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Francysk Skaryna, 1517
Francysk Skaryna ( ; or Skoryna; ; ) was a Belarusian famous as one of the first publishers in Eastern Europe, laying groundwork for the development of Belarusian language.

He was born in the historical Belarusianmarker city of Polotskmarker into the family of a wealthy merchant. The exact dates of birth and death are unknown; the two most probable estimates are 1485–1540 and 1490–1551.

Skaryna graduated from the arts faculty at University of Kraków in 1504 with a Bachelor of Arts. In 1512 he received doctorate in medicine at University of Padua in Italymarker. In 1517 he established a printing press in Praguemarker, where he published his first book entitled The Psalter, in the Old Belarusian language on August 6, 1517. The culmination of his life's work was printing a translation of the Bible in 22 books during 1517–1519.

Around 1522 he moved to Vilniusmarker and established the first printing house in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. The first book published there was The Little Travel Guide. However, soon the printing house closed down and Skaryna spent his last years working as a doctor for Ferdinand I of Germany.


Cover of Skaryna's Bible

Skaryna was one of the first to publish in Cyrillic alphabet, but not the first as Oktoikh was published by Schweipolt Fiol in 1491. While it was an Eastern Slavic language, it is difficult to determine precisely what language he used as there was no conventional Belarusian language as we know it today. Some researchers maintain that Skaryna's books were in Church Slavonic heavily saturated with Belarusian. But nevertheless there is no doubt that Skaryna laid the foundations of the Belarusian literary language.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Minskmarker the capital of Belarusmarker had Skaryna Avenue (praspiekt Franciška Skaryny). However, in 2005, under the rule of Alexander Lukashenko, it was renamed into Independence Avenue (praspekt Nezalezhnastsi). Old Barysaumarker Path (Starabarysauski trakt) was renamed into Skaryna Street (vulica Skaryny).

Two awards presented by Belarus were named in honor of Skaryna: Medal of Francysk Skaryna and Order of Francysk Skaryna.

Several cultural organizations are named after Skaryna, particularly the Frantsishak Skaryna Belarusian Language Society.

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