians), perhaps his tributaries or allies from pagan Prussia.33 The younger brothers received support from some of the provincial magnates and the prelates of Poland. The war ended with the defeat and exile of princeps in 1146, who was known from that point onwards as Władysław II the Exile. The successful expulsion of Władysław II enabled the next eldest brother, Bolesław IV Kędzierzawy (the Curly), to ascend the throne as princeps, the suzerain of the whole Poland.34 Bolesław IV had twice (in 1146 and 1157) successfully defended his throne against the imperial invasions in support of the exiled former princeps. On his death in 1173, Bolesław IV was succeeded by his younger brother Mieszko III. 31 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.23. Bolesław III’s disposition accorded the Piast brothers the following provinces: Władysław  II (in addition to the suzerain’s senior province of Lesser Poland) – Silesia; Bolesław IV – Mazovia; Mieszko III – Greater Poland (Polonia Maior); Henryk – Sandomierz. After the expulsion of Władysław II in 1146, Bolesław IV took control of Władysław’s provinces. Subsequently, after Henryk’s death in 1166, the youngest of the brothers, Kazimierz, claimed Henry’s domain. See also Biniaś-Szkopek, ‘Kiedy brat jest wrogiem’, pp. 44–53. 33  Chronica Polonorum, iv.28.3. 34  The most detailed examination of Bolesław IV’s life can be found in Biniaś-Szkopek, Bolesław IV Kędzierzawy. 32 

14 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Map 2. The Piast dynastic settlement following the deposition of Władysław II in 1146.

The whole dynastic settlement disintegrated when the youngest brother, Kazimierz, successfully rebelled against Mieszko III in 1177 aided by the magnates and prelates of Lesser Poland. Kazimierz gained the throne of Cracow and became the suzerain of Poland, also styled princeps by Vin­cen­tius.35 In exchange for a range of privileges, in 1180 the magnates and the prelates of Lesser Poland acknowledged and confirmed the right of Kazimierz’s lineal descendants to succeed as princeps, in effect invalidating the 1138 Act of Succession. The decision was contested and in the ensuing struggle, Mieszko III fought to regain control of Cracow firstly against Kazimierz and later Kazimierz’s son and heir, Leszek. The repercussions of the protracted dynastic conflict extended for the remainder of the twelfth century and long after Vin­cen­tius’s death in 1223. The monar-


von Güttner-Sporzyński, Poland, Holy War, and the Piast Monarchy, pp. 107–33.

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


chy of the Piasts was united in 1306 under the rule of Władysław Łokietek (the Short) who was crowned king in 1320. As a mediator who witnessed the dynastic struggles for the throne and the destruction of the realm Vin­cen­tius exclaims: ‘Set beata, set plus quam fraterna societas, aput quam plus pietatis valet religio, quam ambitus principandi persuadeat’ (Oh, how blessed, more than brotherly friendship is society where the bonds of loyalty are stronger than the embrace of the urge to rule).36 He implored the Piasts to end the violence in the interest of their subjects and warned that without unity the realm would be beggared and vulnerable: ‘Dissipatione dissipatur terra, direptione predatur’ (Through squandering the country is destroyed completely, becoming plunder for plundering).37 Historians have preserved and expanded the image painted by Vin­cen­tius. They perpetuate the image of the thirteenth-century Piast realm as a fragmented and divided monarchy, ruled by ineffective, weak leaders who, within a century of the Act of Succession, were unable to face the onslaught of the Mongols because of the lack of a strong, central state authority, in the hands of a single Piast ruler. The work of Vin­cen­tius is significant on a number of levels. His written record is an important contribution to the literary culture of the Middle Ages and marks the shift from oral and aural communication to memorization in the appreciation, and adoption of the text for Poland. Vin­cen­tius as author and as bishop acted as an agent of change. He was educated in Western Europe and bore witness to the expansion of urban life, systems of government, and the establishment of new seats of learning in the West. It appears that Vin­cen­ tius was learned in classical systems of law, scholastic philosophy, and society in general. This scholarship and experience are reflected in his Chronicle. The analysis of the text confirms the rich and strong influence of ancient Rome, its rulers and lawyers, as well as its philosophers and writers. As early as 1240 Vin­cen­tius’s work had become a source for other historians with its manu­script copies used by cathedral schools in Poland and commentaries on his work in university teaching. Vin­cen­tius’s highly individual interpretation of the history of Poland influenced not only history writing but the self-perception of Poland itself.

36  37 

Chronica Polonorum, i.18.1. Chronica Polonorum, ii.14.8.

16 Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński

Works Cited Manu­scripts and Archival Documents Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ÖNB Cod. 480

Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Die Chronik der Polen des Magisters Vin­cen­tius, ed. and trans. by Eduard Mühle (Darm­ stadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2014) Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. by Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003)

Secondary Studies Bełch, Stanisław, ‘Dlaczego Kadłubek zrezygnował z biskupstwa?’ [‘Why Vin­cen­tius Resigned from the Bishopric’], Prace historyczne, 1 (1965), 137–47 Berend, Nora, Przemysław Urbańczyk, and Przemysław Wiszewski, Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland c. 900–c. 1300 (Cam­bridge: Cam­ bridge University Press, 2013) Biniaś-Szkopek, Magdalena, Bolesław  IV Kędzierzawy – książę Mazowsza i princeps [Bolesław  IV the Curly: The Duke of Mazovia and the Princeps of Poland] (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2009) —— , ‘Kiedy brat jest wrogiem, czyli jak walki synów Bolesława Krzywoustego wpłynęły na zmianę struktur elit władzy w państwie piastowskim’ [‘When a Brother is the Enemy: How the Conflict between the Sons of Bolesław the Wrymouth Altered the Structures of the Ruling Elite in the Piast Monarchy’], in Bezpieczeństwo. Świat-Europa-Polska: Od przeszłości ku przyszłości, ed. by Kazimierz Dopierała and Zbigniew Dziemianko (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Bezpieczeństwa, 2009), pp. 44–53 Bisson, Thomas N., ‘On Not Eating Polish Bread in Vain: Resonance and Conjuncture in the Deeds of the Princes of Poland (1109–1113)’, Viator, 29 (1998), 275–89 —— , ‘Witness to Crisis? Power and Resonance in the Chronicle of the Poles by Wincenty Kadłubek’, in Gallus Anonymous and his Chronicle in the Context of Twelfth-Century Historiography from the Perspective of the Latest Research, ed.  by Krzysztof Stopka (Kraków: Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2010), pp. 205–13 Dobosz, Józef, Monarchia i możni wobec Kościoła w Polsce do początku XIII wieku [The Monarchy and Magnates and their Relationship with the Church in Poland until the Begining of the Thirteenth Century] (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2002) von Güttner-Sporzyński, Darius, ‘Gallus Anonymus’, Encyclopedia of the Medi­ eval Chronicle (2009), 659–60 —— , ‘Constructing Memory: Holy War in the Chronicle of the Poles by Bishop Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow’, Journal of Medi­eval History, 40 (2014), 276–91

Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and his Chronica Polonorum


—— , Poland, Holy War, and the Piast Monarchy, 1100–1230 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2014) Kozłowska-Budkowa, Zofia, ‘Rezygnacje biskupów krakowskich Wincentego i Iwona’ [‘The Resignations of the Bishops of Kraków Vin­cen­tius and Iwon’], Nasza Przeszłość, 33 (1970), 35–44 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kro­ nika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi Lewandowski, Ignacy, ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Justyn – epitomator Pompejusza Troga’ [‘The Relationship between Vin­cen­tius and Justin, the Author of the Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 28–34 Maciejewski, Jacek, Episkopat polski doby dzielnicowej 1180–1320 (Kraków: Societas Vistulana, 2003) —— , ‘Places of Bishops’ Consecration in Medi­eval Poland’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 94 (2006), 35–57 Pleszczyński, Andrzej, The Birth of a Stereotype: Polish Rulers and their Country in German Writings, c. 1000 ad, trans. by Robert Bubczyk (Leiden: Brill, 2011) Wiszewski, Przemysław, Domus Bolezlai: Values and Social Identity in Dynastic Traditions of Medi­eval Poland c. 966–1138 (Leiden: Brill, 2010)

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins: The Evidence and Hypotheses Jacek Maciejewski*


in­cen­tius (c.  1150–1223) lived during a remarkable period of Polish history and witnessed a turbulent era for the Piast dynasty. The times were marked by relatively rapid change for all strata of society, an experience that was rare in the Middle Ages. Vin­cen­tius witnessed the successive reigns of three brothers, all of whom were the sons of Bolesław III (d. 1138), as well as the breakup of the Piast realm into several duchies. The final stage of the disintegration process was initiated by the coup d’état of 1177 which elevated Kazimierz the Just to the throne of the princeps in Cracow, and this process gathered speed after his death in 1194. An integral part of this change was the concurrent reform and increase in influence of the Polish Church as it implemented the ideals of the Gregorian reforms. The renewed Church increased pastoral activity and centralized episcopal power. The Church utilized its unified political voice to win independence from the Piast dynasty and a number of new privileges. These concessions formed part of the Church’s strong economic position and enabled further independence from secular power. Vin­cen­tius was himself a significant actor in these events and a contemporary of such figures as Gerald of Wales (c. 1146–c. 1223), Gervase of Tilbury   * Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński.

Jacek Maciejewski, Director, Institute of History and International Relations, University of Kazimierz Wielki, Bydgoszcz

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 19–42 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114757

Jacek Maciejewski


(c. 1150–c. 1228), and Sicardus of Cremona (1155–1215). He held the office of bishop in one of the most important Polish ecclesiastical sees and centres of political power. He was a member of the ruler’s court and was also the author of the extensive historiographical work, the Chronica Polonorum. Yet information concerning Vin­cen­tius’s life is scarce and unreliable, and is often subject to more or less convincing hypotheses. The main reason for the limited amount of knowledge about the origins and career of Vin­cen­tius lies in the relatively late introduction of writing to Poland. During Vin­cen­tius’s lifetime few documents were created. There are only approximately 150 written documents issued in Poland or concerning Poland dated before the end of the twelfth century.1 The existence of others is known only from registers and notes in other sources. Amongst the very few narrative sources the true treasure is the Gesta principum Polonorum. The Gesta was commissioned by the Piast dynasty in the second decade of the twelfth century and was written by an anonymous monk known as Gallus. Together this fragmentary source base gives a medi­eval historian some insights into the life of the political elite of the country, but historians are often restricted to the formulation of their own hypotheses due to the exceptionally limited information available.2 Vin­cen­tius himself shed very little light on his own personal circumstances. In his chronicle he referred to himself only once, and then only as the servant of Bishop Mateusz of Cracow, ‘aderat autem quidam vernaculus, atramentarium gestans cum calamo ac fumantem demungens faculam’ (for whom a certain local man [Vin­cen­tius] carried the quill and the inkwell and took care of the torches).3 The Chronica Polonorum was widely read, copied, and commented upon in Poland during the Middle Ages. Whilst the person of its author received some attention from early Polish historians, their works contained limited information about Vin­cen­tius.4 In thirteenth-century sources there is no information about the education and intellectual formation of Vin­cen­tius and extant notes concentrate on only a few essential facts relating to the episcopal office held by him.5 Thankfully, the commentary disclosed some details con1 

Adamska, ‘The Introduction of Writing’, p. 168. Bieniak, ‘Polska elita I’, p. 11. 3  Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.1. 4  Drelicharz, ‘Pamięć i tradycja’, pp. 141–92. 5  Annales capituli Cracoviensis, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, pp. 70–73; Catalogi episcoporum Cracoviensium, ed. by Szymański, p. 24; Annales Cracovienses priores cum kalendario, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, p. 130. 2 

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


cerning Vin­cen­tius’s education and his episcopate, otherwise the authorship of the Chronica Polonorum could be questioned in the absence of reliable evidence. Over the centuries a number of questions have been raised about the author of the Chronicle. What were the origins of the patronymic Kadłubek associated with Vin­cen­tius? What were the sources of Vin­cen­tius’s erudition and where did he study?

Ancestry The thirteenth-century sources give no information about the origins of Vin­ cen­tius. This silence is compounded by confusing information included in the Chronicle of Dzierzwa which states that Vin­cen­tius was ‘a son of Kadłub’, that is, the son of a plebe.6 This information caused some consternation amongst the literary elite of Cracow in the late Middle Ages,7 and they instead unanimously concluded that Vin­cen­tius was a descendant of the landowning knighthood from the province of Sandomierz. The medi­eval historians of Cracow only differed on Vin­cen­tius’s place of birth. The Catalogues of the Bishops of Cracow maintained that Vin­c en­tius was born in Kargów near Stopnica, whereas chronicler Jan Długosz popularized the view that the ancestral home of the chronicler was in Karwów near Opatów.8 Jan Długosz also tried to identify the family circle of Vin­cen­tius with the clan Poraj. This hypothesis was based on Długosz’s contemporary knowledge of land ownership in Sandomierz Land.9 I argue that Długosz’s information is not reliable, and in some instances is pure fiction. Długosz persistently aimed to fill in the gaps of a ‘model episcopal biography’ which he developed for the lives of the Polish prelates. This approach led Długosz to often over-interpret and amplify the scant facts available.10 Recent research confirms that the author of the Chronica Polonorum belonged to the landowning knighthood. This position has been reached on the basis of charters which record the donation of lands by Bishop Vin­cen­ tius to Cistercian monasteries. The authenticated charters were made when 6 

Kronika Mierzwy, ed. by Bielowski, p. 417. Drelicharz, ‘Pamięć i tradycja’, pp. 159–62, 165, 168–73. 8  Catalogi episcoporum Cracoviensium, ed. by Szymański, pp. 58, 90–91; Długosz, Liber beneficiorum dioecesis Cracoviensis, ed. by Przeździecki, p. 383. 9  Catalogi episcoporum Cracoviensium, ed. by Szymański, p. 162; Grodecki, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, p. 38. 10  Borkowska, ‘Models of Bishops’, pp. 148–51; Maciejewski, ‘Places of Bishops’ Consecration’, pp. 42–43. 7 

Jacek Maciejewski


Vin­cen­tius was a provost in Sandomierz and later when he was the bishop of Cracow. The charters record the donation of lands to Cistercian monasteries in Sulejów and Koprzywnica, and provide the only reliable information about his family circle.11 The charter of 1212 identifies two of his nephews (Bogusław and Sulisław) as Bishop Vin­cen­tius’s only male kin. The charter prevented the nephews from exercising their right of revocation, meaning that Vin­cen­tius’s family could not reverse Vin­cen­tius’s donations to the Cistercians.12 The main hypothetical proposition in the historiography is an attempt to elevate Vin­cen­tius into the magnate class, primarily by including him among the relatives of the twelfth-century Piotr Włostowic, or by suggesting that the bishop had family connections with the clan of Lisowie.13 After 1150, members of the clan Lisowie held a number of senior state and ecclesiastical offices. Of these, Szczepan (Stefan) the Old was the palatine (1177–86/87) of Kazimierz II the Just, and at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the Lisowie dominated political life in Cracow, where one of their kindred, Mikołaj, served as the palatine (up to 1206), and Pełka (d. 1207), was an ordinary of the Cracow diocese.14 Recent research has also shown that there were close agnate blood ties between the earliest Lisowie and Vin­cen­tius’s contemporary Gryfici. On this basis it is possible to include among these interrelated elites Bishop Mateusz of Cracow, whom Vin­cen­tius made one of the two interlocutors in his first three books of the Chronica Polonorum.15 I am not convinced by the proposition that Vin­c en­tius was part of the extended clan of Gryfici.16 I am persuaded by the hypothesis offered by Janusz Bieniak which suggests an alternative clan affiliation for Vin­cen­tius. Bieniak advanced a well-substantiated hypothesis which includes Vin­cen­tius in the ancestral circle of the powerful comes Piotr Włostowic.17 Bieniak based his 11 

Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 4 (dated 1206), pp. 9–10; doc. 9 (dated 24 May 1212), pp. 14–15. 12  ‘Nostris nepotibus filijs fratris nostri, scilicet Boguzlauo et Sulizlauo protestantibus, nullum ad ea penitus habere uel habituros respectum’: Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 9 (dated 24 May 1212), pp. 14–15. 13  Semkowicz, ‘Ród Awdańców’, p. 188; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. x–xiv. 14  Śliwiński, ‘Ród Lisów’, pp. 33–46; Śliwiński, Lisowie Krzelowscy, pp. 167–72; Śliwiński, ‘Ród Lisów w „Rocznikach”’, pp. 41–49. 15  Bieniak, ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. III A’, pp. 87–93. 16  Śliwiński, ‘W sprawie pochodzenia’, pp. 162–72; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 30–31. 17  Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – pierwszy uczony polski’, pp. 123–24; Bieniak,

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


hypothesis on two premises. Firstly, it follows a comprehensive analysis of the source material using the genealogical method. Secondly, a detailed examination of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronica Polonorum led Bieniak to conclude that there is only one family tradition associated with a private ancestral circle discernible in the Chronicle. This is the tradition of the family and kin of Piotr Włostowic, introduced, according to Bieniak, with surprising familiarity and unconcealed favour by Vin­cen­tius. Bieniak concluded that the bishop of Cracow was an agnatic descendant of comes Piotr Włostowic, and that specifically Vin­cen­tius was a direct descendant of Piotr’s brother, Bogusław. The descendants of Bogusław were therefore members of a younger branch of this powerful magnate family. The clan belonged to the political elite and held key offices in the Piast realm. Piotr Włostowic, his son Wszebór, and grandson Włodzimierz Świętosławic were elevated by the Piasts to the office of the palatine, whereas Piotr’s other grandson and namesake, also a son of Świętosław, was archbishop of Gniezno (c. 1190–98).18 The stormy history of Poland in the last quarter of the twelfth century, marked by two coups d’état, the disintegration of the Piast patrimony, and the cyclical civil war, resulted in collapse and loss of prestige for the Włostowice clan. Learning from their experience of siding with only one party, the clan achieved a return to favour by securing positions as advisers with both camps of the aspiring and warring new dynasts, Kazimierz II the Just and Mieszko III the Old. In the eyes of future generations, the Włostowic were not double-dealers but acted for the reconciliation, unification, and peace of the Piast realm. Vin­ cen­tius’s Chronicle reports with pride, and in his usual effusive way, that the main intermediary role for achieving peace was played by Archbishop Piotr, the aforementioned grandson of Piotr Włostowic.19 The archbishop’s successful mediation resulted, as I will discuss later, in some personal benefits for Vin­ cen­tius. ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. III A’, p. 49. 18  Bieniak, ‘Ród Łabędziów’, pp. 31, table II; Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, p. 224. 19  ‘The one who caused this concord and who was its funiculus, indeed a golden chain, was a man gifted with all virtue, all knowledge, in all wisdom confirmed, standing out with all charm of character, of no unimportant family, and of mind extremely outstanding. And even if I would rupture, with words I am not able to recount his merits.’ = ‘Fuit autem huius concordie funiculus immo aurea catena, uir omnium uirtutum, omni sapientie, omni scientie quadratus industria, omni morum uenustate conspicuus, non minus prosapie, quam animi generositate preinsignis, idem Petrus archipontifex. Cuius etsi me rupero, merita dictis non assequar’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13.

Jacek Maciejewski


Before Vin­cen­tius’s Appointment to Episcopal Office In order to establish Vin­cen­tius’s approximate year of birth consideration needs to be given to his date of death (in 1223) and his stay during his boyhood years at the court of Bishop Mateusz of Cracow, who died in 1166.20 From these dates I hypothesize that Vin­cen­tius was born around the year 1150. At first he could have studied at Cracow’s cathedral school whilst at the same time performing some services at the court of the local ordinary. If we are to believe Vin­cen­tius’s own account, Bishop Mateusz (‘praeses epulantium’) recognized Vin­cen­tius’s literary abilities which is why Vin­cen­tius was commissioned by him to work on an outline of the history of the Poles.21 The good opinion of the bishop in terms of the boy’s abilities could certainly have induced Vin­cen­ tius’s family to send him to further study abroad. Gedko, Mateusz’s successor as the bishop of Cracow, was probably also another patron of the studious cleric. Gedko was a descendant of Wojsław, the progenitor of the clan of PowałowieOgończykowie, who was the seneschal (stolnik) at the court of Bolesław III. The venerable Gedko, whose name according to Vin­cen­tius should be preserved for posterity in gold letters,22 maintained contact with Italy, and during his pontificate foreigners from the distant Apennine Peninsula flourished at the chapter and at the cathedral school in Cracow. It is likely that Gedko personally engaged in writing.23 The decision to send Vin­c en­tius to study abroad was certainly consistent with the requirements of his family’s politics. The extended family of Włostowice was large in the second half of the twelfth century and, with the right training, was attaining high ecclesiastical offices, as evidenced by the grandson of Piotr Włostowic reaching the office of the archbishop of Gniezno. Archbishop Piotr was glorified in the Chronica Polonorum on account of his intellectual formation.24 An extensive knowledge of the liturgy and canon law was a necessary prerequisite for the highest offices of the Polish Church. It is estimated that two thirds of the Polish episcopate who held office between 20 

Wasilewski, ‘Data zgonu’, pp. 587–92. Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.1; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 32–33. For discussion of the metaphor used in this passage see Wojtowicz, ‘Memoria i uczta’, pp. 345–46. 22  ‘Sanctissimo Cracouiensium antiste, cuius nomen aureo insculpendum est calamo, Getcone’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.24. 23  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xvii–xviii. 24  Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13–14. 21 

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


1180 and 1320 studied at a university.25 Similarly, the training of the bishops of Cracow in the twelfth century seems to have followed a consistent pattern. Bishop Mateusz (who Vin­cen­tius made an interlocutor of the first three books of the Chronicle) used Latin fluently, using both its ancient forms as well as biblical topics. There is also a hypothesis that Mateusz was the author of one of the earliest extant Polish annals, Rocznik Dawny (The Old Annals), and one of the lives of Saint Adalbert of Prague (Tempore illo).26 The two subsequent ordinaries of Cracow, Gedko and Pełka, are also sometimes attributed with studies in Italy. There is no evidence to substantiate this theory, however it is proven that both churchmen maintained constant and lively contact with Italy and that they knew canon law.27 The idea that Vin­cen­tius studied abroad is hypothetical and derived exclusively from indirect premises. One of the chief issues which suggest that Vin­ cen­tius studied outside Poland was his title of magister which precedes his name in some charters.28 The title of magister is in this case an academic distinction received after graduating from a university, and is neither a term denoting a school teacher nor was it one used for the dignity of the scholastic in the chapter of Cracow.29 The hypothesis that Vin­cen­tius undertook foreign studies is strongly reinforced by the contents of the Chronica Polonorum. The outstanding erudition of the author is the most convincing evidence. The skill and knowledge


Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, pp. 39–40; Maciejewski, ‘Which Way to Bishopric?’, p. 213. Jacek Wiesiołowski demonstrates that 80 per cent of members of the Polish episcopate had completed university studies. Wiesiołowski, ‘Episkopat polski XV wieku’, p. 244. See also Kuźma, ‘Die Ausbildung der Erzbischöfe von Gnesen’, pp. 120–21. 26  Plezia, ‘List biskupa Mateusza do św. Bernarda’, pp. 123–40; Bieniak, ‘Autor Rocznika dawnego’, pp. 427–42. 27  Ożóg, ‘Formacja intelektualna’, pp. 163–64. 28  Innocent III’s letter (dated 28 March 1208) confirmed Vin­cen­tius’s election. ‘Quidam uero dilectum filium magistrum Vincentium Sudomiriensis Ecclesie diocesis Cracouiensis prepositum’: Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum ecclesiae Cracoviensis, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 7, p. 11. The 1206 charter of Leszek the White which confirmed Vin­cen­tius’s donation for the Cistercian Abbey in Sulejów referred to ‘Sandomiriensis prepositi magistri Vincenci.’: Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 4, pp. 9–10. The colophon inserted by a scribe in the oldest extant manu­script of the Chronicle states: ‘Finit cronica siue originale regum et principum Polonie edita per magistrum Vincencium Cracouiensem episcopum’: Chronica Polonorum, 194, n. 26.20. See also Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xxii; Drelicharz, ‘Pamięć i tradycja’, p. 148. 29  Balzer, ‘Magisteryat w Polsce’, pp. 69–74.

Jacek Maciejewski


of the author of the Chronicle exceeded what Vin­cen­tius could have learned at school in Cracow or at any other school in the Piast Poland of his day.30 Scholars have devoted a lot of attention to the education and intellectual development of the chronicler, pointing to his extensive knowledge of literature, philosophy, and law.31 Numerous attempts have been made to identify the place where Vin­cen­tius undertook his studies, however these have failed to produce a convincing conclusion. Of these hypotheses the most common position is that Vin­cen­tius studied in at least one of the two leading centres of contemporary university education in Europe: Paris and Bologna. It is also not possible to rule out that he studied in both Italy and France but not necessarily in these two cities.32 Vin­c en­tius probably graduated before 1189 because from this year his scantly documented activity can be traced in Poland. By this time the Piast realm was already divided between two princes: Mieszko III the Old and his younger brother Kazimierz II the Just. Each prince claimed suzerainty of the whole Piast patrimony and did not recognize the authority of the other. By default, Vin­cen­tius came under the influence of Kazimierz, whose seat was Cracow, because of the location of his family’s estates and Vin­cen­tius’s membership of the cathedral chapter of Cracow. It is universally agreed that his name, ‘Vin­cen­tius magister’, is listed as one of the witnesses on the charter of Kazimierz II the Just for the chapter of Cracow dated 12 April 1189. There is also a majority view that Vin­cen­tius dictated the text of the charter due to stylistic similarities between its text and the text of the Chronicle.33 An indication of Vin­cen­tius’s status at court is the placement of his name amongst the witnesses to the charter immediately after the name of the chancellor Piotr, which has led to suggestions in the historiography that Vin­cen­tius worked in Kazimierz’s chancery.34 Scholars dissenting from this majority view argue that Vin­cen­tius was a scholastic of the cathedral in Cracow or at least a teacher at Cracow’s cathedral school.35 30 

Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xxiii. For example: Vetulani, ‘Prawo kanoniczne’, pp.  35–45; Sondel, ‘W sprawie prawa’, pp. 95–105; Chmielewska, ‘Recepcja’, pp. 215–30; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 231–78. 32  Cf. Sulowski, ‘Elementy filozofii’, pp. 19–21; Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma’, pp. 75–99. 33  von Zeissberg, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek’, pp. 25–29. 34  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, p. 55. 35  Grodecki, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, pp. 42–46; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xxi–xxiv. 31 

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


Vin­cen­tius’s presence at Kazimierz II’s court is to a degree confirmed by his comment in the Chronicle that the writing of the history of Poland was entrusted to him by the ‘bravest of princes’. The text of Book iv of the Chronicle confirms the identification of the prince who commissioned the Chronicle as Kazimierz II the Just.36 Mieszko staged a number of unsuccessful coups d’état against Kazimierz, and during the last of these Mieszko’s son and heir was taken captive. In 1191 a treaty was negotiated between Kazimierz and Mieszko, and Vin­cen­tius could have played a role in the settlement. The treaty confirmed Kazimierz, the youngest son of Bolesław III, as princeps, and members of the Włostowice clan played leading roles to achieve a peaceful conclusion to the hostilities. Chief amongst these peacemakers was Piotr, the archbishop of Gniezno, acting as the metropolitan of the Polish ecclesiastical province.37 The Piast’s dynastic settlement arguably favoured Vin­c en­tius. On 8 September 1191 Archbishop Piotr consecrated the Church of Our Lady in Sandomierz and the first post of provost of the local chapter was entrusted to Vin­cen­tius.38 In my opinion, the elevation of a young cleric to the leadership of a chapter of Sandomierz would have been possible only if Vin­cen­tius had strong backing from the court and enjoyed the protection of his powerful relative, the archbishop of Gniezno. Vin­cen­tius would also have benefited from the support of an extended network of the clan of Wojsławice who dominated contemporary regional politics in Sandomierz and pursued their own church politics across Polish church provinces. In spite of the support of the princeps, Vin­cen­tius did not yet have sufficient credentials to hope for appointment to a benefice of the canonry or prelacy in the capital, Cracow. Even with the limited and random combination of sources available, it is clear that the Polish magnate families of this period consciously chose this type of career path for their younger sons, with the prospect of an appointment to the office of bishop for the most successful. An excellent example of this strategy is the career of a member of the clan of Wojsławice, Gedko, son of Sasin, bishop of Płock. Gedko came from the family descended from Wojsław, the seneschal of Bolesław III, and benefited from appointments made by his senior relative Gedko, son of Trojan, bishop of Cracow (1166–85).39 Gedko, bishop 36 

Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xxix. Bieniak, ‘Polska elita I’, pp. 58–59. 38  Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed.  by Piekosiński, doc. 2, p.  5; Dobosz, Działalność fundacyjna, p. 95. 39  Wojsław’s magnate status is confirmed by the status of his relations. Wojsław’s pater37 


Jacek Maciejewski

of Cracow, appointed his relative Gedko, son of Sasin, to the post of provost of the chapter of Cracow in about 1179/80.40 In 1206 the provost Gedko was nominated to be the bishop of Płock, and he left Cracow to move a few hundred kilometres to the north to take up his position in the capital of Mazovia. Pełka, bishop of Cracow (1185–1207) died within a year of Gedko’s move to Płock.41 The vacancy caused by Pełka’s death was an opportunity for Gedko to further his career and return to the realm’s capital, Cracow. Gedko had strong connections within the chapter of Cracow and he did not expect that he would face effective opposition to his promotion. However, under the Polish Church’s newly won independence from the Piast dynasty, this appointment was to be the first time that a bishop of Cracow would be elected by the chapter of Cracow, independently of the princeps of Poland. In the event, at least two candidates were put forward by the canons of the cathedral chapter of Cracow for the bishop’s throne, including Gedko and Vin­cen­tius, then still a provost in Sandomierz.

Election Vin­cen­tius was, according to the almost unanimous agreement of the Polish historiography, the first Polish bishop to be chosen by means of a canonical election by a cathedral chapter.42 In the first quarter of the thirteenth century, implementation of Gregorian reforms became a priority for the Polish metropolitan church province under the leadership of the reformist Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz. Henryk also extracted a number of concessions from the Piast dynasty in exchange for the Church’s support during the internal dynastic struggles. The election for the new bishop of Cracow was probably held at the turn of the autumn and winter of 1207, as Bishop Pełka died on 11 September nal uncle, Żyra, the comes of Płock (1161? – c. 1187), was the first palatine (wojewoda) to be appointed for Mazovia. 40  Łaguna, ‘Dwie elekcje’, p. 185. 41  Grodecki, ‘Gedko syn Sasina’, p. 368. 42  There is a suggestion that an earlier election was held in 1201 in Wrocław which necessitated the translation of Bishop Cyprian of Lubusz to Wrocław, however it is not possible to confirm this view on the basis of sources. I would argue that it is much more probable that the chapter of Wrocław accepted Cyprian as the nominee of the local prince. Bullarium Poloniae, i, ed. by Sułkowska-Kuraś and Kuraś, doc. 47, p. 16; Abraham, Organizacja Kościoła, pp. 216, n. 1; Grodecki, Polska piastowska, pp. 376–78; Tazbirowa, ‘Pierwsze elekcje’, p. 119; BaranKozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk Kietlicz, pp. 64–65.

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


Map 3. The key ecclesiastical sees in Piast Poland with the dates of their establishment.

that year. Shortly before Pełka’s death, Archbishop Henryk had returned from Rome and made public a papal letter in which the pope admonished princes who prevented free canonical elections.43 The Polish episcopate was also aware that Pope Innocent III had restricted all decisions associated with the translation of bishops to be the sole prerogative of the Roman pontiff. This policy reflected the pope’s reluctance to allow bishops to move from one episcopal see to another. This restrictive policy was strictly enforced by the Curia.44 Two candidates were nominated for the throne of bishop of Cracow: Gedko son of Sasin, bishop of Płock, and Vin­cen­tius, provost of Sandomierz. 43  Codex diplomaticus Maioris Poloniae, i, ed. by Zakrzewski, doc. 41, p. 50. For the details of the Archbishop’s journey to Rome see Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, pp. 94–122. 44  Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, pp. 47–48.


Jacek Maciejewski

Gedko received the majority vote and his election required a supplication to be presented to the pope to enable Gedko’s translation from Płock to Cracow. In my opinion, an unprecedented series of events then took place in relation to this election. The text of the supplication seeking approval of the election of Gedko made no attempt to discredit one candidate or the other, and no dispute was raised as to whether the majority of votes given to Gedko represented the true majority and wiser part of the votes (maior and sanior pars) of the chapter. Most surprisingly, some of the electors of Gedko expressed their consent to entrust Vin­cen­tius with the episcopal dignity if the pope did not approve Gedko’s move from Płock to Cracow.45 However, it has become a dominant theme of Polish historiography to describe this first episcopal election as a clash between two magnate factions based upon the argument that the magnates’ clans were divided on the fundamental issue of the implementation of Gregorian reforms in Poland.46 I have no doubt that the canons of the chapter were divided as to who should be elected as bishop after the death of Bishop Pełka, however, I do not find the magnate dispute proposition credible, and I am not convinced by the arguments presented to date.47 In my view, the fact that numerous supporters of Gedko had given their consent to the possible election of Vin­cen­tius in advance of the election proves that both candidates represented reasonably similar ideological positions. In addition, the election rivals, in the absence of enmity, continued to have a constructive relationship after the election.48 I believe the first election for the bishop of Cracow needs to be examined in the context of political events in Cracow. By the time of Pełka’s death, Kazimierz’s son, Leszek the White had assumed the throne of princeps. The death of two representatives of the clan Lisowie (one, a palatine, the other a bishop) in close proximity to one another created a chance for a significant 45  Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 7. It is likely that Canon Iwo Odrowąż, the Chancellor of Leszek the White and the Archdeacon Janusz played a major part in the election. Abraham, Pierwszy spór, p. 304; Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, p. 124. 46  Abraham, Pierwszy spór, pp. 305–09; Łaguna, ‘Dwie elekcje’, pp. 154–67, 191–98; Umiński, Henryk arcybiskup gnieźnieński, pp. 63–66; Tazbirowa, ‘Pierwsze elekcje’, p. 120. 47  Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, pp. 49, 60, 101; Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, p. 123; Szymaniak, Biskup płocki Gedko, p. 147. 48  Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 9 (dated 1213), p. 13; Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 9; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, p. 48.

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


shake-up in the ruling elite of Cracow. The support of the majority of the canons of the chapter for the candidature of Gedko is not surprising given that he was almost certainly older and more experienced than Vin­cen­tius and due to Gedko’s family connections, let alone the high regard in which he was held after over twenty years of service in Cracow. Before going to Płock, Gedko was ranked third in the church hierarchy in Cracow as he was the provost of the local cathedral chapter. Another motive, perhaps, for the majority of electors was their wish to continue the political policies of the two previous bishops of Cracow vis-à-vis Gniezno, each of whom had family ties to the candidate Gedko. The deceased Bishop Gedko was a fellow clan member and Bishop Pełka belonged to the allied clan of Lisowie;49 both had been engaged in an active struggle to maintain the influence of Cracow within the structure of the archdiocese of Gniezno. Gedko, son of Sasin, was known not to enjoy a close friendship with the archbishop of Gniezno, and perhaps it seemed to the canons of Cracow that Gedko would be a more active advocate for Cracow than Vin­cen­tius. The historiography universally accepts that Pope Innocent III rejected the supplication of the chapter of Cracow for the translation of Gedko from Płock to Cracow. This was apparently influenced by representations made in favour of Vin­cen­tius by Leszek the White and the archbishop of Gniezno, Henryk Kietlicz,50 although the decision would also have been consistent with the pope’s policy that restricted all decisions associated with the translation of bishops to himself as Roman pontiff (and, as noted above, of which the canons had been warned before the election). Leszek’s support for Vin­cen­tius perhaps demonstrates a close affinity between the family of Kazimierz II the Just and the provost of Sandomierz; I argue that the extent of the support cannot be substantiated beyond a conjecture that it was probable. There is no evidence to suggest that there was any direct attempt to influence the members of the chapter by the pope or the princeps. Besides which, Gedko also enjoyed the confi49  Both Gedko and Pełka were consecrated in Rome. See Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, pp. 230–31. Gedko arranged for the translation of the relics of Saint Florian from Modena to Cracow, which can be seen as an establishment of a rival to the Gniezno cult of a saint based in Lesser Poland. Pełka continued the policy of advancing the rights of the See of Cracow by obtaining the Papal privilege that gave Bishops of Cracow precedence, next to Archbishops of Gniezno, over all other Polish bishops irrespective of their date of promotion to the episcopal dignity. Jacek Maciejewski, ‘Precedencja biskupów’, pp. 7–8, 11. 50  See for example Łaguna, ‘Dwie elekcje’, pp.  322–23; Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, pp. 123–24.


Jacek Maciejewski

dence of the sons of Kazimierz II the Just, as demonstrated when Gedko was appointed to the office of the bishop of Płock in 1206.51 More consequential to the election result was the attitude of the archbishop of Gniezno to the two candidates for the Cracow bishopric. On the one hand I would argue that there was no close connection between the archbishop and the provost of Sandomierz. Rather, the archbishop of Gniezno was opposed to the election of Gedko. Gedko, a suffragan of the archbishop, challenged his superior on the implementation of church reform in Poland which led to a number of open disagreements and personal grudges.52 The origin of their personal and institutional dislike was directly related to the general antagonism that existed between Gedko and Henryk’s respective magnate families and the factional rivalry which bound their members, and existed long before Gedko was consecrated as bishop of Płock. The enmity went back generations. For example, a namesake and member of the same clan as Gedko also held the office of bishop of Cracow in 1166–85 and was the chief political opponent of the castellan Henryk Kietlicz, the presumed father of the future Archbishop Henryk.53 The story of the elder Henryk and Gedko is masterfully related on the pages of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle.54 I would argue that the chronicler received some measure of support from Archbishop Henryk during the disputed election. However, as you will see, this support did not mark the beginning of mutual cooperation between the prelates. There is no evidence that the archbishop of Gniezno knew that Vin­cen­ tius was already working on his Chronica Polonorum and Vin­cen­tius does not appear to have shared the results of his historiographical endeavours until they were completed many years later. In any event, I believe that Vin­cen­tius discontinued writing his Chronicle when he became bishop due to a lack of time, given his new duties as pastor and administrator of the diocese. In the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius narrates the events in which Henryk Kietlicz (the father of the archbishop?) is portrayed as a chief villain and a traitor whose tragic fate is predicted by Bishop Gedko of Cracow. I would argue that the fact that the contemporary leader of the Polish Church was cast as the relative (son?) of the villain of Vin­cen­tius’s story is significant. The archbishop’s name is also 51  According to Marek Szymaniak, Konrad of Mazovia was the patron of Gedko. Szymaniak, Biskup płocki Gedko, pp. 154, 161. 52  Szymaniak, Biskup płocki Gedko, pp. 157–319. 53  Before 1177 Henryk Kietlicz served as Mieszko III’s comes in Cracow. 54  Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 38–42, 48.

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not mentioned once in the Chronica Polonorum, even though the work gives a narrative of the first three years of Henryk’s pontificate, the period in which the archbishop gained major concessions from the Piasts and new liberties for the Church in Poland. I think the silence of Bishop Vin­cen­tius about the political achievements of Archbishop Henryk of Gniezno is noteworthy. Instead Vin­ cen­tius was consciously preserving for posterity history according to the adversaries of the family of the Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz. On this basis I argue that there were no close connections between the archbishop and Vin­cen­tius. The Holy See acknowledged that both candidates were properly qualified to hold the office and confirmed the election of Vin­cen­tius as the bishop of Cracow, noting that his election was held canonically in accordance with the law.55 I am convinced that Pope Innocent III decided that repeating the election or making a direct papal nomination for this post of bishop could jeopardize the introduction of canonical elections of bishops in the province of Gniezno. The pope may also have been concerned that adversaries of the reform could use the results of a manipulated Cracow election as a pretext to oppose its implementation.

Pontificate The pontificate of Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow lasted approximately nine years.56 Sources on the activities of Vin­cen­tius are scarce and the historiography abounds in hypotheses.57 What is striking about the sources of this period is that the extant material concerning Vin­cen­tius is almost exclusively related to his activities as a church leader. This is in contrast to his two immediate predecessors, for whom there is evidence of active involvement in the politics of the Piast realm. Nothing is known about Vin­cen­tius’s involvement in any political or ecclesiastical conflict and the historiography sees him traditionally as the ‘shepherd of concord and compromise’.58 A few extant documents attest to Vin­c en­tius’s support of a number of church institutions. The Cistercian Order particularly benefited personally from Vin­cen­tius’s generosity, although the size of the donations to this order 55 

Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 7. Vin­cen­tius was consecrated on 24 May 1208. Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 9; Łaguna, ‘Dwie elekcje’, p. 203. 57  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xxxviii–lv. 58  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xl. 56 

Jacek Maciejewski


does not place him in the category of a very wealthy benefactor. During his time as provost of Sandomierz Vin­cen­tius made private endowments to Cistercian monasteries in Sulejów and Koprzywnica which he confirmed after his election as bishop.59 In 1210 he consecrated the church at the abbey in Jędrzejów and donated the tithe of three villages to the abbey.60 Some years later Vin­cen­tius supported a commandery of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów in a similar way. Not all religious orders of the Church remembered Bishop Vin­cen­tius in a positive light. It is known that Gervase, abbot of Prémontré, mentioned that Vin­cen­tius fell into disfavour with the Premonstratensians to Vin­cen­tius’s successor, Bishop Iwo Odrowąż.61 Bishop Vin­cen­tius was also a benefactor of the secular clergy of his own chapter and the cathedral. Jan Długosz reported that Vin­c en­tius made an assignment of tithes to them from Czchów.62 The tithes were to finance wax, wine, and oil and this suggests that the benefactor made this donation for the sake of his great piety and the enjoyment of splendour.63 On the other hand this could be a simple case of the administrator of the diocese taking care of his cathedral church. Among the recipients of the bishop’s benefices was also the collegiate church in Kielce. Vin­cen­tius donated to the Kielce church two prebends of the parish church in Kije and attached to it the village of Podłęże, thus ending a dispute about the income and the right of patronage of the church.64 This settlement allowed the bishop to support the foundation of the altaria there.65 These matters present Vin­cen­tius as a careful administrator of the diocese who strove to achieve compromise and who ruled with the advice of the chapter. A textual analysis of the diplomatic material produced by the bishop’s chancery suggests that Vin­cen­tius reformed its operation.66 As a result of these reforms the language, conventions, and formulae of the bishop’s documents 59 

Grodecki, Mistrz Wincenty, pp. 35–37. Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, ii, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 380; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xlvii–xlviii. 61  Kutrzeba, ‘List generała’, pp. 587–88. 62  Annales Cracovienses priores cum kalendario, ed.  by Kozłowska-Budkowa, p.  130; Długosz, Liber beneficiorum dioecesis Cracoviensis, pp. 96, 174–75, 204, 235. 63  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xlix. 64  Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum, i, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 9. 65  Wroniszewski, ‘O początkach kościoła w Kijach’, pp. 623–34. 66  There is a list of documents together with a summary of older research in Lis, ‘Dokumenty mistrza Wincentego’, pp. 39–52. 60 

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


stabilized. According to some researchers, these changes were the result of the personal qualities of the bishop who was himself a literary erudite. The work in the chancery was perhaps a special focus for the bishop because it related to his expertise in writing. The majority of scholars agree that Vin­cen­tius cooperated with his metropolitan archbishop, Henryk Kietlicz, in matters of the Church and was a key part of the archbishop’s reform-minded church faction.67 Sources inform us only about the participation of Vin­cen­tius in provincial synods and episcopal councils which often coincided with Piast state councils.68 Vin­cen­tius complied with the requirements of canon law which obliged him to be present at such gatherings at the request of the archbishop. Some scholars argue that the membership of the archbishop’s Polish delegation to the Fourth Lateran Council (1213–15) is illustrative of the composition of his church faction. The bishops of Cracow, Wrocław, Włocławek, and Lubusz travelled together with Archbishop Kietlicz to Rome, while the bishops of Płock and Poznań remained in Poland as caretakers according to the instructions of Pope Innocent III.69 The suggestion that the bishops who attended the council formed the reform party whilst those who remained in Poland were less enthusiastic supporters of the archbishop is perhaps an over-interpretation. For example, Bishop Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow maintained excellent relations with Bishop Gedko of Płock who had attempted to adapt the Gregorian reform to suit local conditions.

Vin­cen­tius’s Resignation and the Last Years of his Life The lack of reliable sources on Vin­c en­tius’s resignation from the post of bishop of Cracow has allowed a great deal of conjecture to grow in the historiography. Hypotheses range from conspiracy theories put about by his successor, to Vin­cen­tius’s personal lack of interest in political and ecclesiastical disputes, to his longing for the peace and contemplation of a quiet monastic


Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xli; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, p. 48; Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, pp. 127, 205, 238. 68  In 1207–1217 there were no less than eight meetings (either Church councils or state councils) where the bishop of Cracow would have been present. His presence is documented at four of them: Borzykowa (1210), Mąkolno and Mstów (1212), and Sieradz (1213). Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, pp. 98, 117–18; Baran-Kozłowski, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk, pp. 171–80, 213–22. 69  Kętrzyński, ‘Wiadomość o udziale’, pp. 139–42.

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cell.70 The hypothesis about a conspiracy led by Iwo Odrowąż is groundless.71 Yet the question remains whether Vin­cen­tius escaped to a monastery after being disheartened by current events. The most obvious explanation for the resignation of Vin­cen­tius is his age. The chronicler was probably reaching the age of seventy years at the time of his resignation from the office in 1217. His advanced age and associated weakened state of health could already have prevented him from undertaking the travel associated with the episcopal mission and administering the diocese. The dioceses in Poland were territorially the largest administrative structures of this type in the Latin Church. It is also likely that Vin­cen­tius’s active travel schedule, particularly during the years 1212–16 which included the voyage to Rome, could have undermined his health. An inability to effectively perform the functions required of him due to poor health seems to me to be the only reason serious enough to allow him to easily obtain the required papal agreement to step down from the office. The precarious nature of an episcopal resignation is best illustrated by the case of Vin­cen­tius’s successor, who asked to be relieved from the duties of the office in order to fulfil a vow to enter a monastery, only to have his resignation rejected.72 The final conundrum concerning Bishop Vin­c en­tius of Cracow is connected with the last period of his life. Vin­cen­tius died a few years after his resignation, on 8 March 1223.73 Tradition maintains that he was buried in the Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów. From the fourteenth century onwards there are repeated suggestions about his monastic profession,74 unresolved by the translation of his body to a new grave in 1633.75 Therefore it is not known if the chronicler joined the Cistercian Order or whether he spent the last years of his life in a monastic cell in Jędrzejów. The interment in this monastic church fits the contemporary Polish episcopate quite well. Polish bishops of the thirteenth century sometimes chose their final resting place in a church other than 70 

Cf.  Grodecki, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, p.  54; Bełch, ‘Dlaczego Kadłubek zrezygnował z biskupstwa?’, p. 146; Tazbirowa, ‘Rola polityczna Iwona Odrowąża’, pp. 199–211. 71  Kozłowska-Budkowa, ‘Rezygnacje biskupów’, pp. 37–41. 72  Vetera monumenta Poloniae et Lithuaniae gentiumque finitimarum historiam illustrantia, ed. by Theiner, docs 31–32. 73  Annales Cracovienses priores cum kalendario, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, doc. 130 (17 November 1223), pp. 14–15; Annales capituli Cracoviensis, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, 73. 74  Drelicharz, ‘Pamięć i tradycja’, pp. 160–61. 75  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. lii.

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their own cathedral, and a few of them chose to be buried in a church of grey monks.76 Vin­cen­tius may have requested that his body be buried in a church which he had personally consecrated.

Conclusion Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow is often treated as a completely extraordinary person in the context of the intellectual elite of contemporary Poland. In my opinion this is an exaggerated view because a large group of Polish bishops of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were as well educated as he. The events of the life of Vin­cen­tius, whilst interwoven in the dramatic upheavals of Polish history, seem to me to be quite ordinary and representative of a typical ecclesiastical career. There is a need for a stronger explanation of his institutional links with the chapter of Cracow, though his person was very well known in this circle. Moreover, very typical, but lacking evidence in sources, is the protection Vin­cen­tius received from his nearer and more distant relations, including the prelates and magnates who were influential at the Piast court. The same can be said of other bishops of this time who did not have pastoral experience before their elevation to the bishop’s throne. Yet Vin­cen­tius fulfilled his episcopal duties properly and exercised his pontificate without simultaneous appointment to an office at court, in a similar manner to other prelates of the Polish Church of the ‘era of feudal fragmentation’. It does not seem that Vin­cen­tius’s lifestyle diverged from the standards of his own social class, as his impressive knowledge of court entertainment suggests, and it is likely that the bishop of Cracow maintained his own sizable court. In almost all aspects of his life Vin­ cen­tius was then a typical representative of his class during this era. One thing which sets him apart from his peers and contemporaries is his writing genius.


Maciejewski, Episkopat polski, p. 96.


Jacek Maciejewski

Works Cited Primary Sources Annales capituli Cracoviensis, ed.  by Zofia Kozłowska-Budkowa, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 5 (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1978) Annales Cracovienses priores cum kalendario, ed.  by Zofia Kozłowska-Budkowa, Monu­ menta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 5 (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1978) Bullarium Poloniae, i, ed. by Irena Sułkowska-Kuraś and Stanisław Kuraś (Romae: École Française de Rome, 1982) Catalogi episcoporum Cracoviensium, ed.  by Józef Szymański, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 10 (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1974) Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum ecclesiae Cracoviensis, i, ed.  by Francis­ zek K. Piekosiński (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1874) Codex diplomaticus Maioris Poloniae, i, ed. by Ignacy Zakrzewski (Poznań: Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk Poznańskiego, 1877) Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, i, ed. by Franciszek Ksawery Piekosiński (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1876) Codex diplomaticus Poloniae Minoris, ii, ed. by Franciszek Ksawery Piekosiński (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1886) Długosz, Jan, Liber beneficiorum dioecesis Cracoviensis, ed.  by Aleksander Przeździecki, Ioannis Dlugossi Opera Omnia, 9 (Kraków: Drukarnia Kirchmajera, 1864) Kronika mistrza Wincentego [The Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius], ed.  by August Bielowski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, 2 (Lwów: s.n., 1872) Vetera monumenta Poloniae et Lithuaniae gentiumque finitimarum historiam illustrantia, ed. by Augustin Theiner (Romae: Typis Vaticanis, 1860)

Secondary Studies Abraham, Władysław, Organizacja Kościoła w Polsce do połowy wieku XII [Administrative Structures of the Church in Poland before the Twelfth Century], 2nd  edn (Lwów: nakładem Księgarni Gubrynowicza i Schmidta, 1893) —— , Pierwszy spór kościelno-polityczny w Polsce [The First Church-State Dispute in Poland], Rozprawy Wydziału historyczno-filozoficznego Akademii Umiejętności, 32 (Kraków: Akademia Umiejętności, 1895) Adamska, Anna, ‘The Introduction of Writing in Central Europe (Poland, Hungary and Bohemia)’, in New Approaches to Medi­eval Communication, ed.  by Marco Mostert, Utrecht Studies in Medi­eval Literacy, 1 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999), pp. 165–90 Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Magisteryat w Polsce do połowy XIII w. i kwestya magisteryatu Kadłubka’ [‘Academic Qualification of Magister in Poland before the mid-Thirteenth Century and Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], Sprawozdania Towarzystwa Naukowego we Lwowie, 4 (1924), 69–74

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—— , ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Baran-Kozłowski, Wojciech, Arcybiskup gnieźnieński Henryk Kietlicz (1199–1219): działalność kościelna i polityczna [Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz of Gniezno (1199–1219): Ecclesiastical and Political Activities], Poznańskie Studia Historyczne (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2005) Bełch, Stanisław, ‘Dlaczego Kadłubek zrezygnował z biskupstwa?’ [‘Why Vin­cen­tius Resigned from the Bishopric’], Prace historyczne, 1 (1965), 137–47 Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – pierwszy uczony polski – w 750-lecie śmierci: Sympozjum naukowe’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow, the First Polish Scholar: The 750th Anniversary of his Death’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 123–24 —— , ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. I: Tło działalności’ [‘The Polish Ruling Elite of the Twelfth Century: The Context’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów 2, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1982), pp. 11–61 —— , ‘Ród Łabędziów’ [‘The Clan of Łabędzie’], in Genealogia: studia nad wspólnotami krewniaczymi i terytorialnymi w Polsce średniowiecznej na tle porównawczym, ed.  by Jacek Hertel and Jan Wroniszewski (Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, 1987), pp. 9–33 —— , ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. III A: Arbitrzy książąt – krąg rodzinny Piotra Włostowica’ [‘The Polish Ruling Elite of the Twelfth Century: The Arbiters of Princes, the Family Circle of Piotr Włostowic’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów, 4, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1990), pp. 13–107 —— , ‘Autor Rocznika dawnego’ [‘The Author of the Old Annals’], in Kultura średnio­ wieczna i staropolska, ed.  by Danuta Gawinowa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1991), pp. 427–42 —— , ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu politycznym Polski przełomu XII i XIII wieku’ [‘Vin­ cen­tius of Cracow in the Life of Poland at the Turn of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 21–48 Borkowska, Urszula, ‘Models of Bishops in the 15th century Vitae Episcoporum Poloniae by John Długosz’, Miscellanea Historiae ecclesiasticae, 8 (1987), 148–58 Chmielewska, Katarzyna, ‘Recepcja rzymskiej literatury antycznej w Kronice polskiej Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Reception of Ancient Roman Literature in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 215–30 Dobosz, Józef, Działalność fundacyjna Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego [The Foundations of Kazimierz the Just] (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 1995) Drelicharz, Wojciech, ‘Pamięć i tradycja o mistrzu Wincentym w dziejopisarstwie polskim XIII–XIV wieku’ [‘Memory and Tradition of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow in Polish Historiography, 1201–1400’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 141–92


Jacek Maciejewski

Grodecki, Roman, ‘Mistrz Wincenty, Biskup Krakowski: zarys biograficzny’ [‘Vin­cen­tius Bishop of Kraków: A Biographical Sketch’], Rocznik Krakowski, 19 (1923), 30–61 —— , ‘Gedko syn Sasina, biskup płocki (zm. 1223)’ [‘Gedko Son of Sasin, Bishop of Płock’], in Polski Słownik Biograficzny (Warszawa: 1948–1958), pp. 367–70 —— , Polska piastowska [Poland of the Piasts], ed.  by Jerzy Wyrozumski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1969) Kałuża, Zénon, and Dragoş Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma z Conches i Bernarda z Clairvaux. O trudnych do ustalenia związkach Kroniki Wincentyńskiej z pisarstwem XIIwiecznym’ [‘Concerning William of Conches and Bernard of Clairvaux: The Problem of the Literary Relationship of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow and Writing in the Twelfth Century’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 75–99 —— , ‘O filozoficznych lekturach Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Philosophical Readings of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie. Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 231–78 Kętrzyński, Stanisław, ‘Wiadomość o udziale Polski w IV Soborze Laterańskim (1215)’ [‘The News of Polish Participation in the Fourth Lateran Council in 1215’], Przegląd Historyczny, 3 (1906), 139–42 Kozłowska-Budkowa, Zofia, ‘Rezygnacje biskupów krakowskich Wincentego i Iwona’ [‘The Resignations of the Bishops of Kraków Vincent and Iwon’], Nasza Przeszłość, 33 (1970), 35–44 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi Kutrzeba, Stanisław, ‘List generała Premonstratensów Gerwazego do Iwona Odrowąża z r. 1218’ [‘The 1218 Letter of Gervais, the General of the Premonstratensians, to Iwon Odrowąż’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 16 (1902), 587–88 Kuźma, Artur, ‘Die Ausbildung der Erzbischöfe von Gnesen im Vergleich mit der politischen Elite Polens im Spätmittelalter (14. und 15. Jahrhundert)’, in Christianity in East Central Europe: Late Middle Ages, ed. by Jerzy Kłoczowski, Paweł Kras and Wojciech Polak (Lublin: Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej, 1999), pp. 117–27 Łaguna, Stosław, ‘Dwie elekcje’ [‘Two Elections’], in Pisma Stosława Łaguny, ed. by Józef Bieliński (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1915), pp. 146–206 Lis, Artur, ‘Dokumenty mistrza Wincentego. Zarys problematyki’ [‘The Charters of Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 39–54 Maciejewski, Jacek, Episkopat polski doby dzielnicowej 1180–1320 (Kraków: Societas Vistulana, 2003) —— , ‘Precedencja biskupów prowincji gnieźnieńskiej w Polsce piastowskiej’ [‘The Prece­ dence of Bishops in the Province of Gniezno during the Reign of the Piast Dynasty’], Nasza Przeszłość, 99 (2003), 5–26 —— , ‘Places of Bishops’ Consecration in Medi­eval Poland’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 94 (2006), 35–57

Vin­cen­tius’s Background and Family Origins


—— , ‘Which Way to Bishopric? Origin and Careers of Polish Bishops of the 13th Century’, in Carreiras Eclesiásticas no Ocidente Cristão (séc. XII–XIV), Estudos de história religiosa, 5 (Lisboa: Universidade Católica Portuguesa, 2007), pp. 209–17 Ożóg, Krzysztof, ‘Formacja intelektualna biskupów krakowskich w średniowieczu’ [‘The Intellectual Formation of Bishops of Cracow in the Middle Ages’], in Cracovia, Polonia, Europa: studia z dziejów średniowiecza ofiarowane Jerzemu Wyrozumskiemu w sześćdziesiątą piątą rocznicę urodzin i czterdziestolecie pracy naukowej, ed. by Waldemar Bukowski (Kraków: Secesja, 1995), pp. 159–77 Plezia, Marian, ‘List biskupa Mateusza do św. Bernarda’ [‘The Letter of Bishop Mateusz to Saint Bernard’], in Prace z dziejów Polski feudalnej ofiarowane Romanowi Grodeckiemu w 70. rocznicę urodzin, ed. by Zofia Kozłowska-Budkowa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1960), pp. 123–40 Semkowicz, Władysław, ‘Ród Awdańców w wiekach średnich’ [‘The Clan of Awdaniec in the Middle Ages’], Roczniki Towarzystwa Przyjaciół Nauk Poznańskiego, 44  (1917), 155–293 Śliwiński, Błażej, ‘W sprawie pochodzenia Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘On the Origins of Vin­ cen­tius of Cracow’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 24 (1979), 162–72 —— , ‘Ród Lisów. Problem pochodzenia wojewody krakowskiego Mikołaja i biskupa krakowskiego Pełki’ [‘The Clan of Lis: The Question of the Origin of Mikołaj of Cracow and Bishop Pełka of Cracow’], in Genealogia: studia nad wspólnotami krewniaczymi i terytorialnymi w Polsce średniowiecznej na tle porównawczym, ed. by Jacek Hertel and Jan Wroniszewski (Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, 1987), pp. 33–46 —— , Lisowie Krzelowscy w XIV–XV w. i ich antenaci: studium genealogiczne [A Geneological Study of the Clan of Lis from Krzel, 1301–1500] (Gdańsk: Marpress, 1993) —— , ‘Ród Lisów w „Rocznikach” Jana Długosza – przyczynek do zagadnienia zaginionej kroniki dominikańskiej z pierwszej połowy XIII wieku’ [‘The Clan of Lis in the Annals by Jan Długosz: A Contribution to the Issue of the Lost Dominican Chronicle from the First Half of Thirteenth Century’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 34 (1993), 41–49 Sondel, Janusz, ‘W sprawie prawa rzymskiego w Kronice Polskiej Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem’ [‘Roman Law Usage in the Polish Chronicle by Vincenius of Cracow’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 85 (1978), 95–105 Sulowski, Jan, ‘Elementy filozofii XII wieku w Kronice Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Philosophy of the Twelfth Century in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], Studia Źród­łoz­ nawcze, 20 (1976), 19–21 Szymaniak, Marek, Biskup płocki Gedko (1206–1223): Działalność kościelno-polityczna na tle procesu emancypacji Kościoła polskiego spod władzy książęcej [Gedko, Bishop of Płock (1206–1223). Ecclesiastical and Political Background of the Emancipation of the Polish Church from Princely Rule] (Toruń: Wydawnictwo Adam Marszałek, 2007) Tazbirowa, Julia, ‘Pierwsze elekcje kanoniczne biskupów w Polsce’ [‘The First Canonical Elections of Bishops in Poland’], in Wieki średnie, ed. by Aleksander Gieysztor, Marian Henryk Serejski and Stanisław Trawkowski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1962), pp. 117–23 —— , ‘Rola polityczna Iwona Odrowąża’ [‘The Political Role of Iwon Odrowąż’], Przegląd Historyczny, 57 (1966), 199–211


Jacek Maciejewski

Umiński, Józef, Henryk arcybiskup gnieźnieński zwany Kietliczem (1199–1219) [Henry Arch­bishop of Gniezno known as Kietlicz (1199–1219)] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 1926) Vetulani, Adam, ‘Prawo kanoniczne i rzymskie w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’ [Canon and Roman Law in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 35–45 Wasilewski, Tadeusz, ‘Data zgonu biskupa krakowskiego Mateusza i księcia sandomierskiego Henryka – 18 października 1165 roku’ [‘The Date of Death of Mateusz Bishop of Cracow and Henry Duke of Sandomierz – 18 October 1165’], in Christianitas et cultura Europae: księga jubileuszowa profesora Jerzego Kłoczowskiego, i, ed. by Henryk Gapski (Lublin: Instytut Europy Środkowo-Wschodniej, 1998), pp. 587–92 Wiesiołowski, Jacek, ‘Episkopat polski XV wieku jako grupa społeczna’ [‘The Polish Episcopate in the 1400s as a Social Class’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów 4, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1990), pp. 236–95 Wojtowicz, Witold, ‘Memoria i uczta. Kilka uwag o założeniach ideowych kroniki Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Memory and Feasting: On Ideological Assumptions of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Win­ centego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 337–47 Wroniszewski, Jan, ‘O początkach kościoła w Kijach’ [‘The Origins of the Church in Kije’], Roczniki Humanistyczne, 48 (2000), 623–34 Zeissberg, Heinrich von, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek, Bischof von Krakau (1208–1218; 1223), und seine Chronik Polens’, Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, 42 (1870)

Motives and Inspirations: An Exploration of When and Why the Chronica Polonorum Was Written Józef Dobosz*


he vivid new literary techniques of the twelfth-century renaissance are found in Poland’s oldest chronicle, and it is both one of the most important products and subjects of Polish historiography. The Chronica Polonorum was written by a gifted cleric who served within the Piast court. The Chronicle was commissioned and written during a bloody era of feudal fragmentation at an important juncture of Polish history. During this period the sons and grandsons of Bolesław III had gradually departed from the idea of a centralized monarchy in favour of a disjointed Piast patrimony. The patrimony was divided into several principalities loosely associated under the leadership of the princeps residing in Cracow, who was suzerain of the Piast realm. The subsequent struggle for control of Cracow, the preoccupation of the younger members of the dynasty with the allocation of their own domains, and their ensuing border demarcation conflicts consumed the attention of the Piast dynasty throughout the mid to late twelfth century. The context, meaning, and motive for writing the Chronicle have been subject to debate in Polish historiography for at least two centuries and a number of arguments have been raised in the fervent discourse, often coloured by emotion. The current debate was initiated by Joachim Lelewel and has been joined  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński.

Józef Dobosz, Director, Institute of History, University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poznań Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 43–61 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114758

Józef Dobosz


by those considered the most significant authorities on Polish medi­eval studies. The discourse has not achieved consensus and instead has reached conflicting conclusions. The issue of establishing the timeframe in which Vin­cen­tius wrote the Chronicle was the chief concern of the earliest historiography. The most crucial factor in determining the circumstances of the Chronicle’s creation was the identity of Vin­cen­tius’s sponsor; the person or persons who commissioned the work or perhaps the circle of people who inspired Vin­cen­tius to undertake the task. At least a few aspects of the historiography need to be discussed here. In 1869 Heinrich Zeissberg, whose scholarly pursuits developed amongst Vienna’s medi­evalists, published an extensive and important work devoted to the Chronicle and its author.1 However, it was the first critical edition of the Chronicle in the Monumenta Poloniae Historica, published in 1872 and edited by August Bielowski, which really opened scholarly inquiry into Vin­cen­tius’s work.2 In his introduction to the Chronica Polonorum A. Bielowski proposed the hypothesis that Vin­cen­tius worked on the text of the Chronicle during the lifetime of Kazimierz II the Just, a conclusion he reached on the basis of his analysis of the manu­scripts accessible to him and his examination of the text. According to Bielowski, Vin­cen­tius had completed only three books of the Chronicle before the Piast prince died in 1194 because the rhetorical apostrophes used in the text address Kazimierz directly, suggesting Kazimierz was alive at the time of writing.3 Bielowski argued that the fourth and final book was written before the author was elected to the episcopal see of Cracow and thus Vin­cen­tius had finished work on the Chronicle before 1206. Bielowski’s hypothesis greatly influenced the subsequent historiography of Vin­cen­tius’s work and it became the grounds for acceptance of the proposition that Vin­cen­tius wrote the Chronicle in two phases. Whilst accepting the two phase thesis, not all apologists agreed with Bielowski’s dating of the phases. For example, the German scholar Max Perlbach, who published fragments of Vin­ cen­tius’s chronicle, accepted that the Chronicle had been written in two phases and also agreed that the first part was written in the days of Kazimierz II the Just. However, he differed on the dating of the second phase, arguing that it was completed after the resignation of Vin­cen­tius from the office of bishop of 1 

Zeissberg, Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek. Kronika mistrza Wincentego, ed. by Bielowski, pp. 193–453. Bielowski’s earlier works include Bielowski, Wstęp krytyczny do dziejów Polski; Bielowski, Mistrz Wincenty i jego kronika Polski. 3  Bielowski, ‘Wstęp’, pp. 217–23. Vin­cen­tius was elected in 1207 and Innocent III confirmed his election on 28 March 1208. 2 

Motives and Inspirations


Cracow, and specifically after Vin­cen­tius entered the Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów in 1218.4 Perlbach’s view was supported by Wilhelm Wattenbach in the sixth edition of his widely-read work on German medi­e val sources,5 and also by the renowned Polish historian Roman Grodecki, author of a biographical article about Vin­cen­tius.6 Of the earliest researchers of Vin­cen­tius’s work, only Alfred von Gutschmid dated the phases of the writing of the Chronicle differently. Gutschmid argued that the Chronicle was written during Vin­cen­tius’s pontificate and he specifically dated it to 1214–15.7 In a later work devoted to the Polish historiography of the Middle Ages, Heinrich Zeissberg presented ideas which did not differ significantly from the scholars above. Persuaded by the arguments of August Bielowski, Zeissberg concluded that Vin­cen­tius had completed the Chronicle in two stages, but didn’t share Bielowski’s view in the matter of the timing of their execution. Zeissberg argued that it was highly feasible that Vin­cen­tius finished his final version of the text during his stay in the Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów. In the monastery, Zeissberg wrote, after 1218 and before his death in 1223 ‘[Vin­cen­tius] lacked neither the time essential for such a work, nor the resources to support it’.8 Helena Hofman-Dadejowa began her analysis in order to establish the timeframe in which the Chronicle was written by examining the arguments of Heinrich Zeissberg and August Bielowski. After a critical review of the entire debate she concluded that the manu­script had to have been completed after 1218 in Jędrzejów.9 Hofman-Dadejowa presented her ideas in the following way: ‘the project would have absorbed the mind of the Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow for a long time before it was realized. For several years Vin­cen­tius gathered materials, not only from Polish sources, but also from ancient writers and Fathers of the Church.’10 Hofman-Dadejowa agreed most closely with the arguments of Zeissberg and emphasized the significance of Zeissberg’s analysis of the Prologue to the Chronica Polonorum and the information about Halycz, which the chronicler was hypothesized to have used. She also recognized the significance of Zeissberg’s highlighting of the role of Archbishop Jan as a par4 

Ex magistri Vincentii Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Perlbach, pp. 471–73. Wattenbach, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen, p. 358. 6  Grodecki, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, pp. 43–45, 55. 7  von Gutschmid, Über die Fragmente des Pompejus Trogus. 8  Zeissberg, Dziejopisarstwo polskie wieków średnich, p. 83. 9  Hofman-Dadejowa, Studya, p. 48. 10  Hofman-Dadejowa, Studya, p. 49. 5 

Józef Dobosz


ticipant in the dialogue in the Chronicle. Archbishop Jan was a benefactor of the Cistercian Order and founded the monastery in Jędrzejów. Later the monastery also benefited from Vin­cen­tius’s generosity.11 A number of other Polish scholars considered the matter of dating the composition of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle, but in these cases it was a secondary aspect of their other research. These include historians such as Kazimierz Górski, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, Oswald Balzer, Stosław Łaguna, and Stanisław Kętrzyński, and they brought no new arguments or ideas into the debate.12 Moreover, Kazimierz Tymieniecki published a major work immediately following World War II, which was an attempt to synthesize history for the purpose of the academic didacticism of Polish historiography. Tymieniecki knew the views of his predecessors thoroughly, however he could not bring himself to explicitly state his own views on the question of dating the composition of the Chronicle, and instead only stated generally that ‘during the stay in the Jędrzejów monastery [Vin­cen­tius] wrote or perhaps completed his historic work’.13 Andrzej Feliks Grabski was more definite when providing his opinion about the date of the composition of Vin­cen­tius’s work. Grabski was an eminent expert on the history of historiography and author of the widely read Zarys historii historiografii polskiej (An Outline of the History of Polish Historiography). Following the path set by Heinrich Zeissberg and Helena Hofman-Dadejowa, Grabski argued that ‘the great work didn’t come into existence at either a princely […], or an episcopal court, but in the sheltered peace of the Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów’.14 In contrast, in a synthesis of the history of Polish medi­eval historiography, Jan Dąbrowski stated that the time of writing of the Chronicle is unknown and cannot be determined. Paradoxically, Dąbrowski agreed with the position of August Bielowski that the first three books of the Chronicle were written before the end of the twelfth century, but disagreed with the views of Bielowski on the timing of the fourth book. Dąbrowski posits that Vin­cen­tius edited the last book during his stay in the monastery in Jędrzejów.15 Roman Grodecki changed his earlier position in a biographical article devoted to Vin­cen­tius published in 1923, and agreed with the hypothesis which pro11  12 

p. 3. 13 

Hofman-Dadejowa, Studya, pp. 54–56. Hofman-Dadejowa, Studya, pp. 2–3, n. 4. Cf. Labuda, ‘Mistrz Wincenty – autor i utwór’,

Tymieniecki, Zarys dziejów historiografii polskiej, pp. 16–17. Grabski, Zarys historii historiografii polskiej, p. 22. 15  Dąbrowski, Dawne dziejopisarstwo polskie, pp. 75–76. 14 

Motives and Inspirations


posed the earlier writing of the fourth book of the Chronicle. Grodecki’s revised position supposed that the Chronicle was a work partly written during the reign of Kazimierz II the Just (Books i–iii), and partly after Vin­cen­tius became the bishop of Cracow (Book iv).16 In the second half of the twentieth century an eminent scholar of the work of Vin­cen­tius, Brygida Kürbis, sought to determine the date of writing and the completion of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. Kürbis examined the life of Vin­cen­tius and his work in detail, and she undertook a thorough analysis of the text by juxtaposing the information it contains with other sources. Kürbis concluded that a significant part of the text (and most likely the first three books) were created during the life of Kazimierz II the Just, that is before 1194. According to Kürbis the last book of the Chronicle was written later, but before Vin­cen­ tius’s ascension to the episcopal throne of Cracow. She summed up her conclusion in the following way: ‘today the prevailing opinion is that Book iv could not have been written from a distance of many years. The fourth book includes events from 1177–1202 and resonates with a contemporary response to current affairs developed by the writer with great sharpness, probably before taking up the bishopric.’17 Teresa Michałowska agreed entirely with Kürbis in her monumental history of the literature of the Polish Middle Ages,18 and in this way the historiographical debate has revolved full circle and returned to the position of August Bielowski. A new, modern, critical edition of the Chronica Polonorum was not published until 1994, however this has not led to new debate on the dating of the text. Scholars instead have begun to explore different lines of inquiry with considerable energy.19 These new themes include literary conventions, Roman law, the geographical knowledge of the author, ideology, power, the literary education of Vin­cen­tius, and his erudition. Among the more consequential voices of the recent scholars who continue to show an interest in the dating of the original manu­script is Jan Powierski, who argues that the whole text of the Chronicle was written in the Jędrzejów monastery, that is after 1218.20 The position was a return to the views voiced by 16 

Grodecki, ‘Zjazd’, p. 102. Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. lii. 18  Michałowska, Średniowiecze, p. 132. 19  Some outcomes of the new phase of the discourse have been published in: Cistercium Mater Nostra vol. 1; Dąbrówka and Wojtowicz, Onus Athlanteum; Prokop, Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek. 20  Powierski, ‘Czas napisania kroniki przez mistrza Wincentego’, pp. 179–208. 17 

Józef Dobosz


Heinrich Zeissberg and Helena Hofman-Dadejowa. Janusz Bieniak proposes a different sequence to the writing of the Chronicle. For Bieniak, Vin­cen­tius’s work could have ‘been written over a much longer period than we assume, and in addition individual segments of the Chronicle […] could have been written not necessarily in chronological order, but separately, and only later the pages ordered’.21 Accordingly, Bieniak argues, the Chronicle’s author could have begun the work on the text as early as the 1160s because Vin­cen­tius was then working as an assistant to Bishop Mateusz of Cracow. Vin­cen­tius certainly inherited some materials from Mateusz which he later used in the Chronicle. The fundamental problem in determining when the Chronicle was written is the lack of Vin­cen­tius’s original autograph and the absence of express indications by the author about the time of its composition. The absence of this evidence has caused problems for the subsequent publishers of the Chronicle, as well as for scholars dealing with the extant manu­scripts, their language, and composition. I argue that (in spite of suggestions as old as Jan Długosz’s) Vin­cen­tius’s episcopal pontificate of 1207/08–18 should be rejected as the time of writing the Chronicle.22 It seems to me that whilst holding the office Vin­cen­tius would have been absorbed by other, more pressing and consequential issues. In particular, the diocese of Cracow which Vin­cen­tius administered was a large and pre-eminent diocese, and implementation of the Gregorian reforms, then gaining momentum, would have been an important focus for its pastor. The bishop of Cracow would also have been deeply involved in the politics of the Piast realm. This period was bloody and turbulent for the dynasty, and saw the disintegration of the Piast patrimony into several smaller geopolitical units. Vin­ cen­tius perhaps continued some editorial work on the manu­script during his five-year stay in the sheltered peace of the Jędrzejów monastery. I would suggest that this is where he corrected and supplemented the text but I don’t believe he wrote Book iv there, and he definitely did not write the whole Chronicle in Jędrzejów. The extent of the amendments and additions made in Jędrzejów cannot be verified because the original manu­script is no longer extant. In the whole dating debate, the most cogent positions are taken by Brygida Kürbis, Marian Plezia, and Roman Grodecki, as well as Teresa Michałowska who accepted their arguments. These scholars agreed that the last sections of 21 

Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, p. 43. Jan Długosz noted in a reference to Vin­cen­tius’s death that Vin­cen­tius wrote a chronicle about the homeland’s history during his pontificate in Cracow. Długosz, Roczniki, p. 296. 22 

Motives and Inspirations


the Chronicle were composed before 1207. Whether Vin­cen­tius completed the first three books before Kazimierz the Just’s death, I find it hard to explicitly settle. Book iii ends with an account of the death of Bolesław the Curly (5 January 1173) and the acceptance of his decision to appoint Kazimierz as the guardian of his juvenile son.23 Book iv does not commence with Kazimierz’s own reign, as sometimes is mistakenly suggested, but with a description of the reign of Mieszko the Old in Cracow (1173–77).24 In the first three books Vin­cen­tius narrates the Chronicle in the form of an instructive, metaphoric dialogue between Jan and Mateusz who are universally identified as Archbishop Jan of Gniezno and Bishop Mateusz of Cracow. The narration of Book iv is different, and in the form of a direct and straightforward sequence of events. There is some debate about why Vin­cen­tius changed his narrative style in this way. It seems to me that the author used this literary technique deliberately and it was not the result of a time lapse in the writing of the Chronicle. Vin­cen­tius uses the form of dialogue to give his account of Polish history until the chronological deaths of both Jan and Mateusz.25 Archbishop Jan died between 1168 and 1176 (I would argue perhaps closer to the first date) and Bishop Mateusz died in 1166.26 Vin­cen­tius closes his narrative in Book iii of the Chronicle with the accounts of two important events: firstly he offers his readers a vivid description of the defeat suffered by Bolesław IV during the incursion into the country of the pagan Prussians (dated at 1166) and secondly the death of Bolesław (1173).27 The last chronologically presented events in the Chronicle are the circumstances surrounding the assumption of power in Cracow by Władysław III Spindleshanks (1202) and his short reign as the princeps. 28 However, in the sentences preceding the description of this event Vin­cen­tius’s text suggests that some later events were also well-known to him. Specifically, Vin­cen­tius outlines the circumstances which led to the 1205 Battle of Zawichost and the death of Prince Roman of Halycz.29 In my opinion this only confirms that the idea of 23 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.23. Chronica Polonorum, iv.1–4. 25  Vin­cen­tius indicated in a beautiful metaphor that both participants of the feast fell asleep in the Lord. Chronica Polonorum, iii.31.2. 26  Dobosz, Monarchia, pp. 303–04; 308–09. 27  Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.24. 28  Chronica Polonorum, iv.26.11–23. 29  Chronica Polonorum, iv.24. Vin­cen­tius presents an account of the expedition of Leszek the White against Halycz and the elevation of Prince Roman as the Duke of Halycz. In the pas24 


Józef Dobosz

writing a history of the dynasty had to have been conceived not later than 1175 and the work started shortly afterwards. Further, the completion of the manu­ script can be dated to the first years of the thirteenth century, probably before 1207. Attempts at more precise delineation of the date when Vin­cen­tius began writing the Chronicle and when he completed his manu­script are bound to result in a multiplication of hypotheses, calculated guesses, if not open speculation. The above hypothesis, which places the work undertaken by Vin­cen­tius between the years 1175 and 1207, enables an examination of the probable reasons which guided the writer of the Chronica Polonorum as well as the motives which led Vin­cen­tius to undertake his masterful portrayal of the history of his people from ancient times to his present day. The issue of motive and purpose are questions in the historiography of the Chronicle and they have been addressed by all the publishers and scholars who have researched both the work and the life of Vin­cen­tius. Connected to these issues is the question of who inspired the historiographer, or perhaps who commissioned the Chronicle. The answers to these queries were sought most often in the contents of the Chronicle, and only sporadically have they been sought in the historical context of the Piast realm of the second half of the twelfth century. I would like to review what Vin­cen­tius wrote in the Chronicle in order to assist in answering the issues of the identity of his sponsor. The Prologue to the Chronicle gives strong clues about the motivation and justification for writing a history of the Poles (Lechites). Vin­cen­tius wrote: non enim adolescentularum inter Musas collasciuire choris, set sacri senatus assistere tenemur suggestui; non umbratiles palustrium harundines, set aureas patrie columpnas, non puppas fictiles, set ueras patrum effigies de sinu obliuionis, de ebore antiquissimo iubemur excidere; immo diuine lampades lucis in arce regia arcemur appendere et bellicis inter hec insudare tumultibus (we are not supposed to frisk with maidens amongst muses in Diana’s lively dances but face the judgement of the venerable senate. We are not to blow into idyllic pipes made from the marsh reed, but we are asked to praise the golden foundation of our homeland. We are to recover from the depths of oblivion, not clay figurines, but real images of our forebears and to carve them in ancient ivory. What’s more, we are summoned, in order to hang cressets of divine light in the royal castle and at the same time to bear the labours of war.)30 sage Vin­cen­tius refers to Roman’s ‘repayment of debt’ for Leszek’s support during the civil war between the Piast dynasts when in the Battle of Zawichost Roman was killed on 19 June 1205. 30  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 2.2.

