Martin of Opava

  (Redirected from Martinus Polonus)

Martin of Opava, O.P. (died 1278) also known as Martin of Poland, was a 13th-century Dominican friar, bishop and chronicler.

His Excellency

Martin of Opava
Archbishop of Gniezno
Martin von Troppau.PNG
ChurchRoman Catholic
Term ended1271
Consecration2 March 1259
Personal details
Coat of armsCoat of arms of Archbishop Marin of Oprava


Known in Latin as Frater Martinus Ordinis Praedicatorum (Brother Martin of the Order of Preachers), he is believed to have been born, at an unknown date, in the Silesian town of Opava, at that time part of the Margraviate of Moravia.[1]

From the middle of the 13th century, Martin was active in Rome as confessor and chaplain for Pope Alexander IV and his successors, Urban IV, Clement IV, Gregory X, Innocent V, Adrian V and John XXI (d. 1277), the last pope to appear in his chronicles. On 22 June 1278, Pope Nicholas III, while in Viterbo, appointed him archbishop of Gniezno.

While travelling to his new episcopal see, Martin died in Bologna, where he was buried at the Basilica of San Domenico, near the tomb of the founder of his Order.[2]


Martin's Latin chronicle, the Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum, was intended for the school-room. It is mostly derivative in content and is therefore of limited value to modern historians. However, its importance is in the way the material is presented, which is a quantum leap forward in didactic method. The genius lies in its layout; each double page covers fifty years with fifty lines per page. The left-hand pages give the history of the papacy, with one line per year, and the right-hand pages give the history of emperors, the two accounts being kept strictly parallel. This was a revolutionary approach in graphic design, which was not appreciated by all his contemporaries: many manuscripts simply copy the text without retaining the page layout, which results in a rather chaotic chronology. The chronicle was enormously influential; over 400 manuscripts are known, and the influence on many dozens of later chroniclers is palpable. Translations were made into many medieval vernaculars, including Middle English, as well as an Old French translation by Sébastien Mamerot in the late 15th century.[3] Martin's Chronicon is the most influential source for the legend of "Pope Joan". Other of his works include the Promptuarium Exemplorum.


  1. ^ Wielka ilustrowana księga Gutenberga X. 1994. p. 23. ISBN 83-86381-03-5.
  2. ^ Michel de La Roche: Memoirs of Literature: Containing a Large Account of Many Valuable Books ... , 1722 [1]
  3. ^ Kevin Teo Kia-Choong (2010). "Mamerot, Sébastien". In Graeme Dunphy (ed.). Encyclopedia of the Medieval Chronicle. Leiden: Brill. p. 1064. ISBN 90 04 18464 3.

Further readingEdit

  • Anna-Dorothee von den Brincken, "Studien zur Überlieferung der Chronik des Martin von Troppau (Erfahrungen mit einem massenhaft überlieferten historischen Text)", in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters, 41 (1985), pp. 460–531.
  • Wolfgang-Valentin Ikas, "Martinus Polonus' Chronicle of the Popes and Emperors. A Medieval Best-seller and its Neglected Influence on English Medieval Chroniclers", in The English Historical Review, 116 (2001), pp. 327-341 (also ISBN 3-89500-313-1)
  • Wolfgang-Valentin Ikas, "Neue Handschriftenfunde zum Chronicon pontificum et imperatorum des Martin von Troppau", in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters, 58 (2002), pp. 521–537.
  • Wolfgang-Valentin Ikas, Martin von Troppau (Martinus Polonus), O.P. (gest. 1278) in England. Überlieferungs- und wirkungsgeschichtliche Studien zu dessen Papst- und Kaiserchronik (Wissensliteratur im Mittelalter 40) Wiesbaden: Verlag Dr. Ludwig Reichert 2002. ISBN 3-89500-313-1 Review article
  • Ludwig Weiland (ed.), "Martini Oppaviensis chronicon pontificum et imperatorum". MGH SS 22 (1872), pp. 377–475 Faksimile bei Gallica
  • H. Daniel Embree (ed.), The Chronicles of Rome. An Edition of the Middle English 'The Chronicle of Popes and Emperors' and 'The Lollard Chronicle', Woodbridge 1999.

External linksEdit