Jan Długosz and his Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland


Jan Długosz (Ioannes Dlugosch, Ioannes Dlugossius, Ioannes Longinus), using the Wieniawa coat of arms, a canon in Cracow and custodian of the Wiślica Chapter (also known as Jan Długosz the Elder (senior) to avoid confusion with his younger brother, who bore the same name), was born in 1415 in Brzeźnica (now called Nowa Brzeźnica, near Radomsko), as the fourth of fourteen sons. His father, Jan of Niedzielsko (in the Wieluń district) was a burgrave in Brzeźnica since at least 1399. During the battle of Grunwald in 1410, he distinguished himself by seizing Markward von Salzbach (the Brandenburg komtur), among others. Before the famous battle, the chronicler’s uncle Bartłomiej, serving as the royal chaplain, celebrated mass in Władysław Jagiełło’s tent. Without doubt, the family tradition connected to the Grunwald campaign influenced the development of young Długosz’s historical perceptivity.

His education began in Nowe Miasto Korczyn, where his father had been serving as prefect (starosta) since about 1420. The clerical career was chosen for the youth probably because of his extraordinary academic aptitude, coupled with rather weak physical constitution, and with consideration of his specific family relations. A relative of Długosz’s father, Jan Elgot (d. 1452), was a doctor of canon law and served as the rector of the University of Cracow (twice), the judicial vicar of Zbigniew Oleśnicki (d. 1455, bishop of Cracow), as well as his chancellor and one of the closest associates. In the summer semester of 1428, Długosz enrolled to the University of Cracow and studied dialectics and philosophy for nearly three years. It was at this time that Jan of Dąbrówka (with whom Długosz was to work yet again after many years) introduced the chronicle of Master Wincenty Kadłubek (to which he also began to write a commentary) into the rhetoric syllabus. However, in the end, Długosz failed to earn a university degree.

About 1431, he entered into the service of bishop Zbigniew Oleśnicki, as his writer. Soon, he became the bishop’s secretary and chancellor (since 1438), as well as the administrator of his court and estate. The association with as prominent an individual as Oleśnicki exerted fundamental influence on the entire career and ideological development of the author of Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland. At least since 1434, Długosz – then a clericus (a minor order in the Church) in the Gniezno Cathedral – acted as a public notary nominated by the emperor. During the same year, Długosz became the parson of the church in Kłobuck, which position he inherited from his uncle Bartłomiej. In 1436 he was ordained as subdeacon, and soon afterwards as deacon. Finally, he became a canon of the Cracow Cathedral, having attained higher orders in 1440. In 1442 he became a cantor in the Wiślica collegiate, while in 1443 he was mentioned as the provost of the collegiate of St. George’s church in the Cracow castle. In 1444 he left the office of a cantor and became a custodian of the Wiślica Chapter, with which title – together with that of a canon in Cracow – he would be mentioned almost to the end of his life. The lack of an academic degree prevented him from becoming the cathedral’s prelate.

Before 1436, and in connection with his endeavours to become a canon in Cracow, he travelled to Florence, first to pope Eugene IV, and then to the council of Basel. In 1440, when Władysław III (of Varna) was becoming king of Hungary, Długosz – together with Oleśnicki – accompanied the king on the way to Hungary. Gradually, the chronicler was earning the reputation of an effective diplomat. In 1449 he was sent to Rome as an emissary to obtain pope Nicholas V’s confirmation of Oleśnicki’s rank as cardinal (he brought the cardinal’s hat to Oleśnicki in 1449). During this mission, he made the acquaintance of Enea Silvio Piccolomini (who became pope Pius II in 1458), in Wiener Neustadt. In 1449 he was sent to Hungary on a diplomatic mission regarding the Spisz prefecture (starostwo). At the same time, he was attempting to borrow a manuscript of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita, which was to become one of the main models for the Annals.

The following year, he travelled to Rome in order to participate in the celebration of the jubilee year. On the way, again in Wiener Neustadt, he obtained an invitation from the emperor and met Piccolomini once more, who praised Długosz’s moral integrity and eloquence, in a letter to Oleśnicki. From Rome and through Venice, he went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land together with Jan Eglot. From there, he travelled again through Italy and Hungary, to finally return to Poland. He came back to Cracow with a manuscript of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita, formerly belonging to Francesco Pertrarca. Długosz annotated the codex in his own hand (Jagiellonian Library Ms 522), and ordered another codex of Livy, where he also left notes (Jagiellonian Library Ms 523). According to his anonymous biography, Vita Ioannis Dlugosch senioris canonici Cracoviensis, he also brought from Italy works by Justin, Sallust, Cicero, and ‘other, both old and new, writers in theology and history’.

The year 1455 marks the final, crucial period in the life of the Cracow canon, lasting a quarter of a century. This was the year of the death of Zbigniew Oleśnicki, the Cracow bishop and cardinal, who was the patron of Długosz’s career within the Church, and who inspired his historical writing. According to Długosz’s own words, it was at that time that he began writing his most important and longest work, Annals of the Kingdom of Poland, which he dedicated to his late patron, and on which he worked until the last weeks of his life. Soon afterwards, he began to serve king Casimir Jagiellon as an expert and diplomat who negotiated in the most vital interests of the Kingdom of Poland, as well as a tutor of the king’s sons. In 1457 Długosz took part in the successful negotiation of the purchase of the Malbork castle, i.e. the residence of the Grand Masters of the German Order, from the Czech mercenaries. In 1459 he participated in the negotiation with the Order as one of the king’s delegates, while in 1460 he negotiated with the Czechs.

However, Długosz’s increasing influence in the king’s entourage was disturbed in the controversy around the new appointment to the Cracow bishopric. The controversy broke out in 1460, after the death of Oleśnicki’s successor, bishop Tomasz Strzępiński. The Chapter advanced their own candidate, vice-chancellor Jan Lutkowic of Brzezie, against the king’s candidate, Jan Gruszczyński, bishop of Włocławek and chancellor. They did so basing on the canon law and in hope to convince the king. A third candidate – Jakub of Sienno, Zbigniew Oleśnicki’s cousin – was forcefully promoted as a papal nominee by an aristocratic circle, who stood in opposition to the king and acted both against his interest and against the prerogatives of cathedral chapters. Długosz joined a clerical minority who supported Jakub of Sienno, which brought the king’s wrath upon him. Denounced, he first found temporary shelter in the Tęczyńscy’s castle, in Tęczyn; later, he stayed at Jan Melsztyński’s castle in Melsztyn for over a year. Meanwhile, the chronicler was deprived of his income, and his house in Cracow was plundered.

