Historiography Connected With Cities: Historiography on Cities and in Cities

Prague City Archives; Institute of History of Academy of Science of the Czech Republic; Faculty of Humanities of the Charles University in Prague; Historical Institute of the J. E. Purkyně University, Ústí nad Labem; Masaryk Institute and Archives of Academy of Science of the Czech Republic
04.10.2016 - 05.10.2016
Martina Maříková / Jiří Smrž, Prague City Archives

The 35th anniversary international conference of Prague City archives was held in the Clam-Gallas Palace in Prague on the 4th and 5th October 2016. The main topic of the conference was the urban historiography from the Middle Ages to the present. Not only chronicles themselves and importance of their existence, but also the background of their genesis, authors` motivation for writing, selection criteria of described events or readers perception of such works were thoroughly discussed. In the opening, the roots, changes and function of urban historiography in the context of Czech lands, Holy Roman Empire and Europe generally were focused. Speakers made an agreement on the fact that no matter the form or narratives chosen, the chronicles used to co-establish the identity of each and every city character (PETER JOHANEK, Münster). Whereas the educative function was dominative in the old chronicles (MARIE BLÁHOVÁ, Prague), the 19th century works show the manifestation of national identity political goals (JIŘÍ PEŠEK, Prague).

Mostly particular chronicles written in the late Middle Ages and early modern period were presented in the following sections. Speakers described in that way the most important historiographical works of Cracow, Nuremberg (MICHAEL DIEFENBACHER, Nuremberg), Poznań (KRZYSZTOF RATAJCZAK, Poznań), Vienna (FERDINAND OPLL, Vienna), Silesia (KALINA MRÓZ-JABŁECKA / TOMASZ JABŁECKI, Wrocław), Hungary (VILIAM ČIČAJ, Bratislava) and Wrocław. Based on the chronicles of those cities, some particular questions of urban historiography, such as a choice of described themes and locations (WOJCIECH IWAŃCZAK, Kielce), used form and language or influences of authors’ education, social status (ZDZISŁAW NOGA, Cracow) and churchmanship on the concept of their works were generalized. Procopius the Scribe, who is known thanks to his law tracts, was presented also as the author of chronicles by JAN HRDINA and KATEŘINA JÍŠOVÁ (Prague). WOJCIECH MROZOWICZ (Wrocław) demonstrated the infiltration of national languages into Silesian literature in his speech. He claimed that demise of Latin language in the chronicles had been connected with stabilization of German patrician strata and change of city identity. Not only the reflection of printed newspapers in chronicles was discussed, but also the absence of information about Prague in Nuremberg chronicles was mentioned.

Presentations dedicated to Czech urban historiography in early modern period opened the question how much had the chronicles of entire kingdom focused on Prague and other cities. Analyses of chosen chronicles contents proved, that no matter the origin or social status of the author, Prague and townspeople play a central role of most of them (OLGA FEJTOVÁ, Prague). On the other hand, we can find some exceptions there, such as “Poselkyně starých příběhů českých” by Jan František Beckovský (ZDENĚK HOJDA, Prague). Entire overview of early-modern-period chronicles was rounded of by presentations about descriptions of historical events in works of humanistic poets (MARTA VACULÍNOVÁ, Prague) and chroniclers in the countryside (ALENA SOJKOVÁ, Prague). Following discussion focused on the rehabilitation of Hájek’s chronicle as a specific historical source (JIŘÍ PEŠEK, Prague) and history of the manuscript describing the rebellion of cities in 1547 (VÁCLAV LEDVINKA, Prague).

Historiographical works of protestant cities became another topic. Using the examples of Augsburg (WOLFGANG MÄHRLE, Stuttgart), Gdańsk, Levoča (ANDRÁS PÉTER SZABÓ, Budapest), Ulm (JULIA BRUCH, Cologne) and Zittau the reflection of confessional conflicts through the history of the Thirty Years' War was primarily researched. Descriptions of mostly local events were declared an integral part of chronicles of that period. Furthermore, Lutheran authors were interested in unusual incidents (for instance weather or astronomical effects). Mass production of chronicles in Upper Lusatian cities shows us, that writing and interpretation of wars and catastrophes were for the locals a way, how they handled with such situations (PETR HRACHOVEC, Prague). Similar function was played by motives from Prussian history golden eras and its Christianisation described in chronicles of Gdańsk. Readers were supposed to be encouraged in that way (ANNA MIKOŁAJEWSKA, Toruń) and this theme was used as an important argument for keeping of Prussian autonomy (MARCIN GRULKOWSKI, Gdańsk). Not only the influences of state historiography on urban historiography, but also the quantity of recipients of the local chronicles was thoroughly discussed.

