pdfVolume 5 Issue 2 CONTENTS


Zsigmond király Sienában [King Sigismund in Siena]. By Péter E. Kovács. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, 2014. 308 pp.


With his 2008 book Hétköznapi élet Mátyás király korában [Everyday life in the time of King Mátyás], Péter E. Kovács won himself the title of the “new Antal Szerb,” a moniker on which he is clearly playing a bit in the book under review. This play is a two-sided coin. Szerb’s style, which was aimed at an audience of lay readers (I am thinking perhaps first and foremost of his A világirodalom története [The history of world literature], [1941]), was indeed more accessible to wide readership than most traditional scholarly literary histories. However, it did not win the admiration of most of the scholarly community precisely because of the subjectivity of Szerb’s assessments and the many humorous but misleading pronouncements, such as his whimsical remark, “Klió nem kilóra mér,” which might be translated into English as “Clio does not measure by the kilo.” Furthermore, E. Kovács also seems to aspire to don Szerb’s laurels as a belle-lettrist, an ambition palpable both in his style and his literary allusions, as I explain below.

The book examines the 288 days that King Sigismund of Luxemburg spent in Siena between July 1432 and April 1433. E. Kovács draws on a wide, almost unparalleled array of source materials and offers daring theories, and he always keeps historical authenticity (credibility) in the foreground, taking care to name his sources specifically and precisely. His sources include chronicles, such as the Chronicle of Eberhard Windecke (the so-called Bern chronicle) and the chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet. Given the absence of archival resources, E. Kovács uses works of literature, such as the romance by Eneas Silvius Piccolomini (the letter Pope Pius II) and the poems of Antonio Beccadelli. At the same time, E. Kovács keeps repeating that his work is impossible, nonsensical (see, for instance, p.46) and that archival research of a historian is frequently as fictive as any novel. Perhaps the most striking example is when E. Kovács cites the opening speech given at a 2014 book fair by contemporary Hungarian novelist Gyögy Spiró (p.159).

The book consists of ten chapters which diverge considerably both in their length and worth. They do have at least one thing in common. Namely, they all present new information concerning the history of the mentality, culture, and literature of the time and place under discussion. The chapters contain a wealth of information concerning the details of Sigismund’s trip to Rome, though they do not always draw on the newest secondary literature (for instance some of the works of Ágnes Máté), which is surprising simply because E. Kovács emphasizes his sincere interest in the subject (p.13, 17–28). Just to cite two examples, one might think of the publication by A. Sottili of text from the account given by Johannes Roth (Pirckheimer Jahrbuch 15/16 [2000]) or A. T. Hack’s publication of text from a writing by an anonymous author on the participants in the journey (Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur Beiheft 7 [2007]). The best parts of the texts are the passages in which E. Kovács immerses himself in the era. His descriptions become very evocative and he does not digress or mention less pertinent associations, for instance in his description of the reception in Siena (pp.26–27, 58–60) or his presentation of the various accommodations (pp.63–72). It is certainly worth noting that the array of appendices (which meet high scholarly standards) is impressive and praiseworthy. It would also have been useful to have a proper index in order to make the work more easily accessible, though perhaps this would have made it too long.

Following a description of the arrival, the reader is given a glimpse into everyday life in Siena. How much did things cost? Who slept where, and on what? What did they eat? How did they pass the time? What did an average day consist of for a king? How much did the revels in Siena cost? E. Kovács offers answers to these and other questions. The book is indeed a micro-historical endeavor, and it includes shorter histories, for instance on Miklós Várdai or on Sigismund’s love life. Indeed, the latter is a recurring motif, and the longest chapter, the title of which is revealing (“Fruit-picking, Sailing, Horseback Riding”), is devoted to this topic. The question of love comes up not only with regards to Sigismund’s fidelity, but also in connection with the most famous love affair of this period. I am thinking of the main characters, Euryalus and Lucretia, of the Piccolomini’s famous 1444 romance, The Tale of Two Lovers. The epistolary novel is interesting to a Hungarian readership in part because one of Lucretia’s suitors is Hungarian. The romance was translated into Hungarian relatively early on by Pataki Névtelen (Anonymous Pataki). It continues to hold the attention of literary historians today, who wonder if perhaps it was translated by Hungarian poet Bálint Balassi. E. Kovács does not reach any conclusion with regards to this question, but he does try to identify the historical figures on whom the characters may have been based, drawing on documents that had not previously been used and also works of secondary literature, though not the most recent works of secondary literature (pp.150–51). Certainly literary historians will find a great many things of interest in this book, for which one can only be grateful. The other topic which comes up regularly is the financial circumstances of the various people in Siena, the conflicts that were caused by financial concerns, and the ways in which these conflicts were addressed. The reader learns, for example, that since the soldiers received only modest wages, they were not able to go to brothels often enough. The locals, however, nonetheless watched the successful courtships of the foreigners with envy. E. Kovács contends that the successes of the Hungarian soldiers with Italian women were repaid in the 1960s and 1970s, when Italian tourists in Hungary enjoyed great popularity among Hungarian women. E. Kovács often seems to be projecting phenomena from our era onto earlier eras, which perhaps gives a lay reader a perspective from which to interpret the events, but it is hardly an approach to be adopted by a serious historian, and indeed it is often a bit irritating. Just to mention a few examples, I do not think E. Kovács’s contention that we should regard the trumpeter of Sigismund’s day as the Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong of his era (p.112) helps the reader better understand the place and profession of the medieval trumpeter, must as I do not think E. Kovács’s mention of Victoria Beckham as a modern, apparently archetypal example helps the reader better understand the popularity of athletic and wealthy men among women (p.145). These examples, which are intended to serve as illustrative parallels, do little more than distract the reader. They also set an expiration date for E. Kovács’s narrative. What will the example of Victoria Beckham mean to a reader in 2050? Clearly very little. E. Kovács’s effort to compensate for the somewhat dry nature of the topic with humorous remarks and parallels is perhaps understandable, but in my view he uses this approach with mixed success. Certainly his primary role model was the aforementioned Hungarian novelist and literary historian Antal Szerb (p.6, 36, 85, 138). Szerb’s novel Utas és holdvilág (translated into English by Len Rix as Journey by Moonlight, [1937]) is set in Siena. The sentence “Cor tibi magis Siena pandit,” which is an inscription on the Porta Camollia in Siena, is also cited by Szerb. E. Kovács paraphrases it and uses this paraphrase as the title of a chapter: “Bursam tuam magis Sigismundus pandit.” This play on words is clever and pertinent, and it illustrates quite clearly how closely E. Kovács has focused on text in his (re)use of models. The switch (the substitution of financial concerns for matters of the heart) is just one example of the playful jibes that make the book a lively read. For the most part, E. Kovács identifies the figures on whose work he draws (Hungarian novelist and poet Dezső Kosztolányi or Hungarian novelist Géza Ottlik, for instance), but sometimes the reader is left to figure this out for him or herself.

It is worth saying a few words about the appearance of the book as well. It contains strikingly beautiful illustrations which are closely tied to its contents. Unfortunately, it also contains numerous typos and editing and typesetting flaws, which are distracting at best, for instance “Jannus” instead of “Janus” (p.119). The name Euryalus is spelled correctly once or twice, and there are numerous typesetting mistakes and mistakes with word hyphenation at the end of a line (see for instance pp.167–68). These mistakes clearly reflect poorly on the editor and the publisher, not the author.

In summary, the book’s very striking exterior immediately captures the reader’s interest, as does the title. Fundamentally, it fulfills one’s expectations, if one can avoid asking the question, “who was this book written for.” It is exciting and offers many new insights, presented in a distinctive and at times amusing style.

Emőke Rita Szilágyi

Imprinting Identities: Illustrated Latin-Language Histories of St. Stephen’s Kingdom (1488–1700). By Karolina Anna Mroziewicz. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015. 314 pp.


As a researcher at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Karolina Anna Mroziewicz has studied the roles played by illustrated printed books in identity building processes in the Hungarian Kingdom. In the book under review, she examines the ways in which these works contributed to the emergence of an image repertoire that continues to exert an influence on the shape of Hungarian society today. The play on words in the title draws attention to the relationship between book printing and the formation of national identity.

The major sources on which Mroziewicz’s study is based were selected according to the following three criteria: they are narratives concerning historical events that took place in the kingdom of Saint Stephen, they contain a series of illustrations which builds up a visual narrative relevant to the content of the book, and they were written by Hungarians and for a Hungarian readership. Appropriate quotations from works by well-known and lesser known authors (for instance from the books Mroziewicz has consulted, from correspondence, from the Tripartitum by István Werbőczy, and even from a handwritten distich on the inner cover of Mausoleum) make each chapter highly readable.

In the first chapter following the introduction, Mroziewicz argues that the medieval past of the Hungarian Kingdom, primarily the Árpád Era, was of major importance in assertions concerning the continuity of Hungarian statehood and Christianity among the Hungarians. The main actors in these narratives were the Hun leaders, the holy kings of the Árpád House, and fearsome soldiers. The image of the Hungarians as the chosen nation led to the emergence of a discourse of national preeminence, which gave the Hungarian community coherence and a teleological sense of purpose.

Hungarian patron saints were used to support claims for the recognition of Hungarian interests within the sphere of Habsburg and Ottoman rule. These patron saints are the focus of the third chapter, as the pillars of the community of faith who became part of collective memory through political and religious rites. The roles of the Virgin Mary, Saint Stephen, Saint Emeric, and Saint Ladislaus in this process are discussed in detail. Mroziewicz examines how, from the early twelfth century onwards, images of the Virgin Mary (from the time of the reign of King Matthias, which is described as Patrona Hungariae) found their way first into historiographic works and then into the royal iconography. The roles of Saint Stephen and Saint Emeric are discussed together with mention of the Holy Crown, which through its alleged link to the holy king and patron of the kingdom gained exceptional prominence and popularity in Hungarian narratives of the Early Modern period.

Ladislaus I, as a knightly king, was the most often depicted patron saint in Hungary between the fourteenth and the late fifteenth century. According to the visual narratives, he not only overcame the Cumans, but also was believed to have guarded the kingdom after his death when it faced invasions of infidels. The result was a ritualization of social life, which was a crucial space for expressions and negotiation of communal identity. The cult of patron saints played an essential role in bringing a community together on different levels of political, social, and religious existence.

The fourth chapter, entitled “Rulers of Hungary,” examines the growing importance of the Holy Crown in visual and literary narratives. All the works under discussion show the history of Hungarian kingship with recurrent coronations of successive kings, each of whom wears the Holy Crown. The meaning of kingship was coded in the royal poses, gestures, and garb. Images of kings functioned as “ideograms,” standing for royal duties and prerogatives. They gave visual expression to the abstract notion of iustitia, defensio, the continuity of kingship, and a transcendental hierarchy.

The next chapter, which deals with the nobility and aristocracy, examines the historical circumstances of Hungarians of high birth and how these people were made to serve in the reproduction of the social hierarchy and the broadening of the political and cultural spectrum of the people depicted. In this chapter, Mroziewicz focuses on the links between likenesses of the nobility and aristocracy and the images that were drawn of them in legal treatises and other historical sources. After surveying the origins, strata, customs, and legal status of the nobility, she discusses the shared membership of its representatives in the corporate body of the Holy Crown.

Mroziewicz devotes a separate subchapter to the unprivileged role of Hungarian noble and aristocratic women (5.5.2.). In the materials she examines there are considerably fewer likenesses of noblewomen than there are of noblemen, and portraits of females always come after portraits of their husbands and fathers. In the literary sources eulogies accompanying their likenesses are generally conventional and do not provide any in-depth descriptions of the female figures depicted.

Among the nobility, a separate group of likenesses includes individual portraits of leading intellectuals, poets, writers, and well-educated figures of both noble origin and humanistic aspirations. These eminent men of letters constituted a narrow but renowned group among the nobility. Mroziewicz concludes that both printed and painted likenesses of members of the Hungarian nobility and aristocracy followed analogical visual patterns, which reproduced the male-orientated order of the society. Women fit into their worldview and lives as daughters, wives, and mothers, supporting and procreating the male line. The main function of the portraits Mroziewicz has studied was to reproduce the existing social hierarchy and, by doing so, to broaden the political and cultural resources of the well-off figures depicted. Noble and aristocratic likenesses recorded and passed on a set of collective memories about shared legal customs, a common tribal and Christian past, and, finally, heroic deeds in the wars against the Ottomans.

The last chapter is about the afterlife of illustrated books on Hungarian history. The impact of these books is studied on two levels. The first concerns direct responses to the texts and images recorded on the pages of the books themselves, while the second level involves the reception of the books in the historiographical, literary, and artistic traditions. The Chronica Hungarorum proved the most influential among the sources in question, and it has the most complex reception history, a history which in fact continues up to the present day. In the history of the reception of the Chronica Hungarorum, the textual and visual components of the book followed different paths. Only the facsimile edition of the chronicle, published in 1980, joined the visual and verbal layer of the book again.

In sum, illustrated books on history contributed to the formation of the visual and literary imagery of Hungarian mythology and the pantheon of saints, monarchs, and their subjects in both public and private spaces. They served as a treasure trove of motifs, which, in addition to the individual fortunes and misfortunes of the personalities depicted, also represented the whole community and stood for the fate of the emerging nation.

Imprinting Identities is richly illustrated, which is appropriate given its focus, and it brings the materials in question closer to the reader. However, some of the small, black and white reproductions (especially reproductions of paintings) do not contribute to the argument of the book, and the only color picture, which is on the front cover, is a rather modern representation of the illustrated histories.

All in all, Mroziewicz’s book is a successful attempt to further our understanding of the role of illustrated Latin-language histories of Hungary in the process of identity construction in the Early Modern period. The author studies the topic from the perspectives of art history, literary history, history, historiography, and book culture, and she adopts a multifocal and comprehensive approach in her synthesis.

Zsuzsanna Bakonyi


Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Tanulmányok a konstanzi zsinat 600. évfordulója alkalmából [Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Essays on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance]. Edited by Attila Bárány and László Pósán. Debrecen: Printart, 2014. 454 pp.


The Council of Constance was one of the decisive events in Europe in the Middle Ages, and it had a significant influence on the future of the continent. On November 5–7 2014, a major conference was held by the Institute of History of the University of Debrecen focusing on this event on the occasion of its 600th anniversary. The conference and the papers that were read were in part the fruit of work that has been underway at the University of Debrecen for years on the era of the reign of King Sigismund of Luxembourg. The organizers also sought to contribute to a German research project on the Council (“Das Konzilsjubiläum 2014–2018. 600 Jahre Konstanzer Konzil”). Editors Attila Bárány and László Pósán have organized the 31 essays in the book into four thematic groups. The first and longest (consisting of 11 essays) addresses political power relations in Europe at the time and the complex relationships in diplomacy and Church politics. The second section deals with the decisions that were made at the Council. In particular, the essays examine the consequences that these decisions had for the Kingdom of Hungary and the religious and Church processes that were underway within the Kingdom of Hungary. The third part consists of five essays on the political, social, and economic relationships in Hungary. It is followed by the second-longest and perhaps most colorful section, which deals with cultural trends and tendencies, including heraldry, Humanist literature, and pilgrimages to destinations beyond the borders of Hungary, but biographic and genealogic studies were also included in this part of the volume. The last section of the book contains essays on the military history of the era, more specifically two essays on the Hussite Wars and one on the struggles against the Ottoman Turks. It is quite clear on the basis of the topics addressed in the essays that the book covers many of the important aspects of the Council. The goal of the conference organizers was to draw as wide a range of scholars on the era of the Council as possible into the conference and the published collection of papers from the conference. Given the breadth of the book and limitations of space, I can only touch on a few of the essays in this review.

The history of the sixteenth general council was shaped to a large extent by the political constellation in Europe at the time. The essay by Attila Bárány focuses on the efforts of King Sigismund to bring an end to the Hundred Years’ War and the ways in which he attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to act as an intermediary first between the French leagues and then between England and France. Bárány examines the complex relationships between the Luxembourgs on the one hand and France, England, and Burgundy on the other, and he persuasively demonstrates that Sigismund always sought to remain neutral, though he also sought to ensure that Brabant and Luxembourg not end up under the control of Burgundy and that England not gain strength in the Netherlands.

The other major armed conflict at the time of the Council was taking place in the northeastern corner of Europe between the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania on one side and the Order of the Teutonic Knights on the other. Pósán focuses on this struggle. After peace negotiations in Buda and the delegation led by Benedek Makrai in 1412–1413 failed to yield results, the issue was taken before the Council. The Order accused Ladislaus II and Witold, grand duke of Lithuania, of being Christians in appearance only, and they claimed to have a just cause for war. The Polish diplomats, of course, dismissed these contentions. They offered the Teutonic Knights first Podolia and then Cyprus, and they were prepared to submit to Sigismund’s decision. Ultimately, the issue was decided by the appointment of Pope Martin V, with which the Poles lost all of the privileges that Pope John XXIII had granted them. Ladislaus II and Witold both withdrew. According to Pósán, while the conflict remained unsettled, with the moral victory of Ladislaus II the debate came to a close in Constance.

Sigismund achieved a remarkable triumph in 1411, when he was chosen to serve as King of Germany. The essay by Márta Kondor examines the development of the imperial chancellery and the makeup of the royal council. Drawing on analyses of the chancellery notes, she concludes that the imperial chancellery began to become active in the middle of 1411. It may have functioned under the organization of Johannes Kirchen, though there may also have been a division of labor. Kirchen used the imperial seal to certify legal documents, while High Chancellor János Kanizsai (or his deputy), as secretary to the king, used a secret seal. With regards to the council, Kondor has determined that alongside the imperial council, there was also a Hungarian council, though the king summoned the members of the council only as a function of the importance of the issue at hand. He discussed problems of governance with a narrower “operative body.”

From the perspective of Hungary, one of the important decisions of the Council concerned the question of taxes on Church benefices. As of 1417, at least in principle no taxes had to be paid to the papal treasury on the appointment of people who had been suggested for office by the Hungarian king. In his essay, Tamás Fedeles examines the extent to which this matter of principle was also a matter of practice under Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. Fedeles examines an item-by-item summary of the taxes that were paid into the papal treasury and the treasury records and analyzes 58 promissory notes of Hungarian origin from the period in question. Thus, he has determined that the idea of more modest taxes on archbishops and tax exemptions allegedly offered by the pope remained on paper only (in this case mostly because the archbishop of Esztergom and for example the bishop of Zagreb promised to pay higher taxes to the papal court), and barely half of the sum that had been agreed upon actually was paid into the apostolic treasury (Camera Apostolica) from the whole clergy of Hungary. According to Fedeles, the explanation for this lies in the fact that, as the king of Hungary, Sigismund was better situated to enforce his will, in particular with regards to the upper layers of the clergy. The papacy was willing to overlook this because of the threats posed by the Hussites and, more importantly, the Ottomans.

Since Sigismund was in general far from Hungary during the Council, he had to ensure that he had suitable people in power to tend to the various issues that came up during his absence. Norbert C. Tóth examines the administrative tasks of the royal vicars in the period between 1413 and 1419. Drawing on chancellery notes, the “itinerary” of the great seal, and the queen’s charters, C. Tóth endeavors to determine as precisely as possible who the vicars were and what they did. The only two people that Sigismund made vicars were Miklós Garai and the aforementioned János Kanizsai, but both Garai and Kanizsai joined him in Western Europe, and this confused affairs. In the time period under discussion, four people served as lieutenant governors of the king. The first was Queen Barbara of Cilli (Sigismund’s wife), followed by Garai for the better part of 1414. There is evidence to suggest that Pál Özdögei Besenyő served as vicar between 1416 and 1417. He may have served in this position until Garai’s return to Hungary. While Kanizsai officially began to keep accounts as vicar in 1417, the king only returned to Hungary in 1419. Thus, in all likelihood, Garai tended to the tasks of the position following the archbishop’s death in 1418.

László Veszprémy examines King Sigismund’s responses to the Hussite wars, the outbreak of which was prompted by the decisions of the Council, to determine his aptitude as a military leader and diplomat. According to a view that has gained widespread currency in the secondary literature, Sigismund regarded the Hussitism as a pan-European problem and sought to put an end to it with military action. Taking into consideration the king’s troop movements and diplomatic endeavors, Veszprémy comes to the conclusion that Sigismund would have preferred to address the situation simply by weakening and dividing the opposition and then using diplomacy. After he was made king of Bohemia in 1419, it was obviously problematic for him to order the occupation of a region over which he had just been made ruler. Veszprémy examines the struggles between Sigismund and Žižka and concludes that the two sides were fighting two completely different wars. Sigismund did not want to destroy the Hussites with a rapid assault and devastating blows. Rather, as Eberhard Windecke, the chronicler of the king has also contended, he sought to use political strategies. Put simply, it was not the military conflict so much as the search for a political resolution that lasted almost two decades.

In his essay, János Véber examines the only surviving work by Miklós Barius, a speech addressed to Ladislaus V of Hungary. Véber also considers the various ways in which this speech was preserved over time. One copy was kept as part of a book of formulae, in the compilation of which Barius himself may have played a role. Gábor Kiss Farkas discusses a similar topic, namely the influence of Humanist epistolary books, by comparing the writings of Pier Paolo Vergerio, János Vitéz, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, and Johannes Tröster. The essay by Enikő Csukovits also bears thematic affinities with these two contributions. Csukovits draws attention to the function of the Council as a scholarly forum by examining the geographical works of Pierre d’Ailly and Guillaume Fillastre. The Council had easy access to texts that were indispensable to the works that they compiled. For instance, the work of Ptolemy spread across Europe again in large part due to the role of the Council as intermediary. Regrettably, because of the nature of the Hungarian sources, we do not really know how interesting the “book market,” which was remarkably broad in its scope, was to the Hungarians who took part in the Council.

Along with the flood of new ideas, new religious movements also came to Hungary in the period under discussion. In her contribution to the collection, Beatrix Romhányi argues persuasively that Franciscan religious ideas and practices arrived not from the south, as has been suggested in the secondary literature, but rather from the West. Pope Martin V, who supported the Franciscans, may have played a significant role in this. Romhányi compares the circumstances of the foundation of Franciscan monasteries and demonstrates that, in contrast with the fourteenth century, during the reign of King Sigismund the wishes of patrons were decisive factors in the process, as was the call for the monasteries to play representative functions.

The examples on which I have drawn within the framework of this brief review suffice to illustrate that the essays in this collection meet very high standards of scholarship and offer a great deal of new, important information and insights that will be of considerable interest to scholars on the Middle Ages. Perhaps one of the greatest merits of the book is that it clearly demonstrates the extent to which Hungary’s history was inseparable from the history of the rest of Europe at the time. The essays offer numerous examples of ways in which the Council and the events that took place at the time of the Council influenced events in Hungary. In other words, they offer ample testimony to the fact that the Kingdom of Hungary was an integral part of Europe. The essays offer excellent presentations of these complex interrelationships, actions, and reactions, and they will undoubtedly encourage further research on the subject.

Péter Haraszti Szabó


Expulsion and Diaspora Formation: Religious and Ethnic Identities in Flux from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century. Edited by John Tolan. (Religion and Law in Medieval Christian and Muslim Societies 5) Brepols: Turnhout, 2015. 244 pp.


Without doubt, the question of why people go into exile and what exile means for their cultural identities is of remarkable and sad topicality in Europe and indeed all over the world. Present-day political debates concentrate first and foremost on the problem of how people who have suffered expulsion or have chosen exile for other reasons can integrate into a host society. In view of urgent needs and challenges, fundamental questions including the possible social, political, and economic causes of expulsion or flight, the meaning of exile experience for the identity of a given diasporic group, and the roles of certain aspects of culture in the construction of “new” or maintenance of “old” identities sometimes seem to recede into the background. Still, each of these questions is relevant if we are trying to understand both the realities and the narratives of expulsion and flight. The importance of this kind of broader approach to the doubtlessly challenging topic of exile is impressively demonstrated in the volume edited by John Tolan. The book takes a chronologically and geographically comparative perspective and consequently deals with “religious and ethnic identities in flux from Antiquity to the seventeenth century” (this is the subtitle of the book). It is comprised of eleven essays in English and French that were presented at a conference held at Central European University, Budapest in June 2013. The idea for the conference and the book arose from a promising three-sided cooperative effort among Tolan’s own project RELMIN (The Legal Status of Religious Minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean World; Université de Nantes) and a collaborative project on “Trans-European Diasporas: Migration, Minorities, and the Diasporic Experience in East Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean” (Heidelberg University and Central European University Budapest).

Accordingly, the articles present historical case studies of exile from different European and Mediterranean regions (Hungary, England, the Iberian Peninsula, Egypt, and Malta), chronologically ranging from Antiquity to Early Modern times. By combining these different examples, the editor has tried to shed light on the possible causes of expulsion, ways to integrate diasporic communities into their new societies, and meanings of memories of the country or culture of origin for the formation of group identities.

In the opening article on “Exile and Identity” (pp.9–29), Tolan deals with three examples of Jewish expulsion from French regions (France, Brittany, Gascogny, and Anjou) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Tolan takes these case studies as a starting point to develop helpful general thoughts on the other two key aspects of the volume (modes of integration and modes of constructing group identities of medieval diasporas). He thereby convincingly prepares the way for the following articles, several of which also examine case studies of Jewish diaspora experience.

In her study on “The expulsion of Jews from Hungarian Towns on the Aftermath of the Battle of Mohács” (pp.51–83), Katalin Szende looks at three important Hungarian towns in the early sixteenth century: Sopron, Pressburg (today Bratislava), and Buda. Szende shows how the cases of expulsion that took place in the 1520s were closely connected both to the fatal experience of the devastating Hungarian loss at Mohács and urban economic structures that had essentially been developed in the fifteenth century. Three topographical figures and an appendix on the ways in which Jewish properties changed hands after the expulsion nicely complement the text.

Similarly, Robin Mundill analyzes different (political, economic, and social) explanations for “The Jewish Experience of Expulsion from England in 1290” (pp.85–101). Mundill’s concise contribution sheds light on the argumentative attempts of contemporaries to justify the expulsion of the English Jews and displays how demonized stereotypes of the “wicked Jews” entered the political and cultural discourse of medieval and Early Modern England.

In Patrick Sänger’s contribution (“Considerations on the Administrative Organization of the Jewish Military Colony in Leontopolis,” pp.171–194) the focus shifts from the immediate event of expulsion to the question of what became of expelled Jews in their new “host societies.” Sänger presents the remarkable case of the so-called politeuma, a military colony organization which was used by King Ptolemy VI to integrate Jewish refugees who had come to Egypt from Judaea in the second century BCE.

In the next essay, another example from Egypt becomes the focus of interest. In his study on “Jews in Alexandria in the Late Middle Ages through Venetian Eyes” (pp.195–216), Georg Christ demonstrates that group ascriptions such as “the Jews” do not always prove helpful or truly applicable terms. As the case of Jewish merchants in Alexandria suggests, “sub-categories” such as Jews from Venice or Latin vs. Oriental Jews appeared to be much more relevant for contemporaries than a common identity of the “Jewish diaspora.”

Though the question of Jewish experiences of expulsion and diaspora is also the focus of the articles by Nadezda Koryakina (“The Terms Golah and Galut in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Responsa,” pp.104–16), Carsten L. Wilke (“Allegory and Mental Adaption to Exile Among Refugees of the Iberian Inquisition,” pp.117–34), Josep Xavier Muntané i Santiveri (“Une révision du terme ‘sefardi’ appliqué aux juifs de Catalogne,” pp.149–69) and Marianna D. Birnbaum (“Christopher Marlowe and the Jews of Malta,” pp.217–29), these contributions adopt a significantly different approach. They do not focus on particular historical events but rather address certain source types, social ascriptions, or contemporary ways of dealing with Diaspora experiences in writing and poetry. While Birnbaum thoroughly analyzes Christopher Marlowe’s drama “The Jew of Malta” against the historical background of the events described by Marlowe, Wilke examines literary forms of handling exile in Early Modern Spain (providing two of the analyzed texts in an appendix). Experiences of Spanish exile are also addressed by Koryakina, who discusses responsa literature of the late Middle Ages and traces mentionings of exile in them, as well as by Muntané who examines contemporary terms and descriptions of Jews in medieval Catalonia.

