Alexander Gwagnini’s work is one of the first books which acquainted the West-European reader with the history of Belarusian lands and the customs and culture of our people. By the way, the author’s biography, Italian by origin, includes “Belarusian pages” as well. For a long time (18 years) he had served as a military commandant of Vitebsk being engaged in local military defence works, and he was also a eyewitness and direct participant of the Livonian War described in his book.
Alexander Gwagnini’s chronicles printed in the 16th–18th centuries are on dispaly. Among them there is the second Latin edition of the Sarmatiae europeae descriptio… (A Description of Sarmatian Europe…) published by Bernhard Albin printing house in Spira (modern Speyer in Germany). The exhibition presents two copies of this early printed book which in spite of the same year of issue (1581) features different engravings in the title-pages.
The exhibition also presents the first Polish edition of Kronika Sarmacyey Europskiey… (A Description of Sarmatian Europe…) published in Krakow, 1611, by Nicolay Lob’s printing house. By the way, this edition was widely known in the territory of Belarus and Ukraine. The volume (852 pages) consists of ten parts-books every of which has the title-page and the author’s foreword with dedication to known persons of Rzech Pospolita. The edition is remarkable for a rich design and a great number of engravings with the images of historical heroes and princes, arms and battle stages and scenes of everyday life. The author’s portrait and family arms are placed at the beginning of the book.
A Description of Sarmatian Europe was a demanded edition available in library collections of Belarusian and Polish princes, magnates and gentry. A copy of the book from the Radzivills’ collection in Nesvizh is kept in the National Library of Belarus.
For more information please call: (375 17) 293 27 22.