Beside the chronicles, other forms of sources which could describe city history, such as memorial reports in the official books, poets about town festivities (KARL VOCELKA, Vienna), pamphlets or iconography were presented. MARIE TOŠNEROVÁ (Prague) outlined a typology of city memorial books and their evolutions based on frequency and quantity of chronicles records. The very next presentation came up with analysis of records content (HANA JORDÁNKOVÁ, Brno and LUDMILA SULITKOVÁ, Ústí nad Labem). This analysis was based on example of memorial reports in the official books of Brno and was focused on the authors´ intention to choose a particular event and quality of each description and its value as a key witness of everyday life in comparison with the private chronicles. WOLFGANG WÜST (Erlangen) emphasised the role of pamphlets as an instrument of newscast in the early modern period in his speech. In pamphlets we can find deeper interpretation of marginal events mainly in the chronicles. Johann Christopher Brotze’s unique iconographic collection of Livonian cities documenting their transformations during the 18th century was presented by TÕNIS LIIBEK and RAIMO PULLAT (Tallinn).

Final presentations were concerned in new impulses in urban historiography of the 19th and 20th century, taking into account as chronicles as the main feature of the forming national and local identities or official chronicles of cities and schools (MILADA SEKYRKOVÁ, Prague). First of all, biographies of cities (JAROSLAV IRA, Prague) and books published by city government (ŁUKASZ TOMASZ SROKA, Cracow) were mentioned. Speakers concluded that no matter the used genre, the main goals of all authors were of the same: the accentuation of national character of locality, deepening of the relationship between the townspeople and towns community and the defence of the current town administration. How JAROSLAV ALT and BLANKA ALTOVÁ (Prague) proved on the example of Kutná Hora, similar goals had influenced even the contemporary care of historical monuments. Another thoroughly discussed topic was the difference between attitudes of Pilsen and Munich government to editorship of municipal chronicle. Whereas the Pilsner administration ignored the law on the mandatory editorship of municipal chronicle (KAREL ŘEHÁČEK, Pilsen), existence of Jahrbuch der Landeshauptstadt München (since 1845) proved workability of similar projects in the big cities (BRIGITTE HUBER, Munich).

Karel Řeháček´s proposition of the main problem of municipal chronicles editorship in big cities (the conflict between archivers and employees of museums (potential authors) concerning the conception) was confirmed also by the former director of Prague City archives Václav Ledvinka (Prague) who has experience with the present state of debates.

This two-day conference proved that without regarding all changes and influences in the past, the role of the urban historiography in society is still unmodified. History description and its interpretations co-established the identity of townspeople and played an important role in presentation of their culture level and equality to the other cities. Pages of chronicles became a stage of hero acts and tragedies of nation which helped the readers to face up their social problems of everyday reality. Speakers made a consensus that (even today) chronicles are still current phenomenon which is not only a historical source, interesting for its subjective form and choice of described event, but also a very important counterpart to the modern newscast.

Conference Overview:

Conference Opening
Petr Jíša / Václav Ledvinka / Martin Holý / Marie Tošnerová (Prag), Michaela Hrubá (Ústí nad Labem)
Chair: Václav Ledvinka (Prague)

Jiří Pešek (Prague)

Marie Bláhová (Prague): Stadtgeschichtsschreibung in den böhmischen Ländern im Spätmittelalter
Peter Johanek (Münster): Anfänge und Wandlung städtischer Geschichtsschreibung im mittelalterlichen Deutschen Reich – Formen, Interessenbildung und pragmatische Funktion

Chair: Marie Bláhová (Prague)
Jan Hrdina / Kateřina Jíšová (Prague): Das historiographische Werk Prokops des Schreibers im Kontext seiner literarischen Tätigkeit und der Prager Geschichte des 15. Jahrhunderts
Wojciech Mrozowicz (Wrocław): Auf Latein oder auf Deutsch? Mittelalterliche städtische Geschichtsschreibung Schlesiens am Scheideweg
Wojciech Iwańczak (Kielce): Die Stadt im Werk von Johann Długosz

Chair: Karl Vocelka (Vienna)
Ferdinand Opll (Vienna): Stadtgeschichtsschreibung in einer und über eine Residenz in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit: Das Fallbeispiel Wien
András Péter Szabó (Budapest): Die mittelalterliche und frühneuzeitliche Geschichtsschreibung von Leutschau, ein Hauptort der städtischen Erinnerungskultur in Ungarn
Julia Bruch (Cologne): „Nun hab ich sollichs alle darum beschryben, damit man ain andermal wiss wie es sey gehandlet worden.“ Zur Konzeption städtischer Chronistik im 16. Jahrhundert

Chair: Jiří Pešek (Prague)
Michael Diefenbacher (Nuremberg): Die Nürnberger Chronistik im späten Mittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit
Marie Tošnerová (Prague): Die städtischen Gedenkbücher als Quelle der Stadtgeschichtsschreibung
Hana Jordánková (Brno) / Ludmila Sulitková (Ústí nad Labem): Halboffizielle und private Chroniken und Gedenkbücher aus der königlichen Stadt Brünn zu Beginn der Frühen Neuzeit

