Croatian Glagolitic Script© by Darko Zubrinic, Zagreb (1995)
In the history of Croatian people three scripts were in use:
Today the Croats are using exclusively the Latin Script.
The Arabica was also in use among the Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina. It was in fact the Arabic script used for the Croatian language and it constitutes the so-called Adjami or Aljamiado literature, similarly as in SpainF. Its first sources in Croatia go back to the 15th century. One of the oldest texts is a love song called Chirvat-türkisi (Croatian song) from 1588, written by a certain Mehmed. This manuscript is kept in the National Library in Vienna. Except for literature Arabica was also used in religious schools and administration. Of course, it was in much lesser use than other scripts. The last book in Arabica was printed in 1941.
It is important to emphasize that the earliest known texts of Croatian literature written in the Latin script (14th century) have traces of Church-slavonic influences. Hence, Croatian glagolitic, Cyrillic and Latin traditions cannot be viewed as separated entities. We know that Middle Age Croatian scriptoriums were polygraphic (for example in Zadar and Krk), see [Malic, Na izvorima..., pp 35-56].
Jewels of the Croatian glagolitic culture:
he Croatian Glagolitic alphabet has a long and interesting history of more than a thousand years. The Croats using the Glagolitic alphabet were the only nation in Europe who was given a special permission by Pope Innocent IV (in 1248) to use their own language and this script in liturgy. More precisely, this permission had formally been given to the bishop Philip of Senj. However, special care accorded by the Vatican to the Glagolitic liturgy in subsequent centuries (even by publishing several Glagolitic missals in Rome), shows that this privilege applied to all Croatian lands using the Glagolitic liturgy, mostly along the coast. As is well known, the Latin had been the privileged language in religious ceremonies in the Catholic Church until the 2nd Vatican Synod kept in 1962-1965, when it was decided to allow vernacular national languages to be used in the Catholic liturgy instead of Latin. It is interesting that even today the Glagolitic liturgy is used in some Croatian churches.
In 1252 the Pope Innocent IV allowed Benedictine Glagolitic monks in Omisalj on the largest Croatian island of Krk to use the Croatian Church-Slavonic liturgy and the Glagolitic Script instead of Latin.
The Rules of St. Benedict, written in Croatian Glagolitic Script in 14th century, are among the earliest known translation of Benedictine rules from Latin into a living language (Croatian Church-Slavonic). Altogether 60 pages are preserved out of 70, that Benedictines had to know by heart. For more information see Regula sv. Benedikta.
We also know that Croatian Glagolitic Benedictines existed in the city of Krk, and on the island of Pasman near Zadar. Even more peculiar was the existence of Benedictines on the island of Brac near Split, in Povlja, who used the Croatian Church-Slavonic liturgy, and - the Croatian Cyrillic Script! It should be noted that members of the Benedictine monastic order were strict followers of the Latin liturgy and of the Latin language and script everywhere in Europe - except in parts of the Croatian littoral.
According to rev. Ivan Ostojic, outstanding specialist on the history of benedictines in Croatia, in 13th and 14th centuries Croatia had as many as 70 known benedictine monasteries for monks, and more than 20 for nuns. This represented tremendous intellectual force in Croatia. Recall the benedictine motto - Ora et labora. See [Gregory Peroche], p. 40.
ery important monument, containing an inscription written in the Croatian Glagolitic alphabet is a stone tablet - Bascanska ploca (Baska Stone Tablet), dating from the end of 11th century, found in the church of St. Lucy near the town of Baska on the island of Krk. It contains about 400 Glagolitic characters (dimensions of the tablet: 2x1 sq.m, 800 kg). Its particular importance lies in the following three words carved in stone:
Zvonimir, Croatian King (note that there are no spacings between words)
Table of Croatian Glagolitic Script on the Baška Tablet. The Latex font created by D.Ž., using METAFONT.
