The goal of the proposed project is a study of the medieval Latin
astronomical manuscripts and old prints especially of the Czech
origin and making them accessible in the form of editions with
critical apparatus. In some cases we plan to add translation and also
their interpretation and explicatory comments from the point of view
of both the European context of that time and the present knowledge of the
astronomy. The project thus has to map the area of history of science
which has not practically a representation in our country now. The first
contribution to this general intention deals with astronomical works
of Magister Cristannus de Prachaticz.
Basic facts about Cristannus de Prachaticz:
Cristannus was born after 1360 in the town Prachatice in south Bohemia. In 1388 he became a bachelor of the Charles University in Prague. In 1393 Cristannus obtained a benefice at the church of St. Stephen in the New Town of Prague and later at St. Michael in the Old Town. Later he was several times the rector of the University (in 1405, 1412-13, 1434 and 1437) and in thirties also the administrator of the lower consistory. He died in 1439. Cristannus is well known first of all due to his medical treatises in Latin and also in Czech. He wrote computus and algorismus, he dealt also with botanics etc. Cristannus is renowned by his theological and political activity, too. He was one of the first Calixtins. Just for him John Hus, his younger friend connected with him also by their birthplace, rewrote in 1398 philosophical treatises of John Viklef. Cristannus refused to announce the interdict on John Hus in his church and he introduced very early the communion in both kinds. He visited John Hus in the jail of the council at Constance. Later Cristannus became supporter of the moderate wing of Calixtins.
Cristannus' astronomical work, by a tradition ever assumed as his major
achievement, was supposed to be completely lost in older literature.
P. Spunar listed several types of Cristannus' astronomical texts
in his 'Repertorium auctorum Bohemorum provectum idearum post universitatem
Pragensem conditam illustrans'. Tom. I. (Studia Copernicana XXV, Wratislaviae
etc., Ossolineum 1985).
Description of the results:
It was found by a revision of the known Cristannus' texts, that apart
of a small Latin/Czech treatise saved in the National Library, Praha,
Krizovnici XXII A 2 (Cim D 93), fol. 283r-287v
(Hadravova A., Cerna A., Homolkova M., Hadrava P.: `The Reply of Magister
Cristannus of Prachatice to the Prophecy of Magister Iohannes Parisiensis'.
Listy filologicke 123, 2000, pp. 42-53) and some astronomical notices in his
medical treatises, all his astronomical writings reduce to two treatises
'On the Composition' and 'On the Use of the Astrolabe', which, however, were
very influential in late Middle Ages.
The treatise 'On the Composition of the Astrolabe' (De composicione astrolabii)
has this inc.: "Quamvis de astrolabii composicione tam modernorum quam veterum
dicta habentur pulcherrima ..."; inc. of the second treatise 'On the Use
of the Astrolabe' (De usu astrolabii) is: "Quia plurimi ob nimiam quandoque
accurtacionem ...". Cristannus' treatises
were even the first printed text (as anonymous or wrongly attributed to other
authors, cf. below) on this topic. It was also found that the manuscript
O.1 (1585) of the Metropolitan Capitular Library in Praha known as
'Cristannus' Astrolabe' is neither Cristannus' work nor an astrolabe, but
a summary of astronomical knowledge taught in the Charles University. However,
a short reference contained there gives an independent evidence that
Cristannus really wrote the treatise on the astrolabe.
In the framework of the project the first critical edition of
both Latin treatises on the astrolabe has been prepared.
The autographs of the treatises are not known. The texts were copyied during
all the 15th century and also in the first half of the 16th century.
As we found (with the help of the colleagues from abroad), Cristannus'
treatises are preserved in over 80 mss. in the libraries all over the world.
At about 40 of them were at our disposal.
The edition of 'The Composition' is based on 8 manuscripts (e.g. from
Heiligenkreuz, Rostock, Firenze, Praha, Wien, Kalocsa) and 1 incunabulum
('Roberti Anglici, viri astrologia prestantissimi, De astrolabio canones
incipiunt'. Perugia, Petrus Petri, Johannes Conradi et Friedrich Ebert,
1477-1479. Copy: Milano, Biblioteca Trivulziana, Triv. Inc. C 127).
The edition of 'The Use' is based on 15 manuscripts
(Praha, Rostock, Wien, Oxford, Krakow, Kalocsa, Firenze, Berlin, Paris,
Geneve), 1 incunabulum ('Roberti Anglici, viri astrologia prestantissimi,
De astrolabio canones incipiunt'. Perugia, Petrus Petri, Johannes Conradi
et Friedrich Ebert, 1477-1479. Copy: Milano, Biblioteca Trivulziana, Triv.
