Own statute in foreign library

Two 16th century editions discovered at Latvian National Library: The Tribunal (1586) and The Statute (1588)

Two 16th century editions discovered at Latvian National Library: The Tribunal (1586) and The Statute (1588)
Two 16th century editions discovered at Latvian National Library: The Tribunal (1586) and The Statute (1588)


The collections of laws of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were published in Vilnius by the Mamonich brothers, in Old Belarusian, and are a true bibliographic rarity.

The Director of the Latvian National Library, Andris Vilks, recently presented the editions to the Belarusian National Library’s Director, Roman Motulsky, noting that never before have Latvia’s book collections been studied with the purpose of discovering Belarusian editions.

Ales Susha, the Deputy Director of the Belarusian National Library and the Chairman of the International Association of Belarusian Language Experts, also visited Riga. He comments that, in Soviet times, Mirdza Abola studied Latvian libraries, finding various Belarusian books, but her studies went unpublished. “The Statute and The Tribunal are unregistered in the Book of Belarus capital catalogue, of 1986. They exist but nobody knows of them!” Mr. Susha admits.

There is only one copy of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania’s Statute, kept at Mogilev’s History Museum. The Riga edition lacks the first twenty pages but a 16th-17th century clerk skilfully copied them. The book contains many notes by hand in Polish and Latvian and, no doubt, their study will disclose some significant historical details.

By Victor Korbut
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