Computer reveals identity of oldest chronicler of Poland - and he was Croatian!
The identity of the first chronicler of Poland has finally been discovered with the help of computer wizardry.
Known as the Gesta principum Polonorum (Deeds of the Princes of the Poles) the document is the oldest known medieval chronicle documenting the history of Poland from until 1113.
For centuries, the identity of the scribe has remained a mystery, although it was thought to have been a 12th century French monk.
In the 16th century Polish historian Marcin Kromer nicknamed him Gall, from the French Gaul, which led to him becoming known as Gallus the Anonymous.
However, researchers analyzing a document called "The Story of the Translation of St. Nicholas" found in 1965 in a monastery on the Italian island of Lido, noted similarities between the documents’ rhythm and vocabulary.
Now, computer analysis of the documents’ phrasing and cadences has led mediaeval history professor Tomasz Jasiński from the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań to believe that not only was Gallus was the author of both documents, but that he had probably been Slavic, most likely Croatian.
Professor Jasiński said: “We have proof when he writes about the death of Bolesław the Brave, suddenly instead of using the word ‘wszyscy’ [everyone] he uses a word that was used in documents only in Dalmatia.
"In my opinion, Gallus the Anonymous was a Slav, and more precisely a Croat, associated with the pro-Hungarian faction centred around the Croatian queen Helena, the widow of King Dmitri Zvonimir and at the same time the niece of Kazimierz the Restorer," he added referencing Polish king Kazimierz I, who pieced the Polish state back together in the 12th century after a short period of disunity.
According to Jasiński, the chronicler came from a knightly or aristocratic family because of his knowledge of the dynastic traditions from the circle of Queen Helena.
In his study ‘Curriculum vitae Galla Anonima’ Professor Jasiński wrote that Gallus was a priest and at the same time a Benedictine monk who was educated in the monastery of St. Bartholomew in Knin.
After receiving education, due to his extraordinary abilities in Latin writing, and most likely also Greek and Glagolitic and perhaps Cyrillic, "he was introduced to court service of an official, and probably also religious character."
Jasiński believes that Gallus probably came to Poland with the retinue of Duke Bolesław the Wrymouth, who was then on a pilgrimage at St. Idzi's Abbey in Somogyvár, Hungary after the death of his brother Zbigniew.
The duke would then have asked Gallus to prepare a chronicle that covered the history of the Piast dynasty up to 1113.
Gallus divided his Polish Chronicle into three parts. In the first, he writes about the deeds of Piast, Siemowit, Siemomysł, Mieszko I, Bolesław the Brave, Mieszko II, Kazimierz the Restorer, Bolesław the Generous and Władysław Herman. It ends with the birth of Bolesław Wrymouth in 1086.
The second, he writes about the childhood and youth of Bolesław Weymouth. It covers the period from 1086 to 1108.
The third unfinished part covers the deeds of Bolesław Weymouth. It covers the period from 1109 to 1114.