Motives and Inspirations


My interpretation of this passage is that Vin­cen­tius argued that writers should not devote themselves to vain and trivial games, but use their mastery of letters to strengthen the memory and traditions associated with their homeland and ancestors. Later in the Prologue, Vin­cen­tius clearly indicates that someone has placed this burden onto his shoulders. He describes his sponsor using the name ‘strenuissimus princeps’, which can be best translated as ‘bravest of princes’. This prince, according to Vin­cen­tius, seems to understand the need to know the great acts of past generations so that they may be a model for the present time, and for this reason the prince places on the shoulder of the ‘dwarf ’ (that is on Vin­cen­tius) ‘Atlas’s burden’.31 This burden is to preserve for future generations the deeds of their great predecessors in written form. The identity of the ‘bravest of princes’ has not presented a problem to scholars. I agree with the majority view which recognizes Kazimierz II the Just as the prince who commissioned the Chronicle. Such a position was adopted by August Bielowski as well as Heinrich Zeissberg and other later writers.32 Only the aforementioned nineteenth-century German scholar, Alfred von Gutschmid disagreed, and argued that Vin­cen­tius was commissioned by Leszek the White, son of Kazimierz II. Gutschmid based his thesis on relatively weak arguments, relying on opinion from Długosz and Gutschmid’s own hypothesis that the Chronicle was commissioned to propagate the Piasts’ military expeditions to Halycz, which were part of a suite of policies instigated by Leszek after his succession to the throne of Cracow.33 More recently, with the turn of the twenty-first century, the discussion on the identity of the initiator of the work of Vin­cen­tius has revived thanks to two scholars with conflicting views: Janusz Bieniak and Edward Skibiński. Bieniak first published an article in which he disagreed with the orthodox view that Kazimierz II the Just commissioned the Chronicle and instead argued that at first Vin­cen­tius regarded Mieszko III the Old as his political master. Bieniak further hypothesized that over time Bishop Mateusz of Cracow became a far more significant influence on Vin­cen­tius and his writing, and Vin­cen­tius therefore made Bishop Mateusz one of the interlocutors of the Chronicle’s 31 

Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.2. An allusion to the metaphor of the ‘dwarves perched on the shoulders of giants’ attributed to Bernard of Chartres. 32  Bielowski, Wstęp, p.  217; Zeissberg, Dziejopisarstwo polskie wieków średnich, p.  74; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xxix; Grodecki, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’. Cf. Dobosz, Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy, pp. 215–26. 33  See note 7.

Józef Dobosz


dialogue.34 Skibiński refuted Bieniak’s case, and after a detailed analysis of the appropriate fragments of the Chronicle, concluded that nothing in the text forces a reconsideration of Kazimierz II to Mieszko III. Skibiński reaffirmed his long held position which argues that Kazimierz II was Vin­cen­tius’s patron and is to whom the Chronicle refers as the ‘bravest of princes’ and the ‘host of revellers’.35 Janusz Bieniak later defended his ideas in a series of publications, although his interpretation of the role of Mieszko III shifted.36 Whilst Bieniak compromised on the role of Mieszko III as the patron of Vin­cen­tius and the initiator of work on the Chronicle, he emphatically placed Bishop Mateusz as Vin­cen­tius’s most influential patron and argued that ‘the episcopal, rather than princely encouragement meant that Vin­cen­tius at first had simply written the history of Poland irrespective of who then had ruled in it’.37 Edward Skibiński remained unconvinced by Bieniak’s arguments.38 I would argue that neither Mieszko III nor Bishop Mateusz could have commissioned Vin­cen­tius to write the Chronica Polonorum. I would like to outline my reasoning as follows. Firstly, the Chronicle’s text does not suggest it. I acknowledge that Vin­cen­tius devotes some attention to Mieszko III on the pages of the Chronicle.39 But I argue that Vin­cen­tius is not referring to Mieszko when he writes of the ‘bravest of princes’ who recommended the writing of the Chronicle. Similarly, it is not Mieszko but Kazimierz in the beautiful metaphorical tale about the ‘preses epulantium’ (host of revellers) placed in the opening of Book iv where there are references to the preparation of the feast including to the servant ‘which carried the inkwell’ (Vin­cen­tius himself ) and to the ‘host of revellers’ (Kazimierz II). In the tale, the host rewards the servant for prudently spending money on the feast with an appointment to the office of ‘the only and extraordinary record keeper of the commonwealth’.40 34 

Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty o współczesnych’, p. 35. Skibiński, ‘Mieszko czy Kazimierz?’, pp. 167–74. 36  Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 21–48. Cf. Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, p. 41. 37  Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, p. 43. 38  Skibiński, ‘Walka o władzę’, pp. 47–56. 39  Chronica Polonorum, iv.2–4. 40  ‘Aderat autem quidam uernaculus, atramentarium gestans cum calamo ac fumantem demungens faculam. Hic uniuersas conuiuii pensiones fidelissime conpendio cautionis annotabat. Cuius subputatione sollertius dispecta, preses epulantium ait: Euge frugi, euge uernacule, qui tam cautionandi calles industria, ut nihil de commisso tue dispensationi stipendio aut deperire sinas aut in sinum obliuionis relabi permittas! Res ad presens postulat et ratio exigit, rationalitatis officio te debere insigniri. Esto deinceps unicus ac singularis huius rei publice 35 

Motives and Inspirations


In the Prologue the commission to write the Chronicle is given by the ‘strenuissimus princeps’ (bravest of princes), in Book iv the ‘preses epulantium’ (host of revellers) appoints the faithful servant to be the record keeper extraordinaire who will enumerate all past achievements of the ‘Lechites’ (Poles) and of their state, described by Vin­cen­tius as ‘res publica’ (a commonwealth). Finally, the special relationship between Vin­cen­tius as the chronicler and Kazimierz II is evident in the portrait of the prince written by Vin­cen­tius in Book iv of the Chronicle, which presents Kazimierz as a model ruler. Here Vin­cen­tius is generous with praise for his hero, assigning him all the virtues and eulogizing his deeds and victorious wars.41 In the case of Bishop Mateusz, the likelihood of him being the patron of Vin­cen­tius is less convincing than identifying Mieszko III in this role. Bishop Mateusz was one of the dignitaries and interlocutors of the dialogue in the first three books, but the same role was assigned to Archbishop Jan of Gniezno and thus by extension one could hypothesize that Jan also sponsored Vin­cen­tius’s effort. Mateusz as the leader of the Church in Cracow was admittedly closer than Jan to Vin­cen­tius; on the other hand, Jan was a known benefactor of the Cistercian Order as was Vin­cen­tius later.42 I think it is against all possibility that these two churchmen commissioned the Chronicle because both Jan and Mateusz died before Vin­cen­tius began his career at the court in Cracow. Mateusz died in the year 1166 — that is soon after the birth of the future chronicler.43 I would argue that Vin­cen­tius’s career should perhaps be better associated with Gedko who succeeded Mateusz as the bishop of Cracow in 1167 and who governed the diocese until his death in 1185.44 It is more likely that Gedko introduced the young cleric to the court of Kazimierz II, the prince with whom rationalis; quidquid igitur instantis propositi personis, dignitatibus, officiis, negotiis estimaueris conducere, tuo munere dispensetur, tuis cautionibus annotetur. Totus diriguit ille clientulus tanta rerum perculsus maiestate; inparemque sese obtestans causas undique subterfugii aucupatur’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.1–3. 41  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5–20. See also Górczak and Jaskulski, Wielkopolska, Polska, Czechy, pp. 53–68; Dobosz, Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy, p. 215; Bubczyk, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy’, pp. 31–53. 42  Vin­cen­tius was a benefactor of the Cistercian abbeys in Sulejów, Koprzywnica, and Jędrzejów. Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xliii–xlviii. 43  The dominant view of the historiography is that Vin­cen­tius was born in approximately 1150. Cf. Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xv–xvi. There is an attempt to establish a date but it is based on conjecture. 44  A more detailed portrait of Gedko is in Dobosz, Monarchia, pp. 309–10.

Józef Dobosz


Gedko maintained a close relationship. These facts suggest to me that Mateusz could not be an immediate initiator of the writing of the Chronica Polonorum. However, as one of the most educated clergymen in Poland, Mateusz could have been a powerful example for the young scholar. This exceptional hierarch of the Church had probably corresponded with Bernard of Clairvaux in 1146.45 If these arguments are to be accepted, then Jan, who was an equally learned and skilful person in ars dictandi, and was the author of the oldest charters for the Polish Cistercian abbeys in Łekno and Jędrzejów (dated to 1153), could also have provided a role model.46 Vin­cen­tius chose both hierarchs for their knowledge of the art of letters, their erudition, and outstanding minds, and decided to use them as the interlocutors of the dialogue in the Chronicle; in my view it was the qualities of both these men that decided this and not their commissioning of the historiographical work. I argue that the chief patron of Vin­c en­tius and the person responsible for commissioning the Chronicle was Kazimierz II, who ruled in Cracow in 1177–94. The patron, Kazimierz, is hidden in the Chronicle under the expressions ‘bravest of princes’ and the ‘host of revellers’, and Vin­cen­tius devoted to him a sweeping specula principum. Vin­cen­tius as the historiographer regarded Kazimierz as a special patron of the contemporary literati and in the Chronicle reminded his readers in this somewhat panegyrical way: ‘Scitis quo pacto? stipatur interim literatissimorum lateribus altrinsecus, quorum tam sobrietas quam scientia paucis est incognita’ (You know that his [Kazimierz’s] company is sought by those most learned, whose temperance and knowledge is not unknown).47 I have to admit that, apart from this trace of relationship between the future chronicler and a Piast, any other indication of a lasting association is indistinct. However, Vin­cen­tius’s service to the dynasty can be traced in the edited documents issued by the ducal chancery. At least one charter can be attributed to Vin­cen­tius with certainty due to the erudition displayed in the text, but he may have produced more charters during his service at the Piast court. The first document is the charter of Kazimierz II the Just issued for the chapter of the Cathedral of Cracow, dated 12 April 1189, in regards to land matters in Opatów. The second (undated) charter which Vin­cen­tius is likely to have been 45 

Repertorium, i, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, doc. 43, pp. 49–50; Plezia, List biskupa Mateusza do św. Bernarda; Dobosz, Działalność fundacyjna, pp. 138–39. 46  Repertorium, i, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, doc. 53, pp. 58–60 and doc. 55, pp. 61–62. 47  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.31.

Motives and Inspirations


involved with was probably issued in the same year; it was also directed at the canons of Cracow and concerned various land issues in Opatów.48 In the 12 April 1189 charter Vin­cen­tius’s name is listed amongst the witnesses authenticating the charter, his name appearing after those of the chancellor and his deputy. Vin­cen­tius is named as ‘Vin­cen­tius magister’ and perhaps he was the chancery clerk who dictated the text of this charter. Scholars analysing these documents often assert that Vin­cen­tius worked at that time in Kazimierz II’s chancery or he was the prince’s notary.49 This seems feasible to me, and in my opinion Vin­cen­tius’s role at the Piast court in Cracow is most accurately summarized by Oswald Balzer, who stated that ‘his function at the side of the prince can be summed up as a post of prince’s chaplain, similar to the one once held at the court of Bolesław III by his predecessor in the field of Polish historiography writing, Gallus’.50 There is no consensus about when and by whom the young Vin­cen­tius was introduced to Kazimierz II at the court in Cracow (or earlier, at the court in Wiślica). I would argue that Vin­cen­tius was introduced at the court by either one of his close kindred or fellow clan members or else by an influential church dignitary who was closely linked with Kazimierz II, and it is possible that Vin­ cen­tius was recommended by two or more such persons. To which of the mighty family clans Vin­cen­tius belonged is also disputed by scholars.51 Recently, Janusz Bieniak convincingly proved that Vin­cen­tius was a member of the powerful family clan of Włostowice-Łabędzie.52 As noted above, Vin­cen­tius included two representatives of this clan in his narrative; Świętosław Piotrowic, the son of Piotr Włostowic, and Archbishop Piotr of Gniezno, the grandson of Piotr Włostowic.53 Both descendants of Piotr Włostowic were connected with the circle of Kazimierz II. I allow myself to propose a risky hypothesis that it is the two mentioned Włostowice-Łabędzie magnates who paved the way for young Vin­cen­tius’s career at court. Świętosław Piotrowic was the premier mag48 

Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum, vol. 1, docs 4–5, pp. 8–9. Repertorium, i, ed. by Kozłowska-Budkowa, doc. 118–19, pp.  114–16. Cf.  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xix–xx. 50  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 55–56. 51  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. viii–xv. 52  Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – pierwszy uczony polski’, pp. 123–24. Cf. Giergiel, Rycerstwo Ziemi Sandomierskiej, p. 109. 53  A wider context is presented in Bieniak, ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. III A’, pp. 48–64. 49 

Józef Dobosz


nate of the realm and by the 1160s was a prominent supporter of Kazimierz II. Archbishop Piotr of Gniezno was a prelate of no small importance by the end of the 1180s. In addition, from the midst of the outstanding clergymen connected with Cracow, the person best suited to promote a young cleric was perhaps Bishop Gedko, later also praised on the pages of Vin­cen­tius’s work. Gedko was also Kazimierz’s great ally and supporter.54 There are three hypothetical patrons of Vin­c en­tius, all from within his family circle: Świętosław Piotrowic (d. c. 1176), Bishop Gedko (d. 1185), and Archbishop Piotr (d. 1198). The dates of their deaths correspond in my opinion with the idea that the person who secured the entry of young Vin­cen­tius into the court of Kazimierz II was Bishop Gedko, but I do not exclude the patronage of the two remaining figures. It is most feasible that the first contacts between the prince and his future apologist took place in the 1170s. It is difficult to settle though whether the first meetings took place when Kazimierz ruled Wiślica and then Sandomierz, or only after the year 1177, when Kazimierz ascended the throne of the Piast princeps in Cracow. These proposed reconstructions are by definition hypothetical because of the lack of extant sources, compounded by the absence of information about the date of Vin­cen­tius’s birth. It would not be difficult to propose the perhaps somewhat romantic hypothesis that Świętosław Piotrowic recommended his young relative to the Piast Prince Kazimierz II at the time he took possession of the duchy of Wiślica. Kazimierz took Vin­c en­tius into his care and sent him to study in Western Europe. On Vin­cen­tius’s return, Kazimierz placed him in the circle of the chapter of Cracow during the pontificate of Bishop Gedko, and next, with the approval of the bishop, utilized Vin­cen­tius’s evident abilities in the court chancery. The hypothesis that Kazimierz then gave the commission of the Chronicle to Vin­cen­tius for which Vin­cen­tius gave such praise to him in the Chronicle gains support in this context. The relationship between Vin­cen­tius and Kazimierz continued and Vin­cen­tius received backing in his ecclesiastical career from the prince until the death of his patron (in 1194). The evidence that support this hypothesis is more reliable as time progresses because of a greater availability of sources. A less risky hypothesis is to acknowledge that Świętosław, Gedko, and Piotr were the patrons of Vin­cen­tius and that closer bonds between Vin­cen­tius and Kazimierz might have developed after Kazimierz’s expulsion of Mieszko III from the throne of Cracow in 1177. For Vin­cen­tius, the ascension by Kazimierz 54 

Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xvi–xix.

Motives and Inspirations


to the throne as princeps resulted in a court and church career which later enabled him to begin his work on the Chronicle. I would like to put forward one more question. Was the ‘bravest of princes’ the sole person who inspired Vin­cen­tius to write the Chronicle? I do not doubt that Kazimierz II gave Vin­cen­tius the main impulse to take up the work of writing a history of Poland, but I am prepared to acknowledge that other parties, in particular the circle of the chapter of the Cathedral of Cracow, were supportive, if not interested, in creating a historiographical work like the Chronicle. The chapter grouped enlightened and learned men and probably followed the example set by Bishop Mateusz and Archbishop Jan, as well as Bishop Gedko and his successor Pełka (bishop of Cracow 1186–1207). This group all worked at the court of Kazimierz II and in a similar manner to Vin­cen­tius.55 Further, all of the prelates listed here came from the powerful magnate class, and therefore I would venture another proposition. Did the magnates of the Piast realms encourage the beginning and then continuation of the writing of the Chronicle, especially after the death of Kazimierz II? These questions deserve a separate consideration even if unlikely because of the scarcity of sources, but also from the need for deeper reflection on the associated issues. In conclusion of this examination of when the Chronicle was written, and the motives and inspiration behind its composition, it is necessary to acknowledge that it was written during years of crisis in the history of Piast Poland. Vin­cen­tius’s patron, Kazimierz II the Just, came to power in a coup and his reign returned a measure of stability and peace to Poland. The political strategy of Kazimierz as a Piast prince was the legitimization of his usurpation of the throne of Cracow. This I believe is the main reason why Vin­cen­tius was commissioned to write the Chronicle. Vin­cen­tius was a witness to this tempestuous era and described many of its perilous events in the Chronicle; he was a witness to Kazimierz’s coup in 1177 through which his patron, Kazimierz II, assumed power, and to the wars on the borderlands of Ruś, Prussia, and Sudovia, the bloody struggle during the expedition of Mieszko III to secure Cracow in 1191, as well as the feud and wars in Silesia between the sons of Władysław II the Exile, the bloody battle at Mozgawa River in 1195, and the quarrels and rivalry between the dynasts for the Cracow throne after the death of Kazimierz II.56 Probably the incessant instability and divisions within the Piast dynasty inspired Vin­cen­tius to write the Chronicle to outline a unifying strategy. It 55  56 

The details of the pontificate of Pełka are covered in Dobosz, Monarchia, pp. 311–12. See for example Dobosz, Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy, pp. 81–159, 242–46.

Józef Dobosz


could have been a deliberate attempt on the part of Vin­cen­tius to present the history of the Poles with an emphasis on the rule of law and unity and justice.57 The theme of unity, order, and obedience to law would have been inspired and supported by a chief actor of the Polish political landscape of the second half of the twelfth century, Kazimierz II the Just, to whom and to whose family Vin­ cen­tius remained faithful. In the ‘bravest of princes’ and his sons Vin­cen­tius recognized the builders of the ‘commonwealth’ and regnum and defenders of the homeland, the images of which Vin­cen­tius created in his Chronicle.


See for example Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. lviii–lxxxi.

Motives and Inspirations


Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum ecclesiae Cracoviensis, i, ed. by Franciszek K. Piekosiński (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1874) Długosz, Jan, Roczniki czyli Kroniki sławnego Królestwa Polskiego [Annals or Chronicles of the Illustrious Kingdom of Poland], 2 edn, ed. by Danuta Turkowska, Maria Kowalczyk and Krystyna Pieradzka (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 2009) Ex magistri Vincentii Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Max Perlbach. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, 29 (Hannoverae: Hahn, 1892) Kronika mistrza Wincentego [The Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius], ed.  by August Bielowski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, 2 (Lwów: s.n., 1872) Repertorium polskich dokumentów doby piastowskiej, i, ed. by Zofia Kozłowska-Budkowa (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1937)

Secondary Studies Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Bielowski, August, Wstęp krytyczny do dziejów Polski [A Critical Introduction to the History of Poland] (Lwów: Włodzimierz hr. Dzieduszycki, 1850) —— , Mistrz Wincenty i jego kronika Polski [Vin­cen­tius and his Polish Chronicle], ii (Lwów: s.n., 1863) —— , ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Kronika mistrza Wincentego, ed. by August Bielowski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, 2 (Lwów: s.n., 1872), pp. 193–248 Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – pierwszy uczony polski – w 750-lecie śmierci: Sympozjum naukowe’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow, the First Polish Scholar: The 750th Anniversary of his Death’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 123–24 —— , ‘Polska elita polityczna XII wieku. III A: Arbitrzy książąt – krąg rodzinny Piotra Włostowica’ [‘The Polish Ruling Elite of the Twelfth Century: The Arbiters of Princes, the Family Circle of Piotr Włostowic’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów 4, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1990), pp. 13–107 —— , ‘Mistrz Wincenty o współczesnych mu Piastach’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow on his Con­temporary Piast Dynasts’], in Europa Środkowa i Wschodnia w polityce Piastów: materiały z sympozjum, Toruń, 14–15 grudnia 1995 roku, ed. by Krystyna ZielińskaMelkowska and Małgorzata Klentak-Zabłocka (Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, 1997), pp. 33–52 —— , ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu politycznym Polski przełomu XII i XIII wieku’ [‘Vin­ cen­tius of Cracow in the Life of Poland at the Turn of the Twelfth and Thirteenth


Józef Dobosz

Centuries’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 21–48 —— , ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał i przedstawiał ustrój państwa polskiego’ [‘How Vin­ cen­tius Understood and Presented the Polish Constitutional System’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 41–43 Bubczyk, Robert, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy – władca idealny mistrza Wincentego (‘Chronica Polonorum, lib. 4)’ [‘Kazimierz the Just, an Ideal of a Ruler in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronica Polonorum’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 116 (2009), 31–53 Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura [Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradition, History, Culture], i (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2007) Dąbrówka, Andrzej, and Witold Wojtowicz, eds., Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego [Onus Athlanteum: Studies of the Chronicle by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow], Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009) Dąbrowski, Jan, Dawne dziejopisarstwo polskie (do roku 1480) [Polish Historiography before 1480] (Wroclaw: Ossolineum, 1964) Dobosz, Józef, Działalność fundacyjna Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego [The Foundations of Kazimierz the Just] (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 1995) —— , Monarchia i możni wobec Kościoła w Polsce do początku XIII wieku [The Monarchy and Magnates and their Relationship with the Church in Poland until the Begining of the Thirteenth Century] (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2002) —— , Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2011) Giergiel, Tomisław, Rycerstwo Ziemi Sandomierskiej: podstawy kształtowania się rycerstwa sandomierskiego do połowy XIII wieku [The Knighthood of Sandomierz: The Basis of the Formation of Knighthood of Sandomierz until the Middle of the Thirteenth Century] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2004) Górczak, Zbyszko, and Jacek Jaskulski, eds., Wielkopolska, Polska, Czechy: studia z dziejów średniowiecza ofiarowane profesorowi Bronisławowi Nowackiemu [Greater Poland, Poland, Bohemia: Studies in the History of the Middle Ages Offered to Professor Bronisław Nowacki] (Poznań: Instytut Historii UAM, 2009) Grabski, Andrzej Feliks, Zarys historii historiografii polskiej [An Outline of the History of Polish Historiography] (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2006) Grodecki, Roman, ‘Mistrz Wincenty, Biskup Krakowski: zarys biograficzny’ [‘Vin­cen­tius Bishop of Kraków: A Biographical Sketch’], Rocznik Krakowski, 19 (1923), 30–61 —— , ‘Zjazd łęczycki 1180 roku’ [‘The Council of Łęczyca in 1180’], in Polska piastowska, ed. by Roman Grodecki (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Naukowe PWN, 1969) von Gutschmid, Alfred, Über die Fragmente des Pompejus Trogus und die Glaubwürdigkeit ihrer Gewährsmänner (Leipzig: Teubner, 1857) Hofman-Dadejowa, Helena, Studya nad rękopisami Kroniki Mistrza Wincentego [Studies of the Manu­scripts of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow] (Lwów: Towarzystwo Naukowe we Lwowie, 1924)

Motives and Inspirations


Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi Labuda, Gerard, ‘Mistrz Wincenty – autor i utwór’ [‘Vin­cen­tius: The Author and his Work’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 3–9 Michałowska, Teresa, Średniowiecze [The Middle Ages], Wielka Historia Literatury Polskiej (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1995) Plezia, Marian, ‘List biskupa Mateusza do św. Bernarda’ [‘Letter of Bishop Mateusz to Saint Bernard’], in Prace z dziejów Polski feudalnej ofiarowane Romanowi Grodeckiemu w 70. rocznicę urodzin, ed. by Zofia Kozłowska-Budkowa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1960), pp. 123–40 Powierski, Jan, ‘Czas napisania kroniki przez mistrza Wincentego’ [‘When the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius was Written’], in Krzyżowcy, kronikarze, dyplomaci, ed.  by Błażej Śliwiński, Gdańskie Studia z Dziejów Średniowiecza 4 (Koszalin: Wydawnictwo Miscellanea, 1997), pp. 179–208 Prokop, Krzysztof Rafał, ed., Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek: Człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda [Vin­cen­tius of Cracow known as Kadłubek: The Man and his Work, a Posthumous Cult and Legend] (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001) Skibiński, Edward, ‘Mieszko czy Kazimierz? W sprawie sporu o inspiratora mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Mieszko or Kazimierz?: On the Debate about the Identity of the Inspirer of Vin­cen­tius’], in Nihil superfluum esse, ed.  by Jerzy Strzelczyk and Józef Dobosz, Publikacje Instytutu Historii UAM (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 2000), pp. 167–74 —— , ‘Walka o władzę w kronice Mistrza Wincentego. Mieszko Stary i Kazimierz Sprawied­ liwy’ [‘The Power Struggle in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow: Mieszko the Old and Kazimierz the Just’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 47–56 Tymieniecki, Kazimierz, Zarys dziejów historiografii polskiej [A Brief History of Polish Historiography] (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1948) Wattenbach, Wilhelm, Deutschlands Geschichtsquellen im Mittelalter bis zur Mitte des dreizehnten Jahrhunderts, ii (Berlin: Wilhelm Hertz, 1894) Zeissberg, Heinrich, Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek, Bischof von Krakau (1208–1218; 1223), und seine Chronik Polens (Wien: K. K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1869) —— , Dziejopisarstwo polskie wieków średnich [Polish Historiography of the Middle Ages], i (Warszawa: Gebethner i Wolff, 1877)

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum: ­ ent ­ ius The Influence of Vinc on History Writing Marian Zwiercan*


he story of the manu­script of the Chronica Polonorum is an important one. Its surviving copies have had a significant influence on Polish historiography and on the craft of history writing itself. The autograph of the manu­script is no longer extant and there is disagreement about when the original was composed and completed. A plethora of copies have survived, which complicates tracing the manu­script’s provenance and demonstrates that the Chronicle was a widely read and copied document. It is clear that the Chronicle was known and its text used in Cracow as early as the second quarter of the thirteenth century, and that by the fifteenth century there were multiple copies and variations of the Chronicle in use at the university in Cracow. My own research has concentrated on a medi­eval commentary on the Chronicle written by Jan of Dąbrówka, a fifteenth-century Cracow professor. I  argue that Dąbrówka either responded to existing knowledge of and interest in the Chronicle, or through the influence of his scholarship, greatly increased awareness of the work and directly led to the proliferation of the number of copies and influence of the work. The dominant view in the historiography is that the Chronicle was originally written partly in Sandomierz, where Vin­cen­tius performed the functions of provost of the collegiate church, and continued and finished in Cracow sometime before the elevation of its author to the throne of the bishop of Cracow  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński.

Marian Zwiercan, Professor Emeritus, Jagiellonian University Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 63–78 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114759

Marian Zwiercan


in 1208. The manu­script was almost certainly later stored in the archives of the Piast dynast Bolesław the Chaste (1226–79) due to his grandfather’s close link with the Chronicle’s author, Vin­cen­tius. The Chronicle was almost certainly commissioned by princeps Kazimierz II the Just who died before the work was completed. Bolesław’s father, princeps Leszek the White (d. 1227), maintained a close relationship with Vin­cen­tius. It would be fitting that the manu­script remained in the custody of the descendants of Kazimierz. The manu­script kept in Cracow became an important source for a Dominican friar, Vin­cen­tius of Kielcza, who in about 1242 wrote the Vita minor of Saint Stanisław. The Vita included an account of the conflict between King Bolesław II the Bold and Bishop Stanisław of Cracow which took place in 1079. Vin­cen­tius of Kielcza’s account of this event is almost identical to the older account written by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow in the Chronicle, which became a source to other writers of Polish history. It is highly probable that in about the middle of the thirteenth century at least one copy of the Chronicle was sent to Poznań and it was probably deposited there in the year of the canonization of Saint Stanisław, in 1253. The copy or copies of the Chronicle were gifted in order to propagate the glory and life of the saint and to promote his public veneration. 1 In Poznań a canon of the local cathedral, Mikołaj of Rogalin, also copied the Chronicle in the final part of a codex containing a collation of texts. Mikołaj of Rogalin’s work is no longer extant, however, its original manu­script served as a model text for the oldest manu­script of the Chronicle in existence which was created in Poznań in the first half of the fourteenth century and is known today as the Codex Eugenianus. The codex’s name is derived from Prince Eugene of Savoy, its last private owner, and is now held in the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna.2 The Chronicle was frequently used by writers in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries who often and literally drew from it in abundance. This included Vin­cen­tius of Kielcza (noted above), who was the author of two lives of Saint Stanisław (Vita minor and Vita maior). The Vita minor was written for the canonization process of Bishop Stanisław of Cracow and the Vita maior was an augmentation to the Vita minor and was composed a few years after the Saint’s canonization. The Vita maior was written in order to highlight the role of Stanisław in the history of Poland. 1  2 

Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, pp. 277–89. Hofman-Dadejowa, Studya, p. 2; Plezia, ‘Zawartość kodeksu’, pp. 259–66.

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


In the Franciscan milieu of Cracow in the early fourteenth century the author of the Chronicle of Mierzwa used large sections of Vin­cen­tius’s work to write his chronicle, at times almost directly copying its text. In Silesia a little later, the Polish-Silesian Chronicle was written modelled closely on the historiographical work of Vin­cen­tius. In Poznań the Chronica Polonorum formed the cornerstone of the text of the Chronicle of Greater Poland composed at the end of the thirteenth or in the first half of the fourteenth century. 3 Another manu­script of the Chronica Polonorum known as the Codex of Kuropatnicki is dated to the fourteenth century. This copy was kept in the National Library of Poland, but was destroyed in a fire after the Warsaw Uprising was put down in 1944. Many more copies of the Chronicle were made in the fourteenth century, but they wore out or were ruined through constant use. These were recopied and replaced in order to meet the demands of schools in the fifteenth century and there are numerous generations of younger manu­scripts. A prevalent view of the Polish historiography (a theory originally advanced by Tadeusz Wojciechowski) is that Vin­c en­tius’s conceptual design for the Chronicle was that it was first and foremost a textbook and that it was used as such in schools. I can find no evidence of such use of the Chronicle in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.4 I would argue that the intended use of the Chronicle was to be read by members of the Piast court and intellectual elites of the realm for its historic content and its refined style and form and only after 1400 did the use of the Chronicle became more akin to a textbook.5 Of the copies of the Chronicle made in the thirteenth century the only copy still extant is the aforementioned Codex Eugenianus. The Codex Eugenianus was made within the circle of the chapter of Poznań. According to Marian Plezia, a twentieth-century Polish scholar, the Codex Eugenianus was probably commissioned by Bishop Jan Łodzia during his pontificate in 1335–46, and it is probably the closest extant manu­script to the autograph version of Vin­c en­tius’s original chronicle. The Codex was kept in Poznań in Poland until at least the middle of the sixteenth century. It was taken from Poznań in unknown circumstances (perhaps looted during the Swedish Deluge (1655–60)) and became the property of the renowned mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646–1716) who presented it to Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663–1736). In 1737 the Codex, along with the 3 

Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, pp. 278–79; Marian Zwiercan, ‘Renesans Kroniki polskiej mistrza’, p. 131. Wojciechowski, O rocznikach polskich X–XV wieku, pp. 168–69. 5  Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 280. 4 

Marian Zwiercan


entire Bibliotheca Eugeniana including the prince’s book collection, prints, and drawings, were purchased by Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria and became a part of the Imperial Court Library. The Imperial Library has since become the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.6 Marian Plezia, an expert on Vin­cen­tius’s work, concluded that the text of the Chronicle included in the Codex Eugenianus is perhaps one of the unique copies and is closest to the autograph of the Chronicle which he believed was still extant in the middle of the thirteenth century. Plezia argued that the autograph served as the model for the copy deposited in Poznań and used by Mikołaj of Rogalin.7 Scholars pursuing research into the provenance of the Chronicle’s manu­scripts agree that the text included in the Codex Eugenianus is a very good copy of the original autograph. The text contains few distortions and, as compared to the later copies made in the fifteenth century, it clearly represents the author’s style and meaning. The text in the Codex Eugenianus on the whole also contains the correct spelling of the proper names of the ancient and non-Polish characters which were spelled very differently or corrupted in the later copies. According to Marian Plezia, the Codex Eugenianus also retains words and phrases which undoubtedly belonged to the original and were left out by later copyists as vague and unnecessary. Many new copies of the Chronicle were made in the 1430s which coincides with the period in which a fifteenth-century professor, Jan of Dąbrówka, wrote an influential commentary to the Chronica Polonorum.8 My research, in cooperation with Marian Plezia, who worked on the new critical edition of the Chronicle published in the late twentieth century, led to the establishment of an inventory of manu­script copies which are now collectively referred to by Marian Plezia as the Vulgate of Cracow.9 The oldest of the group of manu­scripts of the Chronicle created in the fifteenth century (Plezia’s so-called Vulgate of Cracow) is the autograph Codex of Jan of Dąbrówka dated to 1434.10 The original Codex was written by Jan 6 

Wiesiołowski, Kolekcje, p. 59. Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 283. 8  Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, p.  211, n.  1. See also the entry for ‘Jan z Dąbrówki’ in Encyclopedia of the Medi­e val Chronicle ed.  by Dunphy. Jan of Dąbrówka (c. 1400–1472) was a professor of liberal arts at the University of Cracow. His commentary on the Chronica Polonorum was published in 2008 as the Commentum in Chronicam Polonorum magistri Vincentii dicti Kadłubek. 9  Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 283. 10  National Library of Poland, MS BN 3002. 7 

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


of Dąbrówka himself with the help of copyists and contains the Chronica Polonorum and other important monuments of Polish historiography such as the Chronicle of Mierzwa, the Annales of Lesser Poland, and Genealogies of the Rulers of Poland. The reasons for the separation of the autograph Codex of Jan of Dąbrówka from Jan’s scholarly workshop and his library, which remained in Cracow, is unknown. In the early sixteenth century the Codex changed hands a few times. Firstly, it was in the possession of a doctor of medicine, Jan Bolęcki of the clan Prus, who from 1528 became a canon in Gniezno, later held a sequence of other church benefices as a sexton, and who died in 1538. Later the Codex belonged to Szymon Chabielski of the clan Wieniawa, a student of the liberal arts at the University of Cracow, who was also later a canon of Gniezno. In the nineteenth century the Codex was still in Greater Poland in the library of the Benedictine monastery in Lubiń. Next the manu­script found its way to the collection of a library of the Court of Appeal in Warsaw and there it was perused by Joachim Lelewel, a historian and bibliographer. In 1817 the Codex of Jan of Dąbrówka was included in the collection of the Public Library at the University of Warsaw, thence, after the fall of the November Uprising in 1831, it was taken to Saint Petersburg and held in the Imperial Public Library. After the Treaty of Riga in 1921 it was returned to Warsaw and the National Library of Poland. Miraculously the Codex survived the fires of 1944 when much of the collection of the National Library was destroyed after the Warsaw Uprising.11 The autograph of the Codex compiled in 1434 by Jan of Dąbrówka gives clues as to the character of its author. Jan copied parts of the text of the Chronicle himself, writing on the margins and adding pages and sheets as a draft to his commentary which were later integrated into the binding of the Codex. An addition which characterizes Jan’s Codex is his rearrangement of the text of Books i–iii from Vin­cen­tius’s chapters into epistles purportedly provided by the interlocutors of the Chronicle, Archbishop Jan of Gniezno and Bishop Mateusz of Cracow. Jan transcribed Book iv of the Chronicle in the same structure as the earlier manu­scripts. These changes can be traced in the critical edition of the first three books of the Chronicle published by Marian Plezia and in the newest complete and critical edition of Jan’s commentary.12 Marian Plezia’s research on the text of the Chronica Polonorum contained in the group of manu­scripts which he called the Vulgate of Cracow has brought 11  12 

Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, pp. 12–20. Chronica Polonorum, pp. 6–128; Commentum, pp. 5–187.

Marian Zwiercan


some important results. Plezia utilized conclusions of my research and argued that the copies of the text contained in the Vulgate manu­scripts were not related to each other in the same way as the copies of Jan’s commentary.13 It seems that the text of the Chronicle was copied into each subsequent manu­script separately from the copy of the commentary, and in both cases the copyists used different models. What further complicates an understanding of the history of these manu­scripts is that the texts of the Chronicle and the texts of Jan’s commentary are interposed in the respective manu­scripts. The only conclusion available is that the Chronicle’s text was copied in first and only later was the text of the commentary added. In most copies the texts of the Chronicle and the commentary alternate with each other. Thus the manu­script tradition of Jan’s commentary does not agree with the manu­script tradition of the Chronicle.14 The work of preparing Jan’s commentary was conducted concurrently by a group of copyists in a scriptorium and by Jan as author. The group of scribes used a master copy of the Chronicle and worked simultaneously on multiple copies. The master copy was an exemplar made available to them or read to them by a lector for the purpose of duplication. These copyists, it would appear deliberately, wrote the text of the Chronicle in large script with wide spaces between the lines. The copyists later wrote in the commentary dictated by Jan of Dąbrówka. The texts (that is, the text of the Chronicle and the text of Jan’s accompanying commentary), alternate within one column so that the relevant commentary follows the text of the Chronicle (for example, after the singular parts of the Prologue, after the epistles in the first three books, and after each chapter in the fourth book). The copyists finished their work on each manu­ script by inscribing interlinear glosses, brief marginal notations which contained the meaning of a word or wording in a text, synonyms or paraphrases of expressions used in the text of the Chronicle.15 A distinctive feature of these fifteenth-century copies of the Chronicle is the inconsistency in the inscription of their text and the variation between manu­scripts. These textual variations prevent scholars from establishing and explaining the links and sources of influence between the many manu­scripts. It is not possible therefore to join individual specimens of this group into some interrelated subfamilies of copies. Those parts of the text which are similar are most often identical across the whole of the Vulgate of Cracow whereas other 13 

Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, pp. 22–30. Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, pp. 111–12; Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, pp. 284–86. 15  Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, pp. 110–12. 14 

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


similarities and transmissions, apart from these concurrences, are inexplicable. I suggest that this random variation is explained by the method of mass and fast copying of the manu­script of the Chronicle which took place in the 1430s, and mainly in the one scriptorium. According to Marian Plezia the speed of the process of copying and the number of scribes involved paradoxically led to the confusion and changes we see in the Vulgate group of manu­scripts. One form of the contamination of the texts in the Vulgate manu­scripts was caused when some scribes used different source versions of the Chronicle to copy. This mixing up of older and more recent versions of the Chronicle in a fifteenth-century copy of the manu­script was recognized and commented on by contemporaries. An interesting example of this is the case of an interlinear gloss added to a manu­ script now located in the Jagiellonian Library (MS 2573) dated to 1469–71. On its pages the scribe Mikołaj Kotwicz of Żnin noted that the manu­script he was working on contained text which corresponded in general to the text of the Vulgate and other sections correspond to the older manu­scripts of the Codex Eugenianus. Such remarks about divergences of texts are exceptionally rare in fifteenth-century copies of the Chronicle. These comments about the inclusion of old readings and old interpretations of phrases which are inconsistent with the universal language of the Vulgate of Cracow enable us to explain the extent of the variation between manu­scripts. I would argue that the inclusion of older versions of the Chronicle’s text and the use of older phraseology was the result of the copyists having access to the older manu­scripts. Therefore, a number of these must have existed in Cracow during the frenzied period of copying the Chronicle as well as the commentary of Jan of Dąbrówka. Marian Plezia admits that he cannot more precisely determine when and which factors influenced the text of the Vulgate of Cracow. In any case the Vulgate of Cracow is older than the earliest manu­script of the autograph of Jan of Dąbrówka’s commentary. The manu­scripts of the Vulgate family are therefore not descendants of Jan’s commentary but share a common ancestor. This common ancestor needs to be dated to 1400–15. Plezia argues that the manu­script in question could not have been copied before the restoration of the University of Cracow; that is before 1400. This hypothesis is based on the assumption that such a solemn occasion as the re-establishment of the oldest university in Poland would have provided sufficient incentive for the making of a copy of the Chronicle. It is also at this time that there was renewed interest in the work of Vin­cen­tius and the text of the Chronicle began circulating as a popular textbook for the teaching of rhetoric. Marian Plezia argues that it was as a result of this new interest in the Chronicle that Jan of Dąbrówka decided to write his acclaimed commentary. Thus Plezia concludes that it was the popularity of the Chronicle

Marian Zwiercan


which inspired Jan of Dąbrówka to write his commentary rather than Jan’s commentary which sparked interest in the Chronicle. However, the rapid copying of the text of the Chronicle to meet this popular demand was undertaken without the oversight of an outstanding editor or contemporary publisher.16 When the many texts which constitute the Vulgate of Cracow were created, there were old and good manu­scripts of the Chronicle extant. These were eventually destroyed through wear by many readers or simply damaged beyond use. Despite the differences between the different texts of the Vulgate of Cracow one should not lose sight of the fact that in more than one case the Vulgate actually preserved some readings (lectio) better than the older manu­script of the Codex Eugenianus. This is explained by the fact that the Vulgate was created in Cracow where some older manu­scripts in good condition were still being used. These older copies of the Chronicle served as the source for transmission of a number of accurate readings into the fifteenth-century copies.17 The only extant witness to this period of renewed interest in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius is the commentary of Jan of Dąbrówka. Jan of Dąbrówka contributed very significantly to the renaissance of the Chronicle at Cracow in the fifteenth century. Jan offered his reader an instructive interpretation of Vin­ cen­tius’s text in order to allow his contemporaries to understand the (allegorical and now antiquated) intended meanings. Jan is also full of praise for the Chronicle. It is: Inter ceteras precipua, in hystoriis verissima, in serie verborum prediserta, aureas patrie nostre Polonie columpnas, veras patrum nostrorum effigies originalitier edisserens as tumultos bellicos diva luce ordinatos scalatim enucleans. (Amongst the other great stories most real, very clear in the arrangement of its words, expounding the beginning and glowing monuments of our homeland Poland, revealing the true characters of our fathers, explaining the waging of wars, and organized one after the other thanks to the illumination of God’s light.)18

Jan of Dąbrówka’s approach in the commentary conforms to the practice of his day when critiquing the work of other authors (which was called accessus in the Middle Ages). Jan examined four questions concerning the Chronicle in his commentary. ‘At the beginning I will explain’, he wrote for his readers guiding them about this method, 16 

Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 285. Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 285. 18  Commentum, p. 4. 17 

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


circa cuius inicium quedam generalia pro specialium noticia declarabo contenta in hoc dicto metrifico: “Si bene vis scire librum ista require: utilitas, titulus, intencio parque zophie, quatuor et causas rem totam perficientes”. Utilitas coincidit cum causa finali sciencie huius libri. (the individual problems which after consideration will enable better understanding of the details. If you want to read and understand a particular book, at first ask yourself: is there a benefit from reading it? What is its title? What is its purpose? These are four reasons deciding on its [the work’s] nature. The usefulness of this book corresponds to the purpose of knowledge.)19

Jan of Dąbrówka provided extensive answers to these four questions in his commentary to the Chronicle. On the question of its title, Jan found that the manu­ scripts of the Chronicle to which he had access used variant titles. Firstly, Jan notes the title which he came across at the beginning of his work: Cronica de gestis principum Poloni. Secondly, in order to explain individual elements of this title Jan explores the title’s variations drawn from other authors’ works. For example, he quotes another variation of the title of Vin­cen­tius’s work: Cronica Vincenciana de gestis illustrium principum ac regum Polonie and immediately he adds a third title which omitted the name of the Chronicle’s author: Cronica de gestis illustrium principum et regum Polonie.20 Jan of Dąbrówka’s exploration of the title is closely related to the matter of the authorship of the Chronicle. Unfortunately, Jan of Dąbrówka does not take a decisive stance in this matter in his commentary and is contradictory. Confusingly, in the very first sentences of his commentary Jan describes the work as Cronica Vincenciana and then only a few sentences later he writes that the Chronicle’s author was Bishop Mateusz of Cracow. According to Jan of Dąbrówka, Mateusz (who was one of the interlocutors of the Chronicle), wrote the dialogue of the Chronicle with Archbishop Jan of Gniezno (Books i–iii), whilst Vin­cen­tius wrote only Book iv. The authorship of the Chronicle was clearly a matter of contemporary debate and when discussing the other titles of the Chronicle Jan reports that there are other views on its authorship and he provides these along with his additional remarks. By the time his commentary reaches the second title Jan reports that according to some, Vin­cen­tius was the author of the Chronicle but because of his modesty Vin­cen­tius withheld this information; Jan comments on this assertion of others that ‘et videtur verius’ (it seems more correctly). By this statement I assume that Jan’s view on the authorship of the Chronicle agreed with these other opin19  20 

Commentum, p. 5. Commentum, pp. 5–7.

Marian Zwiercan


ions which Jan considered more correct, and therefore it seems that Jan was in favour of the assessment that it was Vin­cen­tius who was the author of the whole work. In his later discussion about the third title Jan registers another variation in contemporary scholarly opinion on the supposed authorship of the Chronicle, this time that the Chronicle was authored by Archbishop Jan and Bishop Mateusz who, as noted above, supposedly wrote the Chronicle in the form of dialogue. For himself, Jan added that in his opinion, this was the proper view, but only for the first three books. Continuing this line of thought and based on the contents of the entire Chronicle and some premises in regards to the dating of the Chronicle, Jan of Dąbrówka gives his own conclusion that all three of the venerable clergymen were in fact the authors: Jan, Mateusz, and Vin­cen­tius. He writes that Jan and Mateusz wrote the first three books, Vin­ cen­tius wrote the fourth, and additionally, Vin­cen­tius edited the first three books and added the introduction as well. In the end Jan concludes that it is not actually worthwhile debating about who was the author of the Chronicle, because according to Martinus de Bracara (whose minor work was De quattuor virtutibus cardinalibus (Pseudo-Seneca)), it is not important who expresses himself, but rather what he says, and in what way he does it.21 Despite this, Jan of Dąbrówka returned to the subject of the authorship of the Chronicle at the beginning of his commentary to the first chapter of Book iv. Here Jan has no doubt that the final book is in fact the work of Vin­ cen­tius. Jan underlines the different form the composition of this book takes as it narrates events of the history of Poland in a direct linear fashion. Once again Jan directs the reader’s attention to his opinion that the first three books were authored by Archbishop Jan and Bishop Mateusz, and that these were only edited by Vin­cen­tius and provided with his introduction.22 I have come to the conclusion that Jan of Dąbrówka’s own position on the authorship of the Chronicle was vague. It is puzzling because, in a draft copy of the commentary found in chapter seven of Book iv, there is an interesting note taken from the Annals of Lesser Poland, attesting to the fact that Jan had known that Vin­cen­tius was the author of the entire Chronicle.23 Jan did not include 21 

Commentum, pp. 5–7. Commentum, p. 189. 23  ‘Ex hoc elicitur, quod autor Cronice quoad omnes libros fuit Vin­cen­tius Kadlubonis, episcopus Cracouiensis, tunc in toto mundo litteratissimus, ut de eo referent Annales Cronice’ = ‘This means that Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow, then in the whole world the most learned, was the author of all the books of the Chronicle, and so testify the historical Annals.’ National Library of Poland, MS 3002, fol. 205v. 22 

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


this information in the text of the final version of his commentary which was dictated to copyists during the process of transcription. The author of the commentary understood that the Chronicle aimed at deepening love of the homeland and gallantry, and sought to provide an incentive to noble and virtuous deeds through describing the history of Poland.24 The commentary to the text of the Chronicle also served the same purpose. The didactic and moralizing attitude of Vin­cen­tius’s work suggested to Jan of Dąbrówka that he should classify the Chronicle as a work of moral philosophy. Jan reasoned that Vin­cen­tius’s text presented history and the good example of ancestors in order for future generations to follow their example.25 Vin­cen­tius referred to his Chronicle as a historiographical work. I believe that his main purpose was to describe historic events and that his tendency to instruct was only a secondary purpose. The classification of the Chronicle as a work of moral philosophy by Jan of Dąbrówka is consistent with the treatment of similar works by Jan’s contemporary scholars. Vin­cen­tius did not treat his work as a textbook, but his Chronicle became a subject of study at the school of liberal arts of the University of Cracow in the hands of Jan of Dąbrówka. Here the edifying sentiments of the Chronicle became the central theme of importance in the work.26 I argue that Jan of Dąbrówka lectured on the subject of the Chronicle for the study of rhetoric after his appointment in 1433. It was sometime after that date that he probably decided to write the commentary and the task was definitely completed after Jan took the Chair of Aristotelian Philosophy.27 In any case, Jan made the Chronicle and his own commentary part of the curriculum of the Tomasz Nowko Chair from 1449. As the provost of the Collegium Maius he supported the establishment of the Collegium Minus, and took an active role in its scholarly programme, which allowed for the reading of books by classical authors. As a professor holding the Nowko Chair (which was established to teach rhetoric), Jan was supposed to teach the Chronicle among other topics. One conclusion seems straightforward to me: Jan of Dąbrówka really wanted to make the Chronicle a subject of university study which is demonstrated by the fact that he prepared the extensive commentary on it and because he included the Chronicle in the curriculum of a specific department.28 24 

Commentum, p. 8. Commentum, p. 17. 26  Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, pp. 158–59. 27  Zwiercan, ‘Komentarze i przeróbki’, p. 112. 28  Zwiercan, ‘Komentarze i przeróbki’, p. 112. 25 

Marian Zwiercan


Other than the resolution of 1449 (from which the Collegium Minus was founded), there is no written evidence of the study of the Chronicle along with Jan of Dąbrówka’s commentary at the department of liberal arts of the University of Cracow. I would suggest however, that given the large number of surviving copies of the texts which were used by students, masters, and professors at the university, this is a good indication that it was indeed studied. The Chronicle and Jan’s commentary also reached the lower schools: cathedral, collegiate, and parochial. In 1450 both texts were used to teach at Cracow’s cathedral school, and five years later both texts were used at the collegiate school of Saint Anna in Cracow. By the end of the 1450s the Chronicle and Jan’s commentary were also used in provincial centres, mainly in Lesser Poland, such as at the collegiate schools in Opatów (1457–59), Łowicz (1467), Sandomierz (1471), and even at the parochial schools, for example in Lublin (1481).29 The use of the Chronicle at university or as an element of teaching at the lower schools was not the only source of its increasing popularity. The key to understanding the increased reading of the Chronicle was the practice of lending and borrowing manu­scripts by individual readers. A most telling example of how the manu­script of the Chronicle circulated is the court case heard before the Vice Chancellor’s Court of the University of Cracow during the winter semester of 1470/71. Magister Jan of Słupia Nowa, the rector of the parochial school at Saint Steven’s Church in Cracow, sued a student, the nobleman Jan Gałka, demanding from him the return of a copy of the Chronicle which had been lent to him a year or so earlier. Jan Gałka explained that he could not return the manu­script because he himself had lent it to magister Andrzej of Łabiszyn. To complicate the matter, magister Andrzej denied that he had at any time been in possession of the manu­script belonging to Jan Gałka. The parties decided to invite Andrzej of Gostynin, the true owner of the disputed copy of the Chronicle to the next hearing. There is no information of how the case was resolved because there is no entry in the vice chancellor’s files. This record along with the records of earlier court proceedings are evidence of the use of the text of the Chronicle and a wider circulation of its manu­scripts among students and masters of the university.30 In addition to the private copies of the manu­script which were accessible only to a limited number of readers, there were also communal copies held at the university and at schools. The latter were copies shared between teachers 29  30 

Zwiercan, ‘Komentarze i przeróbki’, pp. 165–68. Zwiercan, Renesans Kroniki polskiej, p. 137.

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


and pupils. In addition, each time the Chronicle was the subject of a new lecture, copies of both the Chronicle and the commentary would be made with the manu­script of the Chronicle usually copied in its entirety.31 The teaching of the Chronicle and the use of the commentary written by Jan of Dąbrówka at the university and at schools undoubtedly contributed to the broadening of knowledge about Poland in Poland in the fifteenth century. According to Marian Plezia the research value of the individual manu­scripts of the Vulgate of Cracow is minimal. They contain a lot of completely pointless mistakes, grammatically impossible forms, or spoken forms which do not exist in Latin. As noted above, Plezia argued that this outcome is the result of the hasty copying of the text for temporary use in the university and schools, a process which was not controlled in any systematic way. I would argue that the importance of the Vulgate lies in the common textual features of its components and their relationship to the Codex Eugenianus. Individual manu­script characteristics do not assist scholars in resolving the issues of the differing manu­s cripts and copy-making of the Chronicle. 32 However, I believe that two of the transmissions of the text of the Chronicle deserve specific mention. The first is a manu­script at the Jagiellonian Library (number 228) made in approximately 1437, probably at the Benedictine Abbey at Mogilno but certainly at some monastic centre of learning. If this manu­ script was not made in Cracow, then it is possible that the manu­script was based directly on some older copy with a provenance earlier than that of the commentary of Jan of Dąbrówka and therefore it is older than all the other manu­ scripts of the Vulgate of Cracow. Hypothetically, this manu­script could be a representative of an earlier version of the Vulgate of Cracow which could have been in existence before 1415. However, it is certain that the manu­script was made after 1410 because a poem about the Battle of Grunwald appears in it.33 The second manu­script is at the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna (Number 3416). It is the so-called manu­script of Bishop Johann Faber, and is the only known copy of the Chronicle which was made outside the borders of Poland, in approximately 1480. It is certainly one of the latest fifteenth-century texts of the Chronicle. It is believed that this manu­script was created outside Poland because the spelling of Polish personal and place names is highly irregular and, according to Marian Plezia, there are non-Polish texts included in the 31 

Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, p. 169. Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 285. 33  Wiesiołowski, Kolekcje, pp. 64–66; Włodek, Zathey and Zwiercan, Catalogus, pp. 276–80. 32 

Marian Zwiercan


manu­script. The text of the Chronicle in this manu­script belongs to the family of the Vulgate of Cracow, but it differs in some significant ways from the standardized influences of mass copying for didactic school use, due perhaps to its copying from an older version of the text which dated from before the end of the fourteenth century.34 In the winter semester of 1475/76, during the reform of teaching and curriculum at the Collegium Minus of the University of Cracow, the Chronicle was removed from the list of approved teaching texts for the Nowko Chair.35 In 1481 the last extant fifteenth-century copy of the Chronicle with the commentary of Jan of Dąbrówka was made. It is hard to decide whether the decline in interest in the Chronicle was a consequence of acclaim for the great work of Jan Długosz, the Annales seu Cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae. It may also have been influenced by the highly critical opinion published by Filippo Buonaccorsi, known as Callimachus (1437–96) about the work of Vin­cen­tius in his Vita et mores Gregorii Sanocei, archiepiscopi Leopoliensis.36 These are some of the reasons why I conclude that from the 1480s interest in the Chronicle abruptly lessened. The fate of the manu­script of the Chronica Polonorum is typical of other medi­eval works and was subject to the vagaries of fashion and the copyist. Of the manu­scripts we know of, in the period before the end of the fifteenth century there was at least one manu­script of the Chronicle which was extensively recopied in the fourteenth century (now known as the Codex Eugenianus). At least twenty-five copies were made in the fifteenth century which combined the full text of the Chronicle with a parallel commentary by Jan of Dąbrówka. There appear to have been no further copies of the Chronicle and commentary made after the end of the fifteenth century.


Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 286. Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, p. 173. 36  Plezia, ‘Tradycja’, p. 282. See also Filippo Buonaccorsi, Vita et mores Gregorii Sanocei. 35 

A History of the Manu­scripts of the Chronica Polonorum


Works Cited Manu­scripts and Archival Documents Cracow, Jagiellonian Library in Cracow, MS 2574, fols 1–452 —— , MS 2569 —— , MS 2570, fols 1–718 —— ,MS 2572, fols 1–781; 2573, fols 409–664 Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, ÖNB Cod. 480, Cod. 3416 Warsaw, National Library of Poland, BN 3002 III (digitized copy http://www.polona.pl/ item/264647) —— , BN 12529 II

Primary Sources Filippo Buonaccorsi, Vita et mores Gregorii Sanocei, ed. by Irmina Lichońska (Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, 1963) Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Commentum in Chronicam Polonorum magistri Vincentii dicti Kadłubek, ed. by Marian Zwiercan, Anna Kozłowska and Michał Rzepiela. Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 14 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2008)

Secondary Studies Encyclopedia of the Medi­eval Chronicle, ed. by R. Graeme Dunphy (Leiden: Brill, 2010) Hofman-Dadejowa, Helena, Studya nad rękopisami Kroniki Mistrza Wincentego [Studies of the Manu­scripts of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow] (Lwów: Towarzystwo Naukowe we Lwowie, 1924) Plezia, Marian, ‘Tradycja rękopiśmienna Kroniki Kadłubka’ [‘The Manu­script Tradition of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], in Scripta minora: łacina średniowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 277–89 —— , ‘Zawartość kodeksu tzw: Eugeniuszowskiego Kroniki mistrza Wincentego’, in Scripta minora: łacina średniowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 259–66 Wiesiołowski, Jacek, Kolekcje historyczne w Polsce średniowiecznej XIV–XV wieku [His­ torical Collections in Medi­eval Poland of 14th–15th Centuries] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1967) Włodek, Zofia, Jerzy Zathey, and Marian Zwiercan, eds., Catalogus codicum manu­scrip­ torum medii aevi Latinorum qui in Bibliotheca Jagellonica Cracoviae asservantur (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1980) Wojciechowski, Tadeusz, O rocznikach polskich X–XV wieku [Polish Annals of 10th–15th Centuries] (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1880)


Marian Zwiercan

Zwiercan, Marian, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki do Kroniki mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem [The Commentary by Jan of Dąbrówka on the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1969) —— , ‘Komentarze i przeróbki Kroniki mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Comentaries and Editions of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 106–14 —— , ‘Renesans Kroniki polskiej mistrza Wincentego w XV wieku’ [‘The Renaissance of the Chronicle of the Poles by Vin­cen­tius in the Fifteenth Century’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 131–39

The Language of ­ ius’s Chronicle Vin­cent Edward Skibiński*


he language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle is a topic that is yet to be thoroughly explored.1 On the one hand the problem concerns the language as a way of putting ideas into words characteristic not only of the author but also of the communication milieu in which he functioned. On the other hand, in an individual utterance each language serves an expressive and impressionistic function, contributing to the specific style of a text. What  I would like to present here should be treated as introductory remarks applying primarily to one work: Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle. It certainly deserves its reputation as a difficult text. Its style was sometimes described as ornatus difficilis — difficult ornateness.2 A preliminary reading is enough to show us that it is a stylistically rich text and that its author simply plays with words. Any analysis of a text should first take into account some of its compositional features to which the linguistic fabric of the text is also subordinated. Vin­cen­ tius’s Chronicle consists of four books, the first three of which are in the form of a dialogue.3 Such a dialogue facilitates division into smaller parts encompassing  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  The most extensive study to date is by Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 124–50. The rhetoric of Vin­cen­tius was also analysed by Plezia, ‘Retoryka mistrza Wincentego’. 2  Cf. Die Chronik der Polen, ed. and trans. by Mühle, pp. 53–61. 3  The term ‘form of communication’ in the sense used in this text was introduced by Skwarczyńska, Wstęp do nauki o literaturze, p. 316. This kind of research was pioneered by Jolles, Einfache formen; Bachtin, Estetyka twórczości słownej, p. 348.

Edward Skibiński, Professor of History, University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poznań Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 79–98 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114760

Edward Skibiński


the replies of the two interlocutors. The smaller units make up groups of utterances — constituting a certain whole — which could be described as prosaic strophes.4 The beginning of such a unit is signalled by a predicate or predicative group opening an utterance: 56

Est quoddam uolucrum genus.5

There are certain kinds of birds.

Huius religionem sententie pene superstitiose coluit frater et successor Wladislai Boleslaus.6

The sacredness of this sentence was treated with near superstitious reverence by Bolesław, brother and successor of Władysław.

The group also contains all forms of adverbial phrases: Tam secundis uero Boleslai successibus filius eius Mesco secundus non tam secundo successit auspicio.7


The fortunate Bolesław was succeeded by his son, Mieszko the Second, whose reign started under not too favourable auspices.

The initial clause, especially in Jan’s replies, sometimes takes the form of a dictum. It also contains conjunctions referring to the previous part, that is the previous strophe — autem, quoque, enim, sed, tamen, etc. Such conjunctions also function within the strophe, building links between various utterances. This role is also played by pronouns serving an anaphoric function. 89

Proxime autem regnauit frater Boleslai iunior.8

Bolesław’s younger brother reigned after him.

Huius quoque rei publice administratio humilibus nonnummquam et incertis cessit personis.9

In our country too government sometimes fell to persons of humble and doubtful rank.

Vin­cen­tius is aware of the existence of various stylistic forms and likes to use them. This stylistic variety is absent from the work of an anonymous chronicler 4 

I introduced this term for the first time in a study available on the internet: Gramatyka i retoryka w ‘Chronica Polonorum’ mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem. Forma językowa na usługach myśli. [http://www.mediewistyka.pl/content/view/220/40/]. Prosaic strophes are discussed there on p. 52. 5  Chronica Polonorum, iii.29.1. 6  Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.1. 7  Chronica Polonorum, ii.14.1. 8  Chronica Polonorum, ii.22.1. 9  Chronica Polonorum, i.9.1.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


working at the Piast court, known conventionally as Gallus. His typical stylistic device is frequent repetition of the same form of the predicate, which produces rhyme. When discussing the structure of veloxes in Gallus’s gesta, Tomasz Jasiński wrote: To expand on these conclusions I have carried out a statistical analysis of all classic veloxes in Book i of Gallus’s Chronicle. It turns out that the most frequent ending of the second word is avit (3rd person ind. perf. act., almost exclusively the first conjugation), for example the corrodentibus expiravit, ydolatria defedavit cited above.10

Such repetitions create a very uniform rhythm — about fifty-nine per cent for the cursus velox.11 On the other hand, the text of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle is dominated by other forms of the cursus: cursus tardus and spondaicus. However, the dominant cursus tardus reaches a maximum of barely twenty-six per cent in Book i of the Chronicle.12 Thus Vin­cen­tius avoids the domination of just one form of rhythm. This is important also for the syntax of his text. The predominance of the forms of 3rd person perfectum — of the verbs of the first conjugation — must bring specific results not only on a phonetic but also on a stylistic level. Let us, therefore, look at the structure of complex utterances in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. In order to highlight the structure by way of contrast, let us compare the text of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle with that of Gallus. The rationale behind this is as follows: Vin­cen­tius was born approximately forty years after Gallus wrote his chronicle. In Vin­cen­tius’s day it was read as the only work of its kind. Thus it must have been a natural point of reference for Vin­cen­tius. The comparison will be based on the story of Siemowit’s life after his ritual first haircut: 13 14

Hiis itaque peractis puer Semouith, filius Pazt Chossistconis viribus et etate crevit et de die in diem in augmentum proficere probitatis incepit, eotenus quod rex regum et dux ducum eum Polonie ducem concorditer ordinavit et de regno Pumpil cum sobole radicitus exstirpavit.13 10 

After the events described, the boy Siemowit, the son of Pazt Chościsko, increased in age and strength, and his excellence grew ever day by day, until the King of Kings and Duke of Dukes in harmony made him Duke of Poland, and he rid the kingdom once and for all of Pumpil and all his progeny.14

Jasiński, ‘Jak Gall Anonim tworzył veloxy?’, p. 21. Jasiński, Kronika polska Galla Anonima, p. 15. 12  Kotyński, ‘Rytmika “Kroniki” Wincentego Kadłubka’, p. 170. 13  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.3. 14  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.3. 11 

Edward Skibiński


In Vin­cen­tius’s tale, after presenting the downfall of Popiel, the chronicler goes on to tell the story in a manner quite similar to that of his predecessor: 15

Humillimi namque agricole filius Zemouit nomine strennuitatem induit, adolescit industria, uirtutibus parentatur. Qui suis non suorum suffultus meritis, prius magister creatur militum, tandem regia fungitur maiestate, quod de ipso ab ipsius pene infantie crepundiis asserunt presagitum.15

For it was the son of the humble farmer, named Siemowit, who clothes himself in the resolve, grows up in the entrepreneurship, and by acquiring virtues matures. Relying on his own merits rather than his people’s, at first he becomes elected the commander of the army and finally ascends to high royal dignity. This, some claim, was foretold almost from the time of his childhood.

Both texts begin with an adverbial nominal phrase in the form of ablative absolute. In Vin­cen­tius’s work it is more elaborate, corresponding to a compound clause; besides, instead of the general pronoun ‘hiis’ we have here a group, ‘radice Pompilii’ — a noun with an attribute in the genitive. Similarly, the participium of the verb serving as an attribute in the ablative absolute of ‘radice excisa’ has been extended to include an adverbial — ‘stirpitus’. The following utterance, beginning with ‘Quorum celsitudo’, is more homogeneous. It is a complex sentence, made up of two comparative clauses with three adjectives in the comparative. The first two adjectives have one subject — ‘celsitudo’. The predicate in the first clause — ‘porrectior’ — with an implied fuit in the second clause serves as an adverbial to the predicate ‘crevit’. The adjective in the comparative returns to its function of a predicate, and there is also ‘fuisse’ — yet the whole takes the form of nominativus cum infinitive, a personal passive. The multi-element subject in the following utterance is varied as well. It contains two attributive phrases: one in the genitive — ‘Humillimi namque agricole’, and one in the ablative — ‘Zemouit nomine’. The subject remains the same for three successive clauses — ‘strennuitatem induit, adolescit industria, uirtutibus parentatur’. In the first and the third the predicate is at the end, in the second, it is at the beginning. In the first clause the object is in the accusative, in the second in the ablative, and in the third again in the ablative, but this time the predicate is in the passive voice. As the above analysis shows, Vin­cen­tius was very meticulous in constructing his text. Attributive groups take a variety of forms so much so that there are virtually no repetitions at the structural level. The same happens in predicative groups.


Chronica Polonorum, ii.3.1.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


In comparison with Vin­cen­tius’s text, the predicates in Gallus’s works look rather monotonous: ‘Crevit’, ‘incepit’, ‘ordinavit’, ‘exstirpavit’. All these verbs have the same form — indicativus perfecti activi 3rd person singular. The last two belong to the same conjugation. The cluster making up the subject group — ‘puer Semouith, filius Pazt Chossistconis’ — is not very complicated either, despite its length. We have here only nominal attributes in the nominative and genitive. The analogous phrase by Vin­cen­tius discussed above, ‘Humillimi namque agricole filius Zemouit nomine’, is different. The whole word cluster consists of a superordinate element, that is ‘filius’, described by an attributive group in the genitive with the reinforcing ‘namque’ — ‘Humillimi namque agricole’, and a phrase with the superordinate noun ‘nomine’ in the ablative and with the genitive ‘Zemouit’. The first complex utterance in the cited fragment by Gallus comprises two coordinate clauses and another two coordinate clauses subordinated to them. The whole is a consecutive clause that is rhetorically rather weak, because the adverb ‘eotenus’, which should have been placed in the superordinate clause, follows the last predicate of the superordinate utterance, losing its emphatic power as a result. To illustrate this technique, let us take two Latin complex utterances — both serve as an introduction to the story of Piast and Rzepka.16 The first utterance comes from Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle, the other from Gallus’s. Vin­cen­tius wrote: 17

Fuit enim quidam pauperculus Chosistconis filius, cui nomen Past, cuius coniugi nomen Repice; ambo natura infimi, rebus exigui, estimatione nulli, set purioris uite studio sublimes estuque misericordie adeo feruentissimi, ut eorum substantiola in se plerumque nulla hospitalitatis nonnumquam augeretur inpendio.17

There lived the impoverished son of Chościsko, whose name was Piast and whose wife was Rzepica. Both were very low-born, poor, insignificant, yet glorious for the avocation of irreproachable life. They were eager to do works of mercy and with their eagerness to do so their modest possessions, in themselves not of any value, often were augmented by the labours of hospitality.

16  I adopt the conventional version of the Polish name Rzepka, although I do not find it correct; my position requires further discussion and a separate study. 17  Chronica Polonorum, ii.3.2.

Edward Skibiński


Gallus’s version is slightly different


Erant enim hospicii domestici Pazt filius Chossistconis et uxor eius Repca vocabulo nuncupati, qui cum magno cordis affectu pro posse suo hospitum necessitati ministrare sathagebant eorumque prudentiam intuentes, secretum, si quid erat, cum eorum consilio perficere disponebant.18

There were two domestics in the house, by name Pazt the son of Choscisko and Rzepka his wife, who with heartfelt goodwill ministered to the needs of their guests, as best they might. When they saw how wise they were, they thought to bring about something secret, if such there was, with their advice.

