Edmund Kizik


In the ledger of the municipal treasury (Kammerei - kamlaria) of Gdańsk for the financial year 1669/1670, a bookkeeping note caught my attention on the Verehrungen und Geschenke1 account – where disbursements of presents and rewards of all kinds were recorded – as it recorded a sum of 30 ducats (270 marks) paid to Stanisław Lubieniecki for the work Theatrum Cometicum2 donated to the city councillors. The sum received by the eminent Polish scholar – who after leaving Poland lived in Hamburg until his death in 1675 – was a significant one; we ought to note that it exceeded the quarterly remuneration of pastors of the most important church in Gdańsk, the Supreme Parish Church of St. Mary’s, which amounted to 145 florins (214.5 marks)3 back then. A review of the account records reveals that Lubieniecki was not the only scholar, preacher or artist to be honoured with a pecuniary reward for works sent or dedicated to the Council that year. For instance, the mathematician Friedrich Büthner (1622-1701), a professor at the Gdańsk Gymnasium and author of a congratulatory epigram attached to Lubieniecki’s work mentioned above, received 12 thalers (54 marks) for a calendar dedicated to the Council in 1670; another professor at the local Gymnasium, Joachim Pastorius (1611-1681),4 a historian linked to the court of King John II Casimir, was granted 5 ducats (45 marks) for an unspecified work (“seine Carminum wegen”),5 while Johann Peter Titius (1619-1689), professor of rhetoric, was awarded 10 ducats (90 marks) pro carminae.6 The list from that financial year also mentions that the pastor Nathanael Dilger (1604-1679) from St. Mary’s Church in Gdańsk was granted 100 florins for a sermon expressing congratulations for the election of King Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki “vor gehaltene und presentirte Gratulation Predigt auf Königliche Wahl,”7 and that a little known artist called Johann Jacob Bartsch received 12 thalers (54 marks)8 for his picture or perhaps copper-plate engraving (“vor seine offerirte Taffel Aurea Pax genanndt)

Consulting ledgers from other years, where on separate accounts of goods9 (apart from diplomatic gifts and expenses for feasts with important figures) payments are recorded in favour of various artists and flatterers (students, lawyers, historians and preachers),10 confirms that it was a widespread habit. Undoubtedly, we are approaching a matter which is not only worth noting in a superficial way, but also deserves profound analytical research.

All artists and scientists, either ingenious or ignorant, want their works to reach the largest possible number of readers who admire their originality, hard work, erudition or, less frequently, genius. Less renowned artists try to catch people’s attention by dedicating their works to suitably powerful and influential figures or institutions, like mayors or the Gdańsk City Council in the cases discussed here. This is a mutual relationship, as the authorities, aside from receiving expressions of praise and respect, are advised to surround themselves with scholars and artists. These remarks are commonplace, but the tradition of preceding literary works with more and more elaborate dedications became a standard in the scholarly and artistic culture as early as the 16th century.11 When referring to Gdańsk, we ought to emphasise that no exhaustive study exists regarding this issue, a phenomenon which additionally points to the importance of this city for Polish-German cultural relations12 and the role of the local community in the social history of 16th–18th century literature within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and the Baltic region in general.13 The few researchers14 of the literary side of 16th–18th century dedications – which were sometimes expanded to become large, independent works – seek their origin in acts of devotional sacrifice.15 Without questioning the legitimacy of this hypothesis, while discussing the above examples, we shall note that, apart from literary or social psychological issues (vanity and desire for fame), dedicating a work to a particular recipient was not a completely disinterested sacrifice. It often concealed the mundane intention to obtain a specific material benefit such as reimbursement for the expenses incurred or the money and time invested. Renarda Ocieczek rightly noted that “even in the Renaissance, dedications were a highly conventional genre of writing. Their functions varied: they promoted and adorned the book, constituted a symbol of the relationship between the author and the sponsor, or expressed specific literary customs.”16 Specifically, the honoured party – apart from gratefully receiving the gift and expressing praise – owed the author a measurable act of gratitude proportional to their own and the receiver’s social position.17 The question of pecuniary or other material rewards granted by authorities to their flatterers is frequently overlooked or hard to document sufficiently.18 The books of the municipal treasury (Kammerei - kamlaria) of Gdańsk often provide very interesting information on this rather peculiar form of urban arts sponsorship from the second half of the 16th until the 18th century, which – as will be demonstrated below – was not limited to this local community.19