You can see them in the third line - Z'v'nimir', kral' hr'vat'sk'y, in the most solemn position on the tablet, perfectly centered. Very few nations in Europe can boast of having such an extensive written monument in their vernacular language (with some elements of Church Slavonic) as early as the 11th century.
Look at the
There are clear indications that the origin of the famous historical source Sclavorum Regnum, known as Ljetopis popa Dukljanina and Croatian Chronicle, was written in the Glagolitic script. This very old text represents the earliest known historiographical work about Croats and the earliest known literary text in Croatian language.
ne 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 also introduced the institution of witnesses. It was unique in Europe by determining moral protection and integrity of women. The Vinodol Code does not allow torture during legal proceedings, and is considered to be 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 1843. 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 (Jules Preux: La Loi du Vinodol traduite et annotée // Nouv. rev. hist. du droit français et étranger. - 1896).
The code was published in many European countries: it was translated into at least nine languages. Some of them are Russian (1846, 1878), Polish (1856), French (1896), German (1931, 1987), Italian (1987). For more information see here, and at the Croatian National and University Library in Zagreb.
Vinodolski zakon 1288, scrollable book, National and University Library, Zagreb
The Statute of Vinodol from 1288, British Croatian Review No. 14, May 1978, in English, with commentaries (Ante Cuvalo web site)
There are many other important legal documents regarding medieval Croatia, of which mention should be made
Source: Dr. Petar Karlić: Statut lige kotara ninskoga 1103 [PDF], Mjesečnik pravničkog društva u Zagrebu, 1913.
We know of several Croatian city statutes written in the Glagolitic Script:
In the Krk Diocese there were several parishes with glagolitic village chapters: Baska, Dobrinj, Omisalj, and Vrbnik (on the island of Krk), and Beli, Lubenice, Valun (on the island of Cres).
Except for the very rich sacral literature, there are thousands of other documents proving that the Glagolitic alphabet was also used in the administration and in private communication.
The oldest known Croatian nonliturgical verses (10 poems) are from 1380, written in cakavian dialect in the Glagolitic collection Code Slave 11, which is now kept in Bibliothéque Nationale, Paris.
Glagolitic inscription containing the year 1330 (in the third line), when the church of St. Martin in Senj was built.
On the photo Mrs. Mirna Lipovac.
The oldest Croatian church containing a glagolitic inscription denoting the year when it was built (the year also being carved in glagolitic letters) is the church of St. Martin in the city of Senj. The indicated year is 1330; see the above photo. It is the oldest such church not only in Croatia, but in general. Information by the courtesy of Darijo Tikulin, Zadar.
We provide a photo of fragment of a Croation Glagolitic Breviary, written circa A.D. 1225. It is kept in London, in the British Museum Add. 31951, folio 1. (from A History of Writing, Albertine Gaur).
One may note the angular forms of the glyphs (typical Croatian) and the coloring of numerous letters, similar to various Latin codices. Croatia was/is normally under Latin sway. The above photo represents the right-hand column of the front page. The whole page can be seen here: [JPG]. Source of the photo and of the description is www.biblical-data.org.
king Charles IV of Luxemburg built a Glagolitic
convent Emaus (na
Slovaneh) in Prague in 1347,
where eighty Croatian Benedictines
from the island of Pasman (near the city of Zadar) or Senj were
invited. It is remarkable that
the convent is not far from the famous Charles University, built the
next year, in 1348 (Charles IV also founded the University of Vienna in
1365). One of the Glagolitic books from this convent (Emaus) in Prague
came to Reims in 1574, where according to a legend for centuries
the French kings (Charles
IX, Henri II, Louis XIII, Louis XIV) were sworn in by putting their
hands on this holy book, known under the name Texte
du Sacre or L'Évangile
(So we swear, vow and promise on the Holy and True Cross and on the Gospel that we touch.)
Precious stones, relics, and a part of the true Cross disappeared from the cover of the book during the French revolution. See [Gregory Peroche], p. 62.
