|1||Rotha 1, Land Court Book 1, Page 1, Gniezno||PISARZ 1||Gniezno||1390|
|2||Rotha 2, Land Court Book 1, Page 2, Gniezno||PISARZ 1||Gniezno||1390|
|3||Rotha 3, Land Court Book 1, Page 4, Gniezno||PISARZ 1||Gniezno||1390|
|4||Rotha 4, Land Court Book 1, Page 4, Gniezno||PISARZ 1||Gniezno||1390|
|5||Rotha 5, Land Court Book 1, Page 5, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1396|
|6||Rotha 6, Land Court Book 1, Page 6, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1396|
|7||Rotha 7, Land Court Book 1, Page 57, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1399|
|8||Rotha 8, Land Court Book 1, Page 57, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1399|
|9||Rotha 9, Land Court Book 1, Page 57, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1399|
|10||Rotha 10, Land Court Book 1, Page 57, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1399|
|11||Rotha 11, Land Court Book 1, Pages 58 — 60, Gniezno||PISARZ 2||Gniezno||1399|
|12||Rotha 12, Land Court Book 1, Page 7, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1396|
|13||Rotha 13, Land Court Book 1, Page 8, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1396|
|14||Rotha 14, Land Court Book 1, Page 8, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1396|
|15||Rotha 15, Land Court Book 1, Page 255, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|16||Rotha 16, Land Court Book 1, Page 255, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|17||Rotha 17, Land Court Book 1, Page 256, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|18||Rotha 18, Land Court Book 1, Page 257, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|19||Rotha 19, Land Court Book 1, Page 9, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|20||Rotha 20, Land Court Book 1, Page 13, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|21||Rotha 21, Land Court Book 1, Page 14, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|22||Rotha 22, Land Court Book 1, Page 14, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|23||Rotha 23, Land Court Book 1, Page 14, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|24||Rotha 24, Land Court Book 1, Page 14, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
|25||Rotha 25, Land Court Book 1, Page 15, Gniezno||PISARZ 3||Gniezno||1397|
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eROThA and project team
eROThA (Electronic Repository of Greater Poland Oaths) is a free electronic database created as a result of a research project funded by the National Science Centre in Poland (OPUS No. 2014/13/B/HS2/00644). The repository incorporates a selection of the oldest surviving secular materials written in Old Polish (beyond place-names and glosses). Such utterances, i.e. records of ritualised oaths given in the trials of contemporary nobility, appear within Latin land court books compiled in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries (1386-1446). Selections from these materials were first made available outside the archive in editions published in the late nineteenth and throughout the twentieth century (Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz 1959: 6-9; Jurek 1991: x-xi and Trawińska 2009: 345-346 provide overviews and the relevant references). The monumental editorial work conducted by Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz (1959-81) has provided the most extensive selection and was hence adopted as the basis for the digitisation work and the design of the electronic repository. The eROThA database is a product of an interdisciplinary enterprise, aiming to enhance the printed editions with high quality scans (c. 6,000 manuscript pages), make the source texts more accessible, and add a layer of well-focused linguistic analysis (more on this in Multilingualism and code-switching and From a printed edition to a digital repository). Thanks to this project, the fragile facsimiles are now digitally preserved and easily accessible to scholars – historians, legal historians and historical linguists in particular – as well as to the wider public. The high resolution archival images available on the website will also be indispensable to auxiliary disciplines of history, such as diplomatics, paleography or codicology and to any work on the materiality of medieval artefacts.
The basic unit selected for presentation on our platform is an Old Polish utterance with the relevant Latin context (more on this in What is rota and selection issues). The red frame drawn on the facsimile marks out the text of the oath together with the Latin introduction (preamble or protocol) and other relevant content. The textual version presented parallel on the platform covers the designated part of the manuscript. In some cases, the relevant Latin section occurring after the oath has also been included in the text. The Old Polish term for the oath is rota, often borrowed into the procedural Latin and spelled as rotha. This spelling may be viewed as a latinised version of the Slavic stem (see Kopaczyk-Włodarczyk-Adamczyk 2016: 20, f.6 for details), which underlines the fluid boundaries between the vernacular and Latin legal lexicon. These mutual multilingual relationships have inspired the abbreviated name of the eROThA. The label of the online platform also includes an anagram for the English translation (eROThA ~ oath).