Inc. C 127) and 2 old prints ('Astrolabii, quo primi mobilis motus
deprehenduntur canones'. Venetiis, Paganinus de Paganinis, about 1497-1498
(1494 ?). Copy: Nelahozeves, Roudnice VII Ad 63; 'Astrolabii, quo primi
mobilis motus deprehenduntur canones'. /This work is often attributed to
Prosdocimus de Beldomandi in the literature/. Venetiis, Petrus Liechtenstein,
1521. Copy: Krakow, BJ, Inc. 2696b).
The Latin edition (with full critical apparatus), Czech translation
with comments etc. and English summary was published (with support
by grant No. E 9062101 from the Grant Agency of the Academy of Sciences
of the Czech Republic) in 2001:
Kristan z Prachatic: Stavba a Uziti astrolabu,
Filosofia, Praha (ISBN 80-7007-148-6)
The French version of the edition should be published by the Societe
Internationale de l'Astrolabe in the series 'Astrolabica' in Paris.
The detailed knowledge
of the text in its many manuscripts and printed copies enables to solve
the puzzle of its authorship as well as to follow its further spreading
in the Europe. The text corresponds to the group RA denoted by P. Kunitzsch
in his 'Glossar der arabischen Fachausdrucke ...',
Gottingen 1982. Following the preface to the first incunabulum
(Perugia 1477-1479) of this treatise, he ascribed it to Robertus Anglicus
together with three other and much simpler texts.
However, it is worth to notice that there is no RA-text
older than from the 15th century. A. Favaro ascribed another edition
of the text (Venice 1512?, 1521) to Prosdocimo de Beldomandi from Padua
(i.e. Cristannus' younger contemporary - cf. the
review prepared by Giancarlo Truffa)
following Myszkowski's hand-written remark on the copy from Krakow
and according to its identity with the manuscript from Firenze,
which is, however, anonymous, unlike other, really Prosdocimo's treatises
in the same convolut.
Some of the oldest manuscripts (Rostock, Kalocsa ...) state explicitly
that they are copies of the Cristannus' treatise written and read at
the Prague University in 1407. The stemma of the manuscripts spreaded
in the Europe (basicaly in agreement with the routs of the 'peregrinacio
academica' between the Central-European universities) shows
their dependence on this oldest group. But the main argument is, that
even in the late and distant copies (including the above mentioned old
prints) are the references to Prague and
the 'old Czech time' - despite in some of them interpolated or replaced
by names of other locations, for which, however, the argumentation in the
text was not valid.
An impressive explanation, why the Cristannus' authorship of the treatises
was ignored and almost forgotten yields the manuscript from Kalocsa:
'... utilitates astrolabii nove satis valentes Magistri Cristanni de
Brachadicz, heretici perfidissimi pronunc, licet in composicione sive
edicione earundem fuerit Cristianus ...'
(... new and quite good use of the astrolabe by Magister Cristannus de
Prachaticz, now the most perfidious heretic, however in writing of this
treatise he was a Christian...).
Cristannus as a leading person of the heretic Prague University was
a 'persona non grata'. However, Ulyxes Lanciarinus, the editor of
the first edition at Perugia,
explains the choice just of this treatise by a paraphrase
of the Cristannus' preface: '... confitebitur ... priorum canones ...
id genus ordinis claritate doctrineque prestantia facile precellere'
(... this way of the arrangement easily surpasses all previous rules by
the clarity and excellence of the doctrine ...).
An important redaction of the Cristannus' treatise is
that written by M. Iohannes von Gmunden in Wien, who corrected some
Cristannus' mistakes and added some more passages, despite the
Cristannus' basis is still obvious there (like in Iohannes von Gmunden's
edition of Wallingford's Albion). For a comparison, an edition
based on two Iohannes von Gmunden's manuscripts will be added to the present
Some passages extracted from Cristannus' 'Use of the astrolabe'
were used also by M. Paulerinus (Paul of Prague) in his famous
encyclopaedia 'Liber viginti arcium' (Krakow, BJ 257).
See also article LF CXX, 1997, 1-2, 60-78(Latin Terminology of the Treatise on Astrolabe by Magister Cristannus de Prachaticz)
and the subsequent grant on Iohannes Andreae called Sindel