Poland’s plan to give Orban a valuable document is met with derision

WARSAW, Poland (AP) – Local authorities and officials in central Poland on Monday protested plans by the government to give Hungary one of the country’s most valuable manuscripts, dating back 500 years, to highlight the two nations’ close ties.

Torun city leaders and church authorities signed a petition urging lawmakers to scrap plans to give away the 15th-century document written by Naldus Naldius, a 15th-century writer and painter from Florence.

“We have the opinion of experts who say that this step would violate the constitution,” regional governor Piotr Całbecki said. “I think we should appeal to the hearts of lawmakers and to their consciences. There is no place for politics here.”

A historian and MP for Poland’s right-wing ruling party, Piotr Babinetz, has proposed a law that would allow the government to take possession of the manuscript for a sum of 25 million zlotys ($6.2 million) and hand it over to the government to be handed over by Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The gesture would aim to underscore the close ties between the two nations and governments, as well as reciprocate Hungary’s decision to hand over a gilded armor of 16th-century Poland’s King Sigismund II Augustus last year.

Naldus Naldius completed the elaborately decorated manuscript while serving at the court of the Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus. The book describing the Hungarian king’s library was sold by a merchant to the town of Thorn in the mid-16th century and has remained there ever since.

Danetta Ryszkowska-Mirowska, head of Torun’s public library, described the manuscript as “unique and priceless” and said that no amount of money could offset its loss to Poland’s cultural heritage.

She joined other library officials to protest the plan, which she described as “bizarre” and contrary to national laws protecting Polish heritage.

Poland has lost much of its cultural heritage – particularly its art and book collections – throughout its history, but particularly during the bombing and looting of World War II.

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