Both utterances are comparable in terms of the number of words. Gallus’s text is slightly shorter — thirty-seven words as opposed to Vin­cen­tius’s forty words. Generally speaking, a complex utterance consists of smaller units — simple utterances. They are combined into a bigger whole by linking elements. In the fragment from Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle these are the pronouns cui, cuius, ambo, and quorum, and the conjunctions set, ut, and -que. In Gallus’s text we find the pronouns qui and eorum as well as the conjunctions et, si, and -que. Vin­cen­tius creates the following structure: subject — ‘quidam pauperculus Chosistconis filus’ — reinforced predicate ‘fuit enim’. On this segment depends the following one, ‘cui nomen Past’, extending into another dependent clause, ‘cuius coniugi nomen Repice’. Both these utterances are referred to by the ambo anaphora, on which depend the other coordinate clauses: natura infimi, rebus exigui, estimatione nulli, set purioris uite studio sublimes, estuque misericordie adeo feruentissimi. All of these are superordinate clauses with regard to: ‘ut eorum substantiola in se plerumque nulla hospitalitatis nonnumquam augeretur inpendio’. Gallus’s complex utterance has a different structure. It begins with the clause: ‘Erant enim hospicii domestici Pazt filius Chossistconis et uxor eius Repca vocabulo nuncupati’. It is followed by a dependent clause: ‘qui cum magno cordis affectu pro posse suo hospitum necessitati ministrare sathagebant’, linked with a coordinate clause: ‘eorumque prudentiam intuentes […] 18 

Gesta principum Polonorum, i.2.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


cum eorum consilio perficere disponebant […] secretum’. And then another dependent clause: ‘si quid erat’. Both complex utterances, however, have a more elaborate structure, if we look at their smaller components, which are distinguished on the basis of their function which is signalled by the grammatical ending. In the first case these individual components are ‘fuit’ and ‘natura’. Longer word clusters found in the text are: ‘quidam pauperculus Chosistconis filius, purioris uite studio sublimes, estuque misericordie adeo feruentissimi, substantiola in se płerumque nulla’. In Gallus’s work the clusters are less complex: ‘hospicii domestici, cum magno cordis affectu, pro posse suo’. Gallus’s predicates maintain the tendency from the previous example, that is they repeat the form of the imperfect indicative: ‘sathagebant’, ‘erat’, ‘disponebant’. The first and the second predicates make up a broader cluster with the infinitive: ‘ministrare sathagebant’, ‘perficere disponebant’. Vin­cen­tius’s fragment contains a number of verbs with more varied forms: ‘fuit’, ‘augeretur’, ‘miretur’, ‘stupeat’, ‘est’, ‘crescere fecit’. Thus Gallus’s tendency to repeat the same verbal forms in successive predicates is juxtaposed with Vin­ cen­tius’s desire to achieve variety. This choice seems to have been intentional. On top of that we also have a variety in the endings of the various partial utterances. Gallus makes his text cohesive by making parts of the utterance rhyme — the rhyme stems from a repeated sequence of syllables in the word-final position: ‘vocabulo nuncupati’ — ‘hospitum necessitati’; ‘ministrare sathagebant’ — ‘perficere disponebant’. Instead of repetition Vin­cen­tius often uses gradation. Initially, the clauses added to the main clause are quite concise: cui nomen Past, cuius coniugi nomen Repice; ambo natura infimi, rebus exigui, estimatione nulli. These initial utterances are contrasted with long utterances that follow: ‘purioris uite studio sublimes and estuque misericordie adeo feruentissimi’. The impression of elongation is enhanced by another dependent clause: ‘ut eorum substantiola in se plerumque nulla hospitalitatis nonnumquam augeretur inpendio’. Such devices create the effects of growth and increase, thus reinforcing argumentation and emphasizing the importance of the event described in the text.

Edward Skibiński


Worthy of note are also the repetitions in the word-initial position. Gallus’s famous fragment devoted to Saint Stanisław contains the following utterances: 19

Ilud enim multum sibi nocuit, cum peccato peccatum adhibuit, cum pro traditione pontificem truncacioni membrorum adhibuit. Neque enim traditorem episcopum excusamus, neque regem vindicantem sic se turpiter commendamus sed hoc in medio deseramus et ut in Vngaria receptus fuerit disseramus.19

For this harmed him much, when he added sin to sin, when for treason he subjected a bishop to mutilation of limbs. For neither do we forgive a traitor bishop, nor do we commend a king for taking vengeance in such a shameful way. Still, let us leave this question open, and tell how he was received in Hungary.

Let us first point to the rhymes, that is repetitions of syllables in the word-final position, present in the text: ‘nocuit’, ‘adhibuit’, ‘adhibuit’; ‘excusamus’ ‘commendamus’ ‘deseramus’ ‘disseramus’. These are exclusively grammatical rhymes. To achieve that effect, the chronicler had to choose verbs from the same conjugation. If we look at the way these verbs are used, we will easily see that the verb usually does not repeat the word-initial syllable after the words around it. The only exception is ‘episcopum excusamus’. Repetitions in the word-initial positions are to be found in the object group: ‘peccato peccatum’, ‘traditione truncacioni’. In this last pair the word-initial cluster of ‘tr-’ plus a vowel is matched by the word-final ‘-one’, ‘-oni’. The last pair, ‘traditione’–‘truncacioni’, is especially important in an analysis of the entire event. The author’s penchant for repetitions driven by euphonic considerations demands an explanation of how these two terms were selected; which of them was the original and which was added to it. Since the bishop’s fate must have been known, we should assume that the words, ‘truncatio membrorum’, were a permanent feature of the tales about him. Thus ‘traditio’ must have been chosen by Gallus to match it. In an analogous fragment expressing judgement of Bolesław II the Bold’s deed Vin­cen­tius resolves the issue in a slightly different manner: Cumque sapiens in principio sermonis accusator sit sui ipsius, cum bonarum sit mentium ibi culpam agnoscere, ubi culpa non est, in isto abyssus abyssum inuocat in uoce cataractarum suarum. 19 

Gesta principum Polonorum, i.27.

And when the wise man accuses himself at the beginning of his speech, and when it is a mark of goodwill to acknowledge fault where there is no fault, the abyss of abysses calls among the thunder of the waterfall the one who persuaded his heart to listen to malicious words to seek excuses in sin.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle Cumque sapiens in principio sermonis accusator sit sui ipsius, cum bonarum sit mentium ibi culpam agnoscere, ubi culpa non est, in isto abyssus abyssum inuocat in uoce cataractarum suarum. Qui cor suum declinauit in uerba malitie ad excusandas excusationes in peccatis. Iustum enim est, ut qui in sordibus est, sordescat adhuc. Set utinam a Saule saltem didicisset, ad citare sonum remediari etiam mencipites. Illius utinam corde20 dulcedinem cordis auriculis attentius attigisset.21


And when the wise man accuses himself at the beginning of his speech, and when it is a mark of goodwill to acknowledge fault where there is no fault, the abyss of abysses calls among the thunder of the waterfall the one who persuaded his heart to listen to malicious words to seek excuses in sin. For it is right that one who is sordid, let him be even more sordid still. It is a pity that he did not learn from Saul that the sound of the zither can heal even the demented. It is a pity that his soul did not listen more attentively to the sweet sounds of his harp.

Thus, we first find two clauses beginning with ‘cum’, the second with a dependent clause featuring a repetition of the word ‘culpa’: ‘ubi culpa non est’. The main clause contains a paranomastic repetition, ‘abyssus abyssum’ in ‘in isto abyssus abyssum inuocat in uoce cataractarum suarum’. Next the repetitions again take the form of paronomasia: ‘ad excusandas excusationes’; ‘in sordibus est, sordescat’; ‘attentius attigisset’. In addition, we have a device similar to Gallus’s phrase: ‘pro traditione pontificem truncacioni’. In the phrase ‘corde dulcedinem cordis auriculis’ the first word is a noun in the genitive in a simplified form of chorda, ‘chordae’. Thus the wordplay goes further than it does in Gallus’s work. At the same time the accusation against the king does not really concern the killing of the bishop, Saint Stanisław. What the chronicler raises here is a lack of penance for the ruler’s sins as his most important misdeed. So instead of Gallus’s rather rigid formulas Vin­cen­tius uses a freer wordplay. He replaces unvaried predicates — making up, somewhat against the nature of Latin, a uniform string of verbs — with a skilful play on words, applying his tricks alternately, in accordance with the principle of rhetorical varietas. Let us analyse Gallus’s and Vin­cen­tius’s descriptions of Bolesław the Brave’s coronation at the Congress of Gniezno. Beginning with an address by Emperor Otto III, Gallus presents it as follows: 20 21

20  August Bielowski’s edition of the chronicle reads chorde. See Kronika mistrza Wincentego, p. 300. 21  Chronica Polonorum, ii.21.3.

Edward Skibiński


Per coronam imperii mei maiora sunt que video, quam fama percepi. Suorumque consultu magnatum coram omnibus adiecit: Non est dignum tantum ac virum talem sicut unum de principibus ducem aut comitem nominari, sed in regale solium glorianter redimitum diademate sublimari. Et accipiens imperiale diadema capitis sui, capiti Bolezlaui in amicicie fedus inposuit et pro vexillo triumphali, clavum ei de cruce Domini cum lancea sancti Mauritij dono dedit pro quibus illi Bolezlauus sancti Adalberti brachium redonavit. Et tanta sunt illa die dileccione couniti, quod imperator eum fratrem et cooperatorem imperii constituit et populi Romani amicum et socium appellavit. Insuper etiam, in ecclesiasticis honoribus quicquid ad imperium pertinebat in regno Polonorum, vel in superatis ab eo vel superandis regionibus barbarorum sue suorumque successorum potestati concessit cuius paccionis decretum papa Siluester sancte Romane ecclesie priuilegio confirmavit.22

‘By the crown of my empire, the things I behold are greater than I had been led to believe,’ and after taking counsel with his magnates he added before the whole company, ‘such a great man does not deserve to be styled duke or count like any of the princes, but to be raised to a royal throne and adorned with a diadem in glory.’ And with these words he took the imperial diadem from his own head and laid it upon the head of Bolesław in pledge of friendship. And as a triumphal banner he gave him as a gift one of the nails from the cross of our Lord with the lance of Saint Maurice, and in return Bolesław gave to him an arm of Saint Adalbert. And in such love were they united that day that the emperor declared him his brother and partner in the Empire, and called him a friend and ally of the Roman people. And what is more, he granted him and his successors authority over whatever ecclesiastical honors belonged to the empire in any part of the kingdom of Poland or other territories he had conquered or might conquer among the barbarians, and a decree about this arrangement was confirmed by Pope Sylvester in a privilege of the holy Church of Rome.

Otto III’s speech looks different in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle: Frustra, inquit, frustratorios de hoc uiro suspicabar diuulgari rumusculos frustra famam loquacitatis criminabar! Quam nunc potius mutam dixerim et elinguem, inuidam ac tenacem, que plura, que maiora sepelit silentio, quam tuba ueritatis preconetur. Vnde hunc nostri amicissimum imperii non in partem uocari sollicitudinis, set plenitudine addecet potestatis gloriari, utpote in 22 

Gesta principum Polonorum, i.6.


‘In vain’, says he, ‘I suspected that deceitful rumours were spread about this man, wrongly I accused [those spreading] them of loquacity, for now I would rather call them mute and speechless, jealous and mean, as they are silent about more important matters, instead of proclaiming them with the trumpet of truth. Thus it is right for this great friend of our empire to be not [only] called to share in power [government], but also

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle quo ipsa potestatum celsitudo gloriatur, non tam excelsis honorum gradibus quam illius excellentia sublimis. Imperiale itaque sibi diadema detrahens, capiti Boleslai non sine reuerentia inponit, illius e conuerso galimate suum caput conuenustans. Et licet argenteas officinas, auream supellectilem, officiosissimos etiam officialium ornatus, licet omnia duceret admiranda, ipsius tamen uirtutes non satis potuit admirari, quas uelut in quendam spere glomicellum in hunc solum et uidit et inuidit congestas.23


to enjoy full power, for in him shines the very nobility of power [achieved] not through honours, but through his [very] excellence and greatness.’ He then takes the imperial diadem [and] with great respect puts it on Bolesław’s head, adorning his own head with [Bolesław’s] helmet. And although silver wares, gold vessels, and the elegant dress of officials, although he thought all this to be admirable, he could not find enough praise for his virtues, which, as he saw and envied, were focused in him alone as if in a sphere.

In both texts we find the same phenomenon of various repetitions of syllables in the word-final and word-initial positions. The repetitions turn into paronomasia. In Gallus’s chronicle it comes in the form of the set phrase ‘dono dedit’ expanded by the following predicate ‘redonavit’. Vin­cen­tius has more repetitions in the word-initial position, repetitions like ‘diadema detrahens’ or ‘Imperiale itaque’, which seem like accidental pairings. There are no repetitions like ‘capitis […] capiti’. However, we do find paronomasia, ‘frustra […] frustratorios’, and a repetition of ‘frustra’ in the next sentence. Thus the chronicler produces anaphora at the beginning of two successive clauses starting with ‘frustra’. The rhyme ‘suspicabar’–‘criminabar’ resembles Gallus’s style, though it is less frequently used by Vin­cen­tius. Another rhyme ‘gloriari’–‘uocari’ turns into the paronomasia ‘gloriari’–‘gloriatur’. The same device can be found further on in the text: ‘officinas’–‘officiosissimos’–‘officialium’; ‘admiranda’– ‘admirari’; and ‘uidit’– inuidit’. What is the point of these devices? Vin­cen­tius composes his text like a musical score. Repetitions reinforce selected fragments of the text. The first pairing with the anaphoric ‘frustra’ emphasizes the part of the emperor’s speech which expresses his surprise. The coronation — unlike in Gallus’s version — is more of an honorary gesture, and is highlighted by two pairs of words with an identical letter in the word-initial position: ‘Imperiale itaque’ and ‘diadema detrahens’. The emperor putting the crown on Bolesław’s head is a gesture continued in an analogous implied gesture by the Polish prince giving Otto III his own headgear. This is emphasized by a pair of words with i- in the word-initial position: ‘inponit, illius’. The next segment introduces the second 23


Chronica Polonorum, ii.10.10.

Edward Skibiński


part of the ceremony — the ‘coronation’ of the emperor with the Polish ruler’s kalpak — ‘galimate suum caput conuenustans’. A similar function is performed by the repetition of the word-initial c-. Analogous techniques are used on a much more modest scale by Gallus. The coronation is highlighted by the repetition ‘capitis’–‘capiti’, and the mutual gifts by the pairing ‘dono dedit’, referring to the emperor, and ‘redonauit’, referring to Bolesław the Brave. Gallus’s predicate is dominated by the indicativus perfecti activi. In Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle we have not only a variety of tenses — activum appears alongside passivum and coniunctivus alongside indicativus, for example: ‘suspicabar’, ‘criminabar’, ‘dixerim’, ‘sepelit’, ‘addecet’, ‘preconetur’, ‘gloriatur’, ‘inponit’, ‘duceret’, ‘potuit’, ‘uidit’, ‘inuidit’. As the list demonstrates, Vin­cen­tius can also handle grammatical rhyme. However, he uses it sparingly, in addition to many other stylistic devices. Gallus, on the other hand, uses grammatical rhyme as one of his main structures. What is the point of such a style in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle? We will see it by analysing the stories included in the Chronicle. The famous story of Wanda, which went on to enjoy such great popularity in politics, appeared for the first time in Vin­cen­tius’s work: Tantus autem amor demortui principis senatum, proceres, uulgus omne deuinxerat, ut unicam eius uirgunculam, cuius nomen Vanda, patris imperio subrogarent. Que tam elegantia forme quam omnimoda gratiarum uenustate omnibus adeo prestabat, ut non largam set prodigam in eius dotibus naturam estimares. Nam et prudentum consultissimi eius astuptebant consiliis et hostium atrocissimi ad eius mansuescebant aspectum. Vnde quidam Lemannorum tyrannus, dum proposito huius gentis populande grassaretur, dum quasi uacans rapere molitur imperium, inaudita quadam uirtute prius uincitur, quam armis. Omnis enim exercitus eius mox ut reginam ex aduerso uidit, uelut quodam solis radio repente percelIitur. Omnes uelut quodam iussu numinis animos hostiles exuti a prelio diuertunt,

So great was the love for the deceased ruler, that the Senate, the nobles and all the people entrusted government to his only daughter named Wanda. She was so superior to everyone with her fair figure and charms that one would think that nature was not generous but prodigal in bestowing so much on her. The wisest of the prudent were amazed by her advice and the cruellest of enemies became gentle in her presence. Hence when a certain Aleman [German] tyrant raged, intending to destroy that people and seeking to seize the apparently empty throne, he was overcome by [Wanda’s] extraordinary appeal rather than by the force of the arms. Once his army saw the queen in front, they were struck as if by sunshine: all, as if ordered by a deity, having abandoned hostile feelings,

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle asserunt sacrilegium a se declinari non prelium, non hominem se uereri, set transhumanam in homine reuereri maiestatem. Quorum rex, incertum est amoris an indignationis an utriusque saucius languore, ait: Vanda mari, Vanda terre, aeri Vanda imperet, diis immortalibus Vanda pro suis uictimet! Et ego pro uobis omnibus, proceres, solempnem inferis hostiam deuoueo, ut tam uestra quam uestrarum successionum perpetuitas sub femineo consenescat imperio. Dixit et exserto incumbens mucroni exspirat uitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub auras.24


ceased to fight; they claim they are evading sacrilege not right; they are not afraid [they said] of a human being but venerate superhuman majesty in [her]. Their king, affected by the torment of love or outrage or both, says: ‘Wanda the sea, Wanda the earth, Wanda the clouds should rule. Let her sacrifice herself to the immortal gods for her own people, while I, for you all, nobles, make a solemn offering to the gods of the underworld so that you and your heirs will forever grow old under female rule! He thus said and, having thrown himself onto a sword, gave up his soul, and the sour life slipped into the shadows with the protest.

The subject group comprises four elements: ‘Tantus […] amor demortui principis’. The main element, that is ‘amor’, is defined by the adjective ‘tantus’ serving as an attribute and another, two-part attribute in the genitive. Similarly, the object group is a compound, this time coordinate, structure: ‘senatum, proceres, uulgus omne’. Later on the object becomes an implied subject, which is why the predicate of the subordinate consecutive clause is in the plural — ‘subrogarent’. The object group appears in the subordinate clause also in an extended form as: object in the accusative ‘unicam eius uirgunculam’; relative clause dependent on the preceding object group ‘cuius nomen Vanda’; and object in the dative with a nominal attribute in the genitive, ‘patris imperio’. Similarly complex is the following clause where we find here an adverbial cluster, ‘tam elegantia forme quam omnimoda gratiarum uenustate’, and a concise object in the dative. The subordinate clause contains again a complex object: ‘non largam set prodigam in eius dotibus naturam’. The next utterance contains two coordinate clauses with an elaborate subject group with nominal attributes in the genitive: ‘prudentum consultissimi’; ‘hostium atrocissimi’. The impression of elongation is further enhanced by the five-syllable modified word. As a counterbalance, the object is shorter: ‘eius consiliis, eius aspectum’. In addition, the concise quality is reinforced by the fact that one of the elements of the cluster is a pronoun. This is in contrast to both subjects, in which the modified word is an adjective in the superlative functioning as a noun. Thus what we get on the 24


Chronica Polonorum, i.7.2–4.

Edward Skibiński


level of the narrative is an image of the protagonist who distinguishes herself by virtue of her wisdom and looks. She is opposed unsuccessfully by very wise, ‘consultissimi’, and very ruthless, ‘atrocissimi’ men. This group of actants is continued by ‘quidam Lemannorum tyrannus’. This time the object of the predicate concerns the intentions of the protagonist’s opponent: ‘proposito huius gentis populande; quasi uacans rapere […] imperium’. The elaborate object expresses not action but intention or thought of the subject of the action. According to the principle of dramaturgy, the opponent’s reasoning is rational — a state ruled by a woman is without a ruler, uacans imperium, as it were. There is no division into the good and the bad — the position of the ‘Leman’ (German) ruler is also that of the narrator: 25

bonis uideatur moribus dissonum feminam principibus imperare.25

it seems indecent for a woman to give orders to princes.

The extraordinary nature of the defeat of an army of men by one woman is emphasized by the instrumental object of the subordinate clause ‘inaudita quadam uirtute’. Virtus is a fundamental category in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. In this event a demonstration of virtue leads to a transformation of the situation, Aristotelian peripeteia. The next utterance includes a description of the event itself. On the one hand we have an extended subject phrase which seems long: ‘Omnis […] exercitus eius’. The predicate, on the other hand, carries an object in the form of a single noun, ‘reginam’. The juxtaposition clearly illustrates the extraordinary nature of the situation — the queen faces the enemy army on her own. The reaction described in the subordinate clause gives us — in an extended instrumental object — a picture of the queen’s influence on the army, ‘uelut quodam solis radio’. The impression is enhanced by an adverbial in the form of an adverb — ‘repente’. This type of description is continued in the next utterance, which contains the following nominal phrase serving as an object: ‘uelut quodam iussu numinis’. The long nominal phrase functioning as the subject, ‘Omnes […] animos hostiles exuti’, which is, in fact, a nominativus absolutus by virtue of the fact that ‘omnes’ is used as the modified word, produces at the beginning an anaphoric repetition with respect to the preceding clause, which stresses a continuity of events. The following utterance begins with a concise subject group consisting of a relative pronoun and a noun, ‘Quorum rex’. There is no juxtaposition or a reversal of action — the ruler’s behaviour conforms to the logic of the preceding events. As in the previous case we have here elaborate 25 

Chronica Polonorum, i.8.2.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


motivation expressed by a nominal object phrase, which is a coordinate cluster of words: ‘amoris an indignationis an utriusque saucius languore’. Wanda’s victory is commented on in the ruler’s speech before the suicide. The queen is to make offerings for her people to ‘mari, terre, aeri’ (the sea, the earth, the air), while the king only to the ‘inferis’ (the gods of the underworld, where he is heading). The ornate style is not introduced here only for fun; it is used to convey a new sphere of interest — the protagonists’ thoughts. They are sometimes guessed at, but are, nevertheless, an indispensable element of the narrative. The author is no longer satisfied with a mere description of the events. What now remains to be done is to address the complaints about the style of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. Unclear language, often attributed to Vin­cen­tius, is a misunderstanding. This is how Marian Plezia, who levelled such charges at Vin­cen­tius as the chronicler, interpreted the fragment of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle concerning the punishment inflicted on Zbigniew, Bolesław the Wrymouth’s brother, for his faithlessness: Jeśli się pamięta z mitologii starożytnej, że wieszczek tebański Tejrezjasz został przez bogów oślepiony (Kadłubek mógł o tym wiedzieć np. z Owidiuszowych „Przemian” 3, 316 n.), to łatwo już zidentyfikuje się to „tropiczne” wyrażenie (tym razem idzie o tzw. metonimię) z relacją źródeł obcych (Kosmas III 34), iż Zbigniew poniósł taką właśnie karę. Nasz Wincenty chciał zapisać ten fakt, ale w jego konwencji pisarskiej wypadło to w sposób dla nas przynajmniej trudno czytelny. (If one remembers from ancient mythology that the Theban prophet Tiresias was blinded by the gods (Kadłubek might have known this from for example Ovid’s Metamorphoses [3, 316]), one will easily identify this ‘tropic’ expression (this time it is about the so-called metonymy) with the account from foreign sources (Cosmas, III 34) according to which this was precisely Zbigniew’s punishment. Our Vin­cen­ tius wanted to record the fact, but his writing convention made it rather unclear to say the least.)26

The fragment of the chronicle in question reads: ‘Nam ciuium ille hostis atrocissimus, ciuis reipublice inutilis Tiresiana plectitur sententia, perpetuo proscribitur exilio’ (This most cruel enemy of citizens, useless citizen of the commonwealth, was given the punishment of Tiresias: perpetual exile).27 The fragment indicated by Marian Plezia has Tiresias settling a dispute between Jove and Saturnia (that is Zeus and Hera) over which gender enjoys 26  27 

Plezia, ‘Retoryka mistrza Wincentego’, p. 274. Chronica Polonorum, ii.30.1.


Edward Skibiński

sex more. The punishment for the sentence pronounced by Tiresias was the revenge of Hera, who deprived him of his sight. Jove turned to Tiresias, because, as Ovid explains in his Metamorphosis, (iii.322–23): ‘Placuit quae sit sententia docti quaerere Tiresiae’ (‘It is worth consulting the sage Tiresias’). By appealing to Tiresias, the two highest deities put him in a difficult position. The power of the two sides of the conflict was far beyond human power. The judge deciding Zbigniew’s case found himself in a position similar to Tiresias. Zbigniew was Bolesław the Wrymouth’s brother, just as Juno was Jove’s wife. Not only were the two sides of the conflict more powerful than the judge but they were also related to each other. Tiresias’s punishment was not just, because Juno took revenge for the sentence. Therefore, if the phrase ‘given the punishment of Tiresias’ were to be referred to a victim, it would mean an unjust sentence or Juno’s sentence. In the second case we might be dealing with a judge ruling on those more powerful than himself, yielding to the pressure of the strongest. This was undoubtedly the case with Tiresias, who was aware of the fact that he could not oppose Jove. However, I do not think that Vin­cen­tius was referring here to this particular fragment of Ovid’s work. The meaning of ‘Tiresiana sententia’ is explained further on in the text by the chronicler himself, ‘perpetuo proscribitur exsilio’, as this was the punishment of Oedipus, for example, who went into exile. Was Zbigniew’s exile his true punishment? We do not know that. However, Zbigniew’s trial was made up by Vin­c en­tius. Gallus does not mention it, even though it would have been an important argument in his narrative. The chronicler does not say anything about what Bolesław the Wrymouth did to his brother, yet he does not fail to mention his penance, thus acknowledging the ruler’s guilt. Vin­cen­tius, on the contrary, does not describe Bolesław the Wrymouth’s penance, removing in this way the most important element of Gallus’s story. We are not dealing here with some kind of special style, but with a deliberate decision by the chronicler. He succeeded; Vin­cen­tius’s version was adopted in later medi­eval historiography. Another example of Vin­cen­tius’s unique style given by Marian Plezia is the famous sentence passed by King Bolesław II the Bold on the unfaithful wives. Mulieres quoque, quibus mariti pepercerant, tanta insectatus est inhumanitate, ut ad earum ubera catulos applicare rion horruerit infantulis abiectis, quibus etiam hostis pepercisset. Astruebat enim extirpari oportere scortorum scandala non foueri. (Even the women forgiven by their husbands were persecuted by him with such vehement atrocity that he did not hesitate to put pups to their breast, having

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


rejected infants on which even an enemy would have taken mercy! For he sought to eradicate and not protect the scandalous debauchery.)28

Marian Plezia’s conclusion is based on the fact that the motif had appeared earlier in Cosmas’s chronicle. This argumentation deserves some consideration. Cosmas attributes threats of this kind to Vlastislav, prince of Lucko, who, according to the legend, fought against the Bohemians. He allegedly threatened the Bohemians that this was what he would do to their women after the conquest. Such a threat could be understood either symbolically or literally. It seems to me, however, that it was simply part of wartime atrocities in the region. Why then are such deeds perpetrated on the king’s orders in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle? Unlike his predecessor, the chronicler presents the actions of the ruler before his conflict with Bishop Stanisław in a positive light. As Bolesław the Bold was away waging wars, back in Poland his subjects apparently rebelled against him. They seized the estates and the women of the knights who were away with the king. Some, but not all, of the women were violated. Others followed the rebels, tired as they were of waiting for their husbands for too long. On hearing about this, the knights returned home, defeating and punishing the rebels. The punishment was also meted out to the wives. The returning king had to deal with the situation of the rebels and women who had violated the sacrament of marriage. He, therefore, had a right to punish them; and the chronicler does not question this right. Desertion was punished by death as was, it would seem, marital infidelity. Vin­cen­tius does not question these prerogatives of the ruler. However, on returning to Poland Bolesław does not refer to a court of law: ‘Bolesław bowiem poniechawszy umiłowania prawości, wojnę prowadzoną z nieprzyjaciółmi zwrócił przeciwko swoim’ (Bolesław, having abandoned righteousness, turned the war with his enemies against his own people).29 Thus he treats his subjects the way in which Vlastislav allegedly treated the Bohemians. Vin­cen­tius, who probably did not know Cosmas’s chronicle, regards this punishment as worse than the atrocities of war. As he writes in the introduction quoted above, even an enemy would not have perpetrated such a deed. As we analyse the text of the chronicle, it is hard to consider one of the main charges against Bolesław the Bold, which prompted the bishop of Cracow to intervene, to be a rhetorical platitude:

28  29 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.20.2. Jasiński, Kronika Polska, p. 76.

Edward Skibiński


Nam quod mulieres ingenue seruili prostitute sunt incestui, quod genialis tam spurce inquinata est religio, quod factio seruorum in dominos conspirata, quod tot capita suppliciis exposita, quod regis denique coniuratum est excidium, in sanctum refundit antistitem; astruit illum proditionis originem, totius mali radicem, hec, ait, omnia ex illa exitiali uena manasse. (That free-born women were given to slaves for debauchery, that the sanctity of marriage was so shamefully tainted, that a pack of servants conspired against their masters, that so many heads were put to death and that a plot was formed to exterminate the king — he blamed the holy bishop for all this. Furthermore, he rules that in him lies the beginning of the betrayal, the root of all evil; all this, he says, sprang from this fatal source.)30

It would be difficult to find complicated syntax in this fragment. The complex utterance comprises clauses based on an extended predicate group, usually object group. Thus we have five component clauses dependent on one main clause. Such a structure is subordinated to the function of formulating charges against one defendant. The following utterance is even simpler. The word clusters in the entire fragment are dominated by a noun emphasizing the material nature of the charges. The charges derive from the accusations the king made after returning from the war. He accused his knights not only of deserting him but also of having punished the rebels — judiciary power was the domain of the ruler only. The king also accused the unfaithful women, as their husbands had deserted him because of them. Let us look at the formulation of the indictment: Fingit illos non iniurias in plebe ulcisci, set regiam in rege persequi maiestatem. Nam plebe remota rex quid erit? Ait non placere sibi uiros uxorios, quibus plus causa placeat feminea, quam principis obsequela. Queritur se non tam aput hostes ab ipsis desertum, quam hostibus ultro expositum. (He imagines that they do not take revenge on the people for the wrongs done to them, but threaten the majesty of the king. For what is a king when his people depart? He says that he does not like married men, for they care more about the women than about service to their ruler. He complains that they not so much abandoned him among his enemies but voluntarily left him at the mercy of his enemies.)31

There are two charges concerning the ‘threat to the majesty of the king’ and the case of the women. Both charges are transferred to the bishop of Cracow, who came to their defence. Thus, contrary to various opinions concerning the 30  31 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.20.12. Chronica Polonorum, ii.20.1.

The Language of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


excesses of Vin­cen­tius’s style that suggest that excesses obscured the contents of the story, the chronicler’s message is clear. After all, Vin­cen­tius was a lawyer, a fact worth bearing in mind when analysing his text. Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle was influenced by the need to present the history of Poland anew. Several decades after it was written Gallus’s chronicle no longer satisfied the needs of the Polish court elites. In the late twelfth century Vin­cen­ tius, returning from overseas studies, brought with him new concepts, a new vision of man. From this position he attempted to interpret the history of his homeland. A modern reflection on the meandering nature of life choices made by the protagonists also required a new style. Facts simply ceased to be facts — they acquired new meanings depending on the point of view. Seemingly obvious opinions had to be verified, taking into account not only actions but also the motives behind them. The world of thoughts and motives as well as their impact on events had to be presented. Such reflections first required a careful separation of the story proper from the commentary. This was made possible by the introduction of dialogue. Dialogue also divided the chronicler’s story into sequences. In other medi­eval chronicles such a division stemmed from the introduction of dates into the narrative. The various stories were ascribed to specific dates. At the same time works of this kind used a chain structure — stories were like links in a chain as it were. As a result, a general compositional principle was no longer needed. When presenting the world of moral choices and trying to demonstrate their validity, Vin­cen­tius reached for an array of stylistic devices. To this end he used primarily elaborate nominal phrases, subjective as well as adverbial and verbal. Successive predicates in an extended complex utterance take different forms to convey not only the influence of the chronicle’s protagonists on the external world but also of the external circumstances on the protagonists. Gallus’s monumental historiography is replaced by a new narrative style, more focused on conveying and analysing the psychological dimension of human actions.


Edward Skibiński

Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Die Chronik der Polen des Magisters Vin­cen­tius, ed. and trans. by Eduard Mühle (Darm­ stadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 2014) Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. by Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003) Kronika mistrza Wincentego [The Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius], ed.  by August Bielowski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, 2 (Lwów: s.n., 1872) Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska [The Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius], ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis, Biblioteka Narodowa (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992)

Secondary Studies Bachtin, Michaił, Estetyka twórczości słownej [The Aesthetics of Verbal Creativity], trans. by Danuta Ulicka (Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1986) Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Jasiński, Tomasz, ‘Jak Gall Anonim tworzył veloxy? Przyczynek do poznania rytmiki Kroniki polskiej’ [‘How Gallus Anonymous Created Veloxes? A Contribution to the Knowledge of Rhythm in the Polish Chronicle’], in Klio viae et invia: opuscula Marco Cetwiński dedicata, ed.  by Anna Odrzywolska-Kidawa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2010), pp. 17–23 —— , Kronika polska Galla Anonima w świetle unikatowej analizy komputerowej nowej generacji [The Polish Chronicle by Gallus Anonymous in Light of the Unique Computer Analysis of a New Generation] (Poznań: Instytut Historii UAM, 2011) Jolles, André, Einfache formen (Halle: M. Niemeyer, 1930) Kotyński, Leon, ‘Rytmika “Kroniki” Wincentego Kadłubka’ [‘The Rhythm of the Chron­ icle by Vin­cen­tius’], Eos, 49 (1957/1958), 161–76 Plezia, Marian, ‘Retoryka mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Rethoric of Vin­ cen­ tius’], in Scripta minora: łacina średniowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 266–76 Skwarczyńska, Stefania, Wstęp do nauki o literaturze [Introduction to the History of Lit­ erature] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Pax, 1954)

The Narrative in ­ ius’s Chronicle Vin­cent Edward Skibiński*


in­cen­tius’s Chronicle consists of four books, each preceded by one prologue.1 In his work Vin­cen­tius uses the word princeps to describe a suzerain, because this is how the term is understood by Vin­cen­tius, who uses it to refer to Gracchus — the legendary ruler whose coronation he mentions in his work — and to every ruler of Poland. When it comes to the term rex (king), its scope is similar to that of princeps, that is Vin­cen­tius does not use it only with reference to crowned rulers, but also, for example, to Władysław Herman. Vin­cen­tius’s position is confirmed to some extent in the chronicle of his predecessor, Gallus, where the heading of Henry V’s letter to Bolesław the Wrymouth reads ‘ad regem Bolezlaum’. This version appears in all three surviving manu­scripts, but was emended by the editor of the chronicle.2 While there is some consistency in Gallus’s work, he usually does not use the term rex with reference to uncrowned rulers, Vin­cen­tius follows a different rule. Old, legendary rulers are regarded as kings and addressed as rex. Later Vin­cen­tius rarely uses the term when writing about Poland’s rulers, but willingly applies it to everyone else.  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, p. 210. 2  Gesta principum Polonorum, iii.13. Edward Skibiński, Professor of History, University of Adam Mickiewicz, Poznań

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 99–117 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114761


Edward Skibiński

However, his chronicle does not focus on the gesta of rulers, as was the case with Gallus. Rulers’ deeds are of interest to Vin­cen­tius insomuch as they influence the fate of the state or regnum. This is the subject matter of the chronicle, as is indicated by the remarks at the beginning of the work, in a dialogue between Mateusz and Jan, who are talking about Poland’s fate. Dialogue is the form of the first three books of the chronicle. Book iv returns to the traditional form of a monologue, but the narrator is fitted into the same framework tale as the dialogue between Mateusz and Jan. Since the various books do not have separate introductions, the prologue introducing the whole chronicle should take over this function. Yet the prologue is by no means typical. There is no addressee mentioned by name — he is described only as ‘strennuissimus principium’ (a most valiant prince).3 In addition, he is not named as the addressee of the dedication but as the man who commissioned the chronicle. The commission of the unnamed prince concerns a very difficult task, a burden of Atlas (‘onus Athlanteum’) placed on the shoulders of a Pygmy (‘humeris Pygmei’). What is the point of taking on such an onerous task? It is to enable the readers to participate in their ancestors’ virtues ‘offering to posterity participation in the virtues of their forebears’.4 The chronicler gave neither the name of the person commissioning the work nor his own name, probably following the example of his predecessor, Gallus. In this way he established a tradition of sorts. Until the end of the thirteenth century his successors wrote chronicles without giving their names. This seems to have stemmed from a specific concept of the historian’s craft. As the chronicler says in the introduction ‘sidera teterrimis Ethiopum demonstrata digitis non furuescunt’ (the stars, pointed at with fingers of the hideous Ethiopians, are not dimmed).5 Thus the historian’s task is to demonstrate what happened in the past, as it was in the past. His own condition does not have any impact on the content of his work. The nature of the historian’s work is discussed at the beginning of the prologue in a slightly peculiar way. Vin­cen­tius ponders the attitude to theatrical festivities of three ancient figures — Codrus, Alcibiades, and Diogenes. Significantly, all three belong to pagan antiquity. What they supposedly had 3 

Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.1. ‘Auitarum itaque uirtutum posteris dilargiens participium’: Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.2. 5  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.2. 4 

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


in common was a dislike of theatrical festivities.6 What were those festivities? They were public celebrations that proved unpleasant not only to handsome Alcibiades, but also to wise Diogenes and even poor Codrus. The position of the three men was juxtaposed not with the situation of the chronicler but with that of his chronicle. It is evident that the three men symbolize specific kinds of writing contrasted with the fourth, that is historiography. In an allegorical discourse the chronicler pronounces this form of writing as being distinct from philosophy (represented by Diogenes) and belles-lettres (symbolized by Alcibiades). Other, inferior kinds of writing, personified by the pauper Codrus, are not on par with historiography either. We are justified in seeing in those allegorical figures references to forms of writing contrasted with historiography. It is apparently based on what is indicated by the black fingers of the Ethiopian (historian?). The historian does not describe ‘figurines of clay’ but reveals real images of the fathers.7 However, in historiography these are not private affairs or family stories (like in other forms of writing), but the history of the state, while the patres or fathers should be patres conscripti (senators) if ‘non enim adolescentarum inter Musas collasciuire choris, set sacri senatus assistere tenemur suggestui’ (we are not supposed to frisk with maidens amidst muses in Diana’s lively dances but face the judgement of the venerable senate).8 Historiography understood in this way belongs to political disciplines in the classical sense of the word. Thus historical works abandon biographical form in favour of matters of the state. Stressing the magnitude of the chronicler’s task in the prologue to Vin­cen­ tius’s chronicle is not a form of the topos of the author’s humility vis-à-vis his readers. On the contrary, according to Vin­cen­tius, the seriousness of the task he has taken upon himself imposes demands not only on the chronicler but also on his readers as judges of his work. However, not everyone can be such a reader-judge. He must have the right preparation: ‘Ne omnibus passim de nobis detur iudicium, set eis dumtaxat quos ingenii elegantia uel urbanitatis commendat claritudo’ (Not everyone be allowed to judge us before they thoroughly understand us, but only those who are recommended by the elegant mind or outstanding refinement).9 Having participation in the ancestors’ virtues (‘auitarum uirtutum participium’) as the purpose of the chronicler’s work 6 

‘Theatrales sollempnitates’: Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 1.1. ‘Non puppas fictiles, set ueras patrum effigies’: Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 2.2. 8  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 2.2. 9  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.4. 7 


Edward Skibiński

immediately places his oeuvre within the class of genus demonstrativum which comprises laudatio and vituperatio — praise and censure. Praising and censuring were not tasks for amateurs in those days. One had to know what to praise and censure people for. There was a whole theory of morality, formulated on the basis of rhetoric and further developed in the Middle Ages in de virtutibus et vitiis treatises. Virtutes — virtues — were juxtaposed not with sins, as might be suspected, but vices — vitia. Theorists from Vin­cen­tius’s era have left us many treatises devoted to the subject. How did Vin­cen­tius resolve this moral conundrum? Recognizing virtutes and vitia as drivers of past actions is an important characteristic of his narrative. Vin­cen­tius believes that when choosing the former or the latter, rulers also chose the way they conduct themselves. Such a concept also influences the form of the narrative. The role of the narrative is first of all to characterize the protagonists. The events cited in the chronicle are meant to document their character traits — though they are not discussed in terms of individual life stories, but in terms of the protagonists’ duties as heads of state. Even Queen Wanda’s life of chastity is criticized, because she failed to produce an heir. Consequently, the state had problems long after her death (it floundered, as the chronicler writes). The order of events is subordinated to the character traits of their protagonists, becoming less important as a result. This may be the reason why Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle, like that of Gallus, does not use a skeleton of dates such as we can encounter, for example, in the Tale of Bygone Years (also known as the Primary Chronicle) or Cosmas’s Chronicle. Not always presenting his protagonists’ deeds in chronological order, at the same time Vin­cen­tius follows the transformations of the state, which is his other protagonist as it were. As characterization dominates the plot in stories of rulers, transformations of the state are precisely the elements that build the narrative proper and determine the composition of the chronicle. The narrative framework in Books i–iii is provided by a dialogue of two narrators, Jan and Mateusz. Each of them explores the same subject matter although Mateusz usually tells stories from Poland’s past, while Jan comments on them. The conversation ends in the finale of Book iii, when we learn that the interlocutors retire. In fact, the content of Book iii goes beyond the lifetime of the two men, so if they were to continue their conversation in Book iv, we would clearly be dealing with a conversation of the dead. Thus we learn at the beginning of Book iv that Jan and Mateusz’s duties were taken over by the servant who had hitherto held the inkwell. From now on the servant becomes a rationalis rei publicae — the country’s minister of finance in a way. His task is

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


to manage the finances and allocate funds to people, dignitaries, and activities. The task is defined as serious as well as dangerous, because it is easy to arouse aversion in others. Such a structure for the dialogue means that although there is only one prologue proper — preceding the whole chronicle — at the beginning of each book we find introductory remarks by both interlocutors, and in the fourth part the role of an introduction is played by the story of the transfer of duties to the servant. The introduction of the dialogue in Book i tells us what to expect later on in the text. First, we have a quote from Cicero’s ‘Catiline Orations’, ‘There was a virtue in days of yore in this commonwealth’,10 which is also in line with the writing style of Vin­cen­tius, who liked to borrow phrases from other authors, though usually without informing his readers about their origins. Moreover, the words well reflect the subject matter of the chronicle — virtue that was (‘fuit’) but, by implication, is no longer there. The sentence introducing the dialogue between Jan and Mateusz gives us some idea of the compositional concept of the chronicle: Disputabant namque Johannes et Matheus, ambo grandeui, ambo sententiis graues, de huius rei publice origine, progressu et consummatione, cum Johannes: Queso, inquit, mi Mathee, sub quonam conceptam estimabimus nostrarum constitutionum infantiam? (It was Jan and Mateusz who spoke. Both of old age, both serious and thoughtful. [They talked] about the beginning, progress, and the coming of age of this commonwealth. Then Jan says: I ask you, my Mateusz, in what period, should we assume that the infancy of our system of government had its beginnings?)11

As this fragment contains a certain historiosophical concept, it is worth taking a closer look at it. Consummatio has two meanings: one denotes achieving the highest level, the other decline or wear. It is not clear which meaning the author had in mind. Generally, however, we can assume that it is about achieving some ultimate greatness, closing a cycle of transformations: birth; growth; consummatio as the apex followed by a collapse. Similarly, ‘sub quonam’ does not mean ‘when’ but more literally ‘under whom’. Thus the whole reads: ‘under whom our constitutions were conceived’. It is a metaphor referring to sexual intercourse and the question is about the father of the state’s constitutions. The man in question is Gracchus, the first — according to Vin­cen­tius — legendary ruler of 10  11 

‘Fuit, fuit quondam in hac republica uirtus’: Chronica Polonorum, i.1.1. Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2–3.

Edward Skibiński


Poland, who apparently gave laws to the state, at the helm of which he found himself. As Vin­cen­tius says, the laws did not immediately introduce a perfect order, but they did provide for a minimum of justice: Licet autem iustitie rigor non tunc statim ceperit imperare, extunc tamen uiolentie desiit subesse potestati et dicta est iustitia que plurimum prodest ei qui minimum potest. (Howbeit, unyielding justice not at once started ruling. Nevertheless, thenceforth justice ceased to submit to authority of unbridled violence, and thus the justice favours those who can do least.)12

As we can see, the definition — taken from Plato — did not mean model justice. Gracchus’s state was weak and the victories of its rulers were based on subterfuge or even witchcraft. The latter applies to the famous story of Wanda, daughter of Gracchus, who had to face an invasion by a German prince. Wanda, it seemed, came out alone to meet him. The enemy army surrendered and its leader chose the path followed by many other commanders deserted by their troops; he committed suicide. Book i describes the gradual development of a still pagan kingdom, from modest beginnings to its heyday during the reign of two rulers name Lestek. The first used a stratagem to defeat Alexander the Great’s great army, which attacked Poland, and the other lay the foundations for the country’s greatness. He challenged the rulers of neighbouring states to a duel and, having killed them, seized their territories. His son — the name of whom is not given by the chronicler — married the sister of none other than Julius Caesar, but when he was refused a dowry, he sent her back home. However, Julia left a son, Pompilius I, who reigned briefly and died leaving only one son, Pompilius II. After the death of Pompilius I his realm was divided into provinces each ruled by his brothers and by his son. Supreme power rested with Pompilius II, who, not trusting his uncles, decided to get rid of them at his wife’s instigation. He poisoned his uncles but the crime did not go unpunished. Pompilius II, his wife, and two sons were eaten by mice. The progress announced by the fragment that introduces the dialogue between Jan and Mateusz was halted and the state declined. Thus ends Book i of the Chronicle. A new beginning comes with the story of how Piast’s son, Siemowit, ascended to the throne. The ensuing rise of the state is no longer as straightforward as in the previous book — rather, we are dealing here with a slow growth 12 

Chronica Polonorum, i.5.3.

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


interspersed with a series of crises. The reign of Bolesław I the Brave is not as glorious a period for the state as in Gallus’s chronicle. Vin­cen­tius does not worship Bolesław as much as his predecessor and his version of the upheaval following the ruler’s death is also much milder. The first serious crisis comes with the fall of Bolesław the Bold preceded by a rebellion of his subjects. Yet in this case, too, order was eventually restored. The next serious threat was associated with Zbigniew, portrayed as a traitor who brought enemies into his homeland to seize power in the country. However, in the ensuing struggle there emerged Bolesław the Wrymouth, who was to be the real heir of Bolesław the Brave. Book ii ends with the trial of Zbigniew — Bolesław the Wrymouth’s elder brother and rival for power. The trial finally puts an end to the long strife between the brothers. Vin­cen­tius’s predecessor, Gallus, presents Zbigniew’s end in a different manner. He probably died because of some deed of his brother, who was forced as a result to go on a penitential pilgrimage to Hungary, to the Monastery of Saint Giles and to Saint Stephen. What that deed was Gallus does not say. Vin­cen­tius leaves out the story of Bolesław’s penance altogether, giving us instead a description of the trial, during which Zbigniew is at least able to defend himself. The crisis is thus resolved by new methods, a change from the practices of the past of which the chronicler told us earlier. The conflict between Bolesław the Bold and Stanisław, bishop of Cracow, ended in a crime, as did the conflict between Pompilius II and his uncles. Book iii brings the story of Bolesław the Wrymouth’s reign to a conclusion. Its central events revolve around the conflict between Władysław II, Bolesław’s successor, and his brothers. A war breaks out, and Władysław II and his wife are forced to go into exile. The last event described by Vin­cen­tius in this book is the defeat of another of Bolesław the Wrymouth’s sons, Bolesław the Curly, in a battle against the Prussians — here called the Gets. Book iv ends with the story of Leszek the White’s renunciation of power in Cracow and its takeover by Władysław III Spindleshanks. As we can see, the disasters described by Vin­ cen­tius are by no means ultimate disasters, yet each of them closes a period. The question that should be asked now concerns the mechanism of these disasters. To put it more broadly, what is the mechanism of change in the chronicler’s narrative? This is not a new problem in narrative studies. Peripeteia is mentioned already by Aristotle in his Poetics.13 Analysing the mechanics of change is not easy. This is well-known to scholars who have used the categories of Aristotle’s poetics in their studies of trag13 

Aristotle, Poetics, 1452a.


Edward Skibiński

edy, wondering how to justify this or that explanation of the peripatetic of the story of Antigone or Oedipus. However, the form of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle is different. Vin­cen­tius has left us a guide to his narrative in the form of a dialogue of narrators. As has already been said, the chronicler wrote extensively about the deeds of rulers. Since in its first three books the Chronicle is in the form of a dialogue, I will point to the place of commentary in the replies of both interlocutors, Jan and Mateusz. At the beginning of his chronicle Vin­cen­tius introduces an unnamed people — or a tribe — ‘infinitissimae numerositatis manus’. They were guided by principles that will often recur in the chronicle: ‘Adeo illos non dominandi ambitus, non habendi urgebat libido, sed adulte robur animositatis exercebat’ (They did not greatly desire to rule and passion for possession didn’t urge them, but the power of mature courage was their element).14 Thus, the two vices this people avoided were lust for power (ambitio), and desire for possession (‘habendi […] libido’). An important quality of the virtues characterizing these people was the fact that they did not set any limits for themselves, which the author expresses in the following manner: ‘Ut preter magnanimitatem nihil magnum estimarent, ut suarum accessiones uirtutum nullis usquam terminie limitarent. Nec enim essent uirtutes, si ullis dignarentur limiitum ergastulis includi’ (They regarded nothing as great as generosity and nothing ever stood to limit their valour. It wouldn’t be valour, if they were to lock it up tight in a prison of boundaries!).15 This last sentence reflects an important quality of virtues — their application cannot be limited to some situations only. Those proto-Poles should rather be called proto-Slavs, if their first state, headed by Gracchus, was founded in Carinthia after all. It is indeed worthy of note that the founder of the first Polish dynasty came from Carinthia. This happened after the fall of the first state that was founded there — its inhabitants eventually lost as they were ‘luxu dissoluti’ (made indolent by luxury) and ‘mulierum paulatim emolliti lasciuia’ (having gradually lost fortitude by the wilfulness of women).16 The reign of Gracchus was followed by that of his son, Gracchus the Younger. He came to power having vanquished, together with his brother, a dragon threatening the country. After the fight he killed his elder brother, putting all the blame on the dragon. Yet as it quickly came to light that he had killed his brother, he was condemned to exile. Mateusz’s tale is commented on by Jan, 14 

Chronica Polonorum, i.2.2. Chronica Polonorum, i.2.2. 16  Chronica Polonorum, i.3.2. 15 

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


who refers to the theory of vices or vitia. Like virtutes, vitia are moral forces to which people succumb for a variety of reasons and which then determine the nature of their activity as well as their success or failure. Vitia supposedly led (or leads) people to failure. This is confirmed by the following commentary: ‘Quid igitur miri, si tristes habet exitus tristis ambitio?’ (No wonder that the sad lust for power comes to a sad end).17 The four daughters of desire (cupiditas) are: ‘Opum ingluuies, honorum ambitno, inanis glorie captatio, libidinis prurigo’ (craving for wealth, desire for honours, striving for hollow glory and lasciviousness).18 Craving for wealth, ‘Opum ingluuies’ corresponds in the earlier story of the founding of the state in Carinthia to ‘habendi libido’. Among the four vices the most important in the chronicle is ambition (ambito): ‘Inter has natione celesti superbit ambitio ideoque humilium dedignata tuguria, superborum et sublimium colla propria uirtute calcauit’ (Among them lust for power flaunts its heavenly origins. And that is why, scorning the paupers’ dwellings, it tramples on the necks of the haughty and proud).19 Worthy of note is the choice of ambitio treated here as an independent force. Contempt for the dwellings of ordinary people is one of the recurring motifs in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. My equivalent of the Latin term is ambition, although we need to bear in mind that today we use it in a different way. However, as it often appears in translation, we need to point to the shift of the semantics of the word. The Latin ambitio denotes lust for power itself, power understood as a desire for honours and not duties. A more detailed explanation of the term can be found in the story of the rise to power of two rulers, both named Lestek, who in the book epitomize, as it were, the legendary heyday of Poland. The first is supposed to have defeated, using a stratagem, none other than Alexander the Great. Commenting on his career, Jan gives a general explanation of the role of modesty in increasing one’s virtue: Omnium enim est nutrix uirtutum humilitas, set eas in humilibus sepius reprimi solere quam repremiari. Quippe: quid uirtus humilis? sol apud antipodes; rutilare tamen non desinit aput eos, quos animi generositas lippire non sustinet. (Humility nourishes all virtues, but when they come to those of low rank, the virtues are repressed more often than rewarded. For what is virtue in those of a 17 

Chronica Polonorum, i.6.2. Chronica Polonorum, i.6.3. 19  Chronica Polonorum, i.6.3. 18 


Edward Skibiński

low rank? The sun of the antipodes! Yet it does not cease to shine on those whose nobleness of spirit cannot bear blindness.)20

Humilitas is thus the nurse of all virtues. Yet it must be said that we are dealing here with concepts of secular morality and that in no way does the author refer to specifically Christian ethics. The next period on which I would like to dwell is the reign of Lestek II. According to Vin­cen­tius’s narrative, Lestek founded the dynasty whose last ruler was Pompilius II who was eaten by mice. However, we are just at the beginning of this story. Lestek II is presented as the creator of the power of the state. The ruler’s origins were modest and he owed his success to a stratagem. He came to power by entering a race which he won thanks to a ruse, exposing himself to ridicule — for instead of going straight for the finishing line, he chose a roundabout route. However, the straight route was strewn with nails. His companion, who knew about it, shod his horse and was able to finish first but he was pronounced a fraudster and was killed. Thus Lestek, who came second, won the race. Having achieved victory in this manner, he turned it into a good deed, without forgetting his earlier condition. Every time he sat on the throne he wore rags, with his royal robes lying on a footrest — only then did he put them on. However, having done so, he put his rags on the throne and, wearing his royal dress, he sat on the footrest. This is how the ruler’s behaviour was judged by Jan: ‘Ex hoc sane perdocuit regem plus humilitate decorum, quam purpura conspicuum; immo nec hominem censeri, nedum principem, quem a beluis non secernit humilitas’ (This really teaches that humility becomes the king more than conspicuous purple; nor indeed, he cannot be considered a man, let alone a prince, who is not made different from the beasts by his humility).21 Humility is treated here as the opposite of ambitio and as man’s differentia specifica, making him different from animals. The ultimate defeat results from a reversal of this virtue. We are back to the same situation whereby members of a family fall prey to lust for power. As I have written earlier, Pompilius II kills his uncles. Before the crime is committed, the family relations are commented on in the following manner: ‘Set beata, set plus quam fraterna societas, aput quam plus pietatis ualet religio, quam ambitus principandi persuadeat’ (How blessed, more than fraternal society, is society in which kindness matters more than lust for power!).22 Again, ambitus 20 

Chronica Polonorum, i.12.1. Chronica Polonorum, i.16.1. 22  Chronica Polonorum, i.18.1. 21 

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principandi corresponds to ambitio in the story of Gracchus the Younger’s killing of his elder brother. The story of the origins of the ruling dynasty — which, according to Vin­ cen­tius’s chronicle came from Siemowit, son of the pauper Piast — reflects the same mechanisms. ‘Generosa quoque magnanimitas nec turritas semper urbes inhabitat nec pauperum prorsus aspernatur tuguria’ (Noble magnanimity does not always live in cities with towers nor does it scorn paupers’ dwellings).23 Siemowit’s advancement confirms the principle. Magnanimitas is the reverse of ambitio, which scorned the dwellings of the poor: ‘Immo tales esse debere principes, qui cum paupertate nouerint habere commercium, quia difficile est eum reuereri uirtutes, qui semper prospera usus est fortuna’ (Indeed princes should be those who have come accustomed to poverty, for it is hard to respect virtues for those who have always been fortunate).24 Piast’s humilitas is associated with poverty. The value of virtues is much clearer to someone who has risen from poverty thanks to them. As long as we treat this as Vin­cen­tius’s general opinion concerning ordinary people, we can agree with it, referring it to ascetic ideals and the like, for example. However, here we are dealing with a historical tale with rulers as its main protagonists. The usefulness of cases of hardship to rulers does not apply to the view that this is how they can attain salvation more easily. After all, Siemowit is a pagan ruler. The principle is better explained by the following phrase: ‘nobilis est, uirtus quem sua nobilitat’ (noble is the one who is ennobled by his own virtue).25 Therefore, being part of this class depends on the nobility of virtue. In Polish medi­eval historiography Bolesław the Brave is portrayed as a kind of ideal ruler. His wars against Ruś as well as Emperor Otto III’s pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Adalbert of Prague and all its consequences undoubtedly contributed to his status.26 That is why Jan’s commentary after the presentation of Bolesław’s achievements may seem surprising. During his visit to Gniezno in 999 Otto III was given a lavish welcome, but he was apparently impressed the most with the virtue of the Polish prince. Jan comments on Otto III’s praise in the following manner: ‘Nunc tandem uiri bona laudasti! Omnia enim que pretio nitent alieno aliena sunt, omnia fortune bona sunt non nostra’ (Now you 23 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.4.1. Chronica Polonorum, ii.5.5. 25  Chronica Polonorum, ii.6.1. Cf. ‘Nobilis est, quem nobilitat sua virtus’ in Bielowski, Mistrz Wincenty i jego kronika Polski, p. 188. 26  See Michałowski, The Gniezno Summit. 24 

Edward Skibiński


have praised the virtue of [this] man: for all that shines with alien price is alien, all is a gift of fate and is not ours).27 The reference to the gifts of Fortune seems to draw on the concept of fate explained by Boethius in his De consolatione. The argument is substantiated by the exemplum featuring the philosopher and his guest. When the guest mocked the philosopher’s poor dwelling, the philosopher invited him to another, rented one. There the guest was given hemlock on silver plates, bile in a golden cup, and juice in a clay cup. In a similar way he was told what elegant food meant. As Jan says in the conclusion, everything is alien with the exception of two things that are truly ours — time and soul. Thus, praise for any man should apply not to the gifts of Fortune he has received but to what is truly his. A ruler’s achievements are based on the principles he has adopted — on virtues and vices. Viri bona are his virtues, viri facta his accomplishments. As the commentaries suggest, not everything told by Mateusz about Bolesław the Brave belongs to these two categories. After all, when talking about the prosperity of Bolesław’s time, he refers to gifts of fortune. There is a certain disagreement between the two interlocutors in Vin­cen­ tius’s chronicle. It is also a polemic with Gallus, who very strongly stressed the lavishness of the Polish ruler. Vin­cen­tius transformed his predecessor’s tale to make Bolesław’s image fit in more with his purpose. Bolesław presented as a model ruler in this manner would have waited a long time for a worthy successor. In the meantime, his son Mieszko II had to deal with other problems. Bolesław’s failures were of his own choice to some extent: ‘Nam si qua cum quibuspiam gessit prelia, necessitatis ea fuisse constat non uirtutis, coacta non uoluntaria’ (For if he battled against anyone, it is well-known that this was out of necessity, not sense of power; it was imposed upon him, not taken on voluntarily).28 Being satisfied with what his father, Bolesław the Brave achieved led to his defeats. The spoils inherited from Bolesław are, in a way, like gifts of fortune. The decline of the country after the father’s death meant that the son had to sacrifice his life to regain his state. It was only his own son, Bolesław the Bold, that was able to emerge as a fully independent ruler from the very beginning of his reign. In this case Vin­cen­tius resorted to a new technique. Usually, in his chronicle he repeated what he knew from his predecessor. This time his approach was different. He left out the criticism of Bolesław the Bold relating to the period 27  28 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.11.1. Chronica Polonorum, ii.14.2.

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


before his conflict with Stanisław, who was subsequently canonized bishop of Cracow. Then he gave the cause of the conflict between the ruler and the bishop, which Gallus omitted; he talks about the rebellion that broke out in the country because of the constant wars waged by the king outside its borders. This apparently led to an uprising among slaves, who seized power together with the women of their masters. The masters returned, leaving the ruler alone at a time of war, as we can surmise. What happens next is a chain of punishment, as it were. The lords who came back punished their slaves and their wives. When the king returned, he began to punish everyone. He was particularly cruel to women, ordering pups instead of infants to be put to their breasts. Stanisław, bishop of Cracow, protested against this and died a martyr’s death. His death was followed by miracles confirming the holiness of the sacrifice. The bishop’s function here was to warn the ruler that he should observe the most fundamental laws. This function is a kind of recurring motif in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. The first to perform it was apparently Saint Adalbert — admonishing Bolesław I the Brave — followed by Gedko, who admonished Mieszko the Old’s governor. However, the crime committed by the king finds some justification according to Vin­cen­tius. The punishments, although severe, do have a legal basis, even if imagined. After all, those who returned had abandoned their ruler during a war — that is they deserted. Typical punishment in such a case was death. The wives who betrayed their husbands violated, from Vin­cen­tius’s point of view, the sacrament of matrimony. In both cases the punishment was considered obvious in those days. Nevertheless, in Vin­cen­tius’s view the king’s actions were not about justice being done. Bolesław the Bold was at war with his people and the bishop’s protest provoked the king’s anger and, as a result, led to Saint Stanisław’s death. Yet the ultimate accusation levelled by Jan, who comments on the events, is different. Jan says that sin is not something ultimate, as it can be erased by confession. Bolesław the Bold did not follow this principle. Even in exile in Hungary, to where he escaped from Poland, he kept accusing the bishop he had murdered. This perseverance in sin is explained in the chronicle through the theory of virtues: ‘quod liberalitatis erat, uento ambitionis exsufflatur’ (munificence was blown out by lust for power).29 The explanation of Bolesław the Bold’s guilt is more complex than in previous stories. Even more complicated is the case of Bolesław the Wrymouth’s brother, Zbigniew. Like in the case of Saint Stanisław, Vin­cen­tius introduces here significant changes in comparison with Gallus’s chronicle. Zbigniew is tried for treason and has the right to defend himself. Interestingly, when Jan, 29 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.21.2.


Edward Skibiński

who comments on the case described by Mateusz, is asked about his own opinion, he replies using Zbigniew’s argumentation. Zbigniew’s illegitimacy, raised already by Gallus, and his problems with his father were rejected by Jan as erroneous arguments. Jan’s negative attitude to the charges disappears only towards the end of the story. The last two sentences are attributed by Marian Plezia to Jan, while in A. Bielowski’s edition and B. Kürbis’s translation they are attributed to Mateusz, who thus closes the discussion. The omission of the crime and Bolesław the Wrymouth’s penance for what he did to his brother, and the introduction of a court trial as a way to resolve disputes may serve only as a way to legitimize the ruler’s actions. Yet this is by no means the only place where Vin­cen­tius leaves out violent solutions described by his predecessor. Gallus describes, for example, how Bolesław the Brave set out on an expedition against the king of Ruś, because the ruler had refused him his sister’s hand. Having captured Kiev, he raped his wife not-to-be, an event described by Gallus as Bolesław’s success. Vin­cen­tius omits this deed of the Polish prince, considering it perhaps to be unworthy of a great ruler. Had he included it, he would have had to criticize it in line with his views. Book iii opens new kinds of problems, only partly touched upon in the previous book. The author had problems already with the description of Saint Stanisław’s case. The indisputable guilt of the accused and too severe punishment could not be presented in accordance with the simple logic of the opposition between ambitio and humilitas. When trying to solve the problem, Vin­ cen­tius finds a solution when describing Bolesław the Bold’s further fate, that is analysing the king’s behaviour in Hungary, where his attitude to the crime committed was revealed. On the other hand, by closing Zbigniew’s story with a description of the trial, Vin­cen­tius gives us a new interpretation — in comparison with that of Gallus — of his tragic fate. He rejects his illegitimacy as the cause of his downfall. Next, he ponders on Zbigniew’s supposed treason, of which he is uncertain. Of all the charges against Zbigniew, Vin­cen­tius eventually retained disobedience and acting without consent of the leader, in this case his younger brother, Bolesław the Wrymouth. The Bolesław the Wrymouth’s story fills Book iii. The story illustrates the previously suggested description of the ruler as star of virtues (‘sidus virtutum’). Earlier in the chronicle Vin­cen­tius shows that virtues lead to victory, but later on they may also cause a temporary failure. For example, the fact that Bolesław the Wrymouth transferred his love from his father to his brother (Zbigniew) caused him to be deceived by his brother’s tricks for much longer. On this occasion Vin­ cen­tius explains the nature of virtue as a habit that is hard to eradicate. Bolesław, especially virtuous as a ruler, bequeaths to his four sons not only the state but

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


also obligations of the forefathers’ virtues.30 The fifth son, not mentioned in the ruler’s testament, was to inherit the whole. It seems that to attain it, he also had to accept those forefathers’ virtues. In the chronicler’s narrative the story of Bolesław the Wrymouth’s succession is a story of struggle also with this legacy. The first story told in Book iii deals with mercy, which, shown by Bolesław the Wrymouth to the people of Alba, brings him a notable success; other strongholds in Pomerania surrender to him as well. The lecture on mercy in Jan’s reply cannot be dismissed as meaningless moralizing. It is the first appearance of mercy in the chronicle. The next time it is used it appears in the story of Kazimierz the Just, who was Vin­cen­tius’s patron and another great protagonist of the chronicle, as can be seen in the summary of his reign: ‘Alter Alexander, alter Cato, Tullius alter, Non minor Alcida, sed achilior hic vir Achille’ (He was another Alexander, another Cato, another Tullius, no lesser than Alcides, but more Achilles-like).31 At first this short poem with its references to antiquity may seem typical of Vin­cen­tius’s prose. This is not the case, however. The names of Cato, Tullius, and Achilles appear only here. The name Alcides — that is Heracles — appears once again with reference to another great figure, Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer). From the very beginning Bolesław’s eldest son, Władysław II, is described as ‘ambitiousus’ and ‘fastuosus’. That last word, derived from fastus — pride — multiplies Władysław’s vices in comparison with his predecessors. It seems that Vin­cen­tius expands the accusation and paints a portrait of this ruler using only dark colours. He models the figure of Władysław on Popiel (referred to by Vin­ cen­tius as Pompilius II), who also owed his downfall to the fact that he yielded to his wife’s instigation. The next ruler is Bolesław the Curly. In his account of his deeds Vin­cen­tius never refers to virtus. Even when describing the war with the emperor — told not very faithfully, it has to be said — and proclaiming the success of the Polish ruler, the author calls him only an industrious man.32 He ends the story of Bolesław the Curly with a defeat, stressing that the ruler and his son were abandoned by good fortune. By closing the book with the death of the ruler, Vin­cen­tius was able to introduce a new one at the very beginning of Book iv. I think that Vin­cen­tius made sure this principle was followed. A story of a new ruler begins Book i, Book ii, and Book iv. Book iii is an exception. Book ii ended with Zbigniew’s trial and the third begins with a veritable eulogy to Bolesław the Wrymouth signalling 30 

‘Auitarum uices uirtutum’: Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.19. Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.18. 32  ‘Uir industrius’: Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.5. 31 


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a new opening in the story of his reign. Book iv differs from the other books not only in terms of its narrative. Thematic unity is ensured by its two main protagonists, Mieszko the Old and Kazimierz the Just. It could well be said that their conflict over power is the theme of the entire narrative. Kazimierz, as I have already mentioned, is the true successor to Bolesław the Wrymouth. Mieszko is a child of fortune, while Kazimierz is a servant of virtues.33 Sic itaque Kazimirus fit monarchus Lechie. Sic quatuor fratrum, id est Wladislai, Boleslai, Mesconis, Henrici, quatuor principatus in solum Kazimirum confluxerunt, sicut pater longe predixerat, de quatuor loquens fluminibus, per que quatuor monarchas figurauit, per alueos quatuor principatus, Kazimirum per auream situlam, uirtutes eius per fontem aromatum significans. (Thus Kazimierz became the monarch of Lechia and the four principalities of the four brothers, that is Władysław, Bolesław, Mieszko and Henry, were inherited by one Kazimierz, as the father had long predicted, speaking of four rivers representing four rulers [and] four riverbeds representing four principalities, and comparing Kazimierz to a gold vessel and his virtues to a fragrant spring.)34

The changes introduced by Kazimierz draw, in my opinion, on the story of the beginnings from Book i of the Chronicle. It contains an incomplete definition of justice, taken from Plato. The classic definition of iustitia — as suum cuique — does not appear until Book iv. Kazimierz is the man acting in accordance with this definition: ‘Nemo siquidem unicuique quod suum, fidelius dispensare nouit’ (No one knows how to faithfully dispense to the other what is his).35 Establishing justice is also the first thing undertaken by Kazimierz as a monarchus Lechie in peacetime: Igitur seruitutis loramenta dirumpit, exactoria iuga disipat, tributa dissoluit, vectigalia relaxat, onus non tam alleviat, quam penitus exonerate, angarias ac perangarias expirare iubet. (Thus he breaks the fetters of servitude and the yoke of collectors, introduces tax reliefs; he not so much lightens the burden but completely eliminates it, orders rents and easements to be abolished.)36 33 

See Pickering, Augustinus oder Boethius? Chronica Polonorum, iv.8.5. 35  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.6. In Bielowski’s edition ‘quod suum est’. This does not change the fact that both cases are about the classic definition of justice. Bielowski, Mistrz Wincenty i jego kronika Polski, p. 387. 36  Chronica Polonorum, iv.8.6. 34 

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


The Treaty of Łęczyca which follows is in fact the only document cited by the chronicler in full. This is no coincidence. It is a fulfilment of an earlier announcement and, at the same time, a detail that puts Kazimierz above most rulers described by the chronicler. It should be said that this is about the dominant feature of the narrative enabling us to follow the chronicler’s position. As a ruler imbued with virtues, Kazimierz can be compared only to his forebears, who fought Gauls and who, like him, did not put limits on virtues. This is how he is presented by the chronicler, who even in his language draws on his description of that people: Sic fratrum non sopita, set aliquantisper interpolata discordia, hostem nature asserens otii torporem, ad exteriore sese explicat uirtus Kazimiri, Patrie dedignata limitari ergastulo. (When the feud between the brothers was temporarily halted rather than quelled, virtuous Kazimierz, believing idleness to be an enemy of nature, turns to neighbouring countries, having scorned confinement within the borders of his fatherland.)37

Kazimierz’s death is commemorated by the chronicler with an extensive altercatio — a poetic dispute between sadness and joy in praise of the ruler. One might assume that what would follow would be largely devoted to the son of the deceased ruler, Leszek. However, this is not how the narrative runs. Instead, Vin­cen­tius moves to the death of Kazimierz’s main adversary, Mieszko the Old. This is followed by a relatively brief description of negotiations with Leszek over the takeover of power in Cracow. After his refusal, Władysław the Spindleshanks enters Cracow. It does not seem that the chronicle was originally intended to be continued. In terms of the narrative, this was the point where Book iv was meant to end. In line with his style, the author would have devoted a new book to Leszek as the new ruler. Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle is thus a collection of stories of the gesta of Polish rulers. Chronology is marked only by their succession. It does not become important until the last book of the Chronicle. The stories of rulers’ deeds are told in their political dimensions, though the historian’s craft is respected — Vin­cen­ tius clearly presents his original version of it in the chronicle. The rulers’ gesta are also part of a concept of morality; in accordance with the teaching of the chronicler’s time, referring to the theory of virtues and vices (virtutes et vitia). All these devices influence the form of Vin­cen­tius’s narrative. Successive leaders of the state are characterized in detail. This is to illustrate the virtues and vices 37 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.14.1.


Edward Skibiński

to which they succumb. The framework for these stories is marked by the takeover of power by successive rulers and by their deaths. Vin­cen­tius is interested in the causes of failures and successes of the various rulers — though he sees them in their moral choices. Looking for them in the surviving tales, he rejects traditional concepts linking a ruler’s downfall to factors external to his choices. For Vin­cen­tius, death as such is not a defeat — but its kind can be (for example, death in exile). In itself it is only the end of life and work for the protagonists of history, but it does not influence their conduct in life. However, rulers’ options are limited by the material resources they have at their disposal. Their reasoning is not. In this Vin­cen­tius is a rationalist. That is why in the legendary part of the chronicle he portrays rulers defeating their opponents by means of subterfuge. Vin­cen­tius creates biographies in which individual life stories of rulers are presented in the context of their duties. The leaders’ deeds mark the transformations of the state, which in itself becomes a protagonist — an agent. Despite the fact that Vin­cen­tius was a bishop and was later beatified, he does not introduce mysticism into his text. Even the two conversing bishops, Jan and Mateusz, are presented without reference to their ecclesiastical dignity. The sage appearing in Vin­cen­tius’s exempla is neither a cleric nor a monk. Rather, he has qualities of a stoic. On the other hand, dialogue enables Vin­cen­ tius to make his analysis more nuanced. Theses formulated in Mateusz’s pronouncements are not always substantiated in Jan’s replies. In Vin­cen­tius’s work the subject of history is the state. It is the state that grows and falls. Rulers function only in its various periods. Yet the cause behind the transformations is the valour of its leaders — be they women or men. Their actions are based on the faithfulness of their people. A change of fortune comes when the path of valour is abandoned. Paradoxically, for the contemporary reader defeat is caused by ambition — understood as lust for power. According to Vin­cen­tius, concentrating on power as an end in itself leads to a downfall. The opposite of this vice is the virtue of humility. It is defined in a secular manner, without any reference to the seemingly obvious examples from the Gospel. To conclude it is worth noting that Vin­cen­tius’s secular stance should not be understood in terms of present-day categories. The chronicler left theological matters, I think, to be discussed by specialists — theologians. In the spirit of the period — the close of the so-called twelfth-century Renaissance — he believed that the laity should focus on their own affairs. And in them they were bound by the theologia subcelestis; the ethics of cardinal virtues.

The Narrative in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle


Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. by Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003)

Secondary Studies Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek. Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Bielowski, August, Mistrz Wincenty i jego kronika Polski [Vin­cen­tius and his Polish Chron­ icle], ii (Lwów: s.n., 1863) Michałowski, Roman, The Gniezno Summit: The Religious Premises of the Founding of the Archbishopric of Gniezno, trans. by Anna Kijak (Boston: Brill, 2016) Pickering, Frederick P., Augustinus oder Boethius? Geschichtsschreibung und epische Dich­ tung im Mittelalter und in der Neuzeit, 2 vols, Philologische Studien und Quellen, 39 (Berlin: E. Schmidt, 1967)

The Impact and Influence of Antiquity and the Bible in the Chronica Polonorum Katarzyna Chmielewska*


he author of the Chronica Polonorum was highly eloquent and drew on the literary heritage of antiquity in a sophisticated way, utilizing the works of the Graeco-Roman classical period, the Bible, and the works of the Church Fathers. The first example of the influence of these works is found in his Prologue to the Chronicle which is saturated with rhetorical devices. In the Prologue, Vin­cen­tius reflects on the enormous task which was placed on his shoulders. Using tropes of affected modesty1 the chronicler describes his sponsor as ‘the bravest of princes’2 who ‘placed the burden of Atlas on the shoulders of a dwarf ’.3 Vin­cen­tius refers here, although not directly, to a saying attributed to Bernard of Chartres which was universally known to the well-educated and was frequently repeated in the Middle Ages. According to Bernard of Chartres, when he wrote about the meaning of the past and its heritage:   * Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  Cf. Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, pp. 83–84. 2  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.1. See also Skibiński, ‘Mieszko czy Kazimierz?’, pp. 167–74; Skibiński, ‘Walka o władzę’, pp. 47–56. For an alternative view see Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty o współczesnych’, pp. 33–35; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 33–35. 3  Chronica Polonorum, Prologue 4.2.