In exile, Długosz worked for the Polish state by preparing a brief memorial about the king’s – and the Kingdom of Poland’s – right to supremacy over Mazovia (Duchy of Płock). Thanks to his amnesty, Długosz was able to return to the capital early in 1463. Already in the following year, he took part in the negotiation preceding the peace treaty (the Second Peace of Thorn [Toruń], 1466) which ended the so-called Thirteen Years’ War with the Teutonic Order. Together with other royal experts, Długosz was compiling the historical justification for the right of the Kingdom of Poland to regain Gdańsk Pomerania, as well as other territories annexed by the Order at the beginning of the 14th c. In 1467-1468, Długosz negotiated with the Czechs, but before his departure to Prague he was nominated by the king as the tutor (director et magister, institutor) of his sons. The sons were to become rulers of Poland, Lithuania, Bohemia, and Hungary, Church dignitaries and its saints: Władysław (king of Bohemia and Hungary), Kazimierz (canonised), Jan Olbracht (king of Poland), Aleksander (grand duke of Lithuania, later also king of Poland), Zygmunt (ruler of Poland and Lithuania), and finally Fryderyk (bishop of Cracow, primate and cardinal). Długosz recommended humanistic reading matter to the princes and educated them in the art of elocution, as well as in other disciplines. During his stay in Lublin with the king’s sons in 1474, he met the Venetian diplomat Ambrogio Contarini, who later praised Długosz’s learning in his diary.In 1469, Długosz was to participate in negotiation with Hungary, which, however, never took place. In 1470, he was probably staying with the Czech king’s army in Moravia, as an emissary. In 1471, he travelled to Prague yet again, this time accompanying his student Władysław Jagiellon, in connection with the latter’s coming to the Czech throne. At the occasion, Władysław offered the Prague archbishopric to Długosz, but the chronicler refused the offer. In 1472, Casimir Jagiellon appointed Długosz as one of his delegates at the negotiations with Bohemia and Hungary which took place in Nysa and Opava.

As late as 1478, Długosz was sent on a diplomatic mission to Matthias Corvinus to help bring about peace between Poland and Hungary. The mission severely impaired the historian’s health. During the last years of his life, he was gradually becoming more and more critical of Casimir Jagiellon’s actions. This was because Długosz, a diplomat and patriot educated in Oleśnicki’s school, longed for the reunification of all territiories which had ever belonged to the Kingdom of Poland. Such wish forms one of the leitmotivs in his Annals. Perhaps the wish is best illustrated by the author’s personal statement of his joy and hope in connection with the enactment of the Second Peace of Thorn [Toruń], in 1466, which entitled the Crown of Poland to regain territories that had been lost previously. Yet, instead of focusing his politics on regaining Silesia, the king became involved in the dynastic issues in Bohemia and Hungary. As a result, Długosz felt that his own services remained unacknowledged, which led to his resentment, further deepened by his waning health.

Too late, Długosz finally did live to obtain royal grace. The initial plan was to appoint him to the unimportant bishopric of Kamieniec, which was poor and situated far away from Cracow. Only later, in 1479, was he nominated to the Lviv archbishopric. However, he was unable to begin actual service as archbishop because of his grave illness. Jan Długosz died on 19 May 1480, most probably at his home near Wawel, in Kanonicza Street in Cracow. He was still dictating his magnum opus, the Annals, during the last weeks of his life. Anticipating his death, he closed the Annals with a deeply moving epilogue. He was buried in St. Michael’s church at Skałka, Cracow, near which he founded a Pauline monastery.

Długosz’s foundation and construction projects

Since about 1440, Długosz either coordinated or initiated construction projects, using his skilfully accumulated resources, in combination with other financial means. He erected churches, houses for the clergy, and student dormitories. Except for the latter category, the majority of the buildings have survived and can thus testify to their characteristic form and exquisite late Gothic masonry. The churches in question are located in Chotel Czerwony near Wiślica (erected in 1443-1450 and supplied with paraments), Odechów near Radom (1460), Szczepanów near Brzesko (1470), Raciborowice near Cracow (adding a nave and replacing the roof, 1471-1476), and Kłobuck near Częstochowa (expanding a Romanesque church, 1466-1480). At the church in Kłobuck, Długosz founded a convent of Canons Regular (probably in 1454), provided with a wooden monastic building. The foundation was based on a presbytery which initially belonged to Długosz’s uncle Bartłomiej, then to the chronicler himself, and at last to his younger brother Jan, since 1449. In 1471-1472, Długosz established a convent of the Pauline Fathers at St. Michael’s church at Skałka, which was being redeveloped in the Gothic style, and where he was later buried. Długosz’s death disrupted his foundation a Carthusian monastery in two places bordering with Cracow, Kazimierz and Bielany.

Within the city of Cracow, Długosz completed the construction of the so-called Jerusalem Dormitory in Gołębia St. (ca. 1456, and after 1462) and erected a new chapter house in Kanonicza St. (in place of the so-called ‘pea’ dormitory, after 1469). He undertook both projects as the executor of Zbigniew Oleśnicki’s will. Acting on his own initiative, Długosz renovated a dormitory for poor artists (founded by Mikołaj Izner in Wiślna St.) and enlarged it by purchasing a neighbouring house, about 1462. Furthermore, he erected a dormitory for students of canon law, known as the Długosz Dormitory. The construction began in 1474 and was finished after the founder’s death. In 1475, Długosz initiated the construction of a new house for the college of the Wawel Cathedral psalter-singers, which was hence known as the Psalteria. Unfortunately, neither the house for psalter-singers, nor the dormitories mentioned above have survived. In Wiślica, Długosz erected a house for the vicars of the Wiślica collegiate and a bell tower, in 1460-1467. Among all such foundations by Długosz, the house for the vicars has been preserved the most completely, with part of its masonry and the interior decorative paintings featuring floral motifs, coats of arms, and inscriptions. In Sandomierz, Długosz erected a house for the mansionaries of the local collegiate (1475-1476), which has survived.

On his buildings, Długosz placed foundation plaques. Beside the inscriptions, the plaques display his family’s coat of arms, i.e. Wieniawa (Bison’s Head). The coat of arms was also frequently exhibited on other parts of the buildings, as well as on liturgical books and paraments. An illustrative example are the chalice and chasuble which have been preserved in a church in Kłobuck. Among surviving manuscripts commissioned by Długosz, especially worthy of notice are two copies of his Life of Bl. Cunegunda (Vita beatae Kunegundis), one for the Cracow Cathedral, the other for the monastery of Clarisses in Stary Sącz. The copies were prepared by Krzysztof of Dębowiec, one of the scribes employed by the chronicler. Moreover, the Clarist monastery used to have a foundation miniature (today known only from a copy) depicting Długosz, who apparently took care to pass on his image to posterity. Still, Długosz’s most famous foundation plaque is the one in the house of the Wawel cathedral’s psalter-singers. The plaque was produced during the last year of the chronicler’s life; nowadays it has been built into the wall of his house in Kanonicza St., Cracow.

Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland and other works

Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland, Being the Work of Venerable Jan Długosz, a Canon in Cracow, Most Attentive Student of His Nation’s Antiquities, Collected with the Greatest Diligence and Care for Historical Truth (Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae, opera venerabilis domini Ioannis Dlugossii canonici Cracoviensis, antiquitatum gentis suae observantissimi, summa cum diligentia collectae recto veritatis tramite fideliter custodito), sometimes also called the Polish History (Historia Polonica), written in 1455-1480 and comprising twelve books, are one of the highest achievements of European historiography in the late Middle Ages. Even the very size of the work is impressive (about 2,500 printed pages), as well as its chronological scope, which synthesizes the entire history of Poland, since legendary times until 1480, when the 65-year-old chronicler died. Admirable in the Annals is the richness of information it offers, deriving from countless sources, such as Polish and foreign chronicles, notes, documents, witness accounts, and – finally – the author’s personal experience and observations. Indeed, the description of Długosz’s own times carries the distinctive marks of a political diary and reaches the final weeks in his life.

