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The Classification of the Letters of Antun Vrančić
; Filozofski fakultet Sveučilišta u Zadru, Zadar, Hrvatska
The Epistolarium of Antun Vrančić (1504-1573) offers, because of its scope and variety, rewarding material for various kinds of research. How impressive the quantity is can be seen from the fact that the epistolarium fills up entirely or in part as many as nine volumes of the Hungarian edition of Lászlo Szalay and Gusztav Wenzel published in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences series Monumenta Hungariae historica. Volumes 9, 10, 19, 20, 25 and 26 contain only correspondence, from the period from 1538 to 1573, volumes 4 and 5 the letters from 1553 to 1557, volume 6 several letters from 1567 and 1568, and volume 27 various scattered letters from the period 1532 to 1573. In total this amounts to 3,000 pages. To this we should add 16 unpublished letters of Vrančić, on the whole autographs, kept in the National and University Library in Zagreb (R 5717-5726) and one letter in the series Segretaria di Stato, Principi, 27. f. 319. Bibliotheca Academiae Hungariae in Roma, Fontes 3.
The number of Vrančić’s letters has on the whole been written of imprecisely, and figures ranging from 400 to 1000 letters have been quoted. In this work they have been exactly counted and classified for the first time. From these sources it can be seen that Vrančić sent in total 791 letters, 765 in Latin, 20 in Italian and 6 in Hungarian. In the Hungarian edition there are 199 letters that Vrančić wrote in co-authorship with fellow ambassadors during his diplomatic visits to Istanbul and finally the 139 letters that he received.
The classification is carried out according the criteria of addressee and con-tent, certain problems appearing that were specific for each category. The apparently easy task of classification according to addressees got more complex when it was considered that a given addressee might be classified as either church dignitary, or friend, or member of the family. In classification according to content, in the case of letters of mixed content, it was necessary to weigh the preponderant subject.
The classification of Vrančić’s letters based on the social and political status of the addressees resulted in this division:
a) church dignitaries and other clerics,
b) rulers; senior and lower state officers,
c) members of the family,
d) subordinate officers,
e) friends and acquaintances,
d) collective addressees (citizens of some town, members of some institution of church or state and so on).
The final result is as follows: there are a total of 259 addressees, 63 from the church, 65 are rulers and officers of state, 9 are members of the family, 9 are Vrančić’s subordinates, and there are 113 friends and acquaintances. The classification according to addressees necessarily had to be incomplete, but it can use-fully serve in further research the task of which will be to determine facts concerning nationality, identity and other details respecting his correspondents.
In the classification according to subject, there was an attempt, where possible, respecting the inevitable fluctuations in content, to systematise the corpus within a few topic groups: letters of private, political and church import, and mixed letters. Among the private letters there are the autobiographical (family, literary, health related, intimate and amicable, and the topic of woman), friendly and courteous, letters on various occasions, and letter-essays. Political letters are divided into social and political reports, anti-Turkish letters and letters of appeal, and the church into the conventional, addressed to the clergy, letters related to church governance and letters related to the problems with the heretics. Of the 791 letters that he wrote in the period from 1532 to 1573, 264 are private in nature, 219 political, 210 ecclesiastical and 98 mixed. It is interesting to observe the fairly equal division into private, political and ecclesiastical.
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