1 Archiwum Państwowe w Gdańsku (the State Archives in Gdańsk – hereinafter SAG), 300, 12/109, p. 48. 

2 S. Lubienietzki, Theatrum cometicum, duabus partibus constans..., Amstelodami 1668, copy at the Biblioteka Gdańska PAN (Gdańsk Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences – hereinafter GL PAS), shelf mark Uph. f. 1708.

3 For more information on the revenues of the clergy see E. Kizik, „Struktura administracyjna i finansowanie gdańskiego kościoła luterańskiego w XVII wieku” [„Administrative Structure and Financing of the Lutheran Church in Gdańsk in the 17th Century”], in Gdańsk w epoce Bartholomäusa Milwitza [Gdańsk in the Times of Bartholomäus Milwitz], Proceedings of a session held by the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk and the Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers in Gdańsk on 15 May 2008, E. Kizik (ed.), Gdańsk, 2010, p. 48; E. Kizik, “Finanse gdańskich kościołów luterańskich w XVII-XVIII wieku” [“Finance of the Lutheran Churches in Gdańsk in the 17th and 18th Centuries”], Barok. Historia – literatura – sztuka [Baroque. History – Literature – Arts] 16, 2009, pp. 156-157 (tab. 1).

4 On the role Pastorius played in Gdańsk culture: K. Kubik, Joachim Pastorius Gdański pedagog XVII wieku [Joachim Pastorius. A 17th-century Pedagogue from Gdańsk], Gdańsk, 1970.

5 This is one of several works Pastorius wrote in connection with the election, coronation and marriage of king Michał Korybut Wiśniowiecki, see a summary and bibliographic descriptions in: E. Kotarski, Gdańska poezja okolicznościowa XVII wieku [Occasional Poetry of Gdańsk in the 17th Century], Gdańsk, 1993, pp. 97-102, 328-330.

6 Probably J. P. Titius, In electionem auspicatissaimam Serenissimi Potentissimique Poloniarum Regi etc., (1669), see E. Kotarski, Gdańska poezja okolicznościowa XVII wieku [Occasional Poetry of Gdańsk in the 17th Century], Gdańsk, 1993, pp. 97, 327.

7 N. Dilger, Glückwunschungs-Predigt…, Dantzig, 1669, see: E. Kotarski, Gdańska poezja okolicznościowa XVII wieku [Occasional Poetry of Gdańsk in the 17th Century], Gdańsk, 1993, pp. 100, 328.

8 SAG, 300, 12/109, pp. 47-48. A note recorded by J. Pałubicki without specific information on the donor, see J. Pałubicki, Malarze gdańscy. Malarze, szklarze, rysownicy i rytownicy w okresie nowożytnym w gdańskich materiałach archiwalnych [Painters of Gdańsk. Painters, Glaziers, Graphic Artists and Engravers of the Early Modern Period in the Gdańsk Archives], vol. 2, Słownik, Gdańsk, 2009, p. 25.

9 E. Cieślak was the first one to point out this source in „Udział Gdańska w życiu politycznym” [„How Gdańsk Participated in Political Life”] Historia Gdańska [History of Gdańsk], vol. 3/1, 1655-1793, E. Cieślak (ed.), Gdańsk, 1993, pp. 209-210.

10 The records within appropriate accounts were kept as a ledger from April to March the following year, therefore, within the financial year. A bookkeeping note indicated the title of an expense (person, work), the amount of payment in currency money (such as thalers or ducats) or accounting money (florins or zlotys along with marks – grzywna and groschen). The record was accompanied by the number of the respective cash receipt (usually lost). All currency money (gold, silver) or donations in precious metals were ultimately converted into the accounting money in which the books were kept. In 16th–17th century Gdańsk, these were Prussian marks (or grzywna, equal to 20 groschen), or less frequently guldens (florins or zlotys, equal to 30 groschen). A book of 1658 included the following note in an account title: “Verehrungen, ordinar und extraordinar an Gelde, Victualien und sonst, seyn dießes Jahr als folget ergangen,” SAG. 300, 12/94, p. 53. 

