Frantsisk Skorina

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Skorina, Frantsisk


Born before 1490 in Polotsk; died before 1541 in Prague. Byelorussian printing pioneer and humanist.

In 1504, Skorina studied at the University of Kraków, where he received the degree of bachelor of philosophy. In 1512 he passed the examination for the degree of doctor of medicine at the University of Padua. Skorina began his career as a printer in Prague. In 1517 he printed the Psalter in Slavonic. Two copies are known; one is in the Historical Museum in Moscow, and the other in the Saltykov-Shchedrin Public Library in Leningrad. From 1517 to 1519, Skorina printed 19 books of the Bible in Prague; one of them contains the title page to all the books—the first title page of a Slavonic book printed in the Cyrillic alphabet. The books that Skorina printed in Prague are on a high artistic level, with many illustrations, headpieces, and initials, achieved by means of wood engraving. Two of Skorina’s books contained his portrait.

In the early 1520’s, Skorina moved to Vilnius, where he founded the first printing house on the territory of what is now the USSR. In 1522 he printed The Small Psalmbook, and in 1525 a Slavonic Acts of the Apostles. Skorina included in his publications his own forewords, afterwords, notes, and glosses.

Skorina’s humanist ideas influenced the sociopolitical life of the East Slavic peoples. He advocated widespread popular education, religious toleration, and social equality. Skorina was instrumental in the formation of the Byelorussian literary language and the development of Byelorussian literature. He spent the last years of his life in Prague as the personal physician and gardener of King Ferdinand.


Skaryna, F. Pradmova i pasliasloui. Minsk, 1969.


Vladimirov, P. V. Doktor Frantsisk Skorina, ego perevody, pechatnye izdaniia i iazyk. St. Petersburg, 1888.
Chatyrokhsotlets’tse belaruskaha druku. Minsk, 1926.
450 hod belaruskaha knihadrukavannia. Minsk, 1968.
Nemirovskii, E. L. “Belorusskii pervopechatnik Frantsisk Skorina.” Poligrafiia, 1967, no. 8.
Hraviury Frantsyska Skaryny. Compiled by L. Barazna. Minsk, 1972.
Katalog belorusskikh izdanii kirillovskogo shrifta XVI–XVII vv. Compiled by V. I. Luk’ianenko. Leningrad, 1973.

E. L. NEMIROVSKII [23–1540–]

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