The three-step approach to “exile and diaspora formation” suggested by the editor is far from limited to examples from Jewish experience, as is demonstrated by two other case studies. In her article on “Cuman-Hungarian Relations in the Thirteenth Century” (pp.31–49), Kyra Lyublyanovics examines the social and economic diversity of Cuman migrants to Hungary. Lyublyanovics pays attention to political aspects of the Cuman migration (e.g. the relationships with Hungarian rulers and nobility), as well as religious, ethnic, and economic questions (e.g. the problems of conversion, language, customs, etc.). She manages to paint a complex picture of an ambivalent and diverse diasporic group while also indicating questions which remain unanswered and which could therefore be the subject of further research. With his contribution, Marcell Sebők turns our attention to the “Conviction and Expulsion of Hungarian Protestants” (pp.135–47) as decided by a tribunal in 1674. Sebők not only reconstructs the context of the trial, he also discusses the arguments quoted by the Catholic advocates of expulsion and the Protestant defendants. He convincingly shows how later writings and historical interpretations on both confessional sides were influenced by the conflicting experiences.

In her thoughtful conclusion, Susan Einbinder (pp.231–37) brings together the main issues that are addressed in the individual contributions and raises some new aspects (e.g. gender questions), which demonstrate the potential that the topic has for further research. Undoubtedly, Tolan’s volume provides helpful insights and new perspectives, and it certainly will encourage further study in the field.

Julia Burkhardt


Városfejlődés a középkori Máramarosban [Urban development in Medieval Maramureş]. By László Szabolcs Gulyás. (Erdélyi tudományos füzetek 280) Cluj: Transylvanian Museum Society, 2014. 151 pp.


The study of residences and major towns has been a focus of research for decades in Central European scholarship. However, free royal towns and residential cities represented only a very small proportion of the urban centers in medieval Central Europe. Most of the towns were limited in size and had few legal privileges compared to villages. The volume under review discusses the urban development of five (or rather six) towns that certainly belong to the latter category. The settlements in question lie in Maramureş/Máramaros, a geographical and ethno-cultural region in what was once the northeastern part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary (it was a county in Hungary, and today the word also refers to a county in Romania consisting essentially of the southern half of the historical region). Four of the six towns discussed by László Szabolcs Gulyás lie in Ukraine, while the other two are found in Romania.

The book consists of nine chapters, including the short but important epilogue. The first chapter discusses the existing scholarship on the urban development of the Maramureş region. Apart from some important source publications, research carried out on salt mining in Maramureş and on the Early Modern history of the region, most of the works were written by local historians, and they vary strikingly in quality. The second chapter examines why five (Câmpulung la Tisa/Hosszúmező, Khust/Huszt, Sighetu Marmaţiei/Máramarossziget, Tiachiv/Técső, and Vyshkove/Visk) of the six towns in medieval Maramureş were frequently regarded as belonging to the same group. They were all in royal hands in the early fourteenth century and were all given privileges together in 1329. Gulyás demonstrates that the towns got their common privileges on the basis of the early privilege letter of the settlement of Vynohradiv, issued in 1262. It would have been helpful to have included the two charters on facing pages in order to allow the reader to compare the two documents more easily. The chapter draws attention to the limits of the 1329 privileges that the five towns received. The settlements hardly enjoyed any more freedoms than those usually granted to settlements of invited guests (hospes). However, the towns were in a favorable position than otherwise, because with only a few short exceptions the king was their landlord until modern times.

The whole region of Maramureş was not settled until quite late; the county was one of the last such administrative units to be created in the Kingdom of Hungary. People only began to settle in Maramureş in large numbers in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The fourth chapter is devoted to the study of the people who settled here. In the Middle Ages, the region was ethnically very diverse. It was inhabited by Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and Romanians. The early bestowal of privileges reflects the granting of rights to the German settlers, but later the ethnic makeup of the towns shifted and they became more predominantly Hungarian speaking. Romanians and Ruthenians, though present in the county as of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries respectively, were present only in small numbers in the towns. They inhabited the surrounding villages, and mention of them in the primary sources is connected to economic exchange between the towns and the villages of the region.

As Gulyás demonstrates, the settlements received their privileges when salt extraction began in the region. This was certainly the most important motivation for the king to encourage people, in particular miners and administrators, to settle in Maramureş. The fifth chapter therefore deals with salt mining in the region. As the book discusses, not only were mines opened in the region, but the king also established the center of a salt mining chamber in Khust/Huszt. Gulyás analyzes almost all of the surviving written primary sources on the region up to the battle of Mohács (1526), and many of the salt chamber bailiffs (sókamaraispán) are mentioned in the book. Historians would have benefitted from an archontology on the administration in the region in the Middle Ages, which has yet to have been done. However, the chapter is a very important part of the book, as it clearly demonstrates how the extraction of a mining good was crucial in the urbanization process of a particular region.

In the sixth chapter, Gulyás looks at the legal life of the towns. He feels at home in this chapter, as in a number of his earlier works he analyzed literacy, the issue of charters, and sealing practices in market towns in medieval Hungary. He draws attention to the differences in the legal lives of the five towns with particular regard to their designation in charters. He also discusses the magistrates of the towns and their jurisdiction. The seventh chapter addresses the economic life of the towns. Given the lack of other sources, the professional makeup of the towns, i.e. the presence of craftsmen, is discussed on the basis of names appearing in legal documents. The presence of the kinds of craftsmen who according to Gulyás’ methodology were in the settlements (smiths, furriers, tailors or potters) is by no means proof of the urban characteristics of the settlements. The only characteristically urban feature was the relatively high number of learned people (literatus), but this can be easily explained by the need for literate people to manage the administration of salt mining. The penultimate chapter is seemingly a small digression from the main focus of the book, which is the study of the five aforementioned towns. It discusses the sixth urban settlement in the county, Ruske Pole. The settlement began to develop a century later than the other towns, and it was never granted the liberties that the other towns received. However, it lies in the geographic center of the region and thus may have served as a market center for regional trade. This is indicated by a market privilege from the early sixteenth century that provided as much as four annual fairs to the town. Of course, the extent to which this was implemented or the fairs themselves were successful remain open questions.

András Kubinyi, the late Hungarian urban historian, established a set of criteria (a point system) on the basis of which towns in the Hungarian Kingdom can be compared. His system allows for a more critical evaluation of the character of a town in the Middle Ages. Gulyás should have reevaluated Kubinyi’s assessment of the towns of Maramureş according to this system, since for instance in the case of Ruske Pole Kubinyi was not aware of the four annual fairs. Had he known about them, he would have given the settlement more points on his scale. Based on Kubinyi’s criteria, the settlements analyzed in Gulyás’s book were not much more than villages with some central functions. In their case, these functions were connected to mining and the administration necessary for mining. In the epilogue to his book, Gulyás also refers to this problem. He argues that urban privileges in themselves tell very little about the characteristics of a settlement in the Middle Ages. As he shows, none of the five or six towns became urbanized until the end of the Middle Ages, and the raise of these settlements may have only been due to the local presence of a natural resource, namely salt.

The book was published by the Transylvanian Museum Society, an important institution which publishes a book series in Hungarian on scholarship related to Transylvania (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek, or “Transylvanian Scientific Books”). The volume includes a useful map, indexes, and abstracts in English and Romanian. Each of these supplements is important, and they make the book easier to use. However, the omission of a list of the various names of the settlements, and in particular their present-day names, is a regrettable shortcoming.

András Vadas

Augsburg – Wien – München – Innsbruck: Die früheste Darstellung der Stephanskrone und die Entstehung der Exemplare des Ehrenspiegels des Hauses Österreich. Gelehrten- und Künstlerbeziehungen in Mitteleuropa in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts. By Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy. Budapest: Institut für Geschichte des Forschungszentrums für Humanwissenschaften der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015. 168 pp.


Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy, the authors of the book under review, have accomplished an ambitious project. The purpose of the two authors, both of whom are members of the “Holy Crown of Hungary research project,” was to find the oldest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary. This book is the first work to adopt an array of approaches from diverse disciplines, including history and art history, in order to identify the authentic and unique appearance of the Hungarian royal insignia. Another task undertaken by Buzási and Pálffy was to correct the often incorrectly formulated story about the Ehrenspiegel des Hauses Österreich. They made a comparison of existing copies of the Ehrenspiegel and tried to discern the similarities and differences among them. Finally, they also examined the mechanisms of humanist networks in the middle of the sixteenth century and the connections within these networks, which were strong despite the large geographical distances.

The publication is divided into 15 chapters. The first is an overview of the secondary literature on the history and the traditional images of the Holy Crown. The authors point out that the view according to which the Ehrenspiegel illustration of the crown is the oldest one is not correct. There must have been an earlier image. Luckily, in the collection of manuscripts and rare books of the Austrian National Library in Vienna, the researchers found a short letter by the Ehrenspiegel author, Clemens Jäger, in which Jäger claims to have used a written description or image. Presumably, this sketch or written description was made by copper engraver and Viennese court artist Hans Lautensack.

The following chapters explain the development of the Ehrenspiegel as a historical and propagandistic work and its role in the rise of the Habsburg dynasty. This impressive humanist publication was commissioned by the Augsburg merchant family Fugger in the middle of the sixteenth century. The route of the Ehrenspiegel from the Fugger library to the princely collection of the Bavarian dukes and, later, to the royal Bavarian collection, where it is held today in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, is also introduced.

The short and compact biography of Jäger, who was from Augsburg, is thoroughly discussed, with particular focus on his humanistic abilities and failures. An interesting perspective is offered by the story of the way in which the Habsburg dynasty acquired the Holy Crown under the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I.

Various explanations are provided concerning the different copies of the “Ehrenspiegel,” which were made in the second half of the sixteenth century, after the original version was authored in Munich. Today, these copies are held in the Austrian National Library in Vienna (signature Cod. 8614* and Cod. 8613.) and in the Saxon Regional and University Library in Dresden (signature Mscr.Dresd.L.2). The authors attempt to establish a logical chronology of the copies, identify their origins, and find the original version. In this case, the research group had to undertake field research, because the last person to devote research to this question was historian Franz Unterkircher, who was active in in the 1960s. Buzási and Pálffy examined the artistic production, the writing material, and the inks used in each version of Ehrenspiegel.

A further aim was to identify the artist or the circumstances under which the given versions were made. However, the attempts made by Buzási and Pálffy to do this proved unsuccessful. In the attempts to establish similarities and differences among the various versions, the authors were always careful to compare the same pages of each.

The twelfth chapter is dedicated to the question of the actual appearance of the Holy Crown of Hungary. Once again, Buzási and Pálffy adopted a comparative approach to all the “Ehrenspiegel” versions. Moreover, in addition to these very early images of the crown, the authors also added an image from the 1668 Spiegel […] der Ehren by Birken. This print is based on the Ehrenspiegel. It was made in honor of Emperor Leopold I. It was possible to demonstrate that the extended use of printing from the seventeenth century on resulted in an increase in the number of the illustrations of the Holy Crown of Hungary.

As a point of criticism, it is worth noting that for some readers it may be unclear how the chapter about the discussion concerning the coat of arms of Sopron (Ödenburg) is connected to the research on the earliest image of the crown. Although the examination of this coat of arms is partly based on the study of heraldic emblemata appearing in the Ehrenspiegel and on two occasions Sopron was the site of Hungarian coronations later in the seventeenth century, this chapter is only loosely tied to the main topic of the book.

I find myself compelled to make a critical remark concerning the translation, which is an indisputable failure of the book. The language is uneasy and difficult to comprehend. Moreover, confusion is caused by the failure to differentiate between the so-called Fuggerchronik and the Ehrenspiegel in the beginning of the book.

However, apart from these shortcomings, Pálffy and Buzási attained their aims. They succeeded in identifying the origins of the earliest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary, which was made between April 1553 and November 1561, probably by Hans Lautensack, and was later used by Clemens Jäger for his Ehrenspiegel manuscript. The authors’ new approach clarifies the history of the extant Ehrenspiegel copies; one was made for Tyrolean governor Archduke Ferdinand II, while the other was made for his nephew, Archduke Maximilian III. For the first time in the secondary literature, all of the extant copies have been compared and similarities and differences have been specified, a process that is furthered by the impressive layout and graphic presentation, involving many images of reasonable size and quality.

In some cases, the authors guide the reader through the investigation as if they were actual detectives. In sum, we have a detailed and well-structured work with new findings on the history and art history of the Hungarian Holy Crown. We can only hope to see more publications like this one from the Lendület Holy Crown of Hungary research project.

Thomas Kuster


„Légy cseheknek pártfogója, magyaroknak szószóllója…:” Cseh–magyar jezsuita összefüggések a kezdetektől 1773-ig [“Be the patron of Czechs, and the advocate of Hungarians…:” Relationships between the Hungarian and Czech Jesuits from the beginnings until 1773]. By Eszter Kovács. (Művelődéstörténeti műhely, Monográfiák 2.) Budapest: PPKE–OSZK, 2015. 367 pp.


The recently published volume by Eszter Kovács deals with cultural relationships between Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits in the period between 1556 and 1773. Several papers have already been published on the relationships between Bohemia and Hungary in both countries. The Protestant contacts have been examined in depth by Richard Pražák. However, until now, none of the works has examined the relationships from the perspective of the Catholic Church, and especially not from the point of view of the activities of the Bohemian Jesuits. Eszter Kovács uses new resources in her examination of the endeavors of the Bohemian Jesuits in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Brno. So far, these sources have been examined primarily by Czech historians, despite the fact that they have many bearings on Hungary, as Kovács has discovered. Still, no one has examined them from the perspective of Hungarian scholarship, so the sources may provide a foundation for further studies. In the cultural history of seventeenth-century and eighteenth- century Hungary, thanks to various mediators between Czechs and Hungarians, there were many signs of Czech influences on the nobility, aristocracy, clerical order, and peregrinates. Kovács chose to focus on the Society of Jesus in her examination of the nature of the connections between the Hungarian and Bohemian cultures within the order, the mediators between these two cultures, and the manners of the mediation. The first two parts of her complex and ambitious work are dedicated to these questions.

Kovács divides the period between 1556 and 1773 into two phases. The first phase covers the period up to 1623, when the Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits belonged to the same Austrian province, while the second, between 1623 and 1773, corresponds to the era when the province of Bohemia was independent. In this period, the role of Jesuits in Hungarian residences had undergone a change, since Hungary was more than a simple missionary target, like it had been before, and the majority of Bohemian Jesuits had practical duties. (This idea needs more clarification, especially with regard to the opposition it raises.)

More and more Czech Jesuit teachers and scholars arrived to teach in Hungarian schools, which became popular among Bohemian students as well, especially the University of Nagyszombat (today Trnava, Slovakia). At the end of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province supported fights against the Ottomans: each college paid a certain sum to support the cause, depending on its size, and the field missionaries served in the fighting armies.

In the third large chapter, Kovács summarizes her findings. She demonstrates Czech influences in hagiography, theater history, and the process of the propagation of Czech in Hungary. Because of its current role in Slovak national identity, she devotes a separate subsection in this chapter to the cult of Saints Cyril and Methodius. After the Slovak version of the hymn book by Benedek Szöllősi (Cantus Catholici, Pysně Katolické) had been published, Cyril and Methodius appeared regularly in Hungarian hagiographies. The myth of the Moravian Empire as part of the Carpathian Basin became interesting for Czech and Hungarian historians (for instance Sámuel Timon, György Szklenár, and Bohuslav Balbín) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Since the cult was an artificially created one, with no roots either in Hungarian or Slovak culture, Kovács attempts to examine it as the myth of Saints Cyril and Methodius and not as part of national histories.

The most important points of the argumentation are summarised in each subchapter, making the text clear and easy to follow. At the end of the volume, there is a useful appendix containing several detailed tables of names, places of birth, locations of the monastic quarters, periods of activity, and functions of the Bohemian and Hungarian Jesuits. The first table, based on the Catalogi personarum et officiorum provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu. I. II. (ed. Ladislaus Lukács, Romae, [1978–1982]9, is concerned with Hungarian Jesuits who lived in Bohemia until 1623. The second table is based on the same catalogue and contains data on Bohemian Jesuits who lived in Hungary in the same period. The last table, which is based on the Catalogus generalis seu Nomenclator biographicus personarum Provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu (1551–1773), [1987–1988]), deals with the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province living in Hungary between 1623 and 1773. The volume comes to a close with illustrations of prominent personalities, pictures of title pages, and several diagrams, which help one understand the data presented.

To raise a few points of criticism, a map of Jesuit activities in the contemporary Bohemian Province would have been very useful. One also could have considered providing an examination of Jesuits’ book lists from Jesuit residences in Hungary: what kinds of Czech books were found in Hungarian Jesuit convents, and vice versa. Furthermore, it would have been worthwhile to discuss the role of the Czech language in Hungary in more detail.

Despite these minor shortcomings, the volume is still a carefully designed, useful contribution containing important source material for the study of history, church history, cultural history, and several other disciplines, such as research on various kinds of networks and their roles. Its perspicuous style and exhaustive detail make the volume not only indispensable for scholars, but also enjoyable for lay readers.

Györgyi Nagy


Vísperas de sucesión: Europa y la Monarquía de Carlos II [On the eve of succession: Europe and the Monarchy of Charles II]. Edited by Bernardo J. García García and Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño. Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2015. 395 pp.


In 2015, the tercentenary of the end of the War of Spanish Succession took place, commemorating the end of a momentous and far-reaching conflict both on an internal, Spanish level and on the international level, since its outcomes affected the future of the European powers and their respective areas of influence and colonies around the world. The main cause of the war is well-known: Charles II, the last Spanish monarch of the Habsburg dynasty, died childless and, thus, heirless.

On the occasion of the tercentenary of the war, scholarly works were published on the period and various academic events in various disciplines were organized. The commemoration of the outbreak of war, the X Jornadas Nacionales de Historia Militar (10th National Journeys of Military History), which was held in Sevilla in November 2000, was one such event. However, despite the importance of the political and strategical struggle for power, the War of Spanish Succession is not as well-known as other conflicts (e.g. the Peninsular War of 1807–1814). This statement is even more accurate concerning the hidden aspects, or petite histoire, of the war, which in the end offer important perspectives on the grande histoire. Without knowledge of the details of the anecdotal events, which in the end offer insights into behavior and attitudes and enrich our understanding of facts, we cannot hope to have a complete and accurate grasp of the causes of these pivotal events of history.

The volume under review attempts to fill this gap. The studies examine hidden processes of political decision-making. A war is waged not only on the battlefield, but also in offices, among administrators on different levels of power, and in the halls and antechambers of palaces. The studies shed light on the intrigues devised by decisive figures, who favored one cause or another and sought to implement measures that would eventually lead to armed clashes. This is the petite histoire, which ultimately leads to as more nuanced understanding of the great events and the motivations of the various parties to these events and helps us better understand the entire subject.

Two of the most outstanding representatives of this trend are Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio and Bernardo José García García, both of whom are corresponding members of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. They are scholars of Hispanic studies from a European perspective, and both have studied court society, life in the Habsburg court, and Habsburg policy. Both have authored a wide range of publications, which are significant landmarks in the secondary literature on Early Modern history dealing with what might best be characterized as the spirit of the people, foreign policy, and the nature of a nation in the broad sense. The book under review focuses on the era of the rule of the last Habsburg king of Spain and the years before the War of Succession. It represents a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the context and the motives underlying these events.

The book offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the years of international political unrest between the Austrian Habsburgs and the Bourbons, two great dynasties opposed by their sense of honor and their pursuit of hegemony. Published by the Carlos de Amberes Foundation, the volume contains essays which are the fruit of several international research projects undertaken in collaboration with sixteen renowned scholars from Spain and other countries, such as Luis Ribot, Alfredo Floristán, Sánchez Belén and Joaquim Albareda from Spain and Davide Maffi from Italy and Charles-Édouard Levillain from France. The publication opens perspectives on the years before the outbreak of the conflict. Several topics are discussed in the volume, many of them essentially untouched in the secondary literature, but certainly important to our understanding of the era. The discussions are based on comprehensive and detailed fieldwork in all cases and on analyses of a wealth of unpublished documents.

The volume, which is divided into three thematic blocks and written in a clear and concise style, provides thoughtful and exhaustive essays on various subjects. For instance, the discussions include an examination of the ways in which the agents and notables intermingled, e.g. Valenzuela, the Duke of York, and the Marquis of Harcourt, who contrived court intrigues in favor of the Bourbons. The articles also examine the ways in which the Habsburgs plotted in European capitals to acquire personal power. These analyses provide a new approach to the study of the figure of Charles II, who perhaps has been treated a bit unjustly by historians. The essays offer a richer grasp of the delicate political context, in which grandees did not always have the common good of the Monarchy in mind, as the essays by Christopher Storrs and Lucién Bély illustrate. While presenting the historic junctures in this period of the history of the Spanish Monarchy, Bernardo José García correctly highlights that the last decades of the reign of Charles II resulted in a more accurate and better documented vision.

In a broad sense, taking into account the influence of the powerful states and cities of Europe, such as Italy, Portugal, Buda, Vienna, London, and the ubiquitous France of Louis XIV, this book adds to efforts to rekindle and deepen research on the period and sheds light on its historical significance. The volume offers persuasive support for the argument that the situation in which Spain found itself was not as dire as is usually assumed, although it certainly did not wield as much power as it had in the sixteenth century. The negative factors that had already been identified at the time, such as instability and increasing political tensions, were exacerbated by Charles II’s personal weaknesses as a ruler (mental and physical frailty and his failure to father an heir). Attempts were made to deny or disguise these weaknesses. This book provides analyses of the events and people from both a Spanish and an international perspective. This is particularly evident, for example, in the discussion of art, which highlights its political and propagandistic uses.

In short, this book is noteworthy, as it constitutes a substantial contribution to the secondary literature on the last phase of Spanish Habsburgs, casting new light on this important moment in the emergence of modern Europe.

Evaristo C. Martínez-Radío Garrido


A Kalocsa-Bácsi Főegyházmegye 18. századi megújulása Patachich Gábor és Patachich Ádám érsekek idején (1733–1784) [The eighteenth-century revival of Kalocsa-Bács Archdiocese under Archbishops Gábor Patachich and Ádám Patachich]. By Tamás Tóth. Budapest–Kalocsa: METEM–Kalocsai Főegyházmegyei Levéltár, 2014. 494 pp.


In 2015, Tamás Tóth’s book was chosen as Publication of the Year by the Society of Hungarian Archivists. The volume deserves recognition for many reasons. It approaches the process of the eighteenth-century Catholic revival from new perspectives. The principal question of the work concerns the extent to which the reorganization of the archdiocese after the Ottoman era was possible in the spirit of the Council of Trent. The book itself is the product of extensive research based on Tóth’s Italian-language dissertation defended at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2006 (Tóth’s dissertation was published as a book in Hungary in 2011). Over the past few years, Tóth has not only broadened the base of his sources, he has also added a layer of nuance to his thoughts on the topic. The thoroughness of the research is reflected in the rich appendix: the author and the publisher made an attempt to collect all the reproductions of materials, images, and written sources connected to the topic.

This volume fits well alongside research that has been undertaken over the past two decades on bishoprics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Along with Tóth’s contributions to the subject, the recent scientific works published concerning the dioceses of Győr, Eger, Veszprém and Pécs offer a more nuanced and exhaustive overview of denominational history in Hungary. The efforts that were made by these dioceses to adopt various reforms varied significantly depending on the facilities at their disposal and their individual histories, and thus only this combination of macro-historical and micro-historical analyses can provide a foundation for a synthesis.

One of the merits of the work is that it is complexly synthetic: the argumentation is based on abundant secondary literature and numerous collections of sources. The primary archival sources are held in Kalocsa, Budapest, Vienna, Zagreb and Rome, where the author carried out his research. He successfully forged out of this plethora of information a harmonious unity. The ecclesiastical events and persons on which he focuses are organized into an elaborate system and are presented as part of a network of contacts. Thus, the work offers a more subtle and thorough understanding of the reasons behind certain events and decision-making mechanisms than was previously available in the literature. Tóth focuses on context, and he traces the trajectories of aims and decisions until they reached their eventual completion. Hungarian and international ecclesiastical scholars will both profit from his findings.

The volume focuses on the activity of Gábor Patachich (1733–1745) and his nephew Ádám Patachich (1776–1784), two of the archbishops of Kalocsa. Tóth offers a thorough narrative of the history of the eighteenth-century archdiocese through their biographies. Moreover, there is an even wider cross-section of the book. The author has managed to present the entire history of the Hungarian Catholic Church between 1526 and the 1780s in this book. One might logically expect an overview of the epoch. By providing this contextualization of the lives of the two archbishops, Tóth has presented a vivid historical process. This broad perspective was applied to the careers of both prelates and to the history of the diocese as well. The Patachiches had important bases and engaged in important activities before becoming archbishops of Kalocsa. The detailed presentation of their careers offers a major contribution to Hungarian church history.

During the Ottoman conquest, the archdiocese of Kalocsa fell almost into a condition of ruin with respect to its infrastructure and personnel. Thus, Gábor Patachich started his reconstruction work from something of a “tabula rasa” state. In addition to presenting the careers of the two archbishops, Tóth also examines how the archdiocese was renewed and developed according to the reforms of the Council of Trent. This perspective determines the structure and sequence of the chapters in the book: Tóth examines the two archbishops’ attitudes towards the seminary, the cathedral, the chapter, the archbishop’s residence and the parish organizations, and also the visitations and the ministry.

The Trent-type church regulation reforms can be clearly interpreted, from beginning to end. The full meaning of Patachich’s motto, “si nullus incipiat, nullus finiet,” becomes clear in the book: everything Gábor Patachich initiated with sacrifice and devotion came to be completed by his nephew. Tóth aims to explore the period between 1745 and 1776, but he emphasizes that his work on the careers of the archbishops should not be seen as an isolated inquiry on eighteenth-century church history.

This type of diocese history, which examines the history of a given diocese in a broader context, works well only if the writer establishes a clear structure. Tóth’s book does this. In the first chapter, he presents the medieval and Early Modern history of the Kalocsa Archdiocese on the basis of a wide array of sources. After a sophisticated introduction of antecedents, the reader learns about the renaissance of the Hungarian church, an era in which the initiatives of the two Patachich archbishops offer outstanding examples: the efforts of Gábor Patachich were based on the objectives and principles of the Council of Trent, and they reached their initial stages, while Ádám Patachich improved and completed them. A particularly interesting and important part of the book is dedicated to the political and administrative engagements of the archbishops in Kalocsa.

Tóth’s book will have a seminal role in eighteenth-century ecclesiastic research: it gathers all of the available information on the Archdiocese of Kalocsa in a single volume, and it provides new viewpoints, data, and sources that will help historians interpret the events discussed in a much more detailed context and as parts of logical processes.

Zoltán Gőzsy


Österreich und der Immerwährende Reichstag: Studien zur Klientelpolitik und Parteibildung (1745–1763) [Austria and the perpetual imperial diet: Studies on client politics and party formation.]. By Michael Rohrschneider. (Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 89.) Munich: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014. 395 pp.


For the past few decades, German historians have been working on an ambitious though difficult enterprise: the “rediscovery” and “reevaluation” of the Holy Roman Empire and its institutions. In this process, the history of the perpetual imperial diet in Regensburg (1663–1806) has been a somewhat neglected topic, since its complexity and the abundance of sources produced during the diet may be a bit discouraging for a historian. However, as Michael Rohrschneider’s monograph illustrates, a careful choice of focus may help prevent one from getting lost in the labyrinth of primary sources on the perpetual imperial diet.

