czwartek, 22 lutego 2018

Language of the mediaeval Tolkiens

One of the earliest texts of the earliest Tolkiens! This is Middle High German from Prussia in the 16th century. And the author of this letter was bishop Fabian von Lossainen, a great-great-grandson of Matthias von Markelingerode, a tolk ('negotiator, translator') of the Theutonic Order in Prussia. In spite this line of the Tolks/Tolkiens did not use the family name Tolkyn/Tolkien ('a descendant of Tolk'), we can call Fabian and early Tolkien... Linguistics, linguistics everywhere in the Tolkien Ancestry! 

In the 1990s an American artist and linguist, Patrick Wynne has created this splendid artwork:

»Sihe halpbruder, diss ist scherpffer dann dein zung«. This artwork is entitled: 'Woodcut from a 15th century German edition of "The Silmarillion": Das Silmarillion. Die geschicht von den elbischen staynen silmarilli genant, printed by Peter Wagner, Nuremberg, 1493.' The artwork illustrates the tale from The Silmarillion on pp. 69-70.

Copernicus, a friend of an early Tolkien!

Niklas Koppernigk or Nicolaus Copernicus (1473–1543)

Fabian von Lossainen
(ca. 1470–1523)
J. R. R. Tolkien's ancestors were most probably the noble Tolks vel Tolkiens from the goods in Tolko (German Tolks) and Tołkiny (German Tolksdorf) in Prussia (today in the Masuria region in Poland). One of these early Tolkiens was a famous bishop of Warmia (German Ermland), Fabian von Lossainen (Polish Fabian Luzjański). He was born ca. 1470 being a son of Martin von Lossainen, commandant of the castle and city of Reszel (Warmia/Ermland) and Elżbieta Kościelecka from the Polish nobility. As a child he was taken hostage by the Teutonic Knights in revenge for his father's defense of Reszel. His last name is also listed as von Lossainen, von Lusian, de Lusian, de Lossainen, from Łęźany, and Tetinger de Lossainensis (see the Tolk/Tolkien family tree below).

Fabian "Tolkien" first studied probably in Koenigsberg (Polish Królewiec), Prussia. Later  he studied in Cologne (from 1486), at the University of Bologna (from 1490, doctorate in canon law in 1500) and in Ferrara (in 1491). He was a canon of the cathedral chapter of Warmia/Ermland (1490); in the chapter he was a colleague of Niklas Koppernigk (Nicolaus Copernicus or Mikołaj Kopernik), famous astronomer (with whom he studied in Bologna). Luzjański was also a legal counselor of Bishop Łukasz Watzenrode of Ermland. He was elected bishop of Ermland by its cathedral chapter on 5 April 1512. Shortly after his election, he was ordained a priest. This most famous early Tolkien (or descendant of Matthias Tolk von Markelingerode) died on 30 January 1523 in Lidzbark Warmiński. Buried in the cathedral in Frombork.
I have found a letter from bishop Fabian "Tolkien" to Nicolaus Copernicus and his colleague Heinrich Snellenberg (whole collection of Copernicus' letters can be found here). Maybe one of my readers wants to help me to translate this letter from Latin (or German) into English?

piątek, 26 stycznia 2018

«Per crucem ad lucem»
David Tolkien Wotherspoon's coat-of-arms

Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien (b. 1746, Gdańsk, d. 1813, London) and his wife Ann, née Austen had ten children. One of their daughters was Maria whose husband was David Wotherspoon. The Wotherspoons were an English family with their coat-of-arms (in fact the Tolkiens were also the family with noble roots but in the 19th century they didn't remember about their coat-of-arms; see here). David Wotherspoon was a furrier like his father-in-low and he continued Daniel Tolkien's business at Cheapside, London. His first son, David Tolkien Wotherspoon was baptized in the Miles Lane Presbyterian chapel (the same religious community which was close to John Benjamin Tolkien, Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien's brother) and as a young man he emmigrated to Canada. About his family you can read below. And you can see his coat-of-arms (source: Armorial families: a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour, compiled and edited by Arthur Charles Fox-Davies, published 1905:

czwartek, 25 stycznia 2018

«We Meet No More» by J. Tolkien (1839)

From The Lady's Book, vol. 14–15, p. 142–143. The author is most probably John Benjamin Tolkien, the Professor's grandfather.
Oh! no, the spell is broken
And joy's sweet hour is o'er
The last sad word is spoken
We meet, we meet no more.
No longer may I cherish
Of love th' illusive dream

For this, a-las! must perish
With hope's expiring beam
Oh! no, the spell is broken
And joy's sweet hour is o'er
The last sad word is spoken
We meet, we meet no more.

No more from slumber waking,
I hail the eveerful dawn;
No more her smiles partaking,
I pace the verdant lawn –
I pace the verdant lawn.
Life's torch once brightly burning,
Fades like the meteor's ray.

Nor shall its light returning,
Illume my dreary way.
Oh! no, the spell is broken
And joy's sweet hour is o'er
The last sad word is spoken
We meet, we meet no more –
We meet, we meet no more.

George Tolkien
Professor's g-grandfather was a London bass singer!

He belonged to the first Tolkien generation in England (his father and his uncle were born in Gdańsk, Poland). His profession was "a professor of music" in London. When he was on 20 October 1784 in London, his father, John Benjamin Tolkien, was 32 and his mother, Mary, was 38. He married Eliza Lydia Murrell and they had 11 children together. He died on 7 June 1840 at the age of 55, and was buried in London.

I have discovered today that he was a London singer in many performances because he was a member of the Drury Lane Company by the Theatre Royal where many many years lated The Lord of the Rings musical was performed (I saw it personally!):

This is probably why his youngest son Alfred became a London performer, a clown Boleno March (see here) and his sons John Benjamin, William Murrell and Henry became composers (see here and here)!