In historical Poland it was written by members of the szlachta (Polish nobility) as a diary or memoir for the entire family; they were not intended for a wider audience of printing (although there were a few exceptions); some were also lent to friends of the family, who were allowed to add their comments to them . It was added to by many generations, and contained various information: diary-type entires on current events, memoirs, letters, political speeches, copies of legal documents, gossips, jokes and anecdotes, financial documents, economic information (price of grain, etc.), philosophical musings, poems, genealogical trees, advice (agricultural, medical, moral) for the descendants and others - the wealth of information in silva is staggering, they contain anything that their authors wished to record for future generations ). Some silvae rerum were of truly enormous proportions, with thousands of pages (Gloger cites one of 1764 pages) although most common size is from 500 to 800 pages . They were written from 16th century (the earliest entries are from the times of the king Stefan Batory) to the mid-18th century (times of the Saxon kings in Poland).
Silvae rerum were the source of our modern knowledge of poems by such writers as Andrzej Morsztyn, and even long diaries, including the famous Chocim War by Wacław Potocki and the Diaries by Jan Chryzostom Pasek. They also contain a wealth of information about the customs of Polish nobility of the past centuries. A major collection of silvas perished during the destruction of Polish libraries by Germans in World War II.
In modern Poland, a type of postmodern literature tries to recreate the feeling of sylwa in their works.
The Lost World of the "Sarmatians": Custom as the Regulator of Polish Social Life in Early Modern Times.(Review)
Mar 22, 1999; Maria Bogucka. Warsaw: Institute of History, Polish Academy of Sciences, 1996. 44 illus + 201 pp. $18. ISBN: 83-86301-25-2. This...