Currently a research fellow at the University of Cologne, Rohrschneider restricted the timeframe of his research to the period between 1745 and 1763, when the foundations of Austro–Prussian dualism were laid. The novelty of his monograph lies in his use of a methodology borrowed from network research and the history of communication and in the introduction of an imperial subject from an Austrian perspective. After a presentation of the frameworks of Austrian imperial policy, Rohrschneider analyses the spaces, target groups, intentions, and resources of this policy, thus reconstructing the clientele and “party”-building and “party”-managing strategies of the Viennese court. Finally, two case studies provide interesting insights into the mechanism of the Viennese client policy.

Concerning Viennese imperial policy, Rohrschneider refines several earlier historical clichés. First, although the growing importance of the hereditary lands in this period is undeniable, Austria did not aim to separate from the Empire. Its goal was to strengthen the Habsburg positions within the Empire and to prevent Prussia, the arch-fiend, from extending its political influence to smaller imperial estates. Nor was Emperor Francis I indifferent or entirely repressed by Maria Theresa and her advisors in imperial affairs. He regarded himself as the defender of the small estates, and he had strong opinions on imperial policy—differing on many occasions from the views of the Viennese ministers.

Due to the various titles held by Maria Theresa and Francis I, Austria was able to send four delegates to the imperial diet: a Principal Commissioner (a representative of the Emperor), a Deputy Commissioner, a delegate for the Bohemian Electorate, and another delegate for Austria. These people were “old-style diplomats” in the sense that their personal and social networks (family, friends, etc.) had played the crucial role in their appointments, while professional skills were, if not negligible, secondary. Though one of Vienna’s primary aims was the harmonization of the activity of all of the delegates, Rohrschneider clearly presents how difficult this was. Rivalry and overlapping competencies generated tensions among Austrian and imperial ministers, authorities, and the delegates in Regensburg themselves. After the appointment of Kaunitz as State Chancellor, the intention to outweigh the imperial organs in imperial matters became even more perceptible.

In the second major section of the book, the chapters focus on the establishment and management of the Austrian clientele and “party.” As Rohrschneider emphasizes, clientele and “party” were overlapping but not identical groups: Austria provided protection and support for her clients in return for their full cooperation at the diet, whereas members of the “party” followed the Austrian policy according to their own deliberations and interests. Although “party” meant a loose, fluctuating clique of supporters, the existence of an Austrian and a Prussian “party” in Regensburg (and an opposition) was undoubtedly reflected in contemporary diplomatic reports, which regularly referred to these groups as Parthey, Affectionates, Widrig-gesinnten, etc.

Rohrschneider identifies three major target groups of the Austrian clientele-building and “party”-building policy. The first consisted of the officials of the different imperial institutions (e. g. the high courts), who held their positions at the Emperor’s grace. The second included ministers and the direct advisors of the princes, and the third one consisted of the envoys delegated to the imperial diet (the most significant proponents and opponents among them are introduced in detail). The aim of integrating them into the Austrian “party” was twofold: first, to expand and affirm the existing client network, and, second, to attract Prussian clients to the Austrian clientele.

Rohrschneider convincingly describes the mechanism of Austrian client and “party” policy. Austrian delegates frequently organized informal meetings and private events in Regensburg, where the public activity of the Austrian “party” could be harmonized. The Viennese court spared no effort in their attempts to woo the absent imperial estates so that they would entrust their votes to an Austria-friendly delegate. From time to time, members of the pro-Austrian community were assured of Austria’s trust. Through the effective use of various types of media, they were provided reliable information concerning Austria’s plans and the happenings at the diet. In order to establish new and strengthen existing bonds, the imperial court helped its clients make advantageous marriages, gain admission to illustrious orders, and be elevated into the higher nobility. The Emperor could promote a favorable decision for his clients in legal matters or appoint them to high administrative, legal, ecclesiastical, and military positions. The close relationships were also reaffirmed by the exchange of various presents, which could even be regarded as a form of corruption that was absolutely customary and not illegal at the time.

The last two chapters, two case studies, are interesting not only because they show the Austrian client and “party” policy in operation, but also because they present the perspectives of the clients. The first one, in which Rohrschneider presents the introduction of Prince Thurn und Taxis into the College of Princes, exemplifies how the mighty patron, Austria, was able to support the personal ambitions of an important client. It also reveals the rivalry between the Principal and the Deputy Commissioners, demonstrating that the more influential client could break the carrier of the less influential one. The second case study presents the struggles of Anhalt, a small, Protestant principality neighboring Hohenzollern territories and, thus, traditionally a Prussian client, which was placed under pressure by Austria to join the anti-Prussian coalition at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War. Since Anhalt’s delegate in Regensburg, trying to maintain neutrality in the conflict, did not turn the Austrian approach down, Frederick II openly withdrew his support from Anhalt. As Vienna could only partly reduce the serious financial and political consequences of the Prussian punishment, once the war was over, Anhalt returned to the Prussian block. This episode persuasively illustrates that Austria consciously tried to expand its clientele and “party” at the expense of Prussia, and that in such cases the efficacy of Austrian patronage had its limits.

In summary, Rohrschneider’s monograph is a compelling read, which optimally combines descriptions of the comprehensive structures of Austria’s imperial client and “party” policy with in-depth analyses of the case studies. As the footnotes and the bibliography prove, Rohrschneider consulted a vast array of sources, but thanks to his well-chosen methodological approaches, he succeeded in presenting a well-structured and interesting analysis of a short but significant period of the perpetual imperial diet. The volume is an important contribution to the (re)evaluation of the diet, and it will assuredly serve as inspiration for further research.

Márta Vajnági

Exploring Transylvania: Geographies of Knowledge and Entangled Histories in a Multiethnic Province, 1790–1918. By Borbála Zsuzsanna Török. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2016. 286 pp.


In her book, Zsuzsanna Borbála Török undertakes to write a history of local knowledge production about Transylvania between 1790 and World War I in the academic field known as Landeskunde and to map out its institutional, social and political parameters, networks, sites, trajectories, and reception. The German concept of Landeskunde refers to any kind of research framed within a particular regional optic and carried out as part of an encyclopaedic description of the narrowly defined fatherland (Heimat). Growing out of the earlier notion of Statistik, it was meant to further the economic improvement of a given land and the patriotic education of its citizens. Depending on the German or Hungarian context, Török alternates between the original German term and its Hungarian equivalent, honismeret, but it is unclear whether she perceives any difference between the German and Hungarian uses. The extent to which the Transylvanian authors mentioned in her book themselves would have characterized their endeavors with such terms is similarly unclear, but doubt arises for example in the case of prehistoric and Roman archeologists.

Throughout the book, Török pays particular attention to two trends that unfolded in the long term: the replacement of polymath curiosity by scholarly specialization and the spatial concentration of knowledge production into national core areas. The former, she argues, galvanized Landeskunde research on Transylvania, rather than restraining it. The latter affected the Transylvanian Saxon and Magyar scholarly communities asymmetrically, due to a major transformation in the intellectual life of the province: the opening in 1872 of a Hungarian-language university in Kolozsvár/Cluj.

Two thirds of the book are dedicated to the parallel histories of the two most influential Transylvanian learned societies of the time, the Saxon Verein für siebenbürgische Landeskunde (Landeskundeverein) and the Magyar Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület. Török describes their organizational structure and their customary activities, she investigates the social and ethnic makeup of their memberships and conducts a content analysis of their journals in order to show the shifting patterns of their scholarly interests. She presents subsequent generations of members of the two societies through biographical vignettes about selected Magyar and Saxon scholars.

At its foundation in 1859, the membership of the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület consisted in large part of aristocratic dilettantes, something that changed radically after the society placed its facilities at the disposal of the new university. Thereafter, its ranks were filled by the university faculty, and regular subsidies from the Hungarian state became a major source of its funding. The Landeskundeverein, on the other hand, which had enjoyed the support of Vienna during the neo-absolutist period, took a critical stance towards the Hungarian regime, and it could mostly rely on donations from civil society and on the revenue from its publications. Throughout its existence, its active members mostly came from the Saxon Bildungsbürgertum.

Its strong linkages to the university made the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület more professionalized and thematically more diverse than its Saxon counterpart. During the Dualist Era, it was gradually divided into various sections. In contrast, the Landeskundeverein was better connected across the borders and was regarded with great interest in German academic centers, while its scholarly output fluctuated between positivist standards and provincial amateurism.

Although she regularly mentions parallel or contrasting trends among Romanians, Török chose to limit her focus to the Saxon and the Magyar societies and not to include ASTRA (the Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People) as her third main object of study. She justifies her choice with reference to ASTRA’s much wider range of activities and by its emphasis from the very outset on the nation rather than on the fatherland, which would make it less relevant for a history of Landeskunde. The first explanation is perhaps not terribly controversial, but attention given to works published by ASTRA or written by ASTRA functionaries that fit into the book’s broad definition of Landeskunde could have put into relief the common features of Saxon and Magyar Transylvanian regionalist scholarship.

Admittedly, the terms Landeskunde and honismeret had no counterpart in Romanian. However, a large segment of the original contributions to Transilvania, the association’s review, effortlessly fall into this category, especially in the later decades. Far from putting ASTRA at odds with the other two learned societies, the Romanian-centered perspective of these contributions in fact also harmonizes with the similarly inward-looking bias of contemporary Magyar and Saxon Landeskunde research. George Bariţ’s Părţi alese is certainly no less regional in scope then Georg Daniel Teutsch’s Sachsengeschichte, and Silvestru Moldovan’s cultural travelogues through Transylvania represent popularizing Landeskunde at its purest.

Török’s omission of ASTRA stands on even more tenuous grounds when she claims that its dedication “to the more modern concept of the ‘nation’” (p.3) was something singular. The assumptions behind this idea also represent the book’s weakest points.

Török advances the hypothesis that the European Republic of Letters, which had been held together by scholarly solidarity and by the common use of Latin, and which had crumbled with the advent of nationalisms and with increasing disciplinary fragmentation, may have had an afterlife on the European periphery, and notably in Transylvania. This hypothesis proves wrong early on, and Török fails to take notice of this. From the moment when she takes up the thread of the story, scholarly activity was already mostly carried out in the vernacular and was compartmentalized along ethno-national lines, both in its social networks and its research agendas. The division only deepened over time.

During the Josephine period, an ethnically mixed, enlightened vanguard rallying in masonic lodges perhaps held the promise of a supra-ethnic Landespatriotismus, but the embryonic academic society of György Aranka, the Magyar offshoot of this milieu, promoted a Transylvanianism steeped in Hungarian noble nationalism. During the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, attendance of Protestant German universities and the need to use one another’s unpublished archives led to the formation of some bonds between Magyar and Saxon scholars, but both groups used their vernacular standards in their publications, and their ideological lines had irrevocably parted ways, with Saxons cherishing a cult of their community as an eastern outpost of civilization, first against the background of Austrian imperial patriotism and later turning to German nationalism. There was little overlap in membership between the two academic spheres.

Over the period under study, nationalism and regionalism did not so much stand in a relationship of contrast as mutually complement each other. The ideological horizons of the authors quoted usually range from regionally tinged nationalism to nationally tinged Transylvanian patriotism, and their ethno-national ideologies also left marks on their works of declared supra-ethnic, all-Transylvanian scopes. Therefore, a study engaged with the avatars of regional scholarship could have benefitted from a deeper analytical look at the ideological meanings underlying contemporary utterances in order to reconstruct genuinely implied or rhetorically framed combinations of Transylvanian patriotism and ethnic nationalisms. The book does not provide support for its claim that the European Republic of Letters had an afterlife in Transylvania in any non-trivial sense. Rather than the earlier European Republic of Letters, other multiethnic lands of contemporary Europe would have made more suitable objects for comparison, where civil society became segmented along ethno-national lines as the shackles on the freedom of association and press were lifted. The Bohemian Lands come to mind first.

With all the shortcomings that I have pointed out, the nuanced and lucid comparison of the histories of the Saxon and Hungarian societies is certainly an important merit of the book in its own right. Moreover, and quite conveniently for a time and area on which information is scarcely available in English, Török sprinkles her narrative with abundant background knowledge, which will make her book useful as a history of the Magyar and Saxon cultural elites of Transylvania in the period.

Ágoston Berecz


The Politics of Cultural Retreat: Imperial Bureaucracy in Austrian Galicia, 1772–1867. By Iryna Vushko. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 328 pp.


Following the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, a region the size of today’s Czech Republic and populated by approximately 2.5 million inhabitants at the time became part of the Habsburg Empire, of which it remained a part until the end of World War I. Iryna Vushko examines the first hundred years of Austrian administration in Galicia. She argues that the imperial bureaucracy might have failed in its original aim to forge an imperial Germanophone culture out of the pre-existing political, social, and economic circumstances; in the long run, however, it created structures that allowed for the successful integration of this Crownland into the Habsburg Monarchy. Focusing on people rather than on institutions, she presents her argument in eight chronological and thematic chapters.

The first two chapters are dedicated to the early period of Austrian rule in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Habsburg Enlightened absolutism initially perceived Galicia as a tabula rasa which should be remodeled from scratch; very soon, however, this attitude gave way to a more pragmatic view. The former Polish administrators were dismissed, and Vienna dispatched Austrian bureaucrats to serve in the new Crownland; still, it never sent enough of them. Having at his disposal a mere dozen people in his central office in L’viv and not even as many as 2,000 bureaucrats in the entire province, the first governor, Johann Count Pergen, could hardly reshape the administration of such a huge crownland before the expiration of his two years in office. Before coming to Galicia, quite a number of bureaucrats had actually served in the Bohemian lands and where thus better qualified to administer a province where Polish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish were the most widely spoken languages. Still, many of the officials had ended up in Galicia because they did not qualify to be promoted elsewhere, especially people from the lower ranks. Vushko sensibly pays special attention to Galicia’s long-time governor Joseph Karl Brigido, who between 1780 and 1794 tried to reconcile the impetus of the Enlightenment with the interests of the Polish aristocracy, not least by insisting on a partial opening of the civil service to local nobles.

The third chapter deals with the Austrian bureaucracy during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, it contains numerous factual errors, which contribute to mistaken conclusions. Chapter four touches upon the Galician context of the Polish Uprising in 1830–31, in particular on Prince August von Lobkowitz, Galicia’s acting governor at that time. Sympathizing with the Polish case and overestimating his political agency, he stirred hopes that Austria might intervene on behalf of the insurgents. In the end, Lobkowitz could only provide a relatively friendly welcome to individual refugees after the suppression of the uprising.

Chapters five, six, and seven investigate the Austrian bureaucracy’s relationship with Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups—Poles, Ruthenians, and Jews. While Austrian rule, represented in its provincial government, rather quickly made arrangements with the local noble elites, it did not transfer direct power to them, but rather allowed them to participate in Austrian rule via its bureaucratic apparatus. The increasing contacts between Austrian officials and the local Polish elites prompted assimilation processes that have been more convincingly described by Isabel Röskau-Rydel (Niemiecko-austriackie rodziny urzędnicze w Galicji 1772–1918: Kariery zawodowe – środowisko – akulturacja i asymilacja [2011]).

Chapter six, which focuses on Galicia’s Ruthenians, is certainly the best chapter in the book. It draws more on Vushko’s current project on the variety of national identity choices that individuals made in the Habsburg Empire. She skillfully interweaves the biographies of Wacław Precliczek, a fictitious Habsburg official from Jan Lam’s novel Capowice High Society, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the son of Galicia’s very real long-term chief police officer between 1831 and 1848. Lam, himself a Galician novelist from a German-Polish family, draws the picture of a true Habsburg official being transferred from his native Bohemia to Galicia. Married to an anti-German Polish noble and struggling with the need to identify nationally, Precliczek eventually decides to marry his daughter off to a Ruthenian dignitary. The writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, on the other hand, is a person who existed in reality but invented for himself a Ruthenian identity in order to exoticize himself, while also underlining his Habsburg-ness at the same time. Vushko rightly claims that these developments were possible only because of Austria’s educational and ecclesiastical policies towards the Greek Catholic, i.e. Ruthenian population in the late eighteenth century. However, this issue is not linked to the book’s overall topic.

In chapter seven, Vushko convincingly suggests that the administration of the Jewish population should be understood as a twofold story. Whereas in the case of the Christians, the state immediately tried to get direct access to its subjects, in the case of the Jewry it relied on intermediary Jewish administrative structures in order to initiate the long-term transformation of Jewish inhabitants into Austrian subjects. She also stresses the enduring effects of Joseph II’s policy, which was based on the implementation of a German-Jewish schooling system supervised by the Enlightener Herz Homberg.

The last chapter deals with two important political events in Galicia, the Polish Uprising in 1846 and the Revolution of 1848. Most interesting in connection with the overall focus of the book is the question of the Austrian bureaucracy’s role during the 1846 upheaval, when Polish peasants, instead of joining the noble insurgents, turned their scythes against their lords. The historiographic assessment strongly varies, and many historians claim that the Austrian bureaucracy at least tolerated if not incited the outbreak of violence. Vushko underlines that there are no documents directly supporting this claim, but that one should refrain from perceiving the Austrian bureaucracy as a uniform institution. Even if the provincial administration would certainly not have approved of looting and the killing of about 1,000 nobles, some officials on the local level might well have been in no haste to contain the violence.

Perhaps the most important lesson to learn from Iryna Vushko’s book is that indeed one should not understand the Austrian bureaucracy as always having been consistent, and one should keep in mind that officials had some administrative discretion. The other key message of her monograph is that one must consider the long-term consequences, intended or not, of Habsburg administration for the political and social development of Galicia, even if many administrative measures proved unsuccessful in the beginning. According to the stylistic usages of American scholarly publications, Vushko repeats these messages time and time again.

Ultimately, I am quite troubled with the book’s title and the cultural arguments brought forward by the author. In fact, Vushko seems to be skeptical as well with regards to some of her contentions. While she draws a picture of a cultural struggle starting with the annexation of Galicia in 1772, she rightly does not conceive of Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups in an essentialist way. Her argument that Vienna wanted to install a uniform Germanophone but supra-national bureaucracy is on the money, but allowing educated Polish locals to enter the Austrian civil service was in no way a “cultural retreat.” On the contrary, it fits perfectly with the logic of an imperial bureaucracy, and there is absolutely nothing paradoxical about it. In the end, Vushko seems to disprove the argument herself when she shows that when the central state ceded power to Galician Poles in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848, it transferred control to Polonophone imperial officials who were from inside and not from outside the system.

I also find it difficult to maintain that the Habsburg Empire intended its bureaucracy to be the spearhead of a future supra-national Germanophone culture and society. I do not discern a strong intention towards Germanization, for instance, in the province’s educational system, in which quite a number of Polish and Ukrainian elementary schools were set up and manuals published in these languages during the first decades of Habsburg rule. Agreeably, the sole exception are Galicia’s Jews, who indeed were urged to attend Enlightened German-Jewish schools. Vushko herself explicitly states that before 1848 the crucial identifiers were status and rank (and not ethnicity), and one should refrain from writing the history of Galicia as story of national conflict; yet, the dramaturgy of the book strongly follows this line.

All in all the reader is left with mixed feelings. For English-speaking scholars who are not able to read the rich German and Polish secondary literature on the Austrian and Galician bureaucracy, the monograph may well prove useful.

Börries Kuzmany


Military Culture and Popular Patriotism in Late Imperial Austria. By Laurence Cole. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 376 pp.


Laurence Cole is known for his expertise on the late Habsburg Monarchy and topics such as military culture, national identities and loyalties, and civil, military, and imperial relations. In his first monograph,“Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland:” Nationale Identität der deutschsprachigen Bevölkerung Tirols 1860–1914, which was published in 2000, he looks behind the curtain of national belonging as a stable category. Drawing on the writings of Rogers Brubaker, Cole describes nationality as a process in which several agents are involved. He focuses on the example of the German speakers in Tyrol, who became increasingly aware and were pushed to become increasingly aware of their Germaness. In Glanz-Gewalt-Gehorsam: Militär und Gesellschaft in der Habsburgermonarchie (1800 bis 1918), which was published in 2011 and edited by Cole, Christa Hämmerle, and Martin Scheutz, several authors present fresh insights into “new military history.” In other words, they deal not with operations, uniforms, and wars, but rather with different aspects of civil-military relations in the late Habsburg Monarchy and the Habsburg Army.

Cole’s recent book also adopts this approach. He focuses on a specific group of military Habsburg/Austrian actors. Veterans and their associations, although important in numbers as well as in their impact on commemoration, have hitherto been neglected in the historiography. It might be that veterans were not warriors enough to make military historians want to deal with them. On the other hand, to deal with veterans does require insight into the structure of the army, so perhaps the topic seemed overly “military” for cultural historians. Cole, however, offers an exciting combination of military and cultural history. He describes military actors as part of the local civil society, examining not simply how, as a consequence of compulsory conscription, male civilians became part of the army for a time, but also how veterans’ organizations (often together with the local garrisons) played roles in local cultural life. Cole deals mainly with peace-time veterans, who certainly differed from war-time veterans in their understandings of themselves. Most of the veterans Cole describes, especially in the later years, had never experienced a war (with the exception of the occupation of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1878).

Many historians use the term “Habsburg” in the titles of their books or articles, in spite of the fact that often they deal exclusively with the Austrian half of the empire or with one nationality only. From the outset, Cole emphasizes that he is dealing with an assortment of regions within the empire. Most of them were circumscribed by “language borders,” in the sense of Pieter M. Judson’s 2006 book, Guardians of the Nation. These selected examples of multiethnic and multilingual regions are Tyrol/Trentino (populated mainly by German and Italian speakers), Istria/Trieste (populated mainly by Slovene, German, and Italian speakers), and Littoral (adding Croats). To focus on Austria makes sense, as veterans’ associations in Austria, given their spheres of action, often had to negotiate with local civil authorities as well as ministries. They therefore all acted within a comparable legal and administrative framework. Nevertheless, Cole describes the interactions between local military associations and civilians, and this feature of his book makes his inquiry a history from below, which often takes imperial responses into account.

One might ask whether the efforts of these veterans’ organizations to engage in local public life, what Cole calls “popular patriotism,” were solely expressions of imperial loyalty. Cole offers examples in support of his contention that the purpose and aim of these veterans’ societies reflected a diverse array of interests. On the one hand, these associations served social purposes, e.g. supporting invalid soldiers and their families. They often organized cultural festivities in order to collect money. But these festivities often served as means of self-representation, too.

Cole also focuses on the transnational nature of these veterans’ associations. Members came from all parts of the monarchy, all nationalities, and all social classes. Nevertheless, most of the influential figures were retired officers of the common army, who therefore brought their understanding of imperial loyalty and its forms of public expression into the daily work and duties of the associations. It would have been interesting to consider the extent to which these veterans’ organizations had conflicts with one another. I assume conflicts arose not only because of national or regional patriotic issues, but also because of a kind of outbidding, i.e. attempts to outdo one another in their expressions of patriotisms. The associations were competitors in the end, competing for financial support, but also public attention. Cole offers several examples demonstrating this. Veterans jealously monitored one another’s festivities, failures, and successes. Who got more media attention? Who was able to invite the better known public figures? With regards to the associations’ attempts to influence public perceptions, it mattered whether they had the support of a Habsburg archduke or archduchess or merely an “ordinary” retired general. Thus, Cole’s book also sheds light, through the lens of the cultural endeavors of veterans’ associations, on the ways in which members of the Habsburg family participated in public events, sometimes as imperial agents. This includes refusals by members of the Habsburg family to participate and the reasons underlying these refusals.

Since the publication of Nancy M. Wingfield’s 2007 Flag Wars and Stone Saints and Daniel Unowsky’s 2005 The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism, the community of historians has known a great deal more about the importance of everyday interactions in different parts of Austria when it came to public commemorations. One of the most prominent military-historic figures across all of the territories of the Monarchy was certainly Field Marshal Radetzky. Cole describes the role of the veterans in shaping perceptions of Radetzky and contributing to his emergence as a figure of such symbolic importance.

In addition to offering an outstanding analysis, Cole also draws attention to the organization of these associations, their activities, and their composition, meaning the professional, social, and cultural backgrounds of their members. Although mostly supranational, they were not unaffected by local nationalisms, to which they had to react. Cole offers an interesting insight concerning the ways in which former soldiers and officers dealt with language issues. Were depictions of Radetzky on memorial plaques described in other languages than in German? Which languages did veterans use when communicating internally and externally? Were public announcements always printed in all local languages, or just in German? Cole also breaks with the assumption that some nationalities were consistently loyal while others were consistently disloyal to the empire, emperor, and army.

Laurence Cole has published an important work on the relationship between different local communities, military veterans, and high administrative institutions in Vienna. The book is easy to read, though it remains analytical. Due to the structure of the chapters, it is highly suitable for use in teaching. Cole bases his study on an impressive range of archival sources, including central institutions in Vienna and numerous local archives. Here I may point to one shortcoming of the book: although I am aware of the fact that it is always a matter of available space, but it would have been good to include the original version of archival texts, and not to provide only English translations.

Military Culture and Popular Patriotism certainly fills a gap, not only in Habsburg historiography, but also in our understanding of the roles played by veterans during peacetime in a multiethnic, multilingual country.

Tamara Scheer

Apple of Discord: The “Hungarian Factor” in Austro–Serbian Relations, 1867–1881. By Ian D. Armour. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2014. 347 pp.

Ian D. Armour’s book is a perfect example of a work of diplomatic history that is “total” in its approach, by which I mean that it sets aims far more ambitious than those of traditional (and also quite numerous) analyses of bilateral relations, and it also surpasses these traditional studies in the scholarly standards it meets. Armour’s primary contention is that, after 1867, not only did new possibilities emerge for Hungarians to play roles in foreign policy, but opportunities also emerged for Hungarians to further their foreign interests, even though in principle the Compromise did not create any formal or institutional framework for this (formally, the Compromise only allowed for a single, “imperial” foreign policy). The foreign policy pursued by Hungarians often differed significantly from and even ran against the “imperial” ideas and interests, both in its goals and, even more frequently, in its means. One clear example of this was the appointment of the later common Foreign Minister and administrator of the Condominium of Bosnia and Hercegovina Benjamin Kállay to serve as consul in Belgrade in 1868, when at the same time Anton Prokesch-Osten, the ambassador in Istanbul, was a representative of the Austrian imperial idea. Another example would be the support given by Hungarians for Michael Obrenović, who had a Hungarian wife and estates in Hungary, and their opposition to the Karađorđević family, which was hardly beloved of the Hungarian nation because of the role it had played in 1848. For Austria, the Karađorđević family was emblematic of loyalty to the dynasty. In the background, the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Friedrich Beust and Gyula Andrássy, represented contradictory conceptions and ideologies. The former supported a foreign policy that focused on western Europe, while Andrássy promised a more active anti-Russian foreign policy in the Balkans. At the same time Andrássy and Kállay initially rejected the acquisition of Bosnia, in marked contrast with the aspirations of the Emperor, Beust and his circles. Andrássy opposed the idea of an essentially Southern Slav Balkan/Danubian Federation in the interests of protecting the Monarchy, and his opposition had an anti-Russian edge. At same time, he was apprehensive about the strengthening of the Slavic peoples within the Monarchy, which he feared might weaken the dualist structure of the state. For Kállay, the Danubian Confederation represented a counterweight to Habsburg rule (precisely these two reasons were behind his support for the idea of pledging Bosnia to Serbia—in other words, he was not influenced by a Romantic vision of Southern Slav brotherhood, but rather by political self-interest). While Kállay may have been the first Hungarian follower of John Stuart Mill, his notion of liberalism was nonetheless very distant from that of the Englishman. The notion of a Danubian confederation as a counterweight to Habsburg rule may perhaps have fit into this framework, but for instance the role that Kállay exerted in the Karađorđević trial (a role driven by political interests) was in stark contradiction with the principles of classical liberalism. Added to all this was the Croatian question and the problem of the relationship to Serbia and Hungary of the Serbs of Voivodina, who had become more important pieces on the political chess board, since the fate of Bosnia was of key importance from the perspective of winning—or losing—their trust.

