Francysk Skaryna (pronounced [franˈt͡sɨsk skaˈrɨna]; or Skoryna; Belarusian: Францыск (Францішак) Скарына) was a Belarusian famous as one of the first publishers in Eastern Europe, laying groundwork for the development of the Belarusian language. Francysk Skaryna - Famous figure of Belarusian Culture in the 16th century. One of the founders of Belarusian and Eastern European publishing. He was the first publisher and columnist of Scripture and liturgical texts, social activists, medical scientists, philosophers and humanists plus he was a translator and artist.
The exact date of his birth and death are unknown. However it is known that he lived in 1480s; the two most probable estimates are 1485–1540 and 1490–1551. He was born in the historical Belarusian city of Polatsk into the family of a wealthy merchant. Polatsk was a major trade and manufacturing center of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. His father was a merchant. Francysk Skaryna had a brother. His name was Ivan. He also was engaged in trade. The brothers had a property in Polatsk, perhaps it was an ancestral property.
Francysk Skaryna studied in a church school at St. Sophia Cathedral under the guidance of his spiritual father, the head of the school, a priest of St. Sophia Cathedral, Joseph. Possibly Joseph had another name, which also appeared in official documents as the name of Archpriest of St. Sophia Cathedral. This man was married, had children, and after his wife's death, he was tonsured a monk with the name of Joseph. Then he was elected as Archbishop of Polatsk, and later became Metropolitan of Kiev with residence in Vilnius and his name was known as Joseph III. When Francysk Skaryna completed his primary education in Polatsk he was influenced by Bernadine. In the end of the 15th century the Bernadine were popular in Polatsk and became influential in Lithuania. He studied in monk school of Bernadine and learned the Latin there.
Skaryna was a student of Krakow university. The education was in Latin. Skaryna graduated from the arts faculty at the University of Kraków in 1504 with a Bachelor of Arts. In 1512 he received doctorate in medicine at the University of Padua in Italy. In 1512 he was in Padua “a Longigquissimis partibus forsan per quattuor milia miliaria et ultra ab hac praeclara civitate, pro augmentando famam et honorem ad illam(Universitatem) se contulit” and after passing all required tests he got a PHD in medicine. Later Francysk Skaryna got a “atrium doctor” and “atrium bonarum doctor” degree . But the exact date and place is unknown.
In 1517 Francusk Skaryna came to Prague.(There is an assumption that Francysk Skaryna was a student of Charles University in Prague, however there is no documentation which could prove it) the same year he established a printing house in Prague. Skaryna published his scriptures not by the normal order as it was in the full Bible but by individual issue. The order was deeply thought out. The certain system was adapted to the priority needs of the people in that time.
On the 6th of August in 1517 his first edition was released in the Old Belarusian language “The Psalter”. “The Psalter” nearly comprises all, what was in other biblical books of Holy Scripture. “It contains everything people needed for the welfare of human life on earth.” Then he released a new book every two month ( 10th of September, 6th of October, 5th of December, 2nd of January. 1518 , 9th January, 19th of January) Then, on 10th of august he published 4 books at the same time.The culmination of his life's work was printing a translation of the Bible in 22 books during 1517 to 1519.
In 1520, in Prague, Bohemia, there was an epidemic of a dreaded lethal disease. As it was mentioned before, Skaryna was a doctor thus he became involved into efforts against this disease. The same year the epidemic subsided. In the autumn 1520 civil unrests took place in Bohemia and Francysk Skaryna left the country. He moved to the capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Vilnius.
In 1522 Francysk Skaryna opened the first printing house in Vilnius. Initially he published “The Little Travel Book”. Then in 1525 “Apostle” was published. "Apostol" was released in the same order as it is used in Orthodox worship now.
Skaryna married Margarita, the widow of a Vilnius city councilor. In 1529 he went to Poznan because of his brother’s death. There in Poznan he got his share of the goods due to the division of Ivan’s property.
The fire in Vilnius in 1530 destroyed three-quarters of the city, probably including Skaryna's publishing house.
In 1532 he was a doctor and secretary of the bishop in Vilnius. After two years the Lenders of his brother Ivan, considered Skaryna as the main brother’s heir and put him into Pazan jail. He was there for several months. It is a fact that Roman, Skaryna’s nephew, helped him in this situation. Roman had a meeting with the king. When Skaryna was released he sent a complaint letter with a counterclaim against the creditors to the King Sigismund I. Later in the response to the complaint letter, he was awarded two royal privilege certificates (from 21/XI and 25/XI 1532). In fact those certificates exempted him from the jurisdiction of all authorities except the King.
The last information about Francysk Skaryna is mentioned only in the archives of 1534. He moved from Vilnius to Prague. Probably he served in the royal garden in Prague until his death. According to some assumptions, Skaryna taught as a professor at the Charles University in Prague. It is possible however it is not a fact. Presumably he died in 1551 or 1552.
In 1552, his son Simeon Rus Skarina got a royal certificate according to which he, as the sole heir he was given all the property of the father. The property was such as manuscripts, letters and books.
Nowadays there is no answer to, who was Francysk Skaryna , Catholic or Orthodox. He never used words such as "Catholic" or "Orthodox" in his writings. He always just spoke about Christianity. In words of famous Michael Ulyahin : “to be able to study at the University of Kracow, Skarina had to hide his Orthodox, nee, name, Gregory, and be called a Roman Catholic, named Francis” However there is no evidence or official documents which confirms this information. More than that in the 16th century it was forbidden to mention the name of the first Belarusian publisher, and use his publications in Moscow Rus. The presumed cause is that Orthodox hierarchs suspected Protestant influence on his writings. Also the Orthodox theologians unanimously declared the influence of ideas of Luther on Skaryna.
