Kronika trojanska, Czech Republic

Writer : Tomas Popek

Beginning of Czech literature is set around 863 AD, when Old Slavic, the first literary Slavic language, was invented. First texts were usually legends about Saint Wenceslaus (Czech: Svaty Vaclav) who was the main patron saint of the Czech state.

One of the most interesting books of Czech medieval age is Chronicle of Bohemians (lat. Chronica Boemorum) written in Latin by Cosmas of Prague. It is very unusual chronicle. It’s sorted by date but, there are not only brief records of events but narratives which are sometimes quite long. It consists of three books. First one contains Czechs mythic legends. The second book describes Bohemian history for the years of 1038~1092. The third book (1092~1125) starts with a description of the time of instability and bloody civil wars. Chronicle ends in 1125 when Cosmas died.

In the early 13th century, the Devil’s Bible was published in the Benedictine in Bohemia (lat. Codex Gigas). It is the largest extant medieval manuscript in the world. It includes the entire Bible in a pre-vulgate version, St. Isidore of Seville’s encyclopedia Etymology, Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, Cosmas of Prague’s Chronicle of Bohemia, a calendar with necrology, magic formulae and many other local records. The entire codex is written in Latin. The manuscript includes illuminations in red, blue, yellow, green and gold.

The legend says that the scribe was a monk who in order to forbear this harsh penalty promised to create in one single night a book which including all human knowledge. That night he sold his soul to the devil for help. After completing of manuscript the monk added the devil’s picture out of gratitude for his aid. During the Thirty Years’ War, was the entire collection was taken by the Swedish army as plunder. It was returned after centuries in Stockholm on September 2007. The chronicle of Dalimil(Czech: Dalimilova kronika) is the first chronicle that was written in Czech language. This was written by unknown author.

The chronicle finished before 1314, but it was published including the entries of later authors describing the events till 1319. The initial printed book is in dispute among scholars. The most often mentioned one is Trojanska Kronika, translation of Quidona de Column Historia Troiana. It is a book about fight of Troy printed in 1476. Historians classify it as imaginative literature.


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