Podcast in English
Bulgarian National Radio © 2022 All Rights Reserved

The Kingdom of the Slavs by Mauro Orbini, phototype edition

Photo: Архив
In 1601 the book The Kingdom of the Slavs was published in the Italian city of Pesaro. Its author was a historian from Dubrovnik, Mauro Orbini, a Benedictine monk from the Holy Virgin Monastery in the island of Mlet. In the preface to the 474-page book, he wrote: “… so led by a sense of duty to my Slav origin, I voluntarily took up the difficult task of showing the beginnings and the destiny of the Slav people by compiling writings by various authors, to be able to demonstrate how glorious and strong that tribe actually was.”

The book provided a wealth of historical facts with the message that the past of the Slav peoples was a territory from European history. Another strong point he made is that the Slavonic Glagolitic alphabet was at the root of Slavic identity and unity. In 1762 the Bulgarian monk Paissi of Hilendar from Mount Athos wrote a book that played an exceptional role for the Bulgarian national revival while the nation was under Ottoman rule, Slav-Bulgarian History. One of the sources Paissi used extensively was Mauro Orbini’s work. Today, four hundred years after the release of The Kingdom of the Slavs, interest in the book has not subsided, due to the idea about European unity that it conveys.

Recently the Sofia City Library hosted the premiere of the deluxe phototype edition of The Kingdom of the Slavs released by Damian Yakov Publishing House. Italy’s Ambassador to Sofia Stefano Benazzo honored the event.

“It is a great responsibility for an Italian ambassador to speak about Mauro Orbini, not only because the Benedictine monk, ideologist, historian and writer from Dubrovnik wrote The Kingdom of the Slavs in 1601 and published the work in Italian in Pesaro the same year. My responsibility is even greater, because in 1762 Paissi of Hilendar wrote Slav-Bulgarian History using as Orbini’s book a source. We are all aware of the great importance of Slav-Bulgarian History for the Bulgarian national revival and self-esteem in modern time. As to Mauro Orbini, I believe that his book is not yet studied properly in terms of its influence on the Slavic nations, and on the way they were viewed by the peoples to the west of Venice. If you read starting from page 397 by the end of the chapter about the Bulgarian Kingdom, I am sure that like me you will be very impressed with the immaculate precision of historical facts laid out, and with the successful illustration of events that had an imprint on history. I must say I am proud to come from the country where the printing of the book by Mauro Orbini was made possible. I am proud to speak the language in which he worded the basic concepts in the history of the Slavs”, Italian Ambassador to Bulgaria Stefano Benazzo said.

Prof. Dr Nadezhda Dragova, specialist in Balkan studies, literary theory and culture studies, has consulted the phototype edition of The Kingdom of the Slavs. For many years she has been involved in a research program A Quarter Millennium of Slav-Bulgarian History.

“Mauro Orbini was very popular among Bulgarian opinion leaders during the National Revival. In the afterword to his history Paissi wrote how he traveled to Austria to look for sources for his work and came across the Orbini book. In 1980s a group of Bulgarian scholars including Ivan Duychev, Kroumka Sharova, Vassilka Tapkova and I founded an editorial board on Bulgaria's Foreign Historians. We placed Mauro Orbini and his book at No. 1 in this chart. Since then I have been keen to give a more in-depth presentation of this noteworthy historian to the Bulgarian audience.”

While working on the Orbini book, Prof. Nadezhda Dragova made a few intriguing discoveries:

“I’d rather call them insights. In the sphere where I work, findings are out there waiting for us to notice them. In this case they were two. In the first place, Mauro Orbini visited Sofia while collecting material. He described in detail the relics of Serbian King Stefan Uros II Milutin, and the relics are kept at St. Nedelya Church in Sofia. The stay of Orbini in Sofia was possible because commercial caravans from Dubrovnik made stopovers here. My other insight concerns the image of the lion as a Bulgarian coat-of-arms. Roman cardinal and historian Caesar Baronius (18 c.) wrote that the Bulgarians had chosen the lion as a state symbol, because they were very brave. Both Orbini and Paissi repeated that claim. I found out that the only surviving coin from the reign of Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Alexander (1331-1371) has a lion cut on it in a natural posture – walking. The lion presented by Orbini is more like a dancing lion. I looked for the original and found it on a coin from the time of Tsar Ivan Shishman (1371-1395). It depicts a rampant lion fighting against the Ottoman invaders.”

The 400th death anniversary of Mauro Orbini is due in October 2010. By then his book will be translated into Bulgarian. The creative team of its phototype edition including publishers, translators and consultants jointly with the Sofia City Library, has initiated Orbini anniversary celebrations across Europe. This will be a token of Bulgarian gratitude to Mauro Orbini whose work was key to one of Bulgaria’s most important written monuments, Slav-Bulgarian History by Paissi of Hilendar.

English version: Daniela Konstantinova
По публикацията работи: Lucia Sinigerska
Listen to the daily news from Bulgaria presented in "Bulgaria Today" podcast, available in Spotify.

More from category

In the Heart of the Machine poster

National Film Centre nominates another Bulgarian entry for Oscars' best international feature film award

After Zornitsa Sophia’s film Mother , the Bulgarian entry for the Oscars' best international feature film award was rejected by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on 21 September due to violation of eligibility requirements, the..

published on 9/24/22 1:31 PM

Tunisia to host Bulgarian Film Days in October

The Minister of Culture of Tunisia, Ms. Hayet Guettat Guermazi, will be the guest of honour at the opening of the Bulgarian Film Days in Tunisia (21-23 October 2022), which the Embassy and the Tunisian National Film Centre are organising jointly with..

published on 9/23/22 4:25 PM

Bulgaria's natural beauty revealed in an episode of "Europe from Above"

On Bulgaria's Independence Day, September 22, National Geographic's starts airing its fourth season of "Europe from Above" with an episode dedicated to Bulgaria.  The aim of the series is to show footage from all four seasons and a new..

published on 9/22/22 10:15 AM