Katarzyna Chmielewska, Lecturer, Institute of History, Jan Długosz University, Częstochowa

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 119–137 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114762


Katarzyna Chmielewska

we are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see more than they, and things at a greater distance, not by virtue of any sharpness of sight on our part, or any physical distinction, but because we are carried high and raised up by their giant size.4

Bernard of Chartres thought highly of ancient authors. The metaphor quoted here is an expression of Bernard’s deep respect for the tradition and his spiritual precursors, thanks to whom Bernard and his contemporaries could extend their knowledge and ideas to further horizons. The passage accurately represents the attitude of a twelfth-century intellectual who recognized and revered the achievements and accomplishments of the ancient authors. Vin­cen­tius wrote the Chronicle at a time of intellectual energy which was the product of increased economic development, the rise in the role of cities, greater contact with the Muslim and Byzantine east, the expansion of networks of medi­eval cathedral and monastic schools, and the beginnings of university education. An increased interest in antiquity was one of the manifestations of this new interest in, and hunger for, knowledge. The return to works of antiquity and the revival of its humanistic ideals fully manifested themselves in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, however the great Renaissance was preceded by at least two similar periods: first, the Carolingian Renaissance (occurring from the late eighth to the ninth centuries), and second, the Renaissance of the twelfth century which is also referred to as a pre-renaissance in the historiography.5 The Renaissance of the twelfth century was characterized by a sudden development of the liberal arts, of law and philosophy, and by the intensive study of the works of the great authors of antiquity. Vin­cen­tius was a typical representative of the Renaissance of the twelfth century.6 The authors of antiquity were regarded by Vin­cen­tius and his contemporaries to be the unquestionable authority on philosophy and history. Authors 4 

Bloor and Bloor, The Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis, p. 55. John of Salisbury depicted Bernard of Chartres as an eminent Neo-Platonist philosopher and scholar, one of the more educated people of these days. Metalogicon, p. iii.4. Cf. Stefan Swieżawski, Dzieje europejskiej filozofii klasycznej, p. 487. 5  An introduction to the twelfth-century renaissance can be found in Haskins, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century. Cf. Paré et al, La renaissance du XII–e siècle; Włodarski, ‘Humanizm średniowieczny’, pp. 55–99. More recent scholarship explicitly rejects the notion of the twelfth-century renaissance. See, for example, Jaeger, ‘Pessimism in the Twelfth-Century “Renaissance”’, pp. 1151–1183. 6  Plezia, ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’; Kürbis, ‘Polska wersja humanizmu średniowiecznego’, pp. 9–24.

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(auctores) who possessed authority (auctoritas) were a matter of no small importance in medi­eval writing. The people of the early Middle Ages were convinced that a definite and reliable knowledge could only be acquired through personal participation in an event or through its observation (ex visione). They assumed that a historic understanding was possible only with reference to the present time. Past events which were impossible to see were by their nature unknowable. It was possible however to acquire knowledge about the past through indirect means; to get to know it based on information provided by another person (ex auditu). The person who passed on the information could not be just any casual observer however, rather that person had to be sound, mature, and in possession of rich practical experience. In the minds of people in the Middle Ages, knowledge and wisdom were joined inseparably with virtue, thus no man could be believed unless he possessed manifold virtues, the most important of these being prudence and piety. These attributes provided the authority of the informer and meant that the information shared by him or her was regarded as trustworthy and should not be criticized. Hence the past was an object of faith rather than of knowledge.7 At the height of the Middle Ages there was a change in the approach of writers to their sources. At this time, historians gained more self-reliance and began to critically consider the opinions contained in the sources. Through this process the power of authority was weakened, but it was not abandoned during this period.8 Vin­cen­tius explicitly utilizes the authority that the virtues of old age and prudence bring to a work by writing his history of the Poles in the form of a dialogue between two church hierarchs: Archbishop Jan of Gniezno and Bishop Mateusz of Cracow. Whilst introducing the two dignified interlocutors, Vin­ cen­tius claims that they were ‘both of old age, both serious and thoughtful’.9 Both, according to the chronicler, deserve to be trusted because they were graced with a great authority.10 In the Middle Ages the great authors and their work received similar confidence, and the Bible and letters of the first Christian theologians enjoyed universal, natural authority. Twelfth-century scholars also gave the Greek and Latin authors of antiquity great recognition. The authority of ancient writers was treated as equal with the authority of the Bible and the 7 

Pomian, Przeszłość jako przedmiot wiary, pp. 49–86. Michałowska, Średniowiecze, pp. 103–06; Grabski, Dzieje historiografii, pp. 72–75. 9  ‘Ambo grandeui, ambo sententiis graues’: Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2. 10  ‘Quorum tanto felicior est recordatio, quanto celebrior uiget auctoritas’: Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2. 8 


Katarzyna Chmielewska

Church Fathers. The ancient Graeco-Roman works were read and interpreted and their views considered useful and inspiring.11 In the twelfth century the number of available works of the classical authors of literature, rhetoric, and philosophy grew substantially. The three great Roman poets, Ovid, Virgil, and Horace were well known, as well as Lucan and Statius. Among these authors Virgil enjoyed a special respect and was regarded by some as a Christian writer.12 Cicero was also keenly studied, especially his philosophical and rhetorical treatises, as were the works of Seneca, Macrobius, Boethius, and Quintilian. Latin authors were commonly read and Greek works were usually known only when they were available in translation, of which there were few, and these were often only fragmentary in the second half of the twelfth century. There are examples of more translations available in Western Europe dated to approximately 1200 (the thirteenth century brought a greater readership to the works of the Greek authors).13 A similar trend can be observed from Vin­cen­ tius’s text. The chronicler often inserted Greek words into the Latin text, and even created new words, however, I would argue that he did not know classical Greek sufficiently to enable him to independently read the Greek authors.14 I would like to discuss which of the works of antiquity Vin­cen­tius referred to in his writing. I would like to start with the Bible, the most important book for every Christian writer of those times. The Bible is not a uniform text but a set of ancient texts of diverse character which were copied, rewritten, and then completed over a number of centuries. There are almost 140 biblical references in the Chronicle.15 Vin­cen­tius used the Bible in an uneven way, and made twice as many references to the Old Testament as to the New Testament. This perhaps is not surprising because the Old Testament contains several times more text than the New Testament. Also, the New Testament describes a fragment of less than fifty years of history whilst the Old covers several centuries. If the chronicler chose to select only sources from the ecclesiastical literature, then the Old Testament would be the most suitable choice. The Old Testament is 11 

See for example: Le Goff, Medi­eval Civilization; Le Goff, Intellectuals in the Middle Ages; Curtius, European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. 12  Wichowa, ‘Eneida Wergiliusza’, pp. 98–99. 13  Plezia, ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’, pp. 232–33. 14  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 176–202; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. cii–cvi. 15  See for example: Zeissberg, Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek, pp.  114–37; Bielowski, ‘Wstęp’, pp. 193–248; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. lxxxii–cxvii. For wider historiography see Chmielewska, Rola wątków.

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rich in descriptions of events and people, cautionary moral tales and parables, and contains diverse styles and literary genres. Vin­cen­tius had his favourite books of the Bible to which he most often referred. For example, the number of references to the Books of Kings (Libri Regum) and the Book of Psalms (Liber Psalmorum) exceeds the number of references to the remaining books.16 Vin­cen­tius used almost all the books of the Old Testament recognized by the Roman Catholic Church as historic. Only the lesser known writings in the books of Joshua, Ruth, and Ezra were not used by Vin­cen­tius. The chronicler used the letters of didactic character from the books of the Four Major Prophets but ignored all of the books of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Vin­cen­tius used all four Gospels from the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles (Actus Apostolorum), a few letters of Saint Paul and the other Apostles, as well as the Apocalypse (Apocalypsis). It is evident that Vin­cen­tius chose the better known passages of the Bible. The hypothetical reader of the Chronicle would have learnt the majority of these excerpts by heart in the course of his attendance at weekly church services or during the course of his education. Amongst the permanent features of the culture surrounding medi­e val man were biblical events, characters, and some phrases and expressions. The Bible served as a chief source of historic anecdotes, parables, the subject of images and sculptures, and of well-ordered figures of speech. I would argue that Vin­cen­tius did not refer to the less known books of the Bible because their impact on the reader would have been minimal. If the reader did not recognize the original story, then he would have had difficulty recognizing the analogy or would fail to appreciate the artistry of the work. In the milieu of Christian culture, Vin­cen­tius’s writing shows some influence from the patristic period, however he refers to the works of the early Christian authors in only seven instances. Among these, the most influential are the works of Church Fathers such as Saint Augustine’s De civitate Dei, De sermone Domini in monte, and Questionum in Heptateuchum; Saint Ambrosius’s De officis ministrorum; Saint Jerome’s Adversus Iovinianum, and Saint Isidore of Seville’s famous encyclopaedic Etymologiae. Vin­cen­tius also referred to the Fathers of the Eastern Church whose works were available in Latin translations, 16 

In order of the number of references used by Vin­cen­tius, the most frequently used books were: Proverbs (Proverbia), Genesis (Genesis), Exodus (Exodus), Maccabees (Machabaeorum), Job (Iob), Ecclesiastes (Ecclesiastes), Song of Songs (Canticum canticorum), and Isaiah (Isaias). Some books of the Old Testament appear in the Chronicle only occasionally: Chronicles (Paralipomenon), Leviticus (Leutikon), Numbers (Numeri), Deuteronomy (Deuteronomium), Judges (Iudices), Wisdom (Sapientiae), Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Tobias (Tobiae), Jeremiah (Ieremias), Ezekiel (Esechiel), and Daniel (Daniel).


Katarzyna Chmielewska

in particular to Saint Athanasius of Alexandria’s Vita S. Antonii.17 Medi­e val scholars devoted a lot of attention to the teachings of the Church Fathers and the Bible. Teaching of the Bible constituted an important part of the process of educating the medi­e val student. Biblical contents as well as patristic writings were studied from the very initial stages of education. The Bible functioned at that time not only as the basis of faith for the contemporary man, but also as elementary reading for the educated sector of society. The Bible was read, commented upon, and was the object of scholarly debates. In twelfth-century exegesis, biblical, philosophical, legal, natural, and other texts became an essential method of undertaking study.18 Vin­cen­tius’s excellent knowledge of the Bible is not a surprise. I would now like to proceed to discuss a number of authors of pagan anti­ quity whose writings are amply present in the Chronicle. There are over 160 references to the works of antiquity, all of which would have been well known to his contemporary readership.19 Almost half of these are references to the works of historians and the rest constitute derivations from poetry, philosophy broadly defined,20 and rhetoric. Thus Vin­cen­tius used secular literature as often as he used Christian literature. Amongst the work of the historians who Vin­cen­tius favoured is Marcus Junianius Justinus, the epitomist of Pompeius Trogus. Justinus was the author of an extract from Pompeius’s Historiae Philippicae, and is used on sixty-six occasions in the text of the Chronicle. No other work was referred to as much in the Chronicle.21 Justinus’s Epitome was widely read and was an often quoted work in the Middle Ages.22 It is a historical compendium and is a source of facts, anecdotes, events, and analogies for many writers of this period.23 The Chronicle 17 

Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 339–42; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xcvii. Cf. Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp. 50–56. 18  Cf. Southern, The Making of the Middle Ages, pp. 171–72, 217–19; Wielgus, Badania nad Biblią, pp. 75–109; Stanisław Wielgus, Z badań nad średniowieczem, pp. 117–48. 19  Chmielewska, ‘Recepcja’, pp. 215–30. 20  Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 231–78. 21  Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, pp. 28–34; Lewandowski, Recepcja rzymskich kom­ pendiów, pp. 50–66. 22  See a discussion of the issue by Ignacy Lewandowski in Marcus Junianus Justinus, Zarys dziejów powszechnych, p. xxi. See also the Introduction in Marcus Junianus Justinus, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, trans. by Yardley, ed. by Yardley, Heckel and Wheatley. 23  Lewandowski, Recepcja rzymskich kompendiów, pp. 28–29; Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’.

The Influence of Antiquity and the Bible in the Chronica


makes reference to two other works by the Latin historians, Julius Valerius and Florus. Julius Valerius, the author of Res gestae Alexandri Magni, is referred to several times in the Chronicle. His work, originally written in Greek, was a fantasy and adventure story about the life and expeditions of Alexander the Great. From this work and from Justin’s work, Vin­cen­tius derived information about the character and conquests of Alexander. Vin­cen­tius also used another Roman historian as a source. This was Lucius Annaeus Florus, who wrote a short synthesis of the history of Rome, the Epitoma de Tito Livio. The second group of Roman writers who provided inspiration for Vin­cen­ tius’s artistic work are those whose prose dealt with philosophy and rhetoric. In this circle are the two great thinkers of antiquity, Seneca and Cicero, as well as Macrobius, Boethius, and Quintilian; all of whom were popular and widely read in the Middle Ages.24 Vin­cen­tius knew the philosophical works of Marcus Tullius Cicero25 and he used the rhetorical and epistolographic writings of the famous orator in the Chronicle.26 He also used the rhetorical work of the anonymous author attributed to Cicero, recorded in the Rhetorica ad Herennium, which is a systematic collection of the principles and theories of oratory. Vin­ cen­tius also used the letters of the Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca, drawing most often on his Moral Epistles to Lucilius (Epistulae morales ad Lucilium) which was tremendously popular in the Middle Ages. The Moral Epistles is a set of short and concise philosophical treatises, each of which is a separate and self-contained study of an issue.27 Vin­cen­tius frequently quoted the Roman philosopher and writer Macrobius and his two main works: Saturnalia and Commentary on the Dream of Scipio (Commentari in somnium Scipionis). There are also reminiscences from the letter about the Consolation of Philosophy (De consolatione philosophiae) by Boethius in the Chronicle. Vin­cen­tius also knew Plato’s Timaeus from the Latin translation by Calcidius, and Aristotle from the Latin translation of the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations (De sophisticis elenchis).28 It can also be demon24 

Lewis, The Discarded Image, pp. 45–75; Kürbis, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie’, pp. 109–26. Laelius de amicitia, Cato Maior de senectute, Tusculanae disputationes, Paradoxa stoicorum and the work De finibus bonorum ah malorum, as well as the treatise De republica. 26  For example, he referred to the dialogue written in the form of the textbook of rhetoric De oratore, the first speech against Catiline (Oratio in Catilinam prima) as well as fragments of the correspondence of the author to family and friends. 27  In the Chronicle there are also phrases suggesting Vin­cen­tius’s reading of De providentia and De beneficiis. There are also some analogies to De moribus and De formula honestae vitae. 28  Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 239–45. Boethius’s translations of 25 


Katarzyna Chmielewska

strated that the Chronicle contains phrases highly consistent with the elocution espoused in the Institutio oratoria which contains Quintilian’s systematic discourse on the theory of rhetoric. Like other medi­eval authors Vin­cen­tius often referred to the works of the classical poets.29 Medi­e val writers did not differentiate between information and truths when it was taken in the form of history, philosophy, or poetry.30 Vin­cen­tius often quoted the works of the three greatest poets of ancient Rome, and of the works of Ovid, Virgil, and Horace, Ovid is most quoted in the Chronicle.31 Vin­cen­tius quoted from Virgil’s Aeneid and Georgica and Horace’s popular Ars poetica.32 Many authors in the Middle Ages considered the Ars poetica, a long rhyming essay about poetry, to be an exemplary text which demonstrated the art of writing.33 The Chronicle also mentions the historic epic of Lucan, the Bellum Civile (also known as the Pharsalia), which describes the wars between Julius Caesar and Pompey Magnus. Among other poets, Vin­c en­tius occasionally quotes Roman satirists such as Juvenal and his Satires (on the collapse of the morals of Rome) and Persius’s Satires. The Chronicle features an excerpt from the work In Eutropium by Claudian, makes references to the works of Publilius Syrus, and contains an excerpt from Statius’s Thebaid (Thebaïs). I would argue that Vin­ cen­tius also knew at least one of the works of Terence.34 The scope of Vin­cen­tius’s reading and his knowledge of ancient literature is demonstrated in the Chronicle and puts him on par with other outstanding scholars of his age. The list of works utilized by Vin­cen­tius is typical of the the Topics are from Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, ed. by Paluello and Dod. Boethius’s translations of On Sophistical Refutations are from Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 6 1–3 De sophisticis elenchis. Translatio Boethii, ed. by Dod. 29  Dutsch, ‘Wokół średniowiecznej recepcji Owidiusza’, pp. 261–70; Wichowa, ‘Eneida Wergiliusza’, pp. 98–100. 30  Lewis, The Discarded Image, pp. 45–75. 31  I have identified in the text of Vin­cen­tius’s work fragments from the poems Ars amatoria, Remedies amoris, Metamorphoseon, and from Ovid’s letters written in exile, Epistulae ex Ponto. 32  Michałowska, Średniowieczna teoria literatury w Polsce, p. 86. 33  Vin­cen­tius also used other books by Horace, for example Carmina and Satirae. 34  Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.4. There the phrase ‘nam hinc ueritas odium parit’ could be an allusion to a phrase from the comedy Andria by Terence (Andria i.1. 41). It could also be sourced from Cicero’s Laelius sive de amicitia dialogus where he directly quotes from Terence’s Andria (Laelius xxiv.89). See Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp. 96, 104; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, p. 255.

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breadth of works which were known to educated people of twelfth-century Central Europe.35 Most of the ancient works known to Vin­cen­tius would have been contained in so-called compilations accesus ad autores which were popular during the entire Middle Ages and contained overviews and commentaries to works interpreted in schools.36 The classical works also had a general influence on Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle, which is apparent in the form his ideas take, as well as the stylistic relations. We can identify these influences in the longer or shorter quotations, paraphrases, allusions, alteration or expansion of individual motifs, or through the use of specific words, expressions, or specialist terms. I would now like to consider the purpose for which the chronicler used this entire body of knowledge. Whilst antiquity influenced Vin­cen­tius significantly in his approach to the Chronicle, it was in fact used only to a limited extent as a source for his history of the Poles. Vin­cen­tius used his knowledge of antiquity to partially explain the origins of the Poles, and when he used ancient sources he relied more heavily on the authors of Graeco-Roman antiquity than those of the Bible. Pagan antiquity, therefore, rather than Judeo-Christian antiquity, is the foundation to Vin­cen­tius’s version of the history of the Poles. Vin­cen­ tius only used the historic events described in the Bible as a background to the history of the Poles.37 It would seem that Vin­cen­tius did not regard the Bible as the only source or the most appropriate source for the ancient history of his part of the world. The chronicler recognized the value of the works of the Roman historians, in particular Justin. Justin provided Vin­c en­tius with facts and influenced the overall historiographical approach of the Chronicle. Vin­cen­tius, for example, utilized the idea of the linearity of time and history promoted by Justin, which manifested itself in the concept of translatio imperii (the shifting centre of the world’s power through history). According to this idea, power over the universe is not assigned for centuries to one group or nation, but transfers from one empire (imperium) to the next. For Vin­cen­tius, the Poles were the most recent such empire, and the rightful recipients of power and glory which had previously belonged to the Persians, Greeks, Macedonians, and Romans.38 I would also argue that Vin­cen­tius sourced information from Justin about the adversaries of the first mythical leaders of the Poles. 35 

Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. xcix–ci; Plezia, ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’. See Michałowska, Średniowieczna teoria literatury w Polsce, pp. 65–68; Brożek, Źródła do średniowiecznej, pp. 24–30. 37  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. xcvii. 38  Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, pp. 30–31; Grabski, ‘Związek polskiej tradycji’, pp. 25–50. 36 

Katarzyna Chmielewska


Vin­cen­tius uses Bishop Mateusz in the Chronicle to present each part of the history of Poland, whilst Archbishop Jan quotes an appropriate example from the history of other nations. Jan demonstrates to the reader how others behaved in similar situations and the effect that such conduct had. Such juxtapositions, as a literary construct of Vin­cen­tius, emphasize the significance of the described event, instruct the reader, and via examples from universal history, serve to illuminate Polish history according to the conceptual scheme of the author. For Vin­cen­tius the Bible, and particularly the historical books of the Old Testament, provides a set of archetypes and analogies worth recalling. The literary works of the Roman historians such as Justin, Julius Valerius, and Florus performed a similar function. References to the Bible or to the works of the Church Fathers do not contain dogmatic issues or interpretations. Instead, Vin­cen­tius is silent on theological issues when he uses these sources and concentrates on anecdotal material. Vin­cen­tius drew from the less known works for details about events and people, brief stories, titbits, and the many interesting facts included in the Chronicle. Using quotations or references from these works, Vin­cen­tius supplemented the ancient literature and built his commentary. His observations on patterns of human behaviour, on morality, his philosophical sentences and didactic admonitions are sourced primarily from the books of the Bible and the works of the Roman philosophers. Vin­cen­tius’s commentary often becomes a fine poetic digression with a moral. For these digressions, the chronicler uses the words of Seneca and fragments of the Book of Proverbs to caution the reader and give instruction on how to act appropriately in the situation commented on. The poetry used by Vin­cen­tius is most often reproduced in direct quotations, which is different to his treatment of the other source material. The extracts or passages from works other than poetry Vin­cen­tius treats very liberally; he does not quote directly, shortens the opinion, adds something from himself, and changes meaning by shifting emphasis in the passages quoted. Excerpts from the works of the Roman poets or from the beautiful, poetic books of the Old Testament are left in their original form by Vin­cen­tius. I would like to emphasize that Vin­cen­tius did not discriminate between the literature of Christian and non-Christian authors. He made quotations and drew inspiration from both groups according to the need of his text, which was typical of the educated twelfth-century humanist elite who were searching for interrelationships between religious and secular thought.39 I would like to 39 

Włodarski, ‘Humanizm średniowieczny’, pp. 58–59.

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illustrate the artistry of Vin­cen­tius’s literary workshop and the ease with which he applied his knowledge to his writing. In Book ii of the Chronicle, Vin­cen­tius praises the military abilities of Bolesław III, particularly his boundless courage and boldness in battle (against the Pomeranians). In order to unequivocally emphasize these attributes of the Polish ruler, Vin­cen­tius recounts similar examples of heroism and analogous virtues demonstrated by other famous rulers and commanders. In order to do this the chronicler uses examples from both the historical books of the Bible and the works of Justin. Vin­c en­tius begins by claiming that ‘what we undertake for the love of homeland is love and not madness; courage and not recklessness’, because as the Song of Songs states ‘love indeed is as strong as death’.40 Vin­cen­tius also quotes examples of other brave men. Thus he writes about the Athenian legislator Solon who instructed citizens about the meaning of timidity and courage and about Judah Maccabee who attacked his enemy even though his army was outnumbered.41 Vin­cen­tius also talks about the courage of Spartan warriors fearless in the face of overwhelming enemy forces.42 He mentions Jonathan, the son of Saul, who attacked the Philistine army with one squire to keep him company.43 The chronicler also presents the sacrifice of the Athenian king Codrus, who provoked his own death in order to save his city and countrymen.44 The action of all these characters was driven by amor patrie writes Vin­cen­tius, a virtue shared by Bolesław. These fine, masterful metaphors and poetic locutions are most often inserted into the Chronicle in a rhymed form.45 Such fragments highlight the personalities being described, provide introductions to depicted situations, or offer an appropriate commentary on some events. Their role was to decorate the work and present it as a refined literary masterpiece. The creation of such a sophisticated form for his narrative was due to Vin­cen­tius’s ability to articulate his own ideas. He knew and valued the works of Cicero and Quintilian, as well as Horace’s rhymed treatise on poetics, Ars poetica. I argue that with the assistance 40 

‘Quod amore patrie suscipitur, amor est non furor, uirtus est non temeritas. Fortis enim est ut mors dilectio’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.27.1. In the rest of chapter 27 Vin­cen­tius includes examples of corresponding behaviour by individuals from antiquity. 41  i Macc 9.4–22. 42  Justin ii.11. 43  i Reg 14.14. 44  Justin ii.6.16–20. 45  Marian Plezia discusses the poetry of antiquity and Vin­cen­tius’s own in Plezia, ‘Wiersze w kronice Kadłubka’.


Katarzyna Chmielewska

of such texts, Vin­cen­tius learnt to master fluency in the art of rhetoric. The application of rhetoric in the work of Vin­cen­tius is not only demonstrated by his use of specific examples of classical heritage, but by his masterly utilization of the art to create the whole magnificent and literary work of the Chronicle. In a similar way, Vin­cen­tius’s utilization of philosophy in the Chronicle is not limited to the clever insertion of excerpts and elements from the ancient philosophical systems.46 Instead, Vin­cen­tius has clearly internalized this knowledge and utilized his own interpretation of philosophical fundamentals which he presents in the text as the archetypes of the good ruler, the honest man, the courageous knight, and the wise sage. It is not often clear where to seek the roots of the archetypes contained in Vin­cen­tius’s stories, an outcome which is the result of the strong interlinking of Christian and pagan motives in the culture of the high Middle Ages. An example of such interlacing is Vin­cen­tius’s parable of the feast to celebrate the haircutting (postrzyżyny) of Siemowit.47 Two travellers, who were earlier refused entry to the castle of King Pompilius, arrived at the house of Siemowit’s parents. The boy’s father willingly offered hospitality to the strangers, although he warned them that poverty made his household unworthy of receiving strangers. After the ceremony of haircutting everyone seated themselves at the table and to the great surprise of the hosts they found that their cellar provided enough food and drink for all the revellers. The mythologies of many Indo-European peoples include stories of gods visiting dwellings of poor and humble folk in human guise. Similarities to this tale can be seen in two stories by Ovid,48 and amongst similar stories written in the Judeo-Christian tradition is the visit by God and two angels to Abraham. Other stories about the miraculous multiplying of food are the miracles performed by Jesus at Cana and the feeding of the multitude at Galilee with bread and fish.49 The quotations and references to classical literature which the reader encounters in the Chronicle perform fundamental functions. They embellish and supplement the course of the narrative as well as enhance its intended meaning. A rich collection of individuals and whole nations are used in this way 46 

Cf. for example Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’. Chronica Polonorum, i.3.6. 48  Fasti v.515; Metamorphoses viii.679. 49  See discussion in Banaszkiewicz, Podanie o Piaście i Popielu, pp. 128–43; Deptuła, Galla Anonima mit genezy Polski, pp. 222–52; Deptuła, ‘Średniowieczne mity genezy Polski’, pp. 1382–1393. See also Chmielewska, ‘Kronika polska Mistrza Wincentego, pp. 310–11. 47 

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by Vin­cen­tius to create parallels of a different degree of intensity. The meaning of some of the parallels is understood directly when the subject of the passage, for example a Polish ruler, is not named directly but instead is referred to by association with the name of an ancient hero. For example, in the fragment of the text describing the war of Bolesław III against the Czechs and Pomeranians, Vin­cen­tius describes Bolesław as the faithful imitator of the Maccabees (‘fidelis Machabeorum imitator’).50 Here Vin­cen­tius refers to a well-known episode from the Bible depicting the division of the Maccabees’ armies and their parallel campaigns in Gilead and Galilee.51 The chronicler uses more subtle analogies when he entwines events from the history of Poland and universal history thus ascribing their meaning to local events. For example, Bishop Szymon of Płock supports a defensive action against invading pagan Pomeranians with his prayers. Immediately after the account of these events Archbishop Jan, one of the narrators of the Chronicle, recalls the achievements of Abraham and Moses during their war campaigns. In this passage Vin­cen­tius reminds his reader of events in which Abraham freed his nephew and thanks to the prayers of Moses during a battle of the Hebrews defeat the Amalekites.52 The third degree of the analogy requires an excellent knowledge of literature and of ancient culture, both by the author as well as the readers of his work. Vin­c en­tius therefore uses parallels to underscore the significance or importance of figures from the history of the Poles, and to do this has them speak the words of an ancient hero, or provides them with the attributes of such a hero. An example of such an attribute is Bucephalus, the steed of the great leader of antiquity, Alexander the Great. Vin­cen­tius used Bucephalus to refer to and compare the outstanding stallions which belonged to Bolesław III and Kazimierz II the Just.53 To the same effect Vin­cen­tius often put phrases attributed to illustrious persons of antiquity into the mouths of grandees from the history of Poland. For example, the Poles reply to the envoys of Alexander the Great with the words which Ateas, king of the Scythians, answered Philip of Macedon, ‘Polonos autem animi uirtute, corporis duritia non opibus censeri’ (The Poles should be judged by the courage of the spirit, the strength of their bodies rather than their wealth).54 Vin­cen­tius directly compared the Poles and 50 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.3. i Macc. 5.9–36; Cf. Gesta principum Polonorum, ii.34. 52  Chronica Polonorum, iii.9.1; Gen. 14.15–16; Exod. 17.11. 53  Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.2 and iv.14.8. It is acknowledged that Vin­cen­tius used the work of Julius Valerius, Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, ed. by Rosellini, iii.7. 54  Chronica Polonorum, i.9.4. See Justin’s Epitome ix.2. 51 


Katarzyna Chmielewska

the Scythians via this literary treatment. This comparison does credit to the Poles because the Scythians were perceived as brave, courageous, and valiant people. With these various forms of similes and analogies Vin­cen­tius elevates or deprecates Polish rulers, dignitaries, or even entire peoples. When he compares the Poles’ actions to the deeds of the great heroes of antiquity, Vin­cen­tius gives them dignity and significance; and on the contrary, when he compares them with negative examples found in classical literature, he in effect sharply criticizes them. In this way Vin­cen­tius suggests to the reader that the achievements of the Polish people are no less significant than the achievements of the ancient people. Similarly, the rulers of the Poles are no less brave than the leaders of antiquity, and Polish church leaders are no less devoted to their religion than their biblical progenitors. The Latinization of the Polish names in the Chronicle is also part of the ancient reminiscences. For example, the Latinization of Krak to Gracchus, Popiel to Pompilius, and Sieciech to Cethegus was designed to lend rulers the grandeur of an antique heritage. The law and Vin­cen­tius’s rules referred to in the text are also derived from the traditions of antiquity. There are numerous quotations and legal terms attesting to a good working knowledge of contemporary legal codes, both Roman and canonical. The chronicler knew all parts of the Justinian Code: Institutiones, Digesta, Codex, and I would argue that Vin­ cen­tius’s terminology suggests the influence of the Code of Theodosius as well.55 To conclude, the knowledge and understanding of the works of the classical authors evident in the Chronicle is essentially the same as that demonstrated by other leading intellectuals of the age. Vin­cen­tius took inspiration from pagan as well as Christian literature and recognized the authorities of Graeco-Roman antiquity. He chose those works which were popular in the Middle Ages, works which were widely read and often quoted. Antiquity was the source from which Vin­cen­tius drew in order to present his vision of the history of Poland, and which he used to emphasize the significance of his own people and to embellish the written story. Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle places the beginnings of Polish history within the context of universal history. Ancient heroes, to whom Polish rulers and dignitaries are compared, give the young people splendour. The excerpts from classical literature reproduced in the text provide beautiful lines and examples and decorate the Chronicle, making it masterful and refined. 55 

See Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 413–503; Sondel, ‘W sprawie prawa’, pp. 95–105; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem jako apologeta prawa rzymskiego’, pp. 91–109.

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The work of Vin­cen­tius is the first written work created within and about the Piast realm of this calibre. It is easily comparable to the great works of Western European authors of this time. Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle, like most literature created in Europe in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, borrowed heavily from an ancient heritage. It deals with the regional matters of Poland and Central Europe and places these within the context of a universal history, presenting them in an intelligible way for the entirety of Latin Europe. The Chronica Polonorum, the work of a Polish bishop, fits perfectly with its contemporary Latin universe.


Katarzyna Chmielewska

Works Cited Primary Sources Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5. 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, ed.  by Lorenzo Minio Paluello and Bernard  G. Dod,  Corpus philosophorum medii aevi (Bruxelles: Desclée de Brouwer, 1969) —— , Aristoteles latinus 6. 1–3 De sophisticis elenchis. Translatio Boethii, ed. by Bernard G. Dod, Corpus philosophorum medii aevi (Leiden: Desclée de Brouwer, 1975) Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. by Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003) John of Salisbury, Ioannis Saresberiensis Metalogicon, ed. by John Barrie Hall (Turnhout: Brepols, 1991) Marcus Junianus Justinus, Epitome of the Philippic History of Pompeius Trogus, trans. by John Yardley, ed.  by John Yardley, Waldemar Heckel and Pat Wheatley, 2  vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997) Marcus Junianus Justinus, Zarys dziejów powszechnych starożytności na podstawie Pompejusza Trogusa [A History of Antiquity According to Marcus Iunianus Iustinus], ed. and trans. by Ignacy Lewandowski (Warszawa: Instytut Wydawniczy Pax, 1988) Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, ed. by Michela Rosellini, 2nd edn, Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004)

Secondary Studies Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Banaszkiewicz, Jacek, Podanie o Piaście i Popielu: studium porównawcze nad wczesnośredniowiecznymi tradycjami dynastycznymi [The Tale about Piast and Popiel: A Comparative Study on Early Dynastic Traditions] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1986) Bielowski, August, ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Kronika mistrza Wincentego, ed. by August Bielowski, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, 2 (Lwów: s.n., 1872), pp. 193–248 Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Mistrz Wincenty o współczesnych mu Piastach’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow on his Contemporary Piast Dynasts’], in Europa Środkowa i Wschodnia w polityce Piastów: materiały z sympozjum, Toruń, 14–15 grudnia 1995 roku, ed. by Krystyna Zielińska-Melkowska and Małgorzata Klentak-Zabłocka (Toruń: Uniwersytet Mikołaja Kopernika, 1997), pp. 33–52 —— , ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu politycznym Polski przełomu XII i XIII wieku’ [‘Vin­ cen­tius of Cracow in the Life of Poland at the Turn of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 21–48 Bloor, Meriel, and Thomas Bloor, The Practice of Critical Discourse Analysis (Hoboken: Taylor and Francis, 2013)

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Brożek, Mieczysław, Źródła do średniowiecznej teorii wykładu literatury [Sources for the Medi­eval Theory of Teaching Literature] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1989) Chmielewska, Katarzyna, ‘Kronika polska Mistrza Wincentego, zwanego Kadłubkiem, jako świadectwo koegzystencji kultur Europy’ [‘The Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow as a Testimony to the Coexistence of Cultures in Europe’], in Drogi i rozdroża kultury chrześcijańskiej Europy, ed.  by Urszula Cierniak and Jarosław Grabowski, Człowiek, Wiara, Kultura 1 (Częstochowa: Akademia im. Jana Długosza, 2003), pp. 305–12 —— , Rola wątków i motywów antycznych w „Kronice polskiej” Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem [The Role of the Themes and Motifs of the Antiquity in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow] (Częstochowa: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej, 2003) —— , ‘Recepcja rzymskiej literatury antycznej w Kronice polskiej Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Reception of Ancient Roman Literature in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 215–30 Curtius, Ernst Robert, Literatura europejska i łacińskie średniowiecze, trans. by Andrzej Borowski, 2 edn (Kraków: Universitas, 1997) —— , European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2013) Deptuła, Czesław, ‘Średniowieczne mity genezy Polski’ [‘The Medi­eval Myths of the Origins of Poland’], Znak, 25 (1973), 1365–1403 —— , Galla Anonima mit genezy Polski: studium z historiozofii i hermeneutyki symboli dziejopisarstwa średniowiecznego [A Myth of the Origins of Poland According to Gallus Anonymous: A  Study of History and Symbolic Hermeneutics of Medi­eval Historio­ graphy] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 1990) Dutsch, Dorota, ‘Wokół średniowiecznej recepcji Owidiusza’ [‘On the Medi­eval Recep­ tion of Ovid’], Meander, 44 (1989), 261–70 Grabski, Andrzej Feliks, ‘Związek polskiej tradycji dziejowej z uniwersalną w historiografii polskiej do końca XIII wieku’ [‘The Relationship between Polish and Universal Tradition in Polish Historiography before the End of the Twelfth Century’], Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, Nauki humanistyczno–społeczne, seria I, 21 (1961), 25–50 —— , Dzieje historiografii [The History of Historiography], 2 edn (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2006) Haskins, Charles Homer, The Renaissance of the Twelfth Century (Cam­bridge: Harvard University Press, 1927) Jaeger, C. Stephen, ‘Pessimism in the Twelfth-Century “Renaissance”’, Speculum, 78 (2003), 1151–1183 Kałuża, Zénon, and Dragoş Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Philosophical Readings of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz,


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Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 231–78 Ker, William Paton, Wczesne średniowiecze: zarys historii literatury, trans. by Tadeusz Rybowski, 2 edn (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1987) Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Polska wersja humanizmu średniowiecznego u progu XIII wieku. Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek’ [‘The Polish Version of Medi­eval Humanism at the Threshold of the Twelfth Century’], in Sztuka i ideologia XIII wieku: materiały sympozjum Komitetu Nauk o Sztuce Polskiej Akademii Nauk, ed.  by Piotr Skubiszewski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1974), pp. 9–24 —— , ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi —— , ‘Motywy makrobiańskie w „Kronice” Mistrza Wincentego a szkoła Chartres’ [‘Macro­bian Motifs in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius and the School of Chartres’], in Na progach historii: prace wybrane (Poznań: Abos, 1994) Le Goff, Jacques, Medi­eval Civilization, 400–1500 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988) —— , Intellectuals in the Middle Ages (Cam­bridge: Blackwell, 1993) —— , Kultura średniowiecznej Europy, trans. by Hanna Szumańska-Grossowa, Nowa Mari­anna (Warszawa: Volumen, 1994) —— , Inteligencja w wiekach średnich, trans. by Eligia Bąkowska, Nowa Marianna (War­ szawa: Volumen, 1997) Lewandowski, Ignacy, ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Justyn – epitomator Pompejusza Troga’ [‘The Relationship between Vin­cen­tius and Justin, Author of the Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 28–34 —— , Recepcja rzymskich kompendiów historycznych w dawnej Polsce (do połowy XVIII wieku) [The Reception of the Compendia of Roman History in Poland before the MidEighteenth Century] (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 1976) Lewis, C. S., The Discarded Image: An Introduction to Medi­eval and Renaissance Literature (Cam­bridge: University Press, 1964) —— , Odrzucony obraz: wprowadzenie do literatury średniowiecznej i renesansowej, trans. by Witold Ostrowski, Mity, Obrazy, Symbole (Kraków: Społeczny Instytut Wydawniczy Znak, 1995) Michałowska, Teresa, Średniowiecze [The Middle Ages], Wielka Historia Literatury Polskiej (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1995) —— , Średniowieczna teoria literatury w Polsce [The Medi­eval Theory of Literature in Poland], Monografie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2007) Paré, Gérard Marie, Adrien Marie Brunet, Gaston Robert, and Pierre Tremblay, eds., La renaissance du XII–e siècle: les écoles et l’enseignement (Paris: Tournai, 1933) Plezia, Marian, ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’ [‘The Chronicle by Vin­ cen­tius in the Context of the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century’], in Scripta minora: łacina średniowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 229–42 —— , ‘Wiersze w kronice Kadłubka’, in Scripta minora: łacina średniowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 321–32

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Pomian, Krzysztof, Przeszłość jako przedmiot wiary: historia i filozofia w myśli średnio­ wiecza [Past as a Matter of Faith: History and Philosophy in Medi­eval Thought], 2 edn, Communicare: historia i kultura (Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2009) Skibiński, Edward, ‘Mieszko czy Kazimierz? W sprawie sporu o inspiratora mistrza Wincentego’ [Mieszko or Casimir: On the Debate about the Identity of the Inspirer of Vin­cen­tius], in Nihil superfluum esse, ed.  by Jerzy Strzelczyk and Józef Dobosz, Publikacje Instytutu Historii UAM (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 2000), pp. 167–74 —— , ‘Walka o władzę w kronice Mistrza Wincentego: Mieszko Stary i Kazimierz Sprawied­ liwy’ [‘The Power Struggle in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow: Mieszko the Old and Kazimierz the Just’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie. Series Nova 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 47–56 Sondel, Janusz, ‘W sprawie prawa rzymskiego w Kronice Polskiej Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem’ [‘Roman Law Usage in the Polish Chronicle by Vincenius of Cracow’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 85 (1978), 95–105 —— , ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem jako apologeta prawa rzymskiego’ [‘Vin­cen­tius as an Apologist of Roman Law’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 91–109 Southern, Richard William, Kształtowanie średniowiecza, trans. by Helena Pręczkowska (Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1970) —— , The Making of the Middle Ages (London: Pimlico, 1993) Swieżawski, Stefan, Dzieje europejskiej filozofii klasycznej [The History of European Classical Philosophy] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 2000) Wichowa, Maria, ‘Eneida Wergiliusza źródłem pouczeń wychowawczych w staropolskich traktatach pedagogicznych’ [‘Virgil’s Aeneid as a Source of Educational Instruction in Traditional Polish Pedagogical Treaties’], in Antyk w Polsce, ed. by Maria Wichowa and Andrzej Obrębski (Łódź: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Łódzkiego, 1992), pp. 98–115 Wielgus, Stanisław, Badania nad Biblią w starożytności i w średniowieczu [The Study of the Bible in Ancient Times and the Middle Ages], Rozprawy Wydziału Filozoficznego 49 (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 1990) —— , Z badań nad średniowieczem [Studies on the Middle Ages] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 1995) Włodarski, Maciej, ‘Humanizm średniowieczny’, in Humanizm: historie pojęcia, ed.  by Andrzej Borowski (Warszawa: Neriton, 2009), pp. 55–99 Zeissberg, Heinrich, Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek, Bischof von Krakau (1208–1218; 1223), und seine Chronik Polens (Wien: K. K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei, 1869)

Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle and Intellectual Culture of the Twelfth Century Zénon Kałuża*


can agree almost entirely with the words of Brygida Kürbis, the renowned medi­evalist that the second of the historiographers of Piast Poland and the first Pole who narrated our history, used his entire philosophical, legal, and literary erudition, probably obtained in Paris, in order to convert the Gesta by Gallus Anonymous into a treatise on history; a unique work in all of Europe.1 Yes, Vin­cen­tius used his excellent knowledge of Roman law and the Decretum, his notable literary erudition (which did not exceed however, what a good trivium school of average level could give him); and finally his general and rather rudimentary knowledge of a few philosophical works, including a few Greek texts translated into Latin, when writing his chronicle. Like Brygida Kürbis, I  think that the place where Vin­cen­tius underwent his good trivium education and studied the canon was twelfth-century Paris. Of course it is possible to treat Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle as unique within European culture, above all as the quintessence of twelfth-century scholasticism. The chronicle authored by Vin­cen­tius became a ‘treatise on history’, a work which treated the history of  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, in Kronika wielkopolska, p. 13. See also Kałuża and Calma, ‘The Philosophical Readings of Master Vincent’, pp. 47–107. Zénon Kałuża, Professor Emeritus, Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS), Paris

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 139–173 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114763


Zénon Kałuża

Poland in a systematic way, even if to apply such a categorization to Vin­cen­tius’s work is historiographical reconstruction.2 In answer to the question of how Vin­cen­tius wrote the history and how he conceptualized his role as historian, Marian Plezia has a different response to Brygida Kürbis and argues that the chronicle’s author was by avocation a man of letters, by education a lawyer, and by temperament a moralist; he wrote the gesta portraying deeds primarily of a ‘model’ nature.3 The deeds of ancestors are selected and narrated in a very personal way. The author’s main threads of thought in the Chronicle continue from the first to the last book: the idea of realm and the ruler’s authority, the significance of law and its source. The Socratic idea of justice and the basis of the power of Gracchus are present in the Chronicle but are quickly forgotten. Similarly, the philosophical and political ideas of the author give way to the narrative of deeds of princes, and thus to a certain degree Vin­cen­tius’s conviction that the succession of the throne belongs to the Piast dynasty forms another thread. The opening point for the narrative of the mythical history of Poland is one of the few features which clearly distinguish the Chronicle from the entire body of medi­e val historiography.4 Allusions revealed in the text of the Chronicle point to Vin­cen­tius’s construction of the first three books of the Chronicle as the anonymous account of a conversation of two old men, Bishop Mateusz and Archbishop Jan.5 On the one hand Mateusz relates for Jan what he has learnt from an unknown old man a long time ago. What we have here is a constructed dialogue in which we learn about the course of the alleged conversation from one of its participants or rather listeners.6 Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle adopts the literary framework of narration from the introduction to Timaeus, one of Plato’s dialogues (translated by Calcidius). Vin­ cen­tius quotes from this work in at least six instances. Whilst Vin­cen­tius closely followed the model provided by Plato he omitted the conversation of the Egyptian priest with Solon, perhaps to make his short story appear more original.7 2 

Kronika polska, ed. and trans. by Kürbis, pp. lxxix–lxxxii. Plezia, ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’, pp. 240–41. 4  Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2–3. 5  Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2–3. 6  Plezia, ‘Dialog w Kronice Kadłubka’, pp. 275–86; Liman, ‘Topika w Kronice polskiej Win­centego Kadłubka’, pp. 97–98. 7  Mańkowski, ‘Krak, uczeń Sokratesa (glosa do Kadłubka Chronica Polonorum i.5.3)’, pp. 147–50; Kałuża, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona’, pp. 61–120; Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół 3 

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The opening of the composition, modelled on Plato’s work, influenced Vin­ cen­tius’s choice of the form of dialogue for the first three books of the Chronicle; a rare, if not unusual choice in medi­eval historiography.8 The result of Vin­cen­ tius’s choice is the absence in his work of a popular genre in chronicle writing and literary tradition of the Middle Ages which incorporated a universal history tracing the history of the nation in a continuous account as part of the progress of world history from the heroes of Troy to the author’s own times.9 Vin­cen­tius replaces the myth of Troy with the myth of Athens and in the first chapters of the Chronicle places emphasis on the ancient existence of the Poles in the region where they currently live (i.2.2). Similarly, in Plato’s work the Athenians and Egyptians did not come from nowhere because they had always dwelt in the same region. Also of significance, being inspired by the war of the Athenians with the Atlanteans, Vin­cen­tius talks about the victory of the Poles over the ‘Danomarchicae insulae’ (Danish islands). The grotesque description of the conditions forced upon the Danes and King Canute concludes Vin­cen­ tius’s description of the conquest of these islands.10 A special point in the work is when Vin­cen­tius establishes that Polish statehood was based upon ‘the law of the Poles’ with its foundations in the concept of justice. Here Gracchus, the first legendary ruler of the Poles, is described in the Chronicle according to the example of the sophist from Timaeus (19e).11 Gracchus introduces ‘est iustitia que plurimum prodest ei qui minimum potest’ (justice [which] favours those who can do least).12 This is a fine definition of justice — ‘what must support the one who can do least was called justice’ — and has Wilhelma’; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 236–37, 239–41, 277. 8  Moos, Entre histoire et littérature, pp. 343–87, 372–73, 382–83. 9  Cf. for example Historia Regum Britanniae (1135–1138) by Geoffrey of Monmouth and Roman de Troie (c. 1165) by Benedict of Sainte-Maure. For another approach (written in 1153–1160) see Liber exceptionum by Richard of Saint Victor, in Liber exceptionum, ed. by Châtillon, pp. 154, 203. After Hugh of Saint Victor, Richard narrates the story of the conquests of Alexander the Great (pp. 146–47) but portrays him as the Antichrist (p. 372). See HarfLancner, Mathey-Maille, and Szkilnik, eds, Conter de Troie et d’Alexandre. 10  Chronica Polonorum, i.1.2–6. Fragment i.2.2 used examples from the text of Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, cols 16. 20–17, 2; Kałuża, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona’, p. 71. 11  ‘Graccus, ut erat sententioso sermonum beatus agmine’: Chronica Polonorum, i.5.1. ‘Sophistas quoque verborum agmine atque inundatione sermonis beatos iudico’: Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, cols 11. 4–9; Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma’, pp. 78, n. 4. 12  Chronica Polonorum, i.5.3. Cf. Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pojmował historię Polski’, p. 65; Kronika polska, p. lxii; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, p. 310.


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as its distant source the discussions of Socrates with the sophist Thrasymachus in the pages of Plato’s The Republic. This definition was formulated and attributed to Socrates by Calcidius in his commentary to Timaeus, from where it found its way to William Conches’ Accessus ad Timaeum. The same fragment was adapted by Vin­cen­tius as the fundamental law proclaimed by Gracchus.13 Calcidius’s translation of Timaeus is thus one of the fundamental texts which influenced the writing and the structure of the Chronicle. What’s more, and unlike Plato’s Timaeus which is unfinished, Vin­cen­tius decided to conclude the discussion at the close of Book iii of the Chronicle. From the final passages of this debate (iii.31.1) we learn that the narrator (that is, Vin­cen­tius) was witness not just to any discussion but, as in Plato’s original, he was witness to a discussion of revellers at a festive occasion (‘epuli’/’convivii convivae’). There is no other medi­eval chronicle which is so closely related to this part of Calcidius’s translation of Timaeus; so firmly shaped externally by its form of constructed dialogue and internally by hidden quotations. Vin­cen­tius may have become acquainted with Timaeus in one of the schools or libraries of Western Europe, most probably in France where this work was repeatedly commented on and where William Conches’ Accessus ad Timaeum was widely known. There is no extant evidence that Timaeus was commented on at the Cracow cathedral school, and in Poland there is no trace of acquaintance with or even the presence of this work before the times of Bishop Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow. At the beginning of Book ii Vin­cen­tius (through Mateusz’s mouth) reminds the reader that throughout the history he writes he weaves in motifs borrowed from the books of other authors.14 But he does not list these books. Sources of a historic nature at his disposal were few. He was not the first, but the second chronicler of the Piast dynasty, and up to the middle of Book iii Vin­cen­ tius used the Chronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Poloniae written by his predecessor, the anonymous author called Gallus. Vin­cen­tius used the Gesta as the basis for the narrative of the mythical origins of the Poles and he added the story of a number of generations of distant predecessors and immediate 13 

Chronica Polonorum, i.5.3. ‘[Iustitia] quam definierat Thrasymachus orator eam esse quae huic prodesset qui plurimum posset, Socrates contra docuisset immo eam potius quae his prodesset qui minimum possent’: Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, cols 59. no. 5–8. ‘Quorum Trasimacus orator sic illam diffinivit […] Cuius deffinitione in scolis Socratis relata, ait: “Non. Immo, iustitia est quae plurimum prodest illi qui minimum potest”.’ Jeauneau, ed., Guillelmi de Conchis Glosae super Platonem, cols 6. 7–7. 12; Kałuża, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona’, pp. 112–14. 14  ‘Igitur inprimis inserendum est seriei.’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.1.1.

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ancestors of King Popiel, who perished (as in the Gesta) from the stink of dead mice. The most distant predecessor of the Piasts is Gracchus, the ruler who forged the state of the Poles, the lawgiver and the founder of the city of Cracow, who had two sons and a daughter, Wanda. After a period of interregnum, in reward for victory over Alexander the Great, the goldsmith Lestek was chosen as the king. Lestek II, the progenitor of the second mythical dynasty, and Lestek III are in this fable the immediate ancestors of the Pompilidae dynasty. Lestek III, who ‘in three battles defeated Caesar’ (i.17.1), married Julia, the sister of the defeated, who brought Lestek Bavaria in her dowry and gave him a son, Pompilius I. With a concubine who took Julia’s place Lestek III later had twenty sons. Pompilius I who was a clever and magnificent king, ruling the ‘Slaviae monarchia’ (Slavonic monarchy) and surrounding lands, also had a son, Pompilius II, referred to by Gallus as Popiel. Vin­cen­tius’s extension of the mythical history of the Poles went hand in hand with transforming it. Through the omission of the contemporary capitals of Gniezno and Poznań, Vin­cen­ tius established the new centre of political life in Cracow, the capital city of Gracchus.15 It seems to me that from the beginning of the narrative of the ‘age of Popiel’ Vin­cen­tius and Gallus had taken divergent yet parallel paths.16 Both Gallus and Vin­cen­tius demonstrate the same dislike for dates so the dating of events described requires separate treatment. Both authors also have a preference for poetry, but only Gallus composed his poems: his chronicle is a prosimetrical work as it consists of both prose and verse. Almost one hundred years later the style of Latin, the art of composing, and models of prose changed. Vin­cen­tius quotes poets and sometimes adds one or two lines to their compositions, and in the fourth book includes a poem at the death of Kazimierz II the Just. Gallus presents the history of the country and the history and deeds of rulers. Vin­cen­tius repeats some of Gallus’s information, some he transforms, much he omits, but all are enlightened by his talent, his understanding of the past, and his way of treating it. Inventing the legendary past of one’s people was it would appear a matter of contemporary literary trend and is not specific to Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle. Researchers who examined typical and similar works in this respect (such as the Gesta Danorum of Saxo Grammaticus and the Historia regum Britanniae by Geoffrey of Monmouth) in search of Vin­cen­tius’s possible inspirations have produced no satisfactory results.17 15 

Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, p. 43. Cf. Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne. The mythical history narrated by Jan is placed in chapters 3–20 of Book i of the Chronicle. 17  Hammer, ‘Remarks on the Sources’, pp. 501–64; Szacherska, ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Saxo 16 


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As a close collaborator of Kazimierz II the chronicler had access to the life and records of the court, the cathedral chapter, and importantly to Kazimierz’s family including the members of the extended family of Piotr Włostowic.18 In terms of records we can highlight those of the Council of Łęczyca (1180), as well as correspondence with Pope Alexander III and Emperor Frederick Barbarossa. Other sources, for example a book of two hundred letters written by Alexander the Great, and other references to sources in the text of the Chronicle are inventions of the author. The numerous speeches are also made up by Vin­cen­tius. The last period until the years 1205–07 Vin­cen­tius knew from the same courtly, church, and family sources, and from personal observation. Therefore, following the example of John the Evangelist, Vin­cen­tius alone becomes a guarantor of his truthfulness: ‘Vidit enim Vin­cen­tius, qui scribit haec, et scimus quia verum est testimonium eius’ (It was Vin­cen­tius who saw it and he has written testimony, and his testimony is true).19 From Marcus Junianius Justinus, the epitomist of Pompeius Trogus, the author of the Chronicle borrowed very generously in order to illustrate opinions expressed by Jan or Mateusz and to provide examples which portray the moral meaning of the events described. Justinus’s work is also an inexhaustible repository of similes for Vin­cen­tius, a fact heralded in the introduction to Book ii.20 The influence of Justinus on the Chronicle is so great that it is not possible to understand its intended meaning or assess its value without also examining closely the work of Justinus.21 Justinus’s writing introduced into the Chronicle the culture of the Middle East, the Persian and Indian borderlands, and the numerous examples of names unknown from the history of classical Greece and Rome. These cultures must have fascinated authors of the twelfth century since their influence is traceable also in the Chronicle of Otto of Freising, for example the three names mentioned in one paragraph: Semiramis, Arbactus, and Sardanapalus. But Otto borrows his references not just from Justinus but also from Paulus Orosius (c. 375, d. after 418). Indeed, he quotes Tacitus from Gramatyk’, pp. 46–55; Chmielewska, Rola wątków; Chmielewska, ‘Recepcja’; Michałowska, Literatura polskiego średniowiecza, pp. 97–135. 18  Liman, ‘Topika w Kronice polskiej Wincentego Kadłubka’, p. 99. On the family tradition in the Chronicle see Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 31, 37. 19  Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13. Cf. J 19,35 and J 21,24. 20  Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’; Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp.  64–82; Chmielewska, ‘Recepcja’, pp. 226–28, n. 63. There are 51 quotations from Justin. 21  Lewandowski, ‘Mistrz Wincenty’, p. 29; Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp. 65–80.

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the same Orosius without acknowledging his source.22 Vin­cen­tius avoids such a petty falsehood by generally not revealing his sources and also because the literary culture and the cultural climate in Cracow were different than in the large cities and large abbeys of southern Germany. It is probably because of these reasons that Vin­cen­tius did not use the abbreviated version of Livy’s Ab urbe condita compiled by Lucius Annaeus Florus (c. 74–c. 130).23 Marian Plezia, the editor of the most recent edition of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle, and K. Chmielewska included on the list of Vin­cen­tius’s sources Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis by Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius. Should this be correct Vin­cen­tius would have been one of the very few readers of this work.24 Vin­cen­tius did not use the epitome prepared at the turn of the eighth and ninth centuries in north Italy and published by Jacob Zacher (Epitoma Zacheriana),25 nor did he use Leon’s translation made in the tenth century, and finally he did not use any of the three versions of Historia de preliis.26 He had at his disposal a copy of the Life of Alexander the Great by the monk Frutolf of Michelsberg (d. 1103) or extracts from it. A very distant echo of the legendary exploits of Alexander the Great can be found in the Chronicle in the tale of the monster called Holophagus. Vin­cen­tius borrowed Holophagus from Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle on the wonders of the East and other short works translated from Greek classics, of which the Letter of Farasmanes to Hadrian remains the sole representative.27 The research on sources and models of Vin­c en­tius’s chronicle includes the person and works of John of Salisbury (1115/20–80) who is customarily counted among the disciples of the famous and influential cathedral school of Chartres. In fact, John, who after 1176 was the bishop of Chartres, knew the great masters of that school perhaps before 1150 and repeatedly recalled them in his work. Heinrich Zeissberg and later Oswald Balzer argued that important 22 

Chronica sive Historia de duabus civitatibus, ed. by Lammers, trans. by Schmidt, pp. 82, 84. Lewandowski, Florus w Polsce, pp. 68–69. Plezia notes (in regards to Chronica Polonorum, i.17.1) only one allusion to Florus, 3, 11, 11, as does Chmielewska, Rola wątków, p. 83. 24  Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp. 70–71, 80–82. See also Ślęczka, Aleksander Macedoński, pp. 50–62. 25  See introdution to Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, ed. by Rosellini. 26  Der Alexanderroman des Archipresbyters Leo, ed. and trans. by Pfister. 27  Friedrich Pfister, Kleine Texte zum Alexanderroman, pp. 21–37. There is a new edition, Epistola Alexandri ad Aristotelem, ed. by Boer. See also Feldbusch, Der Brief Alexanders an Aristoteles; Lecouteux, De rebus in Oriente mirabilibus. Cf. Kałuża, ‘“Holophagus” z “Kroniki” Kadłubka’, pp. 255–89. 23 


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centres of scholarship such as the school of Chartres would have influenced Vin­cen­tius and his ideas contained in the Chronicle. In the discussion which follows I will cite Balzer solely because he has already tried to review Zeissberg’s views.28 Their issue is not with the main narrative of the history but with subplots, ‘accessories’ such as analogies, parables, examples, references to studies and myths, quotes, moral sentences: everything that should illustrate and explain the narrated history. The examination of this material showed Balzer that Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle contains numerous singular literary and philosophical borrowings which are often used in a context different from that of the original.29 Balzer concluded that the difference in the contexts of the usage of such phrases indicated that the original texts were not known to Vin­cen­tius directly and that he only used an intermediary source. Balzer argued that John of Salisbury was this intermediary influence: firstly, because of a similar method of weaving the thread of the story, secondly due to Vin­cen­tius’s good working knowledge of the Policraticus and the Metalogicon, and thirdly because Vin­ cen­tius’s chronicle contains a high number of literary borrowings from John of Salisbury, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and other authors.30 Balzer also suggested that in addition to this influence of ‘erudition of the classical Roman culture’ the French and Anglo-Norman culture exerted a fundamental influence on Vin­cen­tius as a chronicler. Balzer’s opinion was not accepted by Marian Plezia, the author of the Chronicle’s critical edition, and Danuta Borawska also disagreed with Balzer’s thesis as unconvincingly proved.31 The dependency of one author on another author’s work can be demonstrated by revealing obvious text borrowings or doctrinal influences, for example theses, argumentation, and the like. In the first instance there is not one relation, not a single borrowing in the Chronicle from John of Salisbury. Such elements as the definition of justice announced by Gracchus, the definition of virtue, the explanation that the doctor and the speaker cannot achieve the aim of their actions, which are all present in John and Vin­cen­tius’s work, were until very recently presented as evidence of Vin­cen­tius’s reliance on John’s work, but they are now understood to be the result of literary sources com28  Zeissberg, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek’, pp. 3–211; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 161–556; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. II’. 29  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 301–09. 30  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 304, 324–25, 344–45, 384, 409; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. II’, pp. 162, 165. 31  Borawska, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w nowym wydaniu’, p. 342.

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mon to both authors.32 The examination of the dependence of the Chronicle on the Policraticus and the Metalogicon now support that proposition.33 The Policraticus and the Chronicle each include twenty quotations from the Moral Epistles by Seneca but none of these quotations are repeated in both books. There are no quotes in the Chronicle from the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations by Aristotle (with the exception of one taken, as earlier mentioned, from shared sources) in the Metalogicon.34 Thus I argue that Zeissberg’s and Balzer’s theses about the influence of John of Salisbury on Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle have no basis in the texts.35 In the matter of interdependence of authors’ views there has been no comprehensive research conducted to examine these. Many subjects, such as views on humility or poverty or the Socratic postulate of getting to know oneself, are repeated often in the written works of the twelfth century and are present both in the Chronicle as well as the Policraticus, but they have not been studied comparatively. Suffice to say that Vin­cen­tius’s views on poverty are based fundamentally and directly on opinions of Seneca and Epicurus, who was profusely quoted by Seneca, while in the works of John of Salisbury the issue of poverty is placed in the dimension of social issues, even politics.36 I argue that the most significant contribution of the Chronicle to the Socratic postulate of self-discovery is Vin­cen­tius’s conceptualization of human existence, and in consequence the placement of the stronger emphasis on the secular over the sacred. Such a balance and the equivalence of the body and spirit are absent of any influence from the Platonic anthropology of John of Salisbury, according 32 

Kałuża, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona’, Appendix 2 and 3, pp. 112–18. This is the conclusion arrived at in Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’; Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma’. 34  Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’. Indices of the sources are contained in: Joannis Saresberiensis Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici, ed. by Webb; John of Salisbury, Ioannis Saresberiensis Metalogicon, ed. by Hall and Keats-Rohan. See also Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma’, pp. 90–97. In our research we went through: Sermones super Cantica canticorum, De consideratione, Vita sancti Malachiae, Epistolae (first 200 words), and Secunda vita sancti Bernardi. 35  Bubczyk, ‘Wpływ pisarstwa Jana z Salisbury’, pp. 450–58. Bubczyk argues that Jan z Dąbrówki finally provides proof that Vin­cen­tius was inspired by John of Salisbury, however I cannot find that phrase in the place suggested by Bubczyk. Cf. Zwiercan, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki, p. 104. 36  For John of Salisbury ‘paupertatis, cum necesse est, amor’ is based on the Socraic concept of philosophy as a way of life; see Grellard, ‘Le socratisme de Jean de Salisbury’, pp. p. 40 n. 10. 33 


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to which the soul always exercises authority over the body. 37 The important and original corporationist concept of the state formulated in the Policraticus is completely alien to Vin­cen­tius’s writing. These ideas would become discernible in Cracow’s scholastic circles only at the beginning of the fifteenth century. Vin­cen­tius and John shared a love of classical literature, but John remained a philosopher in the tradition of Christian Neo-Platonism, firmly marked by scepticism and anti-epicureanism, whereas Vin­cen­tius did not trouble himself with philosophy, and in Seneca’s works found elements of Stoical and Epicurean ethics. Indeed, in the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius left very faint tracks of his interests in philosophical thought. Such are the arguments which do not allow us to agree with the opinion that Vin­cen­tius knew John of Salisbury well as either an intermediary or an example of classical and medi­eval literature. The matters related to Vin­cen­tius’s law studies and his legal knowledge have been a subject of research for a long time. In the nineteenth century and in the early part of the twentieth century historians identified a great number of quotations and allusions in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle and recent research has concentrated on their critical verification.38 The most significant studies were undertaken by Marian Plezia in his critical edition of the Chronicle, Janusz Sondel in his studies,39 and Adam Vetulani.40 The index of the sources of the Chronicle prepared by Plezia includes four instances of direct quotation or almost literal transcription of the Institution, twenty-two of the Digest, and thirty-five of the Code; this is much fewer than older researchers thought. 41 These studies also established that Vin­cen­tius not only knew Roman law well, but also the Decretum by Gratian and some earlier compilations of canon law. In fact, Vin­cen­tius only once points to a specific collection of the Justinian Code; when justifying in Book ii, chapter 7, the former pagan custom of haircutting (tondela), he twice summons the Institutes (‘in Institutis titulo de nup37 

‘Est autem res publica […] corpus quoddam […] Illos vero, qui religionis cultui praesunt, quasi animam corporis suscipere et venerari oportet […]. Porro, sicut anima totius habet corporis principatum, ita et hii, quos ille religionis praefectos vocat, toti corpori oportet.’ Joannis Saresberiensis Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici, v.2.1, p. 282. 38  For example, Jan Nepomucen Janowski, Joachim Lelewel, Heinrich Zeissberg, Emil Seckel and Oswald Balzer. 39  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem; Sondel, ‘W sprawie prawa’; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kad­ łubkiem’. 40  Vetulani, Prawo kanoniczne. 41  The only quote from Tres libri (12, 63,3 or 12, 62/63, 3) can be found in Chronica Polonorum, iv.26.4 and not in i.26.1. Cf. Sondel, ‘W sprawie prawa’, p. 104 n. 76.

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tiis’), and once the Digest (‘in Digestis titulo de ritu nuptiarum’) and the Code (‘in quinto Codicis’). Apart from these Vin­cen­tius used the Epitome Iuliani and other related sources.42 Knowledge of the Institutes was uninterrupted in the West, since this collection did not go missing after the fall of Rome and was used in sets of the canon law for centuries before Gratian. The specialists in Romance studies interested in the Chronicle (Seckel, Balzer, Sondel) and canonists (Vetulani) agree, after examining all the material from the Code of Justinian that is scattered throughout the Chronicle, that there can be no doubt that Vin­cen­tius studied law and that Roman law influenced his style of writing and his conceptualization of the world.43 Historians also argue that the bringing of the first specimen of the Code to Poland can be ascribed to the later bishop of Cracow.44 More recently researchers of Romance studies have been interested in family law which frequently features in the Chronicle. Extensive and precise analyses show that Vin­cen­tius comprehended marriage (its contracting, dissolution, and impediments), offspring (legitimate and illegitimate, father’s rights, adoption, and the rites of passage such as haircutting ), and guardianship (tutela legitima, cura) in total agreement with the spirit and the letter of the Code, and in matters of marriage Vin­cen­tius was only sometimes influenced by the requirements of Gratian’s Decretum. What’s more, Vin­cen­tius sometimes gave the Polish institutions — for example in the chapter about the rite of passage of haircutting which he understood as a process of adoption — an interpretation based on Roman law. Looking at Poland and writing about relationships in Poland however, the chronicler thought in line with the categories of Roman law and accepted that the law was binding.45 The chapter dealing with haircutting which constitutes an obvious defence of the old pagan custom with the help of the interpretation of Roman law has aptly attracted the attention of specialists in Roman studies.46 I would argue however that Vin­cen­tius used 42 

Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem’, p. 100. Earlier in Seckel, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadlubek’, p. 382. Vetulani, Prawo kanoniczne, pp.  39–40. Cf.  Seckel, ‘Vin­c en­tius Kadlubek’; Pauli, ‘Randbemerkungen zur Abhandlung Emil Seckels über Vin­cen­tius Kadlubek’, pp. 396–431; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. II’, pp. 434–556. 44  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, p. 49; Vetulani, ‘Prawo kanoniczne’, pp. 41–42. Vetulani argues that Vin­cen­tius deposited his legal papers, notes and books in Sandomierz. 45  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, pp.  52–57; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem’, pp. 103–05. 46  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, pp.  52–57; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem’, pp. 103–05. 43 


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arguments of a legal nature that are taken directly from Timaeus not from Plato but from Calcidius, who not only translated Plato’s work but also extensively commented on Plato’s text. In the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius asks a rhetorical question which offers the answer: ‘Non erit ergo celebre hoc adoptionis genus quod tam legitima et causa praecedit et ratio?’ (Should then such a ceremony of adoption be not celebrated if it has both a lawful cause and reason?).47 When Calcidius talks about rightful (legitima) cause and the rightness of everything that arises, which means that it has a beginning, he refers to (as does Plato) the creator of everything (opifex). Meanwhile Vin­cen­tius points, it appears, to the cause in accordance with law. In many instances Vin­cen­tius refers to crimes, punishments, and judgements. Crimes referred to in the Chronicle can be divided into four groups: against the authority that is the state (crimen laesae maiestatis), against life, against property, and for contempt of court. Similarly, punishments and penalties can be divided into four groups: the first, capital punishment, is the one presented in most variants and under many guises. Amongst the lesser corporal punishments are blinding, a penalty of imprisonment, and the confiscation of property. The confiscation of property is justified in the short story which introduced the events of the deposition of Mieszko III from the throne of Cracow.48 Vin­cen­tius uses here an Old Testament parable to outline the outcome of the punishment which Mieszko’s officials used and abused and which instigated the coup against Mieszko in Cracow.49 Of course Vin­cen­tius did not write a treatise on court proceedings, judgements, and punishments, but told a rich story full of anecdotes and examples of various crimes towards which he reacted as a lawyer referring to norms of Roman law. In general terms I am in agreement with those specialists in Roman law who claim that the chronicler recognized the absolute primacy of Roman law over customary Polish law. This way of perceiving, illuminating, and assessing facts cleared the path for the introduction of some aspects of Roman law to Poland and for the recognition of its applicability to local conditions.50 Such 47 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.7.7. Cf. ‘Omne autem quod gignitur ex causa aliqua necessaria gignitur; nihil enim fit, cuius ortum non legitima causa et ratio praecedat’: Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, , cols 20. 20–21. ‘Non legitima causa et ratio’ is not found in Plato, see Lemoine, Scripta minora, p. 110; Commentaire au ‘Timée’ de Platon, ed. by Bakhouche, p. 600, n. 259. 48  ‘Ideoque in fortunis eos mulctari oportet…’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.7–9. This is the punishment for the defiance by the magnates of the ruler inspired by Book ii, chapter 13. 49  Maisel, ‘Prawo karne w Kronice Mistrza Wincentego’, pp. 71–75. 50  Vetulani, Prawo kanoniczne, p. 44; Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, p. 56.

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a rich inheritance of Rome was later partially adopted and to some extent disseminated by those who used Vin­cen­tius’s work as a source. From the Code of Justinian Vin­cen­tius adopted the vocabulary for the naming of the Polish state as res publica, its institutions (for example senatus), and of legal-political concepts (civis, lex, ius civile), onomastics of offices and national systems of honours, and finally the jargon of legal institutions, such as court law and its various branches (procedural, disciplinary, private, family, and inheritance).51 The importance of Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle cannot be overstated in this respect. Its readers and users read the vocabulary and expressions typical of Roman law, used them, and passed them on to subsequent generations. J. Sondel examined this knowledge and demonstrated the impact of the Roman influences present in Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle on other works such as the Chronicle of Dzierzwa (Mierzwa) and the Chronicle of Greater Poland. Sondel concludes that the Chronicle thus ‘had an influence on a legal consciousness of the society’.52 Vin­c en­tius does not quote from the third part of Gratian’s Decretum, known as the De consecratione. This last part of the compilation was included in the collection relatively early however there are extant manu­scripts from the twelfth century (especially French) which do not include it. Incomplete copies of the Decretum reached France very early and even in Poland there was (extant until the Second World War) a twelfth-century copy of Gratian’s work at the library of the cathedral in Płock (manu­script 64) which originally did not include De consecratione and De poenitentia. It is possible that Vin­cen­tius used such a copy during his studies and brought exactly such a copy to Poland. On the other hand it is also possible that while writing the Chronicle he was not interested in the issues dealt with in the last part of Gratian’s Decretum.53 The fictional trial of Zbigniew was a good opportunity for the chronicler to highlight two principles of a general nature.54 According to the first ‘it is possible to punish only upon a sentence, and a conviction is only possible when guilt is proven, or when the accused admitted to commission of the criminal act’. Second, a judgement cannot be based on circumstantial evidence or suspicion alone unless it is solid and irrefutable. Archbishop Jan, who narrates the court 51  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp.  435–92; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. II’, pp. 179–200, 457–63; Bogucki, ‘Terminologia polityczna’, pp. 56–63; Sondel, ‘W sprawie prawa’. 52  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, pp. 57–63. 53  Vetulani, Prawo kanoniczne, p.  39; Rambaud-Buhot, ‘L’étude des manuscrits’, pp. 121–45; Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 413–34. 54  Maisel, ‘Prawo karne w Kronice Mistrza Wincentego’, p. 74.


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proceedings in the Chronicle, reminds the reader that Zbigniew referred to that principle during his court case when he stood accused of high treason. Both of these principles were adopted from Gratian’s Decretum and both come from the same source, the homily of Saint Augustine De utilitate agendae poenitentiae.55 Researchers of Roman influences on the Chronicle, and generally speaking historians of the older generation, willingly repeated that Vin­cen­tius had not wasted any opportunity to show off his erudition, his knowledge of law, and even ‘formulated fictional court cases and trials for that purpose’.56 This charge is unreasonable and unfair since Vin­c en­tius almost never refers to authors and their work, and the passages of text which we call quotations are predominantly indirect quotes identified by researchers. I would argue that since time immemorial historians have made up speeches, letters, and even facts in order to be able to explain to readers what needed to be explained, that is to give an exemplary anecdote. Vin­cen­tius, as an author, includes in the history of Poland an expanded ‘prehistoric period’ invented already by Gallus. In his writing Vin­cen­tius plays with and entertains the reader. I have already mentioned the grotesque peace terms forced upon the Danes. Similarly outlandish are the procedures of the royal elections of Lestek II and Lestek III, the victory of Lestek over Alexander the Great (Book i 9.7–11), and the story of Popiel’s dynasty which ends in deplorable farce, as well as the still infamous ‘quixotism’ of Władysław I Herman who slashed the air with his sword because it appeared to him that he had enemies in front of him. Book iv on the other hand is full of lamentation upon the death of Kazimierz II, the patron of the chronicler. The talent and writing ability of the author of the Chronicle are great and he constantly demonstrates his desire for play, for example in the short exchange of letters between Alexander and Aristotle after Alexander’s defeat at the hands of the Poles, the letters only known to Vin­cen­tius.57 In this situation there should be no surprise that Vin­cen­tius invented the judicial process against Zbigniew and his speeches during the proceedings. These speeches attracted attention because of their structure, their great and convincing strength, and the large quantity of influences from Roman law. I would argue that these literary tech55 

The first is formulated in Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.26–27 and the second in Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.36 and ii.29.3. See also Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 418–19, 423, 471. See Augustine, De utilitate agenda poenitentiae, ed. by Migne, iv.10, cols 1545–1547. 56  Sondel, Ze studiów nad prawem, p. 44. 57  Chronica Polonorum, i.10.1–2; Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, pp. 77–78.

