Surviving pages from the past
Not many people are aware of the Minsk manuscripts written before the 17th century
Not many people are aware of the Minsk manuscripts written before the 17th century. Historian Yuri Mikulsky tells us about them.
15th century Minsk Gospel kept at St. Petersburg’s Russian National Library
Historian Yuri Mikulsky near Minsk’s Basilian Monastery
These stories provide us with an answer to what happened to a vast layer of the national heritage. It has actually gone nowhere. Where did book disappear? A similar mystery happened to the Gospel discovered in the 1860s on the Masyukovshchina estate (currently in the Minsk district), in the cellar of an unknown building. In 1923, the book was kept by Larisa Kuzminskaya, from Ukraine’s Kamenets-Podolsky. At that time, researcher Mikhailo Drai-Khmara became familiar with the 35 surviving pages of the manuscript. He was the last to see the rare book and even managed to publish it in 1931 in Kiev. Only two ancient rare books from Minsk’s churches have survived. One of them is known as the Mstizh Gospel among scholars; it comes from the village of Mstizh of the Borisov District. At present, it’s kept at the library of Lithuania’s Academy of Sciences, having been brought there in 1869 from Minsk. The 14th century manuscript came to Mstizh in the 16th century, taken by Minsk’s major, Vasil Lyakh. There is no information on where he took the book.
It is likely that the Gospel from the Basilian Monastery (whose stone buildings have been preserved until now between Minsk’s Svobody Square and Engels Street) boasts the most mysterious history. It seems that Duke Fiodor Tolstoy, who had a rich library, received the book from there in the early 19th century. It’s an even stranger fact that, until recently, no Belarusian scholars have studied the manuscript in detail, although its current location in St. Petersburg’s Russian National Library is known. Judging by the watermarks on it, the written document dates back to 1450-1460. Mr. Mikulsky is convinced that it’s hard to objectively speak of Belarus’ history without studying these pages. In fact, the country’s history is much richer than it might appear at first sight.
By Viktar Korbut
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