Poznań Supercomputing and Networking Center
State Archives in Poznań
Multilingualism and code-switching
Medieval and early modern texts tend to represent an omnipresent multilingual character of communication at that time, rather than a monolingual history of a single language. Multilingualism – understood here as the ability to use multiple communicative codes (languages, dialects, jargons) – has always been the norm, while the monolingual approach to language history can be seen as a product of nationalistically oriented nineteenth-century philologies, rather than an objective representation of real communicative interactions. Languages do not exist in a void; there are always opportunities for groups using different communicative codes to come in contact, mix, and exert mutual influence. One of the most complex effects of language contact situations is code-switching, or the ability and the choice to move from one communicative code to another. Code-switching has been at the centre of linguistic research for at least 50 years, that is since the decline of a purely structuralist framework of linguistic analysis and the dawn of sociolinguistic and pragmatic approaches to the study of language in use and in context.
Code-switching as a major research theme has entered historical linguistics relatively recently. Drawing on research on present-day, mostly oral, code-switching but very conscious of the different character of historical data, the discipline is in the process of developing a theoretical framework and methodological tools to study multilingualism in written texts. These cutting-edge developments have largely been enabled by the digital revolution and a widening access to electronic versions of historical texts. Machine-readable electronic databases make it possible to perform empirical corpus linguistic research into language structure and function, also from a historical perspective. Intriguingly, the present-day communication happening online and via new media is often multilingual, and essentially uses the written mode, much like historical multilingual texts. This affinity creates a fruitful context for transferrable theories and research methods to study code-switching in the written mode.
The eROThA project, aiming to construct a bilingual Latin-Old Polish database of land court books from Greater Poland, has grown out of the latest trends in historical linguistics, presented above. We have created a tool for accessing and studying code-switching in source materials which are little known from this perspective to a wider community of medievalists and historical linguists. The tool responds to a growing interest in the oldest surviving textual evidence in local languages from Eastern and Central Europe, which complements several ongoing research agendas into literacy and vernacularisation in the west of the continent (especially at the University of Utrecht where the series Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy published by Brepols was launched). The focus on a wider historical, cultural and social background of multilingual communication has been central to this line of research conducted by leading European universities.
The land court books, and specifically the sections containing oaths in Old Polish, exhibit a complex and multi-level bilingual structure. In recognition of the inherently multilingual character of the land court books, in eROThA we have colour-coded the language choice in a particular passage, as identified by the editors of the printed volumes, choosing red for Latin and green for Old Polish. Thus Old Polish oaths and Old Polish insertions in the Latin sections are presented in green, while the Latin introduction and closing, and Latin insertions in the Old Polish oaths, are presented in red. The additional annotation layer introduced by the project team focuses on an under-researched aspect of code-switching in the bilingual written text – the forms appearing on the threshold between the languages involved. These forms often perform a metalinguistic function and have a specific visual character (see Publications; forthcoming “Metalinguistic and visual cues to code-switching in the Electronic Repository of Greater Poland Oaths”), which is recognised in our annotation and in the theoretical approach to written code-switching. We thus embrace the recent realisation in the studies of historical multilingualism that the discursive and semantic organisation of a code-switched text is interconnected with features of the mis-en-page and visual prosody (see Włodarczyk-Kopaczyk-Kozak 2020 Publications: forthcoming “Multilingualism in Greater Poland court records (1386-1446): Tagging discourse boundaries and code-switching”). Our annotation of code-switching is 'light' which means that is limited in terms of the interpretation and intervention, so that the original data are still useful to the users who are not interested in the linguistic character of the texts. For the linguists interested in multilingualism, however, we have implemented an annotation system which captures the most important aspects of code-switching from the project's perspective, but leaves room for interpretation. The download format for individual rotas and full collections makes it possible to select the version with (xml) or without linguistic annotation (txt). Moreover, for individual units download of selected regions (e.g. only the Latin introduction; more on this in How to search and read results) are enabled.
