The original charter with a gold seal and the signature of the French King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King, was officially presented at the association for culture, arts and international cooperation Adligat in Belgrade.
The ceremony in Adligat was attended by the French Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Jean-Louis Falconi, as well as members and friends of the Association, including the renowned opera singer Jadranka Jovanović, the former Commissioner for Gender Equality, Brankica Janković, one of the greatest experts in Serbian librarianship, Adam Sofronijević, and Vuk Mirčetić, a Serbian MP, who was one of the people that were instrumental in bringing this valuable charter to Belgrade.
On the occasion, the founder and president of Adligat, Viktor Lazić, said that the connection between France and Serbia was deep and long-lasting. “My family has been dealing with culture and books for the last 250 years. I am the ninth generation that continues the family tradition and based on personal experience, I can tell you that France is a cradle in which Serbian culture was nurtured. My ancestors spoke French in the 19th century, learned about the world and read world literature in French, as did most Serbian intellectuals, as evidenced by more than 200,000 books about France written in French that are stored in Adligat, as well as letters from Serbian kings that we also have here, which are almost entirely written in extraordinary accurate French”, said Mr Lazić, adding that Adligat decided to put together a special collection with documents of French kings and rulers, and only those that were personally signed by French rulers.
He also said that, for that purpose, they hired a whole network of Adligat members and antiquarians around the world.
“Through that network, on the Adligat Day which was marked earlier this year, we received the original charter signed by Napoleon I, and now we are exhibiting the charter of Louis XIV,” Mr Lazić added.
According to him, the history of the charter is still relatively unknown.
“Historians in charge of studying it have repeatedly asked for an extension of the deadline in order to study it in more detail. We only know that it is dated 1672 and that three historians from America and Serbia have confirmed its authenticity. The Charter’s theme is the praise and a gift given by a knight or a high official. It was placed, intentionally, in the corner dedicated to the Serbian kings, on Natalija Obrenović’s table. Natalija was extremely attached to France. She lived there after the May coup and died there, and French was the official diplomatic language at Obrenović’s court,” said Mr Lazić.
The French Ambassador to Serbia, H.E. Jean-Louis Falconi, thanked Adligat for organizing such an exceptional event. “I always feel great in Serbian institutions of culture. I was honoured to receive such a warm welcome at this museum, which has a substantial collection of French books. For us, Louis XIV holds the same importance as King Dušan holds for Serbia. I am very happy that this valuable charter was found in a treasured and friendly museum such as Adligat. I hope that once the pandemic subsides and better times come, a large number of people will see this charter and other valuable artefacts in Adligat,” Mr Falconi said.