According to his own testimony, the laborious process of writing the Annals lasted a quarter of a century, and competed with his other numerous obligations. Presumably, however, the preparatory work – such as collecting and studying the sources and the historiographical models, among which a crucial role was played by Livy – began long before 1455. Initially, the Annals was a file of documents, which underwent successive development and supplementation, as fresh evidence came forth and the author’s knowledge increased. Furthermore, some entries were rewritten even a few times, according to Długosz’s account in the epilogue, which he dictated shortly before his death. The composition process is documented in the existing manuscripts; it resulted in the incomplete character of certain parts of the work, which otherwise abounds in epic images. However, the process stems from the author’s methods, whose aim was to formulate such a record of the past that would be possibly complete and reliable with regard to its facts on the one hand, and instructive in all its parts on the other, in agreement with the notion of history as practical philosophy.

In the epilogue, Długosz expressed his opinion that the Annals contain great factual and stylistic shortcomings. Although the epilogue can be viewed as an instance of captatio benevolentiae, it expresses the new, humanistic esthetics of discourse. Anticipating his death, Długosz entrusted his Alma Mater, the University of Cracow, with the task of continuation, supplementation and correction of the Annals. The University’s alumni – Maciej of Miechów (Miechovita), Bernard Wapowski (Vapovius), Marcin Kromer (Cromerus) – together with their successors and followers, created their own chronicles. There, they discussed events which took place after 1480, when Długosz died. In contrast, whenever these later authors reported events from before 1480, when the Annals end, the reports are only in summary form or in paraphrase from Długosz.

At least since the 1st quarter of the 16th c., the Annals were exerting major influence on the development of historiography in all territories belonging to the early Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Such influence was achieved through the continually growing number of copies, commissioned by members of the clerical and secular elites. Not only did the Annals codify the history and the ideological tradition of the Polish state, they also served as a compendium of political practice, in agreement with their author’s intention. The work was chosen for a printed edition by the private initiative of Jan Szczęsny Herburt, a member of the aristocracy. However, the publication plan was abandoned after the first of the three volumes, which included six initial books of the Annals (until 1240). The volume, published in Dobromil in 1615 and prefaced with a provocative dedication to the Venetian senate, was confiscated by an order of Sigismund III Vasa. The king found the work harmful to the image of both the state and the ruling dynasty. In reaching the decision, he was influenced by personages whose ancestors were depicted by Długosz in an unflattering light. The entire Annals were published in print for the first time in the 18th c., when Henryk Huyssen, a Russian dignitary, published them in Leipzig (1711-1712), basing on the Dobromil edition and on two manuscripts, one previously belonging to Wojciech Dembiński, the other to Rozrażewski. In 1776, the edition was reprinted in Warsaw by W.K. Mitzler de Kolof. A new edition was published in 1873-1878, in Cracow, as part of the Opera omnia, sponsored by Aleksander Przezdziecki. Finally, a recent edition was published in 1964-2005 in Warsaw and Cracow (for discussion of these editions and their base, see below).

Unquestionably, the Annals, together with their author’s views, determined the shape of the Polish past, as well as that of other nations, almost completely. Only in the 19th c. was it possible to perceive and understand Długosz’s bias, thanks to the emergence of modern critical historiography. Nonetheless, the Annals continue to exert a major influence whenever they serve as the only source, or the main one, for the record of particular events or the description of particular people. Moreover, the chronicle is interesting not only as an account of historical events, but also – at least equally strongly – as a document of the period when it was created, i.e. the end of the Middle Ages, when humanistic tendencies were rising in power. At last, the work constitutes evidence of the extraordinary character of its author – a churchman, and a theocratic and providentialistic philosopher, who nevertheless followed Italian humanists in their admiration for the rhetorical and historiographic ideals of Antiquity. Furthermore, the chronicler frequently criticised the ruling dynasty, but at the same time he believed in strong royal authority, which, however, ought to follow the authority of the Church. Finally, Długosz was, beyond doubt, a genuine and ardous patriot, a man of outstanding resourcefulness and dedication to his work.

Other works by Jan Długosz

Długosz’s first major work written for practical purposes was an inventory of the property and income of the Cracow bishopric and chapter. It was compiled in 1440, according to the anonymous Life of Jan Długosz (Vita Ioannis Dlugosch senioris canonici Cracoviensis). Otherwise unknown, the inventory was probably an early form of the Book of the Cracow Diocese’s Resources (Liber beneficiorum dioecesis Cracoviensis), which was being composed since 1470. The three existing parts of the Book describe the resources of the Cracow Cathedral, as well as the diocese’s collegiate churches, monasteries and parishes. Additionally, it provides valuable historical and geographical information. The Book was published very imperfectly within Opera omnia, see the list of editions of Długosz’s works in the Suggested Reading at the end.

The first strictly historical work by Długosz was a catalogue of the trophy banners which had been seized mainly from the army of the German Order in Prussia – and from their allies – during the battle of Grunwald in 1410. Later, Władysław Jagiełło ordered the banners to be displayed as a votive offering in the Cracow Cathedral at the grave of St. Stanislaus of Szczepanów, the patron saint of the Kingdom of Poland. In 1448 Stanisław Durink, a painter from Cracow, produced a series of miniatures depicting the individual banners, most probably at Długosz’s commission. The banners were painted on the verso sides of parchment sheets, which were then folded and sewn to form a codex. The book was called Prussians’ Banners (Banderia Prutenorum) after its contents. The 46 miniatures are supplied with the banners’ measurements, so that their destroyed originals could be later reconstructed ‘as a token of the glorious victory’, according to the Annals. After 1448, and probably during the Thirteen Years’ War with the German Order in Prussia (1454-1466), Długosz commissioned further ten banners – omitted from the original version of Banderia – to be painted on the recto pages in the manuscript. Having created the codex, Długosz began to supply the miniatures with annotations that specified the territorial association of each banner. He continued to supplement the codex with this sort of data until the last years of his life. At that time, he asked one of his scribes, employed for copying the Annals, to help him supply some of the banners with a more detailed historical commentary. The variety of scribal hands, among which clearly discernible is Długosz’s own hand, can be seen in the original shown here. The commentary in Banderia Prutenorum derives from a description of the banners used by the Order’s army at the battle of Grunwald, as well as from the description of the battle in book XI of the Annals. It is worth emphasizing that Banderia Prutenorum constitutes the earliest preserved Fahnenbuch (‘book of banners’) in the world. In 2014 the manuscript containing it, held in the Jagiellonian Library, was inscribed on the Polish National Register of the UNESCO Programme ‘Memory of the World’.

In 1462, in exile and during his stay at the Melsztyn castle, Długosz completed his Articles on the Incorporation of Mazovia (Articuli de incorporatione Masoviae). The work explains the rights of the king of Poland to the Duchy of Płock following the demise of its rulers belonging to the Piast dynasty. The duchy is argued to be an integral part of the ‘Body of the Kingdom of Poland’ (Corpus Regni Poloniae).

