Listy dobrego urodzenia i dobrej sławy w procedurze nadawania prawa miejskiego Lwowa w XV wieku

Andrzej Janeczek



Certificates of good parentage and good behaviour (litterae genealogiae, litterae conservationis) were prepared for those who aspired for municipal citizenship. Bestowing civic rights was a procedure of including to the local municipal community. It took place after an acceptation of city council and fulfilling by the candidate a number of qualifying conditions; one of which defined his personal values, that are: legal birth, from honest parents, and unblemished honour. Letters were to certify that a newcomer, candidate for a citizen, fulfils conditions specified in a dictum: frei, echt und recht, which means, that he was free, legally born and righteous. In the 15th century Lviv, organised according to the Magdeburg law, the rules of bestowing civic rights were no other than in communal type cities of the whole Central Europe. The most common mean for confirming candidate’s ability for obtaining civic rights was written certificate, a letter issued usually by the city council from the city of candidate’s previous residence. The procedure of bestowing municipal citizenship in Lviv can be analyzed on the basis of registers of admission, which have been recently published (Album civium Leopoliensium. Rejestry przyjęć do prawa miejskiego we Lwowie 1388–1783, wyd. A. Janeczek, Poznań–Warszawa 2005). There are over 1600 items registered before 1514. Most of them inform that candidates introduced certificates of their parentage and good behaviour. Those certificates, because of its significant role in a matriculation to citizenship, must have been a written document wide spread among urban societies. Nevertheless, there are relatively few of them left and nowadays those certificates become very rare historical source. Some of them, beforehand unknown, issued for candidates applying for a Lviv citizenship are enclosed to the article. Their copies were written in the manuscript book kept in the Czech National Library in Prague. Certificates, those only mentioned in registers, as well as those known in original form, show different aspects of written communication, which established and functioned in the late Middle Ages in a large part of Europe, where cities and towns were organized according to the communal city model.

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