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Gesta principum Polonorum
The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles

Edited and translated by Paul W. Knoll University of Southern California and Frank Schaer, Central European University

General editor: János M. Bak, Central European University

With a preface by Thomas Bisson, Harvard University

Written around 1112-1116, The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles is the oldest narrative source from Poland, formerly attributed to 'Gallus,' a French monk. The anonymous author tells the ancient history of Poland down to the reign of Boleslaw III. The chronicle contains valuable information on Poland's relations to her neighbors as well as the political ideas of his time.

After years of detailed and meticulous work by a team of historians, editors and translators, a bilingual edition of The Deeds of the Princes of the Poles (Gesta principum Polonorum), a major (indeed, unique) literary source for the history and society of early Poland, has now been published. The readable modern English-the first translation into that language--is a faithful equivalent of the Latin text, which is as accurate and authentic as modern scholarship can establish.

Generations of Polish school-children have learned about the Gesta of the nameless Frenchman, Gallus Anonymus, whose identity, however, has lately been disputed. The introduction and notes to this volume seek to provide the interested reader and the scholar with all relevant background information about this chronicle.

But the most important is the text itself in two languages:

Bolezlaus dux inclitus
Dei dono progenitus
Hic per preces Egidij
Sumpsit causam exordii.
Duke Boleslaw, the illustrious,
By God's grace was engendered thus:
His entry into life he made
When prayers of St. Giles were said.


Hic autem Semimizl magnum et memorandum Meschonem progenuit, qui primus nomine vocatus illo VII annis a nativitate cecus fuit.


Siemomysl's son was the great and memorable Mieszko, the first of that name, who was blind for the first seven years of his life.

"The translators have succeeded well in their stated task of keeping as close as possible to the 'style and wording of the original, while still offering a readable and idiomatic English version'. While employing a translation method that is not a slave to literalness they have escaped the distortions and anachronisms that often befall such an open approach. Good defenses are provided for translations of passages that are difficult or that have significant ambiguity or possible dual interpretations. The reader who must rely solely on the English will appreciate the readable, naturally flowing language and the assurance that it does not sacrifice the meaning of the original.
... Probably the most important aspect of this book is its very appearance. As the first complete translation of the Gesta into English it opens up the traditions of these manuscripts to a very broad audience and will assuredly make a heretofore potential audience aware of the existence of this central document of European history. While its readership will generally be historians, the ready availability of this text to a broader audience will give medievalists of all inclinations and many fields access to an invaluable resource." - Slavic and East European Journal

"In the thirteenth century Vincent Kadlubek added a variety of wholly legendary accretions to the Gesta that held the field as the chief authority on ancient Poland until the very end of the eighteenth century, when the comparative simplicity of the rediscovered Gesta (or the Gallus Anonymus, as it was then) seemed to guarantee a romantic authenticity. The byways of research that followed on that rediscovery have not hitherto attracted much attention in the Anglophone world, any more than has the Gesta itself. This splendid new volume will, however belatedly, offer a remedy." - The Journal of Medieval Latin

"CEU has done a great service in making this very important but rarely read text available in English.
The core of the volume, the translation itself, is sound. The English is very readable, lively, and engaging. The Latin author's own prose style is remarakbly consistent; the transaltion is likewise smooth and correct". - Speculum

"The translation must rank as a major achievement, especially when keeping in mind the Gesta's occasionally obscure or ungrammatical Latin, and is accompanied by a very thoughtful set of notes, and a perceptive and helpful introduction, which summarizes historiographical debates about the Gesta's author and date of composition with admirable clarity." - Early Medieval Europe

Central European Medieval Texts series, Volume III
385 pages 2003, reprinted with corrections in 2007
ISBN 978-963-9241-40-4 cloth $54.95 / €46.95 / £40.00

Central European Medieval Texts Series
Editors: János M. Bak, Urszula Borkowska, Giles Constable, Gábor Klaniczay
ISSN 1419-7782