Studies in the Relations between Politics and Culture in Polish History
Edited By Jacek Soszyński and Agnieszka Chamera-Nowak
The Book in the World of Politics: Early Literary Culture in Poland, 10th–12th Century
I. Latin literate culture and the book entered Poland during the tenth century, accompanying the introduction of Christianity as the official religion of the state. Until that time, pre-Polish society lived in the world of oral culture, transmission of ideas by word of mouth, and collective memory, amassing tradition and knowledge in this way only. On the other hand, Christianity was a “religion of the Book”. Its basic doctrinal, moral, and social principles were contained in sacred writings, which were the vehicles of divine revelation. The Scripture, or the Holy Bible, accompanied by a formidable number of explanatory texts, was indispensable to understanding sacred revelation, and for implementation of the requirements of the Christian religion in public and private life. Books were also necessary for the fulfilment of the divine service, praising God in appropriate words. In the case of the Western Christianity, the appropriate linguistic form was Latin.
Thus Christianity, which changed the Mediterranean world in late antiquity, brought Latin literary culture to the new societies, which comprised medieval Europe.1 ← 15 | 16 →
II. During the Middle Ages, Christianisation of a region in Europe was an act of politics. It depended on the decision of the ruler and the governing elite. This was the case with the Merovingian Franks in Gaul, where the decision was made by Clovis I, with various regions in Germany and Scandinavia, with the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the British Isles, with the Central European states of Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary,...
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