I recently posted about Rudolf’s physician before Jacobus de Tepenecz [Sinapius], Tadeáš Hájek z Hájku: and wondered aloud whether he might have bought / owned / sold / annotated the Voynich Manuscript. It’s a good question: the f17r marginalia seems to have been emended to read “mattioli…” (I believe it originally began “melhor”), and Hájek famously translated Mattioli’s Herbal.
The first step would be to find some of Hájek’s handwriting: with the help of Jan Hurych, I soon found the Manuscriptorium, which is a kind of uber-catalogue of Czech manuscripts. Searching for Hájku yielded 14 unique references, most of which are “Minucý a Pranostika” (i.e. tables and weather predictions) from different years, and which seem likely to be small printed pamphlets (and so probably of no practical use to us here).
However, there are four other documents which might have his handwriting (listed below, each with repository and shelfmark, if anyone happens to be in Prague or Zwickau and wants a challenge, as well as Jan’s brief translation of the start of the title). I’ve asked the manuscript librarians whether Hájek himself is thought to have written any/all of these, and hopefully will get an answer relatively soon…
- Královská kanonie premonstrátů na Strahově, Praha – Kodex Dobřenského, opus 344.
1574 “Tabule dlauhosti Dne…” – The table of day’s and night’s lengths
- Národní knihovna České republiky – 54 S 91 neúpl.
1560 “Wayklad Proroctwij …” – Explanation of Turkish prophecy…
- Knihovna národního muzea v Praze – 28 E 1O
1556 “Wypsanij s Wyznamenánijm gedné y druhé Kométy” – The description and explanation of both comets…
- Zwickau Ratschulbibliothek – 4, 10, 39, přív.
1580 “O některých předesslých znamenjch Nebeských” – About some heavenly signs in the past . . .
As a nice coincidence, I’m in the middle of reading Owen Gingerich’s delightful bibliophilic road-trip book “The Book Nobody Read” and who should pop up on p.172 and p.178 but “Thaddeus Hagecius” (i.e. “Tadeáš Hájek” in Latin). According to a marginal note by Johannes Praetorius in the back of the Beinecke Library’s copy of Copernicus’ “De Revolutionibus” (the historiographic subject of Gingerich’s book), Paul Wittich had passed a “terse list of three errors” in the book on to Hájek. The same list of errors appears in a copy in Debrecen, and in a copy in Edinburgh.
And so Gingerich throws the idea that this particular Edinburgh copy may perhaps have been owned by Hájek up in the air. But all the same, it’s only a speculation. Still, I’ll ask him if he ever went looking for marginal handwriting by Hájek, you never know…
…but now I’ve thought of searching Google for “Thaddeus Hagecius” (*d’oh!*), I find that there is a pile of correspondence between Tycho Brahe and Hájek (and a good-sized 2002 article on it here).
And according to this Czech page, the Prague-based Society for the History of Sciences (“DVT” = dějiny věd a techniky) published in 2000 “the first volume of the Czech monographic series Works on History of Technique and Natural Sciences dedicated to significant Renaissance scholar Thaddeus Hagecius (Tadeáš Hájek z Hájku)” (it was the 500th anniversary of his death that year). It seems to be called “Práce z dějin technika a přírodních věd 1“, Praha 2000, 180 str: it’s not immediately obvious how you’d buy a copy, though… (I’ll ask Jan Hurych).
And there’s also a 2004 article about his astronomy in this German book.
That’s often the way with research: find just the right key, and zero research leads suddenly turns into ten…