Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum

Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum

Ask a question about 'Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum'
Start a new discussion about 'Cronicae et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
The Gesta principum Polonorum (Deeds of the Princes of the Poles) is a medieval
High Middle Ages
The High Middle Ages was the period of European history around the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries . The High Middle Ages were preceded by the Early Middle Ages and followed by the Late Middle Ages, which by convention end around 1500....

 gesta, or deeds narrative, concerned with Duke Boleslaw III Wrymouth
Boleslaw III Wrymouth
Bolesław III Wrymouth was Prince of Poland from 1102 until 1138...

, his ancestors, and the Polish principality during and before his reign. Probably completed between 1112 and 1118, the extant text is present in three manuscripts with two distinct traditions. Its author, though anonymous, is traditionally called Gallus, probably a non-Pole connected with the monastery of Saint-Gilles
Saint-Gilles, Gard
Saint-Gilles or Saint-Gilles-du-Gard is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.It is the second most populous commune in the Nîmes metropolitan area.-Geography:...

 or somewhere else in western Europe
Western Europe
Western Europe is a loose term for the collection of countries in the western most region of the European continents, though this definition is context-dependent and carries cultural and political connotations. One definition describes Western Europe as a geographic entity—the region lying in the...



The title intended for or originally given to the work is not clear. In the initial capital of the text in the Zamoyski Codex, a rubric
A rubric is a word or section of text which is traditionally written or printed in red ink to highlight it. The word derives from the , meaning red ochre or red chalk, and originates in Medieval illuminated manuscripts from the 13th century or earlier...

 styles the work the Cronica Polonorum, while in the same manuscript the preface of Book I opens with Incipiunt Cronice et gesta ducum sive principum Polonorum ("[Here] begins the chronicles and deeds of the dukes or princes of the Poles"). The incipit
Incipit is a Latin word meaning "it begins". The incipit of a text, such as a poem, song, or book, is the first few words of its opening line. In music, it can also refer to the opening notes of a composition. Before the development of titles, texts were often referred to by their incipits...

 for Book II entitles the work Liber Tertii Bolezlaui ("Book of Boleslaw III"), and that for Book III Liber de Gestis Boleslaui III ("Book of the Deeds of Boleslaw III"). These however are not reliable as such things are often added later.

The latest editors and only English translators of the text style it Gesta principum Polonorum ("the deeds of the princes of the Poles"), primarily to acknowledge its faith with the gesta genre (and the likely authenticity of this part of the title) and to avoid confusion with the later work known as the Chronica principum Poloniae ("chronicle of the princes of Poland").


The author of the Gesta is unknown, but is referred to by historigraphic convention as "Gallus", a Latin word for a "person from France or Gaul" (though also, potentially, a forename). The only source for Gallus existence comes not from the text but rather from a note made by historian and Bishop of Warmia Martin Kromer (1512–89) in the margin of folio 119 of the "Heilsberg manuscript". It is not known why Bishop Kromer called the author Gallus.

In Gottfried Lengnich's printed edition, Lengnich named the author as "Martin Gallus" based on a misreading of Jan Długosz, where Gallus was conflated with Martin of Opawa. Martin Gallus became the standard name in German scholarship for some time to come, though this identification is now rejected by most historians. Historian Maximilian Gumplowicz identified the author as Baldwin Gallus, allegedly Bishop of Kruszwica, though likewise this theory has failed to gain general acceptance.

There have been frequent attempts to identify Gallus' origins from clues in the text . Marian Plezia and Pierre David both argued that Gallus came from Provence
Provence ; Provençal: Provença in classical norm or Prouvènço in Mistralian norm) is a region of south eastern France on the Mediterranean adjacent to Italy. It is part of the administrative région of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur...

 in what is now southern France, and was closely connected with the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Gilles
Saint-Gilles, Gard
Saint-Gilles or Saint-Gilles-du-Gard is a commune in the Gard department in southern France.It is the second most populous commune in the Nîmes metropolitan area.-Geography:...

. Another historian, Karol Maleczyński, argued that the evidence suggests a connection with Flanders
Flanders is the community of the Flemings but also one of the institutions in Belgium, and a geographical region located in parts of present-day Belgium, France and the Netherlands. "Flanders" can also refer to the northern part of Belgium that contains Brussels, Bruges, Ghent and Antwerp...

