The Crown Metrica 4-1 — About
The Crown Metrica and its digital internet copy
One of the most important resources for the history of the Crown and the Republic has been waiting for a long time to be widely available for researchers. A grant from the National Programme for the Development of Humanities enabled us to prepare the digital version of those resources. The Crown Metrica – Inscription Books (Inscriptiones): is a series covering the period from 1447 to 1795, and consist of 361 main volumes. It was originally created in order to record acts sent by the Office of the King. However, not all acts have been recorded in their entirety, and some have not been recorded at all. At times, the filing details have been omitted, and some entries only contain the main content. Beginning in the 16th century, beside the acts sent by the Office of the King, the Metrica also contained transactions made by the nobles, concluded before the Metrica acts. The two kinds of contents are differentiated with the following captions – for acts sent by the Office of the King they are referred to as regestrum privilegiorum whereas for inscriptions on behalf of the nobles the are referred to as regestrum inscriptionum et recognitionum.
The digital versions, unlike many other historical resources available on the internet, are not only a scanned image of the manuscripts. For the Crown Metrica, thanks to the Central Archives of Historical Records, head of Archives Hubert Wajs PhD, a manuscript search tool has been made available, and is based on the registers published by T. Wierzbowski (and his followers), and currently prof. prof. W. Krawczuka, K. Chłapowski1. The latter series of registers, as opposed to those published by T. Wierzbowski which was published in Latin, have been published in Polish. Beginning with the fourth book in the series, they are published by DiG Publishing. Due to the fact that the early registers have been published in Latin, the search feature in those early registers also requires the keywords to be entered in Latin as well. Starting in the late 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century the search should be conducted in Polish. In fact, the search takes place after three characters are entered (alphanumeric, as well as digits) - it's a simple approximation but is supported by a chronological slider which allows for the reduction of the number of results.
I highly encourage the scientific community to cooperate in the creation of the registers, perhaps through seminar work which can further aid in the development of the project digitization and the Crown Metrica as well.
At first the project was to refer only to the Crown Metrica series of Inscription Books, however during the course of the work I have decided to extend the scope of the project and add the first 10 volumes of the Mazovian books, as well as several volumes of the Lithuanian Metrica, which also have been made available as a result of the project.
Access to the Metrica in its digital form was preceded by a complete digitization of all the volumes in the main Inscription Books - made directly for the project, using the original volumes. The acts were scanned and stored in accordance with the archiving norms of the Central Archives of Historical Records. Each page image contains the code PL – Poland, Archive number – 1(AGAD), team number – 4 (Crown Metrica), series number – 1 (Inscriptiones), as well as the volume number of the Crown Metrica, and lastly page numbers in continuum. Whereas the front cover in numbered 0, and the back cover in numbered 9999. Unwritten, seemingly blank pages have also been scanned, which will enable codicology work in reference to the Metrica. Blank pages are not available in search mode as mentioned above.
Digital copies have been scanned as large resolution images, as recommended by the Head of the Central Archives of Historical Records, however for scientific purposes, as well as the ease of accessibility, the digital copies have been compressed to smaller images. The large resolution images, without any interference to the image itself, with the exception of cropping to a similar size, have been submitted to the Central Archives of Historical Records, as archive material, which will replace the heavily used and worn out microfilm copies.
The original large resolution images are not expected to be available, unless special circumstances arise. In order to ease accessibility, the high resolution images in TIFF format have been compressed to JPG. Smaller, compressed images enable easier and faster access to files via the internet. The files are still big enough for the reader on a monitor, as well as in printing form, without the loss of focus. However, much still depends on the quality of the monitor and the graphics card on the computer itself. Each page also has a smaller image (thumbnail), not meant for reading, but to facilitate searching for the required file. Also, each volume is available to download as an Adobe Acrobat PDF file. This file ensures compatibility on all platforms, and is the best archiving format to date. The digital files are not protected from copying nor printing, whereas the main goal of the projects funded by grants from the National Programme for the Development of Humanities is to facilitate scientific research for all. Neither I, as the initiator and the project manager, nor the Central Archives of Historical Records, headed by Hubert Wajs PhD, will not be setting any restrictions for those who wish to use the register for their research. However, we do ask that a source is provided in the following form: AGAD, Crown Metrica, digital edition, editor Sławomir Górzyński (in brief: AGAD, MK, red. S. Górzyński), with the addition of the volume and page number.
Volume summaries which include archive signatures and formal descriptions can be found on the AGAD website http://www.agad.gov.pl/inwentarze/Metr_Korx.xml. The following page also contains links to the digital copies, which can be found via „scan gallery” link at the end of the summary. Please note the page is still under construction, therefore not all data may be available at this given time, however by the end of the year, all work shall be completed as planned.
The Acrobat PDF files (when used with appropriate software) may be flagged with notes, bookmarks, etc. However in the PDF files, the text search feature in unavailable, because currently there is no commercially available software which would perform optical character recognition on medieval as well as modern manuscripts with an efficiency required for scientific research. As historians, we still have to depend on ourselves in order to decode the manuscripts, but now having a digital copy on our local disk thanks to the PDF feature, makes it all that much easier.
Even though the project is refered to as completed, it will most likely be supplemented by additional volumes, as prof. K. Chłapowski and prof. W. Krawczuk are working on elaborating subsequent volumes.