Obviously, Armour’s “total” approach is rife with complexity and risk given the complicacy of the network of relationships. The divergent visions of Beust and Andrássy make an analysis of the relationships between Prussia and France indispensable. Indeed, an analysis of Hungarian–Croatian, Austrian–Croatian, and Serb–Croatian relations is similarly indispensable to a nuanced understanding of Hungary’s foreign policy ambitions. The prevailing domestic situation exerted a significant influence of Hungarian foreign policy, the essential goal of which was to ensure the viability of Dualism and dismantle the movements among the national minorities within the Empire. From this perspective, it was not at all obvious, for instance, that Andrássy, who was seen as liberal, would proffer Hungary’s support for the liberal-nationalist party in Voivodina and the Serbian nationalist party in Serbia. Indeed, it seemed far more likely that they would enjoy the support of the conservative groups (who favored a limited constitution and strong central power), for instance Milivoje Blaznavac, who served as Minister of Defense and later regent, or Prince Michael. However, this support only seemed likely, for the fault lines in Serbian politics appeared not only on the ideological plane, but also in foreign policy orientation, and these fault lines did not overlap. Not every liberal was also pro-Russian, and not every conservative was pro-Austrian. The elements of French ideology that influenced Serbian politicians could be favorable (the idea of the nation state) or unfavorable (liberalism, nationalism) from the perspective of Hungarian foreign policy.

These complex networks of relationships and inclinations in domestic and foreign policy must be analyzed both from the Hungarian and the Serbian perspective, and this creates further complications. The Serbian prince had to appease public opinion, which called for the liberation of the oppressed Slavic peoples, while also giving due consideration to the actual political constellation. It is hardly surprising that Armour has chosen 1867 as the starting point for his analysis, since with the defeat of the Austrian Empire at the Battle of Königgrätz a new European great power came into existence, namely Prussia, and Austria had to reassess its role and position in Europe, as well as its goals. The Habsburg Empire had effectively been pushed out of Western Europe, and the compromise with Hungary meant both a new Balkan orientation and a long-term rivalry with Russia (and Germany). Michael, Prince of Serbia had to choose between a Balkan Alliance the essential function of which was unclear (Kállay and his circle clearly would not have been pleased if the Alliance had been created in order to attack the Ottoman Empire or if it had acquired a defensive, anti-Habsburg edge) or having the support of a great power. The question was which was more likely to ensure Serbia’s territorial growth and domestic and foreign policy stability. Bosnia was the Apple of Discord, since Austria, Serbia, and Croatia all sought to claim it, and Andrássy’s original idea of promising it to Serbia (this offer may or may not have been sincere, as Armour discusses on pp. 121-155) sowed the seeds of discord between Austria, Croatia, and the Serbs of southern Hungary and Serbia. In Armour’s assessment, originally the Hungarians had not intended to use Bosnia to drive a wedge between Austria, Croatia, and Serbia, but had pursued a genuinely “positive” foreign policy in the Balkans (in the service of their aforementioned anti-Russian and in part anti-Austrian aims). Only looking back had they realized the potential uses of this “premature” promise. Of course the idea of giving Bosnia to Serbia also meant that the other parties would turn against Hungary, which is why the plan was later abandoned.

The approach Armour has adopted requires knowledge of several languages, as well as research in a number of different sites given the scattered nature of the sources. Furthermore, since the secondary literature on the subject is marked by a striking one-sidedness, Armour had to show remarkable critical sensitivity and subtlety in his use of the works of other scholars. His knowledge of languages (Hungarian, Serbian, and German) enables him to offer a thorough assessment at the beginning of his book of the secondary literature in these three languages. This in and of itself constitutes a significant strength of his study in comparison with the relatively one-sided works, which are more limited in their use of sources and, hence, their perspectives. Armour’s book is the first work in English in which the Serbian, Austrian, and Hungarian primary sources and secondary literature are given appropriate (and balanced) emphasis. (The bibliography itself is twenty pages long.) In addition, he also discussed his ideas in person with other scholars on the subject (for instance Imre Ress).

The only weakness of his book lies precisely in its comprehensiveness and the array of perspectives it adopts. While the manner in which he presents contrasting stances in the historiography and identifies contradictions which arise from the one-sidedness of the existing secondary literature, Armour’s own argumentation is not persuasive precisely because of this multiplicity of perspectives. It is often complex and circuitous, or it rests on assumptions (for instance, the contentions he makes concerning the hypothetical goal of Andrássy’s agreements concerning Bosnia in 1867/68, pp.19–55, 121–55). At the same time, the structure of the book is logical, balanced, and proportional. The individual chapters address clearly identified diplomatic problems, and consequently the shifts in foreign policy are similarly clear and accessible to analysis. The emphasis on the events of 1870–1871 is also understandable, since the great power constellation (the Franco–Prussian War) and the maneuverings of the small states and their search for allies are all presented, along with the situation of the Bosniaks (pp.155–259). Armour could have devoted a few more pages to the events of 1875–1878to discuss the ideas and aspirations of the Russians, the British, and the Austro–Hungarians (pp.259–83). Fundamentally, the reader gets the very clear impression that the foreign policy of the Hungarians was based not on any ideological principles, but rather on opportunistic attempts to further the interests of the moment. On the other hand, the appointment of Andrássy as Minister of Foreign Affairs constituted a sharp shift: the political visions and ideas which had been vying for prominence within the Monarchy gave way to a single, general bearing (perhaps a bit paradoxically, this general bearing later changed dramatically in comparison with the original logic, and several elements of Beust’s vision for the Balkans were adopted).

This book was clearly written for specialists, i.e. scholars of the diplomatic history of the Balkans. It will be particularly edifying for representatives of the arguably narrowly focused, (romantic) nationalist historiography of the region, which always seems to be struggling to compensate a bit for the perceived marginality of the region and its states.

Gábor Demeter

Whose Bosnia? Nationalism and Political Imagination in the Balkans, 1840–1914. By Edin Hajdarpašić. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2015. 271 pp.


Edin Hajdarpašić’s book is about nineteenth-century nation-building, a critical phenomenon both in European and Bosnian history. Through rigorous study of a plethora of archival records and primary sources (including newspapers and works of literature and art), it examines the emergence of the narratives that were critical to nation-building processes and the rise of nationalist movements primarily in Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia, countries or regions whose political intellectual elites aimed to influence the loyalties of the peoples of Bosnia and, in doing so, gain control over its territory.

The author provides a clear theoretical framework for his study, drawing for instance on the work of Miroslav Hroch and Eugen Weber, who stress the roles of elites as well as masses, armies, schools, and administration in the transformation of ordinary people into members of a nation. He extends this theory to the mobilization of youth, the importance of money, the demonization of the “other,” violence and killings in the promotion of national awareness and pride and, eventually, liberalization (pp.109–111, 129–134, 141–153).

Hajdarpašić devotes the first part of his book to the awakening of Serb and Croat identity and the notion of Serb and Croat unity in order to free the region from the Ottoman yoke. He presents various actors (students, academics, politicians, and teachers), who began to gain prominence in the 1830s. His focus is Vuk Karadžić, an acknowledged Serb philologist for whom language, poetry and folklore were of utmost importance. Karadžić drew attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he claimed that the purest version of the language was spoken, a version that, in his view, should be used as the linguistic standard (p.23). While collecting folk tales from peasants, Karadžić gradually entered the political sphere, as he wrote about liberation from Ottoman oppression, joined the uprising, and published epics depicting the fight against the Turks as a political duty of Serb patriots. Still, the term “Turk” did not refer exclusively to the Ottomans. It was used as a term for all Muslims. Karadžić considered Bosnian Muslims as originally Serbs, because they spoke “his” language and not Turkish. He regarded them as people who would have to be converted “back” to the Orthodox Christian faith: “in due time, we will be joined by our brothers of the Turkish faith, our brothers by kin and by language—across Bosnia and Herzegovina—then we will be united like the Germans of the Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist denominations” (p.33). Thus, Bosnia and Herzegovina gradually became the center of the greater-Serbia ideology and the heartland of the community of Southern Slavs, which would later be named Yugoslavia. The Serb national movement was linked to the Illyrian movement, as Croats named it, which became known among intellectual circles even outside the borders of the region. In the second chapter, Hajdarpašić discusses a wide range of activists and writers who contributed to the proliferation of nationalist projects, marked by images of suffering, awakening, and liberation. Throughout the book, he examines stereotypes about Islam, Muslims, and Turks, as well as the living conditions of Ottoman subjects. These images of violence, oppression, agony, darkness, evil, impoverishment, and slavery had a political significance “from diplomacy to poetry, from newspaper offices to painting exhibitions—that had a lasting transnational resonance” (p.55). Furthermore, as Hajdarpašić shows, these sources link Christians and Christianity to liberty, light, and morality (p.57). Serb and Croat nation-buildings were founded on these premises (pp.55-89), and I would add that this remains true of the self-images and national narratives of these two countries and cultures today. However, Hajdarpašić fails to stress that the Serb and Croat nation-states were not simply the result of discontent within the Ottoman and later Austro-Hungarian Empires. They were also products of the general post-Enlightenment Spring of Nations all over Europe.

When Bosnia was handed over to Austria-Hungary in 1878, “new interpretations tried to soften the tone of the earlier literature.” Bosnian Muslims were treated as “rediscovered brothers,” a shift that was influenced by the fact that Austria-Hungary had a rather friendly policy towards the indigenous Bosnian Muslims on the one hand, while the Serbs needed the Muslims to expel the Habsburgs from Bosnia on the other (p.80). Hajdarpašić examines this in detail in chapter three.

Neighboring Serbia provided strong support for efforts to build a nation and a state through subversive activities in Bosnia, such as the Young Bosnia organization, of which Gavrilo Princip, who later shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was a member (p.108). In the fourth chapter, Hajdarpašić examines the importance of a passionate, politically conscious, and educated youth to the attainment of nationalist goals. The fifth and last part of the book presents the narrative as it found expression in various newspapers in Bosnia, and Hajdarpašić analyzes the roles of these articles in fostering patriotic sentiments, language, and identity.

On the one hand, Hajdarpašić offers a thorough study of an impressive array of primary sources, and this makes the book a valuable piece of scholarship. On the other, he fails to consult (or at least fails to refer to) other relevant Bosnian authors, such as Safvet-beg Bašagić and Hamdija Kreševljaković, whose works would have given an additional perspective and complemented his narrative. Furthermore, the role of the Bosnian language and Bosniak identity is insufficiently elaborated in the Bosnian context. Hajdarpašić uses the term “Serbo-Croat” to refer to the common language of Bosnia. Interestingly, the Bosnian Franciscan Ivan Franjo Jukić, whom Hajdarpašić cites extensively, claims that Bosnia preserved its local Bosnian language (“bosanski”), despite the strong influence of Ottoman Turkish (Zemljopis i povijestnica Bosne, [1851], p.16). However, due to imported and growing Serbo-Croat nationalism, the Bosnian language gradually disappeared. Hajdarpašić shows that Bosniak (Bošnjak) at one point was an all-inclusive name for all of the inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion. As the Ottoman millet system tended to identify its subjects on the basis of religious categories, Bosniak identity was not that relevant. Serb nationalists like Dositej Obradović and Ilija Garašanin, whose significance Hajdarpašić addresses from several perspectives, wrote about Catholic and Orthodox Bosniaks. However, as Hajdarpašić observes, in the time of the Serb and Croat nation-building movements, school teachers in particular were brought to Bosnia to teach future generations that they were not Orthodox or Catholic, but rather Serbs and Croats, respectively (p.111). Hence, the term Bosniak remained as a designation for the Bosnian Muslim population, for whom Islamic identity was more important than national identity. This made them seem like potential allies to all sides, as the author states: “both Habsburg officials and Serbian-Croatian nationalists came to perceive Bosnian Muslims as a pivotal political group whose yet-to-be-determined national allegiances could make or break their respective projects. Because Muslims appeared as (br)others in these competing national visions, struggles over their ambiguous patriotic potential were especially loaded in Bosnian politics” (p.178).

In the end, an answer to the question asked in the title, “whose Bosnia?” is given at the very beginning of the book: “It is important to remember that Serbian and Croatian movements were inseparably intertwined projects that developed shared repertoires, aims and practices, especially as they concerned Bosnia-Herzegovina. Leading South Slavic figures frequently depicted Bosnia as a space of Serbo-Croatian national convergence … at the same time, however, rival nationalist claims explicitly opposed each other, claiming Bosnia exclusively for one or the other side” (p.10).

This book introduces new perspectives to our understanding of nationalism in Bosnia, which was, as Hajdarpašić persuasively argues, imported from neighboring countries. Given the wealth of primary sources on which Hajdarpašić draws, his inquiry goes into an amazing level of detail and offers an immense range of information. It will be particularly useful to students and scholars of history, political science, cultural anthropology, sociology, and linguistics.

Dževada Šuško

Nationalizing Empires: Edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller. (Historical Studies in Eastern Europe and Eurasia) Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2015. vi+691 pp.


Did nations follow on the ruins of empires? When Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire came out in 1987, the answer seemed clear. Empire meant the culmination of capitalism’s global expansion, the apogee of European bourgeois liberalism, which acted out its conflicts and contradictions on the periphery before these conflicts and contradictions plunged the European continent into the extremes of two world wars. Even beyond this Marxist line of interpretation, the notion of empire, applied to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, implied colonies and their exploitation, to the extent that ambitious nation states such as Germany, itself an empire in name, felt the need to acquire distant colonies so as to underpin its self-proclaimed global status. Nationalism, on the contrary, was the most powerful challenge to empires, and in the long run it was victorious, at least from a late twentieth century perspective. The volume edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller, two eminent scholars of Germany’s and Russia’s modern history, sets out to challenge this dichotomy. It is not the first book to do so, but the scope of its argument is unprecedented. It is based on a number of insightful case studies, predictable ones on the British, French, Spanish, German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Empires, as well as surprising ones on Denmark and Venice. This mere list indicates that the conventional dichotomy of sea and land empires is also being quickly dissolved, with inspiring results.

The main argument of the book can be summed up as follows: in all of the cases under discussion, nation resonated with empire. The two corresponded with each other and were far from mutually exclusive. The imperial context shaped the formation of the core nation (or two core nations in the case of the Habsburg Monarchy) and gave them a lasting imprint. In many of the cases under consideration, the distinction itself between the core nation and its imperial territories cannot easily be drawn. Colonies differed from peripheral provinces only insofar as racial hierarchies were more distinctive in the former, and access to citizenship was graded—with massive consequences for the form of administration and the use of violence, one is tempted to add. All of the chapters focus on political imagination, the discourses of empire and nationalism, and the loyalties they inspired. Some of them equally focus on institutions and governance, and the mere fact that others do not follow suit raises the question whether, in a comparative perspective, this might be more than a matter of the predilections of the individual authors. The summarizing comments by Alfred J. Rieber on the role of the military and Jörn Leonhard on the crises of empire point in this direction, as does the concluding comment by Dominic Lieven.

Neil Evans spells out the agenda of the volume with regards to the British case. The British Empire, he argues, had a crucial impact on the integration of the British state, which had been formed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707. Had it not been for the common imperial enterprise, common experiences of identity and otherness, common imperial issues (such as the army or the debates on slavery), it would have been even more difficult to accommodate the distinctive regional consciousness of Scotland and Wales, let alone Ireland. Even the debates on women’s suffrage were affected by the imperial framework. Michael Broers discusses the imperial dimensions of Napoleonic rule in Europe, which provided a strong model of government for its successors. After 1830, nation and empire came close to merging in France, as Robert Aldrich argues, and Aldrich identifies “parallel dynamisms” (p.144) in the colonization and provincialization of the colonies, which were turned into outposts of Frenchness. Xosé-Manuel Núñez follows a similar line of argument in the Spanish case. He demonstrates that, in the nineteenth century, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were very much provinces of the liberal Spanish state, though excluded from the benefits of a liberal constitution (p.221). As was the case in Britain, governing an empire provided a strong incentive to mold the regions at home into one. Once the overseas possessions were lost, regionalism at home reemerged, with Catalan nationalism being a case in point.

Stefan Berger argues in a similar vein that German nation-building after 1871 was very much shaped by the common framework of colonialist discourse and even more so by imagining Eastern Europe as Germany’s colonial frontier. Intellectual and military elites intertwined notions of Heimat, nation, and empire, while the colonial imagination permeated school textbooks, science, and navalist dreams. The imperial imagination in many ways defined the national core. Yet Berger is careful not to overstretch the argument: mass domestic migration and overseas emigration to North America rather than to real or imagined colonies show that economic issues were more relevant to the integration of the new German nation.

Alexei Miller’s chapter on Russia makes it clear that the Romanov Empire was far from being an obstacle in the path of emerging Russian nationalism, as has often been argued. On the contrary, nationalist discourse was very much defined by the notion of an ongoing struggle on the Western periphery between Russianness and Polishness, and later in the nineteenth century by notions of a civilizing mission towards the East. Only the collapse of the Russian Empire, the loss of Poland and the unexpected establishment of a Byelorussian and a Ukrainian Soviet Republic deprived Russian nationalism of one of its major impulses. One wonders whether this argument, convincing as it might be for the 1920s, still holds in the light of current developments in the Ukraine and their Russian repercussions (and vice versa).

Andrea Komlosy interprets the dualist setup of the Habsburg Monarchy as two parallel attempts at Austrian and Hungarian nation-building, one being political and federalist, the other ethnic and centralist, and both ultimately doomed to failure. This might not be entirely novel, but it adds substantially to the overall picture. The chapter would have been even more convincing had it been based on more than comprehensive handbook syntheses and a rather selective use of path-breaking monographs that have reshaped our understanding of the Monarchy over the course of the last two decades. There is no mention of the works by Gary Cohen, Pieter Judson or Jeremy King, to name but a few. Everything Komlosy has to say on Hungary is based on László Kontler’s synthesis and Robert Nemes’ equally insightful monograph on Budapest. A thorough discussion of Daniel Unowsky’s work might have highlighted the lasting cohesive power of monarchical representation until the death of Francis Joseph. Finally, the omission of R. J. W. Evans’ seminal works on the making of the Early Modern Habsburg Monarchy results in a surprising failure on Komlosy’s part to consider baroque Catholicism and its legacy as a distinct and integrating cultural foundation for Austria-Hungary.

In a way, Komlosy’s argument concerning the multinational character of Austrian nation-building is linked to Howard Eissenstat’s chapter on the Ottoman Empire. Eissenstat sets out to demonstrate that Ottomanism, Islamism, and Turkism should not be seen as a successive series of distinct attempts to reform the Ottoman Empire. Ottomanism was rather a pragmatic set of shifting reformist ideas which turned more Muslim with the loss of the Balkan provinces. Empire and nation can be seen in the Turkish case as an ideational continuum, where the imperial idea was continually narrowed down to its national elements.

David Laven and Elsa Damien unfold the Venetian expansionist legacy to reveal Italian nationalism and, subsequently, Italian fascism. Thus, they add another facet to the amazing variety of ways in which empire was inscribed into national discourse. Uffe Østergård follows a different path in his chapter on the forgotten history of the multiethnic Danish state, which ruled large parts of the northern Atlantic before it lost Norway in 1818. With this loss, the previous balance of nations collapsed, and Enlightenment reform discourse spilled over into Danish–German national conflict. Aside from offering an inspiringly novel interpretation of Danish history, this chapter raises substantial questions concerning the entire volume. If Denmark is included, why not Sweden, about which, as Østergård argues, a very similar story could be told? Why not the Netherlands, Belgium or Portugal, one might add? Do not all European states in one way or another have an imperial history? What would the US-American experience add to the picture? Østergård quickly concedes that empire might be a misleading concept and that, in the case of Denmark, one should speak rather of a composite state.

This remark presents a substantial challenge to the entire volume. Empire, as depicted throughout all of the chapters, might indeed well be seen as a specific, or maybe even not so specific version of the Early Modern composite state that had been common throughout Europe for centuries, transferred by some onto a global scale. Seen in this way, empires, as much as nations, were legitimate heirs to the Early Modern state, its accumulation of power, and its changing aspirations for legitimacy. They were defined not so much by their multiethnic nature and even less by colonial possessions, but by their composite nature. Or, as Jean-Frédéric Schaub puts it at the end of his insightful comment, “[a]re we sure we can analytically distinguish national kingdoms from multinational empires?” (p.571). Anyone seeking an answer to questions of this sort will find a wealth of material in this significant volume.

Joachim von Puttkamer

Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon [The consequences of World War I in Hungary]. Edited by Béla Tomka. Budapest: Országgyűlés Hivatala, 2015. 344 pp.


The centenary of the outbreak of World War I has come and gone. In the United States, for historical reasons, interest in the event remained confined to professional historians and WWI enthusiasts. In Europe, where World War I cost more lives and left deeper wounds, the reading public and political elites remained preoccupied with the question of the origins of and responsibility for the conflict. Although the Dual Monarchy was a party to the outbreak of World War I and Hungary suffered some of the heaviest losses during the conflict, the question of the origins of the war and the military events is met with relatively limited interest in Hungary today. As one of the authors in the volume reviewed here, József Takáts, rightly notes, World War I has become history in Hungary; the civil war that followed it between 1918 and 1921, on the other hand, represents a past that refuses to be forgotten.

The book reviewed here, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon, edited by Béla Tomka, includes fourteen highly readable essays and bears testimony to the uninterrupted professional and public interest in the Hungarian civil war. The first essay, “World War I as a Historical Boundary,” by Béla Tomka examines the place of World War I in history. More specifically, Tomka questions the degree to which the military conflict can be considered a historical turning point. Tomka identifies the rapid increase in violence (in both qualitative and quantitative terms), mass mobilization, the birth of propaganda, the introduction of censorship, and technological inventions (such as poison gas, tanks and airplanes) as the most immediate consequences of the war. The war, he believes, marked the end of colonial expansion, increased state invention in the economy, destroyed the global market, undermined the stability of the global financial system, and paved the way to the rise of democracy and the welfare state. The impact of World War I, Tomka argues, could be felt even in the second half of the twentieth century: the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the proponents of forced assimilation after 1950 learned their trade from the criminals of World War I. In his related essay, “The World’s Great Catastrophe or Europe’s Tragedy,” János Gyurgyák highlights several paradoxes in the history of the conflict. The war, he argues, was meant to solve existing problems; yet in the end, it not only failed to address old concerns but also created new ones. Gyurgyák considers World War I primarily as a European conflict and tragedy rather than a world event and catastrophe; after all, the greatest loser of the war, he argues, was not “the world,” but the nations of Europe, with 1918 marking the end of European domination in world politics and commerce.

József Takáts’s contribution, “Diverging Uses of Language: Political Discourse in Hungary after World War I,” sheds new light on the changes in political language in the last phase and the immediate aftermath of the military conflict. Takáts identifies the major motifs of this new language as: the widespread use of military expressions, metaphors, and narratives; increasing appeals to hate, revenge, and the annihilation of the enemy, both domestic and foreign; more frequent appeals to religious sentiments and increased use of religious metaphors; and the spread of racist language and the popularity of biological images. These shifts, according to Takáts, were direct consequences of and responses to the war and the Treaty of Trianon. They were accompanied by the rise of a “political entrepreneurial class” and a new right-wing intellectual elite, which was also in part a consequence of the treaty. With the collapse of the multiethnic Hungary, the relatively open concept of the nation increasingly gave way to the more restrictive idea of the race. After 1919, the socialist Left was on the retreat, both politically and culturally. But the greatest problem was, according to Takáts, the weakening of the political middle. In the interwar period, words like democracy, human rights, individual freedom, moderation, and tolerance lost their appeal to the majority of the population. Gergely Bödők’s essay, “Political Violence after World War I: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Hungary and Central Europe” looks more closely at the rise of paramilitary movements and politics after 1918. The author attributes the rapid rise in political violence after the Great War in Europe primarily to the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the atrocities committed in the name of the new regime and its ideology. Yet, the counterrevolution was well underway before the establishment of the Communist regime in Hungary; the number of attacks on Jews also reached a new height in the summer and fall of 1918, months before the Communist takeover. The pogroms, armed robberies, and political executions, in my opinion, had more to do with the “retreat of the state” and scapegoating than with revenge or reaction to Communist crimes. As Bödők rightly shows, the agents of the Hungarian Red Terror, the Lenin Boys and the members of the Csernyi Detachment, were rough soldiers and working-class thugs motivated by anarchist ideas, greed, love of adventure, and sadism. Their White counterparts, the members of the officers’ companies, on the other hand, were moved by revenge, the officers’ sense of superiority over the civilian population, and antisemitism. Bödők’s article, moreover, emphasizes that the number of people executed for their participation in anti-Communist resistance was around 400, not 600, as previously believed, and Bödők also argues that fewer than 2 000 people fell victim to the White Terror in 1919 and 1920 (not 3 000 or 5 000, as many contemporaries and later historians have contended).

Ignác Romsics’s essay, “The Great Powers and the Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy,” sheds light on the changing strategies and plans of the Entente powers and the United States during the war, dispelling several myths about the origins of the Treaty of Trianon. Romsics argues that the most determined enemy of Austria-Hungary, the power which sought its dismemberment from the start before 1917, was Russia, and had the Russian Empire ended up on the side of the victors, Hungary not only would have suffered the same or even heavier territorial losses, it would have ended up as a satellite state of its giant eastern neighbor. France, contrary to popular belief, did not seek to destroy the Monarchy and dismember Hungary from the start, but preferred a federalist solution. Britain and the United States occupied an intermediate position between France and Russia. The key events that changed the strategy of the Western powers were the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, and the economic and strategic cooperative agreements signed between the Dual Monarchy and Imperial Germany after the latter. Romsics persuasively argues that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk also opened the way first to Polish unification and, a few months later, to the creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The die was cast: the fate of the Monarchy, and within it Hungary, was sealed before the end of the war.

László Szarka’s essay “National Development, Minority Politics in the Multi-Ethnic States of Central Europe: The First Years of the Versailles System” puts the Hungarian tragedy in a regional and continental context to show that the treaties with Austria and Hungary had nothing to do with the lofty principles and values championed by the Western powers. The victors forbade the holding of referendums in contested provinces, and they rejected the idea of autonomy. The losers and the winners, of course, viewed the peace treaty very differently. Hungarians perceived Trianon as a criminal injustice and a form of punishment. The interwar Hungarian regimes wanted to annul rather than revise the treaty; blinded to reality, they continued to question the right of the neighboring states to exist. The Czech, Slovak, Yugoslav and Romanian elites, on the other hand, perceived the peace treaty with Hungary as a product of organic developments, a fulfillment of old aspirations, historical justice, and a guarantor of international recognition and respect.

Gábor Gyáni’s essay examines commemoration and mourning after four years of bloodshed. Gyáni argues that death also underwent a process of nationalization and democratization after the war. For the first time in history, monuments were built to memorialize and honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers, rather than military officers and political leaders. Gyáni questions earlier claims to the effect that the statues erected and monuments built to commemorate the war were overly political and served only irredentist goals. Built by a nation which lost the war, most such monuments served to ease the pain of private mourners. At the same time, they reminded viewers of past glories, expressed bitterness over recent events, demanded respect and justice for Hungary, and expressed the will of a defeated political community to survive and recover its former place in the company of civilized nations.