In the period between 1460-1463 and 1465, Długosz composed an extensive Life of St. Stanislaus (Vita sancti Stanislai), the patron saint of the Kingdom of Poland. St. Stanislaus was seen as an ideal bishop, defending the rights of the Church in confrontation with royal power. The Life of St. Stanislaus was the first work by Długosz published in print (Cracow, 1511). Długosz composed another Life, dedicated to Blessed Cunegunda (Vita beatae Kunegundis), before 1474.

In 1464-1478, Długosz compiled a series of catalogues of bishops, which illustrated the history of the Polish Church through the lives of the ordinaries in particular dioceses. The series of catalogues provides lists of bishops in the following dioceses (and in the following order): Wrocław, Włocławek, Poznań, archbishops of Gniezno, bishops of Cracow, and bishops of Płock (the latter catalogue, now lost, is known from a 19th-century reconstruction).

Undoubtedly, Długosz must have been – for many years – collecting geographical data on the territories belonging to the Kingdom of Poland, as well as to Lithuania and Prussia. He was interested in facts about their towns, rivers, and lakes, and also on the measurements of those lakes. Later, he organised the collected information into a description of Central and Eastern Europe (Chorographia), which originally constituted a separate work, but was eventually – about 1475 – incorporated into book I of the Annals.

Furthermore, Długosz is the author of the oldest Polish roll of arms, according to a tradition which derives at least from the beginning of the 16th c. The brief work called Description of the Coats of Arms of the King and Kingdom of Poland (Insigniorum clenodiorum regis et Regni Polonie descriptio) has been preserved in a few manuscripts. The oldest of these (Kórnik Library Ms 801) dates to ca. 1470, while its version of Description was presumably composed after 1466. The text discusses the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Poland, as well as those of the Kingdom’s territories, and of its cathedral chapters. However, the work’s most interesting part consists in the presentation of 71 knightly coats of arms, ending with brief descriptions of the relevant families. 

About thirty letters by Długosz (not counting his dedication letters) have been preserved either in the original form or in contemporary copies. The letters illustrate his relations with Zbigniew Oleśnicki, who was his patron, as well as with the aristocracy of Lesser Poland and the clergy of the Cracow diocese. Moreover, the texts show Długosz’s activity in diplomacy and economy.

Finally, Długosz left various notes and annotations, which he wrote in the manuscripts he used, such as the Annals and Calendar of the Cracow Cathedral, as well as the so-called Zamoyski Codex (containing the chronicle by an anonymous author nowadays called Gallus, together with Trzaska’s Annals, among others; National Library of Poland, The Zamoyski Library Ms cim. 28), or manuscripts of Livy’s Ab Urbe condita. Additionally, he produced donation notes, which he either wrote in his own hand (for instance in Banderia Prutenorum), or commissioned others to inscribe onto his own books. Those belonged to Długosz’s probably well-endowed library, from which, however, only few manuscripts have been discovered. One known example is Kórnik Library Ms 155, which originally belonged to Zbigniew Oleśnicki, and whose binding contains an extensive note by Długosz. Among such small forms of Długosz’s work, notable are also inscriptions, especially foundation inscriptions (typically placed above the portal of the building), which demonstrate important aspects of his personality, professional activity, and historical methodology.

Unfortunately, no modern, complete edition exists for Długosz’s whole oeuvre; its only published part are the Annals (cf. Suggested Reading).

The Annals – the composition process and manuscript witnesses 
(as determined by Wanda Semkowicz-Zarembina and Piotr Dymmel)

The composition process of the Annals spanned 25 years, until the last weeks of Długosz’s life, according to the his own statement in the epilogue. However, preparatory work, together with part of the writing process, probably took place even before 1455. The dedication letter attached to the Annals suggests that Długosz might have initially intended to record mainly the time – then still recent –of Władysław Jagiełło’s rule and the military triumph over the German Order in Prussia, i.e. the ‘great battle’ of Grunwald. Those recent times also encompassed the pontificate of Zbigniew Oleśnicki (1423-1455), seen by Długosz as both an ideal bishop and an ideal dignitary of the Kingdom. As Długosz stated, Oleśnicki’s oral account formed the main part of the ‘writing matter’ (materia scribendi). At another point in the Annals’ dedication letter, Długosz emphasized that Oleśnicki even ordered him to record in writing the ‘old and recent times’ and to compile them into a ‘unified course of history’.

The two parts of the text, one pertaining to the ‘old’ and the other to the ‘recent’ times, are divided by the year 1406 in the manuscripts. However, work on them started to progress simultaneously since a certain stage. The annalistic structure of the text resulted from the author’s method of collecting information and editing it. What was later to become the twelve books of the Annals began probably as a file of documents, arranged in chronological order. The practice of recording the relevant information under specific years allowed the author to control its contents to a greater extent and to notice causal relationships, as the work was expanding. Nevertheless, the method did not guard Długosz against assigning wrong dates to some events, or against repetitions.

While working on the chronicle, Długosz incessantly tried to obtain all sorts of accounts on both old and recent times. The sources included Polish and foreign chronicles, annalistic notes, documents and letters, inscriptions, and oral statements by witnesses. The majority of the part pertaining to the ‘recent’ times comprised the author’s personal experience and observations. As Długosz’s knowledge and opinions were developing, he recorded his new ideas in the form of marginal comments or at the end of already finished passages of text. Such practice, according to the author’s own words, required reworking whole passages, in some cases repeatedly. At a certain stage, Długosz decided to employ his scribes to help him work on the Annals. The most important witness to their work is the so-called Autograph of the Annals (Czartoryski Library in Cracow Ms 1306), comprising the ‘old’ times, i.e. until 1405. From p. 61 (the beginning of quire IV), the handof the main copyist starts appearing, also known as hand B within the classification of Wanda Semkowicz-Zarembina (see Suggested Reading). About 1464-1468, to judge by the watermarks, hand B wrote the initial version of the work in loose quires, basing on the original document file. The fair copy thus obtained, in turn, sustained further editorial efforts. Those comprised the so-called second revision, which was conducted by the author during the final 15 years of his life, and which included continual correction and augmentation. Długosz’s scribes also participated in the process, writing certain passages to his dictation, while the author controlled the whole enterprise as the main editor and corrector.

The third revision, as identified by Semkowicz-Zarembina in the Autograph, resulted from the wish to preserve the work in a feasibly clear and coherent fair copy. The revision comprises text written by hands A-D (except for B), according to the classification of Semkowicz-Zarembina. During the intensive editorial work, aiming at the creation of a final version of the text, certain passages probably underwent so many corrections and augmentations that they needed to be entirely rewritten, which – in turn – was taking place since 1475. Hand A copied the three initial quires in the codex (until p. 60), containing the dedication letter, information about the division of the work into twelve books, as well as the Chorography, which was incorporated into the Annals. Still, even this part – just as the other rewritten parts – was further corrected and supplemented by Długosz. This foreshadowed the text’s fourth revision, completed by copying the author’s work only after his death. Therefore, the Autograph constitutes a remarkable documentation of Długosz’s writing practices and work methodology, both of which are also evidenced in Banderia Prutenorum and Liber beneficiorum.

