MEMORY OF THE WORLD REGISTER
PART A – ESSENTIAL INFORMATION
The corpus of Glagolitic manuscripts and documents is a unique collection of manuscripts, legal texts
and documents, literary works and records, written in Glagolitic script and Croatian and Old Slavonic
languages. It is composed of manuscripts, inscriptions and printed books, from the early beginning of
the European printing. The manuscript part of the collection consists of liturgical books, biblical texts,
literary texts (apocrypha, visions, legends), stories and novels, didactical texts, poems and dramatic
works. In the Glagolitic script the following legal documents were written: laws, statutes, regulations,
constitutions, public and private documents, public registers, notarial protocols, texts on popular
medicine etc. Engraved in stone are the oldest testimonies of the Glagolitic script. Printed books
include liturgical and biblical texts, historiographic works, Glagolitic primers etc. Liturgical, biblical,
apocrypha texts and some legends were written or printed in the Croatian type of Old Slavonic
(Church) language, and other texts are in the Croatian language.
Thousands of manuscripts and records preserved are only a part of the rich Glagolitic tradition,
flourishing between the 11th and 19th centuries in Southern and Central Europe, mostly in Croatia,
where a specific angular type of the script was developed. As a unique phenomenon, integrating
cultural production, spiritual, scientific, and literary activities through the use of the script and writing,
the Glagolitic tradition was essential to building and preserving the cultural and social identity through
centuries. The Glagolitic script facilitated the recording and preservation of many local and national
traditions, including language, music, science, religion, customs and everyday life. Situated in both
eastern and western cultural milieus, a meeting point of different cultures, it was an invaluable means
of communication as well as cultural and spiritual exchange between eastern and western, Cyrillic and
Latin societies. The existing Glagolitic corpus is essential to an understanding of cultural and spiritual
processes and interactions in medieval society, and of the formation of distinct national cultural
traditions, rooted in a common heritage. Many of the Glagolitic manuscripts, kept today at various
institutions world-wide, have, apart from documentary, great artistic value. With their beauty and
content, the Glagolitic script and Glagolitic books today are a source of artistic inspiration in painting,
sculpture, music and literature.
2 DETAILS OF THE NOMINATOR
2.1 Name (person or organization)
Croatian State Archives
2.2 Relationship to the documentary heritage nominated
2.3 Contact person(s)
Dr. Josip Kolanović
2.4 Contact details (include address, phone, fax, email)
Dr. Josip Kolanović
Croatian State Archives
Marulićev trg 21
Tel: +385 1 4801 902
Fax: + 385 1 4829 000
3 IDENTITY AND DESCRIPTION OF THE DOCUMENTARY HERITAGE
3.1 Name and identification details of the items being nominated
Croatian Glagolitic heritage
The largest part of the Glagolitic books, manuscripts and inscriptions preserved world-wide have been
microfilmed by the Croatian State Archives for preservation and reference purposes. This virtual
collection, together with the collection of originals kept in archives, is intended to encompass all
Glagolitic heritage still existing, thus enabling a comprehensive insight in, and the evaluation of, the
whole of the Glagolitic heritage as a distinctive cultural phenomenon. The collection consists of
originals (900 books and items) and microfilms (147,000 frames).
There are over 500 preserved Glagolitic inscriptions (dated from the 11th to 18th centuries) in Croatia
today, located in different places (about 200 different sites), among which Istria is the richest area.
Other inscriptions are scattered mostly throughout the islands and along the Adriatic coast, and a
smaller number is in the mainland of Croatia (especially in Lika). There are also many Glagolitic
books, manuscripts and documents, in and outside Croatia, kept in different institutions in 24
countries, in about 60 cities, mostly in national libraries and museums (such as the University Library
in Florence, Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris, Topkapi Saray in Constantinople, Princeton University
Library, Austrian National Library, Vatican Library, Staatsbibliothek in Berlin, Basle University
Library, Russian National Library, The Library of Congress in Washington, British Library, Oxford
Bodleian Library, Hungarian National Library, Royal Library Denmark, Biblioteca Publica Municipal
Portugal, Jagiellon Library in Krakow, National and University Library in Prague, etc.).
As the Glagolitic script originated due to church liturgy requirements, the majority of monuments are
related to liturgical and church needs. This includes items such as: missals, breviaries, psalters,
lectionaries, rituals, miscellanies, sacerdotal hand-books, homilies, etc.
