May 19 – He saw the action and purposes of Providence in all historical events

May 16, 2024

Jan Dlugosz


An eminent medieval Polish historian, b. at Brzeznica, 1415; d. 19 May, 1480, at Cracow. He was one of the twelve sons born to John and Beata. He received his primary education in Nowy Korczyn, then entered the Academy of Cracow, where he studied literature and philosophy. He was ordained priest in 1440, and appointed secretary of Cardinal Zbigniew Olesnicki, Bishop of Cracow. Later he became a prelate of the cathedral and preceptor for the children of the Polish King, Casimir IV, Jagielonczyk. He was employed as the ambassador of the Polish king to different foreign countries, and especially to Bohemia and Hungary, where he settled political disturbances. His ecclesiastical superiors sent him as their representative to Pope Eugenius IV, and as delegate to the Council of Basle. He decline the Archbishopric of Prague, but shortly before his death was appointed Archbishop of Lemberg. Dlugosz expended his great income for religious and philantrophic purposes; he founded both churches and monasteries, also burses for the maintenance of poor scholars.

The most beautiful church which he founded, and beneath which he was buried, is in Cracow, and is called Na Skalce (meaning, “Upon Rock”, as the church was built on an enormous rock). As a Polish historian he outranks all who preceded him. He was not content to repeat the statements made by other chroniclers, but examined for himself the oldest Polish, Bohemian, Hungarian, Ruthenian, and German documents, to understand which thoroughly he studied, in his old age, several foreign languages. His works offer abundant and reliable material not only for Polish, but also for general, history.

Dlugosz paid less attention to beauty of style than to veracity of statement, and wrote in a philosophic manner, as one who saw the action and purposes of Providence in all historical events. His great history of Poland (Historia Polonica in twelve volumes) was composed by order of his friend and master Cardinal Olesnicki. The works of Dlugosz were first published incompletely in 1614, and fully in 1711. The best edition is that in fourteen volumes by Carl Mecherzynski: “Joannis Dlugosz Senioris Canonici Cracoviensis Opera Omnia” (Cracow, 1863-87). It includes his heraldic work “Banderia Prutenorum”, also his “Life of St. Stanislaus”, “Life of St. Kinga”, lives of many Polish bishops (Sees of Wroclaw, Poznan, Plock, Cracow, etc.), “Liber beneficiorum diœcesis Cracoviensis”, “Lites ac rec gestæ inter Polonos ordinemque Cruciferorum”, “Annales seu cronicæ incliti regni Poloniæ”.

John Godrycz (Catholic Encyclopedia)


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