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niques occasioned the accusation that Vin­cen­tius was showing off his knowledge of Roman law. These speeches are full of emotion, are set in a violent tone, and are deeply engaged in the defence of the accused that is highlighted by the cool articulation of the argument of law, generating an intense intellectual tension. Both speeches belong to the most beautiful aspects of the Chronicle, however, the difference between them is fundamental. The speech of the prosecution is a product of rhetoric inspired by the ancient oratorical tradition, particularly by the Rhetorica ad Herennium, formerly attributed to Cicero but of unknown authorship. The speech follows the rhetorical model suggested by the Rhetorica ad Herennium of bringing a public figure to trial for high treason in the lofty style in gravi figura.58 On the other hand the defence (ii.28.28–43) which is delivered by the accused prince adheres to the letter of the law closely. Amongst the many references to Roman law recalled in the scene there are two principles of the Decretum which remind the reader that under Roman law nobody can be convicted without trial and nobody should be judged based on suspicion alone.59 Yet, ultimately this voice is not heard by the court. The two speeches not only represent two traditions of court speeches but they present two different philosophies of the human person, which are expressed best in two quotations. The prosecutor who knows the Rhetorica ad Herennium well sees the monster in the accused, ‘the man devoid of all humanity’;60 the defence counsel, that is Zbigniew himself, answers by summoning a concept well-known to Vin­cen­tius’s readers, Aristotle’s idea expressed in the Topics that ‘the man is a gentle animal’.61 In the speeches a more fundamental vision for history teaching becomes visible, namely the deep separation of law from rhetoric. The speech for the prosecution seems to represent Cicero’s 58 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.12–25. Cf. Cicero, Rhetorica ad C. Herennium, ed. by Calboli, iv.12. 59  See note 55. 60  ‘Nam si ab humanitate derelictus homo…’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.25. Cf. ‘O feros animos! o crudeles cogitationes! o derelictos homines ab humanitate’: Cicero, Rhetorica ad C. Herennium, iv.12. 61  ‘Non est certe humanum id feritatis homini quamlibet atrocissimo inputare, est enim homo animal mansuetum natura’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.33. Cf. ‘Ut [proprium] per se quidem hominis animal mansuetum natura’: Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, v.1, p. 86.6. ‘Ut quoniam homo simpliciter dicitur, erit bene positum secundum hoc hominis proprium animal mansuetum natura’: Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, v.2, p. 90, 19–21.


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understanding of judicial practice in close connection with rhetoric as the art of convincing, whilst the speech for the defence is an expression of jurisprudence, separate and independent from rhetoric, based on a thorough understanding of law. In scholastic terms the process of the separation of the two disciplines was initiated by the Bolognese school of laws. Yet, the strictly legal stand of the defence allowed references to the Rhetorica ad Herennium after all.62 A number of ancient texts were ‘discovered’ anew in the twelfth century and they became useful to orators, logicians, and lawyers. I am referring to the Topics and the Sophistical Refutations by Aristotle translated by Boethius. There are no traceable influences in the Chronicle of either of these works of Aristotle nor his Prior Analytics (on deductive reasoning) or Posterior Analytics (on demonstration, definition, and scientific knowledge), which belonged to the socalled logica nova. These writings became known in the first half of the twelfth century. The epitaph of Thierry of Chartres (d. after 1150) claims that the philosopher was the first commentator of new logic in the Middle Ages.63 Along with many foreigners who probably studied at the cathedral school at Chartres was Otto of Freising (d. 1158), credited as the first in Germany who read the Topics, the Sophistical Refutations, and the Analytics.64 In 1138 at the request of Emperor Conrad III, his half-brother Otto left the Cistercian abbey of Morimond in order to take possession of the episcopal see of Freising. The Posterior Analytics were not translated at this stage and Otto and Vin­cen­tius, similar to Thierry of Chartres, John of Salisbury, and Everard of Ypres, used translations made by Boethius exclusively.65 About forty years later, between 1175 and 1178, Vin­cen­tius brought either his own copies of the Topics, the Sophistical Refutations, and the Analytics to Poland — or excerpts from them — and his notes.66 This delay in transmission of the texts was comparatively longer than in the case of the contemporary centres of learning in 62 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.33; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 248, 278. I refer to Cicero, see Ascheri, I diritti del Medioevo italiano, p. 46. Cf. Michel, Les rapports de la rhétorique. 63  Vernet, ‘Une épitaphe inédite de Thierry de Chartres’. See also Jeauneau, Rethinking the School of Chartres. 64  Ottonis et Rahewini Gesta Friderici I, iv.14, pp. 250, 5–12; Sturlese, Storia della filosofia, pp. 133–46. 65  See Jacobi, ‘Logic’, pp. 227–51. 66  The charter of 12 April 1189 is the first document which confirms Vin­cen­tius’s presence in Poland. Lis, Dokumenty mistrza Wincentego, pp. 39–52; Zdanek, ‘Kalendarium życia’, pp. 25–29.

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France such as Paris or Orleans. It reflected not a physical distance but the distance of civilizational development between the centre and periphery on the map of culture of Latin Europe in the twelfth century. Nothing is known about Vin­cen­tius’s interest in the study of logic. Mentions of treatises of Aristotle and De topicis differentiis by Boethius draw Vin­cen­tius’s interest because of their strong focus on rhetoric and this was a practical aspect of constructing an argument, detecting mistakes, or causing the mistake. His knowledge of the law enabled Vin­cen­tius to use these literary techniques in the Chronicle.67 In the defence speech of Zbigniew, and in the later assessment of the trial, Vin­cen­tius used three quotes from the Topics and one obvious allusion to Lycophron, the sophist who was referred to in the Sophistical Refutations and was known for his egalitarian beliefs, claiming that there was no difference between those well-born and those low-born.68 I already mentioned that the defence speech used a definition of man as the ‘gentle animal’ originally supplied in the Topics. Zbigniew recognizes in his speech the fact that the prosecutor changed the subject of the debate agreed earlier by both sides and that the prosecutor now discussed the character of the accused and not the nature of the act (de facto), acting thus like Lycophron mentioned by Aristotle. 69 After the conclusion of the court case the moralizing Archbishop Jan, an expert in law, twice referred in his commentary to the judgement in words only slightly changed from the Topics.70


Kałuża, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona’, pp. 93–97; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 241–45 (for Aristotle), pp. 273–74 (for De topicis differentiis). 68  Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.28–43 (Zbigniew’s speech), ii.29–31 (the court case). 69  ‘Rem […] spectandum est non hominem, quia facti causas ponderari convenit, non hominis ventilari naturam’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.28. ‘Socii tamen Lycofrontis modo sophistico ad ea non incallide relabuntur, circa quae idonei videantur argumentorum’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.37. Cf. Aristotle, Topica et Sophistici elenchi, ed. by Ross, 15. 174b. 32. Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, 34. 13. 70  Aristotle, Topica et Sophistici elenchi, 3.101b.5–10. ‘Habebimus autem perfecte methodum quando similiter habemus ut in rethorica et medicina et huiusmodi potentiis. Hoc autem est ex contingentibus facere quae appetimus. Neque enim rethor omni modo suadebit neque medicus sanabit; sed si ex contingentibus nichil omiserit, sufficienter eum habere disciplinam dicemus’: Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, 7.23–8.3. ‘Facile tamen ex utrimque allegatis diffinitiva elicitur sententia, si ex utroque latere nihil ex contingentibus fuerit omissum’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.29.3. ‘Quia medicus non semper sanabit nec orator semper persuadebit, sed si nihil ex contingentibus obmiserit, sufficiens dicetur habere propositum’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.5.


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I would like to highlight a purely literary use by Vin­cen­tius of two passages from the Sophistical Refutations in his narrative of the fictitious stories. In the first instance it is the defeat of the forces of Alexander the Great by the Poles. When everyone lost hope of survival, one Lestek the goldsmith, though an ordinary man (‘simplex homunciolus’), found a remedy to trick the invader.71 He suggested a deception which resulted in miscalculation on the part of Alexander’s troops. Lestek’s trick made the invading troops think that the Poles had a far more numerous army. The misled troops of Alexander fell into a trap and the Poles decimated them, forcing Alexander himself to take flight. I would like to underline two aspects of this story. First, Vin­cen­tius uses an almost literal quotation from Calcidius’s translation of Timaeus when writing about the victory over Alexander. This story is taken from the account of a heroic victory of Athens and its allies over Atlanteans; after all both wars were in defence of fatally threatened freedom.72 Vin­cen­tius used myth to create a myth. It is more significant to notice the influences of the Sophistical Refutations in these passages. The impact of the antique work in the Chronicle is strategic and, for the creation of the mythical history of the Poles, fundamental. Lestek the goldsmith knew well the difference between silver and golden objects and those which were just painted in these colours. The real, valuable ones are indeed made of gold and silver, the others only imitate reality and their value is based on perception alone. Hence Lestek used human perception which made ‘the shields painted white seem silver, and those painted yellow to appear gold’.73 Lestek likely concluded that these objects which had the appearance of real ones were like the results of logical reasoning whilst those made of gold and silver were like a well-constructed syllogism. After all, Aristotle’s Prior Analytics contained from its very first pages his theory of the syllogism, arguing that the 71  ‘Omnibus enim de salute desperantibus…’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.9.7. Cf. ‘Pro communi omnium salute ac libertate desperantibus…’: Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, cols 17. 18. Kałuża and Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma’, pp. 78, no 5. 72  Timaeus a Calcidio, ed. by Waszink, cols 18.5. 73  ‘Et in inanimatis quoque similiter; nam et horum haec quidem argentum illa vero aurum est vere, alia autem non sunt quidem, videntur autem secundum sensum, ut litargirea quidem et stagnea argentea, felle vero tincta aurea’: Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, p. 5. 10–14. ‘Omnibus enim de salute desperantibus, quidam aurificii arte praeditus galearum et clipeorum formas ex quovis ligno seu subere precipit effingi, quarum quasdam litargiro, felle alias superlinit. Litargirea enim argentea, felle vero tincta videntur aurea, easque ex opposito solis, quo magis resplendeant, in celso montis erigit cacumine’: Chronica Polonorum, i.9.7.

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conclusion can be inferred from two or more premises. I would argue that thus only thanks to Aristotle and his own skill as a goldsmith did Lestek achieve the victory over Alexander. The second literary encounter with the same work in the Chronicle takes place in the scene of a feast hosted by Pompilius II. This mythical king who ruled the Poles before the Piasts entered the historical stage as a spoiled man, deprived of the will for independent thinking and action. His queen for a long time insisted that Pompilius’s twenty paternal uncles conspired to end his life to divide his kingdom among themselves: Porro quot patruos habes, tot huius regni minuta, tot quieti insidias. Dicunt enim deco­ratissimas orationes, volunt autem contraria. […]  Sentisne haec atque animo illabuntur tuo? (Well, she says, how many paternal uncles, that many small realms, and so many traps for your peace. They give indeed flowery speeches, whereas they want something opposite. […] Do you feel it? Do you realize it?)

The queen discreetly wove into her discourse, although shortening them, words of Aristotle, yet after forcing the king’s consent to deal with his uncles, she used Boethius’s cynical question.74 Chapter 12 of the Sophistical Refutations, from where the words of Aristotle used by the queen originated, instructs how to ask questions as part of a discussion so as to force the adversary to reveal thoughts, and thus armed, to accurately attack him with them. The perverse discourse of the queen achieves its purpose and Pompilius agrees to poison his uncles. Then the king speaks. His speech is as equally perverse as the earlier whispers of the queen. His speech is an illustration of Aristotle’s assertion that ‘people do not wish the same things as they say they wish: they say what will look best, whereas they wish what appears to be to their interest’.75 Vin­cen­tius creates the new scene, undoubtedly needed for the flow of the action in the Chronicle, centred on the quote. The use of the quote in this new scene finds its natural place and meaning in accordance with the former context and usage. Thus both Vin­cen­tius’s short 74 

Chronica Polonorum, i.19.4. ‘Non enim eadem et volunt et dicunt, sed dicunt quidem decoratissimas orationes, volunt autem ea quae videntur prodesse, ut bene mori magis quam vivere voluptuose dicunt oportere, et egere iuste magis quam divitiis affluere prave, volunt autem contraria’: Aristotle, Aristoteles latinus 5 1–3 Topica. Translatio Boethii, p. 29. 2–6. See De consolatione philosophiae, p. 11. 75  Aristotle, Sophistical Refutations, ed. by Barnes, p. 293.


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stories constitute a kind of practical illustration of mistakes about which Aristotle taught.76 Vin­cen­tius’s studies took place between 1166 and 1175–78.77 Before the full course of Roman law Vin­cen­tius had to undergo good trivium studies at a level unattainable in Poland, thus perhaps in Bologna, Paris, or somewhere else.78 He got to know Roman literature relatively well, was familiar with mythology, possessed excellent knowledge of the Rhetorica ad Herennium, was interested in what had constituted part of logica nova and what constituted the formation of a medi­eval lawyer. He probably listened to commentaries on these texts, then often publicly commented upon them and debated in Paris. Many libraries had them, including the library of the Abbey of Saint Victor near contemporary Paris.79 Their copies circulated among students because they themselves were responsible for bringing to school texts constituting the subject of the lectures. Vin­cen­tius and his contemporaries obtained texts in the same way, for example, Vitalis of Blois or Everard of Ypres. Everard of Ypres studied under Gilbert of Poitiers in Chartres, Paris, and Poitiers, when Gilbert was elevated to the local bishopric, and only after the death of his master in 1154 did Everard leave Poitiers. Everard was a lawyer as was our Vin­ cen­tius, and a decretist; moreover, he was a theologian who was also interested in medicine. If we omit medicine and theology, we can easily discern certain common features of their intellectual formation: Vin­cen­tius quotes Timaeus and Calcidius’s Dedicatory Letter to Osius; Everard quotes Timaeus and Calcidius’s commentary; Everard is also acquainted with Aristotelian logic and quotes the Categories and the Hermeneutics, but also the Prior Analytics and the Sophistical Refutations. Vin­cen­tius uses this last work and the Topics, and he uses them with the ease of a writer. The combination of sources for both authors is almost identical, yet what is surprising is the lack of Seneca amongst Everard’s influences. In my opinion Paris constituted a kind of separate universe, leaving its own mark on the minds of students: in Chartres, as writes Everard, he was fourth in Gilbert’s classroom, in Paris he was three 76 

Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 244–45, 273–74, 277–78. Zdanek, Kalendarium życia, p. 19, who assumes 1166–1170. 78  See Gorochov, Naissance de l’université; Gorochov, ‘Les influences italiennes’, pp. 47–72. 79  De Interpretatione, Berlin Staatsbibliothek, Lat. Fol. 624; Summa Sophisticorum elencorum, Bibliothèque nationale de France, Lat. 15141. For commentary and editions see Rijk, Logica modernorum, pp. 82–105, 187–255, 257–458. Cf. Ouy, Les manuscrits de l’abbaye de Saint-Victor, Berlin MSS vol. i, p. 98 and vol. ii, p. 595, MMM 16; Paris MSS vol. i, p. 115 and vol. ii, p. 590, MMM 7. 77 

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hundredth.80 These proportions, which perhaps should not be understood literally, give an idea of the relationships between schools after 1150 and the already established primacy of Paris over provincial schools. There is another feature shared by the works of Vitalis of Blois, Everard of Ypres, Vin­cen­tius of Cracow, and the other most outstanding authors of the twelfth century: they all are influenced by the heritage of Greece — both by its literary achievement of comedy and often by tragedy. In the case of Vin­ cen­tius, as I mentioned earlier a feast is modelled on Timaeus with erudite conversations and echoes of ancient wars. Good humour does not prevent the author from using traps and pranks offered by logic and to allow a theologian to discuss quite seriously the divergence of opinion of Bernard of Clairvaux and Gilbert of Poitiers. Directed towards the Athens of Plato and Socrates, Vin­cen­tius’s dialogue uses logic for creating stories both false and incredible, happy and tragic. In the case of Vin­cen­tius, as in Vitalis of Blois and Everard of Ypres, the logica nova supports the literary aspirations of the comic author, theologian, and chronicler. Vin­cen­tius had access to quite a lot of philosophical books. These included Plato’s Timaeus in Calcidius’s translation and two last treatises of Organon by Aristotle in Boethius’s translation as well as the Rhetorica ad Herennium, a source which he frequently used. Vin­cen­tius read Boethius’s own works too such as De topicis differenciis and De consolatione philosophiae and above all the Moral Epistles to Lucilius by Seneca. At present it is not possible to estimate the contents of his private library, his books, excerpts, and notes or, as is often referred to, his philosophical book collection. The contents of this book collection can only be derived from the quotations identified in the Chronicle. I would like to begin an inspection of Vin­cen­tius’s philosophical ideas with Socrates, whose name, like Plato’s, is never mentioned in the Chronicle. He alone, however is present through numerous allusions in the Chronicle through views which may be attributed to him. Firstly, the ideal of justice, which for the Poles was formulated by King Gracchus, one of the prehistoric rulers. The moment in which Gracchus annuls justice based on the principles of Thrasymachus (justice is serving the interest of the stronger; just action is obedience to the laws of one’s state) and when he announces new laws and Socratic justice (justice is good, attainable only 80 

‘Cui Carnoti quartus in lectionem, Parisius in aula episcopi fere trecentesimus assedi. Et ipsi episcopo Pictavis adhaesi usque ad ipsius obitum’: Häring, ‘A Latin Dialogue’, p. 252. Häring, ‘The Cistercian Everard of Ypres’, pp. 116–27; Moos, Entre histoire et littérature, pp. 343–87; Schweiss, ‘Logik und Theologie’, pp. 219–28.


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through self-knowledge; every man is capable of finding the good), is a festive moment because ‘nostri iuris ciuilis nata est conceptio seu concepta natiuitas’ (a nucleus of our civil rights was conveived and was born.81 Secondly, a programme of self-improvement by getting to know oneself. The subject of self-improvement was omnipresent in the twelfth century, often appearing in the form of Christian Socratism (from knowledge of self we rise to knowledge of God) but is not present in the Chronicle.82 In the Chronicle getting to know oneself is attaining knowledge about the inherent imperfection of man. A sage or an artist could possess such knowledge, for example Zeuxis of Heraclea, for whom there was nothing more excellent than imperfection in man. We have a kind of paradoxical notion here, in fact internally contradictory, of perfections of the imperfection: ‘in homine ipsa imperfectione nihil est perfectius’ (nothing is perfect in a very imperfection).83 On the other hand the sage — the role entrusted by Vin­cen­tius to Callisthenes — thinks that moral excellence is unattainable, although a man can be excellent provided that he accepts this impossibility of being excellent: ‘interim perfectus eris, si te hic perfectum esse non posse cognoveris’.84 The statement: ‘I know that I cannot be excellent’ would be a translation of another moral proverb attributed to Socrates: ‘scio me nihil scire or scio me nescire’ (I know one thing: that I know nothing). As a matter of fact, the full understanding of imperfection may include both moral and intellectual orders. The problem of getting to know oneself leads us directly to philosophical anthropology. It is a step to achieving prudence, the ability to conduct oneself by the use of reason, which directs thinking and acting. So what does this self-knowledge consist of ? It consists of realizing the nature of being human. Vin­cen­tius defines it and explains it in a speech which is given at a council in the presence of Bolesław III reputedly by Piotr Włostowic, Vin­cen­tius’s (hypothetical) great uncle: Facillimum enim est hominem viam nosse prudentiae, si se ipsum homo ante cognoverit. En quidem in homine duo sunt: anima et corpus. Ad quid anima? industriae saniori. Ad quid corpus? virtutum vehiculo. Tolle alterutrum, hominem interimis. Quemlibet ergo vel solo virium conatu, vel ingeniosa dumtaxat sine viribus

81  Chronica Polonorum, i.5.3. ‘Iustitia est virtus quae plurimum prodest illi qui minimum potest’: Explicatio aphorismatum philosophicorum, ed. by Weijers, 26, 1–2. 82  Gutowski and Gut, Z dziejów, pp. 89–132. 83  Chronica Polonorum, iii.1.3. 84  Chronica Polonorum, iii.1.4.

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nitentem versutia, non modo mancum sed omnino nullum existimo. Non enim una sine altera sufficit in volatu, non rota sine reliqua est in biga. (It is easiest for man to get to know the road to prudence, if he would get to know himself. There are two parts of a man, body and soul. What is the soul for? For judicious action. What is the body for? To be a vehicle of virtue. Destroy one or the other and you will kill the man. I would have this not only for the simpleton, but for anyone who relies on very physical effort, or only on a clever trick, without using force. Because to be able to fly it is not enough to have only one wing, and the two-wheeled carriage with only one wheel, without the second, is unusable.)85

The thesis advanced by Piotr Włostowic is composed of two propositions: first that man is a combination of the body and spirit, that this combination is necessary and without it there is no possibility to talk about the man. The conclusion of the second argument is that both components have equal status and interact with each other. The first argument is common in the twelfth-century definitions which remind of the coexistence of the body and spirit, but in principles which clearly show the superiority and the dominating role of the soul, perceived as a separate and fully human substance. It is also so in the principle of two separate objects, or in the principle of momentary clothing of the soul in bodily coating, and still in the principle of the captain leading his ship hence on the principle of the commanding dominance of the soul over the body.86 The thoughts of Piotr Włostowic however do not follow this argument. His second statement supports the notion that it is absolutely necessary for both parts of the man to be fused together and coexist. The statement suggests that to lack one or the other part of man causes his annihilation. The conclusion of this second argument suggests the natural cooperation of both parts: in all human actions nothing is exclusively fruit of the work of the soul or exclusively a work of the body. A bird flies thanks to both wings and the two-wheeled carriage rides thanks to both wheels; there is no hierarchy among them. The second statement is the basis for further conclusions, originating in Paris where I assume Vin­cen­tius studied. It was among the opinions discussed while negotiating the problem of the humanity of Christ in triduo of his death, that is whether Christ was God and human being during the three days when his body lay in the sepulchre without a soul, and his soul was among the dead without a body. In this context an opinion that was, to a degree, identical with the one voiced by Piotr Włostowic was delivered in Paris by a French scholastic 85  86 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.20.7–8. Poirel, ‘Thomas d’Aquin lecteur d’Hugues de Saint-Victor’, pp. 195–228.


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theologian, Peter of Poitiers (c. 1130–1205), who taught there from 1167 until the end of his life. In his Sentences, completed before 1176 and known from an early redaction, he outlined his view, according to which the second statement above explains the difference between the human nature of all people and the human nature of the God-man: the Christ is not called a man on account of these two factors, but on account of one only. The Son is united with the soul and the body and it is not necessary for the soul to be united with the body, because whether it is disconnected from the body, whether it is one with the body, nonetheless the Son of God is a man because he is united with the substance of man, that is with the body and soul.87

Such a definition of man and the resulting understanding of human substance was rejected in the year 1177 or 1178 by Walter (Gauthier) of Saint Victor near Paris. Walter was an adversary of the theology of other writers such as Peter Abelard, Gilbert of Poitiers, Peter the Lombard, and his pupil Peter of Poitiers.88 The issue of a different interpretation of the humanity of Christ was undoubtedly already well-known and discussed at Paris schools. Vin­cen­tius, if I identify his sources correctly, was only interested in the philosophical part of the issue about the nature of man, without any deeper or wider consideration of its theological implications. What is also highly probable is that Vin­cen­tius himself worked out a metaphorical justification of the argument provided by Peter of Poitiers, yet he conferred a practical sense to Peter’s interpretation by working it into the text of the Chronicle.89 In a discreet way Vin­cen­tius inserted 87 

‘Ad solutionem praedictarum obiectionum oportet scire qua ratione Christus dicatur “homo”, et qua ceteri homines, nam dissimilitudo est in dicto. Petrus sive alius dicitur “homo” propter duo, et quia habet animam et corpus, et quia habet ea unita, non enim si essent separata vere diceretur “Petrus est homo”. Sed Christus non dicitur “homo” propter haec duo, sed propter unum solum, quia unitus est Filius animae et corpori, nec exigitur quod anima corpori uniatur, nam sive separata sive unita, non minus dicitur Filius “homo”, cum sit unitus humanae substantiae, id est animae et corpori. Unde in illo triduo erat homo…’: Petrus Pictaviensis, Sententiarum libri V, v.22; PL, 211, 1224C. For discussion of Peter’s influence on Parisian scholasticisms at the turn of the century see Boeren, ‘Un traité eucharistique’, pp. 181–204. On the christology of Gilbert of Poitiers and Peter of Poitiers, see Colish, ‘Gilbert, the Early Porretans’, pp. 229–50; de Rijk, Logica modernorum, pp. 163–78; Valente, ‘“Iustus et misericors”’, pp. 37–59. Giulio D’Onofrio provides a list of editions and a bibliography, see D’Onofrio, Storia della teologia nel Medioevo, pp. 9–72. 88  Glorieux, Le ‘Contra quatuor’, pp. 277–78. 89  In his speech Piotr Włostowic suggested the kidnapping of Wołodar of Rus. In reality Piotr Włostowic has already kidnapped the said duke.

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the Socratic idea of justice into the fundamental argument of his work: a man stands at the centre of the state and society; the regulatory framework of the state exhibits characteristics of law designed to protect the weakest; the notion of self-discovery, that is the principle of the perfect imperfection, which teaches judicious and harmonious, practical and intentional action within the confines of the state, of action subordinated to the guidance of prudence, the same prudence to whose judgements even rulers are subjected. The Moral Epistles by Seneca, the main twelfth-century guide to ethical issues, had a significant impact on the Chronicle. The Moral Epistles also became a conduit which enabled transmission of the ideas of Epicurus.90 I would like to explain the significance of the Moral Epistles in two points, with reference to the thoughts of Seneca and to the ethics of Epicurus. In literary and philosophical terms, the most significant is chapter 11 of Book ii which brings a brief philosophical tale. The tale is supposed to teach how to distinguish what is permanent (virtues of heart and of spirit) from what is only temporary (gifts of fortune), and thus a certain man, Quidam, who had visited a sage and had noticed only the misery of the old man, the dirt of his abode, and the poverty of its furnishing.91 Criticized by the visitor the sage makes the excuse that the place of meeting is not his home and invites Quidam for another day to a different location. This home, which is the home of his rich friends, is full of servants and beautiful silver and clay tableware but this opulence turns to nothing when the tableware proves to serve only unpalatable things: bile is poured into golden goblets, honey into clay cups. Quidam as the guest is seated on the high chair and falls off it when the chair’s cut legs give way. He hears, as if for comfort, the sage’s words that all things high are bound to fall. When bruised and robbed of his belongings Quidam is thrown out into the street by servants, the sage imparts another truth to him ‘Omnia, Lucili, aliena sunt, tempus tantum nostrum est’ (everything, Lucilius, is alien to us apart from what is ours for a time). Here the conclusion of the fable points the reader to the origins of the story in the first letter to Lucilius (On Saving Time).92 From the following three pieces of advice, the first is probably deduced from the Moral Epistles, the other two are literally adopted.93 90  Chmielewska, Rola wątków, pp. 98–99; Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach’, pp. 258–63. 91  Similarly in Chronica Polonorum, ii.11.1. 92  Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, ed. by Reynolds, 1.3. 93  ‘Docet alienis uti posse, abuti non debere iocundioresque in paupertatis diversorio


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On the face of it the meaning of this philosophical tale is not unambiguous, especially because the sage personally contributes to the ill-fated conclusion of the visit. However, if the starting point is Seneca’s idea about the division of ‘things’ into our and other’s property, the fable in fact demonstrates easily that the man loses what does not belong to him, that which is the gift of fortune: the opulent home, servants, and tableware. The humble abode of the sage is contrasted to the palace yet both will face the same fate; the loss is only smaller objectively, not subjectively. Final advice seems to go along the same line: use things which are given by fate but don’t abuse them; a meagre home is nicer than the royal palace, and poverty borne optimistically ceases to be poverty; and the visitor to the sage’s home should devote his entire attention to him, and not to his poverty, his furnishings, his humble quarters. In brief, the visitor needs to understand that the sage settles for little comfort and a life in poverty. For Vin­cen­tius the Moral Epistles opened a door to the world of ethics of Epicurus.94 It seems that the chronicler succumbed to the influence of the man who established the Garden by copying from the Moral Epistles a few fragments he was interested in or by referring to passages in which Seneca discusses or criticizes the views of Epicurus.95 Undoubtedly most significant philosophically in the set of quotations on the subject of poverty (paupertas) introduced by Vin­ cen­tius in the philosophical tale, is where the famous adagium of Epicurus is quoted saying: ‘Honesta res est laeta paupertas’ (A glad poverty is an honourable thing). In another place in the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius quotes from Letter 18, in which Seneca talks about Epicurean encouragements to practise poverty and to avoid attachment to treasures, and immediately turning to Lucilius, Seneca writes: ‘Incipe cum paupertate habere commercium’ (begin with poverty).96 Vin­cen­tius takes this encouragement as a principle which extends to rulers: ‘Imo tales esse debere principes, qui cum paupertate noverint habere com-

quam in domibus regum esse delicias. Iocunda enim res est laeta paupertas, sed paupertas non est, si laeta est’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.11.7. ‘‘Honesta’ inquit [Epicurus] res est […]; et: Qui ergo nostram domum intraverit, nos potius miretur quam nostram supellectilem’: Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 5.6. A similar attitude to poverty can be see in the Policraticus by John of Salisbury. See Grellard, Le socratisme de Jean de Salisbury, pp. 40–41. 94  See Schottlaender, ‘Epikureisches bei Seneca’, pp.  133–48; André, ‘Sénèque et l’épicurisme’, pp. 469–80; Long, From Epicurus to Epictetus, pp. 360–76. 95  Seneca (Ad Lucilium, 18.9) refers to him as ‘ille magister voluptatis Epicurus.’ 96  Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 18.12.

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mercium’ (Indeed there must be leaders who experienced poverty).97 In other words, Vin­cen­tius thinks that experience of poverty enriches. Seneca’s Letter 9, on friendship, involves the defence of Stilpo, who was a philosopher of the Megarian school and the teacher of Zeno of Citium, the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, from the criticism of Epicurus. Epicurus criticizes Stilpo and Zeno for believing that ‘a sage settles for himself alone and therefore does not need friends’.98 Vin­cen­tius refers to this letter three times. The first quotation — ‘negotiatio autem est non amicitia quae ad commoditates accedit’ (because a friendship measured up by benefit is a trade) — closes a short series of Jan’s lamentations about the lack of the loyalty ‘in these our stormy times’.99 The second quotation, implying the impermanence of friendship based on utility, serves as an argument in a discussion on the future fate of the duchy of Halycz after the death of its childless ruler.100 In the third case the situation is different. As mentioned above Epicurus accuses Stilpo and the stoics of propagating the two statements: ‘(1) a sage settles for himself alone and (2) therefore does not need friends’. Seneca criticizes and refutes the second statement, however entirely agrees with the first and repeats it several times.101 In the conclusion to his letter Seneca writes: ‘nisi sapienti sua non placent; omnis stultitia laborat fastidio sui’ (nobody apart from the sage is pleased with what he has; every fool strives to make his own fate miserable).102 The displeasure at one’s own fate is the unhappiness of one’s own life. Vin­cen­tius omits the second statement and in an extremely complicated form disagrees with Seneca, the Stoics, and Stilpo. Vin­cen­tius claims, ‘quia vero nemo nisi sapiens sibi displicere potest, cum et simiae sua non informis videatur diformitas’ (nobody apart from a sage can be dissatisfied with oneself, since even to a monkey her own ugliness does not seem ugly).103 Abandoning 97 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.5.5. Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 9.1. Seneca, copying Chrysippos, uses two verbs: ‘egere’ and ‘opus est’ — ‘egere enim necessitatis est, nihil necesse sapienti est.’ 99  Chronica Polonorum, i.8.4. ‘Ista quam tu describis negotiatio est, non amicitia, quae ad commodum accedit, quae quid consecutura sit spectat’: Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 9.10. 100  ‘Quia qui causa utilitatis assumitur, tamdiu placebit, quamdiu utilis erit’: Chronica Polo­no­rum, iv.24.4. ‘(Amicus) qui utilitatis causa adsumptus est tamdiu placebit, quamdiu utilis fuerit’: Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 9.9. 101  Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 9.5; 9.8; 9.13; 9.19. 102  Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 9.22. 103  Chronica Polonorum, iii.1.1. 98 


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monkeys to love themselves, Vin­cen­tius returns to the teachings of Epicurus because he thinks that only a philosopher is able to find a reason for dissatisfaction in himself. Such a view Vin­cen­tius matches with the belief that inherent and perfect imperfection can only be achieved by training oneself to get to know oneself better. The third encounter of Vin­cen­tius with Epicurus is perhaps the most beautiful and the least expected. It is also homage of a kind to the pedagogy of the Garden. Growth in one’s conviction that the gaze of a father, a master, or a god rests upon one’s actions, is known widely thanks to the Moral Epistles of Seneca and is a subject of philosophical ethics and Epicurean pedagogy. Epicurus demanded such a consciousness from his pupils. Later Seneca pleaded with his followers to act as if Epicurus watched over them.104 The one who teaches moral courage should be constantly present in the thoughts of the pupils. Images of Epicurus were amongst the possessions of his disciples, as Pomponius mentions in a letter to Cicero: ‘I cannot, even if I wanted to, forget about Epicurus. Our friends have the image of him not only as paintings, but also on cups and rings.’105 Seneca assesses, comments on, and adapts Epicurus’s admonitions for his contemporaries and in the conclusion of one of his letters states: Vide ergo ne hoc praecipi salubriter possit: sic vive cum hominibus tamquam deus videat, sic loquere cum deo tamquam homines audiant. (Think about it. Wouldn’t the following recommendation be useful: live with people as if a god could see it; talk to the god as if people listened to it.)106

Moved by the love of his father, Bolesław III Krzywousty followed the advice of Seneca: Tantum enim virtuti, tantum paternae devotioni dependit, ut in aurea lamina nomen patris insculpi iusserit, quam aurea catena a collo in pectus dependere iussit, ut quasi patre semper presente, filialis iugum disciplinae, paternae memoriam reverentiae, fugam vitiorum, virtutum custodelam ubique secum circumferret, lamina crebro suggerente: Sic loquere, tamquam pater semper audiat, sic age, tamquam pater semper vedeat. Turpe siquidem est sub patris conspectu aut agi turpia


‘Sic fac inquit [Epicurus] omnia tamquam spectet Epicurus’: Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 25.5. Pierre Hadot, Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique?, p. 193, n. 3. Schottlaender, ‘Epikureisches bei Seneca‘, pp. 183–84; André, ‘Sénèque et l’épicurisme’, p. 472. 105  Cicero, De finibus v.1.3. Frischer, The Sculpted Word. 106  Seneca, Ad Lucilium, 10.5.

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aut dici scurrilia. Tanta itaque se illi veneratione astrinxit, ut non patrem coli sed numen credere adorari. (So far he let himself be driven by a virtue, so far by love of his father, that he inscribed the name of his father on the golden plate which on the golden chain he decided to suspend on his breasts. This constant kind of presence of his father served as a reminder of filial obedience, reminder of due reverence for his father. He carried it everywhere to prevent misdeeds and to defend virtues. Often the plate supposedly reminded him: say it in such a way as if the father has always heard, this way act, as if the father has always seen. Because it is an ugly thing that under the eye of the father there would be something ugly happening, or tomfoolery be said! He tied himself to his father with such high regard, that you would think that he reveres a deity not a father.)107

Vin­cen­tius, who most clearly attaches great significance to that golden plate, gives a considerable example of the Epicurean practice of choosing the moral way of life. It is not consequential, I would argue, that the golden plate replaced the image of Epicurus and the word ‘father’ the name of ‘god’. The entire fragment devoted to that plate proves that such a great reverence was shown to Bolesław’s father that Brygida Kürbis did not hesitate to refer to it as ‘almost idolatrous’.108 Indeed, such a form of veneration has its root in the pagan culture of ancient Greece. It represents remarkably interesting evidence for Vin­cen­ tius’s true adaptation of the education programme of Seneca, built in co-thinking with Epicurus. In such a way Seneca influenced the spiritual formation of Vin­cen­tius and shaped the chronicler’s moral attitude. Thanks to Seneca the Poles received the Epicurean counsel of moral courage and support in the presence of a reliable, loved man and by virtue of his qualities looked upon him with reverence; this was advice based on Epicurean philosophy transmitted by a Roman stoic and adopted by a Polish history writer.

107  108 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.24.4. Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, p. lxix; Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, p. 68.


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Works Cited Manu­scripts and Archival Documents Berlin, Berlin Staatsbibliothek, SzBPK Lat. Fol. 624 Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF MS Lat. 15141

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Joannis Saresberiensis Episcopi Carnotensis Policratici sive de Nugis Curialium et Vestigiis Philosophorum libri VIII, ed. by Clement C. J. Webb (Oxford: Clarendon, 1909) Kronika polska [The Polish Chronicle]. ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 2003) Lecouteux, Claude, ed., De rebus in Oriente mirabilibus. Llettre de Farasmanes, Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie 103 (Meisenheim am Glan: Hain, 1979) Liber exceptionum, ed.  by Jean Châtillon, Textes philosophiques du Moyen Age 5 (Paris: J. Vrin, 1958) Ottonis et Rahewini Gesta Friderici I. imperatoris, ed. by Georg Waitz, 3rd edn Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores rerum Germanicarum in usum scholarum separatim editi 46 (Hannover: Hahn, 1912) Pfister, Friedrich, Kleine Texte zum Alexanderroman, Sammlung vulgärlateinischer Texte (Heidelberg: Winter, 1910) Res gestae Alexandri Macedonis, ed. by Michela Rosellini, 2nd edn Bibliotheca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2004) Seneca, Ad Lucilium epistulae morales, ed.  by Leighton Durham Reynolds (Oxford: Clarendon, 1965) Timaeus a Calcidio translatus Commentarioque instructus, ed. by Jan Hendrik Waszink, 2 edn Plato Latinus 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1975)

Secondary Studies André, Jean-Marie, ‘Sénèque et l’épicurisme: Ultime position’, in Association Guillaume Budé: Actes du VIIIe Congrés (Paris 5–10 Avril 1968) (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1969), pp. 469–82 Ascheri, Mario, I  diritti del Medioevo italiano: secoli XI–XV, Università 193 (Roma: Carocci, 2000) Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) —— , ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: II’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part II’], in Pisma pośmiertne, ii (Lwów: 1935) Banaszkiewicz, Jacek, Polskie dzieje bajeczne mistrza Wincentego Kadłubka [The Fairy Tale History of Poland by Vin­cen­tius], 2nd edn, Monografie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2002) Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu politycznym Polski przełomu XII i XIII wieku’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow in the Life of Poland at the Turn of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 21–48 Boeren, Petrus C., ‘Un traité eucharistique inédit du XIIe siècle’, Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge, 45 (1978), 181–204 Bogucki, Ambroży, ‘Terminologia polityczna w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Political Terminology in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20  (1976), 56–63


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Borawska, Danuta, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w nowym wydaniu i opracowaniu: w stronę cystersów i św. Bernarda z Clairvaux’ [‘A New Edition of Vin­cen­tius’s Work: The In­flu­ences of the Cistercians and Saint Bernard of Clairvaux’], Przegląd Historyczny, 68 (1977), 341–66 Bubczyk, Robert, ‘Wpływ pisarstwa Jana z Salisbury na kronikę Wincentego na przykładzie wybranych fragmentów utworu (literacki „portret” Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego)’ [‘The Impact of Writings by John of Salisbury on the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius: The Analysis of Selected Portions of the Work (Literary “Portrait” of Casimir the Just)’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 450–58 Chmielewska, Katarzyna, Rola wątków i motywów antycznych w „Kronice polskiej” Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem [The Role of the Themes and Motifs of Antiquity in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow] (Częstochowa: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej, 2003) —— , ‘Recepcja rzymskiej literatury antycznej w Kronice polskiej Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Reception of Ancient Roman literature in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 215–30 Colish, Marcia L., ‘Gilbert, the Early Porretans, and Peter Lombard semantics and Theo­ logy’, in Gilbert de Poitiers et ses contemporains aux origines de la “Logica modernorum”, ed. by Jean Jolivet and Alain de Libera, History of Logic 5 (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 1987), pp. 229–50 D’Onofrio, Giulio, Storia della teologia nel Medioevo, ii (Casale Monferrato: Piemme, 1996) Frischer, Bernard, The Sculpted Word: Epicureanism and Philosophical Recruitment in Ancient Greece (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982) Glorieux, Palémon, Le “Contra quatuor labyrinthos Franciae” de Gauthier de Saint-Victor: édition critique, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge 19 (Paris: J. Vrin, 1953) Gorochov, Nathalie, ‘Les influences italiennes et la naissance de l’université de Paris’, in Universitas scholarium: Mélanges réunis en l’honneur de Jacques Verger par ses anciens étudiants, ed. by Cédric Giraud and Martin Morard (Genève: Librairie Droz, 2011), pp. 47–72 —— , Naissance de l’université: les écoles de Paris d’Innocent III à Thomas d’Aquin (v. 1200– v. 1245), Etudes d’histoire médiévale 14 (Paris: Honoré Champion éditeur, 2012) Grellard, Christophe, ‘Le socratisme de Jean de Salisbury’, in Réceptions philosophiques de la figure de Socrate, Revue Diagonale Φ n° 2, ed. by Suzel Mayer (Lyon: Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, 2008), pp. 35–59 Gutowski, Piotr, and Przemysław Gut, Z dziejów filozoficznej refleksji nad człowiekiem [A History of Philosophical Reflection on Man] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2007) Hadot, Pierre, Qu’est-ce que la philosophie antique?, Folio Essais (Paris: Gallimard, 1995)

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Hammer, Jacob, ‘Remarks on the Sources and Textual History of Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘Historia Regum Britanniae,’ with an Excursus on the ‘Chronica Polonorum’ of Wincenty Kadlubek (Magister Vin­cen­tius)’, Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America, 2 (1944), 501–64 Harf-Lancner, Laurence, Laurence Mathey-Maille, and Michelle Szkilnik, eds., Conter de Troie et d’Alexandre (Paris: Presses de la Sorbonne nouvelle, 2006) Häring, Nicholas M., ‘A Latin Dialogue on the Doctrine of Gilbert of Poitiers’, Mediaeval Studies, 15 (1953), 243–89 —— , ‘The Cistercian Everard of Ypres and His Appraisal of the Conflict between St Bernard and Gilbert of Poitiers’, Mediaeval Studies, 17 (1955), 116–27 Jacobi, Klaus, ‘Logic: The Later Twelfth Century’, in A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy, ed.  by Peter Dronke (Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge University Press, 1988), pp. 227–51 Jeauneau, Édouard, Rethinking the School of Chartres, trans. by Claude Paul Desmarais, Rethinking the Middle Ages 3 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009) Kałuża, Zénon, ‘Kadłubka historia mówiona i historia pisana („Kronika” I 1–2, I 9 i II 1–2)’ [‘Vin­cen­tius’s Oral History and Written History in the Chronicle  I:1–2, I:9 and II:1–2’], Przegląd Tomistyczny, 12 (2006), 61–120 —— , ‘„Holophagus” z „Kroniki” Kadłubka’ [‘The Holophagus of the Chronicle by Vin­ cen­tius’], Przegląd Tomistyczny, 16 (2010), 255–89 Kałuża, Zénon, and Dragoş Calma, ‘Wokół Wilhelma z Conches i Bernarda z Clairvaux: O trudnych do ustalenia związkach Kroniki Wincentyńskiej z pisarstwem XIIwiecznym’ [‘Concerning William of Conches and Bernard of Clairvaux: The Problem of the Literary Relationship of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow and Writing in the Twelfth Century’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 75–99 —— , ‘O filozoficznych lekturach Mistrza Wincentego’ [The Philosophical Readings of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 231–78 —— , ‘The Philosophical Readings of Master Vincent’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 112 (2015), 47–107 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pojmował historię Polski’ [‘Vin­cen­tius’s Concep­ tualization of Polish History’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 64–70 —— , ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi —— , ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’ [‘Vin­cen­tius’s Writing of the History of Poland’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 59–78 —— , ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Kronika wielkopolska, ed. by Brygida Kürbis (Kraków: Universitas, 2010), pp. 7–33 Lemoine, Michel, Scripta minora, Cahiers de Recherches Médiévales et Humanistes, 23 (Paris: H. Champion, 2012)


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Lewandowski, Ignacy, Florus w Polsce [Florus in Poland], Archiwum Filologiczne, 26 (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1970) —— , ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Justyn – epitomator Pompejusza Troga’ [‘The Relationship between Vin­cen­tius and Justin, Author of the Epitome of Pompeius Trogus’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 28–34 Liman, Kazimierz, ‘Topika w Kronice polskiej Wincentego Kadłubka’ [‘The Topica in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 95–105 Lis, Artur, ‘Dokumenty mistrza Wincentego: Zarys problematyki’ [‘The Charters of Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 39–54 Long, Anthony A., From Epicurus to Epictetus: Studies in Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon, 2006) Maisel, Witold, ‘Prawo karne w Kronice Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Criminal Law in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 71–75 Mańkowski, Jerzy, ‘Krak, uczeń Sokratesa (glosa do Kadłubka Chronica Polonorum I 5, 3)’ [‘Krak as a Disciple of Socrates: A  Commentary on Chronica Polonorum  I:5,3’], in Inspiracje platońskie literatury staropolskiej, ed. by Alina Nowicka-Jeżowa and Paweł Stępień (Warszawa: Wydział Polonistyki Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 2000), pp. 147–50 Michałowska, Teresa, Literatura polskiego średniowiecza wobec poetyki europejskiej („ornatus difficilis”) [Polish Literature of the Middle Ages and European Poetics (“ornatus difficilis”)] (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2008) Michel, Alain, Les rapports de la rhétorique et de la philosophie dans l’oeuvre de Cicéron, 2nd  edn, Bibliothèque d’études classiques, 34 (Louvain: Peeters, 2003) Moos, Peter von, Entre histoire et littérature: communication et culture au Moyen Âge, Millennio medi­evale 58 (Firenze: SISMEL – Edizioni di Galluzzo, 2005) Ouy, Gilbert, Les manuscrits de l’abbaye de Saint-Victor: Catalogue établi sur la base du répertoire de Claude de Grandrue (1514) (Turnhout: Brepols, 1999) Pauli, Leslaus, ‘Randbemerkungen zur Abhandlung Emil Seckels über Vin­cen­tius Kadlubek’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung, 76 (1959), 396–431 Plezia, Marian, ‘Dialog w Kronice Kadłubka’ [‘Dialogue in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius‘], Pamietnik Literacki, 51 (1960), 275–86 —— , ‘Kronika Kadłubka na tle renesansu XII wieku’ [‘The Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius in the Context of the Renaissance of the Twelfth Century’], in Scripta minora: łacina śred­ niowieczna i Wincenty Kadłubek (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe DWN, 2001), pp. 229–42 Poirel, Dominique, ‘Thomas d’Aquin lecteur d’Hugues de Saint-Victor: à propos de la nature humaine’, Archives d’Histoire Doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge, 78 (2011), 195–228 Rambaud-Buhot, Jacqueline, ‘L’étude des manuscrits du Décret de Gratien conservés en France’, Studia Gratiana, 1 (1953), 119–45 Rijk, Lambertus Marie de, Logica modernorum: A  Contribution to the History of Early Terminist Logic, Wijsgerige teksten en studies 6, 6 (Assen: Van Gorcum, 1962)

Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle and Intellectual Culture of the 12th Century


Schottlaender, Rudolf, ‘Epikureisches bei Seneca: Ein Ringen um den Sinn von Freude und Freundschaft’, Philologus, 99 (1954), 133–48 Schweiss, Kurt, ‘Logik und Theologie im Dialogus Ratii et Everardi’, in Gilbert de Poitiers et ses contemporains aux origines de la “Logica modernorum”, ed. by Jean Jolivet and Alain de Libera, History of logic 5 (Napoli: Bibliopolis, 1987), pp. 219–28 Seckel, Emil, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadlubek’, Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte: Romanistische Abteilung, 76 (1959), 378–95 Ślęczka, Tomasz, Aleksander Macedoński w literaturze staropolskiej [Alexander the Great in Old Polish Literature] (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2003) Sondel, Janusz, ‘W sprawie prawa rzymskiego w Kronice Polskiej Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem’ [‘Roman Law Usage in the Polish Chronicle by Vincenius of Cracow‘], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 85 (1978), 95–105 —— , Ze studiów nad prawem rzymskim w Polsce piastowskiej = De iure Romano in Polonia aetate gentis Piast adhibito [Studies of Roman Law in Piast Poland] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1978) —— , ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem jako apologeta prawa rzymskiego’ [‘Vin­cen­tius as an Apologist of Roman Law’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 91–109 Sturlese, Loris, Storia della filosofia tedesca nel Medioevo (Firenze: L. S. Olschki, 1990) Szacherska, Stella Maria, ‘Mistrz Wincenty a Saxo Gramatyk’, Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 46–55 Valente, Luisa, ‘“Iustus et misericors” L’usage théologique des notions de “consignificatio” et “connotatio” dans la seconde moitié du XIIe siècle’, in Vestigia, Imagines, Verba : Semiotics and Logic in Medi­eval Theological Texts (XIIth–XIVth Century), ed. by Costantino Marmo, Semiotic and Cognitive Studies, 4 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1997), pp. 37–59 Vernet, André, ‘Une épitaphe inédite de Thierry de Chartres’, in Recueil de travaux offert áa M. Clovis Brunel, Mâemoires et documents publiâes par la Sociâetâe de l’âEcole des chartes 12 (Paris: Sociâetâe de l’âEcole des chartes, 1955), pp. 660–70 Vetulani, Adam, ‘Prawo kanoniczne i rzymskie w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Canon and Roman law in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 35–45 Zdanek, Maciej, ‘Kalendarium życia i kultu mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem’ [‘The Life and Cult of Vin­cen­tius’], in Cistercium Mater Nostra: Tradycja, historia, kultura, ii (Kraków: Ordo Cisteriensis, 2008), pp. 25–29 Zeissberg, Heinrich von, ‘Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek, Bischof von Krakau (1208–1218; 1223), und seine Chronik Polens’, Archiv für österreichische Geschichte, 42 (1870) Zwiercan, Marian, Komentarz Jana z Dąbrówki do Kroniki mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem [The Commentary by Jan of Dąbrówka on the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius also known as Kadłubek] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1969)

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation: Poland as res publica Paweł Żmudzki*


he first book of the Chronicle opens with a cry glorifying the ancient cen­ tius, Roman republic, the commonwealth.1 The chronicler, Vin­ immediately proceeds to salute the similarly ancient and distinguished heritage of Poland’s system of government. Vin­cen­tius writes that the realm of the Poles was distinguished because it was a commonwealth, and one moreover that was adorned not just with words, but with the deeds of its leaders. Vin­cen­ tius asserts that the Poles deserve fame because their commonwealth is a monarchy with a hereditary system of succession to the throne. Even so, Vin­cen­tius explains, this ancient and effective system of government was confronted with undesirable and random seizures of power by pretenders and parvenus alike. Vin­cen­tius then introduces Jan and Mateusz, two interlocutors through whom he will relate the history of the Poles in the first three of his four books which comprise the Chronicle. The narration is delivered in the form of a dialogue between these two august characters. Vin­cen­tius presents the credentials of Jan and Mateusz to lead this endeavour, praising their wisdom, seriousness, memory, and the dignified, senior age of them both.2 The chronicler then states that Jan  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  Chronica Polonorum, i.1.1. 2  Chronica Polonorum, i.2.2.

Paweł Żmudzki, Lecturer, Institute of History, University of Warsaw Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 175–197 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114764


Paweł Żmudzki

and Mateusz debate ‘de huius rei publice origine, progressu et consummation’ (about the beginning, progress, and the coming of age of this commonwealth).3 I have provided this short outline of the structure of the prologue and the first three books of the Chronicle in order to set the scene for my exploration of the meaning of the expression res publica. I would like to begin with Vin­cen­tius’s construct and usage of the term res publica, which may have been adapted from the ‘First Speech of Cicero against Catiline’ (Oratio in Catilinam Prima). In this speech Cicero used the term res publica to refer to both the Roman state and to the republican system of government. Cicero used examples of ancient political virtues in his work and recalled situations when officials and the senate executed politicians for wanting to change the Roman political system. In his rhetorical enthusiasm Cicero equated the threat to res publica posed by the conspiracy of Catiline to extreme danger. This dangerous threat could result, according to Cicero, in the extermination of all Romans, or at least all senators (‘ad caedem unum quemque nostrum’), and in the annihilation of the entire world (‘orbem terrae caede’).4 In general terms the speech is instilled with the idea that all citizens are jointly responsible for the fate of the state. Vin­cen­tius undoubtedly shared the general view with Cicero that res publica constitutes a commonwealth of dignitaries (patres conscripti)5 and citizens (cives),6 who determined the Roman raison d’état. Vin­cen­tius does not appear to share Cicero’s hatred of monarchy (odium regni), which was characteristic of Roman elites in the Republican period.7 Instead Vin­cen­tius celebrates the opposite, describing the natural succession (principes succedanei) of hereditary rulers as ‘virtus’. I would therefore argue that Vin­cen­tius’s use of the term res publica reflects his own construct of its meaning and I note that the Roman literature of antiquity was not his only source of inspiration.8 3 

Chronica Polonorum, i.1.3. See Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 234–35. Marcus Tullius Cicero, Catiline Orations, i.1. 5  See Ziółkowski, Historia Rzymu, pp. 102–03. 6  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 435–36; Wiszewski, ‘Polska w kronice’, p. 77. 7  See Ziółkowski, Historia Rzymu, pp. 89–93. 8  Chronica Polonorum, i.1.1. Cf. Marian Plezia argued that the phrase, Fuit, fuit quondam in hac re publica uirtus (i.1.1) was taken from the Institutiones grammaticae by Prisciana of Caesarea. Plezia suggested that the phrase was a modified version of the phrase from the first speech against Catiline which originally was worded, Fuit, fuit ista quondam in hac ray publica virtus, and Vin­cen­tius did not take it directly from the speeches of Cicero. See Plezia, ‘De Polonorvm 4 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


The designation res publica was also used by Vin­cen­tius’s most important literary source, the Gesta principum Polonorum. The Gesta was written before the second decade of the twelfth century by an anonymous author present within the court of Bolesław III and in the historiography he is conventionally referred to as Gallus.9 Vin­cen­tius made extensive use of the work of this precursor.10 Gallus used the expression res publica twice in the chapters of the Gesta devoted to the reign of Bolesław I the Brave (992–1025). According to Gallus, Bolesław I’s reign was the time of Poland’s greatest magnificence, a true ‘golden age’. Panegyric praise of Bolesław I the Brave is directly connected with the phrase res publica by Gallus. Gallus first uses the term res publica in a chapter in which he describes the special favour the Church enjoyed under Bolesław I. The magnificence of the king is demonstrated, according to Gallus, by his foundation of a new church, supported by two archbishoprics, and especially because Bolesław did not take tributes from the pagans he defeated, but instead forced them to accept Christianity and established churches and bishoprics on their lands. The chronicler summarizes this list of qualities by stating that: Talibus ergo virtutibus, iusticia et equitate, timore scilicet et dilectione rex Bole­ zlauus precellebat, talique discretione regnum remque publicam procurabat. (Such were the virtues which set Bolesław apart—justice, fairness, fear and affection, and such was the wisdom with which he managed the realm and the commonwealth.)11

The second use of the term res publica in the Gesta is the following statement which Gallus put into the mouth of Bolesław’s subjects: Hic est vere pater patrie, hic defensor, hic est dominus, non aliene pecunie dissipator, sed honestus rei publice dispensator, qui dampnum rustici violenter ab hostibus illatum castello reputat vel civitati perdite conferendum. (He is truly the father of our country, our defender, our lord; not the squanderer of other people’s money but the honest steward of the commonwealth.)12 Stvdiis Tvllianis Oratio’, and Kałuża and Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach Mistrza Wincentego’, pp. 250–51. 9  See for example Plezia, Kronika Galla na tle historiografii XII wieku; Jasiński, O pochodzeniu Galla Anonima. 10  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 223–61, 269–90; Żmudzki, ‘Nowe wersje’, pp. 312–25. 11  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.11. 12  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.15.


Paweł Żmudzki

In this passage Gallus writes of the extraordinary behaviour of Bolesław, who preferred to guard the borders of his realm ‘with the sweat of his brow not permitting his enemies to pillage even one chicken’, rather than stay in his cities and revel idly.13 It is difficult to determine the precise and explicit sense of the term res publica in the narration of Gallus. Certainly Gallus used the term res publica in a similar manner to the title pater patrie as part of the ancient Roman appellations which the chronicler liberally applied to underscore his praise of Bolesław I. In another example, Gallus states that the attributes of Bolesław were exactly the same as ‘quibus virtutibus initio potentia Romanorum et imperium excrevit’ (the virtues by which the Romans rose to power and empire).14 This comparison clearly highlights the imperial context. It is also necessary to understand the meaning of the expression, ‘discretione regnum remque publicam procurabat’ (managed the realm and the commonwealth).15 Gallus probably wanted to say that res publica is something more than regnum and probably referred to a powerful empire, which according to Gallus, Bolesław I the Brave had achieved by conquering Bohemia, Moravia, Hungary up to the Danube, Saxony, Selencja, Pomerania, and Prussia. 16 Gallus also praised Bolesław because he imposed the Christian faith upon the barbarians (pagans), and gave emphasis to the connection Bolesław maintained with Emperor Otto III. According to Gallus, the emperor elevated Bolesław to kingship, and ‘tratrem et cooperatorem imperii constituit, et populi Romani amicum et socium appellavit’ (declared him his brother and partner in the Empire, and called him a friend and ally of the Roman people).17 I would argue that Gallus understood that princely concern for widening and strengthening the Christian empire was identical to concern for res publica in the ancient Roman era. There are more complex ideas contained in the sentence when Gallus uses the term res publica for the second time, such as solicitous national defence, the care of people, and minimizing taxation and the simultaneous redistribution of royal wealth. This spirit is reinforced in another place in the text when Gallus recounts that during a royal passage over the country, nobody hid oxen or sheep from Bolesław I and everyone gathered in order to welcome him.


Żmudzki, Władca i wojownicy, pp. 346–47. Gesta principum Polonorum, i.9. 15  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.11. 16  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.6. 17  Gesta principum Polonorum, i.6. See also Michałowski, ‘Relacja Galla Anonima’, p. 62. 14 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


I have no doubt that Vin­cen­tius adopted and adapted the meanings of the term res publica discernible in the text of Gallus’s Gesta. Vin­cen­tius states that Poland was repeatedly graced with imperial magnificence in the times before the reign of Bolesław I the Brave, as well as during the reigns of his successors. In consequence, the chronicler uses the term res publica often in all four books of his work. I would argue that Vin­cen­tius used this expression when he wanted to give his statements an exalted form. Vin­cen­tius also uses the term res publica to highlight his specific function as the ‘unicus ac singularis huius rei publice rationalis’ (one and extraordinary record keeper of the commonwealth).18 Vin­cen­tius uses the term res publica regularly in the speeches and epistles which he commands his heroes to give and to send. Vin­cen­tius filled his narrative of the history of Poland with Roman political phraseology and in a more overt way than Gallus. For example, Vin­cen­tius calls the body which makes the most important decisions in Poland the senate (patres conscripti). After the death of Gracchus, the first legendary king of the Poles: Tantus autem amor demortui principis senatum, proceres, uulgus omne deuinxerat, ut unicam eius uirgunculam, cuius nomen Vanda, patris imperio subrogarent. (So great was the love for the departed ruler which seized the senate, magnates and the entire people, that his only daughter, whose name was Wanda, was entrusted with their rule.)19

Amongst other examples of Vin­cen­tius’s use of the term senate in the Chronicle, is where Vin­cen­tius wrote that Zbigniew (the half-brother of Bolesław III) was accused of high treason and was called before the patres conscripti for a judicial process in order to examine Zbigniew’s crime of disloyalty to the crown.20 Similarly, according to Vin­cen­tius Bolesław III sought the advice of the senate in matters of foreign policy21 and an interesting and fanciful list of offices established by Siemowit, the legendary grandfather of Mieszko I, is also given.22 The most spectacular demonstration of Vin­cen­tius’s erudition in terms of Roman 18 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.1.3. See the commentary in Wojtowicz, ‘Memoria i uczta’, pp. 345–47. 19  Chronica Polonorum, i.7.2. 20  Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.28. 21  Chronica Polonorum, iii.20.6. 22  ‘Quibus decanos, quinquagenarios, centuriones, collegiatos, tribunos, ciliarchos, magistros militum, urbium prefectos, primipilarios, presides omnesque omnino potestates instituit’: Chronica Polonorum, ii.3.7.


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terminology of state is his account of an event which took place in approximately 1191, and to which Vin­cen­tius was probably an eyewitness.23 Vin­cen­ tius related what he described as an insidious and treacherous attempted coup by Mieszko III the Old against the princeps, Kazimierz II the Just: traditur ciuitas, produntur municipia; fasces, prefecturas, tribunatus, consulare decus ac senatorias dignitates omnesque magistratuum potestates proditionalia monstra usurpant. (the treacherous monster’s unlawfully appropriated insignia of distinctions, prefectures, tribunes, consulate, in all—dignity and glory of all the offices.)24

In spite of Vin­cen­tius’s suggestion of the resemblance between the system of government of Poland and ancient Rome, the chronicler is very clear that the political community of the Poles, the res publica, came into existence completely independent of Roman influences. This idea is represented in the Chronicle very consistently. According to Vin­cen­tius, the Poles were autochthons who established their state institutions independently of others and then defended their absolute independence in victorious clashes with the ancient world’s greatest generals, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar.25 Similarly, in parts of the work devoted to the period of the rule of the Piast dynasty, Vin­cen­tius writes that Poland had full independence from the empire.26 It is necessary therefore to understand Vin­cen­tius’s concept of res publica in general terms as follows: it is the idea of the natural and powerful, a state independent from an outside power, and it is an empire which was initially supported by both monarchs and the entire people, and later by princes and noble dignitaries.27 The Chronicle is used extensively by Polish researchers to examine the system of government of the Piast realm before 1200.28 These scholars have con23 

Dobosz, Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy. Chronica Polonorum, iv.16.8. 25  Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 249–59; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem’, pp. 107–08; Chmielewska, Rola wątków, p. 119. 26  This theme of the Chronicle contradicts the earlier statement by Gallus. Łowmiański, Początki Polski, p. 802. 27  Wiszewski, ‘Polska w kronice’, pp. 81, 85. 28  For example, recently Marek Cetwiński and Jacek Matuszewski conducted a thorough review of this approach and analysed the succession of the throne as presented in the Chronicle and concluded that Vin­cen­tius’s text is ambiguous. Cetwiński and Matuszewski, ‘Metodologia wyrażania’, pp. 416–22. 24 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


centrated on the second chapter of the fourth book of the Chronicle. In this chapter Vin­c en­tius presents details of the policies implemented in Lesser Poland by Mieszko III the Old after his ascent to the throne of the princeps in 1173. According to Vin­cen­tius, the princeps actively debased the coinage, strictly enforced his exclusive right to hunt bears, and closely controlled the migration of settlers. All petty offences and crimes were also, according to Vin­cen­tius, severely punished with fines by the princeps’s courts.29 Stanisław Smolka proposed that Mieszko was the last of the Piasts to enforce the old system of Ruler’s Law, an ancient administrative system imposed since the reign of the earliest Piasts. The ancient system became inoperative over time due to a number of concessions, privileges, and immunities conferred on the Church and private landowners.30 Smolka’s interpretation remained the dominant view until Sławomir Gawlas demonstrated that the fragments of information included in the Chronicle should be interpreted as Mieszko’s introduction of new mechanisms of state administration based on what was functioning at that time in the empire. Gawlas argued that it was not a return to some ancient customary law but political root and branch reform.31 In other information about the system of Piast governance (contained in the ninth chapter of the fourth book) Vin­cen­tius provides some details about the services performed by the public for a princeps and his officials. This passage also provides information about the enforcement of the royal right of spoil (ius spolii) to the movable goods of deceased bishops, and that these were claimed for the royal treasury. In describing the operation of the right of spoil Vin­cen­tius goes on to describe the dramatic end to this practice when a great and extraordinary gathering of the princeps and all the Polish bishops took place and the right vis-à-vis the Church was decreed to be abandoned. Despite the vivid details provided in the Chronicle, the nature of the work and Vin­cen­tius’s style of writing make it difficult to rely upon as a source for the actual structures of the system of government in operation in Poland. For example, in spite of the major influence of the senate (patres conscripti) in the narration of Vin­cen­tius, there is no evidence that the Piast dynasty of the second half of the twelfth century ruled with the advice and consent of some formal advisory body. Similarly, whilst the Chronicle says that Zbigniew’s trial was conducted before the patres conscripti and is described by Vin­cen­tius according 29 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.4–24. Smolka, Mieszko Stary i jego wiek, p. 244. 31  Gawlas, O kształt zjednoczonego Królestwa, pp. 79–82. 30 


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to the principles of Roman law, I would argue it proves only that Vin­cen­tius had an excellent knowledge of ancient Rome’s legal culture.32 There is no other evidence to suggest that Roman models of judicial proceedings took place in Poland. I would therefore like to address the question of what a reader of the Chronicle can learn about the system of government of the Piast realm. Vin­cen­tius was born in approximately the middle of the twelfth century when the Piast dynasty had many branches as Bolesław III (d. 1138) was survived by five sons. Vin­cen­tius, according to his writing, was convinced that superior authority was held by the suzerain, the princeps, who controlled Cracow and its province of Lesser Poland.33 Under Bolesław III’s disposition his eldest son succeeded him as the suzerain of the whole of the Piast realm, whilst each of the younger sons received an apanage which was subject to succession by inheritance through a cadet branch.34 This model of government was firmly acknowledged by Vin­cen­tius. The chronicler (who was closely bound with Cracow and Lesser Poland all his life) recognized Cracow as the capital city of Piast Poland and its most important political centre. In a similar vein, Vin­cen­tius wrote that the Piasts and their realm originated in Cracow, which is different to Gallus’s position, who regarded Gniezno as the eldest city in Poland and the ‘nest’ of Poles.35 According to Vin­cen­tius, the most ancient city of Poland was Cracow (Gracchovia), which was established and named in honour of the first Polish ruler, Gracchus. The city was named immediately after Gracchus’s sons killed a monster living in a cave under the rock on which the town was later built which was threatening the community.36 The genesis of Cracow provided by Vin­cen­tius evidently enhanced the idea of its status as the capital city. Vin­cen­tius writes that the political institution of hereditary monarchy was already established at the inception of Polish statehood.37 According to Vin­ cen­tius, during the reign of Lestek III the Poles repeatedly defeated the Roman 32 

Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 554–55; Sondel, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem’, pp. 91–109. 33  Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, p. 70; Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 322–26. 34  Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, pp. 322–26. 35  Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, p. 34. 36  ‘Monstrum atrocitatis inmanissime, quod quidam olophagum dici putant’: Chronica Polonorum, i.5.4. Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 56–59. 37  Łowmiański, Początki Polski, pp. 805–06.

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


armies led by Julius Caesar. Caesar finally entered into an alliance with his former enemy and worthy adversary and gave his sister Julia in marriage to Lestek. The couple became the parents of Pompilius, and after Julia returned to Rome, Lestek had twenty sons with other women. Lestek endowed his younger sons with apanage but handed supreme power to Pompilius, making him the suzerain of his brothers. The arrangement, we read, continued successfully for a generation, however Pompilius’s son and namesake poisoned his paternal uncles at the behest of his evil wife. From the unburied bodies of the uncles a mischief of mice was born.38 The fable about the extermination of the ancient dynasty was designed, I would argue, to instruct Vin­cen­tius’s contemporaries on what was desirable behaviour for the realm, the message being that the realm required harmonious collaboration between members of the dynasty. In this way, the family bond should ensure that the suzerain did not aspire to disinherit and remove his younger brothers from their provinces received earlier as apanage, and accordingly, the princes would not conspire to bring down the princeps. The chronicler put this thought into Jan’s mouth: Set beata, set plus quam fraterna societas, aput quam plus pietatis ualet religio, quam ambitus principandi persuadeat. (Oh, how blessed, is brotherly friendship in society, where the bonds of loyalty are stronger than the embrace of the urge to rule.)39

Brygida Kürbis paid closer attention to the principle of good policymaking than family ties, demonstrating that Vin­cen­tius consistently highlighted examples when generosity was shown by the princeps towards his relatives and that this also benefited Poland. In the Chronicle, Bolesław IV the Curly is credited with singlehandedly stopping the incursion of the imperial army due to his personal decision to recall from exile his nephews, the sons of Władysław II the Exile. Similarly, Vin­c en­tius wrote that Kazimierz II the Just, against the counsel of his advisers, nobly freed and returned Mieszko the Younger to his father, Mieszko III the Old, after Mieszko III’s failed coup attempt.40 According to Vin­cen­tius, the system of government where royal princes governed the provinces of the realm under the suzerainty of the princeps did 38 

Chronica Polonorum, i.17.1–19.23; Banaszkiewicz, Podanie o Piaście i Popielu, pp. 198–200. 39  Chronica Polonorum, i.18.1. 40  Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, pp. 69–70.


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not threaten the central authority of the monarchy, just the opposite. The chronicler exalted the authority of the suzerain both in his narrative of the ‘ancient times’ and his narrative of the second half of the twelfth century. Jacek Banaszkiewicz observed: that the archetype of the realm which was realized during the reigns of Lestek III and his son was constructed by Vin­cen­tius to match the needs and expectations of his contemporaries, with obvious consideration for the interests of Kazimierz II the Just and his house.41

According to Vin­cen­tius, the rise to power in Cracow of the youngest son of Bolesław III Wrymouth opened a new chapter in the history of Poland because it altered the rules of succession to the throne to primogeniture rather than principate.42 Leszek the White, Kazimierz’s elder son, acquired the hereditary rights to the Cracow throne and held the plenitude of the suzerain’s authority (‘totius Poloniae principatus’) on the basis of primogeniture, which according to the chronicler gave him tangible power over his relatives.43 Vin­cen­tius emphasized Leszek’s legitimacy by describing him as a heroic youth and attributing a royal title to him.44 In spite of extolling the virtues of brotherly love, Vin­cen­tius also justified the deposition and exile of the suzerain by his brothers when this took place. In these cases, the chronicler then presented the exiled brother in a negative light. This literary treatment by Vin­cen­tius is visible in a number of examples: first, his account of the behaviour of princeps Władysław II the Exile who had previously threatened his juvenile half-brothers in an inhuman way (Władysław had enlisted the help of pagan mercenaries against his brothers),45 and second, the tyrannical treatment of his subjects by princeps Mieszko III the Old.46 Vin­ cen­tius stresses social factors when he describes the circumstances under which 41 

Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, p. 266. Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.19–20. 43  Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.5. See also Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, pp. 43–44. 44  ‘Porro rex Lestco etate proficiebat et industria’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.1. I disagree with Jan Długosz’s influential idea that the period of so-called ‘feudal fragmentation’ started immediately after the death of Bolesław III. During this period the government of the realm was decentralized as a result of increasingly independent Piast domains (which were initially the apanage of the younger royal sons). Cf. Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, p. 44; Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, pp. 21–22. 45  Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.23–28.9. 46  Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.1–2.31. 42 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


these ‘tyrants’ were expelled. Vin­cen­tius names high officials of the realm who challenged the disgraced dynasts: Archbishop Jakub of Gniezno and wojewoda Wszebor defended the virtuous younger brothers of Władysław II,47 and the tyranny of Mieszko III was opposed by Bishop Gedko of Cracow and other unnamed dignitaries of Cracow.48 Vin­cen­tius demonstrates the strong conviction that bishops and high-ranking lay officials had and should exert influence over princes, and in justified situations could legitimately renounce their allegiance to them.49 This view is associated with the principle that succession to the throne can be decided by election, particularly when the line of succession is not straightforward. For example, Gracchus summoned everyone to the general assembly (‘omnes in contionem uocat’) at which he was chosen as the first king of Poland.50 The election of his daughter Wanda, as I already mentioned, was (according to Vin­cen­tius) carried out together by the senate, dignitaries (proceres), and the people.51 When describing the chronicler’s more contemporary period, the circle of electors in general was smaller. Vin­cen­tius refers to those who decided upon the succession of the throne as ‘principes uel satrapae’, or ‘primates’,52 or simply ‘primi Cracouiensium’.53 However I do not agree with Henryk Łowmiański that Vin­cen­tius consciously archaized former social relations and drew on his knowledge about the ancient tribal decision-making assemblies based upon the universal participation of all people in them.54 I would argue that in the Chronicle its author expressed a popular concept that social diversity is a consequence of the development of civilization.55 According to this view primeval Poles were as a whole a depository of virtues. With the passage of time nobility became a quality only available to the dynasts and magnates. The participation of lay and clerical dignitaries as representatives of the entire people in governing the realm, I would argue, is a key idea to Vin­cen­ 47 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.28.1. Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.20–5.5. 49  Bieniak, ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał’, p. 45. 50  Chronica Polonorum, i.5.1. 51  Chronica Polonorum, i.7.2. 52  Chronica Polonorum, iv.21.3. 53  Chronica Polonorum, iv.26.1. 54  Łowmiański, Początki Polski, p. 805. 55  Cf. Cosmae Pragensis Chronica Bohemorum, ed. by Bretholz, i.3, pp. 7–8. 48 


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tius’s conceptualization of res publica.56 Such a conclusion was reached by Jan of Dąbrówka (c. 1400–72), the author of the first scholarly commentary on the Chronicle. When explaining his analysis of the notion of res publica in Vin­cen­ tius’s writing, Jan of Dąbrówka used the metaphor of the human body in order to describe a realm (an approach adopted from the Policraticus written by John of Salisbury). Jan wrote that the ruler is the head of the res publica, the senate its heart, the judges, administrators of its provinces, and the public speakers act as the eyes, the clerks and knights are its hands, the entourage of the ruler forms the sides, the bursars and the superintendents are the belly and intestines, and the farmers are the legs.57 It is likely that Vin­cen­tius was himself influenced by John of Salisbury’s ideas in his exposition and usage of the idea of res publica.58 The idea that society consists of many groups, and each is essential because it has a preordained place within the social organism of the realm, has a historical dimension in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius. At the threshold of the history narrated by Vin­cen­tius, the Poles were an entirely homogeneous community. There is however an apparent contradiction in Vin­cen­tius’s narrative of the history. In the first book he declares the superiority of hereditary rulers over ones who originated from the lower classes of society. In a long monologue against the unnatural urge for power displayed by persons of humble origin, Vin­cen­tius tells the story of the war of Kazimierz I the Restorer with the selfappointed ruler of Mazovia, low-born Masław, a former cześnik of Mieszko II.59 In contrast is another passage when Vin­cen­tius presents with complete acceptance three situations when the throne is gained by new men (homines novi) in Poland. One of these examples is the elevation to the throne of Siemowit, ancestor of the Piasts and the son of a poor ploughman, a theme adopted from the Gesta of Gallus. In his narrative Vin­cen­tius included his own commentary on the low origin of the Piasts with the following comment: Frustra igitur nostri degeneres de alti generis umbra gloriantur, frustra de gigante natus nannulus de gigantea superbit quantitate. De roseto siquidem et rosa nascitur et spine pungitiuum. Ignoras eiusdem esse uitis uinum et acinum? Nescis eiusdem uene aurum et scoriam? Paleam constat in grano contineri et granum in palea. Immo tales esse debere principes, qui cum paupertate nouerint habere commercium, quia difficile est eum reuereri uirtutes, qui semper prospera usus est fortuna. 56 

Łowmiański, Początki Polski, pp. 800–01. Commentum, pp. 23–24. 58  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 343–44; Bubczyk, ‘Wpływ pisarstwa Jana z Salisbury’. 59  Chronica Polonorum, ii.14–15. 57 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


(In vain our unworthy take pride in the illusion of grand ancestry. In vain a dwarf born of a giant flaunts the greatness of the giant, as from the bush of the rose, a rose flower rises with pricking thorn. Do you not know that wine and vinegar are obtained from the same grapevine? Do you not know that gold and clinker originate in the same vein? It is known that the ripe seed is surrounded by a husk and inside the husk the seed germinates. Indeed, those who would be rulers should become intimate with poverty, because it is hard to respect the reliability of one whom kind fate has always kept in favour.)60

Vin­cen­tius presents two different examples where the crown was won by apparently inconsequential people. First, Vin­cen­tius describes how an unimportant and unnamed goldsmith (aurifaber) saved Poland from invasion by Alexander the Great by tricking his elite Argyraspide division of the Macedonian army. The grateful Poles rewarded the goldsmith by giving him the crown and he received the name Lestek, which in old Slav means ‘devious’.61 The second example provided by Vin­cen­tius is about the next legendary ruler of Poland, Lestek II. Lestek was also a young man of humble origins who overcame difficult obstacles in order to win a horse race for which the prize was the crown of Poland.62 It seems paradoxical that Vin­cen­tius would note and praise the lowly origins of Poland’s supposed earliest monarchs when he had begun his work with praise for the system of hereditary succession to the throne exclusively by the Piast dynasts. It is possible to try to explain this paradox by exploring Vin­ cen­tius’s general concept of the beginning of the history of the Poles and their ancient characteristics. The historical narration in the Chronicle begins with a story about a vast number of people who had lived in Poland since time immemorial. 63 The chronicler did not explain where these people came from and did not try to align the history of the Poles with the biblical genealogy of mankind. This is contrary to the common practice of medi­e val writers who typically depicted the origines of their subject of narration. The silence by Vin­cen­tius resulted in a misunderstanding in the early historiography. For example, in the 1280s a Silesian historiographer used the work of Vin­cen­tius as a source to write his own chronicle and declared that the Poles did not know about their origins.64 This radical interpretation of Vin­cen­tius’s text ignored the author’s ideas. 60 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.5.4–5.5. Chronica Polonorum, i.9–11. 62  Chronica Polonorum, i.13. 63  Chronica Polonorum, i.2. 64  Banaszkiewicz, Kronika Dzierzwy, p. 40. 61 


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The ancient Poles, according to the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius, were unusually brave, wise, and ethically sound. Their value system placed the same weight on possession of a large empire which they held by the right of conquest as on a farmer’s field. The ancient Poles were not motivated by greed, or ambition to rule, but instead possessed unlimited courage and bravery.65 Their worship of valour meant that their conquests included not only neighbouring states, but also the more distant Danish islands. In the antique period keeping an austere, warlike lifestyle, in isolation from Mediterranean centres of civilization, was an essential condition for maintaining Polish identity and the existence of community. The chronicler presented a story which illustrated his moral that the Poles became weak when they ceased to follow their Spartan code of values. In this tale a group of ancient Poles set off to the south and conquered Parthia, Bulgaria, and Carinthia after they formed an alliance with the Gauls in order to fight the Romans. The group elected Gracchus as their leader and appointed prefects, but quickly became indolent once they started to live in the conquered cities. The comfortable, urban Poles began to be influenced by women and were either poisoned or subordinated to the natives.66 Vin­cen­tius describes many of the Polish rulers from later periods in an idealized manner, and the highest praise he uses is to ascribe them with the same qualities that he praised in the ancient Poles. For example, Lestek II (who won a challenging race for which the crown was the prize) is praised for his bravery and for his generosity, noting that Lestek preferred to risk poverty rather than restrict his bounteousness.67 Vin­cen­tius describes and praises the ruler Bolesław II the Bold (1058–79) in an analogous way.68 He is shown in the best light by the chronicler before the king committed his most terrible crimes. According to the chronicler, Bolesław was remarkably generous and spectacularly scorned property during his early reign. For example, when neighbouring kings tried to bribe him he dramatically humiliated them. His reply to King Solomon of Hungary (1053–87, r. 1063–74) is typical of this attitude. Solomon offered Bolesław one hundred thousand talents in exchange for peace. Vin­cen­tius paraphrases the words of Cicero (which Cicero had attributed to Manius Curius Dentatus, a plebeian hero of the Roman Republic) when he wrote that Bolesław replied to Solomon: 65 

Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 237–47. Chronica Polonorum, i.2–3. 67  Chronica Polonorum, i.15. 68  Kürbis, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’, p. 63. 66 

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


Polonos, inquit, habere aurum non delectat, set habentibus aurum imperare, turpiusque esse pretio uinci quam prelio succumbere, nec regibus conuenire insistitoria taxare commercia, quibus armis opus est non opibus. (The Poles see no pleasure in possession of gold, but rather in commanding the ones who have gold. It is more disgraceful to accept a bribe [or to get bribed] than to fall in battle. It does not befit kings to engage in commercial negotiations because they need weapons not treasures.)69

Bolesław  II succeeded in unseating Solomon and in his place appointed Ladislaus I (c. 1045–95, r. 1077–95) to the Hungarian throne. I would argue that according to Vin­cen­tius the attributes of the good ruler and virtues of the Polish people at the beginning of their history echo the austere simplicity and the assertiveness of the ancient Romans. These are the principles upon which, according to the assertion of the ancient Roman authors, the power of Rome was built. In other parts of the story about the beginnings of Poland Vin­c en­tius described the ancient Poles according to the ideals of the great, warlike ruler Gracchus. Gracchus’s election led to the establishment of the rule of law and the foundation of the capital city. In this regard Vin­cen­tius faithfully carried out an exemplary story about the meaning and consequences of the instituting of monarchy.70 After Wanda’s heirless death however, the kingdom returned to its original condition. The chronicler writes that Alexander the Great encountered the Poles in this condition and dispatched envoys to them with the request that the Poles pay Alexander tribute. The Poles asked the envoys whether they were emissaries or tax collectors. When the envoys pledged themselves to their twin roles the most eminent of them were gutted alive and flayed. Their skins were then stuffed with gold and the poorest sea grass (algae) and sent back to Alexander along with a letter, which started with the following words: ‘Regi regum Alexandro imperatrix Polonia’ (To Alexander, the King of Kings [from] sovereign Poland).71 I would argue that Vin­cen­tius explicitly made the sender of the letter the personification of Poland. The literary inspiration of such an idea comes from Gallus. Gallus used the following image when he recounted the universal mourning which took place after the death of Bolesław I the Brave: 69 

Chronica Polonorum, ii.18.6. Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, p. 241; Chmie­ lewska, ‘Recepcja’, p. 223. 70  Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 22–43. 71  Chronica Polonorum, I: 9, p. 14.