The oldest examples of the Glagolitic script can be found in Croatia in the art of epigraph writing,
dating from the 11th century. In the period ranging from the 11th until the end of the 18th century, there
is a record of about one thousand Glagolitic inscriptions and graffiti. Most of the inscriptions relate to
the building of churches or monasteries, to ecclesiastical inventories, as well as to the building and the
content of private homes. They were also carved into the olive oil presses in cellars along the littoral,
and on tombstones.
The most important inscriptions from the 11th and 12th centuries are:
the Plomin Tablet
the Valun Tablet
the Krk Tablet
the Senj Tablet
the Kijevci fragment
the Baška Tablet and
the Grdoselo fragment
the Supetar fragment
the Knin fragments
the Plastovo fragment
As for graffiti the most important are the Glagolitic alphabets of Roč.
The Church Slavonic of the Croatian type and the Glagolitic script were used for transcribing the
books of the Bible, individual Biblical texts, Biblical quotations in non-liturgical books, all the books
of the liturgy, the apocrypha and legends of the saints.
Also in Glagolitic script and the Croatian language are the laws, statutes, land tenure documents,
feudal dues document, monastic rules, constitutions, privileges, registers of births, marriages and
deaths etc. The Croats possess an extensive collection of about 700 legal documents, statutes etc.
written in the vernacular between the 12th and the 16th centuries - more than any other Slav nation.
This extremely important collection of monuments called Acta Croatica represents a rich source for
the study of the Medieval Croatian language. Most of the documents are written in the Glagolitic
script, some also in the Croatian Cyrillic script. "Acta Croatica" is to be published by the Croatian
Academy of Sciences and Arts.
One of the earliest and most important Croatian legal documents is The Vinodol Code, very different
from the Roman law, written in the Glagolitic alphabet in 1288. It was unique in Europe in that it
provided for the protection and moral integrity of women. The Vinodol Code did not allow torture in
legal proceedings, and is considered one of the most important documents of medieval Europe.
Among the Slav Codes, only the Rus' Code "Pravda" is slightly older (1282). The first Croatian edition
of the Vinodol Code was published in Zagreb in 1846. Two of its Russian translations with comments
were issued soon after: in Moscow in 1846 and in St. Petersburg in 1878. A translation of the Vinodol
Code into Polish appeared in 1856, and into French in 1896. The code was published in many
European countries: it was translated into at least nine languages.
There are many other important legal documents regarding medieval Croatia, of which mention should
Istarski razvod from the Istrian peninsula, 1275, written originally in three languages: Croatian in the
Glagolitic script, Latin and German. Only the Croatian Glagolitic version has been preserved. With
respect to its juridical and literary value it can be ranked among the most interesting documents of that
time in Europe. It is also the oldest international diplomatic document written in Croatian.
the Vrbnik Statute (on the island of Krk), written in 1388,
the Kastav Statute (1490, near Rijeka), preserved in Latin, transliterated from the Glagolitic script,
Moscenica Statute (~1501, Istria), preserved in Latin, transliterated from the Glagolitic script,
the Veprinac Statute (1507, Istria), preserved in the Glagolitic script.
In addition to the very rich sacred literature, there are thousands of other documents proving that the
Glagolitic alphabet was also used in administration and in private communication.
The oldest known Croatian non-liturgical verse (10 poems) are from 1380, written in cakavian dialect
in the Glagolitic miscellany Code Slave 11, now kept at Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris.
The Missal of Duke Novak from 1368 is considered a rare and valuable monument of the Croatian
Glagolitic cultural heritage. It is kept at the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The book was written
in Krbava (now a part of Lika). Many specialists consider this to be the most beautiful Glagolitic
book. A facsimile edition is planned to be printed in the near future in Austria.
Probably the most interesting Glagolitic book is the liturgical book called Missal of Hrvoje, written in
1404 by a Glagolitic scribe Butko. It has 94 beautiful miniatures, 380 colorful initials (some of them in
gold), and has been kept in the Library of the Turkish sultans (Topkapi Saray) in Constantinople since
the 16th century. It is written in two columns on 488 pp (22.5x31 cm) and also contains some
rhythmic and melodic notation.
