The Balkan Day Seminar at the British Library on 13 June will celebrate among others the life and literary accomplishments of Marko MaruliÄ (Marcus Marulus Spalatensis, 1450-1524) who was the central figure of a humanist circle from Split and the most highly-praised Croatian personality of his time. MaruliÄ has remained an inspiration to many generations in Croatia up to the present day, an author of considerable international influence and standing.
MaruliÄ wrote mainly treatises on Christian morality drawing on the scriptures, and as a lay person of wide interests he found inspiration for his work in ancient scholarship and in humanist literature. MaruliÄâs significant and long-lasting legacy consists of Latin and Croatian epic poetry.
De institutione bene uiuendi per exempla sanctorum (âInstructions on How to Lead a Virtuous Life Based on the Examples of the Saintsâ), is a collection of moral tales and anecdotes from the Old and New Testaments. The first edition was printed in Venice in 1507. During the 16th and 17th centuries it was printed in 15 known editions, giving proof of the popularity of this book. The above is a title page of the printer Adam Petriâs exquisite 1513 edition.
Title page of Euangelistarium (Cologne, 1529) 843.k.13.
Euangelistarium (Evangelistary) is a seven-book treatise on Christian ethics, considered as MaruliÄâs main theological work and printed in 15 known 16th century editions. The copy pictured above, printed by Eucharius Cervicornus in Cologne in 1529, belonged to Henry VIII and contains his manuscript notes; it came to the British (Museum) Library as part of the Old Royal Library.
Henry VIIIâs annotations in his copy of the Evangelistary (843.k.13.), with marginal notes and a drawing of a pointing hand to highlight the printed text, which reveals the kingâs interest in theology.
Title page of MaruliÄâs De humilitate et gloria Christi (4805.b.28.)
De humilitate et gloria Christi (âChristâs Humility and Gloryâ) is MaruliÄâs third major work on moral theology, printed with the aim of providing useful examples for a virtuous life. The copy pictured above was printed in Venice by Bernardino Vitali in 1519.
Latin was used in the Croatian lands until the mid-19th century, when the vernacular gradually replaced it in administration and as a literary language. Å ime JuriÄâs Latin bibliography, Iugoslaviae scriptores Latini recentioris aetatis: Pars 1, Opera scriptorum Latinorum natione Croatarum usque ad annum MDCCCXLVIII typis edita (Zagreb, 1968-71, ZF.9.b.735), lists over 4500 Croatian Latin works and works about Croatia to 1848. Croatiae auctores Latini, a digital collection of Croatian Latinists and Latin texts about Croatia, provides information on about 180 authors and Latin texts from a 10th-century epitaph to Ton Smerdelâs collection of poems Pontes lucentes (Zagreb, 1962, 11566.a.10.) and Ivan Golubâs Latin poems published in 1984. Over 50 Croatian Latin writers of all periods are represented in the British Library collection in the original and in subsequent editions and reprints.
âCarmen de doctrina Domini nostri Iesu Christi pendentis in cruceâ (âA Dialogue between a Christian and Christ hanging on the Crossâ) is a poem originally printed in the first edition of MaruliÄâs De institutione (Venice, 1507) and reprinted afterwards in all the Latin editions as an appendix. It was translated into English by Philip Howard (St Philip Howard), 13th earl of Arundel (1557-95) and serves as an introduction to his translation of An Epistle in the person of Christ to the faithfull soule by Johannes Justus Lansperger, which was secretly printed in England some time before 1595; the British Libraryâs copy (1019.c.35.) is pictured below.
In the late 15th and early 16th century poetry evolved in Croatian in addition to Latin. MaruliÄ is the author of the first printed secular work in Croatian, an epic, Judita, based on the Book of Judith, âu versih hrvacki sloÅ¾enaâ (âin Croatian versesâ), printed in Venice in 1521. Judita is written in the Ikavian variant of the Äakavian dialect (Äakavsko-ikavski). MaruliÄ wrote this epic for people who couldnât understand Latin: âTuj historiju ÄtuÄi, ulize mi u pamet da ju stumaÄim naÅ¡im jazikom, neka ju budu razumiti i oni ki nisu nauÄni knjige latinske aliti djaÄke.â
A digital version of Judita (Venice 1522, 2nd edition) is available from the Croatian National and University Library digital heritage.
Vita Divi Hieronymi (Life of St Jerome) is an autograph work by MaruliÄ dating from 1507. This is the title leaf of a codex on fine vellum which comprises 42 folios held in the British Library (Add. MS 18.029).
For further information about MaruliÄ, his bibliography and digital versions of his works, visit The Marulianum Marko MaruliÄ Institute in Split, Croatia. For the British Libraryâs holdings see our MaruliÄ catalogue.
Milan Grba, Lead Curator Southeast European Studies
Marko MaruliÄ, Judita. S drvorezima i inicijalima iz drugog izdanja, 1522. Predgovor napisao M. Kombol. Tekst Judite i tumaÄ Marcela KusÌara revidirao V. SÌtefanicÌ. (Zagreb, 1950) 11588.g.10.
Branko FranolicÌ, Works of Croatian Latinists recorded in the British Library General Catalogue. 2nd, enlarged ed. (Zagreb, New York, c1998). 2719.e.3669.
A. Clarke, âHenry VIII and Marko MaruliÄâs Evangelistariumâ Colloquia Maruliana 20 (2011), pp. 167-175. ZF.9.a.2999
M. Grba, âMarko Marulic and the British Libraryâ Colloquia Maruliana 20 (2011), pp. 197-226.