The second part of the Autograph manuscript, pertaining to the period 1406-1480, is unknown and most probably has not survived. As a result, it is only known from later copies, the oldest of which is the so-called Świętokrzyski manuscript, deriving its name from the Benedictine monastery at Święty Krzyż, where the book was held in the 17th c. The manuscript contains the entire Annals, vol. I in National Library of Poland Ms 8053, and vols. II-III in Kórnik Library Mss 197 and 198. The books were probably created in the milieu of the Cracow University, possibly in connection with Maciej of Miechów’s historical work. Watermarks set the approximate production date at about 1510. The manuscript was written by many scribes, who copied single quires in agreement with the arrangement of the original, as can be seen by comparison with the Autograph, described above. At the same time however, textual variants in the Świętokrzyski manuscript – in the part of the Annals pertaining to the period after 1406 – suggest that the manuscript is not a direct copy of the Autograph (which contradicts the initial conclusions reached by Semkowicz-Zarembina), and that another, intermediate copy separated the two manuscripts. The originally unbound quires of the Świętokrzyski manuscript were organised into three volumes and bound only about the middle of the 16th c., for Jan Sierakowski (d. 1589), who later became the castellan of Kalisz and the voivode of Łęczyca. The manuscript preserves the title of the work (Annales seu Cronicae ...) which is probably in agreement with the author’s intention and has been widely adopted.

To the Świętokrzyski group of manuscripts belongs also National Library of Poland Ms 3005, known as the ‘royal’ manuscript, whose text reaches up to the year 1299. The manuscript belonged to the Załuski Library before 1752, and was bound by order of king Stanisław August Poniatowski. Its scribal hands, watermarks, and copying system indicate that it was produced in the same workshop as the Świętokrzyski manuscript, and might have been copied from it. In the Świętokrzyski group, the main specimen of volume II is the so-called Działyński codex (Kórnik Library Ms 199), written in 1572 and discussing the period 1318-1434, though with a gap between 1374 and 1381. A distinctive feature of the Świętokrzyski manuscript group consists in the presence brief marginal comments which inform the reader about the content of each chapter and about changes of the topic within a chapter. Hence, Piotr Dymmel (see Suggested Reading) describes the group as manuscripts belonging to the second, annotated revision. However, in the Świętokrzyski manuscript, the comments end at 1410 (although a different type of comments appears in its vol. III). In all the other manuscripts belonging to the Świętokrzyski group, the commentary continues until the end of the work, and belongs to the same recension. Therefore, the commentary does not derive from the Świętokrzyski manuscript itself. For the period 1410-1434 the commentary is attested only in the Działyński codex (Kórnik Library Ms 199), while for book XII (1435-1480) the earliest copy of the commentary has been preserved in Gniezno Cathedral Library Ms 1042, which dates from the 1520s or 1530s. The marginal notes describing the content of the work seem to be related to summary versions of Długosz’s work, which started appearing about the mid-16th c. The earliest known example of such an epitome can be found in Kórnik Library Ms 200.

A version of the Annals that is close to the original authorial recension, especially for the period 1406-1444, is preserved in manuscripts from the so-called Scipio group, which has been classified as belonging to the first, ‘courly’ revision of the work. The name of the group derives from Ignacy Scipio del Campo (d. 1791), prefect (starosta) of Lida and lord high steward (podstoli) of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Del Campo owned a three-volume copy of the work, covering the period until 1444 (Czartoryski Library Mss 1299-1301). The copy was produced during the final 15 years of the 16th c., probably at the commission of Stanisław Kostka, voivode of Pomerania and treasurer of Royal Prussia. Unfortunately, the group does not preserve any instance of the original passages pertaining to the period 1445-1480. Other important manuscripts belonging to the Scipio group are: National Ossoliński Institute Ms 109 (which covers the period 1406-1444 and was written shortly before 1549, presumably as part of a complete copy of the Annals) and National Library of Poland Ms 6608 (covering the same period and originating in the 2nd half of the 17th c., also presumably as part of a complete copy). The common denominator within the Scipio group are augmentations introduced to some chapters, usually at their end, where such introduction of supplementary material was the easiest. The feature is attested in about thirty places in the part covering the period 1406-1444; however, such differences become the most frequent in the description of the years 1409-1444, i.e. during the period of the war with the German Order. The passages are absent from either the Świętokrzyski manuscript, or the manuscripts belonging to its group. The unknown prototype of the Scipio group was copied from the Autograph. During the process, the scribe read their exemplar more diligently than the copyists of the Świętokrzyski manuscript, who most probably omitted the barely legible – and maybe also partly lost – annotations to the original text. The copy which is closest to the prototype of the Scipio group seems to be Ossoliński Institute Ms 109, mentioned above. In the Scipio group, five fragments were omitted from the passage covering the period 1434-1444, although they are present in in the Świętokrzyski manuscript. The omitted fragments contain negative views about Władysław Jagiełło and Władysław of Varna. Perhaps the passages (which also contain the so-called vision of Weronika, a townswoman) were included into the work only after the Scipio group’s prototype was produced. As regards the language of the Scipio group, significant changes were introduced into the Scipio codex and the codex held in the National Library of Poland (Ms 6808). Related to the Scipio group are two copies which used to cover part of book XII (since 1445), but which have survived only in fragments as a result of World War II. One of the two is St. Petersburg Ms 15a, which was completely destroyed during World War II. The other one is the Miechów codex (National Library of Poland Ms 3006), dating to the mid-16th c. and deriving from the monastery of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, preserved only in fragments. The latter manuscript bears corrections by Samuel Nakielski (d. 1652), author of the famous Miechovia, who intended to continue editing the Dobromil recension of the Annals. The manuscripts containing only book XII represent a reduced version of the text. They may have originated as a result of the early response to Długosz’s work, clearly visible in Filippo Buonaccorsi’s (Kallimach’s) De rege Wladislao (ca. 1487), whose narrative ends with the tragic battle of Varna in 1444. Perhaps the process of rewriting Annals book XII, which describes the rule of Casimir Jagiellon, was intended as a continuation of Kallimach’s work, and the initiative to undertake it probably originated at court.

The first complete printed edition of the Annals was published in 1711-1712 (see below). Prior to that, the work was copied in more than 120 manuscripts, differing both in quality and in the amount of text they contain. Out of these, over 60 manuscripts have been preserved, while the rest is known solely from other sources and from the literature.

As described above, one stage in the manuscript transmission of the Annals consisted in preparing as faithful copies of the original as possible, basing on the Scipio and Świętokrzyski manuscript groups. A later, important stage is the emergence of a group of copies that compile the two primary recensions, subsequently followed by their further evolution. Thus, the original text underwent linguistic and stylistic revision whose aim was to make the narrative flow more smoothly, as well as to conform to the current taste and needs of the audience. An instance of such editorial practices can be found in the revision of book XII, mentioned above, which is preserved in the Miechów manuscript.

