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Re: Possibly interesting old (lost) books

Rene Zandbergen wrote:

> here is more about the so-called 'Welsche', about whom I
> wrote a few weeks ago. The source is a German book of 1902
> by one Adalbert Wrany (reference at my web site).
> The "Wälschen" came to Bohemia till the 18th C for mining.
> Their name is based on a romance word for people from
> the Venetian area. Apparently, this should be understood to
> mean that they could be from anywhere in Italy [I did not
> capture the logic for that :-/].

Wrany's ethymology seems wrong to me. They were treasure
seekers who originally came from Walonia (or whatever is
the original or English name for the ethnic group living
around Liege, with their own language/dialect). Later
there was also a wave of treasure seekers from Italy but
by then the term "walonian" became a common noun (just as
the term "Scot" became the name for a door-to-door salesman
in Polish because that was what Scottish 17th c. immigrants
usually did in Poland).

> One thing they are known for are the so-called "Walenbücher"
> (Valesian books), reputedly from the 12th-13th century, which
> only survive in later copies.
> Probably the oldest surviving copy is the parchment Walenbuch
> of Antonius de Medici (in the Breslauer Stadtbibliothek) of
> 1430. 

These books are kind of tourist guides for finding imaginary
treasures - but they were in in cypher. VMS certainly does not
look like one of those.

> These people also made mysterious marks in the mountains,
> the oldest of which are dated to the 15th C.

These are often alchemical/pharmaceutic symbols of metals
- but also some "road signs", telling others about possible
dangers etc.

> It wouldn't be hard to imagine that one from these hordes of
> people coming from Italy and with a penchant for old mysterious
> books, was the 'bearer' of the MS, in which case we'd be stuck
> with a pretty anonymous one...

In Rudolf II's times it became illegal to seek treasures
in the mountains without the emperor's privilage, so this
is not quite impossible. But as there were great numbers of
other Italians coming to Prague - including many intellectuals -
I would not consider the treasure-seekers seriously...

The Karkonosze/Riesengebirge mountains continue to attract
hobbyists collecting precious and semi-precious stones.
I washed some gold myself in the Gold Creek there some
12 years ago or so :-)  

Best regards,

(having just arrived home from the mountains - without any treasure
except for aching muscles and that feeling of satisfaction)