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KONSTANTIN JIRECEK AND EDUCATION IN PRINCIPALITY BULGARIA

Author: Nikolai Radnev

 

Konstantin Jireček (1854-1918 ) was Czech politician, diplomat, and historian of Slavic nations. He was founder of the Bohemian Balkan and Byzantine Seminars, 1907-1918, and first chairman of the Institute for Eastern European History, University of Vienna.

 

Life

Konstantin was the son of an important literary historian Joseph Jireček and Bozena, daughter of Pavel Josef Safarik, whose work among the South Slavs was partially important. He was born in 1854 and spent his childhood and youth in Vienna, where he graduated at the Vienna Theresiana Gymnasium. Jireček studied at the University of Prague, graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy in 1875 and was promoted there a year later in Doctorate of Philosophy. From 1877 to 1879 he was an associate professor of history at Charles University. Influence of the Viennese environment and ultimately his life-times were responsible that he wrote most of his works in German.

At the invitation of the Government of the newly liberated Bulgarian state, Jireček came in November 1879 to service at the Bulgarian Principality as Secretary in the Ministry of Education. In 1881 to 1882 he was titular Minister of Education, later became Chairman of the teaching council and director of the National Library and Museum. When he left Bulgaria after five more years, he was appointed full professor of history at Charles University in Prague, and later in 1893 was offered a tenure appointment as professor of Slavic languages and other antique historical studies at the Slavic Department in the University of Vienna.

Jireček wrote his first major work on the "History of the Bulgarian nation", which appeared in 1876, almost simultaneously in Czech and German. Supplemented by a Russian translation, which was published two years later in Odessa, a Bulgarian edition of the book was released at 1886 in Tarnovo. To the history of the Bulgarians Jireček was back again when he wrote his most valuable encyclopedic guide "Das Fürstentum Bulgarien" (1891). Still further he updated the history for a third edition until his untimely death. This appeared as supplementary notes in 1939, published by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

The second main field of competence are the author's History of the South Slavs. His pioneering research was engaged in the history of medieval Dubrovnik and less revelatory work to literary studies of Dubrovnik and other Dalmatian cities in the Middle Ages. The last years of his life Jireček devoted to writing  a Serbian history, which culminated in his major historiographical work. The first volume of his "Geschichte der Serben" came out in 1911 when the author still lived. The "History of Serbia" was classic work, processed according to the model history of the Bulgarian nation, but greatly enriched by new discoveries and sources. It was translated into Serbian by Jovan Radović and appeared completely in the years 1922-1925, after Jireček's death.

Temporal and thematic range of Jireček's work is immense. As a historian his critical scientific method is a bridge to the next generations. For a specialist in medieval studies Jireček never did raise followers or created a school, but remained a solitary authority. As a break through in the especially exotic Southeast and East Balkan history, however, he occupies an important place and is accepted by the Western European historiography. Particularly in Bulgaria, his name still remains a concept in its own and a symbol of the importance of Czech intellectuals to build a modern Bulgarian state.

 

Works

— Geschichte der Bulgaren. Nachdr. d. Ausg. Prag 1876 Hildesheim. Olms, 1977.

— Die von Belgrad nach Heerstrasse Constantinopel und die Balkanpässe. Prag: Tempsky, 1877.

— Die Gedichte der altböhmischen Grünberger und Königinhofer: Handschrift und im Urtexte in deutscher Uebersetzung. Prag: Rivnac, 1879.

— Die Handelsstrassen Bergwerke und von Serbien und Bosnien während des Mittelalters: Historische Studien-Geographisch. Prag: Verl. der Kon. Böhmischen Ges. der Wiss, 1879.

— Einige Bemerkungen über die Überreste und der Petschenegen Kumanen sowie über die der sogenannten Völkerschaften Gagauz und im heutigen Surguči Bulgarien. Prag: Verl. d. Königl. Böhm. Ges. d. Wiss, 1889.

— Das Fürstentum Bulgarien, Seine Bodengestaltung, Natur, Bevölkerung, wirthschaftliche Zustand, geistige Cultur, mit 42 Abbildungen und einer Karte. Prag: Tempsky, 1891; Leipzig: Freytag, 1891.

— Das christliche Element in der der Balkanländer topographischen Nomenclature. Wien: Gerold, 1897.

— Staat und Gesellschaft im mittelalterlichen Serbien: Studien zur Kulturgeschichte des 13-15 Jahrhunderts. Fotomechanischer Nachdruck Orig. - der Ausg. Wien, 1912;  Leipzig: Zentralantiquariat der DDR, 1974.

— Geschichte der Serben, 1911-1918, unvollendet. Bd. 1 bis 1371, Bd. 2 1371-1537. Gotha: Perthes, J. O. Nachdruck Amsterdam: Hakkert, 1967.

 

More editions

— Knigopis na novobulgarskata knizhnina (1806-1870), first published in 1872.

— Istorija Bolgar, first published in 1878.

— Cesty po Bulharsku, first published in 1888.

— Kniazhestvo Bulgariia: negova povurkhnina, priroda, nasedenie, dukhovna kultura, first published in 1899.

— Važnost Dubrovnika u trgovačkoj povijesti srednjega vijeka, first published in 1915.

— Istorija Srba, first published in 1922.

— Bulgarski dnevnik (1879-1884), first published in 1930.

— Istoriia na Bulgaritie, first published in 1939.

— Vzájemná korespondence J. Konstantina Jirečka a Hermenegilda Jirečka: K vyd. připravil životopisným úvodem a poznámkami opatřil Josef Páta. Do tisku upravil Antonín Frinta, first published in 1947.

 

Picture 1: Sample illustration on the text above.

(i). Konstantin Jirechek and staff at the Ministry of Education (1879-1884) — /from left to right/ G. Kirkov, V. Stoyanov, Prof. K. Jirechek (central figure), M. Sarafov, and S. Vatzov.

 

 

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