The Chronicle of Ulrich Richental as an Exceptional Source for the History of Slovakia
By Daniela Dvořáková
Historický časopis, Vol. 58, Supplement (2010)
Abstract: The study is devoted to the Chronicle of the Council of Konstanz by Ulrich Richental, in which he described the events of the Church council of 1414 – 1418. The chronicle is also known from the point of view of Slovak history in relation to its mentions of the territory of Slovakia, which prove that in the 15th century, the territory of Slovakia was perceived as special and ethnically different in the framework of the Kingdom of Hungary. in several places, Richental mentions noblemen, whose property was located in the territory of present-day Slovakia as lords “in Windischen länden”. A closer geographical location, such as on the river Váh, is sometimes given. in Richental’s Chronicle, apart from the name “Hungary”, also called in one place “Ungerland”, we also find Slovakia designated as “Windenland”. Richental’s mentions of Slovakia are very valuable, but so far more or less unknown in expert literature.
Introduction: Perhaps the most important or at least the most famous church council of the Middle Ages – the Council of Konstanz – gained its name from the previously quiet and littleknown, although relatively important and rich cathedral city on the shore of Lake Konstanz in Germany. The council brought the city permanent fame. from 1414 to 1418, Konstanz literally became the centre of Europe. On the initiative of the king and later Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg, the political and religious elite of Europe gathered here to solve the Papal schism, which had continued since 1378. Sigismund played an important role in organizing the council and bringing it to a successful conclusion. Ending the schism and getting a new Pope elected were a great political victory for him. On the other hand, the burning of Jan Hus, which he could not prevent, in spite of the letter guaranteeing the safety of Hus, became a great personal defeat for the monarch. It brought him almost two decades of struggle for the Czech crown, which he gained only a short time before his death in 1437.
Works concerned with the Council of Konstanz can now be counted in hundreds. Contemporary eye witnesses of the council left historians rich and comprehensive information in documents, letters and chronicles. One of the most interesting testimonies is the work of a burgher of Konstanz Ulrich Richental, who gave a straight forward account of everyday life in the city during the council, of things he saw, heard or learnt directly from participants in the council. His account was based on his own notes and on sources available to him thanks to his personal contacts.