Below, we present an illustration of Gniezno rota No. 330 from the edition. The corresponding eROThA presentation may be consulted here.
What is rota and selection issues
The term „rota” is basic to the eROThA repository and we define it as:
A rota which is numbered and coded for location is a unit of presentation for the dataset covered by the eROThA. Each unit has its ID based on the numbering adopted from the printed edition. For instance, the oldest inscription from Poznań is designated as Pn.1. In order to display the contents related to this particular rota, you choose “Poznań” in the Collections list on the main page. Then you choose the designation you are interested in (e.g. first on the list) by clicking on its extended ID. On the screen, you will see the option “See document” which enables displaying the relevant content (i.e. Latin introduction, Old Polish oath, the standardised version of the latter, as well as editorial comments in footnotes). The contents (i.e. the unit of presentation) are a textual version of a selected passage (see rota=court case) from the manuscript and are appended with the facsimile of the source page.
In the literature, rota is frequently used as a synonym of the Old Polish oath. In the eROThA interface, we also use the term in this narrow way at some points, however, we insist on keeping this understanding apart from the definition above (rota =presentation unit).
In the title of the edition by Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz, rota is not just an oath, but in fact an entire passage extracted from the manuscript that covers the contents relevant to one or more oaths: effectively an individual court case. This reading of the term goes beyond an oath itself, as the selection from the primary sources includes also procedural information (witness lists, dates of trials, etc.), i.e. the context which enables an understanding of a given oath and the identification of the referents (of personal and place names) mentioned in it. But how is the scope of such a court case established? Is the beginning and end of a given legal case clearly delimited in the manuscript? Only in exceptional cases: e.g. rota Pn.1652 illustrates an ideal item. Here, an individual case fills an entire manuscript page (page being a relatively objective structural unit of a given book), but such cases are very rare. In principle, in the manuscript no clear conventions are employed that could serve as the basis for the delimitation of individual legal cases. Sometimes, the use of spacing and (proto)headlines may be observed as cues to divisions between cases (i.e. centralised short, one- or two-word lines of text) as in e.g. Gn.299. Here, the beginning of the case is relatively uncontroversial, but not its end. Although the Old Polish oath is followed by a Latin passage, the latter has been omitted in the edition (and marked as such, in contrast to e.g. Gn.60, where a similar omission is not marked). The spacing that might be taken to indicate the next case follows the Latin lines, not the Polish oath, which renders the editorial demarcation problematic. The example shows that the editors made rather arbitrary decisions when extracting individual rotas = court cases from the manuscript . Nevertheless, the beginning and end of a single extract was not random and must have been determined by the contents, or more aptly resulted from subjective interpretations of the editors. This problem is well known to studies that rely on historical primary sources, especially of administrative and legal nature, as such data are usually too extant to be published in their totality. Another aspect of this issue appears in rotas Kos.209 and Kos.210, which are adjacent in the manuscript page (Kos Z1, 135v). Based on the contents it becomes clear that both oaths have been given in connection to the same court case. The former comes from the first of the witnesses enumerated in the introduction to Kos.209, while the latter (Kos.210) was given by the further five witnesses not covered by this particular rota (= presentation unit). Instead, these witnesses had been listed in Kos.209.
