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"Tataria description" by M.Broniewski.: observation of sources

Zharkikh M.I.

Martin Broniewski – author of Latin "Tataria description", known from the first edition (Cologne in 1595) and subsequent reprints. This work is actively used by researchers as a source of history and archeology of Crimea in the 16 century. But, surprisingly, it was never the subject of special study as historical source. Not trying to give this article full answers to all questions of source value, I will try to highlight those issues that lie directly on the surface, and outline some directions for further studies.

Contents (full text in Ukrainian)

Information about author

Publication of description

Purpose and program of description

Structure of work

Broniewski and Strabo

Identification of ancient place names with modern ones in Broniewski's work

The authors of the 16 century

Written sources found in Crimea

Personal observation by Broniewski

Historical data

Geographic Features of the 16 cent. in the description

Distance measurement in the description


Trend of description


Martin Broniewski – ambassador of the Polish King Stefan Batory in Crimea in 1578 – 1579 – raised an interesting problem to give an outline of geography the Black Sea and Crimea. His "Tataria description" famous since print in 1595, is a valuable primary source, which contains data on orography, hydrography, natural resources, wildlife, even the climate of this land. Great care is devoted to the description of Tatars customs.

Comparison of biographic data of the "Description" with other sources suggests that Broniewski born in 1545..1550 years and that his father was a general clerk in Lviv, also named Martin.

Broniewski used in his work several groups of sources: ancient geographical descriptions, 16 cent. works, written monuments discovered in the Crimea, epigraphic monuments.

Since ancient works the "Geography" by Strabo is on the first place, which was the skeleton of Broniewski's geographical descriptions. This description can be seen as a first attempt to historical and geographical commentary of Strabo's work for the Ukrainian lands.

What is the historical and geographical works of the 16 cent. are used by the author – specifically could not be established, this issue requires further research. Broniewski carefully noted medieval epigraphic monuments, which he overlooked in the Crimea, they are testimony of nationality and state property of lands and buildings.

Very significant place in the work take personal experience as that is generally reliable. But one will keep in mind that his own observations author generalize very much, so they require a comparison with other reports and in any case be used as isolated facts rather than generalizations.

The depth of historical data in the work, except for borrowings from ancient authors, is less than 100 years, and in the presentation of these data are much confusions.

Geographic realities of 16 cent. mentioned in the description, in most can be confidently identified with modern features. Observations on distance measures in the description showed that Broniewski's mile is 7..12 km, which is generally consistent with the standard Polish mile – 7 km.

This work is very valuable source for the history of Ukraine and the Crimean khanate, it certainly deserves to re-edit Latin text with new Ukrainian translation, maps attached to the 1595 edition should be also republish (that have not been studied).

The article finished 15 Aug 2003

Originally published: "To the sources: Collected Works in honor of Oleg Kupchinsky the occasion of his 70 years," Kyiv-Lviv, 2004, vol 2, p. 313 – 350.