William of Malmesbury on Pagan Slavic Oracles: New Sources for Slavic Paganism and its two Interpretations
Słupecki, Leszek Paweł
Studia Mythologica Slavica, Issue 2 (1999)
The article brings to the attention of the scholarly world a hardly known medieval source Gesta Regum Anglorum written by William of Malmesbury. Who was an early 12th century English benedictine monk from Malmesbury in Western England. The article revolves around the outmost relevance of William of Malmesbury to the study of pre-christian Slavic religion, and provides two interpretations of William’s account.
Many years ago, the Croatian slavist Vatroslav Jagić said that it would be worthwhile to hand over all the contemporary studies concerning Slavic religion for some new and truthful mediaeval texts, relevant to that topic. In 1982 Polish historian Aleksander Gieysztor expressed the same opinion.1 Unfortunately in the course of the 20th century no new sources about the Slavic religion have come to light. Today however, the Australian scholar Roman Zaroff discovered that William of Malmesbury’s Gesta Regum Anglorum is a text for which Jagić, Gieysztor and no doubt many others were searching. Gesta Regum Anglorum is of course a very well known source, but as far as we know nobody has introduced it into Slavonic religious research.