Solving the issues described above remained out of the scope of the ROThA project. In fact, the only possible solution here would be a new edition in extenso , which would have been even further beyond the scope of the well-focused aims of the project. The fundamental area of our interest has been the phenomenon of code-switching, i.e. the inherent bilingualism of the data. Due to the low distribution of Old Polish passages in the land books, the presentation unit built around the vernacular oath was adopted from the edition with no major revision, as it proved convenient to our purposes. Code-switching may only be analysed if the direct co-text of the Old Polish element is preserved, i.e. the data embraces the adjacency of the two languages/codes. In other words, the greater the number of Old Polish utterances in the primarily Latin land books, the broader the range of the instances of code-switching. Equally, the selectiveness issues addressed above indicate that the conceptualisation and framework of the phenomenon requires an extension to cover visual cues, which is in line with the main trend in most recent research in historical multilingualism. Thus, having adopted the selection from the printed edition, we have at the same time stayed alert to its arbitrary nature. Still, the inclusion of the facsimiles in the eROThA is a way of alleviating this shortcoming. Juxtaposing the high quality scans against subjective interpretations enables a reconstruction of the full co-text and context of the Old Polish oath and opens the data for corrections and revisions with respect to the selection of the relevant Latin passages, the scope of a given court case, and, fundamentally the classification criteria used in the parsing of the primary data. The latter is a particularly difficult matter: historians, historians of the law, or of language, who create reference works (e.g. the planned modern electronic hyperlinked version of the Dictionary of Old Polish; Klapper and Kołodziej 2015), atlases (Atlas Fontium) or dictionaries (Słownik historyczno-geograficzny ziem polskich w średniowieczu; Historical-geographiccal dictionary of Polish lands in the Middle Ages, ed. by Tomasz Jurek) are interested in different criteria, while linguists focusing, for instance, on onomastics, need to seek yet different foundations for taxonomies . No single edition, not even in extenso, is capable to cater for such a broad spectrum of scholarly foci and needs. This is a great challenge for the new, essentially selective and well-focused, but more open and flexible publication formats aiming not only to make public and preserve the fragile archives , but also attempting to achieve some kind of a compromise, which is nevertheless very difficult (Słoń and Zachara-Związek 2018: 2014-216).
Discussions around the editorial policies for historical data have recently reached a new momentum in Poland (e.g. Borowiec et al. 2017). This has resulted from attempts at implementing new technologies for presenting the primary sources on free online platforms. Specific solutions in this respect have been offered by the Authors of the Atlas Fontium platform, based on many small-scale projects (Słoń and Słomski 2017; Słoń and Zachara-Związek 2018). Cf. also the prospect for the future platform for multiple electronic databases referred to as Diachronic Corpora of Polish (Korpusy Diachroniczne Języka Polskiego; Pastuch et al. 2018).
Some land books from Greater Poland (Kaczmarczyk 1960, Jurek 1991) and one of the oldest books from Cracow (Bukowiec and Zdanek 2012) have so far been published in extenso. Jurek’s edition in extenso of the oldest surviving book of the land court of Kalisz has shown that the compilers of the Greater Poland land court oaths had not traced all the Polish inscriptions (1991: xvii; Tomasz Jurek identified 79 passages that had not been published before). More recently, however, historians and legal historians have been more interested in municipal books from later periods (e.g. Mikuła, Uruszczak, Karabowicz ed. 2013), or (for the 14th-15th centuries) normative sources of municipal law (Mikuła 2018).
An EU funded project “Cyfrowe udostępnianie zasobów Polskiej Akademii Nauk – Biblioteki Kórnickiej” (Digital availability of Polish Academy of Sciences resources – Library in Kórnik (English translation of the title adopted from an online source). Maria Trawińska, a scholar researching Greater Poland land books, is involved in this project and aims to focus on onomastics.
Such publication formats, as well as good practice of sharing the digitised primary sources with a broader audience, have thus far not been a rule in the humanities in Poland (Słoń and Słomski 2017: 77, ff. 20-21).
From a printed edition to a digital repository
The eROThA repository is based on the monumental five-volume printed edition of the Greater Poland land court books, published by a historian and paleographer Henryk Kowalewicz and a linguist Władysław Kuraszkiewicz (1959-1981). Today these landmark studies require additions and new interpretations, perhaps even revisions (see Palaeographic suggestions by Olga Makarova). Nevertheless, they have served as the most important point of reference for the study of Old Polish , and for basic reference works in the area of Old Polish and contemporary Latin, for a number of decades, and as such they deserve to be made more accessible in a free and flexible electronic format. Our project has ensured that the digital versions of the transcribed Latin and transliterated Old Polish are compatible with TEI standards, which enables corpus linguistic queries and other quantitative approaches to the texts. On top of capturing the structure of the manuscript text, the xml format contains metadata such as the date of composition, the information on the scribe and detailed land book collection reference in the State Archive in Poznań. eROThA also offers access to the Latin and Old Polish sections (i.e. regions) in a simplified .txt format. The xml and txt versions can be downloaded as individual files and as collections per location, for further work with analytical tools. The repository is also equipped with its own search engine which can be used to retrieve individual letter strings and words, and narrowing down the results to location, date or scribe (more on this in How to search and read results).
