Francis Dvornik

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Francis Dvornik was a Roman Catholic priest and leading twentieth-century historian on Slavic and Byzantine history as well as on relations between the churches of Rome and Constantinople.


Father Francis was born into a Roman Catholic family on August 14, 1893 in Chomýž, Moravia, now part of the present day Czech Republic. In 1912, he graduated from the Archdiocesan School in Kremsier after which he continued his education at the Faculty of Theology of the university in Olomouc. He graduated in 1916 and was ordained a priest. After serving briefly as vicar in the towns of Bílovec and Vítkov, Fr. Francis continued his studies at the Charles University in Prague. In 1920, he received his doctorate in theology from the Theological Faculty in Olomouc. Fr. Francis then attended the University of Paris simultaneously studying in several specialties. He graduated in 1926 after defending his postdoctoral studies and received a Doctor of Letters degree from the Sorbonne.

In 1927, he returned to Czechoslovakia. Receiving his appointment in 1928, he became professor of ecclesiastical history at the Faculty of Catholic Theology at Charles University in Prague. There, he became one of the founders of the Institute of Slavic Studies in Prague and co-founder of the journal Byzantinoslavica.

After the German occupation of the "rest of Czechoslovakia" in 1939, Fr. Dvornik emigrated to Great Britain in 1939, and to France in 1940. In France, he taught at the Collège de France and the Paris Ecole des Hautes Etudes. In 1948, Fr. Dvornik was appointed Professor of Byzantine Studies at the Dumbarton Oaks Center at Harvard University. Between 1962 and 1965, he was an Advisor for History and Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council. In 1965, he became professor emeritus.

In later years, Dvornik regularly returned to Czechoslovakia to visit. On November 4, 1975, during a visit to his birthplace in Chomýž, he suffered a fatal heart attack and was buried in his family tomb in the cemetery of Bílavsko.


The product of Fr. Dvornik's work was an extensive number of books and articles. He was awarded honorary doctorate degrees from the Universities of London and Paris. In particular were his studies concerning Roman and Byzantine relations, especially his studies on the Photian schism and the history and civilization of the Slavs. His writings have been published in English, French, German, Czech, and Slovak. Pope Paul VI presented to him the honorary title of Monsignor.


  • Les Slaves, Byzance et Rome au IXe siècle. Travaux publiés par l'Institut d'études slaves no. 4. Paris: Champion, 1926. Reprinted 1970.
  • La Vie de saint Grégoire le Décapolite et les Slaves macédoniens au IXe siècle. Travaux publiés par l'Institut d'études slaves no. 5. Paris: Champion, 1926.
  • Zivot Svatého Václava k tisícímu výrocí jeho mucednické smrti. Prague, 1929.
In French as Saint Venceslas, Duc de Bohême, martyr. Prague: [Comité du Millénaire de St. Venceslas], 1929.
In English as The Life of Saint Wenceslas. Prague: [State printing office], 1929.
  • Les Légendes de Constantin et de Méthode: vues de Byzance. Recueil pour l'étude des relations byzantino-slaves, Supplementa l. Prague: Commissionnaire "Orbis", 1933. Second edition Hattiesburg: Academic International, 1969.
  • The Photian Schism: History and Legend. Cambridge University Press, 1948. Reprinted 1970.
In French as Le Schisme de Photius: histoire et légende. Unam sanctam 19. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1950. With a preface by Yves Congar.
  • The Idea of Apostolicity in Byzantium and the Legend of the Apostle Andrew. Dumbarton Oaks Studies 4. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958.
  • The Making of Central and Eastern Europe. London: Polish Research Centre, 1949. Second edition Gulf Breeze, Fla.: Academic International Press, 1974.
In Czech: Zrod střední a východní Evropy: mezi Byzancí a Římem, translated by Petr Slunéčko. Edice Obzor no. 21. Prague: Prostor, 1999. Second edition 2008.
  • The Slavs: Their Early History and Civilization. Boston: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1956. Reprinted 1959.
In Italian: Gli Slavi: storia e civiltà dalle origini al secolo XIII. Collana di studi sull'Europa orientale 13. Padua: Liviana, 1974.
  • The Ecumenical Councils. Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Catholicism 82. New York: Hawthorn Books, 1961.
In the United Kingdom as The General Councils of the Church. Faith and Fact Books 83. London: Burns & Oates, 1961.
  • The Slavs in European History and Civilization. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1962.
Russian edition, Moscow, 2001.
  • Byzance et la primauté romaine. Unam Sanctam 49. Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1964.
In English: Byzantium and the Roman Primacy. New York: Fordham University Press, 1966. Corrected edition 1979.
  • Early Christian and Byzantine Political Philosophy. Dumbarton Oaks Studies 9. Washington: Dumbarton Oaks Center for Byzantine Studies, 1966. 2 vols.
  • Svatý Vojtěch: druhý pražský biskup. Sůl země no. 1. Řím: Křesta̕nská akademie, 1967.
  • Svatý Václav: dědic České země. Sůl země no. 3. Řím: Křesta̕nská akademie, 1968.
  • Les Slaves: histoire et civilisation : de l'Antiquité aux débuts de l'époque contemporaine. translated by Danielle Pavlevski with the collaboration of Maroussia Chpolyansky. Paris: Seuil, 1970. French combination of The Slavs (Boston, 1956) and The Slavs in European History and Civilisation (New Brunswick, 1962).
  • Byzantine Missions among the Slavs. Rutgers Byzantine Series. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1970.
  • Photian and Byzantine Ecclesiastical Studies. Collected Studies 32. Variorum collected studies series. London: Variorum Reprints, 1974.
  • Origins of Intelligence Services: The Ancient Near East, Persia, Greece, Rome, Byzantium, the Arab Muslim Empires, the Mongol Empire, China, Muscovy. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, [1974].