Discussion:
A False Descent from Byzantium to Poland?
(too old to reply)
Kelsey.Jack...@gmail.com
2020-09-01 20:29:31 UTC
Permalink
Dear all,

Most secondary sources claim that Jovan Branković, despot of Serbia (d. 1502) left several daughters by his wife Jelena Jakšić, including two who married Lithuanian noblemen and are ancestral to a large number of Polish and Lithuanian noble families. I've been vaguely aware of this for some time, and its corollary that many Poles and Lithuanians can accordingly claim descent from several Byzantine imperial houses via Jovan's grandmother Eirene Kantakouzene, but I returned to the issue recently while looking at the Princes Wiśniowiecki, descendants of one of the two daughters, and on second glance the general consensus, such as it is, seems very doubtful.

Basically, the argument seems to be this: contemporary documents name Prince Iwan Michałowicz Wiśniowiecki's (d. c.1542) wife as a certain "Marya Despotowna" or "Magdalena Despotowna" [1]. She has then been fairly convincingly identified [2] as the same woman who was described as being a daughter of Jovan's wife Jelena and the wife of a certain "Prince of Visnjevac" in the sixteenth-century "genealogy of Ruvarac". It's worth quoting the relevant passage:

Po śmierci męża osta Jelena despotica, supružnica Joanna despota, sa daščerami svoimi, jeże jest sestra kneginii Glinskoj. I ona davši daščere svoje za muži, pervoju daščer svoju Mariju dade za Petra voivodu vlaškogo, a dve daščeri svoje u Litovskuju zemlu, jedinu za knezalvana Višnjevačkogo a dru[gu]ju za kneza Teodora Vladimirskoga. [3]

[After the death of her husband, Jelena the despotina, wife of Jovan the despot, remained with her daughters. And she gave her daughters to husbands. She gave her first daughter Maria to Peter, Duke of Vlachia, and two daughters to the Lithuanian lands, the one to the Prince of Visnjevac and the other to Prince Teodor Vladimirsky]

The problem, however, is one of chronology. Iwan Michałowicz died between 1541 and 1544, probably 1542, and Maria/Magdalena remarried Prince Aleksander Fedorowicz Czartoryski, having two further children by him and surviving until at least 1570. This seems to be pushing the envelope for the fertility of a woman who could not, in this reconstruction, have been born more than nine months after her supposed father's death in 1502. For these reasons, in 2010 Lilia Zabolotnaia proposed that Maria/Magdalena and her sister Hanna, the other daughter named by the "Genealogy of Ruvarac", were actually children of Jelena Jakšić by her *second* husband, Ivaniš Berislavić, also despot of Serbia [4].

I find this plausible enough, but wonder whether we should be quite so confident that the "Genealogy of Ruvarac" can be trusted even this far. It misnames the daughter Jelena who married Petru Rareș, voievod of Moldavia, as "Maria", ignores Jelena's actual daughter Maria who married Ferdinando Frankopan, and seems rather vague on the names and fates of the two daughters in Lithuania. All in all, it seems to me that the parentage of Marya/Magdalena and Hanna "Despotówna" is decidedly unproven, but I'd be interested to hear whether others have any opinions on this or could point to other contemporary or near-contemporary sources besides the ones I've mentioned.

All best wishes,
Kelsey


[1] Józef Wolff, <i>Kniaziowie litewsko-ruscy od końca czternastego wieku</i> (Warszawa 1895), 26.
[2] Tadeusz Wasilewski, "Przyczynki źródłowe do stosunków Polski ze Słowiańszczyzną południową w wiekach XIII-XVI", <i>Studia Źródłoznawcze = Commentationes</i> 8 (1963): 117-124.
[3] Lubomir Stojanović, <i>Stari srpski rodoslovi i letopisi</i> (Sr. Karlovci, 1927), 56.
[4] Lilia Zabolotnaia, "Câteva precizări despre dinastia Branković", <i>Tyragetia</i> 4 (2010): 115-122.
wjhonson
2020-09-02 18:14:22 UTC
Permalink
Some context

https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
Kelsey.Jack...@gmail.com
2020-09-02 20:15:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
I know it's practically a knee-jerk reaction now to point out the problems in Cawley's "Medieval Lands", but the link Will shared above does highlight why one should *never* trust Cawley's interpretations of documents or claims to any sort of comprehensive knowledge of an issue. You'll note that there's the usual mishmash of grammatically fragmentary Latin in the entry for Jovan Branković. Turning to Cawley's footnotes, one sees citations to the "Monumenta Serbica", a mid-nineteenth-century edition of documents from the Serbian medieval period [1]. So far, so good. But there are obvious red flags in the text which make one want to explore further. For example:

"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."

Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.

I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).

All the best,
Kelsey

[1] Conveniently accessible online at https://archive.org/details/monumentaserbica00mikluoft/page/n3/mode/2up
joseph cook
2020-09-02 22:20:26 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
It's so insidious, because if someone lists their source as "King Edwerd wuz the best king and his dad wuz Frank"; it makes it pretty clear it is a source to be ignored. When someone takes the trouble to quote passages from 9th century works in foreign languages but makes a complete hash of it, it takes a lot more work to go through and figure out exactly where it went wrong and a waste of time to do so.

Why does the foundation of Medieval Genealogy both continue to host this material and make no attempt to improve it ?
Peter Stewart
2020-09-02 23:09:19 UTC
Permalink
Post by joseph cook
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
It's so insidious, because if someone lists their source as "King Edwerd wuz the best king and his dad wuz Frank"; it makes it pretty clear it is a source to be ignored. When someone takes the trouble to quote passages from 9th century works in foreign languages but makes a complete hash of it, it takes a lot more work to go through and figure out exactly where it went wrong and a waste of time to do so.
Why does the foundation of Medieval Genealogy both continue to host this material and make no attempt to improve it ?
I can only assume it is for the same reason that many Republicans
continue to support Trump - they are shackled together by pride and a
lack of principles strong enough to override this.

In the case of Trump, the shackles are tightened with every patent lie
since people are less inclined each time to admit that they were taken
in by the same kind and degree of mendacity before.

With Medieval Lands, the FMG panjandrums would have to admit to being
taken in by shoddy pretense, that is perhaps less morally invidious but
no less practically disgraceful.

What I find mysterious is why some respectable (and indeed even
admirable) researchers in genealogy continue to support FMG. Bland
tolerance is not always a virtue: judicious intolerance is the basis of
law, and indirectly of civilised life.

Peter Stewart
lancast...@gmail.com
2020-09-04 12:14:45 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
It's so insidious, because if someone lists their source as "King Edwerd wuz the best king and his dad wuz Frank"; it makes it pretty clear it is a source to be ignored. When someone takes the trouble to quote passages from 9th century works in foreign languages but makes a complete hash of it, it takes a lot more work to go through and figure out exactly where it went wrong and a waste of time to do so.
Why does the foundation of Medieval Genealogy both continue to host this material and make no attempt to improve it ?
I agree this type of problems caused by strange selections of quotations are particularly problematic, because it makes it more difficult to imagine how the database can be easily improved by future generations, or how we can use it safely now.

Perhaps part of the problem is coming from the format, which repeats the same citations under every proposed person's entry, leading to a problem with space and readability. The traditional way of listing citations once only within each article about a family or lordship, and attaching sketches of possible family trees as they become relevant, would have saved space and allowed more comprehensive collections of quotes. If you really want to collect all primary sources per individual you need something like a webpage per person format such as in wikitree or the Henry project. The drive to create big family trees is understandable but it leads us inevitably into temptations. (As Captain Kirk might have put it.)

A parallel problem involves the use of secondary sources, which are clearly very influential on MEDLANDS but not always even named, let alone cited. (Hence all the strange remarks about the primary source still not located.) Perhaps this has evolved a little but the original intention seems to have been to try to build from primary sources only, or as much as possible, which was clearly not feasible for a one-man project. From cases I have looked into MEDLANDS tends to build its tree built upon older secondary sources, such as the ones we can find online. Of course we all do that when we start collecting notes, but obviously we are supposed to keep notes about which ones we used. For one thing, it can help us track down more recent critiques of older secondary sources. MEDLANDS all too often proposes strange solutions to problems long ago solved. I do however get a feeling that the approach has changed a bit, and there is more openness to advice and secondary sources, when suggested.