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Polonia prius regina, auro radiante cum gemmis coronata, sedet in pulvere viduitatis vestibus involuta. (Poland, once queen and crowned with radiant gold and gems, sits in the dust wrapped in the garments of her widowhood.)72

The use of the illustrious royal title accentuates that the Poles are a community, which at the very beginning of their history possessed the attributes of the finest monarch. Vin­cen­tius implies that because of such attributes the Poles were able to elect outstanding rulers from among their number. As Vin­cen­tius demonstrated in his tale of Gracchus’s reign in Carinthia, the good ruler was not able to successfully rule the people alone, who despite his efforts were growing listless in the arms of women and the luxuries of cities. Only when both the ruler and the people demonstrate the ideal qualities of the ancient Poles is the success of the realm guaranteed. The Chronicle makes other connections between the qualities demanded of rulers and the virtues of the ancient people. In the letter sent by ‘imperatrix Polonia’ (sovereign Poland) the Poles scorn riches in contrast to Alexander the Great who is consumed by an immoderate desire to rule, a greedy craving for goods, and the gluttonous desire for conquest of new territories: Nec te lateat locum apud nos esse loculis, ideo presentiarum exeniola fidelissimis tuorum capsidibus sunt commissa. Polonos autem animi uirtute, corporis duritia non opibus censeri, non esse igitur ipsis, unde tanti regis, tante dicatur belue, rabidissima expleri possit ingluuies; habundare tamen eos strennue iuuentutis thesauris non dubites, quibus tua non sopiri quidem set tecum prorsus extingui possit auditas. (And let it be known to you, that we have no purses […] Know then that Poles should be judged by the courage of the spirit, the strength of their bodies rather than their wealth. They cannot satisfy the vicious self-indulgence of such a great king, not to say such a great monster. Do not doubt however, that truly they are abounding in masses of young people, thanks to whom it is possible not only to fulfil, but completely destroy your greed together with you.)73


Gesta principum Polonorum, i.16. I agree with Henryk Łowmiański who noticed that the personification of Poland has been given the royal and imperial title, symbolizing sovereign people who proudly refused submission to Alexander the Great. Łowmiański, Początki Polski, pp. 802–03. See also Wiszewski, ‘Polska w kronice’, p. 83. 73  Chronica Polonorum, i.9.4.

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


This literary treatment by Vin­cen­tius is consistent with the observations of Tacitus (56–117)74 and the Epitome by Justin. Justin’s work is considered an important source on ancient history for Vin­cen­tius, and the work described many people as primitive and barbaric on the basis that they shared certain similar features and attributes.75 One of these primitive attributes is to be a nomad. One of the phrases in the letter addressed to Alexander the Great in the Chronicle is modelled on a statement made by the king of the Scythians in the Epitome.76 Contrary to Katarzyna Chmielewska, I do not suggest that Vin­cen­ tius ‘equated the Poles and the Scythians’ or that Vin­cen­tius assigned nomadic origins to the Poles.77 I would argue that Vin­cen­tius inherited and shared a bad opinion about nomads from the ancient and other medi­eval writers. Nomads were universally associated with contemptible wildness, a lack of refinement, and the want of human features. Vin­cen­tius demonstrates this view most decisively when he describes Zbigniew’s cowardice, stating that: Verum ille ritu Parthico plus quam Parthus fugam eligit pro conflictu ah for Maria exemplo in Mazouie carectis delitescit. ([Zbigniew] in the custom of the Parths or even worse than a Parth he avoided the fight, and following the example of Marius took refuge in the grass fields of Mazovia.)78


Tacitus wrote of the Germans: ‘Silver and gold the gods have refused to them, whether in kindness or in anger I cannot say. I would not, however, affirm that no vein of German soil produces gold or silver, for who has ever made a search? They care but little to possess or use them. You may see among them vessels of silver, which have been presented to their envoys and chieftains, held as cheap as those of clay. The border population, however, value gold and silver for their commercial utility, and are familiar with, and show preference for, some of our coins.’ = ‘Argentum et aurum propitiine an irati dii negaverint dubito. nec tamen affirmaverim nullam Germaniae venam argentum aurumve gignere: quis enim scrutatus est? possessione et usu haud perinde afficiuntur: est videre apud illos argentea vasa legatis et principibus eorum muneri data non in alia vilitate quam quae humo finguntur; quamquam proximi od usum commerciorum aurum et argentum in pretio habent formasque quasdam nostrae pecuniae agnoscunt atque eligunt’, Publius Cornelius Tacitus, Germania, trans. by Płóciennik, ed. by Kolendo, 5, p. 64. 75  Żmudzki, Władca i wojownicy, pp. 238–39. 76  The Poles ‘autem animi uirtute, corporis duritia non opibus censeri.’ Chmielewska, Rola wątków, p. 193. 77  Prejs, Egzotyzm w literaturze staropolskiej, pp. 32–36. 78  Chronica Polonorum, ii.28.8.

Paweł Żmudzki


The tales contained in the Chronicle about the heroic beginnings of the Poles do not suggest that the Poles were nomads, but attribute to them a number of features which are readily attributable to all developing communities (in statu nascendi). Disregard for property and contempt for precious metals are at the crux of characteristics for societies in the course of being developed. Vin­ cen­tius writes that the Poles stuffed the skins of Alexander’s murdered envoys with gold and poorest sea grass in order to demonstrate to Alexander the Great that they despised the expensive metal as much as sea grass.79 Moreover they declared that they did not have purses for storing money. The passage draws a direct relationship between the lack of concern for property with the great ferociousness of the people. Vin­cen­tius also emphasizes that during the war with the Macedonians the Polish youth were a particularly dangerous element. Vin­cen­tius suggests that civilization then corrupted good customs which he illustrated using the passage about the moral and political downfall of those Poles in Carinthia and other southern countries who embraced the attractions of the urban life. The shift to urban life by the Poles marks the end of primitive harshness and the simplicity of the people according to Vin­cen­tius. He commences the next tale in the Chronicle with the words ‘Extunc nonnulli dominatiuam ligurire ceperunt potiunculam’ (From now on, some got an appetite for a slice of power).80 The consequences of departing from the ancient age of innocence are clearly presented by Vin­cen­tius in his account of the days of the interregnum after the death of Lestek I. Poland plunged into an abyss of factional infighting between individual nobles (primores) who aspired to tyrannical power according to Vin­ cen­tius. The chronicler confronted these power-hungry magnates with ordinary people (privati) who out of concern for the good of the kingdom agreed that the winner of a horse race would become a ruler. I believe that Vin­cen­tius deliberately juxtaposed the pride of those fighting for the throne with the metaphor of uncontrollable horses trampling a vineyard, Vin­cen­tius’s allegory of the kingdom of Poland. Therefore ordinary, honest arbiters, deprived of their own ambitions, decided how fate was to resolve the succession to the throne. The outcome was a matter of fate when a poor wretch (Lestek II) cleverly beat his worst enemies (who until a moment earlier had ridiculed him, inciting the crowd to do likewise), won the crown, and became ruler. According to the chronicler Lestek II never forgot his modest youth. 79  80 

Cosmae Pragensis Chronica Bohemorum, i.34, p. 62, n. 2. Chronica Polonorum, i.5.1.

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


The political system of res publica celebrated by Vin­cen­tius in the Chronicle seems to have few features in common with the reality of the system of government of the medi­e val Piast realm. The chronicler was primarily interested in ethical issues connected with the idea of res publica and this approach heavily influenced Vin­cen­tius’s narrative of Polish history.81 According to Vin­cen­tius, the worst evils for a society were ambition and intemperance. Ambition and intemperance were equally destructive for Poland whether they were displayed by a hereditary ruler like Władysław II the Exile, or Masław, whom Vin­cen­tius described as having a peasant heritage. Vin­cen­tius’s lesson to the reader is that no one should push excessively for power or aspire to change his place in society unless God, fate, the will of the people, sound advice, or the persuasion of dignitaries determined it. For Vin­cen­tius exceptional moral credentials justified a major change to the system of government, such as abandoning the arrangements for the Piast principate.82 In particular, a number of important arguments are advanced in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius to justify the establishment of the hereditary succession of the throne of Cracow and the principate in the line of Kazimierz II the Just (the youngest brother).83 Firstly, Kazimierz’s refusal to accept the throne from the hands of magnates who proposed rebellion against the then princeps, Bolesław IV the Curly,84 and Kazimierz’s long hesitation to stage the coup against the tyrant, Mieszko III the Old. Secondly, the exceptional restraint of Leszek the White who gave up the throne of Cracow rather than exile his faithful wojewoda Goworek. Vin­cen­tius’s whole chronicle leads the reader to the conclusion that these were the moral qualities which fitted Kazimierz and his descendants as legitimate and worthy suzerains of the Piast realm.85


Wojtowicz, ‘Ateny i Pamięć’, pp. 87–88, 93–94. Cf. Rutkowski, ‘The Platonic Concept of the Memory of Ancient Deeds’, pp. 109–40. 82  Cf. Wiszewski, ‘Polska w kronice’, pp. 89–90. 83  Bubczyk, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy’. 84  Cf. Bieniak, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu’, p. 24. 85  Cetwiński and Matuszewski, ‘Metodologia wyrażania’, p. 418.


Paweł Żmudzki

Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Commentum in Chronicam Polonorum magistri Vincentii dicti Kadłubek, ed. by Marian Zwiercan, Anna Kozłowska and Michał Rzepiela, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 14 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2008) Cosmae Pragensis Chronica Bohemorum, ed. by Bertold Bretholz. Monumenta Germaniae Historica, Scriptores, Rerum Germanicum, Nova Series, 2 (Berlin: Berolini, 1923) Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003) Tacitus, Germania, trans. by Tomasz Płóciennik, ed. by Jerzy Kolendo, Fontes Historiae Antiquae, 10 (Poznań: Uniwersytet Adama Mickiewicza, 2008)

Secondary Studies Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Banaszkiewicz, Jacek, Kronika Dzierzwy XIV-wieczne kompendium historii ojczystej [The Chronicle by Dzierzwa: A Fourteenth-Century Compendium of National History] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1979) —— , Polskie dzieje bajeczne mistrza Wincentego Kadłubka [The Fairy Tale History of Poland by Vin­cen­tius]. 2nd  edn, Monografie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2002) —— , Podanie o Piaście i Popielu: studium porównawcze nad wczesnośredniowiecznymi tradycjami dynastycznymi [The Tale about Piast and Popiel: A Comparative Study on Early Dynastic Traditions], 2 edn (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 2010) Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Mistrz Wincenty w życiu politycznym Polski przełomu XII i XIII wieku’ [‘Vin­cen­tius of Cracow in the Life of Poland at the Turn of the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 21–48 —— , ‘Jak Wincenty rozumiał i przedstawiał ustrój państwa polskiego’ [‘How Vin­ cen­tius Understood and Presented the Polish Constitutional System’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 41–43 Bubczyk, Robert, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy – władca idealny mistrza Wincentego (Chron­ ica Polonorum, lib. 4)’ [Casimir’ the Just, An Ideal of a Ruler in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronica Polonorum’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 116 (2009), 31–53 —— , ‘Wpływ pisarstwa Jana z Salisbury na kronikę Wincentego na przykładzie wybranych fragmentów utworu (literacki „portret” Kazimierza Sprawiedliwego)’ [‘The

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


Impact of Writings by John of Salisbury on the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius: Analysis of Selected Portions of the Work (Literary “Portrait” of Casimir the Just)], in Onus Ath’lanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie. Series Nova 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 450–58 Cetwiński, Marek, and Jacek Matuszewski, ‘Metodologia wyrażania pożądanej koncepcji ustrojowej w kronice Wincentego i jej współczesne implikacje’ [‘A Methodology Expressing the Desired Concept of Political Constitution in the Chronicle by Vin­ cen­tius and its Contemporary Implications’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 416–22 Chmielewska, Katarzyna, Rola wątków i motywów antycznych w „Kronice polskiej” Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem [The Role of the Themes and Motifs of the Antiquity in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow] (Częstochowa: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej, 2003) —— , ‘Recepcja rzymskiej literatury antycznej w Kronice polskiej Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Reception of Ancient Roman literature in the Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie: Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 215–30 Dobosz, Józef, Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2011) Gawlas, Sławomir, O kształt zjednoczonego Królestwa: Niemieckie władztwo terytorialne a geneza społecznoustrojowej odrębności Polski [The Shape of the United Kingdom: German Territorial Lordship and the Origins of Polish Social and Political Independence] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1996) Jasiński, Tomasz, O pochodzeniu Galla Anonima [On the Origins of Gallus Anonymous] (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Avalon, 2008) Kałuża, Zénon, and Dragoş Calma, ‘O filozoficznych lekturach Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Philosophical Readings of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum. Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie Series Nova 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 231–278 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Jak Mistrz Wincenty pisał historię Polski’ [‘How Vin­cen­tius Wrote the History of Poland’], in Mistrz Wincenty Kadłubek – człowiek i dzieło, pośmiertny kult i legenda, ed. by Krzysztof Prokop (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 2001), pp. 59–78 Łowmiański, Henryk, Początki Polski: Polityczne i społeczne procesy kształtowania się narodu do początku wieku XIV [The Origins of Poland: The Political and Social Processes of Formation of the Nation before the Beginning of the Fourteenth Century], VI. 2 (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1985) Michałowski, Roman, ‘Relacja Galla Anonima o Zjeździe Gnieźnieńskim – problem wiarygodności’ [‘The Report by Gallus Anonymous about the Summit of Gniezno


Paweł Żmudzki

– the Problem of Credibility’], in Tekst źródła: krytyka, interpretacja, ed. by Barbara Trelińska (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2005), pp. 57–64 Plezia, Marian, Kronika Galla na tle historiografii XII wieku [The Chronicle by Gallus in the Context of the Historiography of the Twelfth Century], Rozprawy Wydziału HistorycznoFilozoficznego (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1947) —— , ‘De Polonorvm Stvdiis Tvllianis Oratio’, Ciceroniana Online, 7 (1990): Atti del VII Colloquium Tullianum (Varsavia, 11-14 maggio 1989), http://www.ojs.unito.it/ index.php/COL/article/view/1223/1048 Prejs, Marek, Egzotyzm w literaturze staropolskiej: wybrane problemy [Exoticism in Old Polish Literature: Selected Issues] (Warszawa: Wydział Polonistyki Uniwersytetu Warszawskiego, 1999) Rutkowski, Rafał, ‘The Platonic Concept of the Memory of Ancient Deeds in the Chron­ icles of Master Vin­cen­tius and Theodoricus the Monk’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 112 (2015), 109–40 Smolka, Stanisław, Mieszko Stary i jego wiek [Mieszko the Old and his Times], ed. by Józef Dobosz, 2 edn (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2011) Sondel, Janusz, ‘Wincenty zw. Kadłubkiem jako apologeta prawa rzymskiego’ [‘Vin­cen­ tius as an Apologist of Roman Law’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 91–109 Wiszewski, Przemysław, ‘Polska w kronice Mistrza Wincentego: Ze studiów nad terminologią dzieła i hierarchiami wartości w Polsce pełnego średniowiecza’ [Poland in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius. The studies on Terminology of the Work and Value Hierarchies in Medi­eval Poland], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed.  by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 75–90 Wojtowicz, Witold, ‘Ateny i Pamięć: Kilka uwag o założeniach ideowych Kroniki Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Athens and Memory: Some Remarks on Ideological Assumptions of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], in Narracja, historia, fikcja: dawne kultury w historiografii i literaturze, ed. by Łukasz Grützmacher (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Trio, 2009), pp. 87–99 —— , ‘Memoria i uczta: Kilka uwag o założeniach ideowych kroniki Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Memory and Feasting: On Ideological Assumptions of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­ tius of Cracow’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 337–47 Ziółkowski, Adam, Historia Rzymu [A History of Rome] (Poznań: Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, 2004) Żmudzki, Paweł, ‘Nowe wersje opowieści Galla Anonima w dziele Wincentego Kadłubka (bitwa Chrobrego z Rusinami, Czesi oszukujący Szczodrego, dzieciństwo Kazimierza Odnowiciela)’ [‘New Versions of the Story by Gallus Anonymous in the Work by Vin­cen­tius Kadłubek: The Battle of Bolesław the Brave with the Ruthenians, the Czechs Betraying Bolesław the Bold, Childhood of Casimir the Restorer’], in Onus

Vin­cen­tius’s Construct of a Nation


Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 312–25 —— , Władca i wojownicy: narracje o wodzach, drużynie i wojnach w najdawniejszej historiografii Polski i Rusi [The Ruler and Warriors: Narratives about Chiefs, his Guard and Wars in the most Ancient Historiography Polish and Rus], Monografie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2009)

The Power of a Prince: ­ ius on the Dynasty’s Vin­cent Source of Power Przemysław Wiszewski*


he Chronica Polonorum by Vin­cen­tius covers a wide range of subjects. In my analysis of the text of the Chronicle however, I would like to focus on two crucial issues which concern the authority of princes. First, the nature of the power of princes; this will include consideration of the prerequisites the ruler had to satisfy in order to ascend to the throne, and the scope of his power with reference to his subjects and to other princes of equal rank. Second, I will focus on the presentation of the causes and consequences of conflicts between rulers and their subjects in the Chronicle. Due to the size of this study, my analysis will be limited to those passages in the Chronicle which are devoted to the author’s more contemporary, twelfth-century period. In particular, I shall examine the events presented by Vin­cen­tius which take place after the chronological end of the narrative of the influential earlier work, the Gesta principum Polonorum. The benefits of such an approach are twofold. The events chosen to be recounted by Vin­cen­tius are closest in time to the chronicler and to the recipients of his work. Vin­cen­tius’s narrative (now freed from the Gesta’s influence) allows for greater understanding of Vin­cen­tius’s own concept of the idea of a prince’s power. Moreover, it enables us to reach some understanding of the accepted contemporary view of that power, at least from the perspective of twelfth-century elites.  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. Przemysław Wiszewski, Dean, Faculty of History and Pedagogical Studies, The University of Wrocław

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 199–219 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114765


Przemysław Wiszewski

I contend that the original purpose of the Chronica Polonorum was to explain and celebrate the legitimate source of Poland’s princely authority. The chronicler was Vin­cen­tius, a senior cleric within the court circle of the ruling prince, and he placed and defined his prince’s legitimate authority, and to an extent justified it, in terms of the obligations and service the ruler provided to his subjects. This is a marked departure from the approach taken in the Gesta. In the Gesta the right to rule was divinely sanctioned and its nature was perfect because the Piast dynasty was its custodian. The Gesta also implied that in order to govern, the ruler had to mark his position, ability, and will above those who surrounded him. The Gesta did not approve of or accept the public activity of non-dynasts, such as the powerful magnates, seeking to influence the decisions of the ruler. In contrast, in the Chronicle followers of the ruler openly and (on the whole) were said to appropriately seek to influence the actions of their ruler, and even his choice. Vin­cen­tius accentuated the unique character of the prince’s authority and he also described the genesis and realization of the prerogatives of the rulers of the Poles as the result of equivalent obligations between the ruler and his subjects. This character reveals itself in the exercise of authority for the benefit of the entire community of the prince’s subjects. To some extent this conceptualization of the prince’s power was also present in the Gesta, but there it is always closely connected with the idea that there is interdependence between the people and their governance by a prince of the rightful dynasty, and when these align it leads to the most benevolent of reigns. Vin­cen­tius wrote his chronicle in the late twelfth century during a period marked by civil war, coup, and counter-coup. Given his position as a senior cleric in the capital Cracow, it is also likely that Vin­cen­tius was a participant in, or at least an eyewitness to, the machinations of the Piast court. It was a watershed period when new ways of exercising authority were formulated by the Piast princes. This period was characterized by uncertainty about the legitimate ways to assume and bequeath the Polish throne. During this period the authority of the vassal Piast princes (each of whom directly ruled his own duchy) was contested, as was their relationship to their suzerain, the princeps.

The Nature of the Power of the Prince According to Vin­cen­tius, after the death of the princeps Kazimierz II the Just in 1194 the magnates respected the principle of hereditary succession in recognizing his son, Leszek the White as the heir of the throne of Cracow. During Leszek’s minority his mother, the dowager duchess Helena, acted as regent.

The Power of a Prince


Helena’s rule was praised by Vin­cen­tius, who described her as a ‘mother of boys, so in the diligence of her advice and in her foresight of things she was very sagacious. [She was a] woman above the feminine sex.’1 According to the chronicler, Leszek was the reigning prince but in practice his power was circumscribed by the role of his advisers. The appointment of all offices lay within the regent’s authority2 and additionally Vin­cen­tius writes that Bishop Pełka and the palatine comes Mikołaj ‘cum quibusdam procerum rei publice curam suscipiunt, cuius administrationem idoneis ac fidelissimis potestatibus distribuunt’ (with certain courtiers take up concern for the commonwealth and divide its administration among the suitable and most faithful).3 Knowing the larger narrative of the story to be told in the Chronicle, Vin­cen­tius supported the principle of a monarch’s election by magnates, especially the election of a juvenile Piast as the ruler. The undoubtedly deliberate juxtaposition to this narrative thread is placed in the next chapter (24) of the Chronicle which provides the storyline of an expedition of the knighthood of Lesser Poland against Halycz. In this story the young prince Leszek was initially required to stay at home. However, the princeling convinced the magnates that his very presence would give the army impetus. We are told by Vin­cen­tius that Leszek also argued that by leaving him at home they were regarding him as a woman and not a prince.4 Leszek won the argument and moreover took over the role of the commander-in-chief, including of political and military strategy.5 In the narrative of the Chronicle Leszek’s assumption of leadership is a completely natural, that is to say appropriate, event. Leszek’s attendance was sufficient for the very young ruler to gain control of the expedition. I interpret this passage as a reflection of Vin­cen­tius’s idea that the ruler’s majesty actively influenced persons admitted into his presence. The power of this influence was such that attempts to marginalize a legitimate prince, even one who was still only a child, could not succeed. Utilizing his characteristic literary style Vin­c en­tius reinforces his point about the impact of majesty and underscores Leszek’s suitability by relating the ancient legend of Wanda, the celebrated mythical Polish queen and daughter


Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.20. Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.21. 3  Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.23. 4  Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.8. 5  Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.14–24.18. 2 


Przemysław Wiszewski

of the equally legendary Gracchus.6 Using this literary technique, even though Wanda’s tale about how she triumphed over the Germans is located in Poland’s prehistory and distant from Leszek’s reign, the chronicler invites a direct comparison between the parable of Wanda and Leszek’s story.7 In both stories the Polish realm is at war and is led by a person who is not obviously qualified to occupy their position: Leszek was not yet a man and Wanda was a woman (virguncula).8 In Leszek’s case, he was entrusted with the throne out of respect for the virtues of his father and because his mother assumed the regency with the support of the magnates. In Wanda’s case her tribal subjects elevated her to the queenship because of their love for her deceased father and in the absence of another heir. Vin­cen­tius writes that on the eve of the expedition to Halycz, Leszek was considered unsuitable to join a war (bellis idoneam) due to his age and that it would be better for him to stay home and play.9 Likewise, Vin­cen­ tius writes that whilst Wanda’s reign was received favourably little was expected of her due to her sex. In Wanda’s case the chronicler informs us that the learned ‘fell into amazement’ when they witnessed the astute orders given by the queen.10 Vin­cen­tius reports that in the course of Leszek’s expedition to Ruś the people of Halycz prostrated themselves before the Piast begging his favour and asking him to appoint a ruler for them.11 When the Germans saw Wanda they refused to fight, and, as if on the orders of some deity, they ran away. Vin­cen­tius explains that the Germans ran because they did not want to commit sacrilege (sacrilegium) by fighting a battle against her because of what they recognized: ‘they do not fear the human, but revere the superhuman greatness in a person’.12 Vin­cen­tius attributed the same ‘superhuman greatness’ to Leszek in his account of the expedition to Halycz. I would argue that it is not coincidence that Vin­ cen­tius describes both Leszek and his father as king (rex). It is notable that Vin­


For examples of an analysis of such a storyline see Banaszkiewicz, Polskie dzieje bajeczne, pp. 65–153. 7  More on these issues in: Wiszewski, ‘Poszukiwana – poszukiwany’, pp. 145–58. 8  Chronica Polonorum, i.7.2. 9  Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.7. 10  ‘Prudentum consultissimi eius astupebant consiliis’: Chronica Polonorum, i.7.2. 11  ‘Galicienses […] ad scabellum ducis Lestconis prosternuntur […] summe deuotionis uotis principem sibi creari efflagitant’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.15. 12  ‘Non hominem se uereri, set transhumanam in homine reuereri maiestatem’: Chronica Polonorum, i.7.3. Cf. Myśliwski, ‘Zjawiska’, p. 414.

The Power of a Prince


cen­tius uses rex for Leszek when he is still only a princeling and reigning under his mother’s care.13 Did the special characterization of Leszek’s power by Vin­cen­tius (a senior cleric) follow the chronicler’s acknowledgement and endorsement that Leszek inherited the privileged dignity of the duke of Cracow which included the principate, that is, power as the suzerain of all Poland?14 Did Leszek hold a special strength relative to the other Piast dukes, Leszek’s kin and peers (also called princes by Vin­cen­tius), and were they denied equivalent reverence? Such a hierarchization amongst the holders of princely power could suggest that Vin­ cen­tius wished to maintain the vision of the society of the Poles established earlier in the Gesta. In the Gesta the Poles and their regnum were to be ruled by one ruler because (according to the earlier writer) only one ruler could guarantee peace and prosperity for his people and the realm. The division of power could cause fatal conflicts, such as the civil war between the supporters of Bolesław III and his half-brother Zbigniew. In the later Chronica Polonorum I do not, however, find obvious confirmation of this perspective. On the contrary, in my opinion Vin­cen­tius is convinced about the equal majesty of all the Piasts, or more widely, of dynasts legally exercising authority and ruling over the Poles. A number of passages in the Chronicle support my theory, in particular those passages which describe the ancient times of the Poles. In one such story the evil Pompilius the Younger wanted to kill his paternal uncles who were his co-rulers of the dynastic patrimony. Pompilius, the chronicler informs us, was incited to commit this fratricide by his demonic wife in order to establish himself as the sole ruler. In the Chronicle this fable is juxtaposed against, and used to explain the later behaviour of Władysław II the Exile, who was also under the influence of his wife and was led astray. In the later example, Władysław II’s wife persuaded him to fight to remove his half-brothers from a power-sharing dynastic arrangement: ‘Itaque princeps in se humanissimus uxoris atrocitate ab humanitate desciscit’ (the prince in himself very human, under the influence of a hot-headed wife abandoned his human nature).15 I would argue that Vin­cen­tius condemned the possibility of family members acting against one another in the course of a power struggle. He regarded 13 

‘Porro rex Lestco etate proficiebat et industria’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.1. ‘[R]egi Lestconi obnixe supplicant’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.24.3. 14  Similar conclusion can be found in Bogucki, ‘Terminologia polityczna w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’, p. 32. 15  Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.23–25. Cf. Delimata, ‘Żona Popiela’, pp. 250–62.


Przemysław Wiszewski

such actions as the denial of humanitas. Vin­c en­tius accepted however, the possibility of the dominance of one of the Piasts over other members of the dynasty. For example, when after the death of Bolesław III in 1138 his lands were to be inherited by his five sons, Vin­cen­tius wrote that Succedit autem patri Wladislaus, tam primogeniture priuilegiis insignis quam regni successione sublimis (Władysław succeeded his father, elevated to the throne by the right of primogeniture and the right of succession of the kingdom).16 What exactly the right of succession was and its obligations at this time is unknown. According to the chronicler, Władysław was to take care of his brothers and their apanage. The idea of dispossessing his brothers only germinated in Władysław’s mind under the influence of his wife, who teased and taunted him that he was ‘semiprincipem, immo semiuirum’ (a half-prince, indeed a half-man).17 When Władysław acts on this advice and disinherits his younger brothers Vin­c en­tius clearly expresses his disapproval. The passage demonstrates that Vin­cen­tius was convinced that the heir of Bolesław III should rule by accepting the apanage given to his brothers. My interpretation of Vin­cen­ tius’s attitude extends further. The one who undertakes an assault against the Piast dynasts encounters a backlash from the prelates and his own magnates. With the tide of the ensuing civil war turning against him, Władysław commits an unforgivable act of desperation and enlists pagan mercenaries, ‘innumeras barbarorum legiones’ (innumerable legions of the barbarians), against his Christian brothers. The tactic is not successful. Władysław is defeated, excommunicated, and exiled.18 The reasons for Władysław’s failure are obvious to Vin­cen­tius: Władysław is the aggressor who abandoned his human nature and allied himself with ‘the others’ (pagans) against his own blood kin, whom he should have defended against these ‘others’. Władysław’s ‘frater et successor’ (brother and successor) as the princeps is Bolesław, whose behaviour is described as the antithesis of Władysław’s, and as such serves as an example to be followed. Vin­cen­tius states that ‘Igitur sue dignitatis primitias erga fratres plus quam fraterno consecrat affectu’ (from the beginning of his reign in relations with his brothers he [Bolesław] respected them with more than a brotherly disposition).19 Vin­cen­ tius also highlights that Bolesław gave priority to natural law in his political 16 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.26.23. Chronica Polonorum, iv.27.3. 18  Chronica Polonorum, iv.27.3. 19  Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.1. 17 

The Power of a Prince


decision-making, which manifested itself as respect for family members, giving it priority above all other considerations. Vin­cen­tius contrasts this with Władysław’s decision-making after his exile, for example, when Władysław II used the support of the Holy Roman emperor, Frederick  I Barbarossa (1122–90) to invade Poland in 1157 in order to retake the throne of the princeps. In this case, according to Vin­cen­tius, Władysław, though a rightful claimant to the throne, was motivated by the impure desire for revenge, and had invited a foreign ruler to march against the realm. This fully justified Bolesław’s refusal to acquiesce to his older brother’s legitimate demands and to defend the Piast patrimony against the invader. Bolesław is praised again in the Chronicle when he welcomes home his nephews, the sons of his now deceased brother Władysław. Vin­cen­tius writes that this demonstration of family reconciliation by Bolesław is in accordance with natural law: ‘Boleslaus, qui ab imperatore uinci non potuit, nature non dedignatur obedire imperio’ (Bolesław, whom the emperor could not defeat, does not refuse the order of nature).20 Yet Bolesław did not provide his nephews with a full restitution of their inheritance within the Piast power structures, and kept Lesser Poland (once ruled by Władysław II) for himself. Bolesław granted his nephews the right to rule Silesia (provincia Silensi) as an expression of his grace and favour, which could be revoked at any time. In my opinion, Vin­cen­tius’s ideas lose focus in the passages that deal with natural law. If Bolesław had strictly obeyed natural law (as Vin­cen­tius praised him in general for doing) then Bolesław would have returned Władysław’s patrimony (Lesser Poland and the throne of Cracow) to Władysław’s sons. Vin­cen­ tius highlighted that the Piasts were predestined to exercise authority and that power belonged to them as their birthright, but this did not mean that they could wield power independently of all other determinants. Evidently Vin­cen­ tius remained a pragmatic realist and an interpretation of his intent could be as follows: the Piast dynasty was graced by a natural ceaseless charisma and should duly discharge its obligations towards the community of their subjects. Should any individual fail to fulfil this duty then they personally forfeited the right to rule. Władysław turned against his brothers and his people, and as a consequence suffered exile and the loss of the right to rule over the country. As a result of his actions the entitlements of his children to inheritance from their grandfather and father were greatly diminished. A similar example is offered by Vin­cen­tius in the account of the Battle of Mozgawa (13 September 1195). Vin­ 20 

Chronica Polonorum, iii.30.7.


Przemysław Wiszewski

cen­tius informs us that in this bloody, devastating battle the laws of nature were broken, and fathers, sons, and brothers fought one another. In the actual incident described by Vin­cen­tius bluntly as a sacrilege: ‘Filiatio paternitati reuerentiam exhibet, non filiationi paternitas ignoscit, non fraternitatem fraternitas, non consanguinitas consanguinitatem […] nec illa sancta spiritualis cognatio semetipsam agnoscit’ (No son pays the father respect, no father pardons the son, no brother acknowledges brother, no relation relations […] nor does the divine affinity of blood recognize itself ).21 This ‘sacrilegium’ resulted in the breach of all things sacred. Yet if the princes believed in the operation of natural law (and retribution against those who broke it), then none would feel privileged and safe in this combat. Indeed, Bolesław, the son of Mieszko III the Old, perished in the course of the battle after being pierced with a spear. Mieszko III (to whom Vin­cen­tius was particularly ill-disposed) was badly wounded in the course of the battle and was one step from death, having been wounded ingloriously by a ‘gregarius miles’ (an ordinary knight). This alone may suggest that Mieszko’s princely strength was weakened since he was not able to win the fight. Just as the knight prepared to deliver the final blow Mieszko bared his head and shouted that he was a prince. Then, Vin­cen­tius relates, the victor not only abandoned his intention to kill Mieszko but begged forgiveness for the ‘inprudentie’ of such a godless act and took him off the battlefield.22 The implication is that the very act of fighting against a prince and the possibility of an outcome in favour of an ordinary knight went against the divine order of the universe. For the chronicler, even such an undeserving ruler as Mieszko III was protected from the fate of an ordinary mortal by the special status of a prince. In the Chronicle Mieszko’s majesty, in terms of its specific, sacred character, was described as being almost equal to that of Leszek’s, as demonstrated in Vin­cen­tius’s account of the expedition against Halycz. Despite such a treatment of Mieszko’s character, Vin­ cen­tius highlights the degradation of Mieszko’s status by reminding the reader that Mieszko was a ruler who failed to fulfil his responsibilities, almost lost a duel with a knight, and indeed lost the entire battle. Moreover, his son perished in the sacrilegious battle in payment for his father’s sin. In contrast, at least according to Vin­cen­tius’s account, the young Leszek’s first military expedition ended with political and military success. 21 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.5. ‘Ille [Mesico] detecta casside se esse principem exclamat, quo illo cognito uenam inprudentie petit’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.23.5. 22 

The Power of a Prince


Vin­cen­tius also wrote about the exceptional power of a ruler when describing his hero, Kazimierz II the Just. Except for the instances in which God interfered to the benefit of this ruler, it is worthwhile to direct attention to the way in which Vin­cen­tius described the prince. Vin­cen­tius illustrates Kazimierz’s exercise of majesty with an account of Kazimierz’s treatment of the exiled prince of Halycz, Włodzimierz Jarosławowicz, an earlier foe of the Piasts. Włodzimierz, in spite of the earlier hostility towards Kazimierz, requested his assistance, and ‘nevertheless because he humbly took refuge in the favour of the most merciful Kazimierz, he did not lack success in [receiving an] unexpected pardon’. Moreover, for Włodzimierz ‘indeed, not only did they forgive him his temerity, but he is comforted by the kindness of the grace of the sacred oracle of the prince’.23 Vin­cen­tius uses imperial terminology to refer to Kazimierz as the ruler of Poland. This technique places emphasis on Kazimierz’s greatness, making him sound more consequential and exceeding in human ability. Kazimierz’s power, his majesty is the ‘numen’, the manifestation of divine power itself.24 The same meaning can be attributed to the word numen used in the account of a planned expedition against Kazimierz II by King Henry VI (1165–97) at the behest of Mieszko III. In Vin­cen­tius’s fable the German magnates debated the details of the war, and whilst they talked the castle in which they were staying shook and the gathered warriors were visited by ‘occulto numinis iudicio’ (mysterious divine judgement).25 The sacred dimension of the power of Piast princes was not connected to any act of liturgical character and it did not appear after completing special rituals. The recognition of a Piast as the ruler initiated or added a dimension to the ever-present power of the members of the dynasty. In the order of nature it was the Piasts’ place to wield power. In this context it is worthwhile examining Vin­c en­tius’s views concerning princely power which he attributes to Mieszko III in discussion with Helena, the widow of Kazimierz II, and her sons. In the dialogue between Mieszko and Helena, Vin­cen­tius demonstrates that princely power is the result of ‘beneficii naturae’ (nature’s favour). In the same 23  ‘Quia tamen ad piissimum Kazimiri numen supplex confugit, desperate licet uenie successus illi non defuit. Non solum enim temeritatis indultionem, set et consolatricis beneficium gratie aput sacrum principis oraculum assequitur’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.15.5–6. Cf. Dalewski, Ritual and Politics, p. 73. 24  For the discussion of various interpretations of the meaning of ‘numen’ see Kürbis, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie’, p. 115; Plezia, ‘Retoryka Mistrza Wincentego’, p. 89. 25  Chronica Polonorum, iv.12.9.


Przemysław Wiszewski

paragraph Vin­cen­tius records the words of Mieszko saying that he will make Leszek his adopted son and thus his heir ‘Cracouiensis dignitas immo totius Polonie principatus in tua stirpe perpetua successione solidetur’ (in order for the rule of Cracow as well as the principate of all Poland to remain eternally in your family).26 The above example demonstrates Vin­cen­tius’s construct of the inheritance of power subject to the laws of nature, where power resides with a specific family and succession is bound to membership of the ruling house. The dowager duchess Helena and her sons, in the words of Vin­cen­tius, could be sure about their position only if they trusted Mieszko ‘quia momentaneum esse nequit, quod princeps instituit, quod principali auctoritate roboratur, nihilque momenti habere, quod uulgi strepitu proclamatur’ (because it cannot be temporary what a prince will institute and what is confirmed by a prince’s authority. Nothing that is announced with the shouts of commoners will last even for a moment).27 Thus the actions of a prince based on his rightful authority form a part of the natural order. The prince’s authority is due to its legitimacy and his right to exercise that power generates effects of perpetual character. Vin­cen­tius, I can venture to hypothesize, expresses his conceptual understanding of the manner of law-making by a prince in this way. Indeed, the prince’s guardianship of the law guarantees the invariability and eternity of norms he established and with them the legal reality of his realm. The actions of a prince stand in contrast to the activities of ordinary people who do not have a close relationship with the natural order and thus are of a variable kind. Vin­c en­tius purposefully places the prince (princeps) in the same paragraph in the Chronicle as the prince’s authority (auctoritas principalis). I would argue that Vin­cen­tius uses the term ‘prince’s authority’ in this paragraph of the Chronicle as an abstract concept. There is only one other instance of Vin­ cen­tius’s use of such a rhetorical device. This is in the account of the death of Bolesław III, when the dying ruler announces his final disposition on the succession of the throne; Vin­cen­tius reports that Bolesław ordered that ‘the province of Cracow, and the supremacy and authority of the suzerain’ should go into the hands of the oldest descendant.28 In spite of the difference in context I can see the stylistic similarity: first Vin­cen­tius lists the dignity (Throne of Cracow) which is a small, regional domain, with a specific and historically 26 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.5. Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.6. 28  ‘Et Cracouiensis prouincie principatus et auctoritas resideret principandi’: Chronica Polo­norum, iii.26.19. 27 

The Power of a Prince


rooted dignity connected to it. Only second does he list the dignity of the suzerain as expressed using the word auctoritas. In a further examination of Vin­cen­tius’s narrative of Polish history in the Chronicle the author explores whether a prince, as a man, could be changeable and whether or not he could be wrong. Does the prince who acts with auctoritatem principalem do so in accordance with nature and thus create things eternal? Is the prince’s power invariably a source for only the right decisions? Vin­cen­tius’s figure of speech used in the passage where Mieszko III promises the succession of the throne to Leszek supplements narrower rhetorical meanings with wider ones.29 Ordinarily the prince is a mortal man and thus he could not make binding promises for eternity, as Mieszko did. My interpretation of Vin­cen­tius’s use of this rhetorical device is that Mieszko could do so because he was a trustee of power originating in the natural order of the world which is more enduring and eternal than he. The auctoritas principalis of this eternal power is a part of God’s law. Vin­cen­tius implies this interpretation in the speech of Saint Adalbert to Bolesław I the Brave about the nature of laws: Adeo de auctoritate iuris principum pendet auctoritas. Ius uero diuinum humano preiudicat. Lex namque Domini irreprehensibilis, lex inmaculata, conuertens animas. Omnium ergo, fili, que agis, e diuine speculo iustitie formam mutuare. (Indeed the power of the princes depends on the authority of law. The divine law takes a priority over human law, insomuch as the Lord’s law is flawless, perfect and converts souls. In everything that you do son, therefore, take the example from the mirror of divine justice.)30

This divine justice permeates the laws of the Church itself and holds a place above all secular authority. The prince, as the temporal holder of the auctoritatis principalis, derives his authority simultaneously from the natural and highest justice, God’s will. Only because of this source of his power can the prince rightfully offer views of a long-lasting nature and proclaim verdicts which bind eternally. This ability of the prince to judge and adjudicate was of special importance in the real administration of power. During the entire twelfth century and through a considerable part of the thirteenth century the Piast prince was the supreme judge of the realm and was the authority to authenticate transac29  30 

Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 140–41. Chronica Polonorum, ii.10.3.

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tions concerning real estate, thus attributing the characteristic of perpetuity to authenticated documents. This perception was maintained only as long as the prince actively exercised authority during the whole of his reign, joined in the eternal majesty of God’s grace. The nature of the prince’s power could not be explained fully by the sentence dei gratia dux. According to Vin­cen­tius, power was derived from God’s grace and favour, and at all times the prince had a duty to confirm that he was the personification of this divine grace via the demonstration of his acts. The authority of princes had a sacred character because the actions of the prince were in accordance with God’s design of the world. Magnates participated in the exercise of that power and publicly influenced the prince’s authority, in particular during periods of rulers’ incapacity (for example minority or female rule). But the magnates’ actions were typically human, earthly, and changeable. These actions were of imperfect character because the magnates did not have auctoritas principalis. Such authority that the magnates had was the result of agreement between people and thus was a changeable and unreliable thing. Yet, according to Vin­cen­tius, the magnates had the right to elect Piasts to the throne of Cracow, as in the example quoted above of the election of Leszek, after the death of Kazimierz II the Just. Thus nature alone, that is succession by inheritance, did not always point to a candidate. What were the sources of the princes’ power? Was it exclusively nature associated with the grace of God, or rather was it manifested through the decisions of the magnates? How could authority be transmitted and not lose its exceptional character?

Sources of the Princes’ Power In his narrative of the history of the Poles Vin­cen­tius emphasizes the importance of hereditary succession but does not exclude other ways of ascent to the throne. In his construct of the ancient history of the Poles (before the baptism of Mieszko I in 966), Vin­cen­tius suggests another alternative to succession via inheritance. An alternative to hereditary succession is necessary when the ruling dynasty dies out or when a ruler abandons adequate forms of behaviour in relation to his subjects. In such an event an assembly of magnates undertakes steps to appoint a person who demonstrates qualities which fulfil the requirements expected of the ruler.31 31 

Cf. Banaszkiewicz, ‘Podanie o Lestku i Złotniku’, pp. 39–50.

The Power of a Prince


In his construct of the transmission of power within the Piast dynasty Vin­ cen­tius allows for election of a new ruler in situations when the occupant of the throne proves unworthy. Vin­cen­tius expresses his opinion on the meaning of the prince’s power and the sources of his authority in the chapter of the Chronicle which narrates the takeover of Cracow by Mieszko III after the death of the princeps Kazimierz II in 1194. According to Vin­cen­tius, Mieszko could not sway the magnates to accept his ascent to the throne and thus he decided to try to convince Kazimierz’s widow Helena and her sons, Leszek and Konrad to support him.32 Mieszko promised them that he would reign as the princeps only until such time that Leszek attained the age of majority. Mieszko would then relinquish the throne so the suzerainty of all Poland would remain in Leszek’s line.33 Mieszko advised his sister-in-law and his nephews against putting their trust in an alliance with the magnates because: Semper sit uenalis fauor popularis, quibus tam diu placebis, quam diu utilis eris, tam diu imperabis, quam diu supplicabis. Nec est perpetuus nec salubris liquor, qui de humilibus carectis ac palustribus eliquatur, quin etiam rudis brutorum natura magis naturalem fontium sitit puritatem. Excute igitur non coronam set luteam testam, ridiculum capitis gestamen, arte figulorum et conpositum et inpositum. Aureum decet principes diadema non fictile, maxime quod natura suo fabricauit beneficio. ([The] favour of people is almost always corruptible: they will like you so long as you are useful to them; you will rule so long as you humble yourself. The liquid which drains out of moors and bogs is neither eternal nor healthy and even the primeval nature of animals craves more for the natural purity of springs. So do not take off the crown, but [take off ] the yellow, despicable pot, comical headdress, created with the art of potters and placed [on your head]. Princes deserve the golden rather than clay diadem, specifically because nature created it with its benevolence.)34

The prince’s authority is excellent but only when it is exercised and passed down in accordance with nature. This natural order of things includes the possibility of all and every member of the ruling family taking part in the transmission of power. Power received from a non-Piast dynastic source can be similar


Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.3; iv.25.8–9. ‘Ut Cracouiensis dignitas immo totius Polonie principatus in tua stirpe perpetua successione solidetur’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.5. 34  Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.6–7. 33 


Przemysław Wiszewski

in appearance to what Vin­cen­tius considers to be real power. However, when power is the outcome of a social agreement it cannot be lasting or noble. Vin­cen­tius’s representation of the Piast ruler Mieszko III might seem to contradict this approach to power, but the passage in fact illustrates the subtlety of Vin­cen­tius’s literary approach. According to Vin­cen­tius, Mieszko III the Old is an example of a bad ruler. The Chronicle presents Mieszko’s attempts at securing the throne of princeps for himself during the minority of Leszek as devious, and says that Mieszko broke his promises to the regent Helena. 35 Such an approach within the Chronicle could suggest that Vin­cen­tius plans to present all pronouncements of Mieszko as unworthy. Vin­cen­tius does not do this, however. On the contrary, Vin­cen­tius does not discredit Mieszko’s assertions about the nature of the source of a prince’s authority. The chronicler emphasized that Mieszko firstly made righteous and competent declarations and only used subterfuge when he betrayed the spirit of these declarations and thus firmly disgraced his name.36 According to Vin­cen­tius Mieszko conspired against the Piast rulers of Cracow and could only achieve power with the support of his co-conspirators, the local magnates.37 I argue that Vin­cen­tius deliberately attributed statements about the natural source of princely authority to Mieszko in order to underscore the chronicler’s negative portrait of Mieszko, casting him as the hypocrite prince.38 The character and sources of the prince’s authority described above justified succession by inheritance within the dynasty. Such rules of succession provided the throne with stability independent of the influence of human, earthly, and unpredictable actions because the line of succession was based either on the infallibility of God’s grace or the right of the bloodline consistent with the laws of nature, themselves governed by divine providence. Instability was, in the opinion of Vin­cen­tius, characteristic of the actions of people who were not recipients of the natural auctoritatis and could not draw from the ‘well of the divine justice’. Therefore, a ruler who accepted power from the hands of people (the magnates) held only a semblance of power, as it was earthly, crude, transitory, and as such, held in contempt. So was Vin­cen­tius determinately against the election of princes and the exercise of political influence on the ruler by the magnates? In principle yes, 35 

Skibiński, ‘Walka o władzę’. ‘Sic ergo tam iuris iurandi quam pacti contempti penam quadam confusionis depressione dependit [Mesco]’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.13. 37  Chronica Polonorum, iv.25.3. 38  Liman, ‘Topika w Kronice polskiej Wincentego Kadłubka’, p. 102. 36 

The Power of a Prince


but the chronicler does allow for the possibility of departure from the normal procedure in the case of absolute necessity. For example, when the magnates of Cracow (led by Bishop Gedko) rebelled against Mieszko III’s tyranny, their disloyalty towards the prince was justified as despotism was ended and the coup placed his brother Kazimierz, another Piast prince, on the throne. Vin­cen­tius strongly emphasized that the conspirators knew they broke the norms of conduct when they renounced their allegiance to Mieszko, their sovereign lord.39 To highlight how contrary to the natural order the conspiring magnates’ behaviour was Vin­cen­tius recounts how Kazimierz hesitated before assuming power. Kazimierz in fact sharply reprimands the magnates for persuading him to act against his older brother, a point that Vin­cen­tius highlights through additional elements to the narrative. Kazimierz recounts that magnates had attempted to persuade him to stage a coup once before against the princeps Bolesław IV the Curly, but that he had repelled their arguments in disgust as they struck at the foundation of social order and godliness. The conspirators agreed with Kazimierz that rebellion against Bolesław was vile, but that current circumstances were different: ‘Nunc alia ratio pactum reformat, cum omnes extrema urget necessitas’ (Now, a different reason changes the settlement, when all are pressed by extreme necessity).40 The appeal to end Mieszko’s tyranny finally convinced Kazimierz. We read that Kazimierz arrived in Cracow with a small entourage, ‘cauens ne uiolenta magis ipsius occupatio uideatur, quam ultronea ciuium electio’ (taking precautions that the takeover of Cracow did not appear as a result of violence but as the voluntary choice of the citizen).41 Throughout these passages Vin­cen­tius presents the case that the best way of transferring power is through inheritance however, in extreme circumstances an election can serve as an appropriate means of selecting the ruler. An election prevents ascent to power by the worst possible means, the use of violence, especially violence based on conspiracy. Claiming the throne through violence is tragic. The community of the realm should be united, and if it is not then ‘dissipatione dissipatur terra, direptione predatur’ (through squandering the country is destroyed completely, becoming plunder for plundering).42 I would suggest that the very presence of a hereditary ruler is linked to a country’s prosperity, a contention that Vin­cen­tius borrowed directly from Gallus and extended, 39 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.4.2–4, 138. Chronica Polonorum, iv.6.1–5. 41  Chronica Polonorum, iv.6.5. 42  Chronica Polonorum, ii.14.8. 40 


Przemysław Wiszewski

creating a relationship between unity, prosperity, and political division with the destruction of the homeland. Vin­cen­tius illustrated this by using his contemporary context of the Piast struggle for the throne of Cracow. Vin­cen­tius was a pragmatist and strived to combine the two forms of ascent to the throne: hereditary succession and appointment by election. He was also a realist and knew that both of these applied to candidates for power in Cracow. A further development of the idea of succession based on the agreement or approval of the ruler’s subjects, in essence the magnates, is demonstrated by Vin­ cen­tius in his lengthy description of the aftermath of the death of Kazimierz II, when there were two Piast candidates for the throne. On this occasion the throne was secured by the right of blood for Kazimierz’s son, Leszek the White, and with equal significance, the explicit support of the magnates. Vin­cen­tius gives an account of the deliberations by the bishop of Cracow and the magnates about whether to grant the throne to the juvenile Leszek or to his more experienced paternal uncle Mieszko III. Through a speech made by Bishop Pełka Vin­ cen­tius states that the magnates retained ‘est liberrima deliberationis libertas’ (the unrestrained freedom of deliberation).43 but that their choice of decision was restricted. Bishop Pełka states Vin­cen­tius’s position clearly: a free election would only have taken place if succession to the throne was not hereditary. The idea of hereditary succession was still strong, and even though Kazimierz’s physical body had died he lived in the hearts of his subjects ‘Nec uitis creditur succisa immo propagata quam uiui ac uiuidi palmites uiuere protestantur’ (as with a vine which when pruned does not die but more vigorously branches out), so Kazimierz left two sons and heirs’.44 Therefore, whilst the heirs live the magnates have no choice but to choose amongst them. The succession is thus decided by default of ‘lawful compulsion’.45 I would argue that the theoretical argument above about the right of succession corresponds to Vin­cen­tius’s account of the ascension of Wanda after the death of her father Gracchus, the first ruler of the Poles. She became a queen despite her age and sex because the people of Cracow chose between two alternative dynastic successors: Wanda and her previously exiled brother. Such was the love and respect held by the people of Cracow for the deceased ruler that they regarded as obvious the possession of equivalent charisma of authority by the child of the legitimate ruler. Yet that love did not suffice to be chosen as, or 43 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.21.11. Chronica Polonorum, iv.21.6–7. 45  Chronica Polonorum, iv.21.12–14. 44 

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to be, the ruler. According to Vin­cen­tius an unnamed son of Gracchus who was his father’s presumed heir committed fratricide and was exiled by his father. For Vin­cen­tius the action of a dynast against his own family is a cardinal sin, and was appropriately punished by removal from power and exile. Vin­cen­tius informs us that the very act of exile healed the community and when they came to elect a leader from amongst the available dynastic candidates, they decided against the experienced but fratricidal son. Vin­cen­tius’s conceptualization of what constituted a grave action against the interests of the dynasty is emphasized in Kazimierz’s hesitation before his final decision to act against and depose the despot Mieszko III. In Kazimierz’s speech he deliberated over whether by acting against Mieszko he would be committing fratricide, homicide, and in the end patricide, because Mieszko had taken care of him when Kazimierz was an infant and child. Vin­cen­tius does not leave room for doubt: authority which is acquired through violence and breach of sacred duty to protect members of one’s own family is not true authority, but usurpation. The speech of Kazimierz included some universal principles on the legality of rulers which to some extent influenced the decisions of the elites of the contemporary Piast realm. They included the condemnation of rebellion against the legitimate ruler without ‘just cause’. This Vincentian rejection of legality of power by an aggressor had fundamental importance for the reality of political life in Poland in the thirteenth century, which had been ceaselessly shattered by the power struggle between the members of the dynasty. For Vin­ cen­tius rebellion could only be justified if it was designed to protect the realm from annihilation. In the opinion of Vin­cen­tius the unwavering primacy of the laws of nature and the will of the rulers who made the laws of succession were vastly superior to the will of fallible and changeable magnates. In the case of succession, the dignity of the prince was derived from the divine order of nature. According to Vin­cen­tius, hereditary successors who ascended the throne became a part of God’s plan notwithstanding their sex and age, and by the virtue of their inheritance were recognized as lawful holders of their new dignity by other rulers, relatives, and subjects.46 Consequently, conflict was the outcome of succession to the throne decided by magnates. The magnates who decided on a candidate had no other argument on their side but the threat of pure violence. In Kazimierz’s speech Vin­cen­tius clearly underlined that when 46 

‘Non est igitur, quod principum concensum, quod favorem procerum, quod uota ciuium uel populi in hac parte possit remorari’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.21.14.


Przemysław Wiszewski

Kazimierz acted with the support of the magnates the prince acted against natural law and thus became a murderer. In order to balance this unfavourable perception, the chronicler strongly highlighted that Kazimierz’s entrance into Cracow after the overthrow of Mieszko was not as an aggressor, but as the prince who accepts power on the basis of ‘electio civium’ (the choice of citizens). Vin­cen­tius stresses that whilst such an action did not have the same character as hereditary succession Kazimierz’s reluctant acceptance of the throne indicated his submission to the will of God. This construct is evident in the description of the entrance of the prince into Cracow where the will of the people and the will of God were in agreement: Kazimierz arrived in Cracow as the saviour, welcomed by an entire united people. In the prologue to the Chronicle depicting the golden age of Poland, Vin­ cen­tius stated that power in those days was held by ‘hereditary princes’ whom he contrasted to rulers of ‘low birth’ and usurpers who acquired their power through bribery.47 This statement of difference demonstrated that a prince became a ‘hereditary ruler’ not only because of his bloodline (even though this was a precondition), but because he acquired the throne according to the existing norms and traditions of a given community. Perhaps behind Vin­cen­tius’s statement condemning bribery there was an allusion to the fight against simony in the ranks of the Church. Canonical election was supposed to take place after all in the manner of unanimous election inspired by the Holy Spirit. The views of the chronicler about the principles of princes assuming power did not focus on the form of this act, but on the meaning. The most important factor was the acquisition of power in accordance with laws higher than the passing aspirations of human individuals. The legitimacy of the process of assuming power was based on the bond of the entire mechanism with the will of God or with mechanisms of nature established by God. The character of princely power depended on succession being in full agreement with this process and guaranteed a successful reign. The worst thing that could happen was the intervention of people guided by their own temporal judgement, that is, breaking with the well-respected traditions of the community and replacing them with violence. The ultimate test of the legitimacy of succession was the outcome and experience (history) of the prince’s reign.


‘Non enim plebei aborigines, non uendicarie illi principate sunt potestates, sed principes succedanei’: Chronica Polonorum, i.1.1.

The Power of a Prince


Conclusion The purpose of the Chronica Polonorum was to explain to its twelfth-century readership, and to an extent justify, the legitimate source of their ruler’s authority. This authority was explained within the broad context of the ruler carrying out his obligations towards his subjects. Vin­cen­tius’s chronicle provides a very pragmatic image of princely power. The prince’s authority was in itself saintly and guaranteed its holder an exceptional place in society limited by numerous obligations to God and his subjects. Vin­cen­tius illuminated the exercise of power by Piast rulers using multiple examples. The most celebrated rulers were ones who valued cooperation with their relatives and dignitaries, and those who kept concord and mutual respect: Pompilius the Older, Bolesław IV the Curly, and Kazimierz II the Just. Harmonious cooperation concerned not only relatives but everyone who was subject to those who wielded the power (potestas). The rulers were to take care of their subjects and were to be their ‘socius regni’ (partner in the kingdom) from the moment they assumed the throne of Gracchus. When Leszek was confirmed as the princeps, Bishop Pełka relieved the people of anxiety associated with the boy’s age and inexperience by explaining that those who hold power and embody ‘executive authorities’ include the close circle of advisers of the ruler. These advisers are part of the ruler’s body because through their actions the ruler’s orders are realized. Vin­cen­tius promoted this ideal of consensual power. He supported the idea of the sacredness of power, but only so far as it manifested itself in the cooperation of all participants of the political community who exercised authority; the elite. The elite were subject to the oversight of the Church. I would argue that Vin­cen­tius attempted to convey to his contemporaries and their descendants a vision of government of a realm bound by the same cultural heritage yet deeply politically divided. In the event of a vacuum of clear central and dominant leadership, leadership was to be exercised by the leaders of the Church. I would emphasize that this was an ideal, a proposal, and not a description of some universally accepted theory which already dominated politics in the individual Piast duchies. In these small political units, key authority was placed in the hands of the Piast ruler whose power exceeded and overruled the authority of the hierarchs of the Church and magnates. Vin­cen­tius’s proposal was a compromise, in which he respected the special role for the ruler and which pointed to the Church as the arbiter determining the rules of the political game.


Przemysław Wiszewski

Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994)

Secondary Studies Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Banaszkiewicz, Jacek, ‘Podanie o Lestku i Złotniku: Mistrza Wincentego Kadłubka “Kronika Polska” i.9.11’ [‘The Tale about Lestek and Złotnik: The Polish Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius, i.9.11’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 30 (1987), 39–50 —— , Polskie dzieje bajeczne mistrza Wincentego Kadłubka [The Fairy Tale History of Poland by Vin­cen­tius], 2nd  edn, Monografie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2002) Bogucki, Ambroży, ‘Terminologia polityczna w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’ [‘Political Terminology in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20  (1976), 56–63 Dalewski, Zbigniew, Ritual and Politics: Writing the History of a Dynastic Conflict in Medi­eval Poland (Leiden: Brill, 2008) Delimata, Małgorzata, ‘Żona Popiela, Rycheza i Agnieszka jako przykłady złych małżonek władców: Uwagi w świetle polskich kronik doby średniowiecza’ [‘The Wife of Popiel, Rycheza and Agnieszka: The Examples of Rulers’ Evil Spouses’], in Cognitioni gestorum: studia z dziejów średniowiecza dedykowane Profesorowi Jerzemu Strzelczykowi, ed.  by Dariusz Andrzej Sikorski and Andrzej Marek Wyrwa (Poznań-Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2006), pp. 250–62 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie w „Kronice” Mistrza Wincentego a szkoła Chartres’ [‘Macrobian Motifs in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius and the School of Chartres’], in Na progach historii: prace wybrane (Poznań: Abos, 1994) Liman, Kazimierz, ‘Topika w Kronice polskiej Wincentego Kadłubka’ [‘The Topica in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 20 (1976), 95–105 Myśliwski, Grzegorz, ‘Zjawiska “cudowne” w pisarstwie średniowiecznym XII-pocz. XIII w.’ [‘“Wonderful Phenomena” in the Writings of Twelfth and early Thirteenth Cen­ turies’], Przegląd Historyczny, 81 (1990), 405–22 Plezia, Marian, ‘Retoryka Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Rhetoric of Vin­cen­tius’], Studia Źród­łoznawcze, 20 (1976), 88–94 Skibiński, Edward, ‘Walka o władzę w kronice Mistrza Wincentego: Mieszko Stary i Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy’ [‘The Power Struggle in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius of Cracow: Mieszko the Old and Kazimierz the Just’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 47–56

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Wiszewski, Przemysław, ‘Poszukiwana – poszukiwany, czyli Wanda i Leszek albo kto został przebrany? O integralności narracji dziejopisarskiej i wielości uprawnionych interpretacji na przykładzie „Kroniki” Mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Integrity of Historiographical Narration and the Multiplication of Justified Intepretations: The Case of Chronica Polonorum’], in Historia Narrat, ed. by Andrzej Pleszczyński (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, 2012), pp. 145–58

Values and Virtues: Church Life and Courtly Culture Robert Bubczyk*


he author of the Chronica Polonorum undertook an ambitious task. The Chronicle written by Vin­cen­tius records the history of Poland from time immemorial until and including his lifetime with the focus on the Piast dynasty in the twelfth century. It contains tales of the deeds of the Piasts and the dynasty’s supporters including representatives from the highest ranks of the Polish magnates and prelates. The work of Vin­cen­tius is full of remarkable portrayals of kings, princes, and other persons, whose life and activities influenced the course of the history of Poland and its neighbouring countries. In this chapter I will examine those fragments of the Chronicle which enable a reconstruction or partial reconstruction of the form and functioning of the Piast court contemporary to the author. Such a reconstruction will show the mechanisms through which courtly culture functioned and how the Church exerted considerable influence on this culture in the context of the standards of the day and its moral imperatives. I will attempt to focus on how Vin­cen­tius presented the life of the court and the Church as a certain model and an ideal appropriate for imitation, and to what extent his description reflected contemporary reality. The court as seen through the eyes of Vin­cen­tius is presented in the Chronicle in a number of passages. In some places Vin­cen­tius indicated that the court was composed of close advisers to the prince, high-ranking officials, clergymen, and other, undefined beneficiaries of princely favour, who featured in the presence of their lord and participated in various courtly events. Robert Bubczyk, Director, Institute of History of Culture, Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 221–240 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114766


Robert Bubczyk

The description of the prince’s circle is usually quite vague and Vin­cen­tius rarely provides specific names which limits the closer identification of individual persons. As a rule, Vin­cen­tius only records the surnames of the crucial high ranking personalities of the late twelfth and early thirteenth-century political scene. For example, comes Mikołaj, palatine of Sandomierz, and the castellan of Cracow, comes Goworek, Archbishop Piotr of Gniezno, and Bishop Pełka of Cracow. Apart from these examples, Vin­cen­tius is unusually reserved about naming or providing more information about various persons in the prince’s entourage. The text of the Chronicle pointedly contrasts the character and virtues of different princes and members of the court. For example, Mieszko III the Old, a prince who Vin­cen­tius criticizes, had a group of advisers whom Vin­cen­tius does not name but describes as malevolent people. These advisers, the ‘sons of Belial’, (according to Vin­cen­tius) advised their master to rule ruthlessly, motivated by the belief that only power based on strength and fear could guarantee the respect and loyalty of subjects for their liege.1 In contrast the hero of Vin­ cen­tius’s work, Kazimierz II the Just and his entourage are described in glowing terms and specific examples of Kazimierz’s exemplary behaviour are detailed. In one such passage Vin­cen­tius writes that Kazimierz had many virtues, including that of humility. The text advises that Kazimierz was strengthened by sometimes inviting into his presence a person of the lowest rank with whom he fraternized freely and without regard to his princely dignity.2 Kazimierz is also depicted on another occasion enjoying courtly entertainment in the company of dignitaries made up of unnamed members of the Privy Council. In this scene Kazimierz plays dice with a man called Jan (I will return to this tale later when discussing the issues of courtly entertainment). We know very little about Jan, and the chronicler only notes that Jan was a not a wealthy person and very much wanted to win a certain amount of silver at stake in the game. Jan’s wish came true thanks to the generosity of Kazimierz who gave his adversary numerous gifts.3 In other parts of the Chronicle there is mention of grand, impressive, and lavish feasts organized by Kazimierz, and the participants can be deduced from Vin­cen­tius’s account of those events. During such feasts the prince also surrounds himself with the company of the most learned people, with whom he ponders ‘examples given by holy fathers’, debates about the actions ‘of illustri1 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.2.7. Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.10. 3  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.15–20. 2 

Values and Virtues


ous men’, and ‘practises theological inquiry’.4 Vin­cen­tius does not provide much detail about who those scholars were, although I suppose that they were educated clergymen, dignitaries of the Church, court chaplains, and perhaps the staff of the prince’s chancery. This assumption is partly confirmed in another section of the Chronicle, in which Vin­cen­tius gives an account of a feast given by Kazimierz for ‘princes, magnates and the elite of the kingdom’ on the day after the feast day of Saint Florian (5 May 1194). During the feast the prince discussed the salvation of the soul with the bishops present for the celebrations.5 Utilizing what we now know about the Piast realm of the late twelfth century we can make a comparison between the vision of the royal household created by Vin­cen­tius and the historic reality of his times. Such an analysis provides clues about the kind of people who were admitted into the close circle of the Piast rulers contemporary to Vin­cen­tius. The Curia ducis, the prince’s court in Poland at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, was an institution which combined the public and private functions of the ruler. In practical terms, the prince and his family presided over the court and through the court the prince administered matters related to both his private affairs and matters of state. The prince did not act alone and when conducting matters of state heard advice from officers of state. Officers of the state had formal duties. For example, the palatine managed the royal household, sat in judgement deputizing for the prince, and led the prince’s army. Amongst the select group of the prince’s advisers was the bailiff (later called the chamberlain) who managed economic affairs, as well as various other officials who were in charge of a range of duties of the court: cup-bearer, the chief of the guard, the sword-bearer, and the equerry. At the head of the chancery was the chancellor who was usually an educated clergyman, and he supervised the making of official records for the ruler as well as overseeing the court chapel. The Piast dynasts exercised royal prerogative over the appointment to vacant episcopal sees which made the bishops highly dependent on the prince (the practice was maintained until the early thirteenth century when the Gregorian 4  ‘Cum hiis nunc sanctorum exempla patrum, nunc uirorum gesta illustrium uicaria relatione retractat, interdum organicis precinens aut succinens concentibus celestis meditatur armonie dulcedinem, theologicis nonnumquam exercetur inquisitionibus, utramque partem questionis utrimque argutissimis urgens rationibus, rerum subtilium indagator sagacissimus’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.31. 5  ‘Vnde cum beati Floriani diem nunc in diuinis officiis, nunc in orationibus, nunc in gratiarum actionibus totum Domino inpendisset, sollempnes in crastinum principibus ac satrapis et primis regni epulas instituit’: Chronica Polonorum, iv.19.18.


