Dagome iudex

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"Dagome iudex" is the name applied to one of the earliest documents believed to relate to Poland. "Poland" is not mentioned by that name, but reference is made to Dagome and Ote (Mieszko I and his wife, Oda von Haldensleben) and their sons in 991, placing their territory (the "state in whole which is called Schinesghe") under the protection of the Apostolic See. The document's name derives from two of its opening words.

Nature and import of the Dagome iudex

The Dagome iudex survives only in the form of a summary, completed c. 1080. It was found in a register compiled by a curial cardinal during the papacy of Gregory VII.

Most historians believe that the word "Dagome" is a melding of two names: the Christian "Dago," for "Dagobert" (Mieszko's hypothetical baptismal name), and the Slavic "Me," for "Mieszko." The Latin word "iudex" ("judge") would be used in the meaning of "prince." Another interpretation is that "Dagome iudex" is a corruption of "Ego Mesco dux" ("I, Prince Mieszko").

Place names are misspelled by the person who made the summary. He was also apparently unaware that the document related to territory later called Poland.

The boundaries of the "Gniezno" state are described as extending to the "Long Sea" (the Baltic), Prussia, Rus', Kraków, Moravia and the Oder River. The document did not take account of Mieszko's territorial conquests of 989 - 990, Lesser Poland and Silesia.

The Dagome iudex is of capital importance for Polish history in giving a general description of the future Polish state in that period. It, however, leaves unanswered many questions. First, it does not explain why Mieszko I placed his state under the protection of the Pope. Also, it is unclear why the document does not mention Mieszko's eldest son, Bolesław I the Brave. Mentioned instead are his sons by his second wife, Oda. No mention is made of the third son from that marriage, Świętopełk, either. In addition, it is not clear why the city of Kraków, which had probably been conquered by Mieszko before the document was drawn up, is mentioned as a borderland and not as part of the "Shinesghe civitas." Finally, Mieszko I is not referred to as "Dagome" in any other document.

Historians suppose that Bolesław's absence from the document might be explained by an old Slavic custom whereby children received their inheritance as soon as they reached the age of majority. Thus Bolesław the Brave might have received Kraków as his part of his father's legacy before the Dagome iudex had been written.

Text of the Dagome iudex

  • In the Latin:
  • In English translation:

Notes

The following notes are based on interpretations by the Polish historian Gerard Labuda.

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