Aspects of Slovak Historiography from the Time of Ján Kollár and Pavol Jozef Šafárik

Aspekty slovenskej historiografie generácie Jána Kollára a Pavla Jozefa Šafárika

Study is devoted to Slovak historiography of the first half of 19th century. Dealing with the historiographical works of Ján Kollár and Pavol Jozef Šafárik, is closely connected to the questions of nationalism and Slavic romanticism. Both Kollár and Šafárik were from the same generation. Their national sentiment was formed by the same influences: affiliation with the protestant religion, the Latin characteristics of education, studies at the University of Jena and a long-term residence abroad. Their early writings were influenced by historicism, however, their approaches to scientific analyses differed. Kollar's works do contain enormous dose of historical factography, but none of them is historiographic. Kollár included the elements of historicism in his sermons, poetry and pedagogical letters; he focused at the earliest history of the Slavs. Šafárik became the most prominent historian of the Slavic history in the 19th century and many of his theses remain valid even in these days. Šafárik was trying to shed some light on the European origin of the Slavs and summarize their history before the 6th Century AD. Both authors were active proponents of the idea of a unified Slavic nation, comprising Slovak, Czech, Russian, Polish, Serbian, Croatian, etc. tribes. The past - in which they were looking for proofs of Slavic unity - became a useful showcase for the future. They believed that the Slavs would unite, thus being able aspire at main positions in the world history and politics. This idea of national unification originates from philosopher Johan Gottfried Herder. Special attention paid to historical examples of Slavic unity, such as rule of Samo the merchant or Great Moravia under Svätopluk, is rooted in this conviction. Kollár and Šafárik fabricated the national myths about the Slavs. They reproduced the collection of idealized qualities (such as devotion to religion, fatal hilarity, devotion to the mother tongue, diligence, appreciation of peace, etc.) and hard work (peasantry and business). They were attempting to present their ideology in the public and amplify sentiment of national fellowship and solidarity. Scholarly works of Kollár and Šafárik were based on historical research, but they also believed that old myths and songs contain important hard data as well. Most of all they favored the use of etymological – in fact linguistic – method. However its results were doubted from a current point of view.