De ordine predicatorum de Tolosa in Dacia

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by Kurt Villads Jensen

De ordine predicatorum de Tolosa in Dacia is a short anonymous history of the introduction of the Dominican Order into the province of Dacia (the present Scandinavia and Eastern Baltic) and the establishment of convents in Estonia. It is the only narrative source from medieval Scandinavia for this history and therefore of extreme importance in spite of its lamentable brevity.

Editions

  • LANGEBEK, J. & SUHM, P.F. 1783: SRD 5, Copenhagen, 500–2.
  • GERTZ, M.CL. 1922: De ordine predicatorum de Tolosa in Dacia, in SMD 2, Copenhagen, 371–74 (Edition based on LANGEBEK & SUHM and a newly found, but inaccurate, copy of Veriloquium).
  • HALVORSEN, P.B. 1995: “Aux origines de l’Ordre des prêcheurs dans les pays nordiques,” in Fondations et missions. Les initiatives missionnaires dominicaines des frères et des soeurs de langue française (= Mémoire dominicaine. Histoire, documents, vie dominicaine 6), 250 & 252 (a re-edition of LANGEBEK & SUHM’S version with suggestions for improvements to the text and with valuable notes).
  • TUGWELL, S. 1996–2000: Archivum fratrum Praedicatorum 66 (1996), 162–64; 68 (1998), 111–12; 70 (2000), 87.
  • HALVORSEN, P.B. 2002: Dominikus. En europeers liv på 1200-tallet, Oslo, 220–22 (a re-edition of TUGWELL’s edition).

Translations

  • (German) SCHEEBEN, H.C. 1927: Der heilige dominikus, Freiburg, 364–66.
  • (French) HALVORSEN 1995, 251 & 253.
  • (Norwegian) HALVORSEN, P.B. 2002: Dominikus. En europeers liv på 1200-tallet, Oslo, 220–22.
  • (Danish) JAKOBSEN, J.G.G. 2007: Historia ordinis predicatorum in Dacia, http://www.jggj.dk/HOPD.htm

Date and place

The first part of the work refers to events that took place 1219–1222, the second to events in 1229 and in 1246 in Estonia. Between these two sections are listed the provincial priors of the order, the last mentioned being Absalon “who led the province for twenty years”. The present version must therefore have been compiled after the death of Absalon 10 April 1261, but it does not give the name of his successor. There is no indication of the author’s identity, but he uses Nordic names in three instances. He also seems to be slightly more favourable towards the archiepiscopal see in Lund in Denmark than towards the one in Uppsala in Sweden. In both parts of the work the influence of papal legates is emphasised, which might perhaps indicate that they are written – or at least rewritten – by the same author; if so, he was probably a friar from the Danish part of Dacia, perhaps from Estonia. He might, as HALVORSEN (1995) has suggested, have been the prior of the convent in Tallinn, Daniel, with whose name the chronicle ends.

Summary of contents

The aim of the first part of De ordine predicatorum is to relate how the Dominicans came to Dacia. The two clerics, Simon from Sweden and Nicolaus from Lund, entered the order in 1219 in Bologna and were sent by Dominic to Sigtuna in Sweden, but were not well received by the archbishop of Uppsala.

The same year, Salomon from Århus in Denmark entered the convent in Verona and decided to go as missionary to Hungary, but was instead made prior of a house in Friesach in Germany which had been left by its previous prior. In 1221 Dominic sent him to Denmark, but a storm drove the ship off its course and almost wrecked it before it landed at Nidaros (Trondheim) in Norway. During the perils of the tempest Salomon was comforted by a vision of Dominic supporting the ship. Eventually Salomon reached Copenhagen, was welcomed by the archbishop of Lund and became associated with the papal legate Gregorius, on whose suggestion the archbishop gave the friars a house in Lund in 1222. The brethren from Sweden moved to Lund and chose Simon for their first prior. He was followed by Ranoldus, Arnaldus and Absalon.

No distinction is made in the text between the priorates of these four persons, but the province of Dacia was probably not instituted before 1228 (1226), and in both the historical works of Bernard Gui and in a late thirteenth-century Swedish calendarium, Ranoldus was considered the first provincial prior. Thus Simon was prior of the convent in Lund only.

The second part begins with the first of two foundations of the convent in Reval (Tallinn). According to the chronicle this first happened in 1229 at the wish of the Danish king Valdemar and with the advice of the papal legate Wilhelm (of Modena), but the friars were compelled to return home by the cruel Estonians who still inclined to their old paganism. In 1246 a provincial chapter in Ribe sent 12 friars to re-establish the convent in Reval. They came from 8 convents in Sweden and Denmark, and their names are given in the text, which ends by telling us that Daniel became the first prior amongst them.

Purpose and audience

The author might have had other aims in writing his short text than just to provide a local history parallel to other Dominican histories of the thirteenth century. The two papal legates mentioned were specially instructed to support crusading in general and in the Baltic in particular. William of Modena, a close associate of Dominic, seems to have attempted to create a religious state directly under papal control along the south and east coast of the Baltic Sea. The area was disputed between the Danish king and the Teutonic Order and continued to be so after William’s plans had proved futile. De ordine predicatorum might therefore reasonably be understood as an attempt to link William of Modena’s papally initiated project exclusively to the Danish king and support the Danish claim to Estonia. If so, it was probably written in the time from December 1261 to October 1262, when mendicants in Dacia, Northern Germany, Poland and Bohemia were commissioned to preach a major crusade to the Eastern Baltic.

Medieval reception and transmission

The text was preserved in the manuscript Veriloquium vetus in the University Library of Copenhagen which was copied by Thomas Bartholin in the late seventeenth century. The manuscript and the copy were burned with the library in 1728, but a copy of the copy survived and was edited by LANGEBEK & SUHM 1783 (SRD 5).

Bibliography

  • GALLÉN, J. 1946: La province de Dacie de l'Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, vol. 1: Historie [sic] générale jusqu'au Grand Schisme, Helsingfors.
  • HALVORSEN, P.B. 1995: “Aux origines de l’Ordre des prêcheurs dans les pays nordiques,” in Fondations et missions. Les initiatives missionnaires dominicaines des frères et des soeurs de langue française (= Mémoire dominicaine. Histoire, documents, vie dominicaine 6), 249–65.
  • HUCKER, B.U. 1989: “Der Plan eines christlichen Königreiches in Livland,” in Gli inizi del cristianesimo in Livonia–Lettonia. Atti del Colloquio Internazionale di Storia Ecclesiastica in occasione dell'VIII centenario della Chiesa in Livonia (1186–1986), Roma, 24–25 Giugno 1986, Città del Vaticano (= Pontificio Comitato di Scienze Storiche: Atti e documenti 1).