Francysk Skaryna and Res Moscovitana: Polish, English and French sources on “printing incident” in Muscovy

Title page of the Instruction of Sigismund II Augustus to Wojciech Kryski from February 21, 1553 (Instruƈtio legati ad cuius præscriptum Gene- | rosus Albertus Kriski Orator Regius, ad |  Julium iii Pontificem Maximim in re Mosco- | uitana Orationem habuit. AGAD, Libri legationum, 14, f. 234v)

The short version of the article is published: Шутова О.М «Res Moscovitana» и печать: об источниках польских, английских и французских о возможном путешествии Франциска Скорины. // Современные проблемы книжной культуры: основные тенденции и перспективы развития : материалы XIV Белорусско-Российского научного семинара-конференции, Москва, 24-25 ноября 2021 г. Минск: Центральная научная библиотека им. Я. Коласа НАН Беларуси; Москва: Научный и издательский центр "Наука" РАН, 2021. С. 523-533

This article examines the context, origins and genetic connections of the sources on book / printing press burning in Moscow in the 16th century. It identifies the principal source of this information (the Instruction of Sigismund II Augustus to his Ambassador to Rome Wojciech Kryski from February 21, 1553 ), and its subsequent transmissions. Initially, this information “travelled” to England, with W. Kryski’s mission to Mary Tudor in 1555 and his meetings with the English officials like Lord William Cecil, thereby reaching the circles of English voyagers and diplomats to Muscovy. They were: W. Cecil’s direct subordinate Sir Thomas Randolph and the subordinate of the later Giles Fletcher. The first, Thomas Randolph, made this historical anecdote cross the Channel during his diplomatic mission to France in 1576 where he has met the royal cosmographer André Thevet who narrated it in his «Les vrais povrtraits et vies des hommes illustres» (published in 1584). The second English diplomat, Dr Giles Fletcher, has left an account about printing press burning in his “Of the Russe Common Wealth”, published in 1591. Considered this way, we can establish the logical sequence of these three sources (21/02/1553 Instruction, A. Thevet’s 1584 and G. Fletcher’s 1591), which until now have been considered separately. Tracing back the origins of these three sources and establishing the earliest date mentioned in the principal document (1553 Instruction indicates that the event of burning took place during the reign of Sigismund I), makes possible the hypothesis of Francysk Skaryna’s journey to Moscow in 1530s.

Read the full text of Olga Shutova’ Francysk Skaryna and Res Moscovitana: Polish, English and French sources on «printing incident» in Muscovy in Russian here: Ольга Шутова. Франциск Скорина и Res Moscovitana: польские, английские и французские источники о «книжном инциденте» в Московии