Overview of formal features and the coverage  of eROThA
|collection||time span||texts||scribal hands|
|TOTAL||> 60 years||6349||210|
The chart below presents the overall repository statistics (decades with the number of texts from individual locations).
The series Wielkopolskie roty sądowe XIV-XV wieku (Greater Poland court oaths of the fourteenth-fifteenth centuries) was commenced by the Poznań Friends of Science Society (Poznańskie Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Nauk) in 1954 to celebrate the millennium of the Polish statehood. The series comprises court oaths from five locations in separate volumes: Poznań (1959), Pyzdry (1960), Kościan (1967), Kalisz (1974), Gniezno and Konin (1981). The original manuscripts of the land court books are held at the premises of the State Archive in Poznań and in Kórnik Library.
Krążyńska (2010); Trawińska (2009); Słoboda (2005), (2012). More recent work on the multilingualism in Greater Poland land court books includes Trawińska (2014); Kuźmicki (2013, 2015) and Borowiec (2013).
An electronic publication format enables content modification (or correction, if necessary) and the flexible architecture of the repository allows for additions and extensions.
Rotas in the draft and clean versions were only counted once.
Kowalewicz, Henryk & Władysław Kuraszkiewicz (eds.). 1959-1981, Wielkopolskie roty sądowe XIV–XV wieku [The Greater Poland court oaths of the 14th-15th century], vol. 1, Roty poznańskie [The Poznań oaths], vol. 2, Roty pyzdrskie [The Pyzdry oaths], vol. 3, Roty kościańskie [The Kościan oaths], vol. 4, Roty kaliskie [The Kalisz oaths], vol. 5, A, Roty gnieźnieńskie [The Gniezno oaths], B, Roty konińskie [The Konin oaths]. Warszawa, Poznań, Wrocław, Kraków & Gdańsk: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
How to search and read results
You can search individual symbols, words, as well as strings of symbols and words. A special window featuring Old Polish symbols with diacritics enables the use of the specific graphemes that occur mainly in the Old Polish transliteration. If we need to find a particular word, e.g. cum, and all its occurrences, we type the word into the search window. The results are displayed:
Now, we may choose between Show/Download all results with context. In the latter case, a tsv file is downloaded for the purpose of further work in excel or by means of software dedicated to linguistic analysis.
If we choose to view the results, a new window will open featuring a table with numbers, a short description of the rota in the ID column (e.g. Pn.1 stands for rota No. 1 from Poznań), the region in which the item occurs (i.e. Latin introduction, Old Polish oath or standardized version the oath, designated respectively as LAT intro, PL oath, standardised Old Polish) and the red-font item we searched for with its context.
Prior to downloading we may also decide to sort the results by ID, then the list will be displayed by collection and order within each collection:
The search engine also allows for finding strings of symbols, or individual symbols that occur word-internally. For instance, if we are interested in the distribution of the “ÿ” grapheme, we need to open the symbol window (symbols used for the Old Polish transliteration) by clicking on the omega, next to the magnifying glass search symbol:
It is possible to recover all the occurrences of the symbol by typing *ÿ*: we will get over 2,000 hits. After sorting, the following view will be generated:
Search results may be restricted to individual Collections, Writers and Dates. These metadata sets also allow for browsing of individual collections. In order to do so, first we click a collection (designated by location, e.g. Poznań). Then all the rotas for a collection will be displayed. The results may at this point be narrowed down to a specific Writer/Scribe and only the rotas written in his hand will be displayed.
