Ioannes Dantiscus (1485–1548) was a humanist, author of neo-Latin poems, outstanding diplomat in the service of Polish King Sigismund I Jagiellon and Queen Bona Sforza, and then the Senator of the Polish Kingdom as the Bishop of Kulm (1530/33–1537) and Ermland (1537–1548). The final office was also connected with the post of president of the Royal Prussian Council.
Dantiscus’ correspondence forms the largest collection of letters (over 6,000) in Central-Eastern Europe, related to the Polish royal court and its partners across the world during that period. Among Dantiscus’ 656 correspondents we find rulers, politicians, knights, banquers, humanists and scholars, including especially Nicolaus Copernicus and Erasmus of Rotterdam.
The project “Registration and Publication of the Correspondence of Ioannes Dantiscus”, carried out over nearly thirty years at the University of Warsaw (Laboratory for Editing Sources, Faculty of “Artes Liberales”), currently includes two elements:
The “Corpus of Ioannes Dantiscus Texts and Correspondence”, with an interface in English and Polish, presents in extenso transcriptions of the primary sources enriched with elaborate critical apparatus. It also contains detailed inventory data on the entirety of Dantiscus’ correspondence (sender, addressee, incipit, dating, data on the original source, data on publication in print) and all the Latin texts written by Dantiscus (778 letters, 107 poems, 7 speeches, 15 memorials, 36 records, 1 other text) collected in the “Corpus of Ioannes Dantiscus’ Latin Texts”, as well as a selection of other correspondence texts (letters to Dantiscus, Dantiscus’ letters in German). The selection of texts edited so far was based on the research needs of the program as a whole. Plans for the future envisage publication of the complete “Corpus of Ioannes Dantiscus’ German Texts” (letters and documents). The web publication also serves as a first draft for the print publication of the Corpus Epistularum Ioannis Dantisci.
In order to present the source texts online, a custom-designed system of digital registration and annotation for Renaissance correspondence was created, combining transcriptions encoded in accordance with TEI Guidelines, and a relational database that stores a rich set of metadata. All this meticulously collected data offers great potential for further research along many diverse lines. As an example, encoding of references to places and individuals mentioned in this large body of texts allows us to map areas of interest and influence for correspondents or to track their itineraries. Focusing only on people, it is possible to reconstruct parts of social networks of the time, analyzing not only obvious links between correspondents but also references to people co-occurring across the documents. Other areas of scientific investigation have been opened thanks to encoding of variance across extant sources, regularized and original orthography, and other transcriptional features.
The adopted TEI-based approach allows for single source publishing workflow for both the printed series and the web resource, helping to achieve high standards of quality and consistency across publications. As the project and its predecessors span over two decades, technological choices have to be revisited from time to time. The current relational-database-based publishing system, with roots in the early nineties, is planned to be replaced with a native XML database and publishing solution, better suited to satisfying needs for flexible querying of the existing data. Future plans also encompass the integration of visualizations, both to assist research carried out by project collaborators and to provide different ways of engagement with this rich resource, thus broadening its potential audience.