Chair: Wolfgang Wüst (Erlangen)
Zdzisław Noga (Cracow): Die Krakauer Chronisten des 16.–17. Jahrhunderts
Krzysztof Ratajczak (Poznań): The city chronicle of Poznań (1389–1793) as a source for social research (education, historical knowledge, literacy)
Marcin Grulkowski (Gdańsk): Das Problem der Christianisierung Polens, Preußens und Pommerns in der Danziger Geschichtsschreibung der Neuzeit

Chair: Marie Tošnerová (Prague)
Václav Ledvinka (Prague): Der Altstädter Kanzler Sixt von Ottersdorf und sein Buch über das unglückliche Schicksal des Böhmischen Königreichs, allermeist dann des städtischen Standes…
Olga Fejtová (Prague): Daniel Adam von Veleslavín – Historiker der Stadt und des städtischen Standes?
Zdeněk Hojda (Prague): Die Geschichte Prags in der Botin alter böhmischer Begebenheiten von Johann Franz Beckovský
Marta Vaculínová (Prague): Das Bild Prags in lateinischen literarischen Werken der Frühen Neuzeit

Chair: Ferdinand Opll (Vienna)
Wolfgang Mährle (Stuttgart): Geschichtsschreibung im Spannungsfeld von Politik und Konfession: Die Geschichte der Heiligen Römischen Reichs Freyen Stadt Augspurg (1743/58) von Paul IV. von Stetten
Wolfgang Wüst (Erlangen): „Stupor Urbis“: Städtische „Events“ in Text und Bild – Einblattdrucke als chronikalische Dokumente
Anna Mikołajewska (Thorn): „Bonae res neminem scandalizant“ – Christoph Hartknoch (1644–1687) und seine Kirchen-Historia in Zeiten des Umbruchs

Chair: Olga Fejtová (Prague)
Viliam Čičaj (Bratislava): Der bürgerliche Historiker und sein Hinterland in der Epoche der Neuzeit
Jiří Pešek (Prague): Die Böhmische Chronik von Václav Hájek von Libočany als Spiegel der „Zeitgeschichte“ der böhmischen Städte
Alena Sojková (Prague): „Praga caput regni“: Prag in den Einträgen der böhmischen Stadtchronisten am Ende des 16. Jahrhunderts

Chair: Zdzisław Noga (Cracow)
Kalina Mróz-Jabłecka / Tomasz Jabłecki (Wrocław): Die Stadt Breslau als „Schlesiens curieuse Denckwürdigkeit“? – Schlesische Chroniken des 17.–18. Jahrhunderts im Vergleich
Petr Hrachovec (Prague): Der Krieg als „causa scribendi“ der Stadtchroniken oder die Stadt Zittau zwischen dem Ständeaufstand und der Abtretung der Oberlausitz an Sachsen (1618–1635/37)
Karl Vocelka (Vienna): Eine wenig beachtete Quellengattung der Kulturgeschichte der Stadt Wien – Berichte und Dichtungen über höfische und bürgerliche Feste in der Regierungszeit Kaiser Maximilians II.

Chair: Hana Svatošová (Prague)
Jaroslav Ira (Prague): Historische Monographien der böhmischen, mährischen und galizischen Städte als Instrumente zur Formierung der Lokal- und Nationalidentität (1800–1900)
Łukasz Tomasz Sroka (Cracow): Municipal publications as a source for studies on the history of Galician cities in the 19th century (Krakow and Lviv in particular)
Karel Řeháček (Pilsen): Die Pilsner Gedenkbücher und Annalen
Jaroslav Alt / Blanka Altová (Prag): Die Gestaltung und Sichtbarmachung des städtischen Geschichtsbildes (Kuttenberg am Ende des langen 19. Jahrhunderts)

Chair: Jiří Pešek (Prague)
Tõnis Liibek / Raimo Pullat (Tallinn): Die Sammlung verschiedner Liefländischer Monumente, Prospecte und dergleichen von Joh. Chr. Brotze als wichtige Quelle zur baltischen Stadtgeschichte des 18. Jahrhunderts
Brigitte Huber (Munich): Das Jahrbuch der Landeshauptstadt München – eine einzigartige Quelle zum städtischen Leben im 19. Jahrhundert
Milada Sekyrková (Prague): Die Stadt und das Mädchen-Mittelschulwesen oder Die Chronik des Minerva-Gymnasiums erzählt…

Final Conclusions
Jiří Pešek (Prague)

Tagungsbericht: Historiography Connected With Cities: Historiography on Cities and in Cities, 04.10.2016 – 05.10.2016 Prag, in: H-Soz-Kult, 17.02.2017, <www.hsozkult.de/conferencereport/id/tagungsberichte-7008>.