Forum Digest II/Artes et musae

The History of Charles University

On 30 November 1995 the first volume of the new History of Charles University was presented to the public. The four-volume project deals with the history of Prague University from its beginnings up to the present day, and will be concluded with an English version. All volumes are due to be published by 1998, to commemorate the 650th anniversary of Charles University. They are written by a team of researchers and external collaborators of the Institute of History at Charles University, the Archives of Charles University, specialists in the history of universities, learning and the history of individual academic fields.

The first volume contains a comprehensive account of the earliest history of Prague University from 1347/48 until the end of Calixtin University (1622), divided into two different epochs: the first, reaching back to Hussite times, when the University played a decisive role in the intellectual history of the whole of Central Europe, and the second, in which it was limited to only one faculty, transformed into a university of Czech Calixtins. Designed for wider readership, the specialist commentary structure was summarized into detailed lists of sources and literature, in which a more demanding user can find sufficient references to Czech and foreign literature. An integral part of the volume are illustrations: plans, maps, tables and rich photographic material, which acquaints us with the everyday life of a medieval university. The publication also contains a detailed index and a chronological list of Rectors in the given period.

Prague University history is discussed on a broad scale. Attention is paid not only to the institutional development of the University and its parts (faculties, colleges, chapels etc.), forms of tuition at individual faculties (artistic, medical, legal and theological) but also to the material sustenance of the school, social strata of teachers and students, possibilities for graduates in the period, public activities of university masters and their role in the Hussite movement, the relation of the University to the rulers, the church, nobility and towns. Special chapters are devoted to the appearance of humanist disciplines in tuition, the influence of the University on the level of learning in post-Hussite Bohemia and competition of the Carolinian Calixtin University with the Clementine Jesuit Academy. The authors have portrayed the basic features of the history, setting it against a pan-European background. Emphasis was especially laid on the importance of the Prague common learning as the first colleges in Central Europe, for decades the foremost in the Empire, and its key role in the intellectual history of the Czech lands. Other special characteristics of Charles University are mentioned, such as the creation of independent legal study in pre-Hussite times, which is a unique phenomenon in medieval universities north of the Alps. Attention is deservedly paid also to the extent and tragedy of the competition between the two religions in the country (Calixtin and Catholic) and their expression on academic ground, which lead to the definitive fall of the ancient Charles University after the battle of White Mountain.

Seven authors participated in the first volume (I. Cornejova, J. Kadlec, J. Kejr, J. Pesek, M. Svatos, P. Svobodny, F. Smahel) with M. Svatos as the editor. This representative publication is introduced by the CU Rector K. Maly and the foreword is written by F. Kavka and J. Petran.

Youth Festival Aberdeen 1995

In August the students of the CU Dancing Centre took part in the Dance and Music Festival of Youth in Aberdeen, Scotland.

The festival has an eleven-year tradition, this time being all the more special because it was the 500th anniversary of Aberdeen University.

The program of the festival was combined with the University celebrations: organization was exemplary, being supported by the University, town and whole region. Many organizations and individuals assisted in providing accommodation, transport, the use of theater, rehearsal places, sports grounds, swimming pool, excursions during days off, etc.

PhDr. Vlasta Schneiderova

The Art of Maps

An exhibition under this title (held in the end of 1995 in the Theresian wing of the Old Royal Palace at Prague Castle) was intended for lovers of beauty, collectors and experts as a reminder of the work of old cartographic masters.

The organizers wished to display artistically valuable works, in spite of a conscious discrepancy with the principles of historical cartography. Such is the case of Seutter's plan of Prague, which is nothing extraordinary as a map, but it documents a certain period of development in our capital. Besides that, a vista of Prague included with this map was rendered by the well-known Czech printmaker and engraver Vaclav Hollar. Other maps and atlases were made in collaboration with major figures of sciences, designing mathematical solutions, constructions of cartographic projections, technological procedures of image transferal and semantic and syntactic questions of cartographic creation.

