Krzysztof Ożóg



In studies and discussions on the genesis of the Florian Psalter, some historians specializing in the Middle Ages have been rather inclined to maintain the view that it came into existence in the Cracow intellectual environment: They have failed, however, to specify what was specifically meant by the concept of a “Cracow intellectual environment.”1 The argument concerning the Cracovian descent of this book was introduced by Ewa Śnieżyńska-Stolot who ascribed the execution of its first part (A) to Bartholomew of Jasło, who was master of the universities in Prague and Cracow and connected to the royal court at Wawel. According to her, he not only copied the trilingual text of this section, but also designed and made the illumination himself.2 This theory, formulated twenty years ago, has not been subjected to any discussion. In my remarks below I shall first propose an overview of the intellectual circles in Cracow at the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, and then I shall embark on a tentative verification of Śnieżyńska-Stolot’s theory.


In the 14th century, Cracow was the most important centre in the reborn Kingdom of Poland. The seat of the ruler and the royal court had been situated here since 1306, and the clerical elite of the Little Poland region played a major role in the exercise of power. Some of the Cracow-based offices became court offices and acquired significance as central institutions of the Kingdom (e.g. the chancery). The rebuilding of the royal castle at Wawel by king Casimir the Great was one of the core elements of the modernisation of the state at that time, and underlined the ruler’s prestige.3 Ladislaus the Short and Casimir the Great gathered university-educated people to the Cracow court by appointing them to various posts at the chancery and as diplomats, and by entrusting them with the pastoral and medical care of the king’s immediate circle. This group was composed of around 80 persons.4 The difficult political situation of the Polish state in the first half of the 14th century resulted in a court that was mostly of a clerical nature. The rule of Casimir the Great brought a certain change in this situation after 1350. The king, albeit uneducated himself, possessed educated advisers and following the pattern set by Charles IV pursued the goal of establishing a university in Cracow. The efforts to set up a university began in 1363, materializing in the form of a royal foundation document of 12th May 1364, and the Bull of Erection from Pope Urban V of September 1st of that same year.5 In the final years of Casimir’s life, a faculty of liberal arts was established and the nucleus of a faculty of medicine was formed. The monarch’s death interrupted the activity of the budding university and its foundation was set aside, made all the more uncertain by the fact that the monarch had changed the conditions for the funding of the university, since the Salt Mines Statute contained no trace of approved funds for the professors of law and medicine that were explicitly included in the foundation document. The source of funding was probably based on church benefices. Moreover, the king had begun the construction of a college for the university at Kazimierz, which was also interrupted upon his death.6

         The royal court continued to operate under the regency of Elizabeth of Poland (Łokietkówna), who stayed in Poland on and off until her death in 1380. Thereafter, for a few years, in view of the absence of King Louis of Anjou (1380-1382) and the interregnum (1382-1384), it remained in a state of adjournment. The situation returned to normal upon the arrival in Cracow of Louis’ daughter, Hedwig, the successor to the Polish throne. The coronation of Hedwig of Anjou in Cracow on 16th October 1384, followed by her marriage to Ladislaus Jagiełło, opened up a new chapter in the life of a royal couple and in the operation of the Wawel court, which preserved its clerical character. The personal composition of the court in the first years of Hedwig’s stay in Cracow stemmed from the demands of the  magnates of Little Poland who persevered in implementing the succession agreements concluded under the rule of King Louis of Anjou.7 Hedwig, brought up in the traditional elaborate court life of the Anjou dynasty, introduced some of its elements to the Wawel court. Thanks to her father, she certainly obtained an education in the field of Latin as well.8 The short period of about a dozen years of joint reign of Hedwig of Anjou and Ladislaus Jagiełło is characterized by a greater opening to the world of scholars than under the reign of two last kings of the Piast dynasty. There were a number of reasons for this, but firstly it stemmed from the intellectual and spiritual needs of the royal couple, as well as from the plans and aspirations that were pursued. Scholars appeared mainly among the personnel of the chancery and among diplomats, as well as among chaplains, preachers and persons filling various orders coming from the court. The selection of these was largely dependent on the personal preferences of the monarchal couple. In my previous research I successfully identified a group of over 20 persons with university degrees from Prague, Padova, Paris and Montpellier connected with the milieu of Hedwig and Jagiełło during their joint reign in the Kingdom of Poland.9 These were, among others: John Radlica, Peter Wysz, Nicholas Gorzkowski, Andrew Łaskarzyc, Matthias of Sandomierz, Stanislaus of Skarbimierz (Skalbmierz), John Štĕkna, and Bartholomew of Jasło. It was this circle that inspired the initiatives aimed at the revival of the university in 1390-1392 and the establishment of a faculty of theology that eventually came to completion with the Bull of Erection issued by Pope Boniface IX on 11th January 1397.

