Knjižnica Filozofskog fakulteta
Sveučilišta u Zagrebu
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences Institutional Repository

Processes of development of diplomatical Cyrillic minuscule in the documents of the medieval Dubrovnik chancery


Downloads per month over past year

Paskojević, Kristian. (2018). Processes of development of diplomatical Cyrillic minuscule in the documents of the medieval Dubrovnik chancery. PhD Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of History.
(Poslijediplomski doktorski studij medievistike) [mentor Žagar, Mateo].

PDF (Croatian)
Download (10MB) | Preview


The roll of the city of Dubrovnik as a diplomatic, cultural and trading centre, not only during the Middle Ages but also throughout history in general, is very well known not only to scholars, but also to the general public. The so-called “Pearl of the Adriatic” was a specific city-state with distinctly developed maritime trade as the main economical branch. Throughout the ages, the city thrived and accomplished numerous scientific and cultural achievements and its legacy, still excellently preserved even today, is impressive compared with the small size of this microstate. The literary component is one of the most important components of any cultural identity, and the situation was the same in Dubrovnik as well, which has, through the history of the Middle Ages established itself, among other things, as a respectable humanistic and renaissance center of literature on the eastern Adriatic coast, with a basis in the developed and subtle literacy of the Middle Ages, while actively using two different writing systems (Cyrillic and Latin) at the same time. In the middle of the 14th century, when a specific political and economical creation (Republic of Dubrovnik) was officialy conceived by the nobles of the City, two distinct literary systems were used as a means of communication, which were exclusively functionally defined (regarding the purpose of texts). This information itself is a peculiar one for a medieval cultural environment; compared with the different kingdoms, principalities and other political creations of the era based in the Europe, it is easy to conclude that the phenomenon of two – dimensionalism in literacy in medieval Europe was relatively rare. Some examples of the simultaneous use of different writing systems can be detected in other Cyrillic – Glagolitic South Slavic cultures, for example in the city of Split, where we can also witness simultaneous use of Cyrillic and Latin, and in the early Middle Ages there were also numerous cases where a third writing system, the Glagolitic one, was in use. Also, the symbiosis of Greek and Latin writing systems was common in southern Italy. There are recorded cases of comparative use of Arabic and Latin alphabets during the Arab presence on the Iberian peninsula. Latin and Cyrillic literacy was also present in the northeast of Europe until the Early Modern period (East Poland, Belarus ...). Similarly, parallel use of multiple writing systems is precisely the specific feature of the central South Slavic space, where for centuries, in many aspects, we witness the interweaving of different civilizations and cultures, with the city of Dubrovnik standing as a mediator between the hinterland and the sea connected European centers. With this mixture of Latin and Cyrillic writing systems, a special culture was formed in Dubrovnik, which will later be established as the basis for Croatian language culture in the Early Modern period. In a case like this it was obvious that interference between different alphabets is more of a rule than an exception. If the literacy of the cultural heritage of the Croatian Middle Ages is considered from the point of view of interference between the three writing systems used (Latin, Cyrillic, Glagolitic), there is obviously a whole range of documents – literary and legal texts, works and epigraphic monuments in which mutual interactions are visible. This act of using two different writing systems in the medieval Dubrovnik commune, and later, since 1358., in the Republic of Dubrovnik, shows the intention and the need for better communication with neighboring countries and other (not just adjacent) relevant political factors in the Middle Ages. A relatively small city-state that succeeded in not only surviving, but also being a serious economic and political subject of European medievalism, used these two writing systems for centuries (on different scales), for easier communication with different communities and in this way also succeeded in even more enriching it's own cultural history. In order to avoid the stereotype that the use of Cyrillic alphabet in Dubrovnik was strictly connected to communication between Dubrovnik and the hinterland, it should be emphasized that it also served for internal purposes (liturgical readings, court and private letters, etc.). As a confirmation of this statement, it is sufficient to mention that even the first renaissance verse in Dubrovnik was written in Cyrillic by Džono Kalićević (probably a customs officer) in the printed Latin Customs Statute, written between 1421 and 1431. It was just a reflection of the old, medieval continuity. In the archives of Dubrovnik, along with other documents, there is a large number of those written in Cyrillic. How large this number is, it can not be said with certainty because the exact data does not exist, and it is almost impossible to determine it since this corpus is scattered through numerous books and documents of many funds and series. It can only be speculated that in view of the wide time frame through which Cyrillic was used as a diplomatic script in Dubrovnik (from the end of the 12th to the beginning of the 19th century) there are probably several thousands of such documents in the Dubrovnik Archives. Latest serious palaeographic researches of this corpus were conducted during the 1960s and late 1980s. