An Examination of the Ancient Statutes
The statutes of the Society, c1326, were written in Latin, which was at that time, the normal language for written expression in Hungary before the revival of the Hungarian language in the nineteenth century, in a text composed of approximately 1,700 words in the form of a letters patent.
The statutes consist of a prologue followed by twenty-seven items. The prologue in these statutes explains the actions of the founders in terms of generally accepted principles of the time and explains these in grandiose language. It lists those important individuals who were present when the statutes were adopted who included the Archbishop of Esztergom, Primate of Hungary and seven other Hungarian bishops. The statutes goes on to state the highest ideals of Christianity, creating a fraternal union to defend the king and the Holy Crown of the realm from their faithless enemies. The founders refer to themselves as the "universitas societatis fraternalis militiae Sancti Georgii insigniti" - "The Community of the Fraternal Society of knighthood named for the notable Saint George". However, later it is referred to as "societatem beati Georgii" and after this, it is called "societate beati Georgii Martyris" - "the Society of the Blessed George the Martyr", and elsewhere, simply as "fraternalis societas" or the "Fraternal Society".
There is no information concerning the length of time that the statutes were stored folded, but folded they were, which caused the poor condition of the manuscript along the fold lines, whereby, the text is badly worn and therefore, difficult to ascertain the exact text. Although there may be techniques to enhance the text using chemical compounds, the fear would be that the document may be irreversably damaged further. This explains why the transcriptions known to have been published may not agree with one another. At this time, there are four known transcriptions that have been published, and are the following:
Dr. Rácz György. "A Szent György-rend alapítólevele". DL. 40 483. Magyar Országos Levéltár (Hungarian Archives).
Examination of the Latin Transcriptions and Translations of the Statutes
The following pages will present both the Latin transcriptions available to us from the publications highlighted above accompanied with an English translation and comparative presentation. There are four presentations, one per published transcription. Each presentation will display an online transcription extracted from the publication as is. Links to copies of the publication may be included in each of the presentations. Accompanying the transcription will be the translation of the statutes performed by collaborative work by Canadian individuals possessing Latin expertise, which was done based on a comparative analysis on the transcriptions, hence, the minor disagreements between the English translation version resident in other Order of St. George sites, and our translation. To access the version of interest, click on the link of interest following:
The English translation found on the UK site, is surmised to be derived from the Hungarian translation by Antal Pör. The analysis of the English translation with that of the Hungarian translation appears to be relatively consistent, the statements mapping between the English and Hungarian translations are fairly close, with some minor differences or deviations found in the English translation. The translation from Latin to Hungarian, followed by a translation from Hungarian to English may introduce cultural biases resulting in a translation which is more removed from the original Latin text. However, this cannot be proven without the original works being made available. It was decided by the Order of St. George, Canadian Priory to work on our own English translation directly from the Latin text transcribed by Fejér, Pör, László and György by colleagues who are students of the Centre for Medieval Studies, University of Toronto, who are fluent in Latin as that is the requirement for Medieval Studies. The resulting English transation by Ms. Ariella Elema, a student of that department, and who is nearing the completion of her dissertation, is included on this website.
The challenge of producing a complete English translation is that the source (the Latin enscription on velum) has incurred damage, in particular, in the folded areas of the document causing the original text to disappear over time. Therefore, the various Latin transcriptions do differ slightly, periodically, with text inserted in the transcription based on the "best guess" by the original authors examining the statutes. The actual and correct English translation of the original statutes may never become a possibility due to the damage, and as well, Latin translation to English is NOT an exact science, as different translators may translate differently due to their own cultural biases and influences in the environment in which they matured, or received their education. However, the Canadian Priory will stand behind this English translation and adopt this translation as its "official" Statutes which sets the ethos and culture of the Canadian Priory.