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The Birth Certificate of Slovene Culture - Exhibits

The Freising manuscript


The famous Freising manuscripts, which originated in the Upper Carinthia (Möll river valley or Luhrnfeld) between 972 and 1039, stand at the beginning of the thousand-year history of Slovene writing culture; they are the oldest Slovene texts and also the oldest preserved writings in any Slavic language in the territory of Europe‛s western civilisation.
The parchment sheets containing three ritual Slovene texts were bound together with other, similar documents into a codex, which belonged to Bishop Abraham of Freising. His diocese had estates in Carinthia, which was then settled by Slovene believers, and the Bishop thus required Slovene liturgical texts during his pontificate. The codex was kept in the Cathedral Chapter House of Freising until 1803, and from then on in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, where the Slovene texts in it were discovered in 1807. The Latin codex, whose appearance and contents are hardly impressive, became world famous and a particularly precious written monument precisely because of the Freising manuscripts.
The first manuscript, a general confession formula, is written on two pages; the third manuscript, also a confession formula, covers three pages; and the second manuscript, a sermon on sin and repentance, covers four pages. All three manuscripts are written in minuscule script, a successor of the Carolingian minuscule script. The second and third manuscripts were written by the same hand, while the first one was written by another scribe. Due to their great age, the manuscripts are hardly legible and several accurate letter (diplomatic) transcriptions exist, as well as examples of phonetic transcriptions, which attempt to present how the texts were spoken.
The Slovene Freising manuscripts were written as translations of Latin and German texts that were used in the Western Church. It is quite conceivable that earlier Slovene texts existed and that they were written down in the preserved form around 1000, because we know that texts for the Christian service existed as early as 800, and that they were recited by priests and believers in a language the latter understood. There is no doubt, however, that the language of the three Freising manuscripts is Slovene in its early stages, when it was in the process of developing from Old Church Slavonic into an independent language.
The most important manuscript is the second one, a Sermon on sin and repentance. It is a priest’s short and clear address about the Christian doctrine of sin and salvation. The sermon was probably adapted from an old, 8th-century Bavarian sermon. Presumably, it was brought to Lower Pannonia, that is to the Duchy of Prince Kocelj, where Methodius and his disciples were active, by immigrants from Carantania. This would indeed explain the presence of Old Church Slavonic elements as well as Moravian and Pannonian words in the Slovene text. Because of its neat order and rhetorical elements, this manuscript already has the qualities of an artistic, literary text.
The Latin codex (classification no. Clm 6426), into which the Freising manuscripts are bound, consists of a total of 169 numbered parchment folios or 338 pages; the dimensions of the sheets are 25.6 cm (height) x 20,8 cm (width), and the codex including the covers is 5.9 cm thick. The binding is probably from the time of the codex’s origin: wooden covers in white pig leather. The codex had metal clasps, which have not been preserved, and even a metal pin with a chain, by means of which it was fastened to its place in the library.
The Slovene texts are written on folios 78, 158, 159, 160, and 161 (a total of 9 pages).