Let us cite the following passage from [Castellan, Vidan, p. 31]:
..Selon divers récits, l'Évangéliaire aurait servi lors du sacre des rois de France, notamment ceux de Francois II et Charles IV, puis d'Henri II, Louis XIII et Louis XIV qui "posèrent la main sur son texte en pronoçant la formule du serment" (L. Paris).
In 1485/46 a French pilgrim Gheorge Langherand wrote that in Zadar he heard a "Sclavonic" sermon, that is, a Croatian Glagolitic mass. In 1549 a French Franciscan and cosmograph Andre Thevet noted the prayer "Oce nas" (Our Father) in Croatian language. See [Raukar], p. 360.
According to the renowned Czech linguist Nemec, the influence that the Croatian glagolites in Prague had on the formation of orthography of the Czech language was "neither big nor negligible". The Polish king Vladislaw II Jagiello also opened a Glagolitic convent in Krakow (Kleparz) in 1390, where the Glagolitic priests were active for almost 100 years. His wife Jadviga was of the Croatian descent.
As a young man Charles IV visited for several days the Croatian coastal town of Senj in 1337, when he was only 21. In this important Glagolitic center, with the unique Roman Catholic cathedral where only the Glagolitic liturgy in Croatian Churchslavonic language had been served (instead of Latin rite), he made friends with the nobleman Bartolomej Frankapan. Frankapan supplied him with military escort on his journey to Tirol, where he was to meet his brother.
Zrin-Frankapan heritage in Croatia: 126
fortresses, castles and bourgs
There exist even earlier important traces of cultural contacts between Czechs and Croats, going back to 10th and 11th centuries. If you visit Prague, we recommend you to see the famous monastery in Sazava, just 60 km from Prague. There you can find the "Croatian room", describing in detail the presence of the Croatian glagolites in Czechia. For additional information see here.
It is worth noting that the famous Czech lexicographer Bartolomej z'Hlouce, better known as Kloret (14/15th centuries), wrote his Latin - Czech dictionary where Latin words are translated into Czech, while words of the Greek or Hebrew origin are translated - into Croatian! For example: sanctus -> svat, hagios -> svet.
The 14th century Czech philosopher Jan z'Holesova wrote in his tractate about the religious song "Hospodine, pomiluj ny" (= "God, have mercy on us", sung even today), that it contains many Croatian words (like hospodine = gospodine). Moreover, he even states that the Czech language and nation stem from the Croats: ...nos Bohemi et genere et lingua originaliter processimus a Charvatis, ut nostrae chronicae dicunt seu testantur, et ideo nostrum boemicale ydioma de genere suo est charvaticum ydioma..., see [Hercigonja, Povijest hrvatske knjizevnosti. II, p. 63].
A Czech chronicler Pulkava from 14th century (died in 1380) mentions that "to this day bishops, as well as priests, serve the Holly Mass and other rituals in their slavic language in Archdioceses and provinces of Split, Dubrovnik and Zadar." See [Strgacic].
The oldest known Croatian Glagolitic Bible is mentioned already in 1380 in a document from the Zadar archives which mentions "...una Biblia in sclavica lingua", see [Runje, O knjigama..., and his article in [Iskoni bje slovo, p 58, and Grbin's paper, p 116]. Unfortunately, we do not know if the Bible is preserved. From the same archives there is another testimony written in 1389, mentioning "unus libear Alexandri paruus in letter sclaua... Item unus Rimancius scriptus parrtim in latino, partin in sclauo".
An existing Glagolitic Bible is mentioned by the Italian scholar Giovanni Batista Palatino in his book from 1545.
We also know of another handwritten Croatian Glagolitic Bible prepared by Nikola Mojzes from the island of Cres. We know this from Primoz Trubar's foreword to Stipan Konzul's 1557 translation of the New Testament, see [Jembrih]. A Glagolitic Bible in possession of Bernardin Frankapan in the beginning of 16th century is mentioned in [Bratulic, Leksikon..., p. 150], and that were no news about its destiny. Was this the Zadar Glagolitic Bible?
