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WENCESLAUS HANKA (1791-1861)

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Originally appearing in Volume V12, Page 919 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WENCESLAUS HANKA (1791-1861), Bohemian philologist, was born at Horeniowes, a hamlet of eastern Bohemia, on the loth of June 1791. He was sent in 1807 to school at Koniggratz, to escape the conscription, then to the university of Prague, where he founded a society for the cultivation of the Czech language. At Vienna, where he afterwards studied law, he established a Czech periodical; and in 1813 he made the acquaintance of Josept Dobrowsky, the eminent philologist. On the 16th of September 1817 Hanka alleged that he had discovered some ancient Bohemian manuscript poems (the Koniginhof MS.) of the 13th and 14th century in the church tower of the village of Kralodwor, or Koniginhof. These were published in 1818, under the title Kralodworsky Rukopis, with a German translation by Swoboda. Great doubt, however, was felt as to their genuineness, and Dobrowsky, by pronouncing The Judgment of Libussa, another manuscript found by 'Hanka, an "obvious fraud," confirmed the suspicion. Some years afterwards Dobrowsky saw fit to modify his decision, but by modern Czech scholars the MS. is regarded as a forgery. A translation into English, The Manuscript of the Queen's Court, was made by Wratislaw in 1852. The originals were presented by the discoverer to the Bohemian museum at Prague, of which he was appointed librarian in 1818. In 1848 Hanka, who was an ardent Panslavist, took part in the Slavonic congress and other peaceful national demonstrations, being the founder of the political society Slovanska Lipa. He was elected to the imperial diet at Vienna, but declined to take his seat. In the winter of 1848 he became lecturer and in 1849 professor of Slavonic languages in the university of Prague, where he died on the 12th of January 1861. His chief works and editions are the following: Hankowy Pjsne (Prague, 1815), a volume of poems; Starobyla Skladani (1817—1826), in 5 vols.—a collection of old Bohemian poems, chiefly from unpublished manuscripts; A Short History of the Slavonic Peoples (1818) ; A Bohemian Grammar (1822) and A Polish Grammar (1839) —these grammars were composed ona plan suggested by Dobrowsky; Igor (1821), an ancient Russian epic, with a translation into Bohemian; a part of the Gospels from the Reims manuscript in the Glagolitic character (1846); the old Bohemian Chronicles of Dalimil (1848) and the History of Charles IV., by Procop Lupac (1848); Evangelium Ostromis (1853).
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