11 T. Bieńkowski, „Panegiryk a życie literackie w Polsce XVI i XVII w.” [„The Panegyric and Literary Life in Poland in the 16th and 17th Centuries”], Z dziejów życia literackiego w Polsce XVI i XVII wieku [On the History of Literary Life in Poland of the 16th and 17th Centuries], Wrocław, 1980, pp. 183-196.

12 In his important works on the occasional poetry of Gdańsk, Edmund Kotarski did not discuss this issue, see: E. Kotarski Gdańska poezja okazjonalna XVII wieku [Occasional Poetry of Gdańsk in the 17th Century], and: Gdańska poezja okazjonalna XVIII wieku [Occasional Poetry of Gdańsk in the 18th Century], Gdańsk, 1997. J. Puchalski presented some interesting remarks despite leaving out the publishing centres of Royal Prussia, and noted the importance of dedications: J. Puchalski, Polonika z obszaru niemieckojęzycznego – poza granicami Rzeczpospolitej w XVI wieku [Polonica from the German-speaking Territory – outside the Borders of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in the 16th Century], Warszawa, 1997, pp. 113-141.

13 Burkhard Moennighoff emphasised that•“Angesicht der Augenscheinlichkeit und der Selbstverständlichkeit des barocken Widmungswesen verwundert es, daß eine umfassende germanistische Erschließung des Gegenstandes fehlte,” B. Moennighoff, “Die Kunst des literarischen Schenkens. Über einige Widmungsregeln im barocken Buch”, in: Die Pluralisierung des Paratextes in der Frühen Neuzeit, Theorie, Formen, Funktionen, hg. von F. von Ammon, H. Vögel, Münster 2008, p. 338. This research gap was partly addressed in the work by Gabriele Schramm, Widmung, Leser und Drama. Untersuchungen zu Form- und Funktionswandel der Buchwidmung im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, Hamburg, 2003.

14 Newer Polish works include the collection of articles Dedykacje w książce dawnej i współczesnej [Dedications in Early and Modern Books], R. Ocieczek and A. Sitkowa (eds.), Katowice, 2006, and R. Ocieczek, Sławorodne wizerunki. O wierszowanych listach dedykacyjnych [Fame-generating Images. On Poetic Dedication Letters], Katowice, 1982, pp. 22-36 (review of earlier research), also: “Między literaturą i życiem. Dedykacje książkowe dla Heleny Tekli Lubomirskiej” [„Between Literature and Life. Book Dedications for Helena Tekla Lubomirska”], Barokowe przypomnienia i inne szkice historycznoliterackie [Baroque Reminders and other Sketches on the History of Literature], R. Ocieczek and M. Piechota (eds.), Katowice, 1994, pp. 99-114; and P. Tafiłowicz, „Dedykacje w drukach krakowskich 1503-1531” ['Dedications in Prints from Cracow 1503-1531”], Rocznik Biblioteki Narodowej, vol. 35, 2003, pp. 235-252. On calendar dedications, see: B. Rok, „Panegiryczne dedykacje z kalendarzy S. Duńczewskiego. (Szlachecki ideał sarmaty z czasów saskich)” [“Panegyric Dedications in the Calendars by S. Duńczewski (The Aristocratic Sarmatist Ideal during the Reign of the Saxon Dynasty)”], Śląski Kwartalnik Historyczny Sobótka, year 30, 1975, no. 2, pp. 343–351; M. Janik, Polskie kalendarze astrologiczne epoki saskiej [Polish Astrological Calendars of the Saxon Era], Warsaw, 2010. The respective German works include the newest study by M. Philipp, “Politica und Patronage. Zur Funktion von Widmungsadressen bei politischen Dissertationen des 17. Jahrhunderts”, in: Disputatio 1200 – 1800, Disputatio 1200–1800 Form, Funktion und Wirkung eines Leitmediums universitärer Wissenskultur, hg. von M. Gindhart, U. Kundert, Berlin-New York, 2010, pp. 231-268; the question of dedications starting from Martin Opitz was investigated by Gabriele Schramm, Widmung, Leser und Drama; B. Moennighoff, Die Kunst des literarischen Schenkens, pp. 337-352; H. Böning, “Bücher als Instrumente der Selbstpräsentation und -empfehlung. Was Widmungen in Büchern verraten”, Vom Autor zum Publikum. Kommunikation und Ideenzirkulation um 1800, hg. von W. Greiling, Bremen, 2010, pp. 367-388.

