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New publication: Catalogue of the Górski Archive

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The Teki Górskiego – literally “Górski’s files” or “Górski’s folders” – are one of the most valuable manuscript collections held by the National Library of Poland and one of the most valuable collections of sixteenth-century correspondence in the world. Amongst its particularly precious contents are original letters by Popes Leo X and Adrian VI, the monarchs Francis I of France, Henry VIII of England and Louis II of Hungary, the Polish statesmen Johannes Dantiscus and Andrzej Krzycki, and the "Prince of the Humanists" Erasmus of Rotterdam.

Published in three volumes and containing some 1,800 pages, the Catalogue of the Górski Archive – published in Polish as Katalog rękopisów Biblioteki Narodowej. Seria 3, Zbiory Biblioteki Ordynacji Zamojskiej. T. 7, Teki Górskiego – provides a precise guide to the contents of the collection. It includes detailed descriptions of nearly 4,000 numbered items, containing nearly 4,500 texts. Individual descriptions give details of the senders and recipients of the letters (or documents, instructions), the dating, the type of document (original, draft, copy, and so on) and published editions of the texts in print or electronic form. The catalogue also contains two indexes, one of people, places and institutions, and the other of incipits – the first few words of each text.

The Teki Górskiego are a kind of editorial archive of the Acta Tomiciana (the multi-volume collection of political materials relating primarily to the times of King Sigismund I of Poland), which consist mainly of papers from the Royal Chancellery when it was headed by the Vice-Chancellor Piotr Tomicki (1515-1535). Stanisław Górski was one of the scribes employed by Tomicki at the time, responsible for preparing fair copies of letters and documents – a relatively lowly position in the hierarchy of Chancellery. Górski went on to work for several years as one of Queen Bona's secretaries. Later he focused his activities on ecclesiastical institutions, especially the Cathedral of Cracow, where he was installed as a Canon in 1539.

After Tomicki's death, Górski began to collect materials documenting the public service of his former patron in a systematic manner. Eventually he not only created a memorial to Tomicki but a panorama of the political history of Poland in the first half of the sixteenth century. He supplemented materials taken from the Royal Chancellery, including drafts of letters that were sent and the originals of letters received, with copies from various other sources, including record books containing official copies of outgoing Chancellery documentation, the Metrica Regni Poloniae.

After Górski's death, his archive was dispersed. The largest and most valuable part was housed in the private archive of Jan Zamoyski (1542-1605), Royal Chancellor and the first Zamość Ordynat. For several hundred years after that, the documents formed part of the Zamoyski family archive. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, the loose papers were arranged and placed into 29 different boxes, a division that has been preserved until today. The last Zamość Ordynat, Jan Zamoyski (1912-2002), handed over the Teki Górskiego along with the entire collection of the Library of the Zamość Entail to the National Library as a permanent loan after the Second World War. At the National Library, the manuscripts have from the very beginning been under the care of the staff of the Manuscripts Department (current BNP catalogue number: rps BOZ 2053). In recent years the documents have been made easily available to all readers via the digital library.

The author of the catalogue, Patryk Sapała from the Department of Manuscripts of the National Library of Poland, has presented the results of his research on the Teki Górskiego in the journal Polish Libraries in the article The Górski Archive (Teki Górskiego) at the National Library of Poland: A collection of letters and official documents pertaining to the reign of King Sigismund I Jagiellon.

The Catalogue of the Górski Archive is available from the online bookshop of the National Library of Poland.