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary to start with new objective and methodologically contemporary and modern researches of this extensive and very sensitive historical theme. This doctoral dissertation would cover development processes in graphy and script of Cyrillic charters and documents from Dubrovnik's Slavic medieval office and their relationship, characteristics, graphical similarities and diversities, and also specifical characteristics in the broader geopolitical context, especially in diplomatic correspondence with neighbouring countries and principalities (medieval Bosnia, Hum, Duklja, Serbia, different feudal autonomous rulers). Chronologically the theme covers the period from the end of the 12th to the end of the 15th century and follows graphical and some ortographical characteristics of writings used in Dubrovnik's medieval Slavic office. The greatest focus is on the mostly used version of Cyrillic writing, the so – called diplomatical minuscule, but the theme also covers some aspects of Cyrillic uncial writing, and in a special part of the thesis possible relations between diplomatical minuscule and Cyrillic cursive also known as bosanica will be considered. As for the graphical characteristics, the main focus will stand on the categories of coordination in the linear system and the characteristics of writing, binding of letters in writing and specific forms of letters in texts, use of interpunctual signs, ligatures, and some orthographic characteristics (e.g. the use of capital letters). The main goal of this doctoral thesis/palaeographical research is to recognize specific characteristics of Dubrovnik's medieval Slavic office and their bonds and mutual influences with Latin and eventually also Glagolitic letters of the same period. The most important instrument in this palaeographic research is the creation of graphical categories that help to track the development of script, in this case the Cyrillic minuscule, its graphical features, identification of the influence of contact letters (in this case Latin) forms and their development within the linear system, characteristics in the application of abbreviations and ligatures, and the existence and use of punctuation marks, writing of capital letters and use of blank space/separation of words in texts. When defining these categories, all the important graphical determinants of the writing system were taken into account, and the following categories are set in the focus of palaeographical research: 1. Letter coordination in the linear system and the characteristics of the script, 2. Special letter forms and binding of letters in the text, 3. Word dividers: punctuation and capitalization, use of blank space and separation of words in texts 4. Ligatures and abbreviations, 5. Writing of numbers in texts. Under the concept of coordination in a linear system, we primarily understand the process of simplifying and aligning the letter lines in the central part of the system and the development of letter forms within the linear system with the aim of achieving optimal writing speed while maintaining recognizable letter shapes for easier reading. The coordination phenomenon is necessary in order for the writing itself to literally "flow" as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The process of coordination, of course, differs according to the types of letters, and in some cases, the nature of the documents plays a key role in the creation of this process. The process of coordination is present in all European scripts (with the basis in Greek script). It is best reflected in Latin script, especially because of the varied versions and the explosion of literacy in the Middle Ages in all functions. The key for this development was the uniform writing from left to right, soft writing material, sharply-comed (faster) feathers used for writing, which distinguished thin lines from thick, and which easily changed the direction of writing. Speaking of the coordination differences between Cyrillic script versions, we can mention Cyrillic uncial writing that is used for liturgical purposes, where it was very important that every letter had a slow, almost solemn look. Therefore the coordination itself is slower in this Cyrillic script version. Same degree of letter coordination can not be expected, for example in a text written in Cyrillic minuscule, which is the most used script in diplomatic (political), business and law purposes, and because of that the coordination in it has a faster pace, thus enhancing the scribe's efficiency, quickening the process of writing itself and ultimately saving the writing material. The specificity of a writing system referred to in this category does not relate primarily to the specificity of letter forms but to the specificity of the writing process in different chanceries and of different writers, the identification of certain characteristics that could affect the text's transparency (blank space between words, spacing between lines in text, writing skills of scribe’s hand, etc.). In the second category mentioned, as the title itself speaks, special, new letter forms in studied documents and charters will be defined. In this way it will be possible to identify the characteristics of letter forms which may be specific for different chanceries and writers. It will be necessary to interpret the influence of the coordination process on the change of the morphology of some of the letter forms in the alphabet