A Croatian Glagolitic Bible had existed in the town of Beli on the island of Cres, according to a source from 1480 (see [Hercigonja, Povijest hrvatske knjizevnosti 2, p 84]). An inventory from 1624, written in Italian, describes the book as follows: "Una biblia, in schiavo in bergamina". According to [Stefanic, Determinante hrvatskog glagolizma, p 27], the minutes of visitations from 1579 and 1609 mention a Croatian Glagolitic Bible in Omisalj on the island of Krk. Many thanks to dr. Vesna Stipcevic for this information.
Glagolitic Missal written in the
It has been shown that very early systematic redaction of Croatian Church Slavonic Bible had existed already in the 12th century, see [J. Rienhart].
Croatian Glagolitic Dominican priest Beniamin
born probably in Split,
participated in the preparation of Gennadij's
Bible, the oldest
Russian Bible (finished in 1499). He was the chief collaborator of the
Novgorod Archbishop Gennadij, where he spent about 20 years
(~1490-1510), at that time the capital of Russia. Beniamin translated
large portions from the Latin text of Vulgata into Russian (e.g. the
Book of Macabians, the Ezra sermons and some other). It is therefore
not surprising that some elements of the Croatian language can be
traced in this oldest Russian Bible. Beniamin translated also other
western books into Russian. Until his arrival Russia was in contact
almost exclusively with Byzantine culture. See [Gregory
Peroche], p. 69.
The Missal of Prince Novak from 1368 is considered as a rare and valuable monument of Croatian Glagolitic cultural heritage. It is kept in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The book was written in Krbava (now a part of Lika). Many specialists say that this is the most beautiful Glagolitic book. Facsimile edition is planned to be published in the near future in Austria.
Some outstanding specialists (like Petar Runje and Eduard Hercigonja) believe that Hrvoje's missal was very probably written in Zadar, by a nobleman Butko pok. Budislava (i.e. son of late Budislav), born in the town of Nin, who lived in Zadar since the end of 14th century, see Runje's paper in [Iskoni bye slovo, p. 63]. Zadar at that time is a city of high European culture, see here.
Hervoiae ducis Spalatensis Croatico-Glagoliticum
Hrvoje Vukcic Hrvatinic was the duke of Bosnia, a Croat who belonged to Krstyans (members of the Bosnian Church), a Christian religious sect about which we still know very little. Hrvoje also left us another very interesting book, Missal for Krstyans, written in the Croatian Cyrillic Script (ikavian dialect) by Hval in 1404, which is now kept in the University Library in Bologna. This beautiful book is a translation from the Glagolitic original. Moreover, Glagolitic letters can be found on two places.
According to Croatian researcher Josip Hamm, members of the Bosnian Church (Krstyans) particularly appreciated the Glagolitic Script: all the important Bosnian Church books (Nikoljsko evandjelje, Sreckovicevo evandelje, the Manuscript of Hval, the Manuscript of Krstyanin Radosav, etc.) are based on Croatian Glagolitic Church books.
Due to testimonies of Ivan Zovko written in 1899 we also know that Croatian women in Bosnia - Herzegovina had an old custom to embroider Crotian Glagolitic letters.
Here are some of very interesting Croatian Glagolitic monuments from Bosnia and Herzegovina that I scanned:
t is worth mentioning that some Russian monks had been using the Glagolitic as a secret Script. The latest known case dates back to the 17th century. Even today some children in Croatia use it for the same purpose. And some of my students as well...
The most preserved is the copy from the Berčić collection, kept in Sankt Peterburg. There are also seven fragments (pages) of the incunabulum, three of them printed on vellum. See [Nazor, Hrvatskoglagoljske inkunabule, 1993See [Nazor, Hrvatskoglagoljske inkunabule, 1993.] for more details] for more details. All 430 pp of the book can be scrolled via the web pages of the National and University Library, Zagreb, Croatia.
