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Original scientific paper
Forms of the Humanist and Early Modern Historiographic Methodology of Work on Medieval Narrative Sources: the Example of Historia Salonitana
; Odsjek za povijesne znanosti HAZU
Fulltext: pdf (334 KB),
Pages 89 - 105
This investigation is directed to the insufficiently explored theme of historiographic method in historical works of Croatian Humanism and the earlymodern period. The initial hypothesis is that in Croatia, during these periods, in parallel with the development of historiography, the methodology of work on narrative historical sources considerably changed, moving from the uncritical, traditional Humanist approach and heading in the direction of the more advanced, pre-critical approach that appeared at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. The thesis concerning the development of historiographic methodology is tested out considering the use of the work Historia Salonitana of Archdeacon Thomas of Split, as characteristic medieval historical source, in the works of leading Dalmatian historiographers Ludovik Crijević Tuberon (Aloysius or Ludovicus Cervarius Tubero), Vinko Pribojević (Vincentius Priboevius), Mavro Orbini, Dinko Zavorović (Dominicus Zavoreus) and Ivan Tomko Mrnavić (Ioannes Tomcus Marnavitius). Indicators of the divide between traditional Humanist historiography and the more advanced, pre-critical version are to be found in examples of interpretation of key topics of secular history: the ethnogenesis of the Slavs (particularly the gothic theory), the issue of the borders of Dalmatia, and the fall of Salona. An analysis of Tuberon’s work Commentarii de temporibus suis, Pribojević’s De origine successibusque Slavorum and Orbini’s Il Regno degli Slavi clearly demonstrated the presence of a traditional and uncritical attitude towards the gothic theory. These three works show that during the period of Humanism, Thomas’ text was an authoritative and indispensable narrative source for writing concerned with the borders of Dalmatia, the fall of Salona and the immigration of the Slavs into the area of Illyricum. The typically Humanist absence of any critical approach to the medieval sources tells of the traditional historiographic attitude to Historia Salonitana during the 15th and 16th centuries. We can, however, speak of the beginnings of a critical historiography in Croatia, i.e. of a much more considerable revolution in the methodological approach to medieval narrative sources in the context of De rebus Dalmaticis and De Illyrico caesaribusque Illyricis of Šibenik historiographers Dinko Zavorović and Ivan Tomko Mrnavić from the late 16th and early 17th century. We can legitimately see their principle of work as forerunner of the historiography of Ivan Lučić (Ioannes Lucius). The timeline of the origin of these two works, particularly of Zavorović’s De rebus Dalmaticis, indicates the important fact that the first hints of pre-critical historiography appear at a time when the traditional trends were still relatively strong in Croatian Humanist historiography. Zavorović finished his De rebus Dalmaticis in 1602, that is, in the year of the printing of Orbini’s Il Regno degli Slavi, a work abounding in examples of a traditional and uncritical approach to historiography. Zavorović’s specific late-Humanist methodological approach is founded on numerous arbitrary authorial operations on quotations from Historia Salonitana, essentially changing its meaning. Zavorović’s systematic replacement of the ethnonym Gothi with the ethnonym Slouini (Slavs) is used to criticise the gothic theory, and in a rudimentary form reflects a specific principle of the historiographic criticism of narrative sources, one of the crucial methodological characteristics of pre-critical historiography. Particular attention is devoted to an analysis of Zavorović’s citations from Pacta conventa, which he quotes from some hitherto unidentified copy of Historia Salonitana. In this paper, on the basis of the differences in the reading of the names of Croatian clans, it is determined that Zavorović used the Vatican codex of the work of Thomas the Archdeacon. The influence of Zavorović’s pre-critical principles of work on medieval narrative sources (particularly on Historia Salonitana) was felt even at the beginning of the 17th century, as shown by Mrnavić’s De Illyrico caesaribusque Illyricis, in which according to a similar principle the ethnonym Gothi was replaced by the neutral general term barbari. Traditional Humanists recognised in Toma the Archdeacon an undisputed authority and a source of proofs for the issue of the origin of the Slavs and the borders of Dalmatia, while more advanced, late Humanist historiographers adopted a critical stance to Historia Salonitana and the goth theory, which is particularly obvious from the arbitrary authorial operations at the level of lexis in the quotations from the text. In conclusion: we can say with certainty that, even before Ivan Lučić, criticism of sources had made its appearance in Dalmatian historiography. At the end of the 16th and in the early 17th century it was still fairly unarticulated, but it does tell us that within Humanist historiography there were, side by side, a traditional and uncritical and a more advanced and critical approach to the medieval sources of Croatian history.
traditional historiography, pre-critical historiography, Renaissance Humanism, early modern period, narrative sources, historiographic methodology, Historia Salonitana, Dalmatia, Croatia