The most important aspect of such textual transformation was the emergence of the Stradom manuscript group, thus called after the manuscript of the Annals belonging to the Lazarist house in Stradom, Cracow. The manuscript contains books VII-XII and was produced at the beginning of the 17th c. for Andrzej Bobola, prefect of Pilzno. Although the text of the group is closely related to the Scipio group, the Stradom group has more complex textual structure, combining two recensions which represent the Scipio and Świętokrzyski group in book XII (since 1435). Thus, the creation of the Świętokrzyski manuscript designates the terminus post quem for the emergence of the Stradom group. The copyist of the – now unknown – prototype of the group aimed at producing as complete a text as possible. Still, they omitted passages from the Świętokrzyski recension which contain criticism of Władysław Jagiełło, Władysław of Varna, and Casimir Jagiellon. At the same time, the scribe retained the material on the moral condition of the clergy. It is highly plausible that the prototype of the Stradom group was the – now lost – complete set of the Annals, copied about 1528 from an exemplar belonging to Krzysztof Szydłowiecki, chancellor of the Crown, for Piotr Tomicki (d. 1535), bishop of Cracow and vice-chancellor of the Crown. The text might have been copied and edited by Stanisław Górski, the bishop’s secretary, who is best known for compiling Acta Tomiciana. The greatest idiosyncrasies within the group, especially in book XI, occur in the Czerwińsk manuscript (deriving from the monastery of Canons Regular in Czerwińsk, Czartoryski Library Ms 1305) and National Museum in Cracow Ms 74. The text of both manuscripts underwent stylistic revision, which however did not modify the factual content. The surviving manuscripts belonging to the Stradom group are late, dating to the 17th c. The sole exception is the so-called Stockholm I codex, also known as the De La Gardie codex (National Library of Sweden Ms D 1471: 1-3), which demonstrates 16th-century features. The Czerwińsk codex originated probably in the 1620s as part of a complete, three-volume copy of the Annals; unfortunately, the two initial volumes were incinerated in Warsaw during World War II. The surviving codex constitutes an interesting example of readers’ response to Długosz’s text, not only because of the stylistic modifications, but also because of the addenda on two confederations of the nobility – in Lesser Poland (1439) and in Greater Poland (1342), attested also in National Museum in Cracow Ms 74.

In about mid-16th c. and probably within the circles of educated aristocracy who were interested in the past, there emerged the idea to adjust Długosz’s Latin, at places overly medieval, to the renaissance taste. The oldest surviving instance of the humanistic recension of the Annals is the codex previously owned by Jan Ocieski (d. 1563), chancellor of the Crown (Czartoryski Library Ms 2838). It constitutes the final volume (book XII, years 1435-1480) of the three-volume set that was produced basing on the complete set of the Annals copied for Piotr Tomicki, who – in his will – left the set to the Chapter of the Cracow Cathedral. It served as the exemplar for copies commissioned by the highest dignitaries in the Kingdom: first by Jan Tarnowski (d. 1561), castellan of Cracow and grand hetman of the Crown, and later by Piotr Kmita (d. 1553), grand marshal of the Crown and voivode of Cracow. In 1559-1560, the same exemplar was copied in whole for Jan Ocieski, who was well-known for his humanistic interests. The stylistic revision of the text might have been undertaken by Stanisław Górski. Possibly the best known instance of the endeavours to add refinement to Długosz’s text, and even to the quotations in it, is the reworking of queen Jadwiga’s medieval poetic epitaph, quoted verbatim by Długosz, in the style of the humanistic elegy. As shown by Piotr Dymmel, the humanistic recension can be divided into two branches with certain differentiating features. One branch, known as the Pieskowa Skała group (so called after a castle near Cracow), includes the following manuscripts: the Pieskowa Skała Ms, the Kaczkowski Ms, the Lisiecki Ms, the Czacki Ms, the Domaniewski Ms, the National Library of Poland Ms 6965, the Sierakowski Ms, the Skoroszewski Ms, and the National Library of Poland, The Zamoyski Library Ms 137. The other branch, called the Krzysztoporski group, includes its eponymous manuscript, together with the following manuscripts: the Rozrażewski Ms, the Jerzy Ossoliński Ms, the Ocieski Ms, the Chotelski Ms, the Wężyk Ms, the Czartoryski Ms 1308, the Koniecpolski Ms, the Stockholm II Ms, and the Michałowski Ms (if one disregards book XII of the Annals, then the Lisiecki Ms also belongs to this group).

The Pieskowa Skała group and the Krzysztoporski group contain many different readings in book XI. Furthermore, some readings occur only in the manuscripts belonging to the two groups. The groups clearly differ in book XII. Although the text of the humanistic recension was extensively modified, substantial evidence indicates that their prototype derived from the Scipio group. A feature characteristic for the humanistic recension is the use of headings stating the main content of the chapters; however, the headings differ between the two groups. From among the complete copies belonging to the humanistic recension, beside the Ocieski codex, presented here are the following:

The Krzysztoporski codex (vols. I and III, Czartoryski Library Ms 1576; vol. II National Library of Poland Ms Akc. 6289, the so-called Schaffgotsch manuscript), written in 1573-1576 for Jan Krzysztoporski (d. 1585), castellan of Wieluń, known to have owned a large library.

The Rozrażewski codex (vols. I-II, Jagiellonian Library Ms 33; vol. III, National Museum in Cracow Ms 193), written between 1582 and 1600 for Hieronim Rozrażewski, bishop of Kujawy, patron and bibliophile (vols. II-III were copied by Andrzej Dolski, probably identical to Sigismund III Vasa’s secretary of the same name; the codex constitutes the source for the chapter headings in the most recent edition of the Annals, published in 1964-2005).

The Pieskowa Skała codex (vol. I, National Library of Poland Ms 6966; vols. II-V, Lviv National Vasyl Stefanyk Scientific Library of Ukraine: vol. II – Ms Baw. 84, vol. III – Ms Baw. 82, vol. IV – Ms Baw. 81, vol. V – Ms Baw. 85), written about 1590 for Stanisław Szafraniec (d. 1598), voivode of Sandomierz, owner of the castle in Pieskowa Skała, who also had a large library. Later, the manuscript went into the possession of Samuel Andrzej Dembiński (d. 1648), lord high steward (podstoli) of Cracow in the period 1604-1618.

The Sierakowski codex (National Archives of Sweden Ms E 8692), a five-volume copy produced by Maciej Bryszkowski in the late 1580s, possibly for the otherwise unknown Seweryn Grabski; supplied with an erroneous title in 1590. Its later owner was Łukasz Sierakowski, castallan of Ląd (Greater Poland) in 1620-1623.

The Pieskowa Skała codex and the Sierakowski codex were probably produced in the same scribal workshop.

The base for the Leipzig edition of the Annals (1711), the edition within Opera omnia (vols. X-XIV, 1873-1878), and the 1964-2005 edition

The foregoing discussion of the textual evolution and transmission of the Annals refers mainly to the conclusions reached by Piotr Dymmel in his essential study of 1992, which analyses the manuscript tradition of the Annals (see Suggested Reading). The discussion shows how important it is to choose the right basis for textual criticism, edition, and – finally – publication.