The project will also enable the searching of information withing a given volume (containing registers). Registers in a XML form are currently being implemented in the Auxillary Sciences of History Database (which beside the archive information, will contain information regarding noble genealogy, officials, seals and coat of arms) as part of another project from the National Programme for the Development of Humanities, which I also manage, and is being carried out by the Polish Heraldic Society. Both of the projects will provide significant aid in scientific historical research. The Polish Heraldic Society, which I am honored to be the President of, aims to develop scientific historical research, as well as other areas of auxillary sciences of history, therefore we are highly involved in this project.
Digital copies currently available on the internet can be found on the Polish Heraldic Society web page located at: pther.eu/MK. This is the main site, where research for the Crown Metrica shall begin.
In the presentation of the digital copies, we have tried to make it as simple for the viewer as possible, we avoided visual effects, bright colors, etc. in order to ease functionality, viewability and shorten loading times. Simplicity was our main goal, and we believe we have accomplished that perfectly. Metrica readers and researchers can easily access it on all platforms, with or without high speed internet connections.
Digital copies may also be accessed through the Central Archives of Historical Records website located at: http://www.agad.gov.pl/inwentarze/Metr_Korx.xml. The website also enables access to other Crown Metrica volumes in digital form, such as Legation Books (Libri Legationum) Crown Metrica (dating:  1501-1761, sygn. LL1 do LL41), Sigillata Books (Sigillata) Crown Metrica (dating 1658-1794, sygn. S1 do S43, ), Public Affair Books (Chancellor) Crown Metrica (dating 1735-1795, sygn. KK1 do KK108), Court Books: Asesor, Relational i Sejm (dating  1591-1744 , sygn. ARS1 do AR28 with several books missing 14, 22, 25-27 i 29, partly destroyed before 1821 r., and partly during WWII), Referenda Court Books (dating 1582, 1591-1794, sygn.. Ks. Ref. 1 do Ks. Ref. 66).
Thanks to the Crown Metrica digitization project, 758 volumes of very important and valuable books from the Polish old era (and partly the late middle ages), were made widely available for research, with incredible ease of access for all those interested.
31 volumes which have not been included are Russian Affair Books (Wołyńskie) Crown Metrica dating 1569-1673.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who have contributed to the project, starting with Teodor Wierzbowski, prof. Krawczuk and prof. Chłapowski, the opinionating team from the National Programme for the Development of Humanities, also the employees and associates of AGAD, which create the XML register descriptions, as well as those who created the digital copies – K. Dąbrowski and B. Wróblewski, especially the latter, who spent many months arduously scanning the books page by page, and last but not least Hubert Wajs PhD, the Head of the Central Archives of Historical Records who made it all possible, and mostly I would like to thank for his benevolent attitude for my ideas. There is one more person that I would like to thank, we have talked about creating digital versions of the archives, over 25 years ago – and ever since the thought has been in the back of my mind. My dear friend, and co-author of many publishing works - PhDr Andrzej Biernat, the deputy director of the Head Office of the State Archives, which supported me and my research ideas with great kindness and help.
1Registers published in Lating, and should be searched for in Latin: Marticularum Regni Poloniae summaria, excussis codicibus, qui in Chartophylacio Maximo Varsoviensi asservantur (dalej Matricularum), Pars 1. Casimiri IV regis tempora complectens (1447–1492), Varsoviae 1905; Matricularum, Pars 2; Johannis Alberti regis tempora complectens (1492–1501), Varsoviae 1907; Matricularum, Pars 3. Alexandri regis tempora complectens (1501–1506), Varsoviae 1908; Matricularum, Pars 4. Sigismundi I regis tempora complectens, Volumen 1. Acta cancellariorum (1507–1548), Varsoviae 1910; Volumen 2. Acta vicecancellariorum (1507–1533), Varsoviae 1912; Volumen 3. Acta vicecancellariorum (1535–1548), Varsoviae 1915; Volumen 4. Indicem rerum, persnarum et locorum complectens, Varsoviae 1917; Matricularum, Pars 5. Sigismundi Augusti regis tempora complectens (1548–1572), Volumen 1. Acta cancellariorum (1548–1572), Varsoviae 1919; Matricularum, Pars 5. Sigismundi Augusti regis tempora complectens (1448–1572). Volumen 2. Acta vicecancellariorum (1548–1572), Contexuerunt Josephus Płocha, Antonius Rybarski, Irena Sułkowska, moderante Jacobo Sawicki, Varsoviae 1961; Matricularum, Pars. 6. Henrici Valesii regis tempora complectens (1573–1574), Contexuit Maria Woźniakowa, Varsoviae 1999. Summaries available in Polish: Sumariusz Metryki Koronnej, Seria nowa, t. I, Księga wpisów kancelarii koronnej podkanclerzego Tomasza Zamoyskiego z lat 1628-1635, ze zbiorów sztokholmskiego Riksarkivet, sygn. Skokloster E[nskilda] 8636, oprac. Wojciech Krawczuk, Kraków 1999; Sumariusz Metryki Koronnej. Seria nowa, t. II, Księga wpisów kanclerza Jana Zamoyskiego MK 133 z Archiwum Głównego Akt Dawnych w Warszawie. Dokumenty z czasów panowania Zygmunt III Wazy 1587-1595, pod red. Wojciecha Krawczuka, oprac. A. Kot, W. Krawczuk, M. Kulecki, A. Sokół, G. Spyrka, Kraków 2001; Sumariusz Metryki Koronnej. Seria Nowa, t. III, Księga wpisów podkanclerzego Wojciecha Baranowskiego MK 134 z Archiwum Głównego Akt Dawnych w Warszawie lata 1587 - V 1588, pod red. Wojciecha Krawczuka, Kraków 2004; Sumariusz Metryki Koronnej. Seria Nowa
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