Further essays in the volume explore a variety of themes. Ferenc Pollmann’s chapter entitled “The Change in War-Making during World War I: Military Technology, Strategy and Propaganda” looks at the transformation of warfare between 1914 and 1918. Ferenc Erős’ essay, entitled “The War and Revolutions: A Socio-psychological Approach to Trauma and Violence,” discusses the fate of traumatized war veterans in Europe and Austria-Hungary and the professional debate over their treatment. György Szücs’s “‘The Great War’ and the ‘New Art’: the World War and its Consequences” examines the short-term impacts of the military conflict on art. Ágnes Pogány’s “The Long Shadow of the Great War: The Economic Consequences of World War I” investigates the economic causes of the military defeat and the short and long-term impact of the Great War on the European and world economy. Dezső Csejtei’s chapter, “The Word War as Civilization Phenomenon in the Works of Oswald Spengler and Thomas Mann,” examines the relevance of the works of these two authors to contemporary political debates. John Lukacs’s brief brooding essay entitled “The Hungarian Catastrophe: World War I” describes the Great War, its aftermath, and the Treaty of Trianon as the greatest tragedy in Hungarian history, the main consequences of which look to be irreversible. Zsombor Bódy’s chapter, “Demographic Developments, Lifestyle, and the Changes in the Position of Women in Hungary after World War I,” on the other hand, considers demographic developments and social trends in Hungary in the interwar period and reveals ways in which the Great War did not mark a radical break in the history of the country.

Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon is a rich collection, which reflects the current state of research on World War I and its aftermath and covers a wide range of topics, including issues of political, economic, social, and cultural history. The essays are the result of a successful collaborative effort among three generations of historians; it is also a multidisciplinary work, overstepping traditional boundaries of academic interest and specialization. Authored by experts, the essays are written in a style which makes the work accessible to a wide readership. While offering a representative sample of Hungarian scholarship on the war and its aftermath, the contributions also engage and debate with international scholarship in the field and raise important issues about the war that are relevant on the national and regional level. At the same time, as a whole, the volume suffers from a number of weaknesses, including the omission of an editor’s introduction. As a result, the chief purpose of the work is never made explicitly clear. No framework is provided that would tie the essays together, and no attempt is made to cross-reference themes among the contributions. There is, moreover, no consistency in formatting: individual chapters are of significantly different lengths, and the formatting of citations differs quite markedly. The majority of the essays summarize recent research based on secondary sources; four of them, however, are based on primary research. The title of the book refers to the consequences of the war in Hungary, yet several papers do not deal with events in Hungary at all, but consider the war from a general European perspective or discuss universal trends. As a whole, the secondary research is excellent; yet the majority of the works cited are in English and German. With one major exception, the essays do not make use of the secondary literature from the neighboring states of Hungary or from Russia or Italy. Even so, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon not only remains a useful addition to the scholarly literature, but is in fact ideally suited as a textbook for university courses and as a general reference book.

Béla Bodó

A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán: Történelem és emlékezet [The Holocaust in Hungary seventy years later: History and memory]. Edited by Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács. Budapest: Múlt és Jövő, 2015. 288 pp.


Hungarian scholarship on political history has a long record of evaluating historical processes or phenomena rather than describing and analyzing them. Most of the studies in the book A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán successfully break with this tradition.1 Even the studies dealing with peculiar chapters in the political history of the (Hungarian) Holocaust manage to avoid the aforementioned fruitless tradition of historical “evaluation.” This represents a remarkable achievement by the authors and editors, since the book was written, edited, and published at a time when one of the most politically heated discussions in Hungary’s history is underway on the country’s place, role, and even its very historical existence following the German occupation in 1944. In recent years, the Hungarian government has devoted significant energies and resources to the creation of all kinds of spectacular institutionalized means of commemoration, but these assertive gestures notwithstanding, the government’s memory politics has not fostered the emergence of a common memory (or communal memories) of the Holocaust. The incoherence of this policy is addressed by contributors to the book who deal with the topic of historical memory (András Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham).

The book contains materials from two conferences, one that was held in Budapest at the Central European University and one that was held in Washington DC, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the most devastating deportations of the Hungarian Holocaust. Such anniversaries are traditional occasions for commemorations and also for attempts to summarize contemporary trends and the findings of recent research, as well as attempts to arrive at new approaches to the topic. The book edited by András Kovács provides both, even if the scope is far from comprehensive. Despite the international context of the publication, the studies and the book focus very much on Hungary. The authors and the editor do not seem to have made an attempt to put the Hungarian Holocaust into a transnational context. The volume amounts to a purely Hungarian cross-section of Hungarian Holocaust studies. In other words, authors like Götz Aly, Tony Kushner, and other, Israeli, Slovak, and Romanian historians are ignored. In the introduction, the editor offers—perhaps not entirely intentionally—a defense of this nation-centered approach by stating that the volume is merely the latest in a serial of anniversary-related volumes which have been published on the topic in each of the last four decades.

The volume consists of four parts. Each part has a rather simple title: History; The Road to the Holocaust; The Holocaust in Hungary; Memory. The first part contains only one study, an article written by (co-)editor András Kovács entitled “Hungarian Intentionalism: New Trends in the Historiography of the Hungarian Holocaust.” Kovács’s overview does not quite fit alongside the other twelve studies in the volume, and not simply because he draws on the work of Aly. Although his study does not aim consciously to challenge contemporary Hungarian realities, along with the article at the end of the volume by Randolph Braham, the Nestor of Hungarian Holocaust studies, it gives an up-to-date context to the whole volume. In his historiographical overview, Kovács covers Götz Aly, Krisztián Ungváry, Christian Gerlach, and László Karsai, just to name the most important authors on the topic who were not included in the present volume. Kovács aims to analyze the exact context of Hungarian Holocaust studies and the studies in the book as well. The rather mainstream text of Kovács describes the post-modern context of the phenomenon called the Hungarian Holocaust without pursuing a critical, post-Marxian agenda.

But this is only a first impression. The studies by Mária M. Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham all prove how challenging a hypocritical state policy can be. Even the usually rather cautious Ignác Romsics, a leading political historian in Hungary, reflects on the current memory politics in his text on certain aspects of the Hungarian Holocaust’s prehistory, more specifically, official Hungarian anti-Semitism. In his essay, entitled “István Bethlen’s anti-Semitism and the Jewish Policy of the Horthy Era,” Romsics does not dispute Bethlen’s anti-Semitism. Romsics’s article makes clear, if perhaps unintentionally, that Bethlen was a committed anti-Semite taken by surprise by the events of 1944.

Mária M. Kovács’s study “The Numerus Clausus and the Jewish Laws” on the one hand refutes the deterministic interpretation of the Hungarian Holocaust, but on the other, in its description of the pre-history of the catastrophe, it underlines the Horthy regime’s innate anti-Semitism. Kovács situates the research she has done over the course of a decade concerning the pre-history of the Hungarian Holocaust in an international context. She offers examples from American history to prove that anti-Semitism was not a peripheral phenomenon between 1918 and 1941 in the United States either, and thus it was not a peculiarity of the East-Central European political systems in the interwar period.

Claudia K. Farkas offers an overview of the Jewish responses to the anti-Jewish legislation of the late 1930s, basically recycling arguments from the monograph she published in 2010. The interesting and in many ways valuable addenda she presents, however, are not necessarily representative of Hungarian Jewry, her claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Farkas’ notion of “the Jewry,” which essentially consists of the potential targets of the anti-Jewish politics of the Hungarian and German Nazis in 1944, appears too monochromatic in the years under scrutiny. This study clearly illustrates the difficulties of retrospectively employing concepts like “Jewryto discuss the years before 1944.

The last essay in the section “The Road to the Holocaust” was written by Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, reputable experts on the Hungarian Holocaust. Their contribution, entitled “A Long Century: Anti-Semitic Violence in Hungary, 1848-1956,” touches upon a rather popular historiographical topic. While rehearsing exclusory violence as an insightful explanation for various embodiments of the anti-Jewish violence in Hungary, Kádár and Vági write on a kind of tradition that supposedly characterized each and every system and the fall of each and every system in modern Hungarian history. At the same time, they point to certain localities, for example Pozsony/Bratislava, Salgótarján, Kiskunfélegyháza, and Miskolc, where this tradition, in their assessment, was even more profound than elsewhere. While Vági and Kádár seem to have adopted the idea of exclusory violence from György Kövér’s epic Tiszaeszlár monograph, they themselves do not draw distinctions between the various forms of anti-Jewish violence (for instance, “cravaill,” pogrom, Hetze) in their long century. They arrive at the conclusion that each and every change of systems was followed, practically inevitably, by waves of anti-Semitic violence. For the authors, the 1956 “cravaills” thus seem to matter as much as the organized horrors of the post-Commune white terror in 1919.

The next section of the volume is entitled The Holocaust in Hungary. The first and longest study in this section is by László Csősz. It deals with the origins and international contexts of the labor service. In my view, Csősz’s article is the most problematic text in the volume. Though Csősz draws on a respectable set of primary and secondary sources, he mixes up voluntary and punitive labor services in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Germany. According to Csősz, labor service, whether voluntary or exclusionary (punitive), was not a unique institution. In his narrative, the labor service in Hungary turned into a tool of the Holocaust because of a change in the “foreign political climate.” Csősz is correct to state that the chances of survival in the spring and summer of 1944 were better for the Hungarian Jewish males in the units of the Hungarian labor service than for other Hungarian Jews, and he is also correct in his contention that some of the labor service corps cannot be labeled “moving scaffolds.” However, whether or not a given corps became a “moving scaffold” was not a matter of a change in the foreign political climate. Rather, it was a matter of what the editor of the volume would call intention. Though he places the Hungarian labor service in an international (Central and East European) context and draws on recent international research, Csősz also uncritically recycles familiar topoi in Hungarian political history. For example, he draws a causal connection between the overrepresentation of people who were born to Jewish parents in the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 and the fact that Jews were considered unreliable after the fall of the Commune. Anti-Semitic restrictions and the propaganda concerning ties between the Jewry and Bolshevism were part of the cultural backdrop of the interwar period in other countries in the region in which there was no experience of communism following World War I. The manner in which Csősz underlines and evaluates the importance of interwar Hungary’s foreign policy in its (anti-)Jewish policies very much resembles György Ránki’s pioneering publications on the subject from the late 1960s (analyzed in the volume by Gábor Gyáni). Ránki, himself a Holocaust survivor, looked hard for sources on and explanations of what he also called modern Hungary’s constrained political path. For Ránki and his generation, the question of intention seemed less relevant than it has come to appear in recent years.

Viktor Karády, the leading authority on the social history of the Hungarian Jews, outlines in his essay a rather ambitious attempt at a possible micro-social history of the Holocaust. Karády has chosen the Medical Chamber and a “proto-Nazi” association of medics to illustrate how political and professional feuds and competitions reshaped the social composition of a particular profession. The data he presents convincingly show that the Holocaust in Hungary did not take place outside Hungarian history. Tibor Péter Nagy’s intriguing though short outline entitled “The Sociological Contexts for Survival in Budapest” reaches the same conclusion. Nagy has managed to rehabilitate the class approach to the study of the Holocaust, and he practically (re)introduces it into Hungarian social history.

It is not difficult to discern why Nagy and Karády explicitly regard the Hungarian Holocaust as an integral part of Hungarian history. For those who are not familiar with the contemporary memory political debates in Hungary regarding the official evaluation of 1944/45, the last part of the volume may further an understanding of the context and the importance of their respective studies. There are hardly any modern books on the Holocaust today that do not also deal with memory. The volume under review contains four studies on the subject under the simple title Memory. In a short essay, Gábor Gyáni provides an informative overview of remembrance of the Hungarian Holocaust. He sets aside the outdated conviction according to which the Holocaust remained taboo in Hungary until 1989: although not widely present in the national mainstream, the Holocaust was certainly no taboo in Hungary in the last 40 or 50 years. Unfortunately, Gyáni does not deal with the memory of the Holocaust in the late 1940s. Admittedly, this is not his prime target, and the way in which he reconstructs the literature, historiography, and filmography of the 1970s is convincing enough. Holocaust memory in Hungary in the period between 1945 and 1989 underwent paradigm shifts. Hungary’s record with coming to terms with its recent past right after 1945 was not any worse than the records of other countries of Europe. During the Stalinist dictatorship, the subject really was taboo. Later, it became a confessional subject, i.e. a subject of importance to Jewish Hungarians, but in the late 1960s, at a time when writings by members of the Jewish community were being published with more regularity, the Holocaust gradually ceased to be a topic exclusively in and for the Jewish “confessional ghetto.” Gyáni devotes more attention to his critique of the Hungarian Holocaust historiography of the pre-1989 period than to more recent literature, even though he acknowledges the problems that still exist in the official and national reception of this most tragic epoch of Hungarian history.

In her study entitled “Global and Local Holocaust Memories” Mónika Kovács examines these issues. Her splendid and brave text explains the current volume’s possible relevance in Hungary. Kovács acquaints the reader with the historiographical and political context of recent Hungarian Holocaust studies and the memories of the Holocaust in Hungary. She demonstrates admirable erudition and both professional and moral clarity. While providing the reader with a convincing overview of the context of the book in question from the perspective of the politics of memory, she also places her topic in an international context. Although her text is clear, the picture of the situation is rather confusing, but this is clearly not her fault.

Andrea Pető contributes a rather brief piece on the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation. As the author of a recent book on the people’s courts, she focuses on the memories of the latter in the digital collection of the VHA. Pető overvalues what she calls the psychic truths in history as opposed to “material truths.” She looks at the facial expressions of the victims and raises questions regarding the possible meanings of their glances. But in addition to their glances, the victims arguably left more relevant addenda to the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary. Pető quotes a very important slip: “Stars were pinned on us. Who did it? The arrow-cross people.” As a scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, Pető undoubtedly knows that the yellow stars were not pinned on people by members of the Arrow Cross. But the personal recollection she cites is a representation of a rather general collective memory rooted in a curious accord between survivors and Kádár’s Hungary, a relevant issue that Pető’s study fails to address.

Randolph L. Braham’s text, “Hungary: A Campaign against the Historical Memory of the Holocaust,” supports the conclusions reached by Mónika Kovács. Braham is openly personal and polemical, but his contentions are thoroughly substantiated and largely convincing. The historical memory of the Hungarian Holocaust is practically unimaginable without the lifelong work of Braham, thus his pathos is more than understandable when describing the increasingly barefaced attempts by certain officials to reevaluate the period. This ongoing story is also an important part of the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary, and it is therefore important that Braham has addressed it with such passion.

Braham’s great passions are rather exceptional in the volume, even if some of the other texts also have an impassioned tone. Even 70 years later, the Holocaust is not yet a matter of purely scholarly and analytical, historiographical discourse. It remains a matter of heated discourses that are often prominent in the politics of memory in Hungary. Studies that reflect on these discourses can be regarded as the most relevant. To examine the Hungarian Holocaust as part of Hungarian history is the task of each generation of historians. As this volume shows, the history of the victims cannot be separated from Hungarian history. I can only hope that soon the history of the perpetrators will also be seen as an integral part of Hungarian history and the memory of the Hungarian Holocaust.

Tamás Kende


Mindszenty József (1892–1975) [József Mindszenty (1892–1975)]. By Margit Balogh. Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, 2015. 1570 pp.


Cardinal and Archbishop of Esztergom József Mindszenty was unquestionably one of the emblematic figures of twentieth-century Hungarian history. His tragic personal fate seemed intricately intertwined with the events of Hungary’s history in the second half of the century. Beginning in the late 1980s, numerous scholarly essays began to be published on the various phases of his life by authors such as Gábor Adriányi, Margit Balogh, András Fejérdy, Jenő Gergely, György Gyarmati, István Mészáros, Ádám Mészáros, Viktor Attila Soós, Csaba Szabó, Árpád Tyekvicska, and Tibor Zinner, though this list is hardly complete. Thus, there is a vast body of secondary literature on his life and work, and the various episodes in his career are also familiar, from his imprisonment by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, his imprisonment by the communist government, the few days of liberty he enjoyed during the 1956 revolution, the years he spent following the suppression of the revolution in the American embassy (in almost complete isolation from the outside world), and finally the period after 1971, when he was allowed to leave Hungary, though he was not allowed to serve in his role as a dignitary of the church.

The monographs and volumes of essays and studies (more than 100 of which have been published) offer a nuanced portrait of Mindszenty, as do the some 225 articles that have been published on his life and work. Nonetheless, a curious reader may still have wanted a comprehensive work that offered a broad panorama but also went into detail and provided new information.

It is quite clearly a far less daunting task merely to commit our expectations to paper than it is to write a 1,572-page, two-volume monograph with 3,742 footnotes. Margit Balogh wrote the most detailed biography of Mindszenty available in Hungarian, a book that was the fruit of 25 years of thorough research. In 2014, Balogh published a 500 page monograph on Mindszenty in German (Margit Balogh, Kardinal József Mindszenty. Ein Leben zwischen kommunistischer Diktatur und Kaltem Krieg [2014]), and in 2015 she published the book under review. In her biography, Balogh remains true to the ars poetica she has given in her introduction: “[I seek] to trace the life of József Mindszenty faithfully, adventurously, yet with thorough documentation, and in doing so to attempt to shed light on his personality, including his doubts and uncertainties” (p.21).

Every chapter of the book deals with an important moment or event in Mindszenty’s life. The chapters seek to interpret Mindszenty’s deeds and also to reconstruct his career on the basis of citations from primary sources, which are found on almost every page. The first chapter deals with Mindszenty’s childhood (his family name was Pehm, and he only took the name Mindszenty in 1942), his family background, and his studies. We learn of his time in the first stop on his journey, Felsőpaty, and then, as of 1917, Zalaegerszeg. In Zalaegerszeg, where he worked as a young instructor of theology, Mindszenty’s interest in potentially pursuing a role in public and even political life began to become clear. In 1919, because of his support for the return to Hungary of the Habsburg King Charles, he came into conflict with the authorities, and indeed he was even put under surveillance by the police. He fled and was arrested and interned. According to Balogh, Mindszenty’s experiences in this period of upheaval (which bore witness first to the Aster Revolution and then to the rise of a short-lived communist dictatorship) “were more than enough to engrave in him a strong antipathy to social democracy and communism, which in is mind were the same thing” (p.59).

The second chapter offers an overview of the years Mindszenty spent in Zalaegerszeg. The chapter is long (more than 250 pages), systematic, and thorough in its presentation of Mindszenty’s work as a parish priest, an organizer of Church life, and someone active in city society. It also addresses his efforts to exert influence in political life in support of the Habsburg king and therefore against the policy of the government, efforts which could be seen as harbingers of his fate after 1945. The third chapter presents the work Mindszenty did during the brief period he spent in Church government as the head of the diocese of Veszprém. Balogh is right to emphasize the importance of the fact that, as the Bishop of Veszprém, Mindszenty spoke out in the interests of the Jewish inhabitants of Hungary at a dangerous time, protesting the seizure of their belongings and properties and the transformation of the country into a theater of war. He was arrested by the Arrow Cross party for his views.

The fourth and fifth chapters, which together come to roughly 400 pages, present the pivotal three years between the end of the war in 1945 and the rise to almost complete power of the communist party in Hungary in 1948. During this time, as the Archbishop of Esztergom and thus the head of the Catholic Church in Hungary, Mindszenty tried to restore the place of the institutions and organizations of the Church, which like much of the country had been left in disarray by the war. He strove to defend the interests of the Catholic Church, the members of the priesthood, and practicing Catholics, and he also labored to sustain and nurture a sense of Christian spirituality in the face of influential tendencies towards secularization and attempts to separate the Church and the state. He often came into conflict with representatives of the state. The fiercest point of contention was the nationalization of the Church schools. Balogh persuasively argues that the real tragedy of Mindszenty’s fate lay in the fact that he simply failed to realize that his struggle to safeguard the interests of the Church and his faith, which was in part a struggle between Rome and Moscow, was doomed to fail, given that it was taking place in a country that had no support from the United States and had fallen into the Soviet sphere of influence. As an archbishop and cardinal, Mindszenty also wanted to be an active figure in public life, as he sought to give expression to his sense of responsibility for the fate of the Hungarian nation. He spoke out against the deportation of German and Hungarian speakers, the changes that were taking place in the form of the Hungarian state, the violation of the rights of the persecuted, and the ways in which the authorities flouted the law. The proclamations he made brought him into conflict time and time again with the communist party (which with the support of the Soviets was gradually seizing power), and they did not go unpunished.

The sixth and seventh chapters of the book examine the various stages of Mindszenty’s persecution by the regime, including his arrest, his sentencing, and his imprisonment. Balogh manages to present new information concerning this period of Mindszenty’s life, on which many others have written. She offers an evocative portrayal of the circumstances in which he lived after his arrest. János Kádár, who at the time served as Minister of Internal Affairs, used him as an example to discourage dissent, warning other bishops that the authorities had files on them as well and that they too might face Mindszenty’s fate if they were unwilling to work together with the regime. The main target of these efforts was Miklós Dudás, the Greek Catholic priest of Hajdúdorog, a city and also diocese in northeastern Hungary. The authorities sought to use Dudás’ ties to people in Carpathian Ruthenia (the region in the western part of Ukraine today) to corroborate accusations of spying against the Soviets and implicate Mindszenty. However, eventually they dropped the idea because they feared that the case against Dudás and Mindszenty might be taken over by the Soviets, who might well use a military court to issue a severe sentence and in doing so might create a martyr out of the cardinal. One of the similarly interesting aspects of the investigation against Mindszenty was that the state security authorities used a number of brutal means in an attempt to crush his will to resist. As Balogh has established with her research, the state did not use psychoactive (consciousness altering) drugs on prisoners (thus they did not use them on Mindszenty) in order to destroy them psychologically. In general, the means they used, for instance beatings, sleep deprivation, and continuous interrogation, were more than enough.

In the eighth chapter, Balogh presents the four days in late October and early November 1956 that Mindszenty spent as a free man. She examines the circumstances surrounding his release and the process of his integration into the political sphere, which had undergone sudden change. In a subchapter, Balogh addresses the famous speech Mindszenty held on Hungarian Radio on November 3, 1956. She includes the entire text of the speech in her book, and notes that the accusations that were made against Mindszenty on the basis of the contents of the speech (for instance, the call for the return of large estates to their former owners) were merely distorted assertions concerning a pivotal moment of history.

The ninth chapter deals with Mindszenty’s 15 years of forced internal exile (i.e. the 15 years he spent in the American embassy in Budapest following the suppression of the revolution). This section contains perhaps the most new information in comparison with Balogh’s 2002 book on Mindszenty. She presents Mindszenty’s life in the American embassy on the basis of research she has undertaken in recent years in numerous archives in the United States. Several collections of source materials with documents relevant to this period in Mindszenty’s life have already been published, but Balogh has provided the first coherent, historical narrative drawing on these sources. In this chapter, which is more than 200 pages, she not only examines the relationship between Mindszenty and the staff of the American embassy and the negotiations that took place between Hungary, the United States, and the Vatican, but also offers a portrait of the aging prelate’s everyday life in his place of forced domicile.

The tenth and last chapter of the book presents the events of the last four years of Mindszenty’s life, which he spent in exile. Balogh devotes a separate subchapter to the circumstances of his resignation and the publication of his memoirs. The monograph concludes with an appendix that is more than 150 pages long containing the primary sources and works of secondary literature on which Balogh has based her narrative, as well as the information concerning the illustrations and a very useful index of names and places.

The summary of the book that I have endeavored to provide here does not quite capture the (I am tempted to say inhuman) scale of the work that Balogh has done over the course of the past 25 years. Naturally, as is the case with any ambitious work of scholarship, one can find shortcomings in her monograph, which is based on materials found in 28 archives in Hungary and 20 archives outside of Hungary. Even if the reader were to fail to notice any of the lacunae, Balogh herself calls attention to at least one in the preface to the book: “today, only two important groups of archives with documents relevant to the Mindszenty case remain for the next generation of historians: the Vatican archives and the KGB archives” (p. 21). There are probably relevant sources in other collections as well, for instance—as Balogh herself notes—the Vienna archive of Franz König, which at the moment is not accessible to researchers. These shortcomings notwithstanding, the book constitutes a valuable complement to the existing secondary literature, rich with new information, and it presents the reader with the complex storehouse of information on József Mindszenty.

In summary, Balogh’s two-volume biography is a persuasive work of serious scholarship that will be of interest to historians, scholars of Church history, and any reader curious to know more about the life of this emblematic figure. It will be indispensable to anyone who wishes to pursue further research on the life and career of József Mindszenty.

Géza Vörös


Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations of Consent and Dissent. By Tom Junes. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. 328 pp.


Tom Junes has written a thorough and compelling book on students, who have figured as an important and often underestimated collective actor in contemporary Polish history. Whereas the universities and its milieus played important, if far from dominant roles in numerous previous studies on communist Poland, the authors of these studies tended to focus on specific, isolated episodes of the past. The rebellious academic youth has usually been portrayed within a framework of a single generation and treated as part of broader social upheavals. Students’ protests were deemed an intrinsic component of the broader dissident movement and were purported to have had comparable aims, outlooks, and hopes.

Junes’ book is the first attempt to restore subjectivity to students’ politics and to depict subsequent cohorts of academic youth as independent players on the political scene. The author points to the unique features and significance of students as a social group, starting from the assumption that their youth, combined with their intellectual disposition, made students especially prone to be critical of their environment. He is fully aware, at the same time, that only a minority (a small minority) of the student body was engaged in politics and the activities of the dissident movement, while most of the youths remained largely indifferent or at least passive (apart from during times of crisis). Thus, the book is devoted mostly to the struggles, hopes, and illusions of student elites over the decades of communist rule in Poland.

The notion of generation underpins the narrative of the book. Junes rightly claims that specific mentalities attributable to communities of the same age affected the character of student political activities. Different beliefs, customs, and ideas acquired in the course of processes of socialization translated into different types of defiance (or conformity). “Student movements and student politics are susceptible to change as a result of changing political generations within the student body” (p.xxvi), he argues, discerning various “generational styles” that to some extent functioned as substitutes for ideologies and programs.

Notably, the book highlights the importance of the experiences of former generations for the political choices of students. Every youth rebellion was imbued with and in some cases directly driven by the memories of former upheavals: the protests of the late 1940s mimicked the pre-war political culture at the universities, the revolt of March 1968 drew on the legend of October 1956, and the independent student movement in 1981 in turn invoked the protests of March 1968. Junes uses the term “narrative of consciousness” to characterize what he thinks of as the essential trait of all of these generational cohorts of Polish students: the memory of the consecutive movements, conspiracies, and uprisings.

The book is organized chronologically. Twelve chapters divided into four parts tell the story of the student movement and cover the main episodes of the political history of communist Poland. The reader learns first about the students’ social and political activities in the early post-war period, the youth response to Stalinist terror, and the roles universities played in the Thaw and the revolt of October 1956. The second chapter is devoted to the period of so-called “small stabilization,” which abruptly ended in a nation-wide student rebellion in March 1968. Junes shows how the vast activity of academic discussion clubs, both formal and informal, in the 1960s would gradually shape youths’ attitudes and eventually lay the ground for the sudden and vehement outburst of the revolt.

Chapter three shows how the process described above repeated itself in the 1970s. Although the generations which would enroll at the universities after 1968 no longer had faith in socialism or even in the goodwill of the regime, they did not seem prone to any overt defiance either. It was thanks to the network of emerging youth discussion clubs and anti-authoritarian groups that the students’ milieu as a whole proved ready again for political engagement. As a consequence, the birth of Solidarity reverberated at the universities and led to the rise of the Independent Students’ Association, the largest non-regime youth organization since 1956.

In the 1980s, which are discussed in the last part of the book, the pattern determining student political activity changed significantly. Junes argues that after 1981 and the collapse of the first Solidarność, the majority of the Polish youth lost interest in politics. They were neither keen on pursuing careers in official organizations like the Socialist Union of Polish Students, nor on participating in conspiratorial activities. For people in their twenties, politics seemed both boring and false, whether practiced by the ruling communist party or the underground dissident movement. Youth became engaged in a more counter-cultural form of revolt. Their defiance and rage were articulated against the hypocrisies of their parents’ world. This chapter provides readers with a detailed description of Polish punk music bands, as well as the fledgling anarchist Movement for an Alternative Society. The students’ approach to the Roundtable negotiations of 1989 between the party and the underground Solidarity was influenced and even dictated by this distrust. The youth was rather wary of the ongoing political process and did not sympathize overtly with the Wałęsa team. Their reluctance and belated endorsement of Solidarity was in sharp contrast with the sheer enthusiasm showed by previous generations in 1956, 1968, or 1980.