The first incunabulum printed in the Croatian language and in the Latin Script was the Lectionary of Bernardin of Split, published in Venice in 1495. There is no doubt that it was created on the basis of earlier Glagolitic lectionaries.
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 if we consider that at that time (by the end of the 15th century) invasions of the Ottoman Empire began. We know that the Croats participated in preparation of as many as 150 incunabula in Croatia and western Europe in the period between 1474 and 1500 (i.e. books printed during the earliest period of printing, 1455 - 1500).
There are altogether 71 printed Croatian glagolitic editions in the period from 1483 till 1812 (the so called old-printed glagolitic editions, which do not include Parcic's 1893 missal and several later editions, named so by [Kruming] - in Russian: staropecatnye glagoliceskie knigi). According to Kruming's classification, there are
The Russian National Library in St. Petersburg is in possession of important Bercic Collection of Croatian Glagolitic manuscripts and books from 13th to 18th century.
us mention the name of Dobric
Dobricevic (Boninus de Boninis
de Ragusia), Ragusan
born on the island of Lastovo, 1454-1528, who worked as a typographer
in Venice, Verona, Brescia. His last years he spent as the dean of the
Cathedral church in Treviso. His bilingual (Latin - Italian) editions
of "Aesopus moralisatus, Dante's "Cantica" and "Commedia del Divino"
were printed first in Brescia in 1487, and then also in Lyon, France.
We know of about 50 of his editions, the greatest number belonging to
the period of 1483-1491 that he spent in Brescia - about 40. Croatia is
in possession of 19 of his editions in 30 copies. The greatest number
of his editions is in possession of the British Museum, London (22).
ccording to the views of most Slavic scholars, the Glagolitic Script was created by St. Cyrill in the second half of the 9th century. Not all scholars agree on this point. Some of them believe that it must have existed earlier, and that it had a natural development over a much longer period. In any case, some of its letters are quite close to the corresponding ones from very old oriental scripts: South-Semitic, Samaritan (an old Hebrew Script), the Cretan linear A and B, Armenian and others. Some are of the opinion that the appearance of this Script in this part of Europe was due to extensive migrations from the East. The question of the origins of the Glagolitic Script seems to be still a difficult open problem. In the earliest period it also existed in Ukraine, Bulgaria and Macedonia, but only until the 12th century, when the Cyrillic Script (which is essentially a Greek Script) became predominant.
The Glagolitic Script began to acquire a new, angular form in the 12th century, usually referred to as the Croatian Script. The round form was also present on earliest Croatian Glagolitic monuments. Let us list more than 30 of the most important Croatian Glagolitic documents written in the round Glagolitic or round/angular Glagolitic in the earliest period (11th and 12th centuries). First those written on parchment:
As shown by dr. Agnezija Pantelic, Kiev and Sinai folia were used used in the Dubrovnik Diocese by the end of 11th century (see [O Kijevskim i Sinajskim...]. The rest are 18 inscriptions from the 11-12th centuries, carved in stone in the round or the round/angular Glagolitic. It is of interest to stress that Glagolitic monuments carved in stone exist only among the Croats (in today's Croatia and parts of BiH), nowhere else. For more information see Croatian Glagolitic heritage in the region of Dubrovnik.
It is possible that the following monuments should be added to the above list:
Source: [Dekovic, Svetokrizki odlomak]
The above list shows that the name ``Bulgarian Glagolitic'' or ``Macedonian Glagolitic'' for the oldest form of the Glagolitic Script is not fully justified.
The Split fragment of the Glagolitic missal, dating from the 12/13th century,
according to Slavko Kovačić has been written in the Split Archdiocese.
