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Why did the Vatican ban the book about the Slavs and threaten its author with death?
Why did the Vatican ban the book about the Slavs and threaten its author with death?

The 19th century Polish archaeologist Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Wolansky could not have imagined that the publication of his discoveries could endanger his life. The Polish Catholic clergy not only got angry, but set out to resolve the issue with the archaeologist radically - to burn him at the stake out of their own books. The Pole was saved by Emperor Nicholas I, who protected the scientist from attacks and ordered the Russian army to protect the archaeologist and facilitate his further research. Why did Volansky so angered the Catholic Church?

He fought with Russia, but did not become a Russophobe

Tadeusz Volansky was born in 1785 in the city of Shavel (Siauliai) in Lithuania. During the war of 1812, he fought in the army of Napoleon Bonaparte against Russia and was even awarded the Order of the Legion of Honor. After the war, he married, settled in Poland and took up the study of runic Slavic writing, archeology and collecting. Most of all he was interested in ancient coins, amulets, medals, inscriptions on monuments (stones and tombstones), as well as the antiquities of North Africa.


Perhaps, the impetus to the study of the presence of the Slavs in Italy and on the African continent was given by two finds that turned out to be in his collection - a figurine of the god Osiris and a ritual figurine of ushebti, which in ancient times the Egyptians placed in the coffin of the deceased. The figurines of the 7th – 4th centuries BC were found during excavations on the Baltic coast and spoke of trade relations between Ancient Egypt and the Slavic peoples.

As a result of researching ancient monuments, Volansky came to the conclusion that many inscriptions incomprehensible to Europeans can be easily read using Slavic languages. He suggested that even before Cyril and Methodius, the Slavs had their own very ancient alphabet, and discovered that with the help of the Slavic languages ​​most of the Etruscan (Rassene) inscriptions could be read.

Volansky suggested that the Etruscans are not only the closest relatives of the Slavs, but that it was this people who became the real founder of Rome. The scientist believed that in ancient times the Slavic peoples were known not only throughout Europe, their influence extended to North Africa up to Nubia.

- Is it in Italy, India, Persia and even Egypt, - he asked himself and others, - no Slavic monuments? Aren't there inscriptions in the books of Zoroaster, on the ruins of Babylon and Persepolis, the palaces of Darius, that are understandable to us, the Slavs? Yes, scientists in England, France and Germany are looking at these inscriptions - jak kozioł na wodę. And only we, the Slavs, can bring these studies to the end.

Volansky believed that he had already managed to decipher most of the Etruscan inscriptions and many incomprehensible inscriptions on various artifacts. He set out his observations in letters, which he addressed to the Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg, then to Copenhagen to the Royal Danish Society for the Study of History, then to the Royal Scientific Society of Bohemia. But the lover of antiquity was not taken seriously.


Without waiting for an answer, in 1846 at his own expense in the city of Gniezno Volansky published the book "Letters about Slavic Antiquities". In it, an archaeologist in German in five letters with an attachment of 12 engravings, which depicted 145 artifacts, described the most ancient finds in his collection and in the collections of his acquaintances, and came to the conclusion that the history of the Slavic peoples is very ancient, and the distribution their influence and widespread settlement in Europe are hushed up and hidden in every possible way.

From India to Scandinavia

In the book, he easily proved that many coins, medals and inscriptions on artifacts, which were previously attributed to the Danes, the Swedes, or the Romans, belong to the Slavs - Lyutichs, Litvin (Lithuanians), who were later mistakenly attributed to the unknown Balts, Bohemians, Moravians, Russians and other peoples.

He identified the Indian god Shiva as the Slavic god Siva or Zhivu and presented as proof of this a bracteate (a coin with a minting on one side) with the image of this god and an inscription in Slavic ZYWIE. Volansky found on medallions and amulets the names of Russian princes, who were considered by the Germans to be almost fictional. Now these inscriptions testified to the historicity of the legends. He found the name of Rurik, the names of princes Oleg and Igor, Princess Olga.