Searches for features of code-switching are conducted by means of restricting the search to a specific region:
We could for instance restrict the search for *ÿ* or cum only to the Latin introduction, Old Polish oath, both of these, or in the remaining regions where more detailed code-switching marking has been applied. If for instance we tick only „Latin [code switch in PL oath], only the occurrences of cum restricted to the region of the Old Polish oath will be listed:
A specific rota may be viewed by choosing and clicking on its detailed ID. Having selected a rota, an option “Show document” will appear on the right-hand side. This option takes us to the facsimiles and text versions. At the same time the explorer bar on our PC will show the address of a given rota. For the rota No. 3 from Pyzdry, the address will be: https://rotha.ehum.psnc.pl/breeze/Py.3.
At this point, provided we know the abbreviations for the IDs of the collections, we can easily switch between the pages displaying individual rotas. All that we need to do is to change the ID that follows the slash: e.g. Pn.3 (instead of Py.3) will take us to the display and download options for rota No. 3 from Poznań. Abbreviated IDs for the collections:
The legal process in medieval land courts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries consisted of a range of activities regulated by land law applicable to about 8-12% of the population, the so-called szlachta (nobility) (Uruszczak 2015: 71-72; 78-81). The process differed from our modern legal experience in several important ways, for example there was no fixed place at which the court would convene, or, in the case of land courts, where its records could have been safely preserved. Land courts assembled four times a year (the assembly was called rok sądowy) in selected local administrative centres. However, minor courts (roczki sądowe) could take place even once a fortnight (Doroszewski; SXVI t. XXXV: 300). Several types of legal cases (rozprawy or sprawy sądowe) were heard at the assembly (Sstp t. VII, s. 557): civil cases to do with inheritance, sale, and any other activities concerning property, and criminal cases involving nobles: murders, rapes, theft, etc. The court consisted of the judge (sędzia; Lat. iudex), underjudge (podsędek, Lat. subiudex) and the royal court scribe (pisarz, Lat. notarius)  who were elected at the local assembly and appointed by the king (Gąsiorowski 1970: 51-55). Other officials, such as the representatives of podkomorzy (Lat. subcamerarius), chorąży (Lat. advocatus), wojewoda (Lat. comes palatinus) and burgrabia (Lat. burgravius) could also take part in the minor courts in Greater Poland (Gąsiorowski 1970: 50).
The scribes or notaries (Pl. pisarz) who compiled the record of legal proceedings in medieval land courts are rarely known by name. There is also little clarity about their professional and educational background. Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz maintain that the skill of writing in Polish must have been acquired at school or directly at the court chancellery (1959: 18). It is indeed reasonable to assume that the scribes were educated in some way but the format and level of their training is not transparent. Before the mid-fifteenth century it could have been, indeed, the chancelleries, as some of them were appended to parish schools responsible mainly for literacy skills (reading and writing) (cf. Bartoszewicz 2001: 8-9). In the fifteenth century, the scribes could have graduated from university (Bartoszewicz 2001: 16), however more recent research suggests lower levels of education (Bartoszewicz 2014: 179), which seems to be corroborated by the lack of detailed references to the scribes, or other information on them, in Greater Poland land books (Gąsiorowski 1970: 55-56; 78-79). Legal historians have drawn attention to the fact that the court scribe had helpers – auxiliary scribes (Pl. podpisek), whose task was to ensure the correct format of the documentation rather than to take part in the litigation (cf. Moniuszko 2013: 175). Equally, the scribe appointed by the king could well have been treated as a higher official and taken part in the proceedings on a par with the judge and the underjudge, instead of keeping the record and taking care of the documentation. The record-keeping procedure is still relatively unknown. The earliest extant records have a narrow and long folio fracto format (Pl. dutka), which corresponds more or less to an A4 page folded vertically in half (Jurek 1991: III-IV, Bukowiec and Zdanek 2012: 8). It is noteworthy that in the later periods (sixteenth and seventeenth centuries), the legal importance of the record has been growing; the very act of recording is referred to in Latin (actico, connoto, ingrosso) or by means of Latin borrowings into Polish legal discourse: aktykować, konnotować, ingrosować (cf. Makarowa 2017: 106-107). However, in eROThA no such terms occur. Medieval land court books can thus be treated as a record of the proceedings, possibly the basis for the issuing of official documents, rather than as a collection of binding documents in its own right (cf. Gąsiorowski 1970: 54-55; Jurek 2002: 16).