In the case of the first Leipzig edition of 1711-1712, the choice was quite random. Books I-VI were reprinted from the edition by Jan Szczęsny Herburt (Dobromil, 1615), while the remaining six books were published basing on Wojciech Dembiński’s manuscript (which probably belonged to the humanistic recension) and the Rozrażewski manuscript, which also supplied the headings. The edition by Wawrzyniec Krzysztof Mitzler de Kolof (Warsaw, 1776) was just a reprint of the Leipzig edition. The problem of choosing the right base was first approached in a methodological way in connection with the preparation of the publication of Długosz’s Opera omnia in (Cracow, 1863-1887), which was sponsored by Aleksander Przezdziecki. There, the Annals constitute volumes X-XIV, published in 1873-1878 under the title Historiae Polonicae libri XII. The edition was accompanied by Karol Mecherzyński’s translation of the Annals, based on the Leipzig edition (vols. II-VI). In order to establish the original text, Przezdziecki was in search for manuscripts of the Annals, thus trying to find the original manuscript. In the 1860s, the so-called autograph (Czartoryski Library Ms 1306) was identified in Paris, where the library of the Czartoryski princely house was held at the time. However, the editorial work on the Latin text was already at an advanced stage. The text of the Leipzig edition was collated with the Świętokrzyski manuscript. Żegota Pauli, who was establishing the text for the edition, collated it also with the Rozrażewski and Cieszkowski manuscripts (the latter dating to the 1st half of the 16th c. and containing books I-VI; The Library of the Poznań Society of Friends of Sciences Ms 815). To achieve this aim, the editors also consulted the three-volume set of the Annals (Library of the Gniezno Cathedral Mss 204a-c) produced before 1624 for Andrzej Lisiecki (d. 1639), lord prosecutor (instigator Regni) of the Crown. The readings of the newly found autograph were recorded in the footnotes, together with those of the other versions mentioned, while the established main text became a philological synthesis. In order to establish the text pertaining to the period 1406-1480, the Przezdziecki edition used the Świętokrzyski manuscript. However, work on the material pertaining to the years 1406-1444 necessitated the additional consultation of the Scipio manuscript, while that pertaining to the subsequent years – the Przezdziecki manuscript, dating to the end of the 17th c. (book XII, Jagiellonian Library Ms 37). Contrary to the declaration of editorial practices, the spellings of the Latin text were modernised, even those of personal and place names.

In the new edition of the Annals (Warsaw – Cracow, 1964-2005), initiated by Prof. Jan Dąbrowski, the obvious choice of the base text pertaining to the period until 1405 was the so-called autograph. Its defective passages were reconstructed by referring to the Świętokrzyski manuscript and Łukasz of Przemyśl’s manuscript (the latter dating to 1583, its two volumes comprise the text of the Annals until 1406; Jagiellonian Library Ms 34, vol. I; Gdańsk Library of the Polish Academy of Sciences Ms Uph. 70, vol. II). The main problem, however, was the choice of textual base for the period 1406-1480, whose autograph has not survived. For the years 1406-1444, the base text chosen for the edition were three manuscripts belonging to the Stradom group: the Stradom Ms, the Stockholm Ms (also known as the De La Gardie manuscript; National Library of Sweden Ms D 1471: 1-3, containing 16th-century features), and the Dresden Ms (formerly belonging to Jakub Michałowski and dating to the 1st half of the 17th c.; Dresden Municipal Library Ms G. 49-51), which belongs to the Krzysztoporski group (the humanistic recension). The first two manuscripts record the text in three forms: that of the Scipio group (1406-1434), the contaminated version (1435-1444), and that of the Świętokrzyski group (1445-1480). In contrast, manuscripts which represent the primary scribal tradition of the Annals – i.e. the Świętokrzyski Ms and the Ossoliński Ms 109 (the latter regarded as closest to the prototype of the Scipio group) – were merely used as control manuscripts. Therefore, the text was established basing on secondary and late sources, some of them quite distant from the author’s intention. As a result, certain issues were overlooked in the edition, while the readings of the Świętokrzyski Ms and the Ossoliński Ms were given disproportionally low status.

For book XII (1445-1480), the adopted base text was the Ocieski codex, i.e. the earliest record of the humanistic recension, together with the Świętokrzyski codex. Also used were Library of the Gniezno Cathedral Ms 1042 and the Stradom codex, while Tadeusz Czacki’s codex (Czartoryski Library Ms 1303, dating to the 1560s) was given ancillary function. All manuscripts used in the new edition of the Annals are collectively described in the final volume, containing the second part of book XII (1462-1480) – in the Latin edition (Cracoviae, 2005), pp. 7-10; in the Polish version of the volume (Warsaw, 2009), pp. 7-9. The edition is accompanied by a translation. Volume I (books I-II) were translated by Stanisław Gawęda, Zbigniew Jabłoński, Andrzej Jochelson, Julia Radziszewska, Krystyna Stachowska, and Anna Strzelecka. The rest of the text, from volume II (books III-IV) to the final volume (book XII) was translated by Julia Mruk. The translation bases on Przezdziecki’s edition, though from vol. IX (books XI-XII, 1431-1444) it was additionally collated with the newly established Latin text. Both the Latin part of the edition and the Polish one are supplemented with an endtnote commentary, prepared by the historical community in Cracow. The commentary documents the development of the research on medieval Poland and Central Europe, conducted largely under the inspiration of the Cracow canon’s work.

Suggested Reading:
Editions of Jan Długosz’s works

The only complete edition of Długosz’s oeuvre was published in Opera omnia, thanks to the financial support by Aleksander Przezdziecki (vols. I-XIV, Cracow, 1863-1887). Beside the Annals, the series comprises, i.a., the lives of St. Stanislaus, Bl. Cunegunda, as well as those of the bishops of Polish dioceses, together with Długosz’s letters (the majority of the surviving ones), all in vol. I. Furthermore, vols. VII-IX contain Liber beneficiorum dioecesis Cracoviensis, though the edition is fraught with errors. The only works by Długosz which have been published with adherence to the requirements of modern scholarly editing are the Annals (on whose editions see further below), Banderia Prutenorum, the roll of arms attributed to Długosz, and the Catalogue of the Cracow Bishops (Sven Ekdahl, Die ‘Banderia Prutenorum’ des Jan Długosz – eine Quelle zur Schlacht bei Tannenberg 1410. Untersuchungen zu Aufbau, Entstehung and Quellenwert der Handschrift, Göttingen, 1976; Klejnoty Długoszowe / Długosz’s Armorial, critically reworked and newly edited by M. Friedberg, Cracow 1931 (‘Rocznik Polskiego Towarzystwa Heraldycznego’, X, 1930); Catalogus episcoporum Cracoviensium, [in:] Catalogi episcoporum Cracoviensium / Katalogi biskupów krakowskich / Catalogues of the Cracow Bishops, ed. J. Szymański, Warsaw 1974 (Monumenta Poloniae Historica, series nova / Pomniki Dziejowe Polski / Polish Historical Monuments, series II, vol. X, fasc. 2/vol. X, pt. 2), pp. 125-281). The Annals have been published in the following editions:

Historia Polonica Ioannis Długossi seu Longini canonici Cracoviensis, ed. J.S. Herburt, Dobromil 1615 (books I-VI, the remaining books have not been published);