For those who've never tried it, one way to use leads from online sources which you aren't confident about is to take a whole selection of a source quote (say 5 words, enclosed by quotes) and google that. This can help locate other sources, and get some other perspectives. I would say that cross-checking and caution is essential for most sources in genealogy and certainly all online sources. And even doing that we will all inevitably make mistakes and waste time on false leads. Life wasn't meant to be easy, or so they say.
Peter Stewart
2020-09-04 22:31:44 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
It's so insidious, because if someone lists their source as "King Edwerd wuz the best king and his dad wuz Frank"; it makes it pretty clear it is a source to be ignored. When someone takes the trouble to quote passages from 9th century works in foreign languages but makes a complete hash of it, it takes a lot more work to go through and figure out exactly where it went wrong and a waste of time to do so.
Why does the foundation of Medieval Genealogy both continue to host this material and make no attempt to improve it ?
I agree this type of problems caused by strange selections of quotations are particularly problematic, because it makes it more difficult to imagine how the database can be easily improved by future generations, or how we can use it safely now.
Perhaps part of the problem is coming from the format, which repeats the same citations under every proposed person's entry, leading to a problem with space and readability. The traditional way of listing citations once only within each article about a family or lordship, and attaching sketches of possible family trees as they become relevant, would have saved space and allowed more comprehensive collections of quotes. If you really want to collect all primary sources per individual you need something like a webpage per person format such as in wikitree or the Henry project. The drive to create big family trees is understandable but it leads us inevitably into temptations. (As Captain Kirk might have put it.)
I can't see that repetitiveness is a major (or indeed even minor)
problem with Medieval Lands - it is not intended for print, after all,
so saving space is not a priority. As for readability, that is a basic
structural flaw since Cawley is functionally illiterate in Latin, only
barely comprehending in French and German, and not much better in
English. I don't suppose he is a jot more capable in Italian, Greek or
Spanish though I don't have the energy or will to check. The mish-mash
presentation of extracts with no regard to syntax in the original
language makes it an unbearable chore to read much in the database - but
most users probably don't try to take in more than the "headline"
linkages anyway, while gullibly assuming that the compiler actually
knows what he is writing about.
Post by ***@gmail.com
A parallel problem involves the use of secondary sources, which are clearly very influential on MEDLANDS but not always even named, let alone cited. (Hence all the strange remarks about the primary source still not located.) Perhaps this has evolved a little but the original intention seems to have been to try to build from primary sources only, or as much as possible, which was clearly not feasible for a one-man project. From cases I have looked into MEDLANDS tends to build its tree built upon older secondary sources, such as the ones we can find online. Of course we all do that when we start collecting notes, but obviously we are supposed to keep notes about which ones we used. For one thing, it can help us track down more recent critiques of older secondary sources. MEDLANDS all too often proposes strange solutions to problems long ago solved. I do however get a feeling that the approach has changed a bit, and there is more openness to advice and secondary sources, when suggested.
As far as I recall, the aim was to start from tables in Schwennicke's
ESnF and substantiate or amend the relationships from primary sources.
This, if done with minimal competence, might have led to a
minimally-useful resource. However, the "methodology" of skimming
through often-superseded editions of almost-randomly chosen and
barely-assessed primary sources that the compiler did not adequately
understand in the first place ensured that Cawley did not (because he
could not) achieve any useful result at all.
Post by ***@gmail.com
For those who've never tried it, one way to use leads from online sources which you aren't confident about is to take a whole selection of a source quote (say 5 words, enclosed by quotes) and google that. This can help locate other sources, and get some other perspectives. I would say that cross-checking and caution is essential for most sources in genealogy and certainly all online sources. And even doing that we will all inevitably make mistakes and waste time on false leads. Life wasn't meant to be easy, or so they say.
This is risky advice for those who might be inclined to follow it:
Cawley could be doing just this from his haphazard secondary sources for
all we know. The most recent scholarship on any point of interest in
medieval history or genealogy is not very likely to be freely available
online, and cross-checking any number of non-copyright works is not a
safe way to make up for the deficit of contemporary expertise.