It is known that there were two wars in the years 1492-1494 and 1500-1503. The wars were between Lithuania and Moscow Rus, especially between Alexander Cazimirovich and Ivan III. “Characteristic feature of high warring parties was that the first one was a devout Catholic, and the second - a consistent Orthodox” Therefore there was active attack of Catholicism on Orthodoxy governors in Polatsk.
The Bible was a common book in the Middle Ages. It was not just a religious and holy book. With the help of the Bible people learned how to write and read. Also they learned some parts of geography and history. Francysk Skaryna devoted his life to the publication of the biblical texts. He sought to make the Bible more available to the common people and write it an easy language. He was not only publishing books, also he wrote some preferences to them,as an example, in his prefaces Skaryna emphasizes that the purpose of his publishing activities is to help ordinary people " become acquainted with wisdom and science ". He always wrote some comments adding more information about the times that he described. All his comments, forewords and afterwords characterize him as a patriot, as active supporter of the spiritual and social unity of the people. He has a contribution to the development of Belarusian literary language. Skaryna’s Belarusian Bible is far ahead of similar publications from other nations. This Bible becoming the second, after the Czech, printed Bible in the Slavic world. He influenced in the development of Belarus, Eastern Slavic and Western science and culture in the 15th and 16th centuries.
In 1517 Skarina started his publishing career in Prague. He printed his Psalter, and then 22 books of the Old Testament under the common name Biblia Ruska. His books were not very characteristic for the West-European printed Bibles of that time. The reason is that all of them are published in the format of a fourth part of a leaf. Texts of the Bible are printed in the Church Slavonic Language with a big amount of Belarusian words. More than that Belarusian linguists can identify the influence of Polish and Czech languages.
Skarynas Bible breaks the existing rules of that time. It contains text from the publisher, his comments, forewords and afterwords. In addition it contains prints with his image. It is the first such case and the last in the history of the publication of Bibles in Eastern Europe.
All Skaryna’s editions are very rare, especially those published in Vilnius. Rare items are stored in libraries of Minsk, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev, Vilnius, Lviv, London, Prague, Copenhagen, Krakow.
Skaryna was one of the first to publish in the Cyrillic script, but not the first, as the Oktoikh was published by Schweipolt Fiol in 1491. While it was an Eastern Slavic language, it is difficult to determine precisely what language he used as there was no conventional Belarusian language as we know it today. Some researchers maintain that Skaryna's books were in Church Slavonic heavily saturated with Belarusian. Nevertheless, there is no doubt that Skaryna laid the foundations of the Belarusian literary language.
After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Minsk the capital of Belarus, had Skaryna Avenue (praspiekt Franciška Skaryny). However, in 2005, under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, it was renamed into Independence Avenue (praspekt Nezalezhnastsi). Old Barysau Path (Starabarysauski trakt) was renamed into Skaryna Street (vulica Skaryny).
- Streets are named by the name after Francysk Skaryna in Minsk, Polatsk, Vitebsk, Nesvizh, Orsha, Slutsk and many other cities of Belarus.
- Gomel State University is named after Francysk Skaryna.
- There are monuments to Francysk Skaryna in Polatsk, Minsk, Lida, Vilnius and Prague.
- There are special awards in Belarus: Skarina Medal (1989) and the Order of Skaryna (1995)
- In 1969 Boris Stepanov filmed a movie “Я, Францыск Скарына ” (I’m Francysk Skoryna).
- In 1991 Francysk Skaryna was depicted on the Soviet Union 1 rubble coin.
- Чалавек і грамадства: Энцыклапедычны даведнік. Мн: Беларуская Энцыклапедыя, 1998. ISBN 985-11-0108-7
- "Francisko Skoryna V Dile Ceskych Slavist",Frantiska Sokolova,Norodni Knihovna v Praze, Prague, 1992 , ISBN 80-7050-183-3
- Полная биография Георгия (Доктора медицинских и свободных наук Франциска) Скорины,Михаил Уляхин,Полоцк,1994,
- "Актовая запись об установлении уполномоченного для кредитора ИВАНА СКОРИНЫ от 12 апреля 1532г., г.Познань". Strannik.tv. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "привелигированная грамота короля ПОЛЬШИ И Великого князя ЛИТОВСКОГО СИГИЗМУНДА I в защиту Ф. СКОРИНЫ от 21 ноября 1532г., г.Краков". Strannik.tv. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- http://strannik.tv/skorina-dok.htm#ex34 Вторая привелегированная грамота короля КОРОЛЯ ПОЛЬШИ И Великого князя Литовского СИГИЗМУНДА I в защиту Ф. СКОРИНЫ от 25 ноября 1532г., г.Краков
- "Francisko Skoryna V Dile Ceskych Slavist",Frantiska Sokolova,Norodni Knihovna v Praze, Prague, 1992 , page 163 ISBN 80-7050-183-3
- "Доверительная грамота короля ФЕРДИНАНДА I,выданная сыну Ф. СКОРИНЫ СИМЕОНУ от 29 января 1552г., г.Прага". Strannik.tv. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- История Беларуси : вторая половина XIII — первая половина XVI в. : учеб. пособие для 7-го кл. общеобразоват. учреждений с рус. яз. обучения / Г. В. Штыхов, Ю. Н. Бохан, М. А. Краснова ; под ред. Ю. Н. Бохана. — Минск: Нар. асвета, 2009.ISBN 978-985-03-1189-4
- FRANCISK SKORINA: A JOURNEY TO THE FATHERLAND
- Treasures of the National Library - Moscow, retrieved on November 3, 2007.
- "Gomel Fr. Scaryna State University Official World-Wide Web Site". Gsu.by. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
- "1 ruble 1991, Soviet Union, Francysk Skaryna". Coinsmoscow.ru. 2013-03-14. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Francysk Skaryna|