Rarity enriches museum exhibition
Museum of Mogilev History gains original 1588 edition of Statute of Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The rarity is part of the ‘Magdeburg Mogilev’ display, shown under climate control and alarmed for security. A photocopy of the most valuable publication is being prepared, soon to be posted on the official website of the museum. The original edition, in Old Belarusian, dates from 1588 and was bought from a private collector in Moscow for $45,000 this June. Private donations of $15,000 were raised but Alpari Group (Moscow) was still seeking the final $30,000 until the National Bank of Belarus stepped in to finance the purchase. The solemn transfer of the Statute to the Museum of Mogilev History was held in June, at the National History and Culture Museum in Minsk.
The original Statute is the highest achievement of Old Belarusian legal thought, impacting on the cultural, historical and legal traditions of Europe and symbolising the highest cultural values. Only a few dozen copies remain, with none held in Belarus until now. Mogilev residents’ efforts have returned the treasure to its roots, showing their dedication and patriotism.
The Statute of 1588 was designed by the Court Chancellor of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and Governor of Mogilev, Lev Sapega. He paid to have it printed by Piotr Mstislavets in Vilno, using revenue from Mogilev Mamonichi merchants. Three editions of the Statute exist, from 1588, 1592-1593 and 1594-1595.