Krzysztof Ożóg The Intellectual Circles in Cracow at the Turn of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries and the Issue of the Creation of the Sankt Florian Psalter

On 26th July 1400, following the death of the Queen – who in her will had donated her jewels to the University of Cracow to support its re-establishment – Ladislaus Jagiełło set up the second foundation for the university, delegating its organisation to Stanislaus of Skarbimierz with a group masters from Prague. This marked the beginning of activity of a thriving scholarly milieu in the Cracow agglomeration that in the first decade of the 15th century grouped around 50 scholars and several hundred students at the four faculties of liberated arts, canon law, medicine and theology.1

Cracow was the capital of the bishopric and the cathedral chapter, which in the 14th century had gathered a significant number of educated prelates and canons. In the final two decades of that century the chapter included about a dozen clergymen holding university degrees, including doctors of canon law: John Grotowic of Wiśniowa, Świętosław of Szaniec, Nicholas Gorzkowski, Mieczysław, son of Adam of Zmysłów, Jacob of Kurdwanów (serving then in Rome as an auditor of the Roman Rota); bachelor of decrees: Abraham of Nowy Dwór; masters of liberal arts: Mark of Gnojnik, Peter Strzelicz, John Pomorzanin (also a bachelor of medicine and a student of canon law); bachelor of arts: Nicholas of Skroniów; students of canon law: Michael Niedźwiedź of Broniszów, John of Rzeszów, John Szafraniec, Otto of Tochołów; student of theology: John Wajdut, a keeper. Their degrees and education, obtained from universities in Paris, Bolonia, Padova and Prague, find direct confirmation in the existing historical sources.2 Certainly the group of prelates and canons of the Cracow cathedral holding university degrees was much bigger, as can be proved by the posts held by some members of the chapter, like that of an archdeacon or an official, where a degree in canon law was a requirement. The milieu of the cathedral chapter engaged in wide-ranging historiographic and literary-liturgical work.3

A cathedral school was in operation, where the trivium with some elements of the quadrivium were taught. It provided an education for future clergymen, as well as chancery notaries and scribes.4 Also associated with the cathedral was the college for vicars performing the Divine Service, situated on the Wawel Hill. Vicars substituted for the members of the chapter in their daily liturgical duties. Moreover, in 1381 a mansionaries’ college became active, while in 1393 Queen Hedwig founded a college for psalterists who were to diligently exercise the officium divinum.5

The urban agglomeration consisting of Cracow, Kazimierz and Kleparz and their suburbs, inhabited by ca. 20 thousand people, embraced quite a numerous group of clergy from collegiate, parish and parish branch churches, as well as from chapels. It was a diversified group in terms of education and affluence, as well as language, since many clergymen came from German burghers’ families.6 In the Church of St. Mary sermons were delivered in German, while in the neighbouring St. Barbara’s Church, in Polish. In other churches of the Cracow agglomeration, German preachers served shoulder to shoulder with those from Poland.7

The diocesan clergy of the late 14th century featured people with university degrees and broad intellectual interests. Sufficient proof of this may be found in parish and private book collections.8 Inventories of books of the St. Mary’s library, dating from the 16th and 15th century, show works typical of that period which were to help clergymen in pursuing their pastoral tasks, including, first and foremost, the delivery of sermons, the dispensing of the sacraments, the holding of the liturgy and the performance of the Divine Service. Throughout the 15th century, the library’s book collection gathered writings on theology, philosophy, hagiography, historiography, law, and mysticism, but first and foremost on preaching.9 Parishes ran schools that were typically of a negligible level, although the school at the Virgin Mary’s Church upheld higher standards and demonstrated aspirations to teach the quadrivium. The school at the Corpus Christi parish school at Kazimierz was also of a similar nature.10

The Cracow agglomeration was the seat of a variety of monastic communities. The most active ones, according to their intellectual and pastoral contributions, were the mendicant orders: the Dominicans, the Franciscans, and the Augustinians-Eremites.11 The first of them, bound with the Holy Trinity Church, was the most important monastery of preaching brothers in the Polish province, since it was the headquarters of the provincial school and of several schools within the monastic system, beginning with the convent school for particular studies to the studium generale established in the first decade of the 15th century. Its first regent, according to historical sources, was a well-known Dominican, John Falkenberg. The latter, however, was forced to leave the capital because of attacks he made on King Ladislaus Jagiełło, the bishop of Cracow, Peter Wysz and Matthew of Cracow. The Cracow order, together with the existing monastic schools, maintained a sizeable library and established a very creative environment.12



1 M. Kowalczyk, Odnowienie Uniwersytetu Krakowskiego w świetle mów Bartłomieja z Jasła [The Renewal of the University of Cracow in the Light of the Speeches of Bartholomew of Jasło], in: Małopolskie Studia Historyczne 6, 1964,3/4, pp. 23-42; Z. Kozłowska-Budkowa, Odnowienie jagiellońskie Uniwersytetu Krakowskiego (1390-1414) [The Jagiellonian Renewal of the University of Cracow (1390-1414)], in: Dzieje Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego w latach 1364-1764 [The History of the Jagiellonian University in 1364-1764], Ed. K. Lepszy, vol. 1, Kraków 1964, p. 38-87; K. Ożóg, Uczeni w monarchii Jadwigi Andegaweńskiej i Władysława Jagiełły (1384-1434) [Scholars in the Monarchy of Hedwig of Anjou (1384-1434)], Kraków 2004, pp. 19-67.