15 B. Moennighoff, Die Kunst des literarischen Schenkens, p. 337.

16 R. Ocieczek, „O dedykacjach Jana Kochanowskiego” [„On the Dedications by Jan Kochanowski”] Jan Kochanowski. Twórczość i recepcja [Jan Kochanowski. Work and Reception], vol. 1, Z. J. Nowak (ed.), Katowice, 1985, 7-19, p. 13. 

17 E. Kizik, „Prezenty w polityce Gdańska w XVII –XVIII wieku” [„Gifts in the Politics of Gdańsk in the 17th –18th Century”], Prusy i Inflanty między średniowieczem a nowożytnością. Państwo – społeczeństwo – kultura [Prussia and Livonia between the Middle Ages and Early Modern Times. State – Society – Culture], B. Dybaś and D. Makiłła (eds.), Toruń, 2003, pp. 105-116. On diplomatic gifts, see: J. Falcke, Studien zum diplomatischen Geschenkwesen am brandenburgisch-preußischen Hof im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert (Quellen und Forschungen zur Brandenburgischen und Preußischen Geschichte, Bd. 31), Berlin, 2006; compare with my review of this greatly inspiring work: Zapiski Historyczne, 73, 2008, 2-3, pp. 219-225.

18 Excellent remarks on the fair remuneration due to Erasmus of Rotterdam can be found in P. Tafiłowski, „Erazm z Rotterdamu a Jan Łaski” [„Erasmus of Rotterdam and Jan Łaski”], Rocznik Biblioteki Narodowej, 37-38, 2006, pp. 91-94; I thank professor Radosław Grześkowiak from the Institute of Polish Studies of the University of Gdańsk for referring me to this article.

19 Unfortunately, bookkeeping records have been used only sporadically in research on the scientific and artistic culture of that period, although recent studies on arts sponsorship and ceremonial expenses in Gdańsk demonstrate the usefulness of these sources, see J. Kriegseisen, “Sztuka w polityce miasta. Zamówienia artystyczne Gdańska w czasach Bartholomäusa Milwitza” [„Arts in City Politics. Artistic Commissions of the City of Gdańsk in the Times of Batholomäus Milwitz”], Gdańsk w epoce Bartholomäusa Milwitza. Materiały z sesji zorganizowanej przez Muzeum Historyczne Miasta Gdańska i Klasztor OO. Karmelitów w Gdańsku dnia 15 maja 2008 roku [Gdańsk in the Times of Batholomäus Milwitz. Proceedings of a session held by the Historical Museum of the City of Gdańsk and the Monastery of the Carmelite Fathers in Gdańsk on 15 May 2008], E. Kizik (ed.), Gdańsk, 2010, pp. 56-65; E. Kizik, Prezenty w polityce Gdańska w XVII –XVIII wieku [Gifts in the Policy of Gdańsk in the 17th–18th Century], pp. 105-116; E. Kizik, “Koszty pobytu królów polskich w Gdańsku w XVII w. Rekonesans badawczy” [“Costs of the Visits of Polish Kings to Gdańsk in the 17th Century. Preliminary Research”], Kwartalnik Historyczny, 114, 2007, 4, pp. 61-77; E. Kotarski, “Fundacje stypendialne w dawnym Gdańsku” [“Scholarship Foundations in Early Gdańsk”], in: Fundacje i fundatorzy w średniowieczu w epoce nowożytnej [Foundations and Founders in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period], E. Opaliński and T. Wiślicz (eds.), Warsaw, 2000, pp. 141-106, 123-125.