, while Danuta Borawska and Tomasz Jasiński have argued based on stylistic evidence that he was connected with Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 and that he authored an anonymous translatio of St Nicholas. Marian Plezia argued in 1984 that his writing style suggests an education in one of the schools of central France, likely Tours
Tours is a city in central France, the capital of the Indre-et-Loire department.It is located on the lower reaches of the river Loire, between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. Touraine, the region around Tours, is known for its wines, the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the...

 or Orléans
-Prehistory and Roman:Cenabum was a Gallic stronghold, one of the principal towns of the Carnutes tribe where the Druids held their annual assembly. It was conquered and destroyed by Julius Caesar in 52 BC, then rebuilt under the Roman Empire...


Plezia and others further argue that Gallus' extensive knowledge of Hungary testify to connections there, postulating a connection to the Benedictine monastery of Somogyvár
Somogyvár is a village in Somogy county, Hungary.It is situated south from Lengyeltóti, between Lengyeltóti, Öreglak andSomogyvámos.- History :...

 in Hungary, a daughter-house of St Gilles'. He appears to have been closely connected to the Awdańcy clan, a kindred of Norse or Rus origin who had been successful under Boleslaw II, and who had been exiled to Hungary but returned to prominence in Polish affairs during the reign of Boleslaw III. As he stated that "the city of Gniezno ... means "nest" in Slavic", it is thought that the author may have known the language of the country. All that is certain is that he was a monk and a non-Slav living in Poland, perhaps on a Polish benefice
A benefice is a reward received in exchange for services rendered and as a retainer for future services. The term is now almost obsolete.-Church of England:...



Generally, it is thought that the original text was composed at some point between 1112 and 1117. The dedicatory letter on the preface of the Gesta fixes completion of the origin text between 1112 and 1118. The last event mentioned in the work is the pilgrimage of Boleslaw III to Székesfehérvár
Székesfehérvár is a city in central Hungary and is the 9th largest in the country. Located around southwest of Budapest. It is inhabited by 101,973 people , with 136,995 in the Székesfehérvár Subregion. The city is the centre of Fejér county and the regional centre of Central Transdanubia...

 in Hungary, which occurred in either 1112 or 1113. The work was almost certainly completed before the revolt of Skarbimir
Skarbimir of the Abdank clan – Medieval Polish magnate, tutor, advisor and count paltine of Polish monarch Bolesław III Wrymouth.-Early life:...

 in 1117–18. There is some evidence that several interpolations were added subsequently. For instance, there is reference to the descendants of Duke Swietobor of Pomerania (ii.29).

Manuscripts and prints

The Gesta is not extant in the original, but instead survives in three different manuscripts representing two different traditions. The Codex Zamoyscianus (Z) and Codex Czartoryscianus (S) represent the first, and earliest documented tradition, the latter being derived from the former. The Heilsberg codex, though later and surviving in less detail, is an independent witness to the text and constitutes the second distinct tradition.

Codex Zamoyscianus

The earliest version lies in the manuscript known as the Codex Zamoyscianus or Zamoyski Codex. This was written down in the late 14th-century, probably in Krakow
Kraków also Krakow, or Cracow , is the second largest and one of the oldest cities in Poland. Situated on the Vistula River in the Lesser Poland region, the city dates back to the 7th century. Kraków has traditionally been one of the leading centres of Polish academic, cultural, and artistic life...

 between 1380 and 1392. It was located in the library of the Łaski family until the 15th century. Thereabouts Sandivogius (Sędziwój) of Czechłoj (d. 1476), a canon
Canon (priest)
A canon is a priest or minister who is a member of certain bodies of the Christian clergy subject to an ecclesiastical rule ....

 of Gniezno Cathedral
Gniezno Cathedral
Cathedral Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Adalbert is a Gothic cathedral in Gniezno, Poland. The Cathedral is known for its twelfth-century , two-winged bronze doors decorated with scenes of martyrdom of St. Wojciech and a silver relic coffin of that saint...

 and friend of the historian Jan Długosz, came into possession of it. It was later in the library of the count
A count or countess is an aristocratic nobleman in European countries. The word count came into English from the French comte, itself from Latin comes—in its accusative comitem—meaning "companion", and later "companion of the emperor, delegate of the emperor". The adjective form of the word is...

s of Zamość
Zamość ukr. Замостя is a town in southeastern Poland with 66,633 inhabitants , situated in the south-western part of Lublin Voivodeship , about from Lublin, from Warsaw and from the border with Ukraine...