Joannis Dlugossi seu Longini canonici quondam Cracoviensis, Historiae Polonicae libri XII, vols. I-II, Leipzig 1711-1712 (W.K. Mitzler de Kolof reprinted this edition as part of Historiarum Poloniae et Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae scriptorum collectio magna (vols. III-V, Warsaw 1776);

Joannis Długossii seu Longini canonici Cracoviensis, Historiae Poloniace libri XII, ad veterrimorum librorum manuscriptorum fidem recensuit, variis lectionibus annotationibusque instruxit I.Ż. Pauli, cura et impensis A. Przezdziecki, vols. I-V, Cracoviae 1873-1878 (= Opera omnia, vols. X-XIV), translation:

Jana Długosza kanonika krakowskiego, Dziejów polskich ksiąg dwanaście / Polish History in Twelve Books by Jan Długosz, a Canon in Cracow, translated by K. Mecherzyński, vols. I-IV, Cracow 1867-1869 (= Opera omnia, vols. I-V);

Annales seu cronicae incliti Regni Poloniae, opera venerabilis domini Ioannis Dlugossii canonici Cracoviensis, antiquitatum gentis suae observantissimi, summa cum diligentia collectae recto veritatis tramite fideliter custodito, libri I-XII, ed. collegium, Varsaviae – Cracoviae 1964-2005, translation:

Roczniki, czyli kroniki sławnego Królestwa Polskiego, dzieło czcigodnego Jana Długosza kanonika krakowskiego, gorliwego badacza dziejów swego narodu, zestawione z największą starannością i dbałością o prawdę historyczną / Annals, or Chronicles of the Famous Kingdom of Poland, Being the Work of Venerable Jan Długosz, a Canon in Cracow, Most Attentive Student of His Nation’s Antiquities, Collected with the Greatest Diligence and Care for Historical Truth, translated by the Panel (books I-II), and by J. Mruk (books III-XII), Warsaw 1962-2006;

A selection of passages from the Annals and from other works by Długosz, translated into Polish, was published in: Polska Jana Długosza / The Poland of Jan Długosz, ed. H. Samsonowicz, Warsaw 1984. A selection of passages from the Annals (unfortunately, translated into English from J. Mruk’s Polish translation, rather than from the Latin original) was published in: The Annals of Jan Długosz. A History of Eastern Europe from AD 966 to AD 1480, transl. M. Michel, with a Commentary by P. Smith, London 1997.

Publications on Jan Długosz and his works

The most comprehensive bibliographies of the literature about Jan Długosz, together with those of his own works, have been published in: Bibliografia literatury polskiej. Nowy Korbut, Piśmiennictwo staropolskie / Bibliography of Polish Literature. New Korbut, Old Polish Writings, vol. 2: hasła osobowe, A-M / persons, A-M, Warsaw 1964, pp. 127-136 (older literature), and Dawni pisarze polscy – od początków piśmiennictwa do Młodej Polski. Przewodnik biograficzny i bibliograficzny / Early Polish Writers – From the Beginnings until the Young Poland Period, vol. 1: A-H, Warsaw 2000, pp. 227-233, vol. 5: U-Ż, Uzupełnienia, indeksy / U-Ż, Annexes, Indices, Warsaw 2004, pp. 249-250. Current literature is being recorded in the subsequent volumes of Bibliografia historii polskiej / Bibliography of Polish History, also accessible online – so far, the literature has been recorded for the years 1980-2011 [accessed: November 2015]).

Despite significant progress in the research on Długosz’s biography, achieved especially during the past forty years, the standard reference continues to be: M. Bobrzyński, S. Smolka, Jan Długosz, jego życie i stanowisko w piśmiennictwie / Jan Długosz, His Life and Place in the Literature, Cracow 1893 (reissued, Cracow 2015). The work contains excerpts from sources, later supplemented for in, for instance: M. Kowalczykówna, Wypisy do biografii Jana Długosza z ksiąg sądowych kurii metropolitalnej w Krakowie / Excerpts for the Biography of Jan Długosz, from the Court Books of the Metropolitan See in Cracow, ‘Analecta Cracoviensia’, XII, 1980, pp. 273-315. The biographical entry on Długosz, published by K. Piotrowicz in Polski słownik biograficzny / Polish Biographical Dictionary (vol. V, Cracow 1939-1946, pp. 176-180), has become outdated in many places. Newer findings can be found, i.a., in the conference volumes published in connection with the 500th anniversary of the chronicler’s death: Dlugossiana [I]. Studia historyczne w pięćsetlecie śmierci Jana Długosza / Historical Studies for the 500th Anniversary of Jan Długosz’s Death, Warsaw 1980 (Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego DLXI, Prace Historyczne, no 65), and part 2 of the collection – Dlugossiana [II], Warsaw – Cracow 1985 (Zeszyty Naukowe Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego DCCII, Prace Historyczne, no 76), as well as Jan Długosz w pięćsetną rocznicę śmierci, materiały z sesji (Sandomierz 24-25 maja 1980 r.) / Jan Długosz for the 500th Anniversary of His Death, Papers from the Session (Sandomierz, 24-25 May 1980), ed. F. Kiryk, Olsztyn 1983. A newer approach to Długosz’s biography, intended for the general audience, has been published by J. Mrukówna in her concise work Jan Długosz, życie i twórczość / Jan Długosz, Life and Work (Cracow 1972). Several important details in the historian’s biography have been clarified by K. Pieradzka in Związki Długosza z Krakowem / Długosz’s Relationship with Cracow (Cracow 1975). In 1980 A. Perzanowska compiled the biographical information in the form of a calendar: Wiadomości źródłowe o życiu i działalności Jana Długosza / Information on the Life and Work of Jan Długosz, Recorded in the Sources, [in:] Dlugossiana [I] (see above), pp. 293-365.

On the editorial process of the Annals, their manuscript tradition and editions, see: W. Semkowicz-Zarembina, Powstanie i dzieje autografu „Annalium” Jana Długosza / The Origin and History of the Autograph of Jan Długosz’s ‘Annales’, Cracow 1952; W. Semkowicz-Zarembina, Autograf Długosza i jego warsztat w nowej edycji „Annales” / The Autograph of Jan Długosz and His Working Method in the New Edition of ‘Annales’, [in:] Dlugossiana [I] (see above), pp. 279-290; P. Dymmel, Tradycja rękopiśmienna „Roczników” Jana Długosza. Studium analityczne ksiąg X-XII / The Manuscript Tradition of Jan Długosz’s ‘Annals’. An Analytical Study of Books X-XII, Warsaw 1992; P. Dymmel, Uwagi nad historią tekstu w autografie „Annales” Jana Długosza / Comments on the History of the Text in the Autograph of Jan Długosz’s ‘Annales’, [in:] Venerabiles, nobiles et honesti. Studia z dziejów społeczeństwa Polski średniowiecznej / Studies on the Social History of Medieval Poland, Toruń 1997, pp. 467-476; J. Wyrozumski, 55 lat pracy nad krytyczną reedycją dziejów Polski Jana Długosza / 55 Years of Work on the Critical Re-edition of Jan Długosz’s Polish History, ‘Nauka’, 2/2006, pp. 153-166.

Marek A. Janicki
Translated by Helena W. Sobol

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