2 K. Ożóg, Kultura umysłowa w Krakowie w XIV wieku. Środowisko duchowieństwa świeckiego [The Intellectual Culture in Cracow in the 14th Century. The Environment of the Diocesan Clergy], Wrocław 1987, pp. 15-28, 140-151; K. Ożóg, Związki Uniwersytetu Krakowskiego z kapitułą katedralną krakowska u schyłku XIV i w I ćwierci XV wieku [The Relationship between the University of Cracow and the Cracow Cathedral Chapter Towards the End of the 14th Century and in the First Quarter of the 15th Century], in: Rocznik Biblioteki PAN w Krakowie 43, 1998, pp. 7-35.

3 K. Ożóg, Kultura umysłowa…[The Intellectual Culture...], pp. 51-97.

4 K. Stopka, Szkoły katedralne metropolii gnieźnieńskiej w średniowieczu. Studia nad kształceniem kleru polskiego w wiekach średnich [The Cathedral Schools of the Gniezno Metropolis in the Middle Ages. Studies in the Teaching of Polish Clergymen in the Middle Ages] , Kraków 1994; K. Ożóg, Kultura umysłowa….[The Intellectual Culture...], pp. 29-43.

5 B. S. Kumor, Dzieje diecezji krakowskiej do roku 1795 [A History of the Cracow Diocese to 1785], vol. 1, Kraków 1998, pp. 357-385.

6 J. Wyrozumski, Dzieje Krakowa. Kraków do schyłku wieków średnich [A History of Cracow. Cracow Towards the End of the Middle Ages], Kraków 1992, pp. 314-331; A. Niewiński, Przestrzeń kościelna w topografii średniowiecznego Krakowa. Próba syntezy [Church Space in the Topography of Medieval Cracow. A proposed Synthesis], Lublin 2004; A. Witkowska, Przestrzeń sakralna późnośredniowiecznego Krakowa [Sacred Space of the Late Medieval Cracow], in: Ecclesia et civitas. Kościół i życie religijne w mieście średniowiecznym [Ecclesia et civitas. The Church and Religious Life in a Medieval Town], Ed. H. Manikowska, H. Zaremska, Warszawa 2002, pp. 37-48.

7 J. Wolny, Kaznodziejstwo [Preaching], in: Dzieje teologii w Polsce [History of Theology in Poland], Ed. M. Rechowicz, vol. 1: Średniowiecze [The Middle Ages], Lublin 1974, pp. 303-304.

8 K. Ożóg, Kultura umysłowa…[Intellectual Culture...], pp. 123-130.

9 Najdawniejsze inwentarze skarbca kościoła N.P. Maryi w Krakowie z XV wieku [The Oldest 15th Century Inventories of the Treasury of the Virgin Mary’s Church in Cracow], Ed. F. Piekosiński, Kraków 1889, pp. 7 - 48; J. Zathey, Biblioteka kościoła P.Marii w Krakowie na przełomie XIV i XV w. (Na marginesie badań nad początkami Biblioteki Uniwersytetu Krakowskiego). [The Library of the Virgin Mary’s Church in Cracow at the Turn of the 14th and 15th Centuries. (Concerning Studies in the Beginnings of the Library of the University of Cracow)], in: Roczniki Biblioteczne 8, 1964, pp. 19-28; E. Piwowarczyk, Dzieje kościoła Mariackiego (XIII-XVI wiek) [A History of the Virgin Mary’s Church in Cracow (13th-14th Century)], Kraków 2000, pp. 166-182; K. Ożóg, Book Collections in Medieval Cracow. Outline of the State of Research, in: Quaestiones Medii Aevi Novae 15, 2010, pp. 141-142.

10 K. Ożóg, Kultura umysłowa…[The Intellectual Culture...], pp. 43-49.

11 K. Ożóg, Klasztorna geografia średniowiecznego Krakowa [Monastic Geography of Medieval Cracow], in: Klasztor w mieście średniowiecznym i nowożytnym [A Monastery in a Medieval and Modern Town] , Ed. M. Derwich, A. Pobóg-Lenartowicz, Wrocław-Opole 2000, pp. 217-234; Mendykanci w średniowiecznym Krakowie [The Mendicant Orders in Medieval Cracow], Ed. K. Oźóg, T. Gałuszka, A. Zajchowska, Kraków 2008.

12 M. Zdanek, Szkoły i studia dominikanów krakowskich w średniowieczu [Schools and Studies of the Cracow Dominicans in the Middle Ages], Warszawa 2005; Idem, Kultura intelektualna dominikanów krakowskich w średniowieczu [The Intellectual Culture of the Cracow Dominicans in the Middle Ages], Kraków 2003 (a doctoral dissertation at the Institute of History at the Jagiellonian University), pp. 170-394.