Although the narrative of the book focuses on political processes, Junes shows sensitivity to the broader social context, nuances, and mechanisms underpinning student politics as well. The latter is perhaps the most valuable dimension of the book. The monograph provides readers with what is probably the most in-depth and accurate portrait of the Stalinist generation, focusing on those who came of age and were socialized in the early 1950s, when terror and indoctrination reached their peak. Junes calls it “the great leap forward generation,” alluding to the rapid construction of the socialist state. He rightly points out that the student milieu under high Stalinism was far from unified. Rather, it was composed of several mutually-related generational units. The fervent adherents of the system—communist true believers who wore red ties and were commonly viewed as the very personification of the period—constituted a visible and vocal minority among students, but a minority nonetheless.

Junes discerns that cohorts commencing university education between 1949 and 1956 were quite specific in terms of their social composition. Many young people from educated families and youths who had taken profoundly anticommunist stances did not even try to enroll in the universities, since they were aware that the admission process was determined by political considerations. On the other hand, those who were admitted came from groups and social strata, mostly peasants and workers, whose sons and daughters until then had remained outside of the higher education system. Junes observes that, “[t]hey adhered to a class of social advancement, profiting from the opportunities of upward social mobility provided by the regime. This nurtured a far-going inclination based on self-interest to slavishly conform and participate in the formalized rituals of the Stalinist regime. Joining the ZMP [Union of Polish Youth – the only official youth organization, overtly bent on indoctrination] was not an act of political conviction, for these youths it was a given, a normality that otherwise had dire consequences for their future. This conformist attitude, in turn, promoted an egalitarian outlook on life which was enhanced by the grim uniformity of the Stalinist reality” (p.31). Consequently, most of the youths socialized during the Stalinist period were exposed to a kind of schizophrenia. They did not internalize the ideas that they publicly endorsed, and privately they kept to their parents’ values and choices. This very split in the way in which they perceived the world not only determined the face of their milieu but also profoundly affected the social and political history of Poland. After all, this was the very generation whose representatives soon constituted the main bulk of the Communist elite.

Junes does not hesitate to offer grand interpretations, which doubtlessly enhance not only the scope but also the value of the book. However, some of his observations seem a bit oversimplified and unconvincing. He clearly sympathizes with Polish historians who claim that the 1968 revolt was a common uprising of students and workers. It was youthful age rather than the specific milieu, Junes maintains, which can be seen as a common denominator of the revolt. Young workers in some natural way sympathized with students, as both groups “[had] been socialized in the same reality” (p.113). I could not disagree more. I would venture the hypothesis that the worlds of students and the worlds of workers remained wholly apart: they had different hopes, dreams, cultural competences and, last but not least, widely different models of leisure activities. The history of the March revolt is to a great extent the history of great disappointment. Despite the nagging expectations and reiterated invitations, no factory joined the student strikes. Young workers may have rioted in the streets, but as a group they did not get involved in any form of organized protest. For these reasons, in my assessment it was not until the birth of Solidarity that the vast alliance between workers and the intelligentsia emerged.

Student Politics in Communist Poland remains a well-researched, readable, even snappy book. Junes draws on an abundance of primary sources, including archival documents, memoirs, journals, and interviews (the reader only wishes he had quoted from the latter more generously). The result is a detailed and in many ways brilliant panorama of Polish history, seen from a well-chosen angle: the lens of the experiences of different generations of students.

Piotr Osęka 


1 The contents of the volume overlap largely, though not completely, with the recently released English-language one Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács (eds.), The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later (Budapest: CEU Press, 2016).

pdfVolume 6 Issue 1 CONTENTS


Money and Finance in Central Europe during the Later Middle Ages. Edited by Roman Zaoral. (Palgrave Studies in the History of Finance.) London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 269 pp.


In 2013, Central European historians, numismatists, and archivists held a major international conference at Charles University, Prague dealing with the financial aspects of the medieval economy. The collection of papers was edited by Roman Zaoral, senior lecturer at the University of Prague. Most of the authors (Antonín Kalous, Stanislav Bárta, Petr Kozák, Martina Mařikova, Zdeněk Puchinger, Pavla Slavíčková, Marek Suchý, and Zdeněk Žalud) are working at archives and universities in the Czech Republic, not just in Prague, but also in Brno, Olomouc, and České Budějovice. The contributors also include Beata Możejko and Grzegorz Myśliwski from Poland, Daniela Dvořáková and Martin Štefánik from Slovakia (Bratislava), and Balázs Nagy and János Incze from Hungary. The volume also includes a paper by Prof. Michael North, the Chair of Modern History at the University of Greifswald (Germany), and Hendrik Mäkeler, the curator of the Uppsala University Coin Cabinet.

The fifteen papers focus on medieval monetary and fiscal policy and the account books of courts, towns, and ecclesiastical institutes. They cover a wide field of Central European economic history from the Holy Roman Empire to the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and from the fourteenth to the second half of the sixteenth centuries. The book is divided into four thematic sections addressing the processes of minting, court funding, the towns, and the church. Although these research fields may seem very different, there are two aspects which have a significant role in almost all of the papers. One is the relationship between the king and the royal court, and the other is the account books and the accounting system. In my review, I chose three papers which give a good sample of the sources on which the contributors tended to draw, their findings, and their methodologies.

Zdeněk Žalud’s paper focuses on the court funding of Bohemian king John the Blind. Žalud examines the incomes and the main creditors of King John. The prosopographies of these four people reveal different types of creditors. Frenzlin Jacobi was originally a burgher of Prague, but later he was knighted and was given some important noble offices, such as the position of king’s sub-chamberlain. He established a wide economic and social network, and he also had business connections with the Archbishop of Trier and the Duke of Lower Bavaria. Peter Rosenberg, in contrast, was one of the most powerful Czech aristocrats. As reward for his support, he was given many important and wealthy pledges, castles, and towns. He gave more and more loans to King John, and got not just estates, but also revenues from the royal taxes and the urbura of Kutná Horá. Gisco of Reste came from a burgher family of Wrocław which had gained noble status. His loans to King John played a significant role in the acquisition of the Duchy of Wrocław for the Czech crown. The fourth creditor, Arnold of Arlan, was a knight of Luxembourg who was appointed to serve as the seneschal of his country. He loaned huge sums to John and the other members of the Luxembourgian family. In 1343, he became the regent of Luxembourg, but after King John’s death, his successors dispossessed Arnold and his heirs. John the Blind inherited huge debts from his predecessors, but he established a network of creditors which helped him repay these debts. He was even able to use these transactions to gain new territories for his kingdoms, for instance the Duchy of Wrocław.

The example of Wrocław sheds light on the other main topic of the volume, namely the utilization of the data in the account books. The paper by Grzegorz Myśliwski examines the accounting practices of the merchants of Wrocław. The oldest of these records was issued between 1412 and 1426. It was written by Paul Beringer, a factor and later shareholder in the company of one of the wealthiest merchants of Wrocław. His records reveal an interregional trading network from Venice to Silesia, and they offer a detailed list of the luxury goods in which he traded. The second record from 1438 was written by Hans Hesse and his partners. It contains a list of the commercial and financial activities between their company and the Kingdom of Hungary. They sold fur and clothes in Hungary, and they purchased mainly copper and pepper, which they later sold in Upper Hungary (today Slovakia) and Silesia. The third source is the account book of the Popplau family from the first decades of the sixteenth century. While Beringer and Hesse used the single-entry bookkeeping system, in the Popplau accounting book there are indications that double-entry accounting was used. Although the Popplau book itself did not use this system, it contains information indicating that double-entry bookkeeping was familiar in medieval Wrocław. The few known account books from the town were written primarily by members of the largest trading companies, but the ledger of the less wealthy Niclas Ritter also survived. According to Myśliwski, while many of the sources were destroyed during World War II, many account books did not survive simply because merchants sought to guard their trade secrets.

Finally, the paper by Petr Kozák combines the two approaches, the focus on the king and the court and the focus on accounting. Kozák deals with the courtly accounts of Prince Sigismund Jagiello, who later became king of Poland. In 1499, Sigismund was granted the fiefdoms of two small duchies in Silesia, and later he was appointed to serve as governor of the whole territory. The courtly accounts from his Silesian period are a significant source on the basis of which to examine his rule, and they shed light on his personal position within the Jagiellonian dynasty. The accounts had specialized auxiliary books, but only one of them, the Registrum curiensium survived. It contains the names of his courtiers, their salaries, the dates of the beginning and the end of their service, and the number of their accompanying riders. As Sigismund’s power and influence increased, his court expanded. At first, only his Silesian subjects served in the court, but later more and more courtiers appeared, and they nurtured his ambitions for the Polish and Lithuanian thrones. The accounts shed light on the functional, hierarchical, and even widespread structures of the court. There were the classic courtiers, the chamberlains, the pages and youngsters, and the functionaries of the court, such as the steward, the cupbearer, and the master of the kitchen. One even finds mention in the accounts of the lower members of the ducal household, like the barbers, the furriers, the falconers, the blacksmiths, the cooks, and the washerwomen. The source contains information concerning the parades and the guests who were diplomats or ambassadors, as well as other visitors who were entertained by jesters, lutenists, flautists, and dwarfs. The data contained in this registry casts light on the structure, costs, and colorful daily life of a royal court.

The fifteen papers in this volume offer many different points of view and approaches, but sometimes the lack of attention to detail gives rise to inconsistencies. For example, different authors use different terms for the same currencies (e.g. gulden/guldier), the same people (e.g. Nicholas of Gara/Miklós Garai), or the same settlement (e.g. Breslau/Wrocław). This is particularly confusing in the cases involving names, because a reader who does not know the history of the given country thoroughly may very well not understand the connection between the cases under examination, i.e. the bigger picture. Additional references to the other papers might have given the collection a greater degree of cohesion. Nevertheless, the editor’s historiographical introduction gives a remarkable basic overview of the economic history of the Central European countries, and the schedules and diagrams also help make this information easily accessible. This volume is a notable example of the importance of interregional and international research initiatives and the substantial contributions they offer to our understanding of the methods used by historians from the countries of the region and of their findings.

István Kádas

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


Medieval Visegrád: Archaeology, Art History and History of a Medieval Royal Centre. Volume 1. The Medieval Royal Palace at Visegrád. Edited by Gergely Buzás and József Laszlovszky. (Archaeolingua 27.) Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2013. 398 pp. Volume 2. The Medieval Royal Town at Visegrád: Royal Centre, Urban Settlement, Churches. Edited by Gergely Buzás, József Laszlovszky, and Orsolya Mészáros. (Archaeolingua 32.) Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2014. 272 pp.


In the historiography on towns in Europe, research on royal residences in the Middle Ages has always been prominent. In Hungary, along with Buda, Visegrád has been one of the cities that have been focal points of this research over the course of the past few decades. The city, which lies on the right bank of the Danube River, about 50 kilometers from Budapest, served as a seat of bailiffs in the Árpád era. Nonetheless, for a long time, it did not play a role of any great importance. This began to change when the House of Árpád died out in 1301. After two decades of harsh conflict over the title of king in a country that was splintering into fiefdoms, Charles I of Anjou acquired the throne. Charles I had the seat of the kingdom moved from Timişoara, a city safely distant from the center of the country, to Visegrád, in the heart of the realm. This decision was not without antecedents. The area had constituted the medium regni (“center of the realm”) in the Árpád era.

Charles I’s decision led to a rapid rise in the importance of the city, and over the course of the fourteenth century the royal palace was built in Visegrád. This was followed by a period of gradual decline beginning in the early fifteenth century, as the royal seat and the administrative apparatus associated with it gradually moved to Buda.

The city lost its role as a seat, but both Emperor Sigismund of Luxembourg and King Matthias continued to use it as an important residence, as evidenced by the ambitious construction work that was done in the royal palace.

From the sixteenth century until the liberation of Hungary from the Ottomans in the late seventeenth century, the history of Visegrád was shaped in large part by the Turkish occupation. In the midst of the almost continuous fighting, the royal castle was the only sight that managed to preserve any of its earlier importance. The city was gradually deserted, and the palace fell into ruins, its remains gradually covered by layers of dirt eroding from the hill atop which the castle perched. The actual site of the royal palace had been forgotten by the time the city was gradually resettled in the eighteenth century. Thus, in the 1930s, it was something of a sensation when Frigyes Schulek came across the impressive ruins of the palace in the course of renovations to the royal castle.

Over the course of the past 80 years, the palace essentially has been undergoing continuous excavation, if with occasional interruptions. In 1995, the findings of these excavations were compiled in an English-language monograph. However, over the course of the past 20 years, substantial contributions have been made to our knowledge of the archeology of the palace and the city. This made it important to publish a new English-language work on Visegrád. This was an ambitious and significant undertaking. Seven authors wrote the chapters of the two-volume work, and the final manuscript was almost 700 pages long. The volumes include several hundred supplements that ease the understanding of the text (color photographs, floor plans, and maps). The chapters do more than simply present the archeology and history of the palace. They also offer an answer to a logical and important question: when Visegrád was used by the king as the royal residence and then, when the royal seat moved to Buda, what consequences did this have for the city and its development? It is worth noting that the discussion of the city’s growth and history might have been more nuanced if the book had considered not simply the city and the palace, but also the royal castle at the top of the steep hill overlooking the Danube River, since the castle also may have exerted an influence on the development of the city.

The first chapter, which was written by József Laszlovszky, presents the royal palace. It can be seen as a kind of introduction which examines how the excavation of the Visegrád palace gave new directions and momentum to the scholarship on Hungarian seats and royal residencies. Since very few royal seats from the Middle Ages actually survived in Hungary, the state of the royal palace in Visegrád (which is accessible to researchers and yields rich findings) is particularly significant. Of the medieval royal seats that have been thoroughly studied by archeologists (Visegrád, Buda, Esztergom, and Székesfehérvár), Visegrád is perhaps the one that best exemplifies, for future scholars and researchers, a kind of methodological archetype and point of orientation from the perspective of excavation and reconstruction.

After this introductory chapter, there are two longer and two shorter chapters by Gergely Buzás. The first of these chapters is one of the most important parts of the book and can be considered a kind of guiding thread. Buzás presents the most important archeological finds from the end of the thirteenth century (i.e. the period immediately preceding the construction of the palace) to the end of the Middle Ages. He draws conclusions on the basis of these findings concerning the architectural history of the palace. The subchapters present the edifices that were built in the area of the palace, as well as the gardens, terraces, fountains, the royal chapel, and the garden walls. Well edited floor plans and spectacular reconstructive drawings offer a kind of time-line of the construction periods. Color photographs of the excavations make these visual materials even more engaging and informative. True, at first the floor plans are a bit difficult to get used to, and thus it is not always easy to identify the sites of the objects identified in the text, since the floor plans are not based on the customary north-south orientation, but rather are oriented on the basis of the location of the area with respect to the Danube River.

Buzás is consistently careful to present parallels in architectural history and art history to the various solutions that were adopted in the course of the construction of the palace. For instance, he informs his reader that the spatial arrangement used for the ensemble of edifices that were built over the course of the fourteenth century may well have been based on the construction work commissioned by the popes in Avignon, while in the case of the stone carvings, the influence of Czech, Polish, and Hungarian masters is prominent. In other words, stone masons and sculptors were brought in from the surrounding region, while the people who oversaw the construction projects came from farther away, for instance southern France. One discerns the influence of the architecture of southern France in a few other royal castles built at the time.

The book places considerable emphasis on the construction work that was done under the reign of King Matthias. In this period (the 1470s and 1480s), several symbolically important elements were added to the building ensemble. The most familiar is perhaps the Renaissance loggia in the inner courtyard. Interestingly, with regards to the actual structures of the buildings, one discerns elements of the late Gothic in the construction work that was done under King Matthias, while the carvings and other external adornments bear the stylistic marks of the Italian Renaissance. In all probability, the work was overseen by Chimenti Camicia. The fountains show the influence of Giovanni Dalmata and the famous Visegrád Madonna in the chapel shows the influence of Gregorio di Lorenzo.

From this point on, the book begins to fall apart a bit from the perspective of its structural coherence. The subsequent chapters do not seem to form a logical train of thought. The first of these chapters offers a functional reconstruction of the palace, followed by a presentation of the scientific preparatory work, which raises interesting questions from the perspective of the methodologies of excavation (both chapters were written by Buzás). This is followed by chapters presenting the role of Franciscan friaries in the Middle Ages (by József Laszlovszky), the stove tiles that were excavated and the glass, metal, and ceramic findings (Edit Kocsis), and the reconstruction work that has been underway since the 1990s (some forty pages written by Zoltán Deák). We then do a kind of chronological 180 turn with a presentation of the ivory and antler findings (István Kováts).

We find ample compensation for the arguably haphazard structure of the book, however, in the high scholarly standards of the chapters. For instance, we learn of the Franciscan friary that was built very near the palace in 1425 (i.e. quite late) that it was founded by Sigismund of Luxembourg on the same principles as the Chapel of Saint Sigismund in Buda. Both were built in the parts of the cities inhabited and used by the burghers, i.e. in a kind of “collision zone.” In other words, the king expanded his zone of influence at the cost of the denizens of the city.

The chapter on the stove tiles of the palace (which is rich with illustrations) discusses the roles of the stove tile workshops that were active in the construction of the palace, which in the Hunyadi era showed the impact of masters from Bavaria. One also discerns influences from masters and workshops outside of Hungary in the ceramics, glass, and metalwork findings. Among the ceramics, for instance, one finds imports from Austria and Germany as early as the Anjou era. In the case of glasswork, until the end of the Middle Ages imports from Venice dominated. The metal, glass, and ceramic tableware was sometimes of extremely high quality, as were the ivory carvings that were found in the excavations.

The chapter on the functions of the various spaces of the palace merits particular mention for two reasons. First, the systematic presentation of the topographical elements and their functions (the hippodrome, the grand chamber, the bath, etc.) offers a far more nuanced and colorful picture of everyday life in the palace. Second, in its presentation of the individual spaces of the palace, the chapter also offers a very broad and broadly international overview of comparable edifices, made more informative and engaging by the photographs and floor plans that have been included. The chapter persuasively illustrates that in the construction of the palace in Visegrád, heavy use was made of international styles, ideas, and innovations. The first volume closes with a 70-page catalogue of findings, including an appendix of color photographs and precise descriptions presenting the objects and items that were found in the course of excavations in and around the palace.

The second volume focuses on the city. It is based largely on archeologist Orsolya Mészáros’s recently published dissertation and book on Visegrád in the Middle Ages. In part for this reason, this volume is more consistent and logical in its structure than the first.

The first chapter, which was written by József Laszlovszky and Katalin Szende, offers a broad overview of the European and Hungarian antecedents to scholarship on residencies (Rezidenzenforschung), including the term itself and the frameworks and potentials of the inquiries.

Following this discussion of the ideas concerning scholarship in the residency cities comes a subchapter on the basic touchstones of early Hungarian urban development. The subchapter offers an excellent overview of the fundamental questions on the subject, and it contextualizes our knowledge of early Visegrád within this framework. Having taken numerous factors into consideration, the authors come to the conclusion that in the early stages of its history, Visegrád could not actually be considered a city. It only really began to grow in the 1320s, thanks to the presence of the royal palace and the use of the city as the royal seat.

The next major chapter of the second volume, which was written by Gergely Buzás, József Laszlovszky, and Orsolya Mészáros, offers an overview of the distinctive features of medieval Visegrád, including its government and economic life and the Church institutions found in the city.

The mechanisms of the government of the city can be studied on the basis of the 18 surviving city charters, which for the most part dealt with trade in land and which were sealed with a grand seal and then, beginning in the fourteenth century, with a small seal. According to these documents, there was a city council with one magistrate and 12 councilors. At the turn of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, these roles were played primarily by merchants and artisans. However, the landed group (the so-called “comes”) was missing from the leading stratum of the city, though at the time this group usually played a prominent role in the more important settlements. Written sources indicate that until 1378, Visegrád had at least two large sections, a Hungarian district and a German district, and there were also burghers of Italian descent among its denizens. Nonetheless, the settlement still only had a single, united council. According to the authors, by the end of the fifteenth century, the city had become a royal market town. It might have been worthwhile, in order to support this contention, to have examined the transformation of the legal terms used in charters over the course of the Middle Ages (terms such as civitas and oppidum).

This chapter also includes a discussion of the handicraft industry, agriculture, and trade. Alongside the various occupations that provide for the basic needs of the population (food, textiles, etc.), artisans began to spring up who practiced occupations that addressed the wants of the people of the palace and the court (for instance glassmakers and ivory and metalworkers). The sources suggest that the artisans who worked for the palace came from abroad, while the other artisans of the city were locals. Historians have only scattered bit of information on which to base hypotheses concerning trade in Visegrád. Several storeowners were active in the city (so-called patikárius or “apothecary”), and in all probability they sold wares that had come from abroad or afar. Furthermore, in all likelihood the city had a national exemption from customs duties. Strangely enough, at the same time, we have no information whatsoever concerning the Visegrád markets in the Middle Ages.

With regards to agriculture, the agricultural conditions in the region were not ideal. Eighteenth-century and nineteenth-century maps confirm this. The agricultural plots were not large enough to provide for the entire population. The situation was better when it came to viticulture. From the perspective of farming and agricultural life, the city was not terribly developed. The chapter also discusses the churches in Visegrád. Of the many Church institutions that were present beginning in the Árpád era, the parish church of the Virgin Mary, which was found at what today is the main street of the town (“Fő utca”), and the Augustine monastery, which was excavated in what today is Szent László Street, may have played the largest roles in the topographic development of the city.

In the next chapter, Mészáros examines the privileges enjoyed by the city. The original charter granting the settlement its privileges has not survived, but there are persuasive arguments in support of the conclusion according to which there was such a charter, and in all likelihood it was equivalent to the privilege charter of Maros (today Nagymaros), which lies on the far side of the Danube and which was granted privileges in 1324. The chapter comes to a close with a summary of the decline of the city, also written by Mészáros. When it ceased to function as the royal seat, Visegrád declined in importance and its population also dropped. King Matthias attempted to reverse this process in the 1470s by granting privileges, but without much success, it seems.

The other decisive section in the book was also written by Mészáros. In this section, Mészáros offers some 50 pages of analysis in which she provides a description of the topography of the settlement, its basic layout, the system of plots, and the network of roads. She bases her conclusions on data concerning land trade and archeological excavations.

Mészáros’ analysis is based on a collection of data found on pages 99–121. The data, which is based on written sources, concerns the location of the plots, their value, their history, and of course their owners. It is interesting in and of itself, since many of the individuals who are already well-known in medieval Hungarian history owned homes in Visegrád. Beginning in the 1420s, the national and court dignitaries, the archbishops of Esztergom, and the provosts all strove to take up residence close to Visegrád, where the king had established his seat. In many cases, they acquired several pieces of land in the settlement so that they would be able to bring their noble entourage with them. The offices filled by the familiarities and the figures of notability played a role in the development of the city’s plot system and in its dynamic trade in land.

Mészáros uses this data to try to identify the groups of buildings that constituted the streets of Visegrád at the time and the two districts of the city. While the information is sparse, she nonetheless manages to identify the location of the Hungarian district (which today is the city center) and the German district (the area to the north of the Hungarian district, stretching all the way to the castle). She also concludes that the main street of which the other streets opened was the main axis of the settlement. It broadened into a market roughly in the area which today is the center of the town. Naturally, the remarkable detail of her reconstruction of the urban topography of the city notwithstanding, there are still some blank spots on the map. For instance, we do not actually know whether the city was surrounded by walls in the Middle Ages or not.

This analysis of the topographical features of Visegrád is followed by a collection of sources that has been very precisely compiled by Mészáros. This source collection, which is easy to use and offers an excellent illustration of the history of the city, contains complete transcriptions of 61 medieval Latin charters. It is followed by a summary with which the second volume comes to a close. The conclusions offered in this summary are entirely persuasive: the city bore witness to two periods of major development in the Middle Ages, and this was a peculiar feature of its history. In the fourteenth century, it underwent a rapid growth as the residency of the king and the royal seat. In the fifteenth century, it became a secondary residence, which led to a period of decline in its development. The presence of the castle, however, meant that Visegrád remained a royal seat and smaller regional center, and it also preserved its institutional system.

This monograph on the history of Visegrád, which has a tasteful cover and a rich array of illustrations, is the result of 80 years of focused and devoted work by archeologists and historians. It will allow scholars of rulers’ residencies who do not read Hungarian to familiarize themselves with the most recent findings of the excavations that have been done in and around Visegrád, a city which stands out among the royal seats in Hungary in part because of the tremendous potential it offers for researchers. Thus, it will draw the attention of international scholarly forums to Hungarian scholarship on the royal residencies, while also allowing the community of Hungarian scholars and researchers to present their findings to the English-speaking world.

László Szabolcs Gulyás

University of Nyíregyháza


Medieval East Central Europe in a Comparative Perspective: From Frontier Zones to Lands in Focus. Edited by Gerhard Jaritz and Katalin Szende. London–New York: Routledge, 2016. 265 pp.


Based on a conference held at Central European University in spring 2014, this volume presents fifteen essays exploring the potentials of comparative and contextualizing methods in the study of the medieval history of East Central Europe. The collection starts with three essays which discuss the inevitable though redundant question, “what is East Central Europe.” While Nora Berend (The Mirage of East Central Europe: Historical Regions in a Comparative Perspective) argues for a flexible understanding of historical regions and warns of the possibility of self-segregation of the relevant scholarship through emphasis on the idea that East Central Europe is a region apart, i.e. in its own right and non-comparable, Márta Font (The Emergence of East Central Europe and Approaches to Internal Differentation) tries to define the region using the notion of “Europe in-between,” by which she hopes to help better integrate the “forgotten region” into comparative general medieval studies. Anna Kuznetsova (The Notion of ‘Central Europe’ in Russian Historical Scholarship) provides a brief overview of the political and scholarly use of the concept “Central Europe” in Russian medieval research. The editors astutely organized the following articles into four thematic blocks. The first contains two essays on political practices. Stefan Burkhardt (Between Empires: South-Eastern Europe and the two Roman Empires in the Middle Ages) analyses the characteristics of imperial rule in what he calls “inter-imperial regions.” Considering in particular the Kingdom of Hungary as one example of an “inter-imperial-power,” he suggests conceptualizing medieval East Central Europe as a set of regions between empires, though not as mere peripheries in-between, but “as laboratories whose leaders had the power to choose the best of both worlds” (p.56). Julia Burkhardt (Negotiating Realms: Political Representation in Late Medieval Poland, Hungary and the Holy Roman Empire) demonstrates the potential of comparative studies by briefly sketching the situation of political assemblies in East Central and Central Europe between 1490 and 1530. The second thematic block discusses religious space. By examining the connection between the monastic landscapes (of Hungary) and the burial places of dynastic rulers, József Laszlovszky (Local Tradition or European Patterns? The Grave of Queen Gertrude in the Pilis Cistercian Abbey) asks what the history of monasticism can contribute to the debate on East Central Europe, while Beatrix F. Romhányi (Mendicant Networks and Population in a European Perspective) looks at the mendicant network using its international character and central organization in order to detect various patterns throughout Europe, thereby showing that the East Central European mendicant networks in fact did not follow a single, common (“East Central European”) pattern. From another perspective, Johnny Grandjean Gøgsig Jakobsen (Friars Preachers in Frontier Provinces of Medieval Europe) confirms that Dominican life in northeastern and (east) Central Europe was to a large extent comparable to Dominican life in other European provinces, though “frontier provinces” often developed distinctive characteristics, and on certain issues they adopted stances that differed from stances of the core provinces of the order. The third thematic block is devoted to urban space. Olha Kozubska-Andrusiv (Comparable Aspects in Urban Development. Kievan Rus’ and the European Middle Ages) analyses the development of urban centers, the emergence of autonomous urban communities, and the coexistence of different urban religious groups in the Russian principality of Halich-Volynia. Kozubska-Andrusiv contends that this example persuasively demonstrates the regional variety of Rus’ and brings “more precision into viewing this realm as part and parcel of medieval Europe.” Katalin Szende (Town Foundations in East Central Europe and the New World) presents a particularly innovative approach. She compares the newly founded towns of East Central Europe in the thirteenth–fifteenth centuries with newly founded Spanish towns in the Americas in the sixteenth century. She focuses on the patterns of organizing space by looking at the so-called grid-plan. She detects comparable strategies behind the implementation of such grid-plans, emphasizing that the planned regularity was intended first and foremost to ensure control over population and available resources. Michaela Antonín Malaníková (Female Engagement in Medieval Urban Economy: Late Medieval Moravia in a Comparative Perspective) focuses on the royal cities of Brno and Jihlava from the second half of the fourteenth century to the end of the fifteenth century. Malaníková examines the situation of economically active townswomen. The fourth thematic block of the volume discusses aspects of cultural unity and diversity in East Central Europe. Béla Zsolt Szakács (The Place of East Central Europe on the Map of Romanesque Architecture) advocates the inclusion of East Central Europe in the overall concept of Romanesque art and architecture, while Anna Adamska (Intersections: Medieval East Central Europe from the Perspective of Literacy and Communication) considers East Central Europe as a particular “area of transition between several models of culture” (p.226). Looking at medieval literacy and communication, she discerns several “intersections” of East Central Europe and the neighboring regions. Julia Verholantsev (Etymological Argumentation as a Category of Historiographic Thought in Historical Writings of Bohemia, Poland and Hungary) very briefly analyses how some Bohemian, Polish, and Hungarian narrative texts from the twelfth–fifteenth centuries make use of stories of origin and etymological argumentation in order to validate their narratives. Two pages of a sort of summary by János M. Bak (What did We Learn? What is to be Done? Some Insights and Visions after Reading this Book) conclude this inspiring volume, which has detailed bibliographies and useful illustrations. My only complaint concerning the simulating and very valuable contributions is that a few of the authors apparently have no knowledge of the relevant German research on their topics.

