The first four
sections of this book and the second and third Appendices, except where
footnotes indicate otherwise, consist of translations from Latin
originals; any other passages translated from Latin are specially
indicated by note. In accepting responsibility for these, and craving
indulgence for their shortcomings, the Translator would like the
circumstances under which they were made to be known.
The time spent on actual
translation has been slight compared with that devoted to critical work in
preparing the text for translation. Owing partly to the copyist’s
ignorance of Latin, and partly, perhaps, to illegibility of originals,
many of the documents as transcribed had no punctuation at all, others,
more unfortunately, had a spurious punctuation achieving, on more than one
occasion, the division of a word by a full stop and the commencement of a
fresh sentence with the truncated member, but frequently responsible for
difficulties much more elusive and mystifying. Errors in transcription
have been so numerous that constant emendation has been necessary, some
lines requiring the alteration of as many as twelve letters before
elucidation became possible. In no cases, however, have proper names been
tampered with, and variant spellings of surnames will be found even in
In view of the
problematical value of the text as reconstructed, only a few Latin
passages, and these the most sound, have been printed as specimens.
Literal translations of the remaining documents are given, except in a few
cases (indicated by note) where considerations of space or corruptness of
text make it advisable to give an abstract only.
To aid the serious student
of Polish history in the accurate identification of the various officials
and tribunals in Poland, the Latin terms for the English equivalents
adopted in the translations may prove useful:
Board of Twenty:
Minister-General of the Realm:
ministerialis generalis Regni.
Greater Chancery of the Realm:
acta praesentia Matricis Regni Cancellariae maioris.
General Council of the Realm:
comitia Regni generalia.
Ordinary Court-general of the Tribunal of
the Realm at Lublin: iudicium ordinarium
generale Tribunalis Regni Lublinense.
Council of Cracow, Warsaw, etc.: officium
Consulare Cracoviense, Varsaviense, etc.
Of the courtesy-epithets
used with such punctiliousness whenever a name occurs, the commonest are
famatus (well-famed) and generosus (well-born). The Eight
Scots Merchants are honesti (honest), one Merchant to the Court is
honoratus (honourable), certain officials are nobiles
(noble), and all magistrates are spectabiles (worshipful). These
epithets are chosen with some propriety, e.g. a soldier is
strenuus (strenuous), a student ingeniosus
(talented), a Jew perfidus (unbelieving), a serving-maid
The words mercator
and negociator were not, apparently, used as synonyms, and are
rendered ‘merchant’ and ‘trader’ respectively.
Many of the charters and
letters are written in excellent Latin, diverging surprisingly little
either in vocabulary or syntax from the Latin of classical times. Some
enormous periods are handled with admirable skill; and there is everywhere
sustained a regular and carefully balanced style which, more perhaps than
anything else, has made possible such success in repairing the damages of
transmission as has been achieved.
The Translator feels that he owes a
special debt of gratitude to Dr. J. Maitland Thomson for the valuable help
he was always ready to give when consulted on points of difficulty.
J. MACKAY THOMSON.