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
General editor: János M. Bak, Central European
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".
"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 /
Central European Medieval Texts Series
Editors: János M. Bak, Urszula Borkowska, Giles Constable,