Eduard Mühle

University of Münster


Hogyan lett Buda a középkori Magyarország fővárosa? A budai királyi székhely története a 12. század végétől a 14. század közepéig [How did Buda become the capital of medieval Hungary? The history of the royal seat of Buda from the end of the twelfth century to the middle of the fourteenth]. By Enikő Spekner. Budapest: Budapesti Történeti Múzeum, 2015. 382 pp.


Buda became the capital of the Hungarian Kingdom at the beginning of the fifteenth century, and since then it always played a central role in the life of the country. For this reason, the scholarship on Hungarian medieval local history has consistently devoted considerable attention to it. Enikő Spekner, however, asserts that “research on the history of the royal center of Óbuda and Buda has been part of the research on local history, and, particularly with respect to the earliest period, it has not been the subject of individual studies” (p.12). In order to compensate for this shortcoming, Spekner examines the development of Buda from the end of the twelfth century to the middle of the fourteenth, and she tries to trace the initial stages of the process through which, by the beginning of the fifteenth century, Buda had become the economical and political center of the country.

Spekner has been pursuing research on the early history of Buda for a long time, and although she makes mention of the fact that this volume is a revised and extended version of her dissertation, to which she has added the most recent secondary literature published on the theme, I would not call it simply the summary of her findings. She places her research into the context of previous findings: she analyses the medieval understanding of various terms, such as “center” and “capital,” and she familiarizes her reader with the process through which the Árpád Era governmental centers developed, while also calling attention to the concept of medium regni (“center of the realm”) and rezidenciatáj (“residential area”), coined by twentieth-century Hungarian historians Bernát L. Kumorovitz and András Kubinyi respectively. Spekner poses the central question of the book in part on the basis of this train of thought: from what point can one regard a given royal center as the capital of a country? In order to offer an answer to this question, she examines when and for what reasons Óbuda, which (following Esztergom and Székesfehérvár) was the third settlement to emerge as a center in the medium regni, became a royal center. When and why was this royal center then transferred to the Castle Hill of Buda? Did Óbuda and Buda exist as royal centers at the same time? And, finally, did Buda and Óbuda manage to keep some (or any) of their royal functions or their networks of connections with the government after the royal residency was transferred in the Anjou Period (the reign of the Anjou Dynasty lasted from 1301 until 1386 in Hungary). Accordingly, the volume is divided into two main parts, the first of which presents the development of Óbuda and Buda in the Árpád Era, while the second part discusses the relationship between Charles I; 1301–42), the first Hungarian king of the Anjou Dynasty, and Buda.

In her discussion of the early history of Esztergom and Székesfehérvár, Spekner lays particular emphasis on the fact that their central position was by and large the result of the significant role they played in the political, economical, and religious life of the country, and, consequently, she seeks to find the same underlying motives in the process through which Óbuda and then Buda acquired central positions. The process through which they obtained certain political functions can be traced, for instance, in the close relationship that developed between the capitulum collegiae and the chancellery, which gained importance during the reign of Béla III (1172–96), in the increasing frequency of the rulers’ visits to Óbuda, and in various political events of the time. As Spekner argues, Óbuda acquired the status of royal center during the reign of Andrew II (1205–35), and Spekner asserts that under Béla IV (1235–70), who is generally referred to as the “second founder of the state” after the Mongol invasion, Buda formed part of the system of fortifications that was intended to safeguard the crucially important Danube Region and that it was a deliberate choice on the part of the king to set up his new seat on the Castle Hill of Buda. When dwelling on the professional debates about the foundation and the early history of the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the castle of Buda, Spekner contends that Béla IV ordered a private chapel that would resemble the one in Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle) or the one in Székesfehérvár to be built, primarily with the aim of emphasizing the sacral significance of the new royal center. Since in Hungary mints were usually located in royal residences, Spekner hypothesizes that the first mint in Buda, which also served as the first royal quarters there, the Kammerhof was established by Béla IV, and she notes the importance of Pest in the economic life of the country. Spekner concurs with scholars who share the otherwise not entirely persuasive notion that the István Tower was named after István, the eldest son and successor of Béla IV. Furthermore, she makes a connection between the foundation of the Rectorate in 1264 and the civil war between Béla IV and Stephen (1261–66). According to her reasoning, Béla IV deprived Buda of the right to the free election of the major because of the special strategical importance of the city and in order to strengthen his position by directly appointing the leading official.

Spekner argues that the overall importance of the Castle Hill of Buda overshadowed Óbuda for good around the end of the Árpád Era, and she makes several claims in support of her argument. For instance, during the reigns of Ladislas IV (1272–90) and Andrew III (1290–1301), the last king of the House of Árpád, events of national importance took place in Buda. The law courts of the vice-palatine and of the seneschal were founded in the city, as was the permanent residency of the queens. Spekner emphasizes that, because Buda was a fortified stronghold, it became more important and prominent than Óbuda, and its central role became clear in the course of the fights for the throne that broke out after the House of Árpád died out. In her view, because of the changes that had taken place in the entourage of the ruler, Buda lost its character as a royal seat, and Károly took defensive priorities into consideration when he had his new residency established in Visegrád. At the same time, Spekner emphasizes that Buda did not become less significant, it remained the economic center of the country. As a kind of conclusion to her discussion, Spekner determines the tasks that await the next generation of scholars, including, for instance, a comparative analysis of the rulers’ residencies in Central Europe and the always pressing need to ensure that the work and findings of Hungarian scholars become part of the emerging international body of scholarship.

The third major section of the book is the appendix, which contains the itinerary of Charles I, which was prepared by Spekner to facilitate an understanding of the complex relationship between Buda and Visegrád. In the itinerary, Spekner adopts the threefold division of the reign of Charles I that has become common in the secondary literature. The databases on the period of the struggle for the throne (1301–10) and on the time of consolidation (1324–42) are based primarily on charters, which she then supplements with various written narratives, diplomatic documents and the archontological data of the national high dignitaries. With regard to the period of battles to unify the country (1310–23), she takes the itinerary of Pál Engel as her point of departure, including the notes and corrections made by Gyula Kristó. In some cases, she changes it on the basis of her own insights. This modern, thorough, and highly accessible itinerary is indispensable to anyone studying the reign of Charles I. Spekner herself emphasizes that the itineraries are important resources in the study of political history, and she notes with pleasure that in recent decades more and more historians have worked on compiling itineraries. She mentions in particular the work of Pál Engel and Norbert C. Tóth (Itineraria regum et reginarum (1382–1438 [2005]) and Richárd Horváth (Itineraria regis Matthiae Corvini et reginae Beatricis de Aragonia [2011]). While the incorporation into the narrative of a queen’s itinerary might have added interesting details and nuance, Spekner should not be faulted for the absence of such an itinerary. She compiled the database as a reference aid, and in her study of the relationship between Buda and the central power focuses very specifically on the movement of the ruler and his entourage. With regards to the compilation and use of itineraries, she emphasizes the importance of adopting a sufficiently critical approach. The itinerary is followed by a short summary in English, the indexes, and a reference section with two tables listing in a systematic fashion the publications of the courts of the palatines, the vice-palatines, the palatine magistrates, and the seneschals.

Every part of the book is based on a tremendous wealth of source materials. Most of this material consists of charters, to which Spekner adds the relevant information from the Hungarian historiography and hagiography on the Middle Ages, as well as information from Austrian, Czech, and Polish narrative sources. She also uses contemporary memoirs, biographies, and letters. She treats the sources with appropriate critical acumen, and she makes exemplary use of the perspectives and findings of works from the auxiliary historical sciences, for instance historical geography, sigillography, archontology, diplomatic history, and (first and foremost) archeology. She adds her own insights to the discussions of questions that are subjects of debate, even when simply expressing agreement not with a recent proposal, but rather with an earlier hypothesis, which she then supports with her own arguments.

In summary, Enikő Spekner has provided an extremely interesting discussion of the history of Buda’s transformation into a capital. She offers a separate presentation of the growth and development of Óbuda and the city of Buda on Castle Hill, but she also emphasizes the mutual interactions of these two processes, and she also often draws the city of Pest into the discussion. Her book is not simply a comprehensive overview of the early history of Óbuda and Buda. It is also fills a lacuna in the secondary literature on the subject because of the thought-provoking approach she had adopted to the subject. Her book constitutes a new work of fundamental scholarship on residency and city history in Hungary.

Péter Galambosi

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


Az esztergomi székeskáptalan a 15. században. I. rész. A kanonoki testület és az egyetemjárás [The Cathedral Chapter of Esztergom in the fifteenth century. Volume 1. Canonical body and university studies]. By Norbert C. Tóth. (Subsidia ad historiam medii aevi Hungariae inquirendam 7.) Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia Támogatott Kutatócsoportok Irodája, 2015. 198 pp.


This book is the first volume of a tripartite book series which examines the fifteenth-century history of the most significant Hungarian cathedral chapter, the chapter of Esztergom. The first volume is dedicated to the personnel of the chapter.

It is important to emphasize that the overview offered by the author differs in several respects from the views shared in the earlier secondary literature on the ecclesiastical society of the period. The essential reference point for scholarship is a chapter written by Elemér Mályusz in 1971. Influential as his writing was, when formulating his argument, Mályusz disregarded the primary sources almost entirely. Over the course of the past two decades, several analyses have been published which concentrate on the individual composition of the Hungarian chapters (e.g. József Köblös, Tamás Fedeles). These studies have drawn the attention of researchers to some debatable aspects of the work of Mályusz.

The basic research that needed and needs to be done in order to arrive at an astute reassessment of Mályusz’s view involves the (re)assembling of archontologies of the relevant institutions and the writing of prosopographies. Norbert C. Tóth has done systematic research in this field for several years now.

C. Tóth’s work begins with a very important source, a canonical visitation in Esztergom, which was published by Ferenc Kollányi at the beginning of the last century. Kollányi dated the documents to 1397, but C. Tóth convincingly argues that they can be dated to the fifteenth century. When assembling the archontology, he also takes into consideration letters of advocacy (litterae procuratoriae) related to the famous tithe case of Sasad. These letters, which date back to 1451–60, list the names of altogether 54 canons. One of the publications contains the names of 37 beneficiaries, which (if one takes the Hungarian source base into consideration) can be regarded as unique. This signifies that almost 95 percent of the canons of the altogether 39-member chapter (to this, the canonical body of the king, the so-called rex canonicus, has to be added) were known at the time of the charter’s execution (April 3, 1459). With the consideration of two additional documents, this figure reaches 100 percent.

The volume consists of four main units. The first chapter provides a basic overview of the members of the chapter. The sources gathered by C. Tóth provide data on roughly three-fourths of the personnel of the chapter. During the period in question, members of a number of baronial families can be found among the members of the chapter. 26 percent of the members of the chapter were of aristocratic origin. 29.6 percent were from tenant peasant families, 18.5 percent were from market town families, and those who belonged to burgher families constituted only 9.3 percent of the members of the chapter whose origins C. Tóth could determine. This offers a picture that differs significantly from the image that emerges in the earlier secondary literature, since the proportion of people who were from serf backgrounds is much higher in the case of Esztergom than it was among the chapters in Transdanubia.

With his examination of the relationship between the origins of canons and the canonical body, C. Tóth has come to the conclusion that aristocrats gained the prebendariships on the highest levels of the church hierarchy. For the inhabitants of the market towns and for the burghers of the larger towns, every benefice was accessible with the exception of the position of grand provost, but for tenant peasants, the peak of their canonical careers was the position of a canon. Mobility within the chapters was almost completely determined by social origin. On the other hand, university studies may also have played an important role in determining whether or not one could climb one or more rungs on the ladder of social standing. Pluralism of beneficiaries within the chapter (cumulatio beneficiorum) (13 percent) remained low. However, within the group, the proportion of tenant peasants was significant (altogether six members).

The second chapter of the book, entitled “Parallel Lives: Canons in Esztergom in the fifteenth century” (pp.43–86), is actually a series of short articles and biographies of members of the chapter. In a number of cases C. Tóth corrects mistakes found in the earlier secondary literature. For example, he clearly shows that there were two László Dorogházis (father and son). The father worked as a public notary and as a notary of the Holy See in Esztergom. In 1484, he became a protonotary of the chief justice, and at the beginning of the sixteenth century he finished his career as a protonotary of the chief justice. His son obtained an academic degree in canonical law in Vienna. He then appeared in the sources (in 1475) as canon of Esztergom. He held this post until his death in the summer of 1489.

In the third chapter, which is the final analytical chapter of the book (pp.87–122), C. Tóth examines the university peregrination of the canons of Esztergom. The timeframe of his research has been extended here, as he analyzes the decades between 1390 and 1490. Within this period of time, altogether 65 canons of Esztergom attended universities abroad (most of them went to Vienna). Altogether 72.3 percent of them earned academic degrees. C. Tóth identifies a cultural recession in the chapter during the second half of the reign of King Mátyás. After a conspiracy against the king in 1471 organized by clerics, other chapters went through something similar (for instance chapters in Pécs, Oradea, and Alba Iulia).

Recent research suggests that the number of canons who continued their studies at universities was far less than the number of members of canonical communities whose existence can be demonstrated with exact data. Mályusz’s interpretation is also flawed because foreigners were in fact underrepresented in Esztergom. Mályusz’s contentions to the contrary can be seen as a symptom of national prejudice. In fact, canons did not have to be retaken from foreigners by Hungarian intellectuals.

The final chapter of the volume is a reference section, in which data on the beneficiaries of Esztergom between 1451 and 1460 are listed (pp.123–49). This is followed by eleven genealogical tables (pp.150–60). The book ends with an English-language summary and an index.

Norbert C. Tóth’s book can be regarded as essential from several perspectives. First, he calls his readers’ attention to the old and commonly known fact that general conclusions cannot be drawn without accurate and profound works of basic research. Second, the works of prominent scholars cannot be regarded as universal truth. Furthermore, ideas in the theoretical literature which may seem problematic have to be compared and contrasted with the original sources, as a historian must always adopt a critical approach. Thus, I must emphatically agree with C. Tóth contention that the reassembling of the archontological lists of the mediaeval Hungarian chapters is inevitable (indeed, I made this statement myself some 10 years ago). Now that this has been done, the construction of the prosopographical reference books is important, as only this can enable us to describe the characteristics of the central layer of Hungarian church society.

Tamás Fedeles

University of Pécs


Hybrid Renaissance: Culture, Language, Architecture. By Peter Burke. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2016. 284 pp.


While the Renaissance was defined and praised as the arrival of a new system of ideas and values opposed to the old medieval or “Gothic” world, the main idea of this book is to stress the importance of hybrid or mixed forms of art and thought in the era. In the written version of a lecture series initially held at Central European University and at other universities all over the world, Peter Burke presents hybridity in architecture, the visual arts, languages, literatures, music, law, philosophy, and religion. His goal is to think about the general problems of change and continuity in history.

The most interesting and innovative chapter of the book is the first one, which gives a definition of hybridization on all levels. Although Burke recognizes the impossibility of giving a clear definition of hybridity, he uses the term to denote not “something new that emerges from the combination of diverse older elements,” but “rather an umbrella covering a variety of different phenomena and processes.”

The Renaissance is defined in the book as a cultural movement that aimed to revive classical culture, but at the same time, many examples of hybridization discussed in the book do not have a “classical part,” for instance, in the case of religion, Christianity is claimed to have been adopted as part of a mix of traditional religions of other parts of the world. The chronological frames of the Renaissance are quite large, beginning in the fourteenth century and ending in the mid-seventeenth, and the geographical frameworks are particularly broad, as hybridization was seen, according to Burke, in its most clear forms on the edges of and outside of Europe.

Chapter 2 gives a short introduction to the history of the notion of hybridization in cultural studies and pays particular attention to the case of the Renaissance. Described with negative connotations (mixture, mishmash, eclecticism, aberration), hybridization was first condemned. Only later was it understood more as a coexistence of styles and attitudes, and recently it has been accepted as an intriguing interaction or interference among different paradigms. To distinguish specific territorial variants of the Renaissance, Burke uses the notion of “ecotype,” borrowed from Carl von Sydow. This term refers to different forms of adaptation of a model to a specific milieu and tradition. The term helps him distinguish different stages of interaction between Renaissance and “something else,” when after a period of infiltration of new elements, a crystallized state of a style emerges that can be characterized as a new ecotype.

Chapter 2 also deals with the locations where hybridization could occur: not surprisingly, for the most part these were spaces where works of art were commissioned: courts and cities, and also the frontier zones of European civilization. This is why, as part of Central Europe (the conflict zone between Christendom and the Muslim Ottoman Empire), Hungary offers several examples of hybridization: the use of Turkish weapons, clothes, or ornamental figures in architecture, for instance.

Chapter 3 deals with architecture, it contains the most obvious examples of mixes of styles: for instance, within Europe, the mix of Gothic and Renaissance, and on the European peripheries, the mix of Islamic or Turkish stylistic elements with the Renaissance, and in America or Asia, the mix of indigenous and European art. Burke notes that because of differences in climate, certain Italian Renaissance architectural elements were unfit for use in Northern Europe, and this also led to hybridization.

Hybridization in the visual arts (Chapter 4) of Europe was rather common, as is demonstrated by the use of grotesque and arabesque motifs in Renaissance works. One discerns a clear blend of Greek or Byzantine art and Renaissance art in, for instance, the work of El Greco. Outside Europe, there were three major trends in the hybridization of art: artistic production outside Europe for the European market; spontaneous acceptance of Western models, such as syncretic Mughal art; and the imposition of Western models on indigenous artists.

While Renaissance philologists attempted to restore the purity of classical Latin, in many cases mixtures of languages were used in everyday life. “Polluted” medieval Latin was still in use in many areas of life, and commedie delle lingue, macaronic Latin, or Rabelais’ use of numerous real and fictitious languages and dialects are evident examples of this mixture (Chapters 5 and 6). Rabelais is also discussed in Chapter 8, which reflects on the educational principles of Gargantua: although Rabelais was an adept of the Renaissance, he is regarded as medieval by Burke on the basis of certain features of his romances, and his oeuvre in general is regarded as a mixture.

Burke has a clear idea of the distinctions between “Gothic” or “Medieval” and the Renaissance in all aspects of arts. For instance, in historiography, he contrasts Froissart’s style with that of Leonardo Bruni, and he observes a mixture of both in Macchiavelli’s Istorie Fiorentine.

Hybridity often arises as a mix of the new and the old: Folengo, Rabelais, and Spenser are cited as examples of this. However, this type of mixture is evidently not a mixture of “Renaissance” and something opposed to it. For Spenser, the old words he uses did not have a medieval connotation. Rather, he regards them as a treasure to be preserved. Another example is the Spanish genre of the picaresque novel, originating from the Arabic maquamat and stories of false beggars, of which there is evidence in the Iberian Peninsula from as early as the tenth century. This case indicates that medieval inspiration and medieval hybridity could reappear during the Renaissance, being present already in the Libro de buen amor, long before Lazarillo de Tormes.

Chapter 7 deals with mixtures of music and law, mostly depending again on specific local traditions that influenced the reception and reinterpretation of the Classical heritage. In philosophy (Chapter 8), the most important challenge was to harmonize Christian faith with ancient thought. The various attempts that were made resulted in systems such as Neoplatonism, humanist Aristotelianism, and Neostoicism. Syncretism in Jewish philosophy is presented through the examples of Leone Ebreo and Yohanan Alemanno.

In the field of religion (Chapter 9), hybridization in the Reformation is discussed mostly with reference to examples of mixed, Catholic and Calvinist or Lutheran communities in Europe. Attempts at syncretism are more surprising in cases of authors who had relationships with non-Christian religions as well: Burke presents Garcilaso de la Vega’s (who was of Catholic, Spanish, and Inca origin) observations about the Inca cult of the Sun and its equivalents in ancient Syria. Burke also highlights that Christian missions generally led not to the simple conversion of the colonized people, but rather to certain kinds of conscious or unconscious syncretism. This occurred in southern India and in China, where the Jesuits had to adapt local teachings to their doctrines in order to be successful.

Protestant and Catholic Reforms were regarded by many theologians as means to purify local cults and beliefs, remnants of paganism: this is the reason for the frequent lack of tolerance for and even hostility to syncretism.

The coda of the book is an attempt to show forms of fighting against hybridity: many Renaissance authors and artists sought to establish or assert the purity of texts, styles, doctrines, and customs. The most important examples of forced purification are presented from Spain, probably as a reaction to the natural medieval mixture of Jewish, Arabic, and Christian cultures in the Iberian Peninsula.

Levente Seláf

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


Versailles: Une histoire naturelle. By Grégory Quenet. Paris: Editions La Découverte, 2015. 225 pp.


Everyone knows Versailles—the palace and its gardens—and yet Versailles is not well known. Built by the French kings during the 17th and 18th century over an area previously owned by aristocratic families and religious communities, seat of the Court and the government from the middle of the 18th century until the French Revolution, it has played since then a secondary yet strongly symbolical role. A museum since 1837, it was the symbolic backdrop for many nineteenth- and twentieth-century political events. Rediscovered as one of the highlights of European art and culture in the early twentieth century with its gardens epitomizing the baroque style in European garden history, it has become one of the most visited monuments, with more than seven million visitors a year. The extensive restoration campaign, launched after the 1999 storm that devastated much of the park, foregrounds the figure of an all-powerful Louis XIV, who, by building the palace and its gardens, achieved his will to absolute dominion over men, territory, and nature.

Such an ideological reading of Versailles is still common, even in much academic writing. Yet art historical and historical research has long since demonstrated that the making of Versailles was a complex process, filled with trials and errors, with projects never completed or replaced by other projects. Recently, other areas of research have looked at this complex history: the piecemeal land acquisition policy to the workings of the complex administrative machinery that organized the building and the daily workings of the domain, the description of the scientific and technological prowess, the activities of humble actors such as gardeners and fountaineers. This recent and growing literature acknowledges Versailles not only as a site and symbol of power, but as a full-fledged human endeavour with its loads of wilfulness and incoherencies, and gives it a much welcomed historical depth.

Grégory Quenet’s book, Versailles: A natural history, follows this recent historiographical trend. Quenet is a specialist of the history of environmental risks and a promoter of environmental history in France. His choice of Versailles as a case study was a double challenge, both of the traditional historical wisdom about Versailles, and of the realm of environmental history. What he proposes is “another history” (see the title of his introduction) of a Versailles that encompasses the whole entity, not only the palace and the gardens, but the much larger hunting park and the streams of incoming and outgoing resources that were needed for the domain to function. Taking a typically environmental history stance, he shows how the persistence and resistance of the natural conditions of the site played an essential role in the shaping of the historical Versailles; and how the co-evolution of the (natural) site and the (human) developments involved many actors beyond the well-known decision makers, both humans and non-humans.

The demonstration is organized in four parts. The first part, entitled the “birth of Versailles”, describes the site before the large scale transformations brought by Louis XIV from 1660 onward: a swampy valley, good for game, but with little running water merely catering to the needs of a few scattered villages. The last part deals with the “death of Versailles”, the period following the French Revolution when most of the grounds were abandoned and sold. (What today is called Grand Parc is a mere 10% of the 8000 hectares owned by the king at the eve of the Revolution).

The second and third parts describe in detail what Quenet believes are the two of the most important factors of the development of Versailles: water and game management. The constant lack of sufficient flowing water was considered one of the main challenges of the site, and many projects were proposed to bring more flowing water to the fountains and the city (though only a few were realized). While historians have already studied these projects as feats of science and technology, Quenet chooses to look at the way the projects were implemented on the ground, and presents them as an ongoing negotiation process between the local social fabric, the environmental characteristics of the land and the administration in charge of the infrastructure—an approach simultaneously reflecting the local and the global power balance. He follows a similar approach in his treatment of hunting. In looking at the areas subjected to constant hunting pressure throughout the year, and subjected to many and often conflicting imperatives (forest management to encourage large game and fowl, wood production, agriculture and animal husbandry in the villages enclosed within the domain), he analyzes the evolution of hunting practices and grounds management as a play in which humans and animals are given equally important roles.

In his conclusion entitled “For an environmental history of France”, Quenet reframes the dual aim of his book: while it is a book on the history of Versailles—and as such, a book that cannot be ignored by any future study on Versailles—it is also a manifesto for environmental history. By choosing to study Versailles, a most unlikely object from the point of view of his discipline, Quenet claims that all human endeavours are within the purview of environmental history and, more generally, that general history cannot dispense with the latter.

His conceptual framework is inspired by the work of the French anthropologist Philippe Descola and philosopher Bruno Latour. He proposes to leap over the “great divide” between humans and animals and write a “symmetrical history” where humans and non-humans are considered equal actors. In such an approach, the role of the “designers” recedes behind that played by what Latour calls a “collective”, acting on hybrid (natural and cultural) entities. For a reader coming to the book from the perspective of garden history, the narrative appears at times somewhat contrived. However, it brings to the fore the importance of looking at the material conditions in which gardens are created and continue to exist. Garden history is indeed making that turn: Quenet’s approach can be compared to that proposed by two historians and a landscape architect in their book on the gardens of Chantilly (Briffaud, Damée, and Heaulmé, Chantilly au temps de Le Nôtre: Un paysage en projet [2013]). Without using the conceptual framework of Quenet, they look at the process of the making of the gardens. Their book could also be considered as an exercise in environmental history, without the name; their stated affiliation, however, is garden history. The combined reading of the two books opens up a wealth of new questions enriching the dialogue between the two fields.

Catherine Szanto

École Normale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette


Pázmány, a jezsuita érsek: Kinevezésének története, 1615–1616. Mikropolitikai tanulmány [Pázmány, the Jesuit prelate: His appointment as Primate of Hungary, 1615–1616. A micro-political study]. By Péter Tusor. (Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae. Classis I, 13) Budapest–Rome: MTA–PPKE Lendület Egyháztörténeti Kutatócsoport, 2016. 459 pp.