 , but is now in the National Library in Warsaw  as Ms. BOZ cim. 28.

Codex Czartoryscianus

A second version of the
Gesta lies in the Codex Czartoryscianus, also called the Sędziwój Codex. Between 1434 and 1439 Sandivogius of Czechło had a second copy made for him, produced from the version in the Codex Zamoyscianus. As it is a direct copy, its usefulness is limited in reconstructing the original text. This version currently lies in the Czartoryski Museum
Czartoryski Museum
The Czartoryski Museum and Library is a museum located in Kraków, Poland, founded in Puławy in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska. The Puławy collections were partly destroyed after the November uprising of 1830–1831 and the subsequent confiscation of the Czartoryskis' property by the Russians...

 of Kraków,
Ms. 1310, fols. 242–307.

Heilsberg Codex

The third and latest witness to the text is the version in the so-called Heilsberg Codex. This version was written down between 1469 and 1471, based on an earlier version. The latter had been written at Kraków around 1330, was in Łekno monastery (Greater Poland) in 1378, and had been transferred to the monastery at Trzemeszno
Trzemeszno is a town in central Poland belonging to the group of the oldest settlements in the region. The town’s name derives from an Old Polish word “Trzemcha” meaning the flower of the "Bird’s Cherry" plant, which once grew in the vicinity...

 before coming into the hands of Martin Kromer, Bishop of Warmia (1579–1589).

Between the mid-16th century and the 18th century, the manuscript was located in the German-speaking Prussian town of Heilsberg (today the Polish town of Lidzbark Warmiński
Lidzbark Warminski
Lidzbark Warmiński is a town in the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship in Poland. It is the capital of Lidzbark County.- History :The town was originally an Old Prussian settlement known as Lecbarg until being conquered in 1240 by the Teutonic Knights, who called it Heilsberg...

), hence the name. Unlike the version in the Codex Czartoryscianus, this is an independent witness to the original text. It is currently in the National Library in Warsaw as Ms. 8006, fols. 119–247.

The Heilsberg text omits large sections of text present in the other two manuscripts, for instance omitting several chapters like 27 and 28 in Book I.

Printed editions

The text of the
Gesta was printed for the first time in 1749, when an edition based on the Heilsberg Codex was published by Gottfried Lengnich
Gottfried Lengnich
Gottfried Lengnich was a 18th century historian, lawyer and politician. He became known for writing the 9-volume History of Royal Prussia and for teaching Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland.- Life :...

, reprinted two decades later by Laurence Mizler de Kolof, and has since been printed in many editions.
  • Gottfried Lengnich
    Gottfried Lengnich
    Gottfried Lengnich was a 18th century historian, lawyer and politician. He became known for writing the 9-volume History of Royal Prussia and for teaching Stanisław August Poniatowski, the last king of Poland.- Life :...

    Vincentius Kadlubko et Martinus Gallus scriptores historiae Polonae vetustissimi cum duobus anonymis ex ms. bibliothecae episcopalis Heilsbergensis edititi, (Danzig, 1749)
  • Laurence Mizler de Kolof (ed.), Historiarum Poloniae et Magni Ducatus Lithuaniae Scriptorum Quotquot Ab Initio Reipublicae Polonae Ad Nostra Usque Temporar Extant Omnium Collectio Magna, (Warsaw, 1769)
  • Jan Wincenty Bandtkie (ed.), Martini Galli Chronicon Ad Fidem Codicum: Qui Servantur In Pulaviensi Tabulario Celsissimi Adami Princpis Czartoryscii, Palatini Regni Poloniarum/ Denuo Recensuit ..., (Warsaw, 1824)
  • J. Szlachtowski and P. Koepke, Chronica et Annales Aevi Salici, in Georg Henirich Pertz (ed.), Monumenta Germaniae Historica
    Monumenta Germaniae Historica
    The Monumenta Germaniae Historica is a comprehensive series of carefully edited and published sources for the study of German history from the end of the Roman Empire to 1500.The society sponsoring the series was established by the Prussian reformer Heinrich Friedrich Karl Freiherr vom...