Robert Bubczyk

reforms were successfully implemented by Archbishop Henryk Kietlicz). From time to time diocesan bishops, abbots, and priors formed the entourage of the prince, particularly when he visited their estates. There were also a number of clergymen who, by virtue of their education, remained in the prince’s service continually and formed the core of the court. The functionaries who were closely attached to the prince were usually graduates of the trivium (that is those who had undertaken the foundation stage of a medi­eval liberal arts education: grammar, logic, and rhetoric) and were referred to as vir eloquens, ‘the eloquent person’. They were rarely graduates of the quadrivium (the more advanced continuation of the trivium which consisted of the subjects of arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, and music) who were referred to as vir sapiens, ‘wise man’. The functionaries exhibited a high intellectual level and were held in universally high esteem. They found employment at the court as teachers and tutors of the prince’s children and their companions, the children of the magnates. The educated men of the prince’s entourage also found engagements in the diplomatic service, in the chancery, and often performed the function of court chaplains (capella). In addition to these various engagements at court, the clergymen actively participated in and shaped the culture of the court by reading and summarizing learned books and entertaining the prince with intellectual conversation.6 I would argue that the conversations related by Vin­cen­tius which took place between Kazimierz II and the bishops on complex theological subjects such as the salvation of the soul, would indeed have taken place. It can be assumed that foreigners visited the prince’s court from time to time. They often arrived as envoys and thus conversations were probably held in Latin, the contemporary lingua franca of educated people.7 The Chronica Polonorum written by Vin­cen­tius testifies that the court and the elites of the Church in Piast Poland represented a high intellectual level. I would argue that at least some of their representatives were well acquainted not only with Latin, but also with the richness of the ancient and Christian tradition received through their use of Latin. The work of Vin­cen­tius is written with great erudition, demonstrated by the author’s use of numerous parallels, phrases, and references to literary and cultural monuments from Greek and Latin antiquity, as well as authors of the earlier Middle Ages.8 I believe that Vin­cen­tius con6 

Dowiat, Kultura Polski, pp. 145–49, 252–56. Dowiat, Kultura Polski, pp. 206–07. 8  Kürbis, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie’, pp. 67–79; Kürbis, ‘Wstęp’, pp. lxxxii–cxii. 7 

Values and Virtues


sciously considered the intellectual ability of his readers, so the rich plot and the refined form of his work tell a lot about the literacy and educational standard of contemporary recipients of the Chronicle. The most prominent element of court culture described by Vin­cen­tius and also employed by him as a motif is the feast; in particular, feasts held by the prince for his knights, members of his household, and invited guests. In every account presented by Vin­cen­tius the feast is an important event. The use of the spectacle of the feast in this way by Vin­cen­tius is not surprising because feasting and celebrating by medi­eval communities served diverse, yet always highly significant purposes. In the times of the pagan tribal communities, both from the perspective of the ruler as well as other participants, the feast constituted the antithesis of war and the way to reconcile and display peaceful intentions. There are however, also numerous examples of the use of the honour of the feast for a treacherous attack on political adversaries.9 Celebrating as a group created the constructive context for a sequence of manifestations of ritual communication. I agree with Gerd Althoff ’s opinion that one who ate, drank, and enjoyed himself in the company of others, with this very act reinforced the bond with the participants of the feast and thus promised that in the near future he will fulfil his obligations to them.10 Similarly, I agree fully with Jacques Le Goff, who analysed the behaviour of Saint Louis IX at the table and acknowledged that revelling created favourable situations in which the participants could appear at their best, or at their worst. The main requisite of the feast was: the table then cannot be reduced to dietary matters. It was also a place and an occasion for him to prepare his salvation. It was a place where people expressed concern for their bodies (nourishing them, nourishing themselves) and for their pleasures (the pleasures of and related to food like conversation and entertainment) but which were susceptible to degrade into vicious behaviour like excessive indulgence in food and drink, indigestion and drunkenness, exaggerated or obscene remarks, and luxurious actions in mixed company (here, we find the pairing of gula and luxuria). The table could and should be an instrument for perfection and edification through edifying conversation and serving the poor.11 9  Jacek Banaszkiewicz gives a number of examples in Banaszkiewicz, ‘Trzy razy uczta’, pp. 95–97. In another tale told by Vin­cen­tius his main character, Pompilius, gives a feast in honour of his uncles who attend as honoured guests and are poisoned, see Chronica Polonorum, i.19.16–19. 10  See Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale. 11  Jacques Le Goff, Saint Louis, trans. Gareth Evan Gollrad (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009), pp. 507–08.


Robert Bubczyk

I argue that every depiction of a feast in the Chronicle serves a dual purpose for Vin­cen­tius. Firstly, these accounts are an opportunity to outline the author’s own ideas or the ideas of others that he accepts. Secondly, the portrayal of each feast allows Vin­cen­tius to present dramatic events unfolding in the life of his main hero, the prince. The text of the Chronicle suggests that for Vin­cen­tius the feast was primarily and ideally a time of rest and a time for a calm carefree manner. A too ‘frolicsome’ feast might lead to ‘indolence’ which Vin­cen­ tius connected with unfortunate outcomes, such as the wild feast held during the siege of Poznań by the knights of Władysław II the Exile in 1146.12 Feasts were also treated as a ritual gesture towards reconciliation, a time according to Vin­cen­tius when mutual feuds were finished. The author of the Chronicle was, I argue, a participant and a witness to one such happy event organized between the Piast brothers Kazimierz II and Mieszko III. In order to conclude their reconciliation and end their conflict the brothers entered ‘non credula solum et fidissima inter illos inuicem colloquia, set et iocunda et precordialissime plena dilectionis conuiuiorum sollempnia’ (not only innocent, but also conversations full of trust and happy celebrations during the banquet, enlivened with the most cordial affection).13 Feasts feature frequently in Vin­cen­tius’s construction of the literary portrait of Kazimierz II. I have no doubt that Kazimierz represented the ideal of a ruler for Vin­cen­tius.14 Vin­cen­tius used the description of one such feast as an opportunity to outline in a few paragraphs the reasons why a good monarch should not only hold feasts, but also take an active part in them. According to Vin­cen­tius these reasons are dictated to the wise ruler by the virtue of prudence (prudentia), which Kazimierz was reportedly famous for. The author presents these reasons using a four-point argumentation, typical of dialectal reasoning.15 Firstly, dazed minds, which I suggest are caused by the consumption of abundant alcoholic beverages, can produce sincere opinions. Secondly, the prince can expect a greater frankness and effusiveness from his fellow feast12 

‘Adhuc ergo erant esce eorum in ore ipsorum et ira Dei ascendit super eos: epulantibus insiliunt, incautos obruunt, stupidos obtruncant’: Chronica Polonorum, iii.28.7. Vin­cen­ tius reports on the banqueting knights of Władysław II the Exile during the siege of Poznań in 1146. The festivities meant that the warriors were off their guard and the defenders of the besieged city were able to organize a surprise attack on Władysław’s forces. 13  Chronica Polonorum, iv.17.13. 14  Korolec, ‘Ideał władcy w Kronice mistrza Wincentego’, pp. 71–87; Bubczyk, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy’. 15  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, p. 381.

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ers on every subject. This frankness quickly leads to the detection of all sorts of scheming and insincere intentions (if such exist), which are harder to track down when adversaries are sober. Finally, if the prince intends to confide his secrets to somebody and to commission secret tasks, the feast is a good occasion for closer scrutiny of such a person and a way of ascertaining the soundness of such a person. To these four reasons the chronicler adds one more, particularly important argument in favour of banqueting. Above all, the ruler should strive to ensure that ‘diligi mauult pius princeps quam timeri’ (the pious prince was loved, rather than feared).16 According to Vin­cen­tius the holding of a feast was a means to achieve his subjects’ good favour. Vin­cen­tius’s reasoned case for banqueting and the descriptions of the feasts organized by Kazimierz II suggest that these were a highly influential aspect of courtly entertainment. The feasts were also practical, justified, and ideological. By allocating funds to provide for the guests’ food, beverages, and other forms of passing their free time, the ruler demonstrated the idea of courtly generosity (largitas).17 In addition, the prince personally set an example and participated in the feasts in moderation and according to Vin­cen­tius, Kazimierz ‘does not let intemperance get advantage over himself ’.18 Apart from eating and drinking, the prince also played organs, sang in the chorus, and together with his learned interlocutors delved into theological inquiry, ‘cur prudentem non arguis iugi prudentum exercitio’ (because the intelligent prince was attracted to the exercise practised by intelligent [people]).19 It cannot be established to what extent this perhaps idealized image corresponds to real events of this type at the prince’s court. Vin­cen­tius’s views on the many virtues of the feast as an important event in courtly culture were widely accepted by contemporaries. The subject of the feast and the monarch participating in it (including the monarch’s consumption of alcoholic beverages) appeared in the writings of Macrobius and John of Salisbury. Macrobius’s thoughts on banqueting are included in the Saturnalia and were developed further by John of Salisbury. John’s views on this issue were undoubtedly supported by Vin­cen­tius and are used in the Chronicle. In the 16 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.30. The inception and the components of the idea of chivalry have been subject to many studies by authors such as Jean Flori, Richard Barber, and Alan Baker, see Barber, The Knight and Chivalry; Flori, Chevaliers et chevalerie; Baker, The Knight. In Polish the subject has been explored by Kusiak, Rycerze, pp. 79–118; Ossowska, Ethos, pp. 7–80, 285–92. 18  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.30. ‘Eatenus tamen ut nihil ebrietati de se licere permittat.’ 19  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.32. 17 


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tenth chapter of the eighth book of Policraticus John of Salisbury offers an extensive passage referring to a feast where the author recommends the holding of philosophical debates during banqueting because, he says, the words of discussion cheer up participants equally to wine. John of Salisbury advocates taking temperate meals without abusing alcohol, and does not call for the total elimination of alcohol from the menu. He quotes from Plato, who favoured a limited consumption of the drink of the grapevine and argued that this beverage strengthens, sharpens, and cheers up the mind, inducing greater than usual frankness. In consequence, moderate consumers of wine who display the dark sides of their character early have enough time to correct it. John of Salisbury clearly warns against excessive drinking of alcohol, and recommends total abstinence to everyone of weak character.20 Another influential piece of contemporary writing from the high Middle Ages moralized on the behaviour of the ruler during a courtly feast. The work of a pseudo-Aristotle, the Secreta (or Secretum) secretorum (the treatise Secret of Secrets) was circulating in Europe from about 1200. Secret of Secrets is a translation of the Arabic Kitab sirr al-asrar (The Book of the Science of Government and on the Good Ordering of Statecraft) and is in the same category of didactic works as Policraticus. Secret of Secrets takes the form of a letter purportedly written by Aristotle (and considered as such by medi­e val readers) to Alexander the Great during his campaign in Persia. The treatise addressed a wide range of issues concerning state management with the aim of being a guide for a future monarch.21 In the opinion of Pseudo-Aristotle the ruler should find the time for entertainment which would relax him and constitute a form of escape from everyday matters of state. In these private chambers, according to the author of the treatise, a long way from the clamour of great politics, the monarch could relax and play with his children and courtiers. Royal entertainment should consist of decent games, dancing, and singing, during which the recreation is enlivened by drink. However, the ruler must not get drunk and only the magnates from the king’s entourage and courtiers should take the refreshments. Pseudo-Aristotle writes that a sober mind would enable the ruler to ascertain the real intentions of the magnates affected by drink as the alcohol would strip away their minds’ defences and they would confide in their liege.22 In Secret of Secrets the ruler’s personally restrained and 20 

Joannis Saresberiensis, postea episcopi Carnotensis, ed. by Giles, pp. 259–60. Manzalaoui, Secretum secretorum. 22  ‘It is semely to a kyng sumtyme with his pryncis lordis and othir that ben honest gentiles, forto delite him in honest pleyes and myrthis, and forto haue many dyverse mynstralcies in his audience, and dauncyng and syngyng, for whan the kynde of man is reyoisid in myrthe of kyn21 

Values and Virtues


carefully controlled playing of games in the sheltered peace of private royal chambers brings the double benefit of excellent entertainment and an effective means to discover information valuable in governing the state. I argue that Vin­cen­tius used a similar approach in his Chronicle to instruct through his hero how a ruler should spend his free time. The games the ruler could participate in in order to provide proper relaxation for himself and his attendants constitute another important element of courtly culture described by Vin­cen­tius. Book iv of the Chronicle contains a scene depicting a game of dice which ends in an extremely surprising way. The main character of the episode is Kazimierz II the Just who on a certain night sat down to take part in this game with the man mentioned above, and known in the text only as Jan. In the scene sketched by Vin­cen­tius the game of dice bore the hallmarks of gambling because the players each staked a great amount of silver on the outcome. Vin­c en­tius writes that Kazimierz won the game which infuriated his adversary who, without paying heed to the royal dignity of Kazimierz, punched the ruler in the face. Jan, realizing his offense, then tried to escape in order to save his skin. Here an unprecedented thing happened: Jan was caught by courtiers who were filled with indignation at the offence caused by him, but Kazimierz absolved Jan of the charge of lese-majesty and instead of punishing him, offered Jan gifts. The author of the Chronicle describes the entire incident from Kazimierz’s perspective and through Kazimierz in the first person. We read that the prince announced to those assembled that the defeated player had a right to be angry at pure fate and to express his frustration this way. Indeed, Kazimierz tells us through the dialogue that there is a lesson for the ruler as well: he should desist from dealing with things that are not the result of wise and prudent actions but are subject to the ruling of fortune.23 The subject of the game of dice and the commendable behaviour of the prince neatly fit the model image of a ruler as promoted by the chronicler. The tale above presents a number of possible interpretations. I reject the thesis that the author of the Chronicle made up the entire scene in order to highlight the virtues of his favourite Piast. Vin­cen­tius was writing for a contemdely nature, the talent of man takith therof gret strengthe and corage in alle manhode. Than if thou delite the in suche myrthe, loke that it be done in honeste and privy place, and whan thou art in thi most myrthe kepe the wel from ouermoche drynke, but lete othir haue drynke at wille, and shalle thou here many privy thingis discoverid, than take to the tho that thou lovist best, that they may reporte to the an othir day of that men seyne and tellen in here dronkenshipe’, Steele, ed., Three Prose Versions of the Secreta secretorum, p. 15. 23  Chronica Polonorum, iv.5.15–iv.5.20.


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porary audience as well as posterity, and therefore had to select actual events of the not too distant past to be credible. The text also had to take into account the sensibilities of the recipient so the stories had to be credible enough for the ethical thread underpinning the text to be revealed and understood. Perhaps the incident even happened in the way it was recounted in the Chronicle. Unexpected behaviour by a prince was less surprising to twelfth-century contemporaries than today and could in fact provide examples of a ritual form of leniency (clementa). Kazimierz may have applied leniency in this situation in order to demonstrate to the court observing the event that their sovereign was able to forgive. Such behaviour by rulers in twelfth-century Europe was relatively common.24 I would argue that in the case of this excerpt from Vin­ cen­tius’s work, the event may have happened or could have happened in the popular view. The chronicler could also have gathered stories about quarrelsome behaviour related to gambling at court, perhaps between knights, and by gathering the threads together he built from them a ‘condensed’ view of a single event and story. There are other fables similar to Vin­cen­tius’s depiction of the quarrel over dice which are likely to have been known to the erudite author. Indeed, these tales could have inspired his own.25 The way that the game of dice and the characteristic attitude of Kazimierz II the Just are presented in the Chronicle should be examined in the broader context of the attitude of people of the Middle Ages to the idea of fortune and games of chance. In search of Vin­cen­tius’s literary prototypes, Oswald Balzer noticed that in the method of presentation of events the chronicler’s style is influenced by Philosophiae consolatio by Boethius.26 Brygida Kürbis added later that the Philosophiae consolatio was very popular in the twelfth century, and according to her it constituted one of the pillars of medi­eval Neo-Platonism, practised for example by the scholars of the famous and influential cathedral school in Chartres.27 A comparison between Boethius’s and Vin­cen­tius’s ideas about fortune I argue strongly suggests that the Polish scholar knew the works of Boethius and drew from them for the purposes of the Chronicle. In Book ii of Philosophiae consolatio Boethius’s description of fortune corresponds closely with the literary portrait of fortune written by Vin­cen­tius. Boethius calls Fortune a decep24 

Althoff, Die Macht der Rituale, p. 172. Bubczyk, ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy’, pp. 41–44. 26  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, pp. 343, n. 8. 27  Kürbis, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie’, p. 74. 25 

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tive, blind, and unstable monster. Fortune offers illusory friendship and lures with false happiness in order to suddenly abandon. The one who submits himself to her (Fortune’s) power must also bend his neck to her morals, and the speed of the wheel of fortune (which both promotes and demotes) cannot be slowed down.28 Fortune is therefore clearly linked with the issue of games of chance and specifically with the game of dice. The attitude of representatives of the Church to games of chance was invariably hostile. Numerous bans were placed on games that used dice, and edicts condemning dicing participants were issued in the form of conciliar, synodical, or other decrees of lesser importance. Regulations against dicing were promulgated throughout the Middle Ages, if not earlier, such as in Late Antiquity (for example canon 79 of the Synod of Elvira in 305). Games of chance in general were also condemned by the great thinkers of the Middle Ages such as Isidore of Seville, Peter Damian, and Bernard of Clairvaux. There were many reasons for the negative attitude of the Church to games of chance. The primary objection was the gambling nature of the game and the misery it led to when stakes were lost. The philosophical objection to gaming stemmed from the Christian approach towards time which was perceived as linear and historic and at the same time exclusively controlled by God, and God alone knows the future. Accordingly, all attempts to predict future events with the help of dice could be construed as blasphemy because such an act entered the exclusive domain of the Creator.29 Vin­cen­tius’s writing and utilization of the motif of the game of dice are consistent with the Church’s views on gambling and games of chance, and enable Vin­cen­tius to also highlight the effects of treacherous fortune. In his message and approach Vin­cen­tius draws on the legacy established by Boethius. What are the origins of Vin­cen­tius’s idea to present his ideal ruler as a game player, surely an activity unworthy of a perfect monarch? The roots of Vin­cen­ tius’s ideas can be traced to the works of John of Salisbury. In chapter 5 of the first book of Policraticus John writes extensively about the game of dice. He recognizes that this type of entertainment is acceptable under certain conditions, such as when the players do not play for profit (do not gamble), or when 28 

De consolatione philosophiae, pp. 29–57. In Polish see Boethius, O pocieszeniu, trans. by Kurylewicz and Antczak, pp. 42–59. 29  For the issues related to the Church’s attitude to gaming see for example Bubczyk, Szachy i rycerze, pp. 105–09. See also Kieckhefer, Magia w średniowieczu, pp. 88–89; Patch, The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature, pp.  35–87; Páttaro, ‘Pojmowanie czasu w chrześcijaństwie’, pp. 291–330. See also Bubczyk, ‘Ludus inhonestus et illicitus?’, pp. 20.

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games of chance are played purely for relaxation. John condoned games of chance where these were used as a means to recover from dealing with serious matters, and listed famous people from ancient times who purportedly did this. Likewise, Vin­cen­tius approved of the use of games for rulers to relax from the stresses of office and listed Alexander the Great, Caesar, and Cato as examples of model rulers who played appropriately for this reason. For John and Vin­cen­ tius, whether a game was played in a moral way was a case-by-case consideration, largely dependent on the extent to which the individual players behaved ethically and in moderation.30 When Vin­cen­tius wrote the Chronicle Poland was still experiencing the clash and challenge between two moral orders; between the traditions of its pagan past and the new moral code introduced as part of Christianity. The tensions between the two mean it is possible to consider another aspect of the incident with the game of dice. Poland was one of the later regions in Europe to convert to Christianity, an event which took place in 966 when the Piast ruler consented to be baptized. The old religion did not disappear overnight and in the twelfth century one of the recognized sources of ethical standards remained the custom of ancestors (mos maiorum) or ancient custom (mos antiquus). These customs derived their origins from the pagan tradition and continued to play a major role in attributing predetermined moral values to human conduct. Among the norms of behaviour sanctioned by this ethical system was the right to take revenge on any person who harmed your family or friends. The second and much younger moral code in the Polish context was Christian ethics, which was promoted predominantly by churchmen. According to the Christian system of ethics human action should always be guided by God’s commandments which include the requirement to love thy neighbour. According to the Church the non-observance of these laws was punishable by terrible consequences such as eternal damnation.31 The clash of ancient custom and Christian ethics is evident in the tale about dicing told by Vin­cen­tius. The outraged courtiers who demanded immediate punishment for the perpetrator of the assault on Kazimierz behaved in accordance with old tradition, while the enlightened prince was guided by the new Christian morality. Tension between pagan tradition and the Christian vision of the universe as promoted by the clergy was an active challenge in the twelfth-century Piast realm. This undercurrent of disunity and competing moral norms governing society is traceable at the height of the social pyramid at the court, and can 30  31 

Policraticus, ed. by Keats-Rohan, pp. 44–45. Dowiat, Kultura Polski, pp. 301–02.

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be observed in the next part of Vin­cen­tius’s Chronicle. To illustrate this, I am going to examine two scenes portrayed by Vin­cen­tius. Firstly, I will discuss the depiction of the death of Kazimierz II the Just who died suddenly during a feast given in honour of Saint Florian, a martyr of the Church, and secondly, the outbreak of numerous subsequent scenes of despair and sorrow.32 According to Vin­cen­tius the prince spent 4 May 1194 in Cracow participating in church services and prayers to the glory of the saintly patron.33 The following day celebrations assumed a more secular character and a feast was organized in honour of Saint Florian for ‘principibus ac satrapis et primis regni’ (princes, magnates and the elite of the kingdom).34 During the festivities the prince enjoyed the happy atmosphere and discussed the salvation of the soul with the bishops present. The relaxed and grandiose mood enjoyed by the revellers was shattered by the sudden death of their host, who ‘permodico hausto poculo, humi prolabitur et expirat’ (having drunk from a tiny cup, fell to the ground and died).35 Vin­cen­tius gives an account of the behaviour of the people and how they manifested their grief and sorrow after the loss of their beloved prince. The conduct of the grief-stricken populace followed traditional and almost ritual forms. The mourners scratched their skin to blood with fingernails, hit statues with their heads, and stabbed themselves with swords. Other behaviour conformed even more closely with the practices of a pagan wake ceremony for the deceased. Vin­cen­tius placed references to these in the strophes of the threnody on Kazimierz’s death, which forms an integral part of Book iv of the Chronicle. Vin­cen­tius writes of depravities and acts of madness and drunkenness committed in the wake of their master’s death by those who followed the pre-Christian traditions (‘ueteris legis uiri’) and still paid heed to pagan customs which allowed these kinds of practices at the obsequies.36 It should be noted that in a different part of the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius observed that a number of practices are ‘still performed today by pagans at funerals’.37 Vin­cen­tius condemns these ancient customs and writes that they are despicable and lead only to an unnec32 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.19–20. A reliquary with the relics of the saint had been brought to Cracow in 1184 and its presence gave the festivities a more solemn nature. Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Kürbis, pp. 235, n. 231. 34  Chronica Polonorum, iv.19. 35  Chronica Polonorum, iv.19. 36  Chronica Polonorum, iv.20. 37  Chronica Polonorum, i.19. 33 


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essary weakening of strength by the participants.38 The chronicler also uses in the text one of the leading figures of political life of these days, Bishop Pełka of Cracow, to offer words of encouragement and common sense to everyone suffering grief after the death of their sovereign lord. In the Chronicle, right after the completion of the funeral rites, Bishop Pełka courageously opposes any continuation of mourning practices alien to Christianity. He instructs participants in an assembly convened by him to discontinue these pagan practices and to return their thoughts to the future, because ‘set inpie sic dolore desipitur’ (it is ungodly to persist in grief ).39 The passage of the Chronicle mentioned above demonstrates that different behaviours and attitudes were held by people mourning the death of Kazimierz II the Just. The text leaves no doubt that in the days of Vin­cen­tius the system of Christian values and virtues conflicted with the traditional model of behaviour which was derived from the older pagan system of values. The pagan moral code was still followed by a sufficiently large number of Kazimierz’s subjects to have had an impact across various sections of Polish society, including at court. The Church fought such attitudes through a number of different means, chiefly by promoting Christian values with the example provided by the bishops and also through the services of clerical men of letters such as Vin­cen­tius. The Chronica Polonorum also contains discernible traces of the ideology of chivalric culture which was intertwined with courtly culture on many levels. An example of entertainment that was indulged in by the court knights was hunting. The pursuit of wild game over fields, meadows, and woodland spaces combined characteristics of male play and was an exercise necessary for maintaining the body of a warrior. It was essential for a knight’s success in hunting pursuits to achieve mastery of the use of a weapon and a good horse-riding ability. Hunts also had another practical dimension. They provided game and added variety to the table for the ruler and his retinue. Numerous cases are well-documented when hunts were ordered and supplies of meat were gathered. The holding of a hunt for big game such as European bison, bear, or deer was traditionally restricted to the sovereign. It was within the monarch’s privilege to grant the right to hunt restricted game to his noble vassals. Violation of this royal prerogative carried more sanctions than the ruler’s displeasure.40 In the Chronicle Vin­cen­tius related how Mieszko III the Old strictly enforced his 38 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.20. Chronica Polonorum, iv.21. 40  Samsonowicz, Łowiectwo. 39 

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exclusive right to hunt bear. Even when a beast destroyed beehives or attacked herds of cattle, officials of the prince treated the wilful killing of a bear by local residents as a criminal act.41 The chronicler described Mieszko’s authoritarian application of his prerogative in the context of a broader, rather unflattering character study of this prince, who as noted above was, according to Vin­cen­ tius, influenced by malicious advisers. The Chronicle returns to the subject of hunts and portrays them as an engagement worthy of the ruler and his attendants. Vin­cen­tius contrasts active amusement such as hunts with sedentary alternatives which he calls ‘indolent laziness’. Participation in hunts befits valiant people Vin­cen­tius writes, because ‘a strong man sometimes receives worthy training from games as much as from serious preparation’. To strengthen his arguments, Vin­cen­tius quotes the history of the king of ancient Pontus, Mithridates the Great, who devoted himself to hunting and stayed in ‘forests and various mountainous places’ for seven years. Such Spartan living had the desired effect we are told, because Mithridates ‘in this way avoided assassination attempts on his life and hardened his body to enduring all pains’.42 At the conclusion of the passage about the beneficial qualities of hunting it is not surprising that Vin­cen­tius included information that his favourite hero, Kazimierz II and his son Leszek the White hunted for game as well. Leszek was already ‘suitably accomplished in hunting’ in his younger years and with consistent enthusiasm ‘wanted to yield weapons’. Vin­cen­tius also probably included information about the princeling’s prowess and enthusiasm for hunting (having just noted its attendant benefits) as a signal to the reader that Leszek had the makings of becoming an ideal future ruler. Vin­cen­tius writes that in Leszek’s youthful years he ‘already showed praiseworthy hallmarks of chivalry’.43 In between active entertainment and military exercises, tourneys were another characteristic of the courtly and knightly community in Europe. In Piast Poland something like tourneys had a long tradition dating back to the pre-Christian Slavic societies’ native custom of wrestling. From a formal point of view however, chivalrous tourneys were a cultural import from Latin Christendom. Information about the earliest Polish tournaments is of much later provenance, authored in the fifteenth century by the chronicler Jan Długosz.44 41 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.20. Chronica Polonorum, iv.5. 43  Chronica Polonorum, iv.24. 44  Which allegedly graced different courtly celebrations of a stately character by the early eleventh century such as during the Summit of Gniezno. 42 


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Experts are therefore sceptical about whether tournaments in fact took place this early because they cannot be verified by older sources.45 There are no references to knight’s tournaments in the Chronicle of Gallus, and Vin­cen­tius, so eloquent about the hunt, only hints at the possibility of tournaments being organized at the end of the twelfth century. Vin­cen­tius described a kind of tournament melee in Book i of the Chronicle. Book i is largely devoted to providing the Piasts’ lineage from the princes’ known ancestors through to the dynasty’s mystical origins. In it Vin­cen­tius relates a story about one of the mythical ancestors, Lestek, who won the royal throne by winning a difficult and dangerous game involving a horse chase to a ceremonial pole. Bogdan W. Brzustowicz has studied Vin­cen­tius’s tale about Lestek and suggests that the horse chase described contains numerous elements ‘characteristic of courtly tournaments and knight’s training’.46 Indeed the vivid, precise reconstruction of the horse chase event is written as if by an eyewitness familiar with tourney events. Details such as scenography typical of a knight’s competition, the field of the chase, its purpose, the group of dignified spectators seated on platforms, and the honourable award are accurately and spectacularly described.47 Vin­cen­tius includes in the tale the motif of a trick which was almost certainly taken from classical literature to give the description of the event a dramatic effect.48 In this story the trick is that some competitors hide spikes on the route of the race which Lestek anticipates and foils. It is not certain, but cannot be ruled out, that Vin­cen­tius used contemporary events to help illustrate his portrayal of Poland’s distant past. It is hard to convincingly prove that tourneys had already enriched the Piast court and chivalric culture by the time Vin­cen­tius wrote the Chronicle. In the absence of such evidence another indicator of the popularity of chivalry at the Piast court was the ritual of knighting. In Vin­cen­tius’s accounts of the political turmoil after the death of Kazimierz II the Just the depiction of the manoeuvring of his elder brother, Mieszko III the Old, gives a glimpse into the significance of knighting to Vin­cen­tius’s contemporaries. Vin­cen­tius recorded that Mieszko III, the duke of Greater Poland, offered Kazimierz’s widow (Helena of Znojmo) that he would take on the guardianship of her son and Kazimierz’s 45  Brzustowicz, ‘Realia kultury rycersko–dworskiej’, pp. 396–97; Brzustowicz, Turniej rycerski, pp. 192–94. 46  Brzustowicz, ‘Realia kultury rycersko–dworskiej’, p. 397. 47  Chronica Polonorum, i.11–13. 48  Balzer, ‘Studyum o Kadłubku. I’, p. 283.

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successor, Leszek the White, then a minor. As the young prince’s guardian, Mieszko asked to be the ruler of Kazimierz’s domains, including the right to exercise the rights of the princeps, suzerain of the whole of the Piast patrimony. At the same time Mieszko solemnly promised that he would abdicate the throne of princeps when Leszek attained his majority, enabling Leszek to commence his independent reign. The occasion of Leszek’s coming of age was to be marked by Mieszko ceremonially knighting his nephew. The Chronicle informs us that Mieszko’s offer was accepted by Helena of Znojmo and both parties agreed to a treaty. Despite his promise however, Mieszko did not fulfil his vow to knight Leszek and ignored the requests and entreaties of his nephew. This breach of the vow led to Mieszko’s deposition by the magnates of Cracow and the installation of Leszek as the princeps.49 The story of Leszek’s knighting demonstrates, according to Zbigniew Dalewski, that in the days of Vin­cen­tius the rite of passage to become a knight was a crucial element of political culture. For a young prince it signified becoming an adult or passing a knight’s initiation. The status of knight was also necessary for the future ruler to prove his readiness to ascend the throne and to perform his royal duties. Only a ceremony of knighting confirmed that a candidate for the throne had already been able to cope with the weight that was to be placed on his shoulders, to put himself in the role of the leader, the defender and the judge of his subjects.50 The ritual of knighting in Poland was a feature of court and chivalric culture from the end of the eleventh century, and would have been familiar to the court of Vin­cen­tius’s times. The oldest report of knighting in Poland comes from an anonymous author known as Gallus. Gallus wrote that both the sons of Władysław I Herman had been raised to knighthood, firstly the older Zbigniew and later the younger (half-brother) Bolesław. Based on Gallus’s relation of these events it is clear that the ceremony of knighting was a splendid occasion. At the court of Władysław I Herman the solemn ceremony of knighting Bolesław III was modelled on equivalent knighting ceremonies in France (where this element of chivalric culture originated) and other parts of Western Europe. Held in Płock, Bolesław’s knighting took place on the Feast of the Assumption and it had both a joyous and imposing character. In addition to Bolesław a number of squires of his age were also dubbed.51 49 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.25. Dalewski, ‘Pasowanie na rycerza’, p. 15. See also in English, Dalewski, ‘The Knighting of Polish Dukes’, pp. 15–43; Dalewski, Ritual and Politics. 51  Galla tzw. Anonima Kronika polska, trans. by Grodecki, pp. 83–84. 50 

Robert Bubczyk


Gallus wrote his account of Bolesław’s knighting ceremony in the early years of the twelfth century. His description is a reliable source and it is reasonable to suggest that his description can help us to understand how the dubbing of knights was arranged, performed, and ritualized later in that century. However, it cannot be established if knighting as a ritual was institutionalized before the end of the twelfth century or whether the formal investiture of knights had a secular or religious character. Perhaps the ceremony combined elements of the profane and sacred as it was practised in Western Europe? Illustrative of this practice is an example given by John of Salisbury. John wrote about two stages of investiture of the knighthood in his Policraticus: first a secular ceremony was held, and second the dubbed knight went to the church, where he offered his sword and his service to God.52 Whether a similar practice took place in twelfth-century Poland cannot be ascertained because Vin­cen­tius did not elaborate about the details of a knight’s dubbing. Perhaps the purpose and process of knighting was assumed to be so familiar to Vin­cen­ tius’s intended readership that the author saw nothing sufficiently extraordinary about this chivalric ritual to merit giving it separate attention. Vin­cen­ tius does not write about knighting for its own sake in the Chronicle, rather he only notes it when something about a specific event is significant in the context of Piast dynasty politics. Compared to his passage on knighting, Vin­cen­tius wrote in a little less succinct, though more detailed way (I would argue) about the courtly culture associated with the ideology of power. This is illustrated in Vin­cen­tius’s description of a typical inaugural ceremony, the processional entrance of Kazimierz II the Just into Cracow which took place in 1177. Zbigniew Dalewski observed that the procession of the prince entering into the capital had all the features of an installation in keeping with the tradition adventus regis. Vin­cen­tius informs us that the approaching ruler was greeted by crowds of armies and townspeople. The gates were wide open with the staff of the castle abandoning their posts to join the crowds, and together they paid tribute to their sovereign lord and the suzerain of Piast Poland.53 A description of Kazimierz’s ingress into Cracow formulated in this way involved a broader ideological message. Vin­c en­tius used this literary spectacle to save for posterity the image of the processional arrival of an anointed monarch into the capital of the realm he was taking possession of. Vin­cen­tius employed an allegorically bridging literary technique 52  53 

Cf. Barber, The reign of chivalry, p. 95. Chronica Polonorum, iv.6.

Values and Virtues


to link the arrival of the Piast ruler into Cracow with the advent of Christ to Jerusalem.54 In concluding this chapter there is no doubt that Vin­cen­tius belonged to the circle of the keenest observers of the court and the clergy (of which he himself was a representative), as well as the fast current of its everyday life. Reading the Chronicle gives the compelling impression that Vin­cen­tius tried to preserve the reality of courtly and ecclesiastical culture to the best of his ability, drawing from the rich treasure of contemporary knowledge and conventional wisdom which formed a significant portion of his own intellectual background. It does not mean of course that his interpretation of history did not undergo some literary treatments in order to obtain the intended effect. It is particularly evident that Vin­cen­tius relied on the legacy of antiquity which enhanced the great value of the Chronicle. Future generations received a fascinating, colourful collection of literary and historical portraits featuring many aspects of the culture of Poland and neighbouring countries written at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The work of Vin­cen­tius allows for a better understanding of the nature of Polish courtly culture and an examination of its reception and its affinity with other societies.55


Such is the convincing interpretation of Dalewski, Władza, przestrzeń, ceremoniał, pp. 120–21. Cf. Michałowski, ‘Otto III’, pp. 57–72. 55  The complex nature of the reception of courtly and chivalric culture in Poland in the age of Vin­cen­tius has been highlighted during a discussion at the conference devoted to the Chronicle of the Poles. See Dąbrówka and Wojtowicz, eds, Onus Athlanteum, pp. 406, 413–14.


Robert Bubczyk

Works Cited Primary Sources Boethius, O pocieszeniu, jakie daje filozofia, trans. by Gabriela Kurylewicz and Mikołaj Antczak, in Biblioteka Europejska, ed. by Gabriela Kurylewicz and Mikołaj Antczak (Kęty: Wydawnictwo Marek Derewiecki, 2006) —— , De consolatione philosophiae: Opuscula theologica, ed. by Claudio Moreschini, Biblio­ theca scriptorum Graecorum et Romanorum Teubneriana (Munich: K. G. Saur, 2000) Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Galla tzw. Anonima Kronika polska, [The Polish Chronicle of Gallus Anonymous], trans. by Roman Grodecki, ed. by Marian Plezia (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 2003) Manzalaoui, Mahmoud, Secretum secretorum: Nine English Versions, Early English Text Society, 276 (Oxford: Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford University Press, 1977) Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, [The Chronicle of the Poles by Vin­cen­tius], ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis, Biblioteka Narodowa (Wrocław: Osso­ lineum, 1992) Policraticus, ed.  by Katharine  S.  B. Keats-Rohan, Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis, 118 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1993) Joannis Saresberiensis, postea episcopi Carnotensis, Opera omnia, iv, ed.  by John Allen Giles, (Oxonii: J. H. Parker, 1848) Steele, Robert, ed., Three Prose Versions of the Secreta secretorum, Early English Text Society 74 (London: Published for the Early English Text Society by Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner, 1898)

Secondary Studies Althoff, Gerd, Die Macht der Rituale: Symbolik und Herrschaft im Mittelalter (Darmstadt: Primus, 2003) —— , Family, Friends and Followers: Political and Social Bonds in Early Medi­eval Europe (Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge University Press, 2004) —— , Potęga rytuału: symbolika władzy w średniowieczu, trans. by Agnieszka Gadzała (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 2011) Baker, Alan, The Knight (New York: Wiley, 2003) Balzer, Oswald M., ‘Studyum o Kadłubku: I’ [‘A Study about Kadłubek: Part I’], in Pisma pośmiertne, i (Lwów: 1934) Banaszkiewicz, Jacek, ‘Trzy razy uczta’ [‘A Feast Thrice’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów, 5, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1992), pp. 95–108 Barber, Richard W., The Knight and Chivalry (Woodbridge: Boydell, 1995) —— , The Reign of Chivalry (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2005)

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Brzustowicz, Bogdan Wojciech, Turniej rycerski w Królestwie Polskim w późnym śred­ niowieczu i renesansie na tle europejskim [The Tournament in the Kingdom of Poland in the Late Middle Ages and the Renaissance in European Context] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2003) —— , ‘Realia kultury rycersko–dworskiej w kronice mistrza Wincentego’ [‘The Realities of Court Culture in the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius’], in Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego, ed. by Andrzej Dąbrówka and Witold Wojtowicz, Studia Staropolskie, Series Nova, 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009), pp. 396–97 Bubczyk, Robert, Szachy i rycerze: o grach planszowych w angielskiej kulturze wyższej późniejszego średniowiecza [Chess and Knights: About Board Games in the English Higher Culture of the Later Middle Ages] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej, 2005) —— , ‘Kazimierz Sprawiedliwy – władca idealny mistrza Wincentego (Chronica Polo­ no­rum, lib. 4)’ [‘Casimir the Just, an Ideal of a Ruler in Vin­cen­tius’s Chronica Polonorum’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 116 (2009), 31–53 —— , ‘Ludus inhonestus et illicitus? Chess, Games, and the Church in Medi­eval Europe’, in Games and gaming in medi­eval literature, ed.  by Serina Patterson (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), pp. 23–43 Dąbrówka, Andrzej, and Witold Wojtowicz, eds., Onus Athlanteum: Studia nad Kroniką biskupa Wincentego [Onus Athlanteum: Studies of the Chronicle by Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow], Studia Staropolskie. Series Nova 25 (Warszawa: Instytut Badań Literackich PAN, 2009) Dalewski, Zbigniew, Władza, przestrzeń, ceremoniał: miejsce i uroczystość inauguracji władcy w Polsce średniowiecznej do końca XIV wieku [Authority, Space, Ceremony: The Location and Ceremonial of Inaugurating the Ruler in Medi­eval Poland before the End of the Fourtheenth Century] (Warszawa: Neriton, 1996) —— , ‘Pasowanie na rycerza książąt polskich we wcześniejszym średniowieczu: znaczenie ideowe i polityczne’ [‘The Knighting of the Polish Princes in the Early Middle Ages: Ideological and Political Significance’], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 54 (1997), 15–35 —— , ‘The Knighting of Polish Dukes in the Early Middle Ages: Ideological and Political Significance’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 80 (1999), 15–43 —— , Ritual and Politics: Writing the History of a Dynastic Conflict in Medi­eval Poland (Leiden: Brill, 2008) Dowiat, Jerzy, ed., Kultura Polski średniowiecznej X–XIII w [The Culture of the Medi­ eval Poland from the Tenth to Thirteenth Century] (Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1985) Flori, Jean, Chevaliers et chevalerie au Moyen Age (Paris: Hachette littératures, 1998) Hoenen, M.  J.  F.  M., and Lodi Nauta, eds., Boethius in the Middle Ages: Latin and Vernacular Traditions of the Consolatio philosophiae (Leiden: Brill, 1997) Jussen, Bernhard, Ordering Medi­eval Society: Perspectives on Intellectual and Practical Modes of Shaping Social Relations, The Middle Ages series (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001)


Robert Bubczyk

Kieckhefer, Richard, Magia w średniowieczu, trans. by Ireneusz Kania (Kraków: Uni­ver­ sitas, 2001) Korolec, Jerzy B., ‘Ideał władcy w Kronice mistrza Wincentego: rola cnót moralnych w legitymizacji władzy’ [‘The Ideal Ruler in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius: The Role of Moral Virtues in Legitimizing Power’], in Pogranicza i konteksty literatury polskiego średniowiecza, ed. by Teresa Michałowska (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1989), pp. 71–87 Kürbis, Brygida, ‘Motywy makrobiańskie w Kronice Mistrza Wincentego a szkoła Chartres’ [‘The Macrobian Motifs in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius and the School of Chartres’], Studia Źródłoznawcze, 17 (1972), 67–79 —— , ‘Wstęp’ [‘Introduction’], in Mistrza Wincentego zwanego Kadłubkiem Kronika Polska, ed. and trans. by Brygida Kürbis (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1992), pp. iii–cxxxi Kusiak, Franciszek, Rycerze średniowiecznej Europy łacińskiej [Knightood of Medi­eval Latin Europe] (Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 2002) Le Goff, Jacques, Medi­eval Civilization, 400–1500 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988) —— , Intellectuals in the Middle Ages (Cam­bridge: Blackwell, 1993) —— , Świat średniowiecznej wyobraźni, trans. by Maria Radożycka-Paoletti, Nowa Mari­ anna = La Nouvelle Marianne (Warszawa: Volumen, 1997) —— , Saint Louis, trans. by Gareth Evan Gollrad (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) Michałowski, Roman, ‘Otto III w obliczu ideowego wyzwania: monarcha jako wizerunek Chrystusa’ [‘Otto III in the Face of Ideological Challenges: The Monarch as the Image of Christ’], in Człowiek w społeczeństwie średniowiecznym, ed. by Roman Michałowski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1997), pp. 57–72 Ossowska, Maria, Ethos rycerski i jego odmiany [Chivalry and its Variants], 3rd  edn (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 2000) Patch, Howard Rollin, The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature (Cam­bridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1927) Páttaro, Germano, ‘Pojmowanie czasu w chrześcijaństwie’ [‘Christian Understanding of Time’], in Czas w kulturze, ed. by Andrzej Zajączkowski, Biblioteka Myśli Współczesnej (Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy, 1988), pp. 291–330 Patterson, Serina, ed., Games and Gaming in Medi­eval Literature, The New Middle Ages (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015) Samsonowicz, Agnieszka, Łowiectwo w Polsce Piastów i Jagiellonów [Hunting in Poland of the Piasts and the Jagiellonians] (Warszawa: Warszawska Firma Wydawnicza, 2011)

Lords and Peasants: Polish Society and Economy in Transition Marcin Rafał Pauk*


he period of Vin­cen­tius’s historiographical activity fell in an age of undoubted breakthrough, a time of deep transformation for the Polish people, recognized as the crucial stage in a process of medi­eval transformation, the so-called ‘long twelfth century’. These processes touched all spheres of contemporary reality. Above all, political realities underwent deep trans­formations. The turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries brought the end to the Piast monarchy presided over by a single ruler with a crisis in the idea of the principate established in 1138 and later triggered the coup d’état of 1177. The ensuing rivalry for the princeps’ throne engulfed the Piast realm in profound calamity, which was postponed for a short while only by the achievement of hegemony by the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty (1234–41) before the restoration of the kingdom of Poland in 1320. Janusz Bieniak referred to this period as the evolution of the political system of Poland from centralized monarchy to regional poliarchy, a time in which the dominance of the Piasts in the exercise of authority was not challenged until the end of the thirteenth century.1 The growth of the membership of the Piast dynasty and the sometimes  

* Translated from the original Polish by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. All translations of the Latin text of the Chronica Polonorum are from the English-Latin critical edition which is being prepared for publication by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński. 1  Bieniak, ‘Powstanie księstwa’, pp. 37–81. Marcin Rafał Pauk, Lecturer, Institute of History, The University of Warsaw

Writing History in Medieval Poland: Bishop Vincentius of Cracow and the Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Darius von Güttner-Sporzyński, CURSOR 28 (Turnhout: Brepols, 2017) pp. 243–266 BREPOLS PUBLISHERS 10.1484/M.CURSOR-EB.5.114767


Marcin Rafał Pauk

brutal rivalry for supreme power fundamentally changed the position of local secular and clerical elites. The elites were becoming more and more conscious of their collective power and they were establishing the foundation of a regional political identity whose permanence was noticeable at least to the late Middle Ages. The political specificity of the Cracow province from 1138, connected with the princeps’ suzerainty over the entire Piast patrimony from the end of the twelfth century, started to rely on the actual rather than only the formal elective nature of the throne, as it had been until that time. Vin­cen­tius provided two vivid description of an election to the throne of Cracow, relating the election of Leszek the White in 1194 and of Władysław III Laskonogi (the Spindleshanks) in 1202.2 Władysław the Spindleshanks, on assumption of the superior power in 1228 in the name of his underage relative Bolesław  V, was the first of the Piast rulers to issue a charter, guaranteeing the bishops and barons of the duchy participation in government and preservation of their privileges.3 Fundamental changes to the relationship between the prince’s authority and the Church also occurred in this period. Acceptance of the idea of reform of the Church and its autonomy from secular authority, which in the eleventh and twelfth centuries actually played no role in the internal relationships of the Piast realm, underwent a significant acceleration at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.4 This radical reform programme, of which Vin­cen­tius was a supporter as the first of the bishops of Cracow to be canonically elected by the chapter in 1208, is associated above all with the actions of the Archbishop of Gniezno Henryk Kietlicz (1199–1219). Progressive reduction of the influence of rulers on church institutions had its impact in shaping social relations in the thirteenth century. It brought the ultimate Polonization of the higher clergy and the increased inflow of representatives of local knightly families to cathedral and collegiate chapters, and consequently the inclusion of financially lucrative ecclesiastical benefices into the calculations and property strategies of the knighthood. Political emancipation of the episcopate, discernible already in a role played in the last quarter of the twelfth century by Bishop Gedko of Cracow, often acquired a tendency towards the building of semi-sovereign territorial fiefs in the next decades.5 These aspirations usually led to aggressive conflicts with rulers in the thirteenth century in all Piast governed provinces. 2 

Chronica Polonorum, iv.26. Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum ecclesiae Cracoviensis, ii, ed. by Piekosiński, doc. 19. 4  Skwierczyński, Recepcja idei gregoriańskich. 5  Cf. Gawlas, ‘Człowiek uwikłany’, pp. 391–401; Wünsch, ‘Territorienbildung zwischen 3 

Lords and Peasants


The events described above influenced the nature of social and economic relations in the Poland of the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The period when the chronicler was active is marked by the beginning of the process of diversification of the pace of development of legal-political and economic relationships across the Piast patrimony. In Silesia, the twelfth century was a phase of thriving rural settlement and the development of municipal centres based on the Magdeburg Law, connected with significant demographic growth and the immigration of foreign settlers.6 After the relative growth of the twelfth century, Mazovia, lying in the north-east of the country, entered a long-term period of stagnation and depopulation, triggered mainly by cyclical Prussian and later Lithuanian invasions.7 Paradoxically, in both these provinces, but for diametrically opposing reasons, a strong princely authority maintained its position for a long time. In Mazovia this state of affairs was perpetuated by the lack of a strong magnate elite and the fragmentation of land ownership which resulted in the emergence of a populous and not very wealthy knightly class. Silesian rulers, most effectively among their Piast relatives, exploited modern instruments of territorial management including the promotion of the charter settlement of towns and the reaping of a profit from urban policies.8 The fundamentals of the social system and the organization of the economy of Poland at the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries cannot be characterized without the use of two chief interpretative models that have been applied in Polish academic research over the last few decades. On account of the scarcity and ambiguity of sources and the diverse methodological approaches these issues are the subject of renewed heated controversies. Developed in the 1960s and 1970s thanks to the studies of Karol Buczek and Karol Modzelewski, the model of the so-called system of ius ducale assumed the relative permanence of social and economic relations in a long stretch of time between the tenth and thirteenth centuries.9 The imposition of the ius ducale was the result of the consolidation of power in the hands of the Piasts, according to Buczek and Modzelewski. The ius ducale, or the common law of the Piast realm, applied Polen, Böhmen’, pp. 199–264; Pauk, ‘“Moneta episcopalis”’, pp. 31–70. 6  See Zientara, Heinrich der Bärtige. 7  Samsonowicz, ‘Gospodarka i społeczeństwo’, pp. 249–89. 8  See in particular Zientara, Heinrich der Bärtige; Gawlas, ‘Piastowie śląscy’, pp. 37–49; Wachowski, Śląsk w czasach Henryka IV Prawego. 9  See for example Buczek, Studia z dziejów. The most comprehensive outline of the key features of the ius ducale is in Modzelewski, Chłopi.


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to all peasants and inhabitants of the servant settlements and towns. The law provided that all lands within the realm and all of the population inhabiting it were the property (patrimonium) of the ruler. The nature of such a common law meant that it differed in its provision from region to region, but in fact provided a transparent and consistent ownership and fiscal system.10 The fiscal system imposed on Piast subjects assumed a form of taxes collected in produce (‘in nature’, naturalia), of services carried out for the ruler (who travelled incessantly all over the country), the court and officials, and works on the building and maintenance of castles. The emergence of a specialized category of servants, distinguished from the rest by its regulation by ruler’s law, was supposed to be an effect of the centralized decision of the ruler. This special group met the needs of the autarkical economy by delivering specific types of goods and services to the emergent apparatus of state which supported the ruler. This new category of Piast subjects was reliant on the uniformity of the entire state structure already existing in the eleventh century, of the organization of towns and castles, which performed fiscal assignments and exercised justice and military service, and a network of subordinated servants’ settlements (osady służebne).11 In such a way, grouped around the ruler, the oligarchical elite collectively exploited the peasant population, which fulfilled its material needs and supported its prestigious status. The individual landed estates of the elite, still very much limited in size in the twelfth century, were not a sufficient source of revenue to support the maintenance of high social status; hence the key factor in wealth increase was exclusively service in the interest of the dynasty. According to this theory only the political, economic, and social changes of the thirteenth century altered the position of the elite and its dependency on the dynasty. First, immunities granted to feudal estates of the Church and to the knight’s dominions and second, immunities exempting settlements located on the basis of the Magdeburg Law from the jurisdiction of castellans effectively undermined the economic basis and judicial competence of the castellan’s administration. An influential theory which highlighted the fundamental nature of the ius ducale in the organization of the Piast realm received broad approval among Polish historians primarily because of its cohesion and the persuasive argu10  Karol Modzelewski criticized the concept of the uncultivated land monopoly (regale ziemne) and has subsequently modified his older ideas about the origins of the sovereign powers of a ruler to the uncultivated land. Modzelewski, ‘Wielki krewniak’, pp. 65–71. 11  Lalik, Studia średniowieczne, pp. 381–416.

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ments of its authors, backed up by in-depth research of extant sources. The emergence of this theory also confirmed the distinct but shared research methodology and outcomes of Polish and Czech medi­e valists, and also between Slovak and Hungarian scholars, although to a lesser degree.12 Shared features of the political and social systems of Younger Europe, the monarchies established and Christianized in the tenth century, which manifested themselves mainly in the existence of the organization of towns (organizacja grodowa) and the retainers’ settlements (osadnictwo służebne), convinced researchers to find shared roots in examples for such a development in models provided by Great Moravia. In addition, researchers firmly emphasized establishment of political structures distinct from the societies of post-Carolingian Europe. Significantly, the majority of accessible sources for this theory can be dated to a time when the system described was already subject to advanced decomposition which forced researchers to rely on a far-reaching methodology of retrogression. A number of critical examinations which attempted to refute some of the elements of this theory appeared in parallel, yet independently of each other, in Polish and Czech research only in the last decade. The comprehensive deconstruction of the model of ius ducale was proposed in 1996 by the Polish historian Sławomir Gawlas.13 He questioned the legitimacy of retrogressive methodology in determining the features of the social system of the Piast monarchy in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, and in particular denounced the use of the immunity clauses of charters from the thirteenth century. The extension of peasant obligations and the increase in fiscal duties enumerated in charters Gawlas ascribed to the legal meticulousness of church scribes rather than a reflection of reality. Gawlas rejected the static nature of the model of ius ducale by arguing that (on the basis of comparative research) there was a gradual modernization of power structures and this was based at first on examples of the Ottonians and Salian dynasties, and later on the model of territorial power typical of the Reich’s Landesherrschaften of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. According to Gawlas the strengthening of the foundations of prince’s power was an adaptation of the institution regalia, received from territories ruled by Hohenstaufen. Gawlas’s ideas brought a fundamental change in the way the constitution of the Piast realm is now understood: earlier emphasis on the uniqueness of the system of ius ducale in relation to Western Europe, which induced some to write about a Central European type of state, was replaced 12  13 

Cf. Kučera, Slovensko po páde Veĺkej Moravy, pp. 349–81. The essential monograph on this topic is Gawlas, O kształt zjednoczonego Królestwa.


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by a concept of the peripheral and derivative in relation to Western European modernization of the basis of the prince’s power. The establishment of the structure of territorial governance with extensive judicial prerogatives, known as the castellan organization (organizacja kasztelańska), took place later, in the second half of the twelfth century. Its development was modelled on the institution of the burgraviate; a burgrave was a military governor of a town or castle in the eastern marchlands of the Reich. The theory about the introduction of some types of peasant duties in this period is supported by evidence in some charters containing complaints of dignitaries of the Church or papal letters which concern new services and dues now demanded of the peasant population on ecclesiastical estates.14 Increases in tax collection in the form of services or produce, as well as the limitation of certain resources (for example, hunting grounds) for the needs of the ruler, have recently been explained by the increasing tendency to save silver and gold bullion in an era of progressive commercialization of economic relations.15 The surplus of silver secured in this way, which increased the fiscal obligations of serfs, provided for the fulfilment of the costly requirements of the elite’s consumption. This increase in fiscal burden at the end of the twelfth century finds spectacular confirmation in the work of Vin­cen­tius, who claims that the officials of Mieszko III the Old committed substantial misappropriation of funds by enforcing tax dues in the old coin, containing a greater amount of silver, and in turn minting and circulating coin with a lower gross weight of silver. Renovatio monetae, or renewal of coin, increased the revenue raised from coin minting, a lucrative source of income. This practice was known throughout Europe in this period and did not constitute any significant innovation in the days of Vin­cen­tius; however it aroused condemnation on the part of church leaders.16 What was a significant novelty in the second half of the twelfth century was an increased frequency of coin debasement which placed an additional burden on the population. The extant numismatic material from the era confirms such a frequent practice. In the 1170s Mieszko III presided over a mass debasement of coinage by minting bracteates with a low silver content. 14  See in particular Gregory IX’s letter to the archbishop of Gniezno, bishop of Cracow and the Abbot of Jędrzejów (dated 1233) which refers to new feudal obligations levied on the rural population as the cause of their escaping. The letter refers to the duty of guarding nests of falcons and lodes of beavers imposed by dukes on the rural population as the novum genus molestie. 15  See for example Gawlas, ed., Ziemie polskie wobec Zachodu, pp. 83–89. 16  Cosmae Pragensis Chronica Bohemorum, i.33, p. 59.

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The evidence of approximately seventy types of bracteates known to be minted confirms the great frequency of the exchange. This practice, continued by successors of Mieszko III, became the subject of criticism by Pope Innocent III. Innocent’s papal bull of 1207 refers to the renewal of coin (renovatio monetae) conducted as many as three times a year and corroborates the account offered in the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius. The significance of economic and social policies has received renewed attention in recent scholarship. This revisionist view about the much greater role of coin minting, fiscal policy, and the ruler’s use of regalia in the shaping of social and political structures of the Piast monarchy is itself shaped by examining the outcomes of comparative research into similar periods of history in neighbouring countries. The register of royal incomes in Hungary established in about 1180 during the reign of Béla III (a contemporary of Mieszko III) shows the significance of the replacement of the coin and the contribution of income obtained from minting coin to the royal treasury.17 According to the register, de redditu monetae contributed one third of the annual receipts of the royal treasury. The second largest amount was income from other types of regalia: income from salt mines, tolls, and customs and fairs. Against these amounts income drawn by the king of Hungary from the annual tribute of the noblemen was relatively modest because it was to be the element which together with the taxes paid in produce was the main feature of the ius ducale model. Following through on Vin­cen­tius’s comment about sanctions applied by the prince’s officials which allowed a settlement of colonists (whether free or serfs) on a private estate, the Hungarian register demonstrates a considerable amount of rents were paid to the Hungarian treasury by Saxon colonists settled in Hungary. I would argue that the ruler’s fiscal exploitation of the settlement privileges confirms that rulers in Central Europe sought to monopolize it. The Piasts were no different to their Hungarian counterparts in the same period. It needs to be considered that firstly, the broadening of the tax base, and secondly and more importantly, the progressive increase of the ruler’s profits from sources more effective than taxes paid in produce such as coin minting, licensing of mining, and the settlement of economic migrants, led to the old economic and social system of ius ducale. The recognition that the economic needs of the ruler needed to be satisfied from sources other than those prescribed by common law were far more effective in the evolution, if not dismantling, of the system by the aspirations of the prelates and magnates of the Piast realm. Similar processes can be observed in Bohemia during the second half of the thirteenth 17 

Status regni Hungariae sub Bela III, ed. by Endlicher, p. 246.


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century where there was an almost complete dismantling of all structures of the castellan’s organization, as well as a shift of the interests of the royal treasury to taxes from silver mines, towns, and a specific tribute (berna specialis) which was levied upon predominantly ecclesiastical estates. This is recognized as forming part of the progressive establishment of the crown domain. The income register of the Hungarian crown provides at the same time an indication of the scale of income enjoyed by Hungarian nobles. The average amount of income from one of the counties (comitatus) constituted almost half the average income of one of the ten Hungarian bishoprics listed in the source.18 In my opinion, this information seems to confirm the view of Karol Modzelewski about the great significance of incomes derived by nobles on account of their service to the ruler, in particular in the general context of the wealth growth of the early magnate.19 Conclusions formulated on the basis of Hungarian sources cannot be generally extended to the monarchy of the Piasts but may induce one to the formulation of new questions in regards to the state of political relations in Poland during the lifetime of Vin­cen­tius of Cracow. The static model of the system of ius ducale specific to Central Europe between 900–1200 can be contrasted to a model which assumes a progressive modernization of the social and economic systems by evolution through consecutive phases of development which is based on examples from Western Europe. Whilst the castellan’s reform is seen as an important phase of this process, the debate over the genesis and the function of the castellan network as a form of territorial government remains unresolved. The established view as to its emergence in the middle of the eleventh century maintained that the castellanies were the basic form of territorial government established after 1040 in the wake of the restoration of the so-called second Piast monarchy, and they remained unchanged until the end of the thirteenth century. This position has been challenged by the research of Sławomir Gawlas who argued that the castellanies known from the thirteenth-century sources were the product of the wide sweeping administrative and political reforms of the second half of the twelfth century and the beginning of the thirteenth century. Gawlas highlighted the older research which established that the title castellanus appeared in Central European sources (in Bohemia in 1159 and Silesia in 1201) as an indicator of 18 

This information should be treated with caution because according to the earlier ruling of king Coloman (1095–1116) the nobles were to receive not two thirds but one third from the royal income. 19  Cf. Barański, ‘Majątki możnowładcze’, pp. 401–31; Rady, Nobility, Land and Service in Medi­eval Hungary, pp. 45–61.

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the innovation. Gawlas supported his thesis by comparing the emergence of castellanies with the introduction of the burgraviate in Central Europe after the office was already well established and functioning in the Reich.20 The existence of the organization of towns before this period is verified by both written sources and archaeology. Among the primary evidence are papal bulls which enumerate the income of the archdiocese of Gniezno (1136) and of the diocese of Wrocław (1155). The question remains however how to determine their fiscal, administrative, and judicial functions. The very limited source base does not assist in the scholarly debate. It is almost certain however that it would be fruitless to seek in these sources some information about relics of the tribal organization of the Piast territories, particularly as the archaeological dating of the majority of towns and castles points predominantly to their construction in the second half of the tenth century or the beginning of the eleventh century.21 Results of recent archaeological research examining settlements and early medi­eval towns are directed at the oldest phase of their functioning in the tenth and eleventh centuries. These outcomes are inconclusive and not able to provide new interpretations of a number of social phenomena. For example the remains of large amounts of cereal crops stored in a town and revealed during excavations may suggest that the town functioned as the post of tax collectors, but on the other hand it may be related to the storage of large amounts of provisions for the purpose of food supply during periods of military conflict, perhaps organized by the local elite.22 The network of towns, whatever its other purposes in the administration of the realm, was a continuous and permanent fixture best documented by the papal bulls which listed the towns in Silesia in 1155 and 1245.23 From the seventeen towns specified in the letter of 1155 twelve were still in existence in 1245. This information may serve as the basis for the conclusion that Silesian administrative structures achieved a certain level of stability by the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries: however correct such a proposition may be there is no way of excluding the possibility of the evolution of the purpose of the towns.24 Sławomir Gawlas 20 

Cetwiński, Śląski tygiel, pp. 255–75. Moździoch, Organizacja gospodarcza, pp. 48–50; Moździoch, Castrum munitissimum, pp. 184–89; Moździoch and Przysiężna–Pizarska, ‘Gród Recen–refugium episcopi’, pp. 249–52. 22  See Moździoch, Castrum munitissimum, pp. 193–94. 23  Schlesisches Urkundenbuch, i, ed. by Appelt, doc. 28; Schlesisches Urkundenbuch, ii, ed. by Irgang, doc. 287. 24  On the organization of new districts in the thirteenth century see for example MłynarskaKaletynowa, ‘Z zagadnień zarządu terytorialnego’, pp. 125–37. 21 


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pointed out that ‘within the thirteenth century an evolution of the office of the castellan had also taken place’ and ‘a network of towns was altered as the needs of administration changed, perhaps in response to planned restructure’.25 There is no doubt that the lower classes of society were collectively exploited by the ruling class. Various forms of economic obligations levied on the peasants settled on the Church and the prince’s estates. These dues were not only enforced by the prince but also by his officials and dignitaries travelling across the country, and perhaps others known in charters as principes or nobiles terre. Vin­cen­tius refers on a number of occasions to such practices which suggests that the enforcement of such a tax collection increased, and therefore the demands of the Church for immunity from such dues may not be exclusively seen as a realization of the papal programme of reform of the Church.26 Enforcement of these tax services from peasants, in particular those related to provision of accommodation and related transport supplies for travelling dignitaries, could however be associated more with the high status of beneficiaries. The role of visual displays of power by the beneficiary of the service, such as the rich robes, horses, weaponry, and armed guards accompanying the dignitary, enhanced the collection of the service. I argue that it was these cultural elements that enforced the provision of the service rather than the detailed legal regulations which prescribed the class of people entitled to such benefits. Granting of fiscal and jurisdictional immunities was undoubtedly at the centre of potential disputes and was a subject of tensions not only in relations between rulers and the Church but also with the secular magnates.27 A wide range of immunities granted to the bishop of Poznań by the duke of Greater Poland, Władysław Odonic, in the 1230s resulted in an open mutiny of the knighthood against the ruler.28 The perception of disadvantage enabled the Piasts to build their new power base in the knighthood, whose members supported their rulers against the hierarchy of the Church in future conflicts. In the development of Polish society in the early and high Middle Ages the key process was the evolution of freemen or free commoners and settled serfs 25 

Gawlas, O kształt zjednoczonego Królestwa, p. 74. At the same time bishop of Prague Henry Bretislav accused the Czech princes and their officials of the predatory exploitation of subjects of the Church (See Gerlaci Milovicensis abbati annales, ed. by Emler, vol. 2, p. 479). It was a prelude to the acute political and constitutional conflict between Czech rulers and the bishops, which reached its climax in the second decade of the thirteenth century during the reign of King Premysl Otakr I. 27  See Kaczmarczyk, Immunitet sądowy; Matuszewski, Immunitet ekonomiczny. 28  Chronica Poloniae Maioris, ed. by Kürbis, col. 65, pp. 84–85. 26 

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into a comparatively uniform peasant class subjected to the dominance of the elites. The same processes are visible across the whole of Europe between 1000 and 1200. In the west of Europe these processes occurred shortly after 1000 and were the integral part of a total transformation of the social and political structure of the regions which formed the western Frankish state in the eleventh century, referred to in older research as the ‘feudal revolution’.29 The increasing intensity of these processes in Central Europe (and the debate continues as to whether it was a coincidence) coincided with the intensification of colonization and settlement of both domestic and foreign migrants.30 The evidence of the equalization of the peasant class can be obtained from thirteenth-century charters, specifically from the disappearance of the extensive lists of serfs. The lists enumerating the serfs bound to church estates were a common feature of the charters issued before 1200, however after that date a progressively larger percentage of serfs was granted a legal status of ascripticii which placed them between slaves and free peasants. Like the serfs, they were attached to the land of their lord with a restricted right of mobility. Thus after 1200 church charters do not include lists of serfs in the church estates.31 Mainstream medi­e val historiography in Poland, including the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius, does not unfortunately deliver any more significant data which would enable in-depth examination of changes in the society of the Piast realm. Understanding of the social context is only possible with the use of local or provincial written sources such as a monastic chronicle from the abbey in Henryków which was composed approximately fifty years after the Chronicle of Vin­cen­tius.32 Perhaps there is only one indication in the Chronicle of the processes of destruction of the old structures of society by the emergence of large church and secular estates and internal migration. The passage describes the punishment of settlement agents by officials of Mieszko III for approving settlement of a freeman on the prince’s lands, thus reducing him to the status of a slave, and a separate admonition for the settlement of a non-free fugitive who belonged to another owner. The chronicler included the description of these two examples in a long list of misuse of authority by Mieszko’s officials in Lesser 29 

See in particular Rösener, ‘Bauern in der Salierzeit’, pp. 51–73. Bak, ‘Servitude in the Medi­eval Kingdom of Hungary’, pp. 389–93; Nový, ‘Vznik poddanského obyvatelstva’, pp. 213–40. 31  Cf. Górecki, ‘Viator to Ascriptitius’, pp. 14–35. 32  Górecki, A Local Society in Transition. 30 


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Poland which led the local magnates to mutiny. I would agree with Sławomir Gawlas that Vin­cen­tius’s account is evidence of the inclusion of migration and settlement in broadening the taxation base, if not an attempt at their monopolization by the ruler. Similar but successful attempts at extending the prince’s control over migration and settlement are particularly visible in the politics of the first Silesian Piasts.33 On the other hand Stanisław Trawkowski suggested that the passage was not just the reflection of an attempt at the monopolization of profits from the settlement. Trawkowski argued that Vin­cen­tius described the events as if Mieszko was critical of the assumption that settlers in the estates of clergy, magnates, and knights were no longer freemen but serfs. Trawkowski concluded that the Piast ruler acted against this practice sponsored by prelates and magnates even if he did so unsuccessfully.34 I would argue that other Central European monarchs attempted to shield the lower strata of society of their realms from domination by elites. In 1189 Bohemian ruler Konrad Otto attempted to guarantee full rights to inherited lands (hereditates) not only for magnates, but also the lower knights. The emergence of oligarchy and the expansion of magnates’ clientele were not tamed by the Golden Bull issued by King Andrew II of Hungary in 1222 either. This charter of freedoms extended to the lower ranking free subjects of the king (servientes regis), the full political rights until then enjoyed by the barons of the kingdom. Examination of similar processes taking place in Central European monarchies would be an interesting field for comparative research. Church institutions were at the forefront of modernization of agriculture and not only on account of promoting migration of settlers (‘free guests’). Sources from the second half of the twelfth century demonstrated the changing legal status of non-free serfs in ecclesiastical estates and free peasants, owners of hereditary properties. In charters from the thirteenth century (without exception produced by clergymen), the peasants, who represented a diverse range of wealth and legal status, were being transformed into a category of ascripticii, serfs of the church estates who were permanently deprived of the right to leave the farmed land.35 The actions of the Church and magnates were not the only factors which undermined the social and legal status of yeomen or peasant free


Gawlas, ‘Piastowie śląscy jako pionierzy modernizacji’. Trawkowski, ‘Monarcha wobec ludu’, p. 377. 35  The term seems to be typical of the Polish charters only and is clearly inspired by late antique legal terminology. Modzelewski, ‘Dziedzice bez wolności i wolni bez dziedzictwa’, pp. 555–64. 34 

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farmers (heredes).36 The changing status of yeomen was perhaps more fundamentally affected by the change of military strategy. In the twelfth century a more dominant role began to be taken by the heavily armed knight’s cavalry, hence foot soldiers recruited from the peasant class, in Czech sources referred to as milites secundi ordinis, lost their former military/strategic advantage. The impossibility of participating in war expeditions and reduction of their role to the defence of local territory in case of an invasion, I would argue had to adversely affect the social status of free peasants. These changes are reflected in the sources of the thirteenth century, in particular in the reference to the payment of taxes and the tithe and the furnishing of some of the transport services for the ruler; the tax records offer the distinction in their collection as more militari and more rusticano. All the same, the fluidity of social conditions still characterized society during the Piast realm and in the thirteenth century a certain number of free peasants or yeomen considered themselves rightful warriors and led a lifestyle little distinguished from that of lower ranking knights. For Abbot Piotr, the German author of the Chronicle of the Monastery in Henryków, such a situation presented a certain difficulty in determining the social status of these people according to categories well known to him. Therefore he referred to them as petty knights (militelli), and sometimes stated that they alone had regarded themselves as knights.37 Piotr’s chronicle gives vivid accounts of the social degradation of those people, whether they were called knights or prince’s free peasants. They were removed from their hereditary lands under different pretexts by great estate owners (including Cistercian monks) and with the loss of social condition often started being common brigands.38 The emergence of the late medi­eval noble class is perhaps best explained by the social transformations of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.39 In Poland, in contrast to Western Europe and even Bohemia, the noble class was much stronger numerically and in legal terms enjoyed full uniformity of formal legal status irrespective of wealth. The origins of such a position can be seen 36 

More about this social class of free population in Trawkowski, ‘Heredes im frühpiasti­ schen Polen’, pp. 262–85. 37  Liber fundationis claustri Sancte Marie Virginis in Heinrichow, ed. by Grodecki, i.2, p. 118. Now available in an English translation, Górecki, A Local Society in Transition. 38  For example, the hereditary owners of the village of Bobolice, who became bandits after they lost their hereditary land as a result of a court case and who were redeemed from a death penalty by the Abbot in exchange for the ownership of the lands. Liber fundationis, i.4, p. 124. 39  There is an authoritative overview of the latest research on the medi­e val nobility of Poland in Eduard Mühle, ed., Studien zum Adel.


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in the social transformation of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The permanence of the division of the Piast realm into a number of principalities ruled independently by branches of the dynasty had a significant impact on the structure of the magnate elite and its formation all over Poland, although fundamental interruption of the genealogical continuity by the replacement of old magnate families and the emergence of a new ruling elite most clearly occurred only in Silesia after the return of the sons of Władysław II the Exile to the throne (1163). After that date representatives of the old elite disappeared with descendants of the palatine Piotr Włostowic as the prime example. There emerge new families, fully loyal to Silesian dynasts and the first foreigners, chiefly of German origin, whose rise to pre-eminence at the Silesian court heralded social changes caused by the mass migration of the second half of the thirteenth century. Further division of Silesia into smaller political units caused tightening of the range of political and economic interests with the decreasing size of the prince’s domain.40 Not by chance in the thirteenth century are there no longer examples of magnates with influence, wealth, and ambitions comparable with the most powerful characters of the twelfth century, palatine Sieciech, Piotr Włostowic, and Jaxa of Miechów.41 The acquisition of the outward attributes of high social status, typical of West European knighthood, took place in Poland with a significant delay when compared to other countries of the region, especially Bohemia. Some elements of knightly culture were already present at the Piast court in the beginning of the twelfth century, as demonstrated by the account of the knighting of Bolesław III (c. 1100) in the Chronicle by Gallus. For example the process of heraldization of knighthood advanced considerably only at the close of the thirteenth century.42 Nonetheless it seems to be a feature of contemporary Polish historiography to use anachronistic forms for eleventh and twelfthcentury clan names and to ascribe to kin or family groups of this early period the features and attributes known of the Polish clans of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.43 The early clan names or war cries emerged usually as designations given to heraldic devices or early coats of arms and their first examples 40  Jurek, ‘Rotacja elity dworskiej’, pp. 9–13. Published in German as Tomasz Jurek, ‘Die Rotation der Hofeliten’, pp. 275–301. 41  See Dobosz, Monarchia, pp. 250–92; 367–405. 42  The primary evidence is furnished by sphragistic sources in Wroniszewski, ‘Średniowieczne pieczęcie rycerstwa polskiego’, pp. 244–46. 43  Pakulski, ‘The Development of Clan Names in Medi­eval Poland’, pp. 85–96.

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are known from the late Middle Ages. In the study of medi­e val Polish elites, the genealogical method dominates. In the context of the limited amount of sources for earlier centuries the extensive use of genealogical methodology causes a narrowing of the scope of research to the issue of family connections and their participation in political events. There is an evident problem with the overuse of this methodology. I would like to explain this methodological trap using the example of one of the better known magnates of Lesser Poland, palatine Mikołaj who is repeatedly mentioned by Vin­cen­tius in the Chronicle. The historiographical orthodoxy holds that in 1202 Mikołaj made a request of Leszek the White (before Leszek’s accession to the throne of Cracow) to dismiss one of his advisers, Goworek the provincial governor of Sandomierz. According to this position this request was consistent with the political interests of the clan of Gryfici.44 I am not questioning the correctness of such a conclusion but would like to observe that the identification of the palatine as a member of this clan is based exclusively on the fact that he donated two villages ( Jaksice and Rzeplin) to the commandery of the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów. The name of the first village resembles etymologically the name of the magnate Jaxa of Miechow, the founder of the commandery of the canons. Jaxa is also recognized in historiography as a member of the clan Gryfici and thus the assumption whereby Mikołaj is placed in the clan Gryfici is based on this association. I am ignoring the anachronistic nature of the clan name used in the above argument but would like to note that the entire structure of the argument is based only on one criterion of the property. Meanwhile the practice of real estate trade in the Middle Ages was a little bit more complex than inheriting from relatives, and in particular, from male relatives. Consideration needs to be given to the issue of donation of land, buildings, and fixtures to the Church and associated organizations in custom and common law. Property held by individuals on the basis of allodial ownership made it free from duties and services to the sovereign, but at the same time, restricted land alienation. A donation of allodial lands or its portion was subject to revocation rights by members of the donor’s kin and thus exposed the receiving institution to the risk of revocation of a donation and in consequence the failure of its devotional aim.45 Therefore more probable are instances where the founder donated lands which were recently acquired through purchase, 44  45 

Wyrozumski, ‘Mikołaj (zm. 1202), wojewoda krakowski’, p. 81. The rules of the revocation of a donation are outlined in Liber fundationis, i.8, pp. 135–36.


