MNISHOWSKY ONCE MORE
Jan. B. Hurych
Recently, mysterious Dr. Raphael Mnishowsky (Mnišovský in Czech) once again popped up unexpectedly in my mind. I was talking with one of my friends about one book and not remembering neither the title nor the author, I just could not identify it to him, only by quoting some things from its content. Unfortunately, it did not help: my friend never read the book. I returned home and almost instantly I remembered the file where the book was mentioned by name as well with the name of the author . . .
And then, I realized how must have been confused Mnishowsky when Marci was asking him about the VM - the VM has no author nor the title and provided Mnishowsky never saw the VM, it would be quite impossible for him to identify the VM with one particular manuscript owned by Rudolph II. Marci who of course saw the VM at his friend Baresch, probably described the pictures there, the script, the details. But nothing would have worked, Mnishowsky might have seen some books in Emperor's library but none of them would really fit the vague description of the VM . . .
But that is not how the meting went. How do we know? Let's analyze the only record of what was said to Marci by Mnishowsky, in the famous letter by Marci to Kircher:
"Dr. Raphael, tutor in the Bohemian language to Ferdinand III, then King of Bohemia, told me the said book had belonged to the Emperor Rudolph and that he presented the bearer who brought him the book 600 ducats. He believed the author was Roger Bacon, the Englishman." ( I am quoting here the translation as presented on René Zandbergen's page, j.h.)."
From that is obvious:
1) Dr. Raphael is none other than Raphael Mnishowsky, the tutor, etc., the historical person.
2) Marci quotes the words Mnishowsky personally told him
3) There is no maybe: Mnishowsky said he knew Rudolph owned the VM
4) With the same certainty, he "knew" Rudolph paid the "bearer" 600 ducats for the book
Then we have not so clear statement in the last sentence:
We can take the words "he believed" as three different possibilities. Who did "believe"? Was it just Rudolph, Mnishowsky or even the bearer of the book? All three persons were mentioned in the preceding sentence. To that sentence is apparently also related the next sentence by Marci: "On this point I suspend judgment; it is your place to define for us what view we should take thereon .. (quote as from above source, j.h.):
Well, there we have it: Marci did not doubt the VM is the one Mnishowsky was talking about nor that it was owned by Rudolph. He actually only doubts the Bacon's authorship. I have to admit that originally I suspected Marci thought that all Mnishowsky told him was just as court rumor. That was till I read the statement in the book by R.J.W.Evans,The making of the Habsburg monarchy, where he quotes Mnishowsky as saying he was "seeking out manuscripts associated with Rudolph and working in monastery libraries.." So I re-read the letter and realized Mnishowsky knew what he was talking about.
Of course, we can again take the word "associated" two ways:
1) He got license by Rudolph to look for old manuscripts for him. That is quite possible since in 1602 already published (mostly his) Czech translation of Paprocki's book with his own part about monasteries added (he was 22 years old then and Rudolph abdicated in 1611), or
2) After Rudolph's death, he was looking in different places for remains of Rudolph's library which was in disarray after 1612. In that time, part of it was already sold by Emperor Mathias and the rest was later taken as a war booty by Swedes in 1648 (when Mnishowsky was already four years dead).
Strange as it looks, both possibilities are supported by additional fact - that is Mnishowsky must have seen the manuscript, as we already concluded above. True, he mioght have seen it somewhere but more likely, he might have been connected with the VM even more directly
. In the first case, he might have been himself the "bearer" of the VM to Rudolph (bringing with him the "Bacon theory", either overheard or by his own opinion). That is also supported be the fact that he knew the price so well.
The second point is even more intriguing: if Mnishowsky found the VM after Rudolph's death, could it be him who actually procured it for Baresch? It ir really suspicious that neither Baresch nor Marci ever mentioned how Baresch got the VM. Marci may have not know nor guessed but Baresch surely knew how he got it but would not tell either. Of course, Mnishowsky was also Imperial officer of confiscations (after the defeat of Bohemian uprising) and Baresch surely would not want to compromise him.
There is only one snug with both theories: that is the name of Horczicky written in the VM. Today we know it is not his signature nor exlibris but that it was written by some other hand. Interestingly enough our handwriting analysis (see our article "The signatures of Horczicky and their comparison") has found only one handwriting which was closest to that in the VM "signature": the handwriting of Mnishowsky, as we compared it from his book "Construction sive strues Trithemiana". . .