Necrology

307r

The calendar with necrology is the most important source for the history of the Czech high Middle Ages and development of the Czech language. It is a unique source, containing unrivalled material not only for Czech onomastics, but also for Czech social history during the first half of the thirteenth century even if its content cannot always be fully interpreted. The necrology is of lesser importance as it lacks information about dates. It also records some people in two or perhaps even more places without any adequate explanation. In several instances, related to the Přemysl rulers, it is unclear to which member of the family the author is referring.

The illegible heading to the list of individuals which precedes the necrology makes its purpose unclear. The list of nearly one hundred people is not in apparent order, and it may be of benefactors or living members of a confraternity associated with a monastic community.

The necrology (f. 305v-311r) contains 1,539 names whose social status is also characterised to a certain extent, including some women. Most of them are not described in other sources. There are only few names which have more specific information added as those on July 2 and 3 and August 1. It is also significant that several members of the Bohemian Benedictine monasteries were mentioned but, surprisingly, nobody of the most important monastery of the order, Břevnov, though this monastery had to be of importance for the origin of the Codex Gigas.

The anthroponomastic information the necrology provides, however, is exceptional, for in many cases it contains the earliest and sometimes very rare evidence about old Czech male and female names. Names with a predominantly Latin basis comprise a minority, and German names hardly appear at all.

Not many entries provide names of important lay people or members of the clergy. The names cannot be arranged into coherent chronological order, since many important people are often missing. Surprisingly, this also includes members of the Czech ruling family, the Přemyslids and in the obits of both Czech kings (Vratislav II, as king Vratislav I, and Vladislav II, as king Vladislav I) there is no mention at all of their royal, or imperial, rank.

The church hierarchy is included only to a limited extent. The Prague bishops are more systematically named, while Moravian ones of Olomouc are mentioned only to a lesser degree. Foreign church dignitaries hardly appear at all. The Archbishop of Salzburg only is included because he was a member of the Přemyslid family, and that of Gniezno because he was related to St. Adalbert (Wojciech). But St. Adalbert itself who was the second Bishop of Prague is missing, probably because his name was already in the Calendar. The distribution of obits among the individual months is unexpected. The largest number of deaths was not necessarily just in winter, but in April – just after winter finished.

According to paleographic evidence, the core of the necrology was copied from an older local exemplar. Some names however were taken from elsewhere just before 1230. They did not include many specific designations. Most of the entries have the designation f(rater) n(oster) or s(oror) n(ostra). Here one can observe a certain effort, albeit inconsistent, to achieve some kind of regularity. From approximately the late twelfth to early thirteenth century, very few entries are not associated with a specific institution. If it is the case it must be either the Břevnov monastery or its provostships. The number of individuals who may be identified with certainty is a fraction of the whole, amounting to just 2.5%. Most importantly, these include an almost complete list of the Bohemian dukes during the period 1034 to 1227, and more rarely also of Moravian margraves, as well as also an almost complete list of Prague bishops.

Despite these shortcomings, the necrology is an exceptionally important source that will always be valuable to Czech historians and linguists.