The 7th century coin with portraits of the Byzantine emperor Constantine II and the Slavic prince Hostivit is absolutely unique in the Volansky collection. The inscription on the coin read: HOSTIVIT ЕТ CONSTANS P. F. AVG. This artifact confirmed the wars between the Romans and the Slavs, as well as the peace concluded between them.

Volansky was looking for artifacts, the origin of which was attributed to Rome or Persia, Slavic letters and images of Slavic gods - Radogast, Chernobog, the god of war Yarovit, the god Chura. In the inscriptions on Indian temples, he found the name of Tur-god and translated what was written on Etruscan tombstones.

Volansky admitted that in his research there could be individual errors due to his lack of special knowledge or poor preservation of artifacts, but he really wanted to be paid attention to his research. Three years later, the second book "Letters about Slavic Antiquities" was published, which included seven letters and 88 drawings.

Unnecessary attention

In the same year, the Archbishop of Gnezno of the Polish Catholic Church turned to Emperor Nicholas I for a petition, nothing less than "to apply to the Wolansky auto-da-fe at the stake from his book." Quite surprised by the malice of the Jesuits, the emperor decided to familiarize himself with Volansky's book, for which he bought several copies of "Letters …" and summoned another famous Slavophile of the 19th century from Moscow to St. Petersburg, teacher and writer Yegor Klassen, to conduct an examination of the book.


The liberal youth of that time called the emperor a soldier and Nikolai Palkin. However, Nicholas I was not a limited person and knew exactly who he was inviting. Klassen was also a supporter of the idea that the Etruscans are the closest relatives of the Slavs and that they are the founders of the Roman civilization and the city of Rome itself. Klassen tried to prove that the Slavs realized their statehood at the same time as the Greeks and Phoenicians, and considered the Norman scientists at least "unscrupulous".

After Klassen's report, the emperor ordered to buy the "required" amount of books in order to put them "under strong storage", to assign to the author guards from the military, whom he ordered not only to protect Volansky, but also to assist in every possible way in the expeditions of the archaeologist to collect ancient Slavic artifacts.

In order not to irritate the Poles once again and not lead to conflict, the rest of the book's circulation was ordered to be burned. This last order was fulfilled with great pleasure by the Jesuits, who not only destroyed the book, but also, remembering that some of its copies were preserved in St. Petersburg, entered it into the Vatican's "Index of Forbidden Books". From now on, every Catholic who opened the "Letters on Slavic Antiquities" committed a sin. He was obliged to either transfer the book to a person who had the right to read such literature, or destroy it.

The missing library

Nevertheless, most of the discoveries of Tadeusz Volansky became known to the public: Yegor Klassen, at the behest of Nicholas I, included them in one of his works. True, not everything was included, but only what was reviewed by the Russian Orthodox Church - the images of the Slavic gods, and especially the "shameful oud", were too inapplicable. The images of the pagans of Christ, whom they included in their pantheons and whom they tried to worship in the same way as other gods, by making sacrifices, were not published either.

The book was less fortunate than the author - it was burned. At the end of the 20th century, a single copy of "Letters …" was found in the library of the city of New York, which miraculously survived. At the request of Russian writers Oleg Gusev and Roman Perin, it was translated into Russian and published again with private funds.

In the 19th century, they started talking about Volansky's discoveries for a while, and then the political situation changed, and he was forgotten for many years. It is known that the archaeologist died in early 1865 in Poland. Its unique collection of antiquities was transferred to the Krakow University Museum, where it is still kept. But his extensive library has disappeared, perhaps it was taken into the hands of the Catholic Jesuits.

Unfortunately, even now the work of Tadeusz Wolanski is ignored by traditional historical science and is used only by historians who are almost contemptuously called alternatives. And in the USSR and in Russia, generations of people grew up who, from an early age, were taught that before Cyril and Methodius the Slavs did not have writing.

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