The record of the court proceedings was subject to proof-reading and copying, most probably from slips of paper onto the sheets of paper in folio fracto format, and sometimes between existing court books. There is one case of a draft book and the clean copies in other books (Kościan Z.5, i.e. Land Book V for 1416-1425), Presentation of Koscian oaths which may indicate a more common drafting practice. Crossing out large sections of text is important from a procedural and legal point of view, as it makes the text null and void (Jurek 1991: x and passim; cf. Bukowski and Zdanek 2012: 14). This practice was known as zniesienie, kasowanie or sterminowanie 'annulment' (Makarova 2017: 108). The annulment could have covered whole oaths as well as their fragments, for example names of witnesses (cf. Ka.218, Ka.200, Ka.595). Some instances of strikethroughs need not have procedural consequences and may simply be scribal corrections (cf. Ka.627 where the context of the case was crossed out).
The linguistic character of court chancelleries was undergoing important changes in medieval Greater Poland as well as in the rest of Europe. Latin was the most important language of the record but vernacular languages were also attested in the documents. In some Polish-speaking and neighbouring regions (Silesia, Bohemia, Cracow), the German language also played a prominent role (Adamska 2013: 355). According to Samsonowicz, written Latin functioned as a lingua franca in ethnically and socially diverse Poland, providing a communication platform for “Poles and Germans, the clergy and the laity, the locals and the Jews, the peasants, the knighthood and the townsfolk" (1993: 157) [translation by eROThA team].
Latin spread gradually in the late Middle Ages through the growing network of schools, even though still remained relatively limited to the clergy, higher rank administrators and merchants. Latin was treated as a default administrative language, regardless of the language of the actual oral proceedings, as reflected in the linguistic make-up of court records across the legal system (cf. Bedos-Rezak 1996). The vernaculars in writing were limited to certain auxiliary functions (Doležalová 2015: 161; cf. Adamska 2013 on Polish, Czech and Hungarian texts). In contrast to a considerable degree of vernacularisation of the legal record in other areas, especially in Western Europe (but also in Bohemia; Adamska 2013: 356), in the Greater Poland land court books, after a period of incorporating Polish oaths into the Latin text, the books revert wholesale to Latin. It seems that complete Polish inscriptions are an exception and that Polish was typically employed to render short notes, witness statements and oaths (the first extant ones date back to 1386 in the Poznań land court books). The choice of the vernacular for these functions, and especially for the oath, may have been related to the necessity to preserve the original text of a legally binding compurgation ritual.
According to the assessment of the scope of latinisation (Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz 1959: 10; 1960: 6; 1981: 7), the oaths in the vernacular started giving way to Latin records of the ritual around 1430-1440. The earliest wholesale switch to Latin is attested in Konin (1432), and the latest – in Gniezno (1448). It is noteworthy, however, that the initiating (tako mi pomoży Bog) and closing formulae (Jako to świadczą) were still rendered in Polish, which reflects the oral employment of the vernacular during land court proceedings (Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz: 1967: 5).
Uruszczak (2015) provides Latin counterparts of Polish office names, while a glossary www.brepolsonline.net/doi/abs/10.5555/M.USML-EB.4.2018012 provided in a recent monograph (Bartoszewicz 2017) may be consulted for English translations of the Old Polish names of officials of the royal and princely administration and contemporary legal terminology.
Presentation of Koscian oaths
Koscian oaths are a special case as they have been partially (c. 370 units) preserved in two versions: drafts and clean copies. The draft book is Koscian Land Book V, while clean copies are scattered in books IV, VI, VII and VIII (Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz 1967: 7-8; 22-25; 27-30). In a linguistic perspective, draft versions are fascinating due to the scribal corrections and modification they involve and as these allow insights into the production of final versions. The editors, Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz, have decided to use drafts as the basis for text presentation, although these "double" oaths constitute a challenge to any editioral attempt. Kowalewicz and Kuraszkiewicz have presented the "double" oaths (i.e. the draft and the corresponding clean copy) in the following ways:
With some exceptions, the eROThA repository presents only draft versions of the "double oaths" without the footnotes described in a. and b. above.  The cases described in c., i.e. two full versions presented in separately numbered oath units (as in Kos.771 and Kos.771a above) have been rendered exactly as in the edition. The decision to leave out the footnotes was determined by the design of the search engine and by the relatively poor effectiveness of presenting scribal modifications. Scribal modifications and interventions in the process of clean copy production require a full and systematic methodological framework, while limiting their presentation to footnotes does not contribute to this end or to their categorisation.