Investigations of the oldest forms of the Glagolitic Script performed by Dr. Marica Cuncic in her Ph.D. thesis (1985) have led to the discovery of triangular form of the Glagolitic (with triangular shapes occurring in most of the letters), dating from the 9th and 10th century. Its remnants can be found in the Croatian Glagolitic inscriptions - for example on the Valun tablet, Krk tablet, and Plomin tablet (from the islands of Cres, Krk and Istrian peninsula respectively, all from 10th century according to dr. Cuncic), and also on some other oldest Croatian Glagolitic monuments. By transforming the triangles into circles the round type has developed. All three forms can be seen on the Baska Tablet (Bascanska ploca), also in handwritten books as well as in printed books. Hence, the Glagolitic script evolved from the triangular form:
Several outstanding European scholars mention Croatian Glagolitic script in their books already in 16th and 17th centuries:
se bili u gori zelenoj?
Here is the same text in Croatian Cyrillic quickscript (with slight differences):
se bili u gori zelenoi
In 1584, Slovenian grammarian Adam Bohorič published his most important book Arcticae horulae succisivae (Free Winter Hours) in Wittenberg in Germany in the Latin language, in which there is a table of Croatian Glagolitic Script. Its characters are called Croatian or Glagolitic letters, with a detailed presentation of this script:
Literae Croaticae seu
More extensive information about Croatian Glagolitic introduction
contained at the beginning of the Bohorič grammar from 1584.
The Croats possess an extensive collection of more than 800 legal documents, statutes etc., written in the vernacular between 1100 and the end of 16th century - more than any other Slav nation. This extremely important collection of muniments called Acta Croatica (or listine hrvatske) represents a rich source for the study of the Medieval Croatian language. Most of the documents are written in Glagolitic, some also in Croatian Cyrillic and Latin. "Acta Croatica" is to be published by the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts. The first two incomplete editions were published in 1863 and 1898.
The Croatian Glagolitic Script has hundreds of extraordinary ligatures, resembling real buildings, connecting two, three and sometimes even four or five letters. They had been in extensive use in both handwritten and printed books, and especially in the Croatian Glagolitic quick-script. The Brozich breviary alone, which is a printed book (1561), contains as many as 250 different ligatures. The Croatian Glagolitic Script has very probably more ligatures than any other script in history.
The broken ligatures created by Blaz Baromic (14/15th centuries) represent a unique phenomenon in the history of European printing. The idea was to add one half of a letter to another. This possibility arose from the architecture of Glagolitic letters. Broken ligatures appear in two incunabula: the Baromic breviary printed in Venice in 1493, and the Baromic missal printed in the Croatian city of Senj in 1494. When looking at their pages, one has the impression as if they are handwritten. It is fascinating that the Senj printing house had been active despite the onslaughts of the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Baromić breviary from 1493 which appeared at an auction in London [PDF] in 2015.
Who is the proprietor of this Croatian incunabulum?
know of altogether five
Croatian Glagolitic incunabula,
whose samples are kept in Zagreb,
Washington, the Vatican, St Petersburg, Schwarzau, München,
Budapest, Venice, Sibiu
(Roumania), plus one lost incunabulum (from
1492, written by Matej Zadranin). In the period between 1483 and 1561
altogether 21 titles of printed Glagolitic books were issued. The lost
1492 incunabulum (Ispovid opcena) was printed in Bologna, as we know
from the note written in the Tkon collection from ¨1520.
esides of city of Senj, Zadar was also an important Glagolitic center during centuries. It is interesting that in numerous Zadar churches - St Marija, St Donat, St Stjepan, St Mihovil and other - also the Glagolitic mass was served besides Latin. The same is true even for the Zadar cathedral of St Stosija. See [Runje].
Thousands of books were printed in the Croatian Glagolitic and some in the Croatian Cyrillic Script during the past centuries, many of them with the generous help of 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 Cathecismus prepared by the Croatian Glagolitic priest Stipan Konzul from Istria and printed in the German city of Tübingen in 1561, it is explicitly stated to be written in the Crobatischen Sprach (Croatian language). It is interesting that several editions were printed for Italians living in Istria (of course, in Italian and in the Latin script).
The last Croatian Glagolitic book (Missal) was printed in Rome in 1905.