The Celovec or Rateče manuscript


Kärntner Landesarchiv, Klagenfurter (or Ratschacher) Handschrift: Sign. GV-HS 6/24 (= manuscript of the History Society), parchment, 1 sheet, 19.5 x 25.5 cm, mildewed, irregularly cut, tear marks on the right margin, several tiny holes in areas without text, Gothic minuscule script from the latter half of the 14th century (presumably from between 1362 and 1390), three coloured, nearly faded red-blue initials (O [Otscha...], C [Czestschena...] und Y [Yast...]). – Back: entries made by the Brotherhood of Our Lady and the (Thomas?) Apostolic Brotherhood in Ratschach (Slovene Rateče) and two dates: 1467 and 1471.
The Celovec ( Rateče manuscript) is the second oldest medieval Slovene literary document after the Freising manuscripts. Its double name derives from the place where it is kept, Klagenfurt (Kärntner Landesarchiv, early archives of the Carinthian History Society), and from the presumed, though not yet confirmed, place of origin – Ratschach/ Rateče..
The Celovec (Rateče manuscript) dates from between 1362 and 1390, consists of a single leaf of parchment, and contains three prayer formulas (Lord’s Prayer [7 lines], Hail Mary [3 lines], and an Apostolic Credo [12 lines]). As with the Freising manuscripts, the conditions for its origin were established by the Christianisation of the Carantanian Slavs that took place in the latter half of the 8th century and is reported in “Conversio Bagoariorum et Carantanorum“ from around 870. Furthermore, after the Synod of Mainz (813) prayers in native languages were allowed beside Latin prayers. The single leaf was part of a codex (missal?) that was probably last used in Ratschach. This assumption is suggested by the entries dated 1467 and 1471 on the back of the parchment; they provide information, listed in columns, about the members of the Brotherhood of Our Lady and an Apostolic Brotherhood (Thomas?) in „Ratatscha(ch)“ (= Ratschach/Rateče).

The Stična manuscript


The Stična manuscript consists of Slovene texts, written into a manuscript book containing Latin texts (NUK, manuscript department, Ms 141). They were written on the last five pages of the book: two formulas of General Confession (confessio generalis), the beginning of an Easter hymn, several word pairs of Latin-Slovene expressions, an invocation to the Holy Ghost and Mary, and a Salve Regina prayer. Some Slovene interlinear glosses are scattered among the Latin text in other places in the book (pages 183 b, 184 a, 194 b, 217 b, and 220 b).
The General Confession (confessio generalis) is the longest of the texts in the Stična manuscript. It belongs to a group of similar church texts, which enumerate all kinds of sins, even though the person who delivers the text has not committed all of them. The Stična General Confession is an independent adaptation of a German example from the family of formulas of confessions deriving from a corresponding formula written by Honorius Augustodun (first half 12th century). The verse of the Easter hymn deals with the liturgical idea of the resurrection and its significance for the salvation of mankind. Though it certainly is an adaptation of a German hymn (Christ ist erstanden), the differences in expressions, rhythm, and in the structure of the sentence suggest an affective and linguistically independent adaptation of a well-known medieval theme.
The pre-sermon invocation is a standard invocation of mercy and hope. The Salve Regina prayer is a deeply emotional, medieval church hymn that is normally recited by priests in the liturgy. Its Slovene version witnesses to the beginnings of the Marian cult in Slovenia

The Čedad or Černjeja manuscript


The Černjeja manuscript is kept in the Archaeological Museum in Cividale (Italy, Slovene Čedad) and is officially (though not quite correctly) called Anniversario di Legati latino-italiano-slavo della confraternita di S. Maria di Cergneu. Codice n. CXLIV. It is a small manuscript book, consisting of 16 leaves with short entries (a total of 102) on both sides, listing names of parishioners and visitors of the church of sv. Marija in Černjeja, their pledges, and endowments. At first, all the entries are in Latin, later in the North-Italian dialect that was spoken around Černjeja. Towards the end of the book’s first half, a Latin note (no. 41) states that the notary Johannes from Vegla (Italian Veglia, the island of Krk) had started to translate the Latin records into Slovene, here referred to as lingua sclabonica, in 1497. The next 25 entries were made by Johannes and his work was then continued by other writers (twelve or thirteen). The manuscript contains 52 records in Slovene. Every entry has three to five lines; their content is quite “standardized”: …parishioner X from the village of Y bequeathed to the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Černjeja something (wheat, wine, money, land) to have a number of masses said for his soul... It is well worth emphasising that, in spite of their standardized form, these notes contain precious toponymic and anthroponymic material, and that they are very important for the study of the history of Slovene as well as for the interpretation of its role in Venetian Slovenia (Italian: Slavia Veneta) in the 15th and 16th centuries.