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CRS Faculty Seminar: “Don’t lend too many books” - early modern Krakow and Vilnius Cathedral Chapters and their Libraries

Acta capituli Vilnensis, vol 2, c. 1533. Acts of the Vilnius Cathedral Chapter, c. 1533.
Thursday, November 24, 2022, 12:40 pm – 2:00 pm

Early modern Catholic Cathedral Chapters were essential religious centers. At the same time, they fulfilled the role of the archives, libraries, centers of knowledge-production, history-writing, and schooling at the same time. This presentation as a part of my doctoral dissertation will highlight the composition of the Cathedral chapter libraries in two capitals of early modern Poland-Lithuania - Krakow and Vilnius. The canons of the Chapters were usually one of the most prolific scholars and historians and their access to the Chapters’ library allowed them to consult classical and humanist literature required for their writings.

My presentation focuses on three key elements: composition of the early modern Chapter libraries in Poland and Lithuania; practices of book storage, purchase, and lending; and the usage of libraries’ book collections for composing the chronicles and treatises. I aim to compare two centers of intellectual thought and knowledge transfer and highlight how the difference in their capacities influenced the canons' interests in history-writing and hence the works they produced. This is a story about interrelation between urban culture, religious institutions, and history-production in the late fifteenth-late sixteenth century in East-Central Europe.