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exchange, or receipt of dowry. The ownership of Jaksice and its quick alienation can be an equally good argument for Mikołaj not to be one of the Gryfici. I suggest that the value of historiographical hypotheses erected on similar conditions is negligible.46 Research centred on purely genealogical aspects of the emerging noble caste seems to overshadow the equally important issue of the development of the client circle of the knightly families.47 Perhaps new research should concentrate on examination of colonization and migration. The problem of the economic base of the Polish magnate elite is still unresolved and causes controversy comparable to the issue of the system of ius ducale. The two aspects of the early Piast monarchy are closely connected. The conclusion that the relatively small size of the magnates’ estates in the eleventh and twelfth centuries led to the logical assumption that the most significant source of their wealth, and resulting from it their social status, was based on the exploitation of the lower strata of society because of the very nature of that society.48 Some idea about the management of magnate estates at the beginning of the twelfth century can be inferred from a note about the consecration of a church in Pacanów included in a transumpt issued by Vin­cen­tius’s successor to the see of Cracow approximately one hundred years later. Bishop Iwo’s transumpt recited earlier charters as part of its text and mentioned the founder of the church in Pacanów, comes Siemian. The comes donated for the purposes of the Church his inn and tithe in fish, calves, lambs, piglets, and cheeses. 49 Donation of the tithe in livestock and its produce rather than in cereal crops seems to confirm an older view of Stanisław Arnold about the economic profile of the oldest magnate estates, which was focused on the breeding of horses and horned livestock.50 The process of development of the large magnate estates in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries can only be reconstructed in rare cases, in particular in the case of church institutions which maintained archives containing documentary evidence about the estate’s inventory. An example of such a situation is the case 46 

The location of estates and clan kinship can be used as the determinants of political preferences and alliances, see Teterycz-Puzio, ‘Małopolska elita władzy’, pp. 66–71. 47  See conclusions of Pauk, ‘Fama, gloria, curia ac ngens familia’, pp. 27–62. 48  Modzelewski, Chłopi, pp. 142–50. 49  Zbiór dokumentów katedry i diecezji krakowskiej, 1063–1415, ed.  by Kuraś, doc. 2; Wiśniowski, Parafie w średniowiecznej Polsce, pp. 26–27. 50  Arnold, Z dziejów średniowiecza, pp. 183–86.

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of comes Dzierżko, the founder of the monastery of the Premonstratensians in Busk near Pacanów, who in approximately 1190 made his will before taking the cross. He bequeathed nine individual settlements to his wife and the monastery. The bequest included the whole of the settlements with non-free domestic servants and livestock described by the testator as omnes hereditates. The testamentary disposition would suggest that Dzierżko did not have an extensive landed estate at his disposal, however his bequest was most likely composed of land purchased by him and excluded hereditary possessions of his family and kin group.51 A reconstruction of an original composition of the estate of one family has been attempted by Tomasz Jurek on the basis of circumspect retrogression, observation of subsequent divisions of the estate and inheritance of the right of patronage, and the tithes of individual villages belonging to the family Pogorzele in Silesia.52 The necessary requirement for this kind of reconstruction lies in a solid genealogical recognition of the family group and relatively abundant documentary evidence, usually connected with a monastic foundation by the family. There is very little chance of a similar in-depth study in regard to another family group. The outcomes of Jurek’s research force a revision of the established view in regards to the modest size of the early landed estates.53 At the end of the twelfth century, the progenitor of the family Jarach had at his disposal an extensive land estate comprising thirty individual settlements of an estimated size of three hundred square kilometres. There are important research questions which remain. For example, how the new settlements managed their newly acquired land and how their acreage of arable land was greatly expanded through encouraging migration and active clearing of forests. Jurek’s work demonstrates how significant are detailed studies of sources for enhancing knowledge about the economic foundations of the earliest knighthood, the oldest elite of the Piast realm. The issues mentioned above impact on the matter of the grants of land made by rulers, which is equally difficult to settle. Comparative studies of Hungarian and Czech examples suggest that the scale of these grants increased during the period under consideration, bound undoubtedly by increasing migration and 51  The same problems with the assessment of the size of the oldest noble estates are also posed by Czech sources. For example, the Czech noble Niemoja, a member of a powerful family Wrszowcy, in approximately 1107 granted the canons Visegrad tota substantia of only five villages with the non-free folk, which is grossly disproportionate to his social position. Codex diplomaticus et epistolaris regni Bohemiae, i, ed. by Friedrich, doc. 100. 52  Jurek, ‘Najdawniejsze dobra śląskich Pogorzelów’, pp. 27–55. 53  Korta, Rozwój wielkiej własności.


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the settlement of colonists. Grants of land to knights are mentioned in the early twelfth-century Gesta principum Polonorum in the context of the generosity of Bolesław III during his nuptials. Perhaps not accidentally it is mentioned in third place after the gifts of castles and expensive chattels.54 The order of the importance of these assets in gifts of the monarch underwent a fundamental change during the twelfth century but the ruler retained the prerogative to award uncleared land and forests as well as to reassign goods received by ius caducum.55 The prospect of the free gift of those assets and the increasing tendency to control the acquisition and disposal of land by the ruler became in the course of the thirteenth century more indispensable tools of the crown.56 In addition to narrative and diplomatic sources, information about the Polish knighthood can be also derived from other sources such as the practice of naming individuals and property and the usage of such names in documents and on seals. The practice was not just a derivative of legal or chancellery procedures but remained actively linked with the current state of society’s values and norms. In all of twelfth-century Central Europe the prevalent manner of identification of an individual was by stating his or her closest male relative: father, and more rarely brother (unless he held a high office). From the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, firstly in Bohemia and next in Silesia, the practice became progressively replaced by the use of names or designations referring to localities. In the context of country settlements in the second half of the twelfth century, along with the relatively mass appearance of small church foundations established by magnates, they reflect the increase of the status of land ownership in the awareness of the contemporary elite.57 The development and usage of family names created on the basis of a family’s association with particular land proceeded slowly, as demonstrated by the frequency of the adoption of new family names in the thirteenth century. The adoption of family names based on residence is more strongly noticeable when a family held a fortified knightly residence or castle, yet the economic processes which provided for this were delayed in Poland until the fourteenth century.58 54 

‘Principibus pallia, vasa aurea et argentea, aliis civitates et castella, aliis villas et predia’: Gesta principum Polonorum, ii.23. 55  Jurek, ‘Die Entstehung des polnischen Adels’, pp. 37–38. 56  Jurek, ‘Die Entstehung des polnischen Adels’, pp. 37–38. 57  The issues of Romanesque churches with Western style choir galleries are discussed in Tomaszewski, Romańskie kościoły. More recently in Skwierczyński, ‘Imitatio regni’, pp. 171–200. 58  I am discussing the reality of the legal and constitutional emergence of castles in Poland

Lords and Peasants


Archaeologists have identified a similar relationship with hill forts in the earlier period but it is difficult to explicitly state that it is possible to attribute to them the same substantial ideological significance as castles.59 The high prestige of courtly and provincial offices was reflected invariably through the entire period in their use in charters and on seals. The significance of the Chronicle to research on Polish society of the turn of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries is often debatable and depends on the individual point of view of the researcher and his or her applied methodology. The famous description of abuses by clerks of Mieszko III in Cracow, repeatedly mentioned above, which were the reason for overthrowing his rule, provide the researcher of social history with a vivid and unique description of the adaptation of the Western European concept of regalia in the Piast realm. It is a brief lecture on the practice of strengthening the prince’s power yet assessed by the chronicler as an example of exceptional tyranny. In the older research this account was interpreted as a representation not of innovative practices, but as an indication of conservative Mieszko III’s defence of the royal prerogative against the emancipation of the Church. On the other hand, the historian who aims to examine the narrative strategies of the chronicler would deny this fragment any significance in the reality of the reign of Mieszko III. He would recognize that it is a case study portraying a negative hero and his even worse servants, and that the abuses are presented only as part of the logic of the narration, necessary to provide grounds for deposition of the tyrant.60

in a broad Central-European context in Pauk, ‘Funkcjonowanie regale fortyfikacyjnego’, pp. 3–16. 59  Kamińska, ‘Grodziska stożkowate’, pp. 43–78; Kajzer, ‘Z zagadnień genezy tzw. gródków stożkowatych’, pp. 331–39. 60  We touch upon the general question of assessing the usefulness of narrative sources for the reconstruction of the facts from the history of political and social phenomena. The same issue concerns, for example, the interpretation of the character of Palatine Sieciech as presented in the Gesta principum Polonorum. In the traditionally oriented historiography Sieciech is characterized by great political ambitions, including the desire to take power. In more recent historiography such a portrait is representative of a topos, representing a standardized method of the narrative about another second-in-command person in the country, usually presented as a negative hero or at least as an ambivalent player. Cf. Żmudzki, Władca i wojownicy, pp. 423–28.


Marcin Rafał Pauk

Works Cited Primary Sources Chronica Poloniae Maioris, ed. by Brygida Kürbis, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 8 (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1970) Chronica Polonorum, ed. by Marian Plezia, Monumenta Poloniae Historica, Nova Series, 11 (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1994) Codex diplomaticus Cathedralis ad s. Venceslaum ecclesiae Cracoviensis, ii, ed.  by Franciszek K. Piekosiński (Kraków: Polska Akademia Umiejętności, 1883) Codex diplomaticus et epistolaris regni Bohemiae, i ed.  by Gustavus Friedrich (Prague: Sumptibus Academiae Scientiarum Bohemoslovenicae, 1904) Cosmae Pragensis Chronica Bohemorum, ed. by Bertold Bretholz. Monumenta Germaniae Historica. Scriptores Rerum Germanicum. Nova Series 2 (Berlin: Berolini, 1923) Gerlaci Milovicensis abbati annales, in Fontes rerum Bohemicarum, ii, ed. by Josef Emler (Prague: Nákladem Musea království Českého, 1874), pp. 461–516 Gesta principum Polonorum, trans. by Paul W. Knoll and Frank Schaer, ed. by Frank Schaer (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2003) Liber fundationis claustri Sancte Marie Virginis in Heinrichow, ed. by Roman Grodecki, 2nd edn (Wrocław: Muzeum Archidiecezjalne, 1991) Schlesisches Urkundenbuch, i, ed. by Heinrich Appelt (Graz: Böhlaus, 1963) Schlesisches Urkundenbuch, ii ed. by Winfried Irgang (Wien: Böhlaus, 1977) Status regni Hungariae sub Bela  III, in Rerum hungaricarum monumenta Arpadiana, ed. by Stephan Ladislaus Endlicher (Sankt Gallen: Scheitlin Zollikofer, 1849) Zbiór dokumentów katedry i diecezji krakowskiej, 1063–1415 [The Collection of Documents of the Cathedral and the Diocese of Cracow, 1063–1415], ed.  by Stanisław Kuraś (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 1965)

Secondary Studies Arnold, Stanisław, Z dziejów średniowiecza: wybór pism [The History of the Middle Ages: Selected Works] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1968) Bak, János M., ‘Servitude in the Medi­eval Kingdom of Hungary (A Sketchy Outline)’, in Forms of Servitude in Northern and Central Europe: Decline, Resistance, and Expansion, ed. by Paul Freedman and Monique Bourin (Turnhout: Brepols 2005), pp. 387–400 Barański, Marek, ‘Majątki możnowładcze na Węgrzech w XII wieku’ [‘Estates of the Magnates in Hungary in the Twelfth Century’], Przegląd Historyczny, 70  (1979), 401–31 Bieniak, Janusz, ‘Powstanie księstwa opolsko–raciborskiego jako wyraz przekształcania się Polski w dzielnicową poliarchię’ [‘The Creation of the Duchy of Opole and Racibórz as an Expression of Transformation of the Polish Monarchy into the Polyarchy’], in Sacra Silentii provincia: 800 lat powstania dziedzicznego księstwa opolskiego (1202–2002), ed. by Maria Pobóg-Lenartowicz, Z Dziejów Kultury Chrześcijańskiej na Śląsku 27 (Opole: Uniwersytet Opolski, 2004), pp. 37–81

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Buczek, Karol, Studia z dziejów ustroju społeczno-gospodarczego Polski piastowskiej [Studies in the Socio-Economic History of Piast Poland], 3  vols (Kraków: Societas Vistulana, 2006–10) Cetwiński, Marek, Śląski tygiel: studia z dziejów polskiego średniowiecza [The Silesian Crucible: Studies in the History of Polish Middle Ages] (Częstochowa: Wydawnictwo Wyższej Szkoły Pedagogicznej, 2001) Dobosz, Józef, Monarchia i możni wobec Kościoła w Polsce do początku XIII wieku [The Monarchy and Magnates and their Relationship with the Church in Poland until the Begining of the Thirteenth Century] (Poznań: Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 2002) Gawlas, Sławomir, O kształt zjednoczonego Królestwa: Niemieckie władztwo terytorialne a geneza społecznoustrojowej odrębności Polski [The Shape of the United Kingdom: German Territorial Lordship and the Origins of Polish Social and Political Independence] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1996) —— , ‘Człowiek uwikłany w wielkie procesy–przykład Muskaty’ [‘A Man Involved in Grand Schemes: The Case of Muskata’], in Człowiek w społeczeństwie średniowiecznym, ed. by Roman Michałowski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1997), pp. 391–401 —— , ‘Piastowie śląscy jako pionierzy modernizacji’ [‘The Piasts of Silesia as Pioneers of Modernization’], in Piastowie śląscy w kulturze i europejskich dziejach, ed. by Antoni Barciak (Katowice: Societas Scientiis Favendis Silesiae Superioris, 2007), pp. 37–49 —— , ed., Ziemie polskie wobec Zachodu: Studia nad rozwojem średniowiecznej Europy [Polish Lands and the West: A Study of the Development of Medi­eval Europe] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2006) Górecki, Piotr, ‘Viator to Ascriptitius: Rural Economy, Lordship, and the Origins of Serf­ dom in Medi­eval Poland’, Slavic Review, 42 (1983), 14–35 —— , A Local Society in Transition: The ‘Henryków Book’ and Related Documents, Studies and Texts 155 (Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 2007) Jurek, Tomasz, ‘Rotacja elity dworskiej na Śląsku w XII – XIV wieku’ [‘Rotation of Elite of the Court in Silesia in XII–XIV’], in Genealogia: władza i społeczeństwo w Polsce średniowiecznej, ed.  by Andrzej Radzimiński and Jan Wroniszewski (Toruń: Wydawnictwo UMK, 1999), pp. 7–27 —— , ‘Najdawniejsze dobra śląskich Pogorzelów’ [The Earliest Estates of the Silesian Pogorzele], Roczniki Historyczne, 58 (2002), 27–55 —— , ‘Die Entstehung des polnischen Adels’, in Studien zum Adel im mittelalterlichen Polen, ed. by Eduard Mühle (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012), pp. 13–112 —— , ‘Die Rotation der Hofeliten bei den schlesischen Piasten im 12. – 14. Jahrhundert’, in Studien zum Adel im mittelalterlichen Polen, ed.  by Eduard Mühle (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012), pp. 275–301 Kaczmarczyk, Zdzisław, Immunitet sądowy i jurysdykcja poimmunitetowa w dobrach kościoła w Polsce do końca XIV wieku [Court Immunity and Jurisdiction Outside Immunity in the Estates of the Church in Poland until the End of the Fourteenth Cen­ tury] (Poznań: PTPN, 1936) Kajzer, Leszek, ‘Z zagadnień genezy tzw. gródków stożkowatych’ [‘On the Genesis of the So-Called Conical Settlements’], Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej, 34 (1986), 331–39


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Kamińska, Janina, ‘Grodziska stożkowate śladem posiadłości rycerskich XIII–XIV wieku’ [‘Conical Settements as the Remnants of the Knightly Property 1201–1301’], Prace i Materiały Muzeum Archeologicznego i Etnograficznego w Łodzi, Series A (1966), 43–78 Korta, Wacław, Rozwój wielkiej własności feudalnej na Śląsku do połowy XIII wieku [The Development of the Great Feudal Property in Silesia to the Middle of the Thirteenth Century] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1964) Kučera, Matúš, Slovensko po páde Veĺkej Moravy: štúdie o hosopodárskom a sociálnom vývine v 9.–13. storočí [Slovakia after the Fall of Great Moravia: The Study of Economic and Social Development between the Ninth and Thirteenth Centuries] (Bratislava: Veda, 1974) Lalik, Tadeusz, Studia średniowieczne [Medi­eval Studies], ed.  by Stanisław Trawkowski (Warszawa: Instytut Historii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2006) Matuszewski, Józef, Immunitet ekonomiczny w dobrach kościoła w Polsce do roku 1381 [Economic Immunity in the Estates of the Church in Poland until 1381] (Poznań: Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk, 1936) Młynarska-Kaletynowa, Marta, ‘Z zagadnień zarządu terytorialnego Śląska w XIII wieku. Nowe kasztelanie: na Ślęży, w Urazie i Oleśnicy’ [‘The Issues of Territorial Gover­ nance of Silesia in the Thirteenth Century’], Archaeologia Historica Polona, 15 (2005), 125–37 Modzelewski, Karol, Chłopi w monarchii wczesnopiastowskiej [Peasants in the Early Piast Monarchy] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1987) —— , ‘Dziedzice bez wolności i wolni bez dziedzictwa: Kondycja chłopska w oczach trzynastowiecznej grupy rządzącej’ [‘Landowners without Freedom and Free Folk without any Inheritance: The Condition of the Peasant in the Eyes of Thirteenth-Century Ruling Elite’], in Kultura średniowieczna i staropolska, ed.  by Danuta Gawinowa (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1991), pp. 555–64 —— , ‘Wielki krewniak, wielki wojownik, wielki sąsiad: Król w oczach współplemieńców’ [‘Great Kinsman, a Great Warrior, a Great Neighbor: The King in the Eyes of Fellow Tribesmen’], in Monarchia w średniowieczu: władza nad ludźmi, władza nad terytorium: studia ofiarowane profesorowi Henrykowi Samsonowiczowi, ed. by Jerzy Pysiak, Aneta Pieniądz-Skrzypczak and Marcin Rafał Pauk (Warszawa: Societas Vistulana, 2002), pp. 65–71 Moździoch, Sławomir, Organizacja gospodarcza państwa wczesnopiastowskiego na Śląsku [The Economy of the Early Piast State in Silesia] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1990) —— , Castrum munitissimum Bytom: Lokalny ośrodek władzy w państwie wczesnopiastowskim [Castrum munitissimum Bytom: The Local Center of Power in the Early Piast Poland] (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2002) Moździoch, Sławomir, and Magdalena Przysiężna–Pizarska, ‘Gród Recen–refugium episcopi’, in Milicz – clavis Regni Poloniae: gród na pograniczu, ed. by Justyna Kolenda (Wrocław: Instytut Archeologii i Etnologii Polskiej Akademii Nauk, 2008), pp. 236–54 Mühle, Eduard, ed., Studien zum Adel im mittelalterlichen Polen (Wiesbaden: Harrasso­ witz Verlag, 2012)

Lords and Peasants


Nový, Rostislav, ‘Vznik poddanského obyvatelstva jako společenské třídy v českých zemích’, in Struktura feudální společnosti na území Československa a Polska do přelomu 15. a 16. století, ed. by Ján Čierny, Antonín Verbík and František Hejl (Praha: Ústav československých a světových dějin ČSAV, 1984), pp. 213–40 Pakulski, Jan, ‘The Development of Clan Names in Medi­eval Poland’, in Nobilities in Cen­ tral and Eastern Europe: Kinship, Property and Privilege, ed. by János M. Bak (Buda­ pest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1994), pp. 85–96 Pauk, Marcin Rafał, ‘Funkcjonowanie regale fortyfikacyjnego w Europie Środkowej w śred­niowieczu’ [‘The Functioning of the Royal Fortification Monopoly in the Central Europe in the Middle Ages’], Kwartalnik Historii Kultury Materialnej, 51 (2003), 3–16 —— , ‘Fama, gloria, curia ac ngens familia. Służba i klientela rycerska w otoczeniu możnowładztwa czeskiego (XIII – początek XIV wieku)’ [‘Servants and Clients of Knighthood among the Czech Magnates (XIII – the Beginning of the Fourteenth Century)’], in Dom, majątek, klient, sługa: manifestacja pozycji elit w przestrzeni materialnej i społecznej (XIII–XIX wiek), ed. by Marcin Rafał Pauk and Monika SaczyńskaKaliszuk (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Instytutu Archeologii i Etnologii PAN, 2010), pp. 27–62 —— , ‘“Moneta episcopalis”: Episcopal Coinage in Poland and Bohemia and its German Context’, Acta Poloniae Historica, 104 (2011), 31–70 Rady, Martyn C., Nobility, Land and Service in Medi­eval Hungary (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2000) Rösener, Werner, ‘Bauern in der Salierzeit’, in Die Salier und das Reich, iii, ed. by Stefan Weinfurter (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1991), pp. 51–73 Samsonowicz, Henryk, ‘Gospodarka i społeczeństwo (XIII -początek XVI w.)’ [‘Economy and Society (from the Thirteenth to the Beginning of the Sixteenth Century)’], in Dzieje Mazowsza do 1526 roku, ed. by Aleksander Gieysztor and Henryk Samsonowicz (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo PWN, 1994), pp. 249–89 Skwierczyński, Krzysztof, Recepcja idei gregoriańskich w Polsce do początku XIII wieku [The Reception of Gregorian Reform in Poland before the Beginning of the Thirteenth Century] (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego, 2005) —— , ‘Imitatio regni: Adlige Stiftungen im Polen des 11. und 12. Jahrhunderts’, in Mon­ archische und adlige Sakralstiftungen im mittelalterlichen Polen, ed. by Eduard Mühle (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2013), pp. 171–200 Teterycz-Puzio, Agnieszka, ‘Małopolska elita władzy wobec zamieszek politycznych w Małopolsce w XIII wieku’ [‘The Elites of Lesser Poland and Political Unrest in the Thirteenth Century’], in Społeczeństwo Polski średniowiecznej: zbiór studiów 9, ed. by Stefan K. Kuczyński (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2001), pp. 65–87 Tomaszewski, Andrzej, Romańskie kościoły z emporami zachodnimi na obszarze Polski, Czech i Węgier [Romanesque Churches with Western Style Choir Galleries in Poland, Bohemia and Hungary] (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1974) Trawkowski, Stanisław, ‘Heredes im frühpiastischen Polen’, in Europa slavica, Europa orientalis, ed. by Klaus-Detlev Grothusen and Klaus Zernack (Berlin: Duncker und Humblot, 1980), pp. 262–85


Marcin Rafał Pauk

—— , ‘Monarcha wobec ludu w świetle “Kroniki” mistrza Wincentego’ [‚The Monarch and the People in the Context of the Chronicle by Vin­cen­tius‘], in Człowiek w społec­ zeństwie średniowiecznym, ed.  by Roman Michałowski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 1997), pp. 365–78 Wachowski, Krzysztof, ed., Śląsk w czasach Henryka IV Prawego [Silesia in the Time of Henryk IV Probus] (Wrocław: Uniwersytet Wrocławski, 2005) Wiśniowski, Eugeniusz, Parafie w średniowiecznej Polsce: Struktura i funkcje społeczne [Parishes in Medi­eval Poland: Their Structure and Social Functions] (Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 2004) Wroniszewski, Jan, ‘Średniowieczne pieczęcie rycerstwa polskiego’ [‘The Medi­eval Seals of Polish Knighthood], in Pieczęcie w dawnej Rzeczypospolitej: stan i perspektywy badań, ed. by Zenon Piech, Jan Pakulski, and Jan Wroniszewski (Warszawa: Wydawnictwo DiG, 2006), pp. 244–46 Wünsch, Thomas, ‘Territorienbildung zwischen Polen, Böhmen und dem deutschen Reich: Das Breslauer Bistumsland vom 12. bis 16. Jahrhundert’, in Geschichte des christ­lichen Lebens im schlesischen Raum, ed.  by Joachim Köller and Rainer Bendel (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2002), pp. 199–264 Wyrozumski, Jerzy, ‘Mikołaj (zm. 1202), wojewoda krakowski’, in Polski Słownik Bio­ graficzny, xxi, ed. by Władysław Konopczyński (Wrocław: Ossolineum, 1976), p. 81 Zientara, Benedykt, Heinrich der Bärtige und seine Zeit Politik und Gesellschaft im mittel­ alterlichen Schlesien, Schriften des Bundesinstituts für Ostdeutsche Kultur und Geschichte 17 (München: Oldenbourg, 2002) Żmudzki, Paweł, Władca i wojownicy: narracje o wodzach, drużynie i wojnach w najdawniejszej historiografii Polski i Rusi [The Ruler and Warriors: Narratives about Chiefs, his Guard and Wars in the most Ancient Historiography, Polish and Rus], Mono­grafie Fundacji na Rzecz Nauki Polskiej (Wrocław: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Wrocławs­ kiego, 2009)

Appendix 1

The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230) Mieszko I Father Siemomysł, legendary warlord, leader of the Polanie Birth and Death c. 935–25 May 992

Reign c. 960–92

Marriage 1.  seven pagan wives, according to the Gesta 2.  c. 965–77: Dobrava, daughter of Boleslav I the Cruel of Bohemia 3.  c. 979/80–92: Oda, daughter of Dytryk, margrave of northern march Issue (number indicates marriage) 2.  Bolesław (966/67–17 June 1025) Świętosława (Sygryda) (968/72–after 3 February 1014) 3.  Mieszko (979/84–after 25 May 992) Świętopełk (979/85–before 25 May 992) Lambert (980/90–after 25 May 992)

Bolesław I Chrobry (the Brave) Parents Mieszko I

Dobrava of Bohemia

Birth and Death 966/67–17 June 1025

Reign 992–1025, crowned 18 or 23 April 1025

Marriage 1.  984–85: unknown 2.  986–87/89: unknown

Appendix 1


3.  987/89–1013: Emnilda, daughter of Dobromir 4.  1018–after 1018: Oda, daughter Ekkehard, margrave of Meissen Issue 2.  Bezprym (986–1032) 3.  Regelinda (989/90–21 March 1030) Mieszko (990–10/11 May 1034) Otto (1000–33) 4.  Matylda (1018/25–after May 1036)

Mieszko II Lambert Parents Bolesław I Chrobry

Emnilda, daughter of Dobromir

Birth and Death 990 (Cracow?)– 10/11 May 1034 (Poznań?)

Reign 1025–31, 1032–34, crowned 25 December 1025

Marriage 1.  1013–31: Rycheza, daughter of Ezzo of Lorraine Issue 1.  Kazimierz (25 July 1016–19 March 1058) Gertruda (c. 1025–4 January 1108)

Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer) Parents Mieszko II Lambert

Rycheza, daughter of Palatine Ezzo

Birth and Death 25 July 1016 (Cracow)– 19 March 1058 (Poznań)

Reign 1034/38, 1039–58

Marriage 1. c. 1041–58: Dobroniega Maria, daughter of Vladimir the Great of Kiev Issue 1.  Bolesław (1040/42–2/3 April 1081 or 1082) Władysław (1042/44–4 June 1102) Mieszko (16 April 1045–28 January 1065) Świętosława (Swatawa) (1046/48–1 September 1126) Otto (1046/48–1048)

The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230)


Bolesław II Szczodry (the Bold) Parents Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer)

Dobroniega Maria, daughter of Vladimir the Great of Kiev

Birth and Death 1040/42–2/3 April 1081 or 1082 (Ossiach?)

Reign 1058–79, crowned 25 December 1076

Marriage 1. before 1069–1081/82: unknown princess of Rus’ Issue 1. Mieszko (12 April? 1069–7 January 1089)

Władysław I Herman Parents Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer)

Dobroniega Maria, daughter of Vladimir the Great of Kiev

Birth and Death Reign 1042/44–4 June 1102 (Płock?) 1079–1102 Marriage 1.  A concubine, according to the Gesta 2.  1080/81–86: Judith, daughter of Vratislav II of Bohemia 3.  1088–after 1092: Judith Maria, daughter of Emperor Henry II Issue 1.  Zbigniew (1070/73–c. 1112 or 8 July 1113) 2.  Bolesław (20 August 1086 or 1085–28 October 1138) 3.  daughter (1089/90–after 1112) Agnieszka (1090/91–29 December 1125) daughter (1091/92–after 1112)

Appendix 1


Bolesław III Krzywousty (the Wrymouth) Parents Władysław I Herman

Judith, daughter of Vratislav II of Bohemia

Birth and Death 20 August 1086 or 1085 (Płock?)– 28 October 1138 (Sochaczew?)

Reign 1102–38

Marriage 1.  1103–14: Zbyslava, daughter of Sviatopolk II Iziaslavich, grand duke of Kiev 2.  1115–38: Salome, daughter of Henry, count of Berg Issue 1.  Władysław (1105–30 May 1159 or 30 May 1163) 2.  Leszek (1115–26 August before 1131) Ryksa (1116–after 25 December 1155) daughter (1117/22–?) Kazimierz (1117/22–19 October 1131) Bolesław (1121/22–5 January 1173) Gertruda (1126/35–7 May 1160) Mieszko (1122/25–13 March 1202) Dobroniega Ludgarda (1128/35–c. 1160) Henryk (1126/33–18 October 1166) Judyta (1130/35–8 July 1171/75) Agnieszka (1137–after 1182) Kazimierz (1138–5 May 1194)

Władysław II Wygnaniec (the Exile) Parents Bolesław III Krzywousty Zbyslava, daughter of Sviatopolk II Iziaslavich, grand duke of Kiev Birth and Death 1105–30 May 1159 or 30 May 1163 (Altenburg?)

Reign 1138–46

Marriage 1. 1120/26–1159/63: Agnes, daughter of Leopold III of Austria Issue 1.  Bolesław (1127–7/8 December 1201) 2.  Ryksa (1130/40–16 June c. 1185) 3.  Mieszko (1141/46–16 May 1211) 4.  Konrad (1146/57–17 January 1180/90)

The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230)

Bolesław I Wysoki (the Tall)

Parents Władysław II Wygnaniec Agnes, daughter of Leopold III of Austria Birth and Death 1127–7/8 December 1201 (Wrocław) Marriage 1.  1142–c. 55: Zvenislava, daughter of Vsevolod II Olgovich, grand duke of Kiev 2.  c. 1160–1201: Christina, a German noblewoman Issue 1.  Jarosław (1143/60–22 March 1201) Olga (1155/60–27 June 1175/80) 2.  Berta (?–after 1163/74) Bolesław (1157/63–2/3 May 1175/81) Konrad (1160/68–5 July before 1190) Jan (c. 1169–before 1173) Henryk (1165/70–9 March 1238) 3.  Władysław (1180/90–1190/1200) 4.  Adelajda Zbysława (1165/72–29 March after 1213) Reign 1163–72: Silesia; 1172–79/80, 1080/90–1201: Lower Silesia; 1201: Opole; 1179/80–1080/90: Legnica, Wrocław

Henryk I Brodaty (the Bearded) Parents Bolesław I Wysoki

Christina, a German noblewoman

Birth and Death Reign 1165/70 (Legnica?)– 1231–38 19 March 1238 (Krosno Odrzańskie) Marriage 1. 1190/92–1238: Jadwiga, daughter of Bertold III, count von Diessen-Andechs, duke of Merania; in 1267 canonized by Pope Clement IV Issue 1.  Bolesław (1192/94–10/11 September 1206/08) Konrad (1191/98–4/5 November 1213) Henryk (1196/1204–9 April 1241) Agnieszka (1190/1200–11 May before 1214) Zofia (1190/1200–22/23 March before 1214) Gertruda (c. 1200–06 or 30 December 1267) Anna


Appendix 1


Bolesław IV Kędzierzawy (the Curly) Parents Bolesław III Krzywousty

Salome, daughter of Henry, count of Berg

Birth and Death 1121/22–5 January 1173

Reign 1146–73

Marriage 1.  1136/37–c. 1162/67: Viacheslava Anastasia, daughter of Vsevolod Mstislavich, prince of Novgorod 2.  before 1168–?: Maria Issue 1.  Bolesław (c. 1150–72) daughter (before 1160–?) Wierzchosława (c. 1160–2 January or 11/12 September after 1212) 2.  Leszek (c. 1162–86)

Mieszko III Stary (the Old) Parents Bolesław III Krzywousty Birth and Death 1122/25 (Łęczyca?)– 13 March 1202 (Kalisz)

Salome, daughter of Henry, count of Berg Reign 1173–77, 1191, 1196/98, 1199/1200–02

Marriage 1.  1136/38–1150/54: Elizabeth, daughter of King Stefan II of Hungary 2.  1151/54–after 1187: Eudoxia, daughter of Iziaslav II, grand prince of Kiev by his first wife Agnes daughter of King Conrad III of Germany. Issue 1.  Odon (c. 1145–20 April 1194) Stefan (c. 1150–68/77) Wierzchosława Ludmiła (before 1152–1223) Judyta (before 1154–after 12 December 1201) Elżbieta (c. 1152–2 April 1209) 2.  Bolesław (1159–13 September 1195) Mieszko (1160/65–2 August 1193) Władysław (1161/62 February 1168–18 August or 3 November 1231) Salomea (1162/64–11 May after 1183) Anastazja (before 1164–after 31 May 1240)

The Main Representatives of the Piast Dynasty (c. 966–1230)

Henryk Sandomierski = Henry of Sandomierz Parents Bolesław III Krzywousty

Salome, daughter of Henry, count of Berg

Birth and Death 1126/33–18 October 1166 Reign 1146–66: Lublin, Sandomierz, Wiślica

Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just) Parents Bolesław III Krzywousty

Birth and Death 1138–5 May 1194 (Cracow)

Salome, daughter of Henry, count of Berg Reign 1177–94

Marriage 1.  c. 1165–94: Helena, daughter of Conrad II of Znojmo of the House of Přemyslid Issue 1.  daughter (c. 1166–after 1178) Kazimierz (1162/66–1 March 1168) Bolesław (c. 1168–16 April 1182) Adelajda (c. 1179–8 December 1211) Leszek (1184/85–23/24 November 1227) Konrad (1187/88–30/31 August 1247) Odon (?– 15 May?)


Appendix 1


Leszek I Biały (the White) Parents Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy

Helena, daughter of Conrad II of Znojmo of the House of Přemyslid

Birth and Death 1184/85–23/24 November 1227 (Marcinkowo k. Gąsawy)

Reign in Cracow 1194–96/98, 1196/98–1199/1200,  1202 or 1206–10, 1211–27

Marriage 1.  1207–27: Grzymisława, daughter of Ingvar of Kiev, grand prince of Kiev and prince of Lutsk of the House of Rurik Issue 1.  Salomea (1211/12–17 November 1268) Bolesław (21 June 1226–7 December 1279)

Konrad I Mazowiecki (Conrad I of Mazovia) Parents Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy

Helena, daughter of Conrad II of Znojmo of the House of Přemyslid

Birth and Death 1187/88–31 August 1247

Reign in Cracow 1241–43

Marriage 1.  1207/10–47: Agafia, daughter of Svyatoslav III Igorevich, prince of Peremyshl Issue 1.  Bolesław (1209/11–25 February 1248–7 April 1249) Kazimierz (1211/13–14 December 1267) Siemowit (c. 1215–23 June 1262) Eudoksja (c. 1215/25–after 1240) Siemomysł (1216/28–10 July–17 September 1241) Ludmiła (before 1226–?) Salomea (c. 1220/25–?)

Appendix 2

The Chronology of Polish History c. 920–1230 920–40

Earliest archaeological evidence of the existence of Piast strongholds in Greater Poland.

c. 950–60

Mieszko’s ascent to power over Greater Poland, Cuyavia, and Mazovia.


Earliest written evidence of military conflict between Mieszko I and the Empire. Mieszko I is defeated by Margrave Gero and as amicus imperatoris pledges allegiance to Emperor Otto I.


A Christian, Dobrava of Bohemia daughter of Boleslav I the Cruel, marries a pagan, Mieszko I.


Mieszko I is baptized. The symbolic baptism of Poland and the beginning of the Christianization of Mieszko’s subjects.


Mieszko I extends his rule to include Pomerania.


Hodo, margrave of the Lusatia March is defeated by Piast forces at the battle of Cedynia.

Before 990

Mieszko I extends his territory to include Silesia and Lesser Poland. In the charter Dagome iudex, Mieszko and his wife and their sons place the Piast realm under the protection of the Holy See.


After the death of Mieszko  I, his eldest son, Bolesław  I Chrobry consolidates his rule over the realm by banishing his stepmother Oda and stepbrothers Mieszko, Lambert, and Otto.


Appendix 2

997, 23 April

Adalbert (Vojtěch), bishop of Prague, leader of a mission to the Prussians is martyred by the pagans. Bolesław I establishes a shrine for Adalbert’s relics in Gniezno.

1000, 7– 15 March

Emperor Otto  III makes a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Adalbert in Gniezno. During the Congress of Gniezno between Otto  III and Bolesław  I, the emperor announces that Pope Sylvester  II has decided to establish a Polish metropolitan see in Gniezno composed of dioceses in Cracow (Lesser Poland), Wrocław (Silesia), and Kołobrzeg (Pomerania). Otto III declares the Polish ruler a new ‘frater et cooperator imperii, populi Romani socius et amicus’. Bolesław accompanies the emperor’s return journey to Germany. At Aachen, Otto presents Bolesław a throne chair as a gift. They agree to the betrothal of Bolesław’s son Mieszko II Lambert to Otto’s niece Richeza of Lorraine.


Bolesław I and Emperor Henry II wage a series of military campaigns for control of Lusatia and Meissen. In 1018 a peace treaty is concluded at Bautzen (mod. Budziszyn, Poland) and Lusatia remains under Bolesław’s rule. The peace is confirmed by the marriage of Bolesław to Oda of Meissen, daughter of Eckard I.


Bolesław I conquers Kiev and gains temporary control over Kievan Rus’.


Bolesław I is crowned king shortly before his death. His son and successor, Mieszko II Lambert, is crowned shortly after his accession.


A war between Mieszko II and Emperor Conrad II. The Polish king is deposed and exiled in a rebellion which places his brother Bezprym on the throne. Mieszko abdicates.


Mieszko II dies after his return to Poland in 1032. In the wake of the sudden death of Bezprym, Mazovia, Silesia, and Pomerania gain independence from the Piasts. Mieszko is succeeded by his son Kazimierz.


The ‘Pagan Reaction’ destroys the administrative structures of the Church in Poland.


The Bohemian invasion plunders Poland. The relics of Saint Adalbert are removed from Gniezno.


Kazimierz I with the help of the emperor regains control over Greater Poland and Lesser Poland. Cracow becomes the capital of the monarchy.

The Chronology of Polish History c. 920–1230



Kazimierz assisted by troops from Rus’ conquers Mazovia, Silesia, and Pomerelia.


After the death of Kazimierz I the Restorer, his oldest son Bolesław II succeeds to the throne. A younger son, Władysław I Herman rules Mazovia under Bolesław’s suzerainty.


A series of wars and interventions in Kievan Rus’ (1069, 1077), Bohemia (1068–71), and Hungary (1060, 1063) by Bolesław II. The Polish ruler supports the anti-imperial opposition. Pomerania gains independence from Poland.


The metropolitan see of Gniezno is re-established together with the dioceses of Poznań and Wrocław. A new bishopric is erected at Płock.

1076,  25 December

Legates of Pope Gregory VII attend the coronation of Bolesław II as king of Poland. Bolesław is consecrated without the approval of the emperor.


Bolesław II is driven into exile after a magnates’ revolt linked to his execution of Bishop Stanisław of Cracow. The king is deposed and forced into exile and his younger brother, Władysław I Herman is elevated to the Polish throne.


Marriage of Władysław I Herman to Judith, daughter of Vratislav II of Bohemia.


Bolesław II dies in Hungary in exile.


The son of Władysław I Herman, Bolesław III, is born.


Mieszko, son of Bolesław II, who returned to Poland in 1085 and married a princess from Rus’ dies (possibly murdered).


A series of skirmishes between the forces of Władysław I Herman and pagan Pomeranians.


The rebellion of Władysław I Herman’s natural son Zbigniew, against his father for control of Silesia. Zbigniew and his half-brother Bolesław III unite against their father’s palatine Sieciech. Whilst retaining control of strategic strongholds across the realm and direct rule of Mazovia, Władysław  I Herman places Zbigniew in control of Greater Poland; Bolesław III is given control of Silesia and Lesser Poland.

Appendix 2



Further factional conflict within the ruling elites of the realm. Zbigniew and Bolesław III force the exile of their father’s palatine Sieciech.


Władysław I Herman dies. Zbigniew and Bolesław III decide to rule together.


Bolesław III fights with Bohemian forces and establishes a close alliance with Kievan Rus’ and Koloman, king of Hungary.


Bolesław accuses Zbigniew of supporting Bohemian intervention in Polish affairs and supporting an alliance with the Pomeranians. Bolesław forces Zbigniew into exile. Zbigniew seeks help from Bohemia and Emperor Henry V.


Emperor Henry V acts to reassert his supremacy over Central Europe. His troops invade the Piast realm aiming to replace Bolesław III with Zbigniew on the Polish throne. Bolesław pre-empts a Czech attack and invades Bohemia in 1110.


Bolesław agrees to a truce with the emperor. Zbigniew returns to Poland and apparently reconciles with Bolesław. He is soon accused of treason and blinded, and dies not long after. Bolesław performs public penance in atonement for his brother’s death. Bolesław goes on a pilgrimage to the sanctuary of Saint Gilles in Hungary and to the shrine of Saint Adalbert in Gniezno (1112).


Conquest of Pomerelia.


Final conquest of Pomerania and submission of Pomeranian rulers to Bolesław III.

1124–25, 1128

At the behest of Bolesław III, Otto, bishop of Bamberg leads the missions to the Pomeranians.

1131–34, 1135

Polish interventions in Hungary; Czech invasions in Poland. Bolesław III is defeated. Bolesław accepts Emperor Lothar III as the suzerain of Pomerania and Rügen Island.

1138,  28 October

Bolesław III Wrymouth dies. His Act of Succession establishes a form of power sharing government among his sons with the eldest son, as the first member by precedence of the dynasty, holding the supreme power in the monarchy.

The Chronology of Polish History c. 920–1230



Władysław II the Exile is the suzerain (princeps) of Poland.


Civil war between Władysław II and his half-brothers, the Piast Juniors. Władysław is deposed and exiled.


Bolesław IV the Curly is the suzerain (princeps) of Poland.


Emperor Frederick Barbarossa invades Poland to force the return of Władysław II. Bolesław IV pays homage to the emperor.


Return of Władysław’s heirs to Poland. Bolesław IV grants them Silesia as their domain.


Mieszko III the Old is the suzerain (princeps) of Poland.


A coup involving the magnates of Lesser Poland led by Bishop Gedko of Cracow elevates Kazimierz II the Just to the throne of Cracow as the suzerain (princeps) of Poland.


The Council of Łęczyca. The provisions of the Act of Succession are modified to facilitate the descendants of Kazimierz  II to inherit the throne of Cracow. The Church receives a number of privileges.


After the death of Kazimierz II, Mieszko III attempts to seize the throne. Battle of Mozgawa. His rule is accepted in 1198.


After the death of Mieszko III, Leszek the White, son of Kazimierz II, ascends to the throne.

1207,  11 September

Vin­cen­tius is elected bishop of Cracow by the cathedral chapter. His election is confirmed by Pope Innocent III.


The reign of Henry I Brodaty (the Bearded) in Silesia.


The Council of Wolborz. Concessions for the Church.


Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow resigns his office.


Intensification of Prussian raids into Mazovia and the land of Chełmno.

Appendix 2


1223, 8 March

Bishop Vin­cen­tius of Cracow dies at the Cistercian monastery in Jędrzejów.


The grant of Chełmno to the Teutonic Order by Conrad of Mazovia.


The assassination of Leszek the White.


Pope Gregory IV confirms grants of land and immunities for the Teutonic Order in Mazovia and Prussia.


abbeys Henryków: 253 Jędrzejów: 34, 46–48, 54 Łekno: 54 Lubiń: 67 Mogilno: 75 Morimond: 54 Saint Victor: 158 Sulejów: 25, 53 abbots ofHenryków: 255 of Jędrzejów: 248 of Prémontré: 34 Achilles: 113 Act of Succession (1138): 12–15, 204, 243–244 Adalbert, bishop of Prague, saint: 25, 88, 109, 111, 113, 209 Alba, location in Pomerania: 113 Alcibiades, Athenian statesman, orator: 6, 100–01 Alcides: 113. See also Heracles Alexander III, pope: 144 Alexander the Great: 11, 107, 113, 125, 131, 141, 143–45, 152, 156–57, 180, 187, 189–92, 228, 232 Althoff, Gerd: 225 Amalekites, biblical tribe: 131 Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius. See Macrobius Ambrosius, saint: 123 De officis ministrorum: 123 Analytics: 154 Andrzej of Gostynin: 74 Andrzej of Łabiszyn, magister: 74

Annals of Lesser Poland: 67, 72 Antichrist: 141 Antigone: 106 Apennine Peninsula: 24 Apocalypse: 123 Apostles: 123 Aristotle: 105, 125–26, 146–47, 153–55, 157–59, 228 Arnold, Stanisław: 258 Ateas, king of the Scythians: 131 Athanasius of Alexandria, saint: 124 Vita S. Antonii: 124 Athens, Athenians: 141, 156, 159 Atlanteans: 141, 156 Augustine of Hippo, saint: 123, 152 De civitate Dei: 123 De sermone Domini in monte: 123 Questionum in Heptateuchum: 123 Aulus Persius Flaccus. See Persius Austria: 66 Baker, Alan: 227 Balzer, Oswald: 46, 55, 145–48, 230 Banaszkiewicz, Jacek: 184, 225 Barber, Richard: 227 Battle of Grunwald: 75 Battle of Mozgawa: 57, 205 Battle of Zawichost: 49 Bavaria: 143 Benedictine Order, Benedictines: 67, 75 Bernard of Chartres, philosopher: 51, 119–20 Bernard of Clairvaux, abbot, saint: 54, 159, 231 Bibliotheca Eugeniana: 66


Bielowski, August: 44–47, 51, 87, 112 Bieniak, Janusz: 22, 48, 51–52, 55, 243 bishops: 4, 20–25, 27–35, 37, 39–41, 47–48, 56–57, 86–87, 95–96, 111, 116, 181–82, 223–24, 244, 252 canonical election: 28–29, 33, 216 canonized: 96, 111 precedence: 31 Bobolice, village: 255 Boethius: 110, 122, 125–26, 154–55, 159, 230 Bogusław brother of Piotr Włostowic: 23 nephew of Vincentius: 22 Bohemia, Bohemians: 95, 178, 256, 260. See also Czechs Bolęcki, Jan, canon in Gniezno: 67 Bolesław, son of Mieszko III: 206 Bolesław I Chrobry (the Brave), king of Poland: xi, 87–90, 105, 109–12, 177–79, 189, 209 Bolesław II Śmiały (the Bold), king of Poland: 64, 94–95, 105, 110–12, 188–89 Bolesław III Krzywousty (the Wrymouth), duke of Poland: 12–13, 24, 27, 55, 93–94, 105, 111–14, 129, 131, 166–67, 179, 182, 184, 203–04, 237 Bolesław IV Kędzierzawy (the Curly), duke of Poland: 12–13, 49, 80, 105, 113–14, 183, 193, 204–05, 213, 217 Bolesław V Wstydliwy (the Chaste), duke of Sandomierz: 64, 244 Bologna: 26, 154, 158 Borzykowa: 35 bracteates: 248–49 Brzustowicz, Bogdan W.: 236, 240 Bucephalus, horse of Alexander the Great: 131 Buczek, Karol: 245 Bulgaria: 188 Busk: 259 Calcidius, Roman philosopher: 140, 142, 150, 158 translation of the Timaeus: 142, 159 Callimachus. See Filippo Buonaccorsi. Cana, miracle: 130 canon law: 24–25, 35, 148–49

INDEX Canons of the Holy Sepulchre in Miechów: 34, 257 Canute, king of Denmark and England: 141 Carinthia: 106–07, 188, 192 Carmina: 126 Carolingian Renaissance: 120 castellans, castellanies, castles: 130, 207, 222, 238, 246, 248, 250–52, 260–61 Catalogues of the Bishops of Cracow: 21 Cathedral Chapter of Cracow: 24–26, 28, 30–31, 34, 37, 54, 56–57, 144, 244 Cathedral Chapter of Poznań: 65 Cathedral of Cracow: 2, 26, 54 cathedral school: 9, 15, 24, 26, 74, 145, 154, 230 Chartres: 145–46, 154, 158 Cracow: 24, 26, 74, 142 Cato, Roman orator: 113, 232 Cethegus, member of the Catilinarian conspiracy: 132 Cetwiński, Marek: 180 Chabielski, Szymon: 67 chancery: 34–35, 55, 223–24 ducal: 54, 223 chivalry: 227, 235–36, 242 Chmielewska, Katarzyna: x, 145, 191 Chościsko, father of Piast: 83–84 Chronicle of Dzierzwa: 21, 65, 67, 151 Chronicle of Gallus: 236. See also Gesta principum Polonorum. Chronicle of Greater Poland: 151 Church Fathers: 123 Church of Our Lady in Sandomierz: 27 Cicero: 103, 122, 125, 129, 146, 153, 166, 176, 188 Cistercian Order, Cistercians: 4, 21–22, 25, 33–34, 36, 45–46, 53–54, 154, 255 civil war: 11, 13, 23, 50, 200, 203–04 clan, clans: 22–24, 30, 32, 39, 55, 257 Gryfici: 22, 257–58 Lis, Lisowie: 22, 30–31, 41 Lisowie Krzelowscy: 22, 41 Pogorzele: 263 Poraj: 21 Powałowie-Ogończykowie: 24 Prus: 67 Wieniawa: 67 Włostowice: 23–24, 27, 55 Wojsławice: 27

INDEX class lower: 186, 252 noble: 255 social: 37, 42, 255 classical authors: 4, 73, 122, 132 Claudian, poet: 126 In Eutropium: 126 Code of Justinian: 132, 148–49, 151 Code of Theodosius: 132 Codex of Jan of Dąbrówka: 67 Codex of Kuropatnicki: 65 Codrus: 6, 100–01, 129 collegiate school: 74 in Opatów, Łowicz, Sandomierz: 74 of Saint Anna in Cracow: 74 Collegium Maius: 73 Collegium Minus: 74, 76 colonists, colonization: 249, 253, 258, 260 commonwealth, res publica: 9, 52–53, 58, 93, 103, 175–79, 201 Congress of Gniezno: 87 Conrad III, king of Germany: 154 Cosmas, Czech chronicler: 93, 95 Council of Łęczyca: 144 coup d’état of 1177: 19, 243 court: 8, 24, 26–27, 53, 55, 57, 150–51, 153, 155, 221–24, 230, 232, 234, 237, 239 chancery: 56 chaplains: 223–24 courtiers: 201, 228–29, 232 culture: 225, 240 entertainment: 37 Cracow, bishopric: 22, 32 Cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae: 76 Cyprian, bishop of Lubusz: 28 Czchów: 34 Czech, Czechs: 131, 259 Dąbrowski, Jan: 46, 60 Dalewski, Zbigniew: 237–38 Danube: 178 De civitate Dei. See Augustine Decimus Junius Juvenalis. See Juvenal Decretum: 139, 148–49, 151–53 Dentatus: 188 De sermone Domini in monte: 123 Diana: 50, 101 Digest: 132, 148–49 Diogenes, Greek philosopher: 6, 100–01


Długosz, Jan: 21, 34, 48, 76, 184, 235 Dobosz, Józef: x dwarf: 7, 51, 119–20, 187 dynasty, dynasts: 3, 7, 12, 48, 50, 54, 57, 183, 185, 199–200, 203–04, 207, 212, 215, 246 Dzierżko, comes: 259 Dzierzwa, Chronicle of. See Chronicle of Dzierzwa education: 2, 20, 26, 47, 123–24, 139–40, 167, 224 Egyptians: 141 elites clerical: 244 contemporary: 260 intellectual: 37, 65, 128 literary: 21 local: 2, 244, 251 old: 256 oligarchical: 246 political: 20, 23 twelfth-century: 199 empire: 88, 127, 178, 180–81 Epicurean: 167 counsel: 167 encouragements: 164 ethics: 148 pedagogy: 166 philosophy: 167 practice: 167 Epicurus, Greek philosopher: 147, 163–66 Eugene of Savoy, general: 64–65 Everard of Ypres, philosopher: 158–59 Farasmanes, Letter to Hadrian: 145 Ferdinand I, emperor of Austria: 66 feudal fragmentation: 37, 43, 184 Filippo Buonaccorsi, known as Callimachus, Italian humanist: 76–77 Flori, Jean: 227 Florian, saint: 233 Florus, Roman historian: 125, 128, 145 Epitoma de Tito Livio: 125 Fourth Lateran Council: 4, 35 France, Franks: 1, 26, 151, 155 Frederick I Barbarossa, emperor: 144, 205 Freising, episcopal see: 154 Frutolf of Michelsberg: 145


Galilee: 130–31 Gałka, Jan, nobleman: 74 Gallus Anonymous: xi, 1, 81, 83–87, 89–90, 97, 99–100, 102, 105, 110–12, 142–43, 177–80, 182, 189, 236–38 Gaul, Gauls: 115, 188 Gawlas, Sławomir: 181, 247, 250–51 Gedko, bishop of Cracow: 24–25, 27, 53–54, 56–57, 111, 185, 213, 244 Gedko, bishop of Płock: 27–32, 35 Geoffrey of Monmouth: 141, 143 Georgica: 126 Gerald of Wales, historian: 19 Germany, Germans: 145, 154, 191, 202 Gervase, abbot of Prémontré: 34 Gervase of Tilbury, canon lawyer, writer: 19 Gesta Danorum: 143 Gesta principum Polonorum: xi, 1, 20, 139, 142, 186, 260–61 Gilbert of Poitiers, theologian: 158–59, 162 Gilead, biblical place name: 131 Gniezno: 31, 67, 109, 143, 182 archdiocese: 33 Golden Bull of Andrew of Hungary: 254 Górski, Kazimierz: 46 Goworek, comes: 222, 257 Goworek, provincial governor of Sandomierz: 193, 257 Grabski, Andrzej Feliks: 46 Gracchovia, place name in Chronica Polonorum: 182 Gracchus, legendary ruler: 99, 106, 109, 141, 143, 159, 179, 182, 188–90, 202, 215, 217 Gratian, jurist: 148–49, 151–52 Great Moravia: 247, 264 Greater Poland: xi, 13, 53, 65, 67, 182, 236, 252 Greece, Greeks: x, 7, 121–22, 127, 139, 144–45, 159, 167, 224 Gregorian reforms: 4, 19, 28, 30, 35, 48, 223 Gregory IX, pope: 248 Grodecki, Roman: 45, 47–48 Grunwald: 75 Gutschmid, Alfred von: 45, 51 Güttner-Sporzyński, Darius von: x, xii–1, 19, 43, 63, 79, 99, 119, 139, 175, 199, 243 Güttner-Sporzyńska, Georgia von: viii

INDEX Halycz: 49, 51, 165, 201–02, 206–07 Helena of Znojmo, wife of Kazimierz II: 200–01, 207, 211, 236 Henry Bretislav, bishop of Prague: 252 Henryk Kietlicz, archbishop of Gniezno: 28, 33, 42, 224, 244 Henryk Kietlicz, castellan: 31–32, 35 Henryków: 253, 255 Henry of Sandomierz, duke: xi, 12–13, 114 Henry V, emperor: 99 Henry VI, emperor: 207 Hera: 93–94 Heraclea: 160 Heracles: 113 Hermeneutics: 158 Hofman-Dadejowa, Helena: 45–46, 48 Hohenstaufen, dynasty: 247 Holophagus, monster: 145, 171 Holy See: 33 Horace: 4, 122, 126, 129 Carmina: 126 Satirae: 126 Hungary, Hungarians: 105, 111–12, 178, 189, 247, 249–50 immunities: 181, 246, 252, 263 Imperial Court Library: 66 Imperial Public Library: 67 India, Indian: 144 Innocent III, pope: 25, 29, 31, 33, 35, 249 Isidore of Seville, saint: 123, 231 Etymologiae: 123 Italy, Italians: 24–26 ius ducale: 245, 247, 250, 258 ius spolii: 181 Iwo Odrowąż, bishop of Cracow: 30, 34, 36, 258 Jacek Maciejewski: x Jacek Matuszewski: 180 Jagiellonian Library: 75 Jaksice, village: 257–58 Jakub, archbishop of Gniezno: 185 Jan Łodzia, bishop of Poznań: 65 Jan Nepomucen Janowski: 148 Jan of Dąbrówka, philosopher, theologian: 63, 66–76, 78, 147, 173, 186 Jan of Słupia Nowa, magister: 74 Janusz, archdeacon: 30 Jasiński, Tomasz: 81 Jaxa of Miechów, magnate: 256–57

INDEX Jędrzejów: 34, 36, 45–46, 48, 53 Jerome, saint: 123 Adversus Iovinianum: 123 Jerusalem: 4, 239 siege of 1187: 4 Jesus Christ: 130, 161–62, 239, 242 Johann Faber, bishop of Vienna: 75 John of Salisbury, philosopher: 120, 134, 145–48, 154, 164, 186, 227–28, 231–32, 238 John the Evangelist: 11, 144 Jonathan, son of Saul: 129 Jove: 93–94 Judah Maccabee: 129 Julia, sister of Julius Ceasar: 104, 143 Julius Caesar: 104, 126, 180, 183, 232 Julius Valerius Alexander Polemius, a Roman writer: 125, 128, 145 Res gestae Alexandri Magni: 125, 145 Juno: 94 Jurek, Tomasz: 259 Justin, Roman historian: 7, 124–125, 127–29, 144, 191 Epitome: 124, 191 Juvenal, Roman poet: 126 Kadłubek, patronymic: xii, 2, 21 Kałuża, Zénon: x Kargów: 21 Karwów: 21 Kazimierz II Sprawiedliwy (the Just), duke of Poland: 12–14, 26–27, 30–32, 51–58, 60–61, 113–15, 143–44, 183–84, 193, 207, 213–18, 222–24, 226–27, 229–30, 232–38 Kazimierz I Odnowiciel (the Restorer), duke of Poland: 113, 186 Kętrzyński, Stanisław: 46 Kielce: 34 Kielcza: 64 Kietlicz. See Henryk Kietlicz Kije, parish church: 34 Kitab Sirr al-Asrar, the Secret Book of Secrets, a treatise: 228 Konrad, duke of Mazovia: 32 Konrad Otto, Bohemian ruler: 254 Koprzywnica: 22, 34, 53 Krak. See Gracchus: 132 Kürbis, Brygida: 11, 47–48, 112, 139–40, 167, 183, 230


Ladislaus I, king of Hungary: 189 Łaguna, Stosław: 46 Łęczyca: xii, 60, 115, 144 Le Goff, Jacques: 225 Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von: 65 Lelewel, Joachim: 67, 148 Lesser Poland: xi, 2, 13–14, 31, 67, 72, 74, 182, 201, 205, 253–54, 257 Lestek (Lestko): 187 Lestek (Lestko) II: 107–08, 143, 152, 156–57, 183, 187–88, 236 Lestek (Lestko) III: 143, 152, 182, 184 Leszek I Biały (the White), duke of Poland: 25, 30–31, 49, 51, 64, 105, 115, 184, 193, 200–203, 206, 214, 235, 237, 244 Lis, Lisowie, clan: 22, 30–31, 41 Lisowie Krzelowscy, clan: 22, 41 Louis IX, king of France, saint: 225, 242 Łowmiański, Henryk: 185, 190 Lubiń: 67 Lublin: 74 Lubusz: 35 Lucan, Roman poet: 122, 126 Lucius Annaeus Florus: 125, 145. See also Florus Lucius Annaeus Seneca. See Seneca Lucko: 95 Lycophron, Greek poet: 155 Maccabees: 131 Macedonia, Macedonians: 127, 187, 192 Macrobius, grammarian and philosopher: 122, 125, 227 Magdeburg Law: 245 magnates: 14, 16, 57, 60, 200–02, 204, 210–17, 223–24, 228, 233, 237, 254, 256–58, 260, 262–63 Mąkolno: 35 Małopolska. See Lesser Poland Manius Curius Dentatus. See Dentatus Marcus Annaeus Lucanus. See Lucan Marcus Junianius Justinus. See Justin Marcus Tullius Cicero. See Cicero Marius, Roman general: 191 Marmo, Anne: viii Martinus de Bracara, archbishop of Bracara Augusta: 72 Masław, ruler of Mazovia: 186, 193



Mateusz, bishop of Cracow: 24–25, 48–49, 51–54, 57, 71–72, 100, 102–04, 106, 110, 112, 116, 140, 142, 144, 175 Mazovia: 13, 28, 186, 245 Megarian school: 165 Michałowska, Teresa: 47–48 Miechów: 34, 257 Mieszko I, duke of Poland: 179, 210 Mieszko II Lambert, king of Poland: 80, 110, 186 Mieszko III Stary (the Old), duke of Poland: 12–14, 26–27, 49, 51–53, 56–57, 114–15, 150, 180–81, 183–85, 206–09, 211–16, 234–37, 248–49, 253–54, 261 Mikołaj, comes: 22, 64, 66, 201, 222, 257–58 Mikołaj Kotwicz of Żnin, archdeacon: 69 Mikołaj of Rogalin, palatine: 64, 66 Mithridates the Great, king of Pontus and Armenia Minor: 235 Modena: 31 Modzelewski, Karol: 245–46, 250 Mogilno: 75 monasteries Busk: 259 Jędrzejów: 46 Saint Giles and Saint Stephen: 105 Mongols: 15 Moral Epistles to Lucilius: 125, 147, 159, 163–64, 166. Moravia: 178 Morimond: 154 Moses: 131 Mozgawa: 57, 205 Mstów: 35 Mühle, Eduard: viii muses: 50, 101 National Library of Poland: 65, 67 natural law: 2, 204–06, 216 natural order: 208–09, 211, 213 New Testament: 122–23 Niemoja, Czech noble: 259 nobility, nobles: 89–91, 109, 192, 250, 258, 265 nomads: 191–92 November Uprising (1831): 67 Nowko Chair at the University of Cracow: 73, 76

Oedipus: 106 Old Annals: 25, 39 Old Testament: 4, 122–23, 128, 150 Opatów: 21, 54–55, 74 Orleans: 155 Orosius, Paulus: 144–45 Österreichische Nationalbibliothek in Vienna: 66 Otto III, emperor: 87, 89, 109, 178 Ottonians, dynasty: 247 Otto of Freising, bishop: 144, 154 Ovid: 4, 93–94, 122, 126, 130 Metamorphoses: 94 Pacanów: 258–59 pagans: 13, 49, 130–32, 148–49, 177–78, 184, 204, 225, 232–34 Paralipomenon: 123 Paris: 26, 155, 158–59, 161–62 Parthia, Parths: 188, 191 patres conscripti: 101, 176, 179, 181 Pauk, Marcin R.: x Pazt Chościsko: 81, 84 peasants: vi, 193, 243, 245–49, 251–55, 257, 259, 261, 263–65 Pełka, bishop of Cracow: 22, 28–31, 57, 214, 217, 222, 234 penance: 87, 94 Peripeteia: 105 periphery: 1, 155 Perlbach, Max: 44–45 Persia, Persians: 7, 127, 144, 228 Persius, Roman poet, satirist: 126 Peter Abelard, philosopher, theologian: 162 Peter Damian, monk, cardinal: 231 Peter of Poitiers, theologian: 162 Peter the Lombard, bishop of Paris, theologian: 162 Pharsalia: 126 Philip of Macedon, king of Macedon: 131 Philistine army: 129 Piast, the progenitor of the Piast Dynasty: 83, 104 Piast court: 37, 43, 54–55, 65, 81, 200, 221, 236, 256 Piast dynasty: ix–x, 11–13, 15, 19–20, 23, 28, 43–44, 56–57, 180–82, 203–05, 207, 212–14, 243–47, 249–50, 252–56

INDEX Piotr abbot in Henryków: 255 archbishop of Gniezno: 55–56, 222 Piotr Włostowic, palatine: 22–24, 55, 144, 160, 162, 256 Plato: 104, 125, 140–42, 150, 159 Plezia, Marian: xii, 48, 65–69, 95, 176 Płock: 28, 31–32, 35, 151, 237 Podłęże, village: 34 Pogorzele, clan: 263 Policraticus: 146–48, 164, 186, 228, 231–32, 238, 240 Polish Episcopate: 24–25, 29, 36, 42 Polish-Silesian Chronicle: 65 Polonia Maior. See Greater Poland Polonia Minor. See Lesser Poland Pomerania, Pomeranians: xi, 113, 131, 178 Pompeius Trogus: 124, 144 Historiae Philippicae: 124 Pompey Magnus: 126 Pompilidae dynasty: 143, 152 Pompilius I: 104, 143, 217 Pompilius II: 104–05, 108, 130, 132, 143, 157, 183, 203 Pomponius, Roman geographer: 166 Popiel: 82, 113, 143. See also Pompilius II Poraj, clan: 21 Powałowie-Ogończykowie, clan: 24 Powierski, Jan: 47 Poznań: 35, 64–66, 143, 226 Premonstratensians, Order of Canons Regular of Prémontré: 34, 259 Primary Chronicle: 102 princeps, suzerain of Poland: 2, 9, 12–14, 27–28, 30–31, 49, 51, 53, 56–57, 99, 180–83, 204–05, 211–12, 237, 243–44 term and usage: 2 Prus, clan: 67 Prussia, Prussians: xi, 13, 57, 105, 178, 245 Public Library at the University of Warsaw: 67 Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus. See Scipio Publilius Syrus, writer: 126 Questionum in Heptateuchum: 123 Quintilian, writer: 122, 125–26, 129


regalia: 249 Reich, German: 248, 251, 265 Renaissance of the Twelfth Century: 4, 43, 116, 120 rhetoric: 44, 69, 73, 79, 87, 95, 102, 122, 124–26, 130, 150, 153–55, 218, 224 rhyme: 81, 86, 89–90, 126, 129 rhythm: 81, 98 Roman, duke of Halycz: 49 Roman law: 42, 47, 137, 139, 148–53, 182 philosophers: 125, 128, 172 poets: 122, 128 writers: 125 Rome, Romans: x, 15, 29, 31, 35–36, 88, 125–27, 144, 149, 151, 167, 176, 180, 182–83, 189 Ruś, Ruthenians: 109, 202 Rzepica, Rzepka, wife of Piast: 83–84 Rzeplin, village: 257 Saint Petersburg: 67 Saint Steven’s Church in Cracow: 74 Saladin, sultan of Egypt and Syria: 4 Salian dynasty: 247 Salome of Berg, wife of Bolesław III: 12 Sandomierz: xi, 13, 21–22, 27–28, 63, 74, 257 Sardanapalus: 144 Sasin: 27–29, 31, 40 Saturnalia: 125, 227 Saturnia: 93 Saul: 87, 129 Saxo Grammaticus: 143 Saxon colonists: 249 Saxony: 178 schools: 1, 26, 65, 73–75, 127, 136, 142, 145–46, 159, 218, 242 collegiate: 74 lower: 74 monastic: 120 parochial: 74 provincial: 159 Scipio, Roman general: 125 Scythians: 132, 191 Seckel, Emil: 148–49 Semiramis: 144 Seneca, philosopher: 122, 125, 128, 146–48, 158–59, 163–64, 166–67



Moral Epistles to Lucilius: 125, 147, 159, 163–64, 166. Sicardus of Cremona, historian: 20 Sieciech, palatine: 132, 256, 261 Siemian, comes: 258 Siemowit: 104, 109, 130, 179, 186 Sieradz: 35 Silesia: 13, 187, 205, 245, 254, 256, 259–60 sin: 86–87, 102, 111, 206, 215 Skibiński, Edward: x, 51–52 slaves: 96, 111, 253 Slovakia, Slovak: 247, 264 Słupia Nowa: 74 Smolka, Stanisław: 181, 196 Socrates: 142, 160 Solomon, king of Hungary: 188–89 Solon, Athenian legislator: 129 Sondel, Janusz: 148–49, 151 Sparta, Spartan: 129, 188, 235 Stanisław, bishop of Cracow: 64, 86–87, 105, 111–12 Statius, Roman poet: 122, 126 Stilpo, Greek philosopher: 165 stoics: 116, 148, 165 Stopnica: 21 Sudovia: 57 Sulejów: 22, 34 Sulisław, nephew of Vincentius: 22 Swedish Deluge (1655–1660): 65 Świętosław, archbishop of Gniezno: 55–56 Sylvester, pope: 88 Synod of Elvira (305): 231 Szczepan (Stefan) the Old, a palatine: 22 Szymaniak, Marek: 32 Tacitus: 144, 191 Tale of Bygone Years. See Primary Chronicle taxes: 246, 249–50, 255 Tempore illo: 25 Terence, playwright: 126 Thierry of Chartres, philosopher: 154 Thrasymachus, sophist: 142, 159 Timaeus: 140, 142, 150, 156, 158–59 Tiresias, Theban prophet: 93–94 tithes: 34, 255, 258–59 Topics: 126, 154–55, 158 tournaments: 235–36 Trawkowski, Stanislaw: 254 Treaty of Łęczyca: 115

Troy: 141 Tymieniecki, Kazimierz: 46 University of Cracow: 69, 74, 76 Vincentius of Kielcza, composer, poet: 64 Virgil: 4, 122, 126 Aeneid: 126 Visegrad: 259 Vitalis of Blois, poet: 158–59 Vita maior of S. Stanislaw: 64 Vita minor of S. Stanislaw: 64 Vita S. Antonii: 124 Vita S. Malachiae: 147 Vlastislav, prince of Lucko: 95 von Gutschmid, Alfred. See Gutschmid von Güttner-Sporzyńska, Georgia. See Güttner-Sporzyńska, Georgia von von Güttner-Sporzyński, Darius. See Güttner-Sporzyńska, Darius von von Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm. See Leibniz Vulgate of Cracow: 66, 68–70, 75–76 Wade, Janet: viii Walter of Saint Victor, philosopher, theologian: 162 Wanda, daughter of Gracchus: 90–91, 102, 143, 185, 189, 201–02, 214 Warsaw Uprising (1944): 65, 67 Wattenbach, Wilhelm: 45 Wielkopolska. See Greater Poland Wiesiołowski, Jacek: 25 Wiślica: 55–56 Wiszewski, Przemysław: x Władysław I Herman, duke of Poland: 99, 152 Władysław III Laskonogi (the Spindle­ shanks), duke of Poland: 49, 105, 115, 244 Władysław Łokietek, king of Poland: 15 Władysław Odonic, duke of Greater Poland: 252 Włocławek: 35 Włodzimierz Jarosławowicz, exiled prince of Halycz: 207 Włodzimierz Świętosławic: 23 grandson of Piotr Włostowic: 23 Włostowic. See Piotr Włostowic

INDEX Włostowice clan: 23–24, 27, 55 Wojciechowski, Tadeusz: 46, 65 Wojsław, seneschal: 24, 27 Wojsławice, clan: 27 Wołodar of Ruś: 162 World War II: 46, 151 Wrocław: 28, 35, 251 Wrszowcy, family: 259 Wszebór son of Piotr Włostowic: 23 wojewoda: 185 Zacher, Jacob: 145 Epitoma Zacheriana: 145 Zbyslava of Kiev, wife of Bolesław III: 12 Zeissberg, Heinrich: 44–46, 48, 51, 145–48 Zeno: 165 Zeus: 93 Zeuxis of Heraclea, Greek artist: 160 Zwiercan, Marian: x Żyra, comes of Płock: 28


Cursor Mundi All volumes in this series are evaluated by an Editorial Board, strictly on academic grounds, based on reports prepared by referees who have been commissioned by virtue of their specialism in the appropriate field. The Board ensures that the screening is done independently and without conflicts of interest. The definitive texts supplied by authors are also subject to review by the Board before being approved for publication. Further, the volumes are copyedited to conform to the publisher’s stylebook and to the best international academic standards in the field. Titles in Series Chris Jones, Eclipse of Empire? Perceptions of the Western Empire and its Rulers in LateMedieval France (2007) Simha Goldin, The Ways of Jewish Martyrdom (2008) Franks, Northmen, and Slavs: Identities and State Formation in Early Medieval Europe, ed. by Ildar Garipzanov, Patrick Geary, and Przemyslaw Urbanczyk (2008) William G. Walker, ‘Paradise Lost’ and Republican Tradition from Aristotle to Machiavelli (2009) Carmela Vircillo Franklin, Material Restoration: A Fragment from Eleventh-Century Echternach in a Nineteenth-Century Parisian Codex (2010) Saints and their Lives on the Periphery: Veneration of Saints in Scandinavia and Eastern Europe (c.1000–1200), ed. by Haki Antonsson and Ildar Garipzanov (2010) Approaching the Holy Mountain: Art and Liturgy at St Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, ed. by Sharon E. J. Gerstel and Robert S. Nelson (2011) ‘This Earthly Stage’: World and Stage in Late Medieval and Early Modern England, ed. by Brett D. Hirsch and Christopher Wortham (2011)

Alan J. Fletcher, The Presence of Medieval English Literature: Studies at the Interface of History, Author, and Text in a Selection of Middle English Literary Landmarks (2012) Vehicles of Transmission, Translation, and Transformation in Medieval Textual Culture, ed. by Robert Wisnovsky, Faith Wallis, Jamie C. Fumo, and Carlos Fraenkel (2012) Claudio Moreschini, Hermes Christianus: The Intermingling of Hermetic Piety and Chris­ tian Thought (2012) The Faces of the Other: Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the Later Roman World, ed. by Maijastina Kahlos (2012) Barbara Furlotti, A Renaissance Baron and his Possessions: Paolo Giordano I Orsini, Duke of Bracciano (1541–1585) (2012) Rethinking Virtue, Reforming Society: New Directions in Renaissance Ethics, c.1350 – c.1650, ed. by David A. Lines and Sabrina Ebbersmeyer (2013) Luigi Andrea Berto, The Political and Social Vocabulary of John the Deacon’s ‘Istoria Veneticorum’ (2013) Writing Down the Myths, ed. by Joseph Falaky Nagy (2013) Charles Russell Stone, From Tyrant to Philosopher-King: A Literary History of Alexander the Great in Medieval and Early Modern England (2013) Wendy J. Turner, Care and Custody of the Mentally Ill, Incompetent, and Disabled in Medi­ eval England (2013) Tanya S. Lenz, Dreams, Medicine, and Literary Practice: Exploring the Western Literary Tradition Through Chaucer (2013) Viking Archaeology in Iceland: Mosfell Archaeological Project, ed. by Davide Zori and Jesse Byock (2014) Natalia I. Petrovskaia, Medieval Welsh Perceptions of the Orient (2015) Fabrizio Ricciardelli, The Myth of Republicanism in Renaissance Italy (2015) The Mirror in Medieval and Early Modern Culture: Specular Reflections, ed by Nancy M. Frelick (2016) Ilan Shoval, King John’s Delegation to the Almohad Court (1212): Medieval Interreligious Interactions and Modern Historiography (2016) Ksenia Bonch Reeves, Visions of Unity After the Visigoths: Early Iberian Latin Chronicles and the Mediterranean World (2016)

Ersie C. Burke, The Greeks of Venice, 1498–1600: Immigration, Settlement, and Integration (2016) Graphic Signs of Identity, Faith, and Power in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages, ed. by Ildar Garipzanov, Caroline Goodson, and Henry Maguire (2017)

In Preparation Luigi Pulci in Renaissance Florence and Beyond: New Perspectives on his Poetry and In­ fluence, ed. by James K. Coleman and Andrea Moudarres James L. Smith, Water in Medieval Intellectual Culture: Case Studies from Twelfth-Century Monasticism Visions of North in Premodern Europe, ed. by Dolly Jørgensen and Virginia Langum Temporality and Mediality in Late Medieval and Early Modern Culture, ed. by Christian Kiening and Martina Stercken