The majority of the exhibits were maps and atlases of 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, signed by cartographic giants Mercator, Ortelius, Hondius, Blau, Delisle and Homann, and also our Muller. An attractive exhibit was Cella's inflatable globe of 1831, specially restaured for this exhibition. Co-organizers of the exhibition were Prague Castle Administration and the Map Collection of Charles University. The Map Collection was established at the Faculty of Science in 1920. The aim of its founder, Prof. Vaclav Svambera, was to build a map collection comparable with the greatest in the world. He started with the funds of the Geographic Institute of the Faculty of Sciences, some thirty thousand maps from war archives in Vienna (which Czechoslovakia inherited after the disintegration of Austro-Hungary). The Collection became an academic and conservation workplace, focused on Czech cartographic relics. Professor Svambera loved his work so much that in his will he requested that his ashes be placed in the wall of the Collection hall. His followers included professors Bedrich Salamoun and especially Karel Kuchar. Under his editorial leadership, the Collection published from 1931 to 1938 Monumentas Cartographia Bohemiae - an academic atlas of reproductions of historical national maps: Klaudyan, Criginger, Aretin, Stich, Vogt and Muller. The Collection collaborated in the creation of Pantoflicek's Atlas of the Czechoslovak Republic and took part in the Exhibition of World Cartography in 1935. It published the magazine Kartograficky prehled (Cartographic Survey) and other, non-periodical publications. Since 1993 the Collection has again been in the care of the CU Faculty of Science. Its archive funds include originals and facsimili of cartographic works from ancient times up to the present day.

Doc. Ing. Dalibor Moravec, DrSc.

A copper-engraved map from the Nuremburg workshop of J.B. Homan was made by Johan Gabriel Doppelmayar, who views individual constellations as human figures, animals or objects. Map elaboration is a fine example of one of the numerous exhibits of the show The Art of Maps (detail).

Meeting with an Ethical Background

The total of 3,095 million crowns was the result of a pre-Christmas auction of art (2 December 1995) in the gallery of the Czech Savings Bank in Prague 1. The takings of the second auction show were presented by the artists to the Foundation of Charter 77 (Barriers Account) and the Committee of Good Will. This time there was a record number of 195 donors, all Czech artists. The exhibition was opened in the halls of the Karolinum on 20 November and lasted ten days, attracting over 5,000 visitors. The unique event was well characterized by the Director of Charter 77, Jan Kacer: "Even though the aim of the auction is to raise as much money as possible, the whole event has also another meaning and impact. Artists who would not have otherwise met because of their artistic or political differences are here in one exhibition hall." The common denominator remains the ethical background of the event. The fact that 90 % of the works of art were successfully auctioned testifies to the interest of the public and the high quality of the works themselves. Two of the artists who supported the second auction show with their works could be seen engaged in a friendly converation - e.g. the internationally renowned medalist Jiri Harcuba and the famous Stanislav Libensky. His glass sculptures - Triangle in a Triangle (in collaboration with Jaroslava Brychtova) climbed from the starting price of 80,000 to 260,000 crowns!

Text and photo Forum: Michaela Zindelova

A Unique Document of the Times

In the first week of December 1995 the Charles University Institute of History presented a new publication, Philosophy Behind Bars - Leopoldov the 1950s in the ceremonial rooms of the Karolinum historical building.

The book brings a selection of philosophical texts of PhDr. Pavel Krivsky and part of the survey of Latin grammar by Prof. PhDr. Bohumil Ryba, written in Leopoldov prison during the 1950s. This illegal writing, its circle of readers, the courage connected with its creation, its dissemination and the way of hiding the texts in the prison wall, make it an absolutely unique document of the times.

Philosophy Behind Bars was only able to appear in this fine book form thanks to generous sponsors: Czech Kooperativa, the Czech Savings Bank, the Foundation of Czech Literary Fund and the Patriae Foundation.

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