Rejčka's manuscripts stand out for their quality, they were exceptionally exhibited in Brno

Rejčka's manuscripts stand out for their quality, they were exceptionally exhibited in Brno

Manuscripts by Rejčka are outstanding in their quality, they were exceptionally exhibited in Brno

Journalists could view the Elišek Rejček: Gift of the Middle Ages exhibition at Špilberk Castle in Brno on May 31, 2023. The exhibition opens to the public on June 1. 2023. In the picture, the head of the archeology department, Petr Vachůt, and a facsimile of the antiphonary manuscript of Queen Eliška Rejčka.

Brno – The collection of manuscripts donated by Queen Eliška Rejčka to the Old Brno Monastery was exhibited at Špilberk Castle in Brno. They contain common liturgical texts that every medieval monastery needed, but they stand out for their extraordinary quality of workmanship. The exhibition is a unique event that, according to the organizers from the Museum of the City of Brno, will not be repeated. It will open to the public on Thursday, and will run until August 20.

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The monastery in Staré Brno celebrates its 700th anniversary this year. Eliška Rejčka had it built for the Cistercian nuns. After the abolition of the women's convention by Emperor Josef II. six manuscripts ended up in the Austrian National Library in Vienna, two in the Rajhrad Monastery and one in the Moravian State Archives. The Brno museum owners managed to arrange a loan with their Viennese colleagues.

“We managed to convince the Austrian side that we are able to comply with the strict parameters for exhibiting these manuscript jewels from June to August at Špilberk Castle,” said director Zbyněk Šolc. In the Baroque chapel, visitors can view four Viennese specimens and three of their Moravian counterparts.

Manuscripts were a highly valued and expensive commodity in the Middle Ages. In the scriptoriums, they took long months, sometimes years, to create, especially if they also included careful illuminations. Those interested can experience how demanding the work was on June 17 and 18 during a workshop with a practical demonstration of medieval calligraphy.

Eliška Rejčka (1288 to 1335) was the daughter of the Polish king and married Václav II of Přemyslov. After his death, she married Rudolf Habsburg, who legitimized her claim to the Czech throne. She retained her influence and position even after she was widowed for the second time. She then lived in Brno as the partner of the nobleman Jindřich of Lipá.

The exhibition also includes a selection of archaeological finds from the Cistercian Owińska monastery in Poland, where Eliška Rejčka spent her childhood. As a reminder of the later fate of the Old Brno monastery, visitors can see a baroque copy of the Palladium of the city of Brno, i.e. the image of the St. Thomas Madonna. It became a symbol and decoration of the Basilica of the Virgin Mary after the Augustinian order moved from St. Thomas to Staré Brno.