The Croats brought the Glagolitic script to print in the very beginning of the European printing, in the
15th century, and used the Glagolitic script in print until the beginning of the 20 th century. Glagolitic
books were printed not only in Croatia (Kosinj(?), Senj, Rijeka), but also in Venice, which had two
Glagolitic churches at that time, and in Rome. Early Croatian printing becomes even more fascinating
when it is realized that at that time (the close of the 15th century) the invasion of the Ottoman Empire
Many of the books in the Croatian Glagolitic script were printed with the generous support of the
Croatian Protestants who were active in Wittenberg and Urach in Germany in the 16th century. About
thirty books were printed in 25,000 copies between 1561 and 1565, 300 of which have been preserved.
On the front page of the Glagolitic Catechism prepared by the Croatian Glagolitic priest Stipan Konzul
of Istria and printed in the German city of Tübingen in 1561, it is explicitly stated that it is written in
the Crobatischen Sprach (Croatian language). It is interesting to note that several editions were printed
for the Italians living in Istria (of course, in Italian and in the Latin script).
In 17th and 18th centuries Glagolitic books were printed in Rome. The last Croatian Glagolitic book
(Missal) was printed in Rome in 1905.
4 JUSTIFICATION FOR INCLUSION/ ASSESSMENT AGAINST CRITERIA
4.1 Authenticity is established by scientific analysis of individual manuscripts and documents and by
documentation about the history of the collection and its component parts.
4.2 The Glagolitic script was in use in Central and Southern Europe until the 20th century. Designed
and introduced in 9th century as a means of spreading the Christian religion and ancient cultural
heritage among the new peoples and nations in the region, it led to the production of wide variety of
documentary and literary works that enabled communication and a rich cultural exchange among
different cultures and civilizations. Glagolitic script facilitated the recording and preserving of many
local and national traditions, including languages, music, science, religion, customs and everyday life,
creating a distinct Glagolitic tradition deeply immersed in a broader context of Western culture and
lasting more than eleven centuries. From literary and linguistic aspects, Glagolitic books and
manuscripts, mostly produced in Croatia, or by Croatians, laid the foundation for the later
development of Croatian literature and the Croatian standard language.
Although there are many theories about the origin of the Glagolitic script, on the basis of preserved
heritage the appearance of the Glagolitic script can be put in 9th century, although some researchers
believe that the Glagolitic script is even older.
In Croatia, the Glagolitic script came alive, developed and – different from other Slav countries –
endured not only throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, but even until the beginning of the
20th century, side by side with the Latin script, which the Croats used to write in their own language
and in that of the Romans as early as from the 9th century. Today, the Glagolitic script is not in official
or public use, and yet it still exists in everyday life in various ways.
As the oldest epigraphic/stone monuments in the Glagolitic script, those of the 11th, 12th and 13th
centuries show, their greatest concentration is in Croatia (in the area of Istria, Kvarner and northern
Dalmatia). The question whether this area represents the nucleus of the Croatian Glagolitic has not
been solved. Historical, indirect records and certain fragments preserved on parchment frequently refer
to regions lying further to the South. In the earliest period the Glagolitic script also existed in Ukraine,
Bulgaria and Macedonia, but only until the 12th century, when the Cyrillic script became
predominant. It is worth mentioning that besides these countries, the Glagolitic script was also in use
in Bohemia, Bosnia, Romania, Moldavia and Russia in the Middle Ages.
Although many theories have been expounded about the origin and genesis of the Glagolitic script, the
accepted theory in scholarly circles is that the Glagolitic script was created as a completely new script
in the second half of the 9th century for the Slavs of Moravia by St. Cyril. The Holy or Salonikan
Brothers, Constantine-Cyril and Methodius, were sent on a mission by the Emperor of Byzantinum,
Michael III, at the invitation of the prince of Moravia Rastislav who decided to organize his church
and state systematically, and this was impossible without a script or the basic ecclesiastical books.
The Glagolitic heritage and glagolitism in general is related to great personalities of the Middle Ages
and Renaissance such as Pope Innocent IV who gave the Croats special permission in 1248 to use their
own – Glagolitic – script and language in liturgy, or the famous Czech king Charles IV of Luxemburg
who built a Glagolitic convent Emaus (na Slovaneh) in Prague in 1347, to which Croatian
Benedictines from the island of Pasman were invited as teachers. It is remarkable that the convent was
just a few hundred meters away from the famous Charles’ University, built the next year, in 1348. One
of the Glagolitic books from this convent (Emaus) in Prague came to Reims in 1574, where for
centuries the French kings (Charles IX, Henry II, Louis XIII, Louis XIV) were sworn in by putting
their hands on this holy book, known by the name Texte du Sacre or Évangéliaire de Reims. The
Polish king Vladislaw II Jagiello also opened a Glagolitic convent in Krakow (Kleparz) in 1390,
where Glagolitic priests were active for almost 100 years.