The aim of this monograph is to explore the historical background of Péter Pázmány’s (1570–1637) appointment as Primate of Hungary. Focusing on one of the most influential figures of Early Modern Hungarian Catholicism, this micro-political study is based on an exceptionally wide range of primary sources. One of its key features and unquestionable merits is its methodological awareness, reflected not only in the structure of the work but also in the narration and the critical analysis and interpretation of the relevant historical sources. This approach is consistently applied throughout the work. The monograph carefully investigates the motives for and circumstances of Pázmány’s appointment as Primate of Hungary. Its greatest addition to the existing scholarship is the in-depth examination and detailed exploration of Pázmány’s career, culminating in his appointment as Archbishop of Esztergom. Tusor’s work also brings into focus why the Hungarian Jesuit had no choice but to quit the Society of Jesus and temporarily join another religious order.

The monograph addresses a subject that has been of outstanding importance and has long been discussed in Hungarian historiography. Furthermore, it corresponds to a state-of-the-art trend in international historiography as well. Although a great deal has already been written on the pontificate of Pope Paul (Borghese) V (1605–21), with particular emphasis on the diplomacy and the decision-making processes of the Holy See, it was German historian Wolfgang Reinhard who first adopted a micro-political approach to the history of the papal diplomacy. Thus, Reinhard proved the forerunner of a new school of historiography, and Tusor’s monograph on Pázmány’s appointment complements it nicely.

In addition to micro-political studies, it has now become increasingly popular in international historical research to unearth and publish diplomatic instructions written to the papal nuncios, who represented the Holy See in various European courts. Publications by Klaus Jaitner and Silvano Giordano offer examples of this trend. Moreover, the relevant contemporary historical research has also tended examine seventeenth-century diplomatic relations, with a particular focus on relations between the Habsburg dynasty and the Holy See. (The latest volumes of the series Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland nebst ergänzenden Aktenstücken and the conference “Der Papst und der Krieg. Kuriale Diplomatie am Kaiserhof 1628–1635. Die jüngsten Publikationen der 4. Abteilung der Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland: Eine Bilanz (Il papa e la guerra Diplomazia curiale alla corte imperiale 1628–1635. Le pubblicazioni recenti della 4° sezione delle “Nuntiaturberichte aus Deutschland”: Un bilancio)” organized by the DHI in Rome in December 2016 can be referred to as examples.)

Although the monograph is primarily concerned with the historical background of the appointment of Hungarian Jesuit Péter Pázmány as Archbishop of Esztergom, the scope of the research on which it is based was not limited to this specific event. In fact, the work offers insights into various aspects of Pázmány’s appointment, and is intended for a diverse range of scholars who are curious about the history of the seventeenth century in general. For instance, in addition to tackling issues related to secular and canon law, Tusor also investigates the historical figures who masterminded diplomatic relations between the Habsburg Court and the Holy See in the aforementioned period. A precise review and critical analysis of the relevant primary and secondary sources enables him to present well-known historical facts and events from a new angle and to turn the spotlight on some lesser-known participants in seventeenth-century Habsburg and Vatican diplomacy, such as Cardinal Melchior Klesl, Chargé d’affaires Lodovico Ridolfi, Papal Nuncio Placido De Mara, etc.

With regards to the reasons for Pázmány’s appointment as Archbishop of Esztergom, Tusor has taken account of a wide range of political issues on the basis of seventeenth-century Habsburg and Vatican diplomatic sources. For example, he highlights the importance of the War of Gradisca between the Habsburg Empire and Venice (1615–17), an event that eventually resulted in the emergence of shared interests between the Habsburgs and the Vatican. While at first sight there appears to be no immediate connection between Pázmány’s appointment and this local conflict, the plans of Rome and Prague concerning the war indicate mutual interests that were deeper than either before or after the war. Pope Paul (Borghese) V almost launched a war against Venice in order to teach the Republic a lesson, and Habsburg diplomacy also made efforts to encourage the Papal State to enter into the struggle by providing either financial aid or direct military support. Politically, the Papacy focused increasingly on Italy in this period, and, for geopolitical reasons, the emperor was its most important partner in foreign affairs.

In his monograph, Tusor also sheds light on the relevance of the complications that surrounded the succession to the Habsburg throne, one of the most important issues of contemporary European power politics. As he points out, historical sources appear to confirm that Pázmány was deeply involved in the courtly power struggles induced by the issue of succession. Cardinal and Imperial Chief Minister Klesl was one of Pázmány’s strongest supporters, and he could reasonably suppose that, with Pázmány’s appointment, he would ensure the absolute loyalty of the new archbishop, one of the prominent leaders of Royal Hungary.

Although Pázmány’s appointment as Primate of Hungary was supported by all key elements, i.e. the prominent figures in Papal and Habsburg diplomacy and the Hungarian Catholic and secular elites, several challenges arose and had to be faced. Clearly, the problem was not simply that the additional fourth vow of obedience to the Pope, which all members of the Society of Jesus were supposed to pronounce, at that time included a prohibition against occupying the position of a prelate. Difficulties also emerged due to the fact that, as a Jesuit, if appointed Archbishop of Esztergom, Pázmány would come into possession of the most important benefice of the Catholic Church in Hungary and thus would violate Act No. 8 of 1608, passed by the Diet of Hungary, which prohibited Jesuits from owning or possessing any kind of landed property in Hungary. As a consequence, Pázmány’s appointment would have proved unlawful and void. In order to circumvent the aforementioned legal difficulties and become eligible to occupy the position of Prelate of Hungary, Pázmány had no alternative but to leave the Society of Jesus, and he temporarily joined the Order of the Somascan Fathers. Tusor shows that, contrary to the assumptions found in the early secondary literature, this step was made out of necessity, and not owing to the resistance of the Society of Jesus. Pázmány opted for the Somascan Fathers because he was supported by the Papal Nuncio to Prague, Placido de Mara, who had just established a Somascan college in the town of Melfi in southern Italy, where he had his episcopal See at the time. A religious order with a remote house under the supervision of the Nuncio could make Pázmány’s preparatory period as a novice officially lawful but practically symbolic. Eventually, Pázmány did not complete his novitiate, because he spent only half a year as a novice of the Somascan Order before being appointed Archbishop of Esztergom. His appointment, however, which occurred on 28 September 1616, can be regarded as completely lawful according to canon law.

Tusor’s research reinforces a central concept of micro-political research into the history of the Early Modern period, namely, that the main motive for political nominations was to ensure absolute loyalty. Therefore, the prevailing patron-client system, which served as one of the foundations of European societies, needs to be taken into consideration when interpreting political nominations. Tusor’s research suggests that Pázmány managed to occupy the position of Archbishop of Esztergom thanks at least in large part to the assistance of Imperial Chief Minister Klesl, who had a decisive influence on imperial decision-making at the time.

On the other hand, Tusor argues that Pázmány enjoyed the absolute confidence of the Pope as well, and this fact played an equally pivotal role in his appointment. There is evidence to suggest that the reason for the Pope’s favorable opinion of Pázmány was the strong impression that the Hungarian Jesuit made on him during an audience on 5 January 1615. On this occasion, Pázmány gave a precise description of the religious and political situation in the Kingdom of Hungary at the time and called the Pope’s attention to the importance of ensuring the succession to the Hungarian, Bohemian, and Holy Roman Imperial thrones. Tusor points out that, in the Roman Curia, Pázmány was regarded as a personality on whom Vatican diplomacy could rely to ensure a favorable outcome of the succession to the Habsburg throne, an issue that was referred to as “the most important issue for the entire Christianity” by Scipione Borghese, cardinal-nephew who controlled the papal Secretariat of State.

Another factor that needs to be taken into account is Pázmány’s unshakeable loyalty to the Habsburg dynasty, which he considered the only conceivable protector of both his faith and his country. In light of all this evidence, it is of particular historical importance that the newly appointed archbishop succeeded in convincing the Protestant majority of the Hungarian diet to elect a Catholic Archduke from Graz, Ferdinand II, as king of Hungary in 1618. Pázmány also managed to arrange the succession of the Habsburg dynasty to the Hungarian throne without coming into serious conflicts with his patron, Klesl, who had been pulling strings for him to facilitate his career advancement.

The monograph also revisits several topics that are more loosely related to its main focus. For example, Tusor provides an overview of the Hungarian Catholic noblemen who furthered Pázmány’s appointment as Archbishop of Esztergom, and he also sheds light on how Pázmány’s ambition to found a university in Hungary fulfilled the expectations of the contemporary Catholic intelligentsia. Importantly, Tusor reexamines Pázmány’s relationship with his predecessor, Archbishop Ferenc Forgách. Although historians had already taken notice of Pázmány’s decisive influence on his predecessor, it was Tusor who first managed to find sound evidence proving that Pázmány served as Forgách’s confessor. Namely, he revealed a source in which Ridolfi, the Imperial Chargé d’affaires to Rome, alludes to Pázmány’s important role as a confessor and policy-maker. In this position, Pázmány could indeed have exerted a considerable influence on his predecessor’s “governance and methods” (p.31).

In conclusion, with this monograph Tusor, who has distinguished himself for his broad-based and penetrating research on church history, has made an outstanding contribution to historiography on the Early Modern era in Hungary.

Tibor Martí

Hungarian Academy of Sciences


Habsburg post mortem: Betrachtungen zum Weiterleben der Habsburgermonarchie. By Carlo Moos. Vienna: Böhlau, 2016. 414 pp.


Carlo Moos’ book on the afterlife of the Habsburg monarchy makes for fascinating reading, and it is certainly a must read for all specialists and students of Habsburg history. It is impressive in its erudition and style, and for the broad scope of themes and problems involved. And yet, it is also disappointing for readers hoping for a systematic presentation, convincing conceptualization, or coherent interpretation of the Habsburg legacy. One is tempted to view it as a huge notebook reflecting many years of research by a scholar with a deep interest in “all things Habsburg,” from Mozart to Waldheim and from diplomatic to literary history. It may seem that Moos had planned to author a number of publications, and indeed he has gathered enough evidence to plan them ambitiously. Regrettably, no common method of analysis, conceptual attitude, or interpretative strategy has been applied to arrange all these fragments into one coherent book. The author seems well aware of this, and dutifully warns his readers of the “subjectivity” of his choices many a time, even though he apparently believes in some general (perhaps postmodern) consistency in his method.

The most original fragments of the book are several chapters in the first two parts (Die politische Schiene and Habsburg-Nostalgie als soziopolitisches und soziokulturelles Phänomen) concerning interwar Austria, and particularly its shaky first months. They are predominantly based on the author’s archival research in the Austrian State Archives (the Archiv der Republik and the Kriegsarchiv), and they cover issues such as the Austrian argumentation and strategy during the peace negotiations in 1919, the interwar social democracy and the legitimist-monarchist movement, the legal situation of the Habsburg family and their properties after 1918, and the transformations of the monarchy’s laws after its collapse. One caveat should be introduced here: Moos scarcely contrasts this information with other evidence or works of secondary literature, so we are left with a picture of the situation as it was seen by Austrian officials who produced the sources available in the Vienna archives. What I appreciate the most in the book is how it traces the evolution of attitudes of a number of lawyers, bureaucrats, and politicians who started their careers under the Habsburgs and adapted to the new situation after 1918 (and 1934 or 1938).

In the second and third parts of the book (Varianten eines Kultur-Wegs), Moos frequently jumps to present-day representations of the Habsburg legacy, such as monuments, the tourist industry, cultural festivals, opera performances, and a number of museum exhibitions regarding Austrian culture around 1900. He also combines fragments concerning the situation of the Viennese working classes in the early twentieth century with fragments concerning the Habsburg legacy in literature and music. Apparently, the idea that brings all these fragments together is their relationship to the modern Austrian political identity, seen as a concept that combines the Habsburg, socialist, fascist, and post-World War II layers of political and cultural history.

Since I feel incapable of commenting on all the various problems Moos addresses in the book (or of identifying a coherent line of reasoning that connects them) and the occasionally controversial interpretations he offers, I limit my remarks to three critical or perhaps polemical observations. First, while reading the book I occasionally had the impression that Moos believes that some fundamental problems of the Habsburg legacy in the fields of political, cultural, and economic history he addresses have already been sufficiently researched (he does not specify where or by whom), and as he did not want to bore his readers with well-established interpretations, he went directly to the more detailed problems, which he found interesting. This attitude would work well if we indeed agreed that such an uncontroversial, commonly accepted interpretation (or “master-narrative”) actually existed, but I find this questionable. However, Moos’ narrative meets this standard only in the fragments based on his archival findings and the fragments concerning present-day historical memory in Austria. His choices and interpretations regarding the Habsburg legacy in literature and music are “classic” (Roth, Musil, Kafka, Schönberg).

Second, and perhaps more importantly, I was disappointed by Moos’ striking ignorance of the non-German context of the Habsburg legacy. Among his 1620 bibliographical entries, five per cent at most refer to non-German texts, the majority of them by Italian authors (Moos is a specialist in modern Italian history). To be sure, the reason for this is not linguistic: there are hundreds of publications on all corners of the Habsburg monarchy currently available in English and French, and yet Moos decided to ignore almost all of them. With the exception of his ventures into Italy and his native Switzerland, his few excursions into some non-German lands of the monarchy (perhaps slightly more than five per cent of the book) are disappointingly superficial. All he has to say about the Habsburg legacy in Hungary, for example, is a sketchy narrative of King Charles’ failed attempt to regain his royal prerogatives in 1921, a concise biography of Miklós Horthy, and some comments on Hungary’s current prime minister Viktor Orbán’s nationalist policies (he provides us with a much more detailed description of his trip to Charles’ grave in Madera). One cannot avoid having the impression that Moos does not much care for the non-German lands of the monarchy, considering them merely as a footnote in Habsburg history. Certainly, every author is entitled to be biased and selective in his or her own way. However, in this case one is tempted, sadly, to conclude that Moos is himself a perfect product of the Viennese legacy he analyzes and criticizes: the one that viewed Hamburg, Berlin, and Zurich as important points of reference in Habsburg history, included a ritual complaint against the Hungarians, and completely ignored all other non-German lands of the monarchy—and the one, to be sure, that contributed the most to the Habsburgs’ downfall.

Third, and finally, the more Moos repeats that his approach is “far from any Habsburg nostalgia,” the more the reader begins to doubt him. It is evident from his numerous counterfactual speculations (such as “what if” Austria-Hungary had not declared war on Serbia in 1914, or if Rudolf or Franz Ferdinand had ascended to the throne) that he believes that “it would have been better if Austria-Hungary had not broken up,” which in my opinion qualifies as the most characteristic symptom of Habsburg nostalgia (and I cannot see a reason to be ashamed of it). Apparently, the reasons for Moos’ nostalgia and his reluctance to admit it are ideological. He poses as a devoted liberal democrat who cannot forgive the Habsburgs their inclinations for autocracy and, more importantly, their awkward fall, which he rightly views as the precondition for Hitler’s (and other vehement nationalists’ and dictators’) rise to power. Moos seems to be aware that blaming the Habsburgs for their enemies’ successes is a post hoc ergo propter hoc mistake. And yet he cannot fully refrain from viewing virtually all of these successes as consequences of the Habsburgs’ downfall, culminating in the hysterical enthusiasm for the Anschluss, which Moos regards as the actual end of the Habsburgs (quite a controversial interpretation from the non-Austrian point of view). All things being equal, this attitude makes him a subconscious successor to the early twentieth-century liberals that Ernst Gellner characterized in his Wittgenstein, Malinowski, and the Habsburg Dilemma: the liberal who does not have to look up to the Habsburgs as their only ally against the aggressive “village green” admirers any longer, but who still remembers that the monarchy at least attempted to play this role at one time, and therefore prefers it over any of its successor states.

Adam Kożuchowski

Polish Academy of Sciences


Zensus und Ethnizität: Zur Herstellung von Wissen über soziale Wirklichkeiten im Habsburgerreich zwischen 1848 und 1910. By Wolfgang Göderle. Göttingen: Wallstein, 2016. 331 pp.


The mutual construction of censuses and ethnicity/nationality/nation in the nineteenth century has intrigued historians for long (Labbé, “Die Grenzen der deutschen Nation im Raum der Karte, der statistischen Tabelle und der Erzählung” [2007]; Silvana Patriarca, “Patriotic Statistics” [1996]). The mutual construction of censuses and empire has been a similarly intriguing subject matter that, in contrast, has hardly been fully explored. Numerous studies on the British Empire have examined, in a Foucauldian fashion, how statistics became an instrument of power in the mid-nineteenth century. Its strength came from its efficiency as a scientific and administrative tool, which was able to generate new social realities. Censuses erased old social inequalities and produced new ones, and constitute therefore a good case in point. This was particularly visible in the colonial empires, where they became a double-edged sword. Anti-colonial nationalists in India turned population statistics into a weapon against foreign rule (Cohn, “The Census, Social Structure and Objectification in South Asia” [1987]).

This is but an intimation of an impressive field of studies (most of them monographs dealing with fifty to one hundred years of the history of statistics and their uses) that changed the old triumphalist narratives about scientific progress into stories about statistics as instruments of domination and political struggle. These new statistical histories focused on France, Britain, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany. Countries farther to the east, including the Habsburg Monarchy, have been absent from this panorama, despite a number of truly innovative studies on certain periods and administrative areas of statistics and land measurement. National compartmentalization of historical research may be one of the reasons for the lack of more unified perspectives that address the Monarchy as a composite polity.

This brief digression is necessary to show what a laudable enterprise the monograph written by Wolfgang Göderle on roughly sixty years of census history in the Habsburg Lands (from 1848 until 1910) is. His book promises to bridge the manifold fractures of Habsburg historiography. It addresses the contingencies of statistical professionalization with an analysis of the composite and multinational Habsburg polity. The narrative relies both on published sources as well as newer research, and the reconstruction of the sophisticated statistical process is in itself impressive. The methods combine ANT (actor-network-theory) with concepts of New Imperial History. As the focus of the book is defined by the conceptual triangle “empire” (the Habsburg Monarchy)—“census”—“ethnicity,” it is crucial to understand these three concepts in order to understand the book itself.

It has become a commonplace in the more recent statistical research that each state was statistical in its own way. But what kind of state was the Habsburg conglomerate? This is the subject of the first, introductory chapter. The concept of the nation-state is insufficient for a narrative of the history of nineteenth century Europe in general or an analysis of the dynamics of the multinational Habsburg state in particular. Göderle shares the emerging standpoint of recent historical writing that characterizes the Habsburg Monarchy as an empire (Bartov and Weitz, ed., Shatterzone of Empires: Coexistence and Violence in the German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Borderlands [2013]; Komlosy, “The Habsburg Monarchy (1804-1918): Imperial Cohesion, Nation-Building and Regional Integration” [2014]; Rieber, The Struggle for the Eurasian Borderlands: The Rise of Early Modern Empires to the End of the First World War [2014]; Buklijas and Lafferton, “Science, Medicine and Nationalism in the Habsburg Empire from the 1840s to 1918” [2007]). The common denominator of recent conceptualizations of empire has been territorial and social heterogeneity (Burbank and Cooper, Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference [2010]). Göderle also anchors the notion of Habsburg “statehood” to territorial and social “diversity.” Accordingly, the key function of census taking was the instrumentalization of representations of heterogeneity by a self-imposing central administration (pp.14, 17–20, 21–23).

One might find this a weak definition. Heterogeneity is namely also the core feature of the Early Modern Habsburg composite state (Elliott, “A Europe of Composite Monarchies” [1992]). To what extent and where and when the Monarchy assumed imperial qualities in contradistinction to the Early Modern composite state is yet to be clarified. Göderle is aware of the historical contingencies of Habsburg statehood, but he avoids further conceptual discussions. He correctly refers to the Austro-Hungarian Compromise as failure of the central power by 1867, yet he names the resulting formation a “parliamentary empire” (p.211), the Cisleithanian and Transleithanian halves of which pursued different approaches to manage their internal heterogeneity.

Three subsequent chapters unfold as a dense and erudite discussion of the history of Cisleithanian statistics as one of incomplete professionalization. The actor-network theory is used as a new frame for the interpretation of this history. The analysis posits the census as a chain of transformation, engaged both with scientific professionalization and the need to meet the demands of an increasingly sophisticated administrative network. The study reconstructs the history of statistical practice as a contingency-ridden scientific process. It rightly identifies late nineteenth century statistics as a mixed bag, determined by the conflicting demands of scientific objectivity and social control, the latter manifest above all in the production of ethnic categories.

Chapter two shows the circulation of information between and beyond the administrative spaces with a chronological focus on the first half of the ‘long’ nineteenth century. Statistical signification is seen as a chain of reversible “translations” of “things” (people counted and categorized by the census) into words (numbers and statistical categories and the material-institutional environment in which these implements are crafted and used). The focus is on the Central Statistical Office in Vienna and its staff. The chapter reconstructs the “statistical technology” of “reduction” (of the individual traits of the inhabitants) and “amplification” (the arrangement of the population into homogeneous categories) through which the public administration and the military attempted to describe and prescribe the local social space and constituencies since Joseph II. Göderle convincingly argues that census taking was a learning process with many setbacks both for the bureaucrats and the ordinary citizens, and it was a process in which the meaning of the statistical categories had to be negotiated, whether in the case of land measurements, census taking, or affixing numbers to houses.

Chapter three carries the analysis into the late nineteenth century, and here the narrative changes into one about institutionalization and the professionalization of population statistics. While the early version of statistics was anchored in a cameralistic vision of society, late-nineteenth statistics pursued scientific objectivity as its primary goal. Whereas the generation of Karl von Czoernig and even Adolf Ficker were indebted to an encyclopedic vision of the state, the subsequent generation of Theodor Inama von Sternegg placed statistical practice on mathematical footing and urged a mechanistic epistemology of the social world. The International Statistical Congresses at the mid-century played no minor role in the standardization of statistics and their institutionalization as a science that operated with huge data banks. Math was also lucrative: computation enabled the use of machines, which helped economize staff costs.

The fourth and last chapter deals with ethnicity, which established itself as a resilient statistical category on both shores of the Leitha. Its meaning was transformed, but neither fully captured nor destroyed by methods of scientific objectivity. Göderle explains the persisting “ethnic knowledge” of the system by referring to its capacity to reproduce social difference. The chapter tracks the changing meaning of ethnicity since Czoernig’s ethnographic map of the empire from 1857 until the census of 1910. An entire subchapter is dedicated to each decennial census, and it constitutes another wonderful reference work and even teaching material for all historians of Austro-Hungarian statistics. Ethnicity is understood as a synonym for nationality, the meaning of which had acquired racial and increasingly racist dimensions by the 1880s. The Gipsy Conscription in Cisleithania and Transleithania are offered as examples. They demonstrate a shared practice on both sides of the Leitha River to reproduce social difference and therefore hierarchies within the multiethnic population.

To what extent can the findings of the analysis of Roma conscription be generalized? Was nationality statistics only a means of domination or also a means of empowerment for the nationalist movements across the lands of the Monarchy? The closing section could have linked the analysis to the initial discussion about the imperial quality of the Habsburg Monarchy, but it does not. It discusses instead solely the definition of ethnicity as an entity possessing an autonomous dynamics of signification, a Latourian “actant.” It reinforces a lingering impression while reading the book, namely that the parts about ANT theory and the analysis about imperial “domination” (and possible resistance to it) do not really connect. Without a substantive discussion of collective identification via censuses in the Habsburg Monarchy, the conclusion comes as an unsatisfying and abrupt ending. But the book nonetheless remains a valuable contribution to the emerging debates on “science” and “empire” in the Habsburg colossus.

Borbála Zsuzsanna Török

University of Konstanz


Gewalt und Koexistenz: Muslime und Christen im spätosmanischen Kosovo (1870–1913). By Eva Anne Frantz. Munich: De Gruyter Oldenbourg, 2016. 430 pp.


Since the turn of the nineteenth century an emergent genre of scholarly and popular literature directed a growing readership to Southeastern Europe and its tantalizing episodes of violence. While variations on this storyline have complicated the ways in which such examples of violence have been explained, for the most part the literature is dominated by the tensions between distinct religious communities. Fortunately, there has been a steady stream of useful works of scholarship that have at least tried to temper the determinism associated with this popular notion of the Balkans as a region perpetually on the edge of violent conflict. For the most part, scholars with greater sensitivity to the Ottoman Empire’s more dynamic social and cultural context have provided the challenge to conventional wisdom.

Drawing on her important 2014 dissertation (University of Vienna), Eva Anne Frantz adds to this nuanced reading of the Balkans. Identifying an approach to interpretations of the sometimes bloody exchanges in the region in more complicated ways, she suggests that episodes of violence between seemingly neatly delineated religious groups paradoxically offer the best chance to challenge conventional wisdom. Indeed, the descriptions of clashes by Austro-Hungarian and a few Italian and British travelers become especially valuable sources for the study of Kosovo in 1870–1913. As aptly explained in the latter part of the book, Kosovo is a region that has undergone rapid demographic, geo-strategic, and economic change. While Frantz neglects the economic side of the changes in the region in her book (which is virtually identical to her dissertation), she is to be commended for her judicious survey of the literature up to 2012 and her use of extensive archival work in Vienna to offer a more guarded understanding of what is happening in the region.

Ultimately, with considerable space dedicated to the generic survey of the region’s varied geographical and cultural diversity, the reader, and in particular a newcomer to the study of the Balkans in the period, would do well to explore the first three-fourths of the book. In this respect, Frantz offers an accessible text for novices curious to learn more about the rich heritage of the region as a case study of the ways in which categories used to distinguish seemingly different groups of peoples are less reliable than is often suggested or implied. Indeed, large sections drawing on the path-breaking scholarship of Maurus Reinkowski and Nathalie Clayer, in particular, help Frantz emphasize the pitfalls of blanket assertions concerning the parameters of these rival ethnic and religious groups.

The particularly rich examples found among the Albanian-speaking populations of the Ottoman province of Kosovo constitute the primary focus of the book. The ample use of illustrations drawn from various Austrian archives and collections adds a reassuring sophistication to the inquiry, which readers of various levels of expertise will find appealing. More crucial are the heavy doses of extended quotes from mostly Austrian archival sources. These first-hand accounts of events in the region allow the reader to follow Frantz’s interpretation of the deeper complexities of the violence within ethno-linguistic groups and adopt more contingent conclusions concerning the instrumentalist views of violence presented here. However, because it relies almost exclusively on testimonials of Habsburg officials, the professional historian might well object that this otherwise well-crafted work suffers from a lack of an Ottoman perspective and any explicit engagement with the large body of scholarship on the productive characteristics of violence.

For this, Frantz is largely left to do the heavy-lifting herself in making a nuanced challenge to the still dominant references to violence observed by her sources. I would give the overall results a cautious and qualified “thumbs up,” but with the caveat that more needs to be done. The book is a keen, intelligent, and intuitive first start that can go much further theoretically to bring the amply documented case of late Ottoman Kosovo into a larger discussion on the productive roles of violence. For instance, the work of Veena Das on violence and human subjectivity begs for integration into the insights drawn by Frantz. As it reads now, it is a somewhat shallow engagement with this theorizing of violence (and the larger problems with ethno-nationalist and sectarian categories). The result is a book with limited appeal to those interested specifically in the history of the Balkans at the time.

Like all dissertations produced in Europe’s oldest programs, Frantz’s inquiry contains the required, but perhaps unadventurous, survey of mainstream literature on ethno-nationalism and identity politics. This time-consuming (for the reader) exercise could easily have been excised altogether to accommodate a bolder assertion in the book that violence is itself constitutive of more ambiguous social alliances. As Frantz discovers, the occasionally competing groups which emerged as primary agents of historic change in the region (by way of violent exchanges with others) were shaped by local inter-religious group interactions. This insight crucially upsets the ways in which scholars in the past normalized what we have come to understand as “Albanians.” Here the value of Frantz’s contribution deserves a wider audience