On the Diploma of Nobility of Jan Januszowski and a Portrait of a Renaissance Printer

Justyna Kiliańczyk-Zięba


Jan Januszowski, best known as Jan Kochanowski’ friend, was the most distinguished printer of the Polish Renaissance. Januszowski, a lawyer educated in Cracow and Padua, was an extremely versatile man: an outstanding printer, but also a prolific writer and translator. For all his achievements he was ennobled by Sigismund III Vasa, and—happily—the ennoblement act of Jan Januszowski, penned on parchment and splendidly illuminated, survived to the present day. The illumination of the document is rich and sumptuous. It shows the coats-of-arms representing the provinces of the Polish Kingdom and Grand Duchy of Lithuania and small portraits: three of  them depict Polish kings, the fourth is of Januszowski himself—it is one of very few known portraits of Polish Renaissance intellectuals and the oldest portrait of a Polish printer. The document’s decoration is not only beautiful, but also meaningful, as its content and composition reflects the nature of the state—the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth—and suggests Januszowski’s important place in its structure and strong links between the printer and most important dignitaries of the country.

* Polish version: J. Kiliańczyk-Zięba, “O dyplomie nobilitacyjnym Jana Januszowskiego i portrecie renesansowego wydawcy”, Terminus, 18, 2008. 


Publication of this paper was financed by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education uder the grant 643/P-DUN/2018.

Słowa kluczowe: Jan Januszowski, Polish Renaissance literature, ennoblement, heraldry, charters, Renaissance printing houses, book history

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