Forbidden Books in Slovenian Lands in the Early Modern Age

applied research project
Basic Info


This project represents the first systematic study of the censorship of books in the Slovenian territory in the early modern period. Slovenian researchers have paid no attention whatsoever to the topics. The main reason for this is the nationalist orientation, which from the end of the nineteenth century onwards limited research to literature and culture in Slovenian. This also resulted in a lack of interest in the censorship of books. Specifically, because the seats of the Church and state censorship were in Rome and Vienna, and because of the cosmopolitan and transnational nature of the book culture, these developments were part of European, not just Slovenian space.

This project will also use state-of-the-art IT support for both data processing and the final presentation: researchers from the Jožef Stefan Institute will integrate the workflow with digital humanities standards (XML, TEI) and web technologies. A website with an inventory of forbidden books will be designed featuring digital images, metadata, and transcriptions of selected fragments with scholarly commentary. The project will conclude with a scholarly volume summarizing the project’s results, and with an exhibition of forbidden books at the National and University Library and an accompanying catalogue presenting the project’s results to the public.

Project steps

The first stage of the project will prepare theoretical and historical bases for investigation. The collaborators will explain possible deffinitions and forms of censorship. They will describe the role and development of the censorship in the literary culture in the Slovenian lands to the late twentieth century – to wit, its constant and its changing ideological and structural elements. The research will then in detail define the mechanisms of the state and Church censorship in the early modern Habsburg Monarchy. The research will reveal the role of the Church Index librorum prohibitorum, the state Catalogus librorum prohibitorum, local bishops, the Jesuit order, the Inquisition, and imperial officials.

The second stage of the project will include studies that will reconstruct the inventory of prohibited books in the Slovenian lands. They will be carried out at old diocesan and monastic libraries, especially in Ljubljana, Koper, Kamnik, Nazarje, Škofja Loka, and elsewhere. In addition, research will be conducted at public libraries, especially in Ljubljana, Graz (Austria), and Zagreb (Croatia), which keep the estates of many monasteries and of many noble and bourgeois families.

In the third stage of the project, researchers will analyze the impact of censorship on literature and culture in the Slovenian lands. The major topics will include forbidden Slovenian authors (P. Trubar), clandestine literature (J. L. Schönleben, Protestant literature in Prekmurje), self-censorship (J. W. Valvasor), controversial works that Slovenian authors had to have printed in the Protestant north (F. Wützenstein) or had to leave in manuscript (Late Baroque priests during the Josephinism), the Slovenian censors (J. Kopitar and M. Čop), the purchase of books on the black market (Venice), the development of the society’s relationship towards forbidden books, the extent to which the authorities tolerated the reception of forbidden books, the accessibility of these types of books at public and private libraries, and so on. Special attention will be dedicated to proving how literature and culture in the Slovenian lands were influenced by world classics whose use was prohibited or at least restricted: erotic poetry by ancient writers, Machiavelli’s Il Principe, Boccaccio’s Decameron, the satirical tales of Till Eulenspiegel, the Epistolae obscurorum virorum, Adagia by Erasmus of Rotterdam, Boccalini’s Ragguagli di Parnaso, La Fontaine’s Contes et nouvelles, Milton’s Paradise Lost, essays by French materialists, and so on.


Vidmar, Luka (ed.). Cenzura na Slovenskem od protireformacije do predmarčne dobe. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, 2020.

Vidmar, Luka. Libri prohibiti: rastoča zbirka bibliografskih, zgodovinskih in slikovnih podatkov o prepovedanih knjigah, najpogosteje branih na Slovenskem v zgodnjem novem veku. Ed. Matija Ogrin. Ljubljana: ZRC SAZU, Inštitut za slovensko literaturo in literarne vede, 2019.

Vidmar, Luka, and Sonja Svoljšak. In vendar so jih brali: prepovedane knjige na Slovenskem v zgodnjem novem veku iz zbirke Narodne in univerzitetne knjižnice / And Yet They Read Them: Banned Books in Slovenia in the Early Modern Age from the National and University Library Collection. Ljubljana: NUK, 2018.

Giesemann, Gerhard. Teologija reformatorja Primoža Trubarja. Prev. Edvard Vrečko in Fanika Krajnc-Vrečko. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, 2018.

Deželak Trojar, Monika. Janez Ludvik Schönleben (1618–1681): oris življenja in dela. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, 2017.

Golec, Boris. Valvasor: njegove korenine in potomstvo do danes. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC, 2016.

Vidmar, Luka. A Slavic Republic of Letters: The Correspondence between Jernej Kopitar and Baron Žiga Zois. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016.

Ogrin, Matija. Rokopis kot preoddaja slovenske tiskane knjige: primer Črnovrškega rokopisa. In: Starejši mediji slovenske književnosti. Ed. Urška Perenič and Aleksander Bjelčevič. Ljubljana: Znanstvena založba Filozofske fakultete, 2018. 15–24.

Vidmar, Luka. Franc Wützenstein: prvi romanopisec na Kranjskem. Jezik in slovstvo 61.3–4 (2016): 59–69.

Dović, Marijan. Robert Darnton. Censors at Work: How States Shaped Literature. SHARP News 24 (2016).

Dovič, Marijan. Totalitarna i posttotalitarna cenzura: od tvrde ka mekoj? Glasnik Narodne biblioteke Srbije 15.18 (2016): 89‒104.

Digital collection Libri prohibiti.

Virtual exhibition In vendar so jih brali: prepovedane knjige v zgodnjem novem veku / And Yet They Read Them: Banned Books in the Early Modern Period.

Research areas
Modern history (up to circa 1800) H230