Despite the fact that the footnotes have been omitted, the repository still includes scans of the draft, which is also presented in a textual format, and its clean copy (e.g. Kos.975). This allows insights into the manuscripts and enables both a revision and new interpretations in the dimension of paleography, as well as provides an opportunity to conceptualise scribal modifications anew.
For instance Kos.1117. It is important to bear in mind that in the web view of this and further oaths of this type, a reference to the MS source is displayed in the upper section above the numbered SCRIBE/PISARZ reference in red. This reference denotes the MS of the draft version only (e.g, for Kos.1117 Land Court Book 5, Page 514v). The MS source of the clean copy is displayed in further scans, while details of its archival reference are found in the TEI version of the file (alternatively, lists of MSS sources of drafts and corresponding clean copies can also be found here).
The list of publications below includes conference presentations and published project outputs. These extend the general character of project descriptions on the website and contain historical linguistic analyses inspired by the project. They also promote the project and its outcomes and contribute hitherto unknown material to the ongoing research on historical code-switching. The eROThA project is innovative and universal in its outlook, while its impact goes beyond the relationship between Latin and Old Polish, especially in the newly formulated approach to visual discourse of multilingual texts. The theoretical and analytical frameworks stemming from the project can be applied to other analyses of medieval and early modern multilingual texts, as well as later handwritten materials. As part of our popularisation strategy, some of the eROThA publications are free to download but they cannot be used or otherwise reproduced without appropriate acknowledgement according to the citation information below.
A system for handling historical source documents, dedicated to building advanced databases and tools for research projects.
The MANUS Internet system is used to develop and share source documents in the TEI P5 XML standard (http://www.tei-c.org/). It is a standard that enables for inclusion of very rich metadata of documents, their structure and representation of their text in rich layers of various tags (see guidelines). This standard gains increasing popularity among humanist scholars of various fields to presenting texts for on–line research. The structured and standardized form of XML files makes them machine–readable, and this feature is widely used by the MANUS system in many stages.
The system defines several schemas of TEI P5 documents’ metadata for various types of documents: from complex descriptions of manuscripts and old prints (with a rich header of physical description, physical condition and content), through books and chapters, journals, numbers and articles to individual documents unconnected by any structure. The system can be configured to display each of these types in separate (several) collections. For each this type, the system provides dedicated user–friendly web forms for editing its TEI P5 metadata. Due to that, there is no need to directly edit an XML file, the structure of which is very complex. This solution not only facilitates entering data through appropriate components, but also allows for efficient correction of any errors. For advanced users, it is possible to connect a web–based XML editor from the database eXistdb (http://www.exist-db.org/) associated with the system, or uploading XML files edited outside the system. Editors also have the possibility of uploading scans associated with a given TEI P5 document, and the system will automatically do references to these scans in the document.
The system also defines the TEI P5 scheme for biographies of people who are authors, editors, translators, etc. of documents stored in the database. It provides pages that group documents related to those relationships with the person, regardless of what pseudonym/appeal they have signed in the document.
The system is integrated with the Solr search engine (http://lucene.apache.org/solr/), giving the user advanced faceted search capabilities, in different layers of text and taking into account the lemmatization of the Polish language (or other one available in Solr). The system can be easily adjusted to index only selected XML nodes and selected text layers, and selected languages within the text layer as well. Search results can be limited to a given layer and language and can be exported to tsv files (
The clear graphic interface of the portal allows users not only to search and browse the contents of XML files, but also to efficiently navigate through related data, and to view associated scans together with their text layers. All that thanks to the developed XQuery subsystem, which MANUS uses in order to connect to the associated XML database. Additional functions of working with documents are implemented for the needs of specific research projects.