It is little known that a rescript of Austrian-Hungarian King Ferdinand I (1515-1564) granted the Burgenland Croats in Austria, who had to escape before the Turks, the right to choose their own priests who practiced God's service in Croatian vernacular language, and with holly books written in the Glagolitic. This privileges had been cancelled after his death, and since 1569 the Glagolitic was officially forbidden in Croatian parishes in Burgenland in Austria (Gradisce). See Miroslav Vuk-Croata: Hrvatske Bozicnice, HKD Sv. Jernoma, Zagreb 1995, p. 167.
The Glagolitic alphabet represents maybe the most interesting cultural monument of Croatia. Our Glagolitic books (written and printed) and other Glagolitic monuments are scattered in many national libraries and museums of the World, in as many as 27 countries, in nearly 80 cities outside of Croatia:
The New York
written in the
region of Zadar or Lika-Krbava,
now in the
possession of the Pierpont
Morgan Library in New York.
Reprinted by Verlag Otto Sagner Verlag
(Munich) in 1977 with an introduction by Henrik Birnbaum (USA).
You can see more about some outstanding Croats in the Middle ages who used the Glagolitic Script:
pelling of Glagolitic Letters, with the corresponding numerical values, according to George d'Esclavonie (Juraj iz Slavonije, ~1355-1416), Glagolitic priest and university professor on Sorbonne in Paris (his manuscripts are kept in the Municipal library in Tours, France; in his accompanying text he wrote: Istud alphabetum est Chrawaticum -This is a Croatian Alphabet):
Table of the Croatian Glagolitic Script written by Juraj Slovinac (Jurja iz Slavonije, George d'Esclavonie) handwritten by the end of 1390s in Paris, at the famous University of Sorbonne. Juraj writes Istud alphabetum est chrawaticum (This is Croatian Alphabet!), see boxed below the table. The number above Jus is 5000, not 4000, since 5 at that time was written similarly as we write 4 today (information by the courtesy of Darijo Tikulin, Zadar).
Please, note well that Glagolitic letters appear naturally in groups of nine: first we have nine glagolitic letters representing 1, 2,..., 9 (az - zemla), then 10, 20,..., 90 (izhe - pokoi), then 100, 200,..., 900 (r'ci - ci), and finally thousands, which start with 1000 (ccrv). It is natural to assume, following this scheme, that the prothoglagolitic had nine values for thousands, and not only five (ccrv, sha, jer, jat, jus, jest-je): 1000, 2000,..., 9000. In other words, the prothoglagolitic seems to have had altogether four groups of nine letters:
Information by mr. Dario Tikulin, amateur from Zadar, who has his own reconstruction of three letters in Croatian glagolitic for special sounds, which went out of written practice long ago. Mr. Tikulin also informed me that Simun Kozicic Zadranin (or Benja, Begnius; around 1460-1536) in his Glagolitic book Knjižice od žitja rimskih arhireov i cesarov printed in Rijeka in 1531, used the Glagolitic jus in the meaning of the number 5000 (on p 3, line 5 from below). Here it is
It is interesting that as a rule, Croatian Glagolitic letter zelo (8) is oriented to the left, not to the right. This discovery has been incited by a question of Mr. Milan Pajičić (then a secondary school student) from Vukovar in 2005, during a basic course of the Croatian Glagolitic Script in the Vukvoar Library delivered by D.Ž.
One of preserved manuscripts of George de Sorbonne is kept in the Municipal Library of Tours, France. It contains standard prayers like:Istria eadem patria Chrawati. My deepest gratitude go to academician Franjo Sanjek and dr. Dragica Malic for their studies about George (Juraj), and for facsimiles.
You can see a fragmentary, yet impressive list of the most important Glagolitic monuments over the centuries (in Croatian).
