Death of King John

Author unknown
Genre Poem, Psalter
Keywords 14th century, 16th century, Battle of Crécy, Bohemia, King John of Bohemia´s death, Manuscripts, Old Prints
Title (in Czech) [Smrt krále Jana]
Title (in English translation) [Death of King John]
Editor Svobodová, Andrea
Translator Turek, Matouš – Gráfová, Sarah – Čermák, Jan
Edited source Old Print, Prague, National Library of the Czech Republic, 54 K 15.192, ff. E7v–F2r
Introduction Biederman, Jan – Žůrek, Václav
TEI P5 XML Encoding Mocňák, Michal – Svoboda, Ondřej – Lehečka, Boris – Tichý, Ondřej
Summary of content A poem about the King John of Bohemia´s death at the battle of Crécy in 1346.
Show edition

Introduction to the Text

This anonymous poem, often referred to by historians as The Poem on the Battle of Crécy, is a remarkable testimony to the historical memory of the Battle of Crécy in 1346. Its main theme is the loyalty of the Bohemian knights to King John of Bohemia in the moments before his death at the battlein battle. For this reason, several literary critics quite fittingly refer to the poem as The Death of King John, the title that is used here.

 

Introduction to the Source

The poem was preserved only as an insert in the History of Emperor Charles the Fourth (‘Historie o císaři Karlovi, toho jména Čtvrtém’), written in Czech by Bohemian historian Prokop Lupáč of Hlavačov (1530–1587) and printed in Prague in 1584 by Jiří Černý (alias Nigrin) of Černý Most. Six copies have come down to us (see the Database Knihopis, no. K05060, section Further reading).

The text itself is something of a riddle. Linguistically, Jan Gebauer and others suggest its origins may be dated to the 14th century, most likely to its last quarter, but, given the text’s later preservation a more exact dating is problematic. It is also unclear whether the poem was preserved in full; this may be just a fragment from a much longer poem on the Battle.

 

About this Edition

The Death of King John attracted the attention of philologists and literary scholars particularly in the 19th century, when it was published three times in its entirety, albeit, with very differing editorial approaches (see the section Existing editions). The transcription by Andrea Svobodová was prepared on the basis of principles for critical editions (the exemplar stored in the National Library of the Czech Republic in Prague under shelf-mark 54 K 15.192 being the one that was used).

 

Existing Editions

Šafařík, Pavel Josef, editor. Smrt krále Jana [The Death of King John], in: Wýbor z literatury české, vol. 1. Nákladem Českého museum, 1845, cols. 1179–1184 [standardized transcription].

Hanka, Václav, editor. Historia o císaři Karlovi, toho jména Čtvrtém, králi Českém: též posloupný pořádek vůdcův, knížat a králův slavného království Českého: sepsána a nově vůbec vydána od M. Prokopa Lupáče z Hlavačova [A History of Emperor Charles, the Fourth of that Name, King of Bohemia]. A. C. Kronberger, 1848, pp. 63–67 [transcription in accordance with the printed edition].

Jireček, Josef, editor. O bitvě u Kresčaku [On the Battle of Crécy], in: Prameny dějin českých (Fontes Rerum Bohemicarum), vol. 3. Nákladem nadání Františka Palackého, 1882, pp. 238–240 [reconstructed transcription].

Biederman, Jan and Žůrek, Václav, editors. The Death of King John, in: The Battle od Crécy: A Casebook, eds. Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries. Liverpool University Press 2015, pp. 240–247, 385–388 [semi-diplomatic transcription].

 

Existing Translations

Turek, Matouš, translator. The Death of King John, in: The Battle od Crécy: A Casebook, edds. Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries. Liverpool University Press 2015, pp. 240–247, 385–388.

 

Literature Cited in the Edition

Vlček, Emanuel: Jak zemřeli: významné osobnosti českých dějin z pohledu antropologie a lékařství. Praha 1993.

Žalud, Zdeněk: Několik poznámek k české účasti v bitvě u Kresčaku, in: Husitský Tábor 14, 2004, pp. 227–240.

 

Further Reading

Biederman, Jan and Žůrek, Václav, editors, Turek, Matouš, translator. The Death of King John, in: The Battle od Crécy: A Casebook, eds. Michael Livingston and Kelly DeVries. Liverpool University Press 2015, pp. 240–247, 385–388.

  • a historical analysis of the poem accompanied by a semi-diplomatic transcription and English translation of the text

Jakobson, Roman: “Old Czech Verse”, in: Medieval Slavic Studies, 1934, pp. 417–465.

  • an essay on medieval Czech poetry

Knihopis: KPS – Databáze Knihopis. http://www.knihopis.cz/. Retrieved on February 19, 2021.

  • a database of the incunables between 1476–1500 and old prints between 1501–1800 printed in Bohemia

 

Credits

Transcription by Andrea Svobodová, with the help of Milada Homolková, Karel Komárek, and Ondřej Koupil.

Edition

Czech original and English translation
National Library of the Czech Republic</repository 54 K 15.192

MECZ [online], Death of King John, ed. unknown, trans. Překladatel, Franta. KREAS Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Retrieved 16.09.2021, from https://mecz.kreas.ff.cuni.cz/publication/death-of-king-john/ Bibtex citation

You might be interested in

Now, you shoemakers of the new faith

Author: unknown

Prologue to the Book of Psalms in Old Czech Printed Bibles

Author: unknown

The Houselholder

Author: Tomáš Štítný of Štítné