Limitations of the Reception and Consumption of Illustrations in Chronica Polonorum by Maciej of Miechów (Cracow, 1521) 1
The substantial impact and the numerous preserved, densely annotated copies make Chronica Polonorum by Maciej of Miechow a valuable and unique object of study for the historians of printed books, illustrations and readership in premodern Poland. An examination of the various responses to the visual content of the book offers a glimpse into how the chronicle’s illustrations were used by Polish and foreign readers. Equally interesting are the problems in their interpretation and the lacunas over their reception, which characterise the limits and the cultural, social and political context of consumption and circulation of the chronicle’s illustrations in the sixteenth century. The early modern page, regardless of its visual content, functioned as a space ready to accommodate various notes, remarks, owners’ signatures and other nonverbal markings. The illustrations proved useful to exuberant commentators and amateur drawers, who felt compelled to add notes and new details to the picture.