The Manuscript of Dvůr Králové
The Manuscript of Zelená Hora

These pages are dedicated to the one special problem in Czech literature - the dispute over the authenticity of the Manuscript of Dvůr Králové and the Manuscript of Zelená Hora, precisely are these manuscripts from the Middle Ages or are they romantic falses from the 19th century?


The Manuscripts were introduced to English cousciouness by Sir John Bowring. In 1828 he printed review „History of Bohemian Literature." in „The Foreign Quarterly Review". In this review Bowring acquainted English world with Czech Literature and with aims of Czech National Revival. He also published translations of poems „Jelen (Stang)" and „Beneš Heřmanóv" from the Manuscript of Králové Dvůr. In 1830 followed next article „Manuscript of the Queen's Court, a collection of Old Bohemian Lyrico-Epic Songs, with other ancient Bohemian songs.". At last (in 1832) Bowring published a book „Cheskian Anthology: being of the poetical literature of Bohemia, with translated specimens." containing 270 pages with translations of Manuscript of Králové Dvůr and Manuscript of Zelená Hora.

Sir John Bowring about Czech Manuscripts.

We offer here a short information published first in 1936, being actual up to the present.

Manuscript of Dvůr Králové
(Manuscript of Queens Court, in Czech: Rukopis královédvorský - abbreviation RK)

The Manuscript of Dvůr Králové was discovered by Václav Hanka on 16th September 1817 in a tower of decanal church of Holy John Baptist in Králové Dvůr (Queen's Court, in west Bohemia), an old town of Czech queens. Now, the manuscript is deposited in Library of the National Museum in Prague under the collation 1 A b 6.
The manuscript has got seven parchments sheets with text on both sides. Two sheets are incomplete, cutted from 3/4 of sheet area, so that manuscript has got 24 complete pages and 4 the so-called „strips". Pages are of approximately equally greatness, their height is about 12 cm and their width is about 7-8 cm. Strips have a width of 2 cm. Number of lines varies between 31 and 33 lines per page. Parchment has a yellow-grey colour, with soil in some places. Usual writing is minuscule, it was written by an iron ink, in present days with yellow-brown colour, so it is indicated that fadeaway of ink is in a very advanced stadium. Manuscript is decorated by minium rubrications of chapters, by seven initiales and by 50 majuscule in text.

Full picture documentation of the manuscript is HERE

On the page 14 behind the big initial N begins poem „Čestmír a Vlaslav":

Czech version English translation

Neklan káže vstáti k vojně,
káže kněžeciemi slovy protiv Vlaslavu
Vstachu voje, vstachu k vojně,
vstachu na kněžecie slova
protiv Vlaslavu
Holedba sě Vlaslav kněz
vícestviem nad Neklanem
nad slavným knězem.
Pustiáše meč i oheň v krajiny Neklaniny
i hlásáše nad hrabivými meči svojich vojnóv
pohaněnie Neklanu.
V boj, Čtsmířě, vedi mé sbory!
Hadlivě ny pozývá nadutý Vlaslav.
I vsta Čmir i vzradova sě,
radostně sně svój ščít črn dvú zubú
i sně se ščítem i mlat i nepronikavý helm.

It was Neklan bad arise to war,
And Vlaslaw was the foe,
His host with princely high command
He bad against Vlaslaw go
The host arose, arose to war,
And Vlaslaw was the foe,
Arose at the princes' high command
Against Vlaslaw fierce to go.
Prince Vlaslaw did over Neklan boast
With vaunting proud and high,
Over Neklan over that prince renownred,
He'd won the victory.
And fire and sword he sent abroad
Into Neklan's land so wide,
And behind his warriors' robber swords
Neklan with scorn defied.
„Up, Czestmir! lead my bands to war!
Vlaslaw, puffed up with pride,
Hath spoken words of arrogance,
And us with scorn defied."
And Czestmir doth with joy arise,
And seizes his dark black shield,
His dark black shield two tusks adorn

The Manuscript has been decided to had been written at the end of the thirteenth century, though some of the poems are probably considerably older. It is only a fragment, they appear to have belonged to a far more extensive collection, of which they form the 26th, 27th, and 28th chapters.
Manuscript contains 14 songs: 6 epic (Oldřich, Beneš Heřmanóv, Jaroslav, Čestmír a Vlaslav, Ludiše a Lubor, Záboj), 2 lyric-epic (Zbyhoň, Jelen) and 6 lyric (Kytice, Jahody, Róže, Žezhulice, Opuštěná, Skřivánek). We call compositions of Manuscripts „songs" better than „poems", because they were sung accompanied by stringed instruments.

[Full text of the Manuscript of Dvůr Králové]

Manuscript of Zelená Hora
(Manuscript of Green Mountain, in Czech: Rukopis zelenohorský - abbreviation RZ)

Manuscript of Zelená Hora (near Nepomuk) was discovered in autumn 1817 by Josef Kovář on the castle Zelená Hora. Kovář sent it anonymoustly to the Supreme Purkrabí (Proconsul) of the Czech Kingdom earl Kolowrat as a gift for a newly established National Museum.
The origin of the Manuscript was not know, therefore it was called in accordance with its contents „The Judgement of Lubussa" (Libušin Soud). But in 1859 V. V. Tomek discovered its place of finding and the manuscript has been called Manuscript of the Zelená Hora. Now, the manuscript is deposited in the Library of National Museum in Prague under the collation 1 A b 1.
The manuscript consists of two parchments double-sheets, i.e. eight pages of text. Parchment is coarse and it is strongly damaged. The size of the double-sheet is 22.4 x 18 cm. Usual text was written by an iron-copper ink, in present time the text is of a green colour. The text has been decorated by four cinnabar initiales and by a great number of cinnabar majusculae. Manuscript has cinnabar rubrication opening letters of words, because the text is written without gaps - in continuo.

Photodocumentation of the manuscript is HERE

Page 4th starts with calling of Lechs on congress:

Czech version English translation

po Radovan ot Kamena Mosta,
po Jarožir ot Bred vletorěčných,
po Střezibor ot Sázavy ladny,
po Samorod se Mžě striebronosné,
po vsie kmeti, lechy i vladyky,
i po Chrudoš, i po Staglav,
bratry rozvaděma o dědiny otné.
Kda sě sněchu leši i vladyky
v Vyšegradě
prokní stúpi rozenia dle svégo.
Stúpi kněžna v bielestvúcí rízě,
stúpi na stól oten v slavně sněmě.
Dvě věglasně děvě
vyučeně věščbám Vítězovým,

Unto Radovan from Kamen Most,
Unto Jarozir from hills with water streaming,
Unto Strezibor from fair Sazava,
Unto Samorod from Mza, whose waves bear silver,
And unto all the Kmets, the Lechs and the Vladykas,
And to Chrudos and his brother Staglaw,
For their father's heritage contending.
When at length the Lechs and the Vladykas
In the Vysegrad were all assembled,
Each takes place according to his birthright.
Clad in glittering white her throne paternal
In the assembly grand ascends the princess.
Forth there issue pacing two wise maidens,
Well instructed in victorious science,

[Full text of the Manuscript of Zelená Hora]

(Česká společnost rukopisná)

Czech Manuscripts Society associates people, who are interested in Czech medieval manuscripts, namely about Manuscript of Králové Dvůr and Manuscript of Zelená Hora. The society was founded in 1932. The society is engaged in scientific research, it arranges lectures and publishes articles and books.

Contact address:
Česká společnost rukopisná
Jugoslávských partyzánů 21,
160 00 Praha 6
The Czech Republic