Chronicle of the World


Weltchronik (Chronicle of the world) is a German translation of an original Latin text attributed to Joannes de Utino (also seen as Giovanni da Udine, died 1366). This copy was produced in the second half of the 15th century and features extensive decorative colored drawings by an unknown painter. It most likely was created in Bratislava sometime after 1458, during the period of Matthias Corvinus´s accession to the Hungarian throne. It was preserved in the library of the Bratislava Capuchins. The chronicle is a didactic work that would have provided the contemporary reader with an elementary explanation of the history of the world as told in the Bible, with extensions covering later historical periods. The chronicle is in three parts. The first part contains biblical history. The second part consists of short biographical portraits of emperors and popes, up to Pope Pius II (1458–64). The third part contains biographical portraits of the rulers of Hungary, starting with the reign of Gejza (972–97), Stephen I (1000–1038), and ending with Matthias Corvinus (reigned 1458–90), with a mention of Friedrich III, the Hungarian anti-king elected in 1459. Joannes de Utino wrote probably only the first part of the chronicle; the authors of the second and the third parts are unknown. The decorative drawings (in colored pen) are of two different types. One set of drawings consists of the genealogical trees of both biblical and secular figures. The genealogy of Jesus Christ has an important place here. Portraits of German emperors, kings of Hungary, popes, and biblical characters are inserted into larger and smaller rings. Some rings were not completed by the illuminator and remain empty. These medaillons are mutually interlinked to form relationships among figures. The figures are identified with labels. The other type of decorations are scenes and motifs from the Old Testament, including David and Goliath, Noah´s ark, Abraham´s sacrifice, and the Ark of the Covenant.  No more than 20 copies of the work by Joannes de Utino are known to exist; most of them are from 15th century. This manuscript preserved in Slovak National Library is a unique resource for the history of art and for research into the development of illustrated books in the territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary.

Last updated: October 17, 2017