There can be no guarantee of correct exactitude - or exact correctitude
for that matter - with medieval genealogy, as information from primary
sources may be sketchy and/or contradictory while interpretations and/or
conclusions in secondary works may be specious.

The sorry reality is that people are tempted to rely on one-stop-shops
where they seem to find ready-made solutions to knotty complexities that
they are not equipped to untangle for themselves. Medieval Lands is a
fraud that seeks to exploit this kind of credulity, in order for Cawley
to feel he is regarded as the expert he ludicrously imagines himself to
be. No-one at his level of incompetence has any business putting their
work before the public, either as a first draft or finis
Steven Benedict
2020-09-23 12:26:03 UTC
Permalink
Medieval Lands is a fraud that seeks to exploit this kind of credulity, in order for Cawley
to feel he is regarded as the expert he ludicrously imagines himself to
be. No-one at his level of incompetence has any business putting their
work before the public, either as a first draft or finished research.
This is why I mostly just lurk here. Surely with the example of so many civil discussions here, one can critique without publicly destroying another person and his work? After reading the above, it is certainly not the character and dignity of Mr. Cawley that one is likely to be questioning.
lancast...@gmail.com
2020-09-03 20:53:43 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
All the best,
Kelsey
[1] Conveniently accessible online at https://archive.org/details/monumentaserbica00mikluoft/page/n3/mode/2up
First Wikipedia, which used to cite it often, but no longer allows that, and more recently Wikitree, which is of course much younger and needing to recover from the excesses of its youth, have changed their approach to MEDLANDS over the years. Of course wikis by their very nature can have amazing ranges of quality, and can be frustratingly slow and chaotic in their evolution. Wikitree still cites MEDLANDS, but whereas it was indeed seen by many editors there as a sort of gospel I think this era has ended.
Peter Stewart
2020-09-03 21:51:32 UTC
Permalink
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
All the best,
Kelsey
[1] Conveniently accessible online at https://archive.org/details/monumentaserbica00mikluoft/page/n3/mode/2up
First Wikipedia, which used to cite it often, but no longer allows that, and more recently Wikitree, which is of course much younger and needing to recover from the excesses of its youth, have changed their approach to MEDLANDS over the years. Of course wikis by their very nature can have amazing ranges of quality, and can be frustratingly slow and chaotic in their evolution. Wikitree still cites MEDLANDS, but whereas it was indeed seen by many editors there as a sort of gospel I think this era has ended.
Sadly, it can be found all to frequently in a citation search on
Academia.edu - no doubt this is partly from laziness and ignorance, as
both are rife on university campuses everywhere, but also partly from
the unfortunate impression that Cawley's work is sponsored and/or
promoted by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.

Their complacent disclaimers notwithstanding, it is an ongoing puzzle
and disappointment that sensible people involved with FMG don't insist
on decoupling Medlands from its website and explicitly withdrawing the
implicit endorsement. The honourable memory of Charles Evans in this
field of study deserves better.

Peter Stewart
Peter Stewart
2020-09-03 21:57:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by Peter Stewart
On Wednesday, September 2, 2020 at 10:15:58 PM UTC+2,
Post by ***@gmail.com
Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
I know it's practically a knee-jerk reaction now to point out the
problems in Cawley's "Medieval Lands", but the link Will shared above
does highlight why one should *never* trust Cawley's interpretations
of documents or claims to any sort of comprehensive knowledge of an
issue. You'll note that there's the usual mishmash of grammatically
fragmentary Latin in the entry for Jovan Branković. Turning to
Cawley's footnotes, one sees citations to the "Monumenta Serbica", a
mid-nineteenth-century edition of documents from the Serbian medieval
period [1]. So far, so good. But there are obvious red flags in the
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram
et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct
1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a
quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in
Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to
the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see
that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume
- comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and
written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically
accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century
editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII
that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page
long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly
interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using
Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the
ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
All the best,
Kelsey
[1] Conveniently accessible online at
https://archive.org/details/monumentaserbica00mikluoft/page/n3/mode/2up
First Wikipedia, which used to cite it often, but no longer allows
that, and more recently Wikitree, which is of course much younger and
needing to recover from the excesses of its youth, have changed their
approach to MEDLANDS over the years. Of course wikis by their very
nature can have amazing ranges of quality, and can be frustratingly
slow and chaotic in their evolution. Wikitree still cites MEDLANDS,
but whereas it was indeed seen by many editors there as a sort of
gospel I think this era has ended.
Sadly, it can be found all to frequently in a citation search on
Academia.edu - no doubt this is partly from laziness and ignorance, as
both are rife on university campuses everywhere, but also partly from
the unfortunate impression that Cawley's work is sponsored and/or
promoted by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
It's not a good look to call out all-too frequent laziness and ignorance
in the halls of academia while misspelling the word "too" ...

