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Original scientific paper

Palmieri from Poland and Lithuania at the Croatian Coast (1400-1600), with Reference to the Latvian and Estonian Pilgrims

Krešimir Kužić orcid id

Full text: croatian pdf 648 Kb

page 101-135

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As a universal European Christain phenomenon, pilgrimages focused particularly on three main destinations: Jerusalem, Rome, and Compostela. In the period from the late 14th until the early 17th century, several dozens of identified pilgrims from Poland and Lithuania travelled on ships along the Croatian Adriatic Coast, heading for Jerusalem. However, within this overall picture there are several common traits and differences. As for their motives, they were similar in all countries and consisted of elements related to their religious or estate identity. Owing to its early Christianization and an elaborate network of Franciscan monasteries, Poland was more advanced in terms of pilgrimage than Lithuania. On the other hand, among the Lithuanian pilgrims one finds many Orthodox Christians, which reflects the country’s ethnical structure. As for the estates, it can be obssrved that there were not many commoners among the Polish pilgrims, while the nobility and clergy are present in almost equal numbers. It is especially among the nobility of both countries that gaining the title of miles Sepulchri Domini played an important role in terms of motivation. Pilgrims from Poland and Lithuania used exclusively the route through Austria and Hungary, their destination being Venice as the place of embarkment on ships.
Since pilgrimage to Jerusalem was an exceptional feat, with all sorts of dangers awaiting the travellers – from bad weather to pirates and plague – and also a proof of faith, it seems difficult at the first glance to explain the very small number of written travelogues. This is especially true of Poland, which had well educated secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries, and may be explained through the prevalence of oral communication. Owing to this fact, only a single complete pilgrim travelogue was available for this analysis, including the date of embarkment, the shipowner’s name, the price of transport, mentions of other pilgrims and travellers, and so on. The author of this single travelogue is Count Mikołaj Krzystof Radziwiłł “Sierotka” / Mikalojus Kristupas Radvila “Našlaitèlis” (“the Orphan”) (1549-1616), a Polonized Lithuanian. His work tells of his contacts with the citizens of Sali and a Venetian captain in Zadar. He makes notice of the similarity between the Croatian and Polish languages, mentions the shrine of St Symeon and the Dubrovnik fonticus in Alexandria, but does not make any comments on political or cultural links between Croatia and these countries, although he does mention the former custodian of the Holy Land, Friar Boniface Stjepović, as originating from Dubrovnik. Radziwiłł’s work was published in several editions in Latin, German, and Polish. As for the other pilgrims, the year of travel to the Holy Land has been established for the nobleman Jan Goryńsky (1562). Eventually, it must be said that not a single written mention of the presence of Polish or Lithuanian pilgrims at the Croatian coast has been found at this stage of research.


Poland; Lithuania; pilgrims; Holy Land; Croatia; Adriatic Sea

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Article data in other languages: croatian

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