Kristina Štrkalj Despot (Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics, Zagreb 10000, Croatia )
Linguistics and Literature Studies: 1 (2): 123-134, (2013)
The first part of the article gives a brief overview of the history of Croatian literacy up to the first written record of poetry in the Old Croatian language. The second part of the article is an overview of the four most important collections of early Croatian verse written in the Old Croatian language: the Glagolitic Parisian Songbook (1380), Picić’s Hymnal in Latin script (1471), Klimantović’s Glagolitic cycle of eschatological poems (1501–1514), and the Osor-Hvar Miscellany (1533). Picić’s Hymnal and the Osor-Hvar Miscellany’s entire contents are presented, as they are both trilingual (Croatian – Latin – Italian) and can therefore represent the paradigm of medieval Croatian multilingualism.
The literary scene in unitary Medieval Europe, where the same poets wrote both in Latin and in their own vernaculars, has been and still is the subject of both scholarly and public intensive interest. However, information on the development of literacy, language, and literature in the Croatian cultural and historical area (on the eastern Adriatic coast and at the very edge of the Roman Empire) has never been included in overviews of European Medievalism, despite the fact that it would make an interesting chapter due to the parallel use of three scripts (Latin, Glagolitic and Cyrillic) and four languages (Latin, Old Church Slavonic and Old Croatian, with the addition of Italian in the 16th century). Multilingualism and multiscriptism are the most relevant and distinctive characteristics of Croatian Medievalism.