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Johannes de Thurocz

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Johannes de Thurocz

Johannes de Thurocz (Hungarian: Thuróczy János; Slovak: Ján z Turca or Ján de Turocz, German: Johannes de Thurocz, variant contemporary spelling: de Thwrocz) (c. 1435 - 1488/1489), was a Hungarian[1][2] historian and the author of Chronicle of the Hungarians (Chronica Hungarorum), the most extensive 15th-century work on Hungary, and the first chronicle on Hungary written by a layman.


Thurocz's parents came from Turóc county (formerly Thurocz), Upper Hungary (today Turiec region, Slovakia) where they were members of a yeoman family recorded since the first half of the 13th century (the village of Nedožery). Johannes' uncle Andreas received a property at Pýr as a donation from King Sigismund of Luxembourg, and Johannes' father Peter inherited this estate.

Thurocz was educated in a Premonstratensian monastery in Šahy (Ipolyság), where he studied Latin and law. In 1465 he appeared in Buda, as a prosecutor of the Premonstratensian monastery of Šahy. From 1467 to 1475 he served as a notary of the "country judge" Ladislas of Pavlovce, from 1476 to 1486 as the main notary of the country judge Stephen Báthory at the royal court, and from 1486 to 1488 as a head notary and judge of the royal personnel clerk Thomas Drági. No evidence of any university studies have been preserved, and it is possible that the title "magister" in front of his name was merely a polite title for an official or civil servant.

Thurocz's Chronicle

Matthias Corvinus as depicted in Chronica Hungarorum by Johannes de Thurocz
The first page of Thuroczy chronicle

The chronicle was written in three main parts:

The 1st part is Thurocz's interpretation of a poem by Lorenzo de Monacis of Venice. It deals with the rule of King Charles II of Hungary, and was probably written on the initiative of Thurocz's superior Stephen of Haserhag (the general notary of the Royal court), or perhaps of the country judge Thomas Drági. Physically, this part is attached to part c) below.

The 2nd part was written in 1486 and describes the deeds of Hungarian kings up to Louis the Great. This part in turn consists of three sub-sections:

  • a) the so-called Hunnish chronicle based on old Hungarian chronicles (Chronicon Pictum, Buda Chronicle) and preserved manuscripts, in which Thurocz attempts to correct the errors of his predecessors;
  • b) an interpretation of the history of the Hungarian Kingdom from 895 (arrival of the Magyars) until the rule of King Charles I of Hungary (1307-42);
  • c) a history of part of the reign of King Louis I the Great (1342-82), which arose through incorporation of a chronicle written by Ján of Šarišské Sokolovce.

The 3rd part describes events from the death of King Charles II the Small (who died in 1386) until the conquest of Vienna and Wiener Neustadt by King Matthias Corvinus in August 1487; this can be considered Thurocz's own original work, and was mostly written in early 1487. It was inspired by the famous historico-geographical lexicon Cosmographia by Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini and was based largely on existing diplomatic documents and letters. However, information from the Cosmographia was selected somewhat one-sidedly and haphazardly.

According to his own words in the dedication to his work, Johannes de Turocz had no ambitions to be a historian. In fact, his chronicle contains many errors and omits a number of significant events. Besides more reliable sources, the work relies extensively on oral tradition, folk songs and anecdotes, and contains many references to "miraculous" events and wonders.

Destiny and fortune play a significant role in history as seen by Thurocz. Like many of his contemporaries he was convinced of the close relationship between human fortune, historical events and the motion of celestial bodies.

Thurocz sought an explanation of a number of events in the moral imperative. He gave much attention to describing the inner feelings of historical characters, but had an evident tendency to idealize the Hungarian heroes Attila and Matthias Corvinus, while degrading the significance of Hungary's queens.

Early editions of the chronicle

The first editions of Chronica Hungarorum by Johannes de Thurocz were published in 1488 in Brno, (Moravia) and in Augsburg. Further editions followed over the following centuries in Frankfurt, Vienna, Nagyszombat and Buda.

Heraldry of Corvinus as depicted in the 1490 German manuscript of Johannes de Thurocz's chronicle
  • The Brno edition, published 20 March 1488, printed by Couradus Stahel and Matthias Preinlein. One copy is preserved at the Biblioteca Mănăstirii Brâncoveanu in Romania; a second at Graz University Library, Austria; and a third in Braşov, Romania (Parohia evanghelică C. A. Biserica Neagră 1251/2).
  • The Augsburg (Augusta Vindelicorum) edition, dated [3 Jun.] 1488 Publisher Erhard Ratdolt for Theobald Feger, a citizen of Buda.

Illuminations the hand coloured woodcut illustrations (55), the initial letters Inc C 75, accession number F 1450/76 Slovak National Library at Matica slovenská in Martin, Slovakia, the second edition, Augsburgian, 2. version (variant) and Bucharest, National Library of Romania, Inc. I 41 Data apariţiei:Datare sigura: 03/07/1488 III Non. Jun. [3 Jun.] 1488

  • German 1490 manuscript - one copy at Heidelberg (Cod. Pal. germ. 156); another at Cambridge (Mass.), Houghton Libr., (Ms. Ger. 43 [formerly Nikolsburg, Fürstl. Dietrichsteinsche Bibl., Cod. II 138]).

See also


  1. ^ The Papacy and the Levant. DIANE Publishing. 1978. p. 182.  
  2. ^ Lucian Boia, Great historians from antiquity to 1800: an international dictionary, Volume 1, Greenwood Press, 1989, p. 207

External links

  • J. Thuróczy, Chronicle of the Hungarians, trans. F. Mantello (Bloomington: Indiana University Research Institute for Inner Asian Studies, 1991).
  • The German illuminated manuscript and the German text
  • The original Latin text of the chronicle
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