Jewels of the Croatian glagolitic culture:
It is generally believed, even by specialists, that the last letter of Croatian Glagolitic is Jus. However, this is not true. There is (at least) one more letter, coming after Jus, which is Jest - je (as spelled by George de Sorbonne). Ten important Croatian Glagolitic abecedariums (they contain 32 - 33 letters) confirm this:
Until 14th century in Croatian glagolitic alphabet Yat was on position 26 (with numerical value 800) and Shcha on position 31. By the end of 14th century they change their positions, so that since then it was Scha that had numerical value 800 instead of Yat. See [Fucic, Glagoljski natpisi p.14], and also [Fucic, Brojevi u glagoljici].
An important personality in the history of Glagolitic script is Dragutin Antun Parcic, a 19th century lexicographer, linguist and Glagolitic priest.
Places to visit in Croatia, possessing Glagolitic monuments:
We provide several tables of various types of Glagolitic characters:
A siginificant property of Croatian Glagolitic Script is that the caracters are not standing above the baseline (like in the Latin Script, Greek or Cyrillic), but rather they hang like a laundry on the rope. This can be clearly seen on the following examples (look at the coordinate net drawn by Glagolitic scribes prior to writing):
It is very probable that some Glagolitic documents are kept in private collections. I would deeply appreciate any such information.
According to Marin Tadin, Oxford Bodleian Glagolitic Missals (from Canconici collection) have large initials that are of considerable artistic merit.
In 1626 the archbishop of Zadar informed the Congreation de Propaganda Fide that in Dalmatia ther were 113 (hundred and thirteen) catholic parishes in which Glagolitic liturgical books were used. See [Krasic, p. 82].
Glagolitic monuments on the web:
Important projects for the future:
Remarks. Some of the most outstanding Encyclopedias in the world contain errors in the presentation of the Croatian Glagolitic Script. As an illustration, we consider the Encyclopedia Britannica only. There it is stated that our national script has no ligatures. However, there are hundreds of them in handwritten books (and their remains) preserved from the 13th to 16th centuries. Another mistake is that the golden period of the Croatian glagolism falls in the 16th and 17th centuries, which should be corrected to 12-16th centuries. The 16th century represents already the beginning of the fall of this script, which is closely related to the Ottoman occupation of large parts of Croatia, and consequently, the enormous material impoverishment of the Croats. It is also claimed that "The oldest extant secular materials in Glagolitic date from 1309." Such materials have existed only in Croatia, nowhere else. I do not know what secular materials from 1309 Encyclopedia Britannica has in mind. If "secular" means "non liturgical", than the oldest known such material is the muniment of "famous Dragoslav" from January 1, 1100 (yes, eleven hundred) where the towns of Vrbnik and Dobrinj on the island of Krk are mentioned for the first time. It is also claimed that Glagolitic script "is still used, however, in the Slavonic liturgy in some Dalmatian and Montenegrin communities." For Montenegrin communities this is not true. Some of the above mentioned errors have obviously been taken from monographs of a British palaeographer David Diringer, and are still uncritically spread by other scholars. Finally, no mention of the Croatian Cyrillic Script was made in any of the encyclopaediae I consulted so far.
Some of important Crotian glagolitic monuments have been destroyed by Italian irredenta, especially in the period of Italian occupation between 1919 and 1943. In Istria various glagolitic inscriptions were destroyed with sledge and chisel: in Lindar, on the cemetery in Mutovrana, in the parish church of St. Juraj in Plomin, on the Sovinjak belltower, in the Church of St. Antun in Vrh, three glagolitic monuments in Hum (one of them at the very entrance, left of the city gates), and other, see [Zgaljic] p. 39. During the Italian occupation of islands of Losinj and Cres the last Glagolitic priest was Frane Krivicic from Valun. In 1930 the Glagolitic mass was still served in several places on the island of Cres, but in secret. See [Milanovic, pp 88-89].
Aleksandar Belich, a linguist from Belgrade, has been probably the only one who tried to attach the Serbian name to the Croatian Glagolitic ("serbo-croatian" Glagolitic, in 1915 and 1926).