    , (Hannover, 1851), SS IX, pp. 414–78
  • A. Bielowski (ed.), Monumenta Poloniae Historica, (Lemberg, 1864) pp. 379–484
  • Ludwig Finkel & Stanisław Kętrzyński (eds.), Galli Anonymi Chronicon, (Lemberg, 1898)
  • Julian Krzyżanowski (ed.), Galla Anonima Kronika : Podobizna Fotograficzna Rekopisu Zamoyskich z Wieku XIV. Wyda i Wstepem Opatrzy Julian Krzyzanowski./ Galli anonymi Chronicon codicis saeculi XIV Zamoscianus appellati reproductio paleographica, (Warsaw, 1946)
  • Karol Maleczyński (ed.), Galli Anonymi Cronica et Gesta Ducum sive Principum Polonorum/ Anonima tzw. Galla Kronika Czyli Dzieje Książąt i Władców Polskich, (Kraków, 1952)
  • Ljudmila Mikhailovna Popova (ed.), Gall Anonim, Khronika u Deianiia Kniazei ili Pravitelei Polskikh, (Moscow, 1961)
  • Josef Bujnoch, Polens Anfänge: Gallus Anonymus, Chronik und Taten de Herzöge und Fürsten von Polen, (Graz, Styria, 1978)
  • Knoll & Schaer (eds.), Gesta Principum Polonorum: The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles, (Budapest, 2003)

Jan Wincenty Bandtkie, who also used Heilsberg, was the first to utilise the Codex Zamoyscianus tradition. As the Heilsberg Codex was "lost" between the 1830s and the 1890s, texts in this period make no original use of it. Finkel & Kętrzyński's 1898 edition likewise makes no use of Heilsberg. Julian Krzyżanowski produced the first facsimile in the 1940s, while in the 1950s Karol Maleczyński's edition was the first to collate all three manuscripts.

The text has been fully translated several times. It was translated into Polish by Roman Grodescki by 1923, though this was not published until 1965. There was a Russian translation in 1961, a German translation in 1978 and an English translation in 2003.

The narrative

The work begins with an address and dedication to Martin, Archbishop of Gniezno, and to the bishops of Poland's regions, Simon (Bishop of Plock, c. 1102–29), Paul (Bishop of Poznań, 1098–c. 1112), Maurus (Bishop of Kraków, 1110–18) and Zyroslaw (Bishop of Wroclaw, 1112–20). Thomas Bisson argued that the text was primarily written in the gesta genre
Genre , Greek: genos, γένος) is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or culture, e.g. music, and in general, any type of discourse, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria. Genres are formed by conventions that change over time...

 of Latin literature as a celebration of Duke Boleslaw III Wrymouth
Boleslaw III Wrymouth
Bolesław III Wrymouth was Prince of Poland from 1102 until 1138...

, defending his actions and legimizing his dynasty (compare the near-contemporary Deeds of Louis the Fat).

The work is divided into three books, focused on genealogy, politics and warfare. Book one, of 31 chapters, treats the deeds of the ancestors of Boleslaw III (beginning with the legendary Piast the Wheelwright
Piast the Wheelwright
Piast Kołodziej was a semi-legendary figure in prehistoric Poland , the founder of the Piast dynasty that would rule the future Kingdom of Poland.- Legend and aftermath :...

), and their wars against the Germans and Slavic peoples such as the Rus, the Bohemians, the Pomeranians and the Mazovian
The adjective Mazovian may refer to:*Mazovia, a historic, geographical and cultural region of Poland*the Mazovians, an ethnic group in Poland*the Mazovian language*the Mazovian dialect of the Polish language*the Masurian dialect of Polish...

s. The first Book claims to rely on oral tradition, and is largely legendary in character until the reign of Mieszko I. The earlier material tells of the rises of the Piasts from peasants to ruler, a tale common in early Slavonic folk-myth.

Book two, of 50 chapters, traces the birth of Boleslaw, his boyhood deeds and documents the wars waged by himself and "count palatine" Skarbimir against the Pomeranians. Book three, of 26 chapters, continues the story of the wars waged by Boleslaw and the Poles against the Pomeranians, the war against the German emperor Heinrich V
Henry V, Holy Roman Emperor
Henry V was King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor , the fourth and last ruler of the Salian dynasty. Henry's reign coincided with the final phase of the great Investiture Controversy, which had pitted pope against emperor...

 and the Bohemians, and against the Baltic Prussians.