1 See M. Cybulski, Psałterz floriański a inne staropolskie przekłady Psałterza [The Florian Psalter and Other Old Polish Translations of the Psalter], in: Psałterz florjański łacińsko-polsko-niemiecki. Rękopis Biblioteki Narodowej w Warszawie [The Latin-Polish-German Florian Psalter. The Manuscript of the National Library in Warsaw], Ed. R. Ganszyniec, W. Taszycki, S. Kubica, L. Bernacki, Łódź 2002, pp. 20*-21*; Z. Kozłowska-Budkowa, Review of: M. Gębarowicz, Psałterz floriański i jego geneza [The Florian Psalter and its Genesis], Wrocław 1965, [in:]  “Małopolskie Studia Historyczne” 11, 1966, 1/2, pp.114-119; R. Hanamann, Der deutsche Teil des Florianer Psalters. Sprachanalyse und kulturgeschichtliche Einordnung, Frankfurt am Main 2010, pp. 119-134, 177-178. I wish to thank Dr Wojciech Mrozowicz very much for sharing this dissertation.

2 E. Śnieżyńska-Stolot, Tajemnice dekoracji Psałterza floriańskiego. Z dziejów średniowiecznej koncepcji uniwersum [Mysteries of Illumination of the Florian Psalter. From the History of the Medieval Concept of the Universe], Warszawa 1992, pp. 79-94; Eadem, Głos historyka sztuki w sprawie powstania Psałterza floriańskiego [The Voice of an Art Historian on the Creation of the Florian Psalter], in: Język Polski 70, 1990, 5, pp. 166-174.

3 J. Kurtyka, Odrodzone Królestwo. Monarchia Władysława Łokietka i Kazimierza Wielkiego w świetle ostatnich badań [The Reborn Kingdom. The Monarchy of Ladislaus the Short and Casimir the Great in the Light of the Recent Studies], Kraków 2001.

4 K. Ozóg, Intelektualiści w służbie Królestwa Polskiego w latach 1306-1382 [Intellectuals in the Service of the Kingdom of Poland in 1306-1382], Kraków 1995.

5 S. Krzyżanowski, Poselstwo Kazimierza Wielkiego do Awinionu i pierwsze uniwersyteckie przywileje [The Envoys’ Mission of Casimir the Great to Avignon and the First University Privileges], in: Rocznik Krakowski 4, 1900, pp. 1-111; A. Vetulani, Początki najstarszych wszechnic środkowoeuropejskich [The Beginnings of the Oldest Central European Universities] , Wrocław 1970, p. 82 ff..; S. Szczur, Papież Urban V i powstanie uniwersytetu w Krakowie w 1364 roku [Pope Urban V and the Establishment of the University in Cracow], Cracow 1999, p. 95 ff.;K. Stopka, Głos w dyskusji nad fundacją uniwersytetu w Krakowie [ A Voice in the Discussion on the Foundation of the University in Cracow], in: Rocznik Krakowski 71, 2005, pp. 31-40.

6 H. Barycz, Alma Mater Jagellonica, Kraków 1958, pp. 27-38; A. Vetulani, Początki najstarszych wszechnic…[The Beginnings of the Oldest Universities...], pp. 183-196; S. Szczur, Papieź Urban V…[Pope Urban V...], pp. 195-216; K. Stopka, Głos w dyskusji…[A Voice in the Discussion...], pp. 37-39.

7 H. Kręt , Dwór królewski Jadwigi i Jagiełły [The Royal Court of Hedwig and Jagiełło], Cracow, 1987, p. 19 ff.; G. Rutkowska, Urzędnicy królowej Jadwigi Andegaweńskiej. Spis [Clerks of Queen Hedwig of Anjou. A List], in: Nihil superfluuum esse. Studia z dziejów średniowiecza ofiarowane profesor Jadwidze Krzyżaniakowej [ Nihil superfluuum esse.Studies in the History of the Middle Ages Dedicated to Professor Jadwiga Krzyżaniakowa] , Ed. J. Strzelczyk, J. Dobosz, Poznań 2000, pp. 367-391; J. Kurtyka, Tęczyńscy. Studium z dziejów polskiej elity możnowładczej w średniowieczu [The Tęczyński Family. Studies in the History of the Polish Magnates’ Elite in the Middle Ages], Kraków 1997, p. 201 ff.

8 K. Kręt, Dwór Królewski…[The Royal Court...], pp. 171-172; P. W. Knoll, Hedwig and Education, in: The Polish Review 44, 1999, 4, pp. 419-422; A. Adamska, Reading and Meditation – Latin and Vernacular: The Medieval Rulers of Central Europe and their Books, pp. 1-11 (manuscript of a paper delivered at a conference in Rome in 2009). I wish to thank the author for sharing this text prior to its publication.

9 A. Strzelecka, O królowej Jadwidze. Studia i szkice [On Queen Hedwig. Studies and Outlines] , Lvov 1933, pp. 55-74; K. Ożóg, Duchowni i uczeni w otoczeniu św. Jadwigi [Clergymen and Scholars in the Environment of St. Hedwig], in: Święta Jadwiga królowa, Dziedzictwo i zadania na trzecie tysiąclecie [Saint Hedwig the Queen. The Heritage and Tasks for the Third Millenium], Ed. H. Kowalska, H. Byrska, A. Bednarz, Kraków 2002, pp. 165-178; idem, University Masters at the Royal Court of Hedwig of Anjou and Władysław Jagiełło, in: Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages. A Cultural History, ed. by P. Górecki, N. Van Deusen, London-New York 2009, pp. 147-160, 267-274.