Peter Stewart
lancast...@gmail.com
2020-09-04 11:54:03 UTC
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Post by Peter Stewart
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Post by wjhonson
Some context
https://www.genealogics.org/getperson.php?personID=I00197314&tree=LEO
https://fmg.ac/Projects/MedLands/SERBIA.htm#MarijaBrancovicdied1495
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jovan_Brankovi%C4%87
"Stephanum Branković” commended “conjugem et liberos, Georgium, Maram et Ioannem” to the Ragusans on his deathbed by charter dated 1 Oct 1476[482]."
Leaving aside poor Stefan's accusative state, this purports to be a quote from a contemporary document yet gives his Christian name in Latin and his surname in modern Serbian? Suspicious. If we turn to the purported source, item CDXLII in the "Monumenta Serbica", we see that this - as, indeed, all of Cawley's "quotations" from this volume - comes not from the text itself, which is in medieval Serbian and written in the older Cyrillic alphabet (presumably not linguistically accessible to Cawley), but rather from the nineteenth-century editor's Latin summaries of each document. In the case of item CDXLII that's a summary of two and a half lines for a document over a page long.
I don't mean to belabour the point, but anyone even faintly interested in accuracy and transparency really *must* stop using Cawley's work (this is another point regarding which I despair of the ever-credulous Wikitree, which seems to take Cawley as gospel).
All the best,
Kelsey
[1] Conveniently accessible online at https://archive.org/details/monumentaserbica00mikluoft/page/n3/mode/2up
First Wikipedia, which used to cite it often, but no longer allows that, and more recently Wikitree, which is of course much younger and needing to recover from the excesses of its youth, have changed their approach to MEDLANDS over the years. Of course wikis by their very nature can have amazing ranges of quality, and can be frustratingly slow and chaotic in their evolution. Wikitree still cites MEDLANDS, but whereas it was indeed seen by many editors there as a sort of gospel I think this era has ended.
Sadly, it can be found all to frequently in a citation search on
Academia.edu - no doubt this is partly from laziness and ignorance, as
both are rife on university campuses everywhere, but also partly from
the unfortunate impression that Cawley's work is sponsored and/or
promoted by the Foundation for Medieval Genealogy.
Their complacent disclaimers notwithstanding, it is an ongoing puzzle
and disappointment that sensible people involved with FMG don't insist
on decoupling Medlands from its website and explicitly withdrawing the
implicit endorsement. The honourable memory of Charles Evans in this
field of study deserves better.
Peter Stewart
I am probably being over-optimistic, but I would like to think a MEDLANDS 2.0 would be possible, which learns from the mistakes of the past. After all, we are simply the first generation living with the internet, and still playing with these things. But I think even then that such projects should probably be isolated clearly from the FMG "brand name", because their journal Foundations is a good thing for medieval genealogy in my opinion, but its effect is somewhat lessened because of the reputation of MEDLANDS, as seen here on SGM. I know not everyone agrees, but I do think also the current MEDLANDS has been a worthwhile project and can sometimes be useful to the extent that it is seen as an unfinished collection of notes by one person. I suppose much controversy would be avoided if it was presented that way and not treated as if it were itself a finished work, that has been reviewed and approved by an organization.
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