Glagolitic heritage presents a source for the study of social, economic, political, religious and cultural
life. It provides an abundance of data about names and surnames, the structure of government, the
ambitions, undertakings and the creative potential of the society, a range of names of local builders,
sculptors and painters.
Glagolitic texts are precious source for linguistic studies, providing rich material for the study of
Croatian and Old Slavonic languages, and social and comparative linguistics. Glagolitic heritage is
highly important for the study of cultural exchange and communication between eastern and western
cultural milieu in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
The "Glagolitic tradition" refers not only to the script, but also to the Old Slavonic (Church) language,
the Old Slavic liturgy and medieval, liturgical and non-liturgical literature, written mainly in
Glagoliza, an amalgam of the Croatian and Old Slavonic languages that united motives and forms of
the eastern (Byzantine) and western origins, with a gradually growing prevalence of the latter. This
entire complex of intertwining of the eastern origins and western superstructure, is usually known as -
e) Form and Style:
Glagolitic heritage exhibits aesthetic and stylistic characteristics of high value. The illumination of the
Croatian Glagolitic manuscripts is characteristic mainly of the liturgical codices written in the upright
script. From the 12th to the end of the 13th century the illumination of the manuscripts consisted
essentially of pen and brush drawings, and was limited to initials and ornaments. In parallel to this, in
the second half of the 14th century figurative motifs and miniatures began to appear as well. In the
second half of the 15th and at the beginning of the 16th centuries in the illumination of Glagolitic books
there are prevalent abstract geometric and stylized vegetal motives, that do not appear in Latin
manuscripts of that time.
Among the most beautiful illuminated Croatian Glagolitic manuscripts are the Missal of prince Novak
from 1368, the Missal of Hrvoje Vukčić from the early 15th century, the Codices of Bartol Krbavac
from the first decades of the 15th century and the two Vrbnik Missals of the 15th century.
Many of the documents are original. The collection of copies is the only almost complete collection of
The Glagolitic documents, books and stone monuments are almost integrally in existence, but
dispersed. The Glagolitic microfilm collection at the Croatian State Archives aims to re-establish the
integrity of the Glagolitic heritage.
5 LEGAL INFORMATION
5.1. Owner of the documentary heritage (name and contact details)
Croatian State Archives
Marulićev trg 21
5.2 Custodian of the documentary heritage (name and contact details, if different to owner)
Dr. Josip Kolanović (Head of the Croatian State Archives)
Croatian State Archives
Marulićev trg 21
5.3 Legal status:
(a) Category of ownership
(c) Copyright status
Copyright partly reserved to the owners.
(d) Responsible administration
Croatian State Archives
(e) Other factors
6 MANAGEMENT PLAN
6.1 The management plan consists of normal procedures for safeguarding of, and access to, the
holdings of state archives. Current preservation policy follows international best practice for the
preservation of archival documents. Originals and microfilms are stored in a facility adapted for long-
term preservation of paper documents and microforms. Because of the rarity and great significance of
the collection a safety copy of each unit in the collection is stored in a secure place. Environmental and
physical conditions are good.
As the collection covers some 90% of all Glagolitic texts it is planned to continue microfilming in
order to complete the collection. This preservation measure is highly important because the original
documents are kept by many different institutions and there is a risk that some of them could be lost.
In 2003, the project of systematic digitization is to begin which will enable on-line access to the
collection. The access will be improved by a database, i.e. on-line inventory of the whole collection.
Croatian State Archives
Croatian State Archives
(c) Relevant Regional or National Memory of the World Committee (if appropriate)
PART B – SUBSIDIARY INFORMATION
8 ASSESSMENT OF RISK
8.1 As the original manuscripts and documents are kept at many different institutions world-wide,
there is a risk that some of them be lost or unavailable. The ongoing project of microfilming and
digitization aims to prevent this.
9 ASSESSMENT OF PRESERVATION
9.1 Current preservation policy follows the international best practice for the preservation of archival
documents. Originals and microfilms are stored in a facility adapted for long-time preservation of
paper documents and microforms. Because of the rarity and great significance of the collection a
safety copy of each unit in the collection is stored in a secure place. Environmental and physical
conditions are good.
PART C - LODGEMENT
This nomination is lodged by:
(Please print name)………………………………………………………………………...