Protracted Beginnings or an Artistic Big Bang? The Problem of the Setting of the Cult of St Adalberts Relics in Gniezno around the Year 1000
Przeciągający się początek czy artystyczny „wielki wybuch"? Pytania o oprawę kultu relikwii św. Wojciecha w Gnieźnie około roku 1000
Languages of publication
The numerous hypotheses on the micro- and macroarchitectural setting of the cult of St Adalberts relics around the year 1000 roughly oscillate between two approaches. On the one hand, scholars draw a picture of increased investment before the Congress of Gniezno or immediately afterwards. As a result, a modest castle church would have been rapidly remodelled into an imposing shrine of the patron saint of the newly established Polish Church province. An opposing view, on the other hand, proposes that there was a quarter of a century of inertia in implementing suitable artistic and functional solutions. The purpose of the present paper is to re-examine the source materials that formed the basis for the proponents of both hypotheses. In the first part of the argument, the author examines the current state of archaeological research, in particular questioning the reconstruction of the earliest phases of the church and St Adalberts grave, which has recently been propagated by Tomasz faniak, a leading specialist in the field. Next, the author evaluates the perspectives provided by the interpretation of written sources, routinely quoted in this context. Analysed were relevant fragments of the Chronicle by Thietmar of Merseburg, of the so-called Passion q/*7egernsee and the third (C) version of the first Life of St Adalbert (known as Vzfa prior). The author did not dwell on the next most-often quoted source, i.e. an extract from the Chronicie o/ the Czechs by Cosmas of Prague, a topic she had already discussed at length elsewhere (see note 9). There is, however, no clear view of building and artistic undertakings around the turn of the second millennium emerging from these literary sources. Rather, the short mentions encountered in hagiographic and historical texts turn out to be astonishingly flexible when used to corroborate quite disparate opinions. As in the case of architectural relics, also here, the irreconcilable views are far from verifiable. At the end, the author expresses her opinion on the attempts at compensating for the lack of documentary evidence with arguments related to the socio-political context of the alleged foundational activities - or the lack thereof - around the year 1000. A mere glimpse at the animated discussion concerning the origins of Polish statehood and Church organisation assures one that the 'historical facts called upon in the discussion boil down to a jigsaw puzzle of contesting, multi-layered hypotheses. The conclusion is: neither of the two hypotheses under discussion can be proved on the basis of the available documentary.
Publication order reference