of Cyrillic minuscule. The graphical description also includes the consideration of the relationship between the letter versions for the same voice (for example, the voice “o” is written in its usual form, but also as greek "omega", which is called “ot” in the Old Slavic alphabet; or the combination of letters “i” and “iže”for the writing of voice “i”). All these phenomena belong to the segment of graphical expression, but they are not regarded as significant in the development of a writing system. This interesting and very important category will be supplemented by the interpretation of the binding of letter forms. This graphical phenomenon is an important factor when recognizing so-called cursive tendencies. In essence, in this category, literally the number of linked forms will be studied in the chosen scientific corpus. Since writing in cursive tends to “flow” without interruption or without raising the quill from the paper, greater frequency of the connected letters and more than two merged letter forms in one word clearly indicate the significance of this cursive tendency and provides an important link with the development of later cursive script forms (such as the above mentioned bosanica). Cursive writing is generally not solemn, with its predominant functionality - the desire to save time and the writer’s effort. The category “Word dividers: punctuation and capitalization, use of blank space and separation of words in texts” will deal with a phenomenon that is relatively young and is by no means a "literary universal". Separating individual words in texts with blank spaces that have the role of boundary indicators together with other above mentioned word dividers is one of the main conditions for successful understanding of a writing system. The aim of the study of this category is to identify the process of establishing separate writing in the script of Cyrillic diplomatic minuscule, and also the possible impacts from other neighbouring writing systems (Latin and Greek scripts). Use of word dividers and capital letters is incorporated in every modern European orthography, and their use strongly reflects civilizational achievement of a considered script. Their purpose is the visual optimization of a written language message, enabling readers to easily get into the text, both in the case of loud and silent readings. Their use was also recorded in the Middle Ages, throughout the entire period of the scientific corpus studied in this dissertation. Of course, their phenomenon is not systematized, and on this occasion we will deal with the question of whether there is any correlation between the use of distinctive characters and the writing of capital letters, or whether the studied documents can identify the perceptions of some of the spelling rules that have been introduced today. These particular systematization marks (such as the writing of a capital letter at the end of the sentence) will also point to the tendency of forming a more serious set of orthographical rules. The abbreviations, whether contractions, superscriptions or suspensions, are the result of a writing process which depicts the writer’s intention to save writing space. Abbreviations also exist in solemn, uncial texts. There they are largely the result of the ideological motive that the "sacred words" (sacrament) are not written entirely, following the Jewish principle of not pronouncing the Lord's name. The use of abbreviations can be related to time saving (faster writing), space (saving material; paper, parchment or any other material), or it can be a combination of these two elements. Ligatures, the second part of this category, also belong to the category of abbreviations, but represent a somewhat different phenomenon; therefore, in the title of the category they stand separated. Unlike other abbreviations where certain literal forms are written above the text (other letters), or they drop out, etc., ligatures are always generated by a combination of two letters, creating a new, specific letter form. Unlike abbreviations, the main motive for the creation of ligatures is, almost exclusively, saving of writing space. Only sometimes their unusual and concentrated form can contribute to faster reading, of course in uncial and minuscule rather than cursive texts. Of course, ligatures are popular, albeit in varying degrees, in all scripts, as far as the Croatian medieval cultural circle is concerned, interesting forms are found in various Glagolitic books and writings. The last in the row is the category of writing numbers. The today so – called Arabic numerals began to enter Dubrovnik in broader use only in the 15th century. In Cyrillic charters and documents the numbers are usually referred to as letters with a certain numeral value, separated from the rest of the text by various combinations of dots and lines. Likewise, there are common cases where numbers are simply written in words or with the combination of these two methods of writing. The objective of this category is to identify all the methods used to write numbers and any specifics regarding their writing (if any), and to draw a parallel between the writing methods and the various chanceries. This categorical apparatus is the main methodological tool in our palaeographical research, and all the conclusions will be implemented with the help of data gathered from these categories.

Item Type: PhD Thesis
Subjects: History
Departments: Department of History
Supervisor: Žagar, Mateo
Additional Information: Poslijediplomski doktorski studij medievistike
Date Deposited: 13 Feb 2019 13:23
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2019 13:23

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item