Start page

Mykola Zharkikh (Kyiv)

Personal site


"Bychowiec chronicle" (1560-s)

Nicholas Zharkikh

The story compilations works begins from the "Bychowiec chronicle" – a work that stands on the edge of the traditional "Lithuanian" chronicles and later full-length compilations.

I repeat – I think the name of the product is extremely unfortunate. Bielski chronicle wrote Bielski, Stryjkowski chronicle – Stryjkowski. But Bychowiec had not writed any chronicle – he just was the last owner of its manuscript. Therefore, I prefer to call it Lit1L.

In previous chapters we have repeatedly drawn attention, that Lit1L delivers studied texts in special editions, often significantly different from the basic. Besides Lit1L has 46 pages of modern printing, whereas the most extensive "Lithuanian" chronicle – up to 28 such pages. In view of the losses at the beginning and at the end of Lit1L one can assume that its volume is twice that of other "Lithuanian" chronicles, and we need to find out what the new material brought in Lit1L.


1. Author Lit1L used a number of written sources, among which we can confidently call Lit0L (or some of its copy), the Galician-Volhynian chronicle 13th century, copies Lit6L, Vit4L. As part of the 1383 – 1454 years actively used Chronicle M. Cromer, published in 1555. In describing the events 1503 – 1506 years one have traces of the use some Moscow chronicle.

Therefore, it is advisable to treat Lit1L not as the latest edition of "Lithuanian" chronicle, but as the first compilatory work written on the eve of a general move to the author’s work.

2. The text of Lit1L compared to other "Lithuanian" chronicles genealogically is the most recent: it contains expressive borrowings of the previous texts, and from it any annals borrowed nothing. Therefore, we can assume that it is late not only genealogically, but chronologically too. Dependence on Cromer shows us that Lit1L could not been created before 1555, and only later, in the 1550-s or even the 1560-s.

3. While significant fragments of the text "Lithuanian" chronicles rewritten in the Lit1L, from Cromer author mostly chose only some of the details, which are frame, and cling to that frame its own extensive narrative. They are all inventions of the author Lit1L and can not be any historical source.

4. The tendency of these inventions sufficiently expressive – praise of the Great Duchy of Lithuania, kind of Lithuanian nationalism.

5. Lit1L is irrelevant historical source. Up to the end of the 15th century it contains (except for borrowing from previous works) only own imagination of the author. The text of the late 15th – early 16th century, which is considered by many authors the original and authentic, requires careful checking with other sources. Somehow it is not clear where the author of the 1560-s could took the details of the events that took place on 50 – 70 years earlier.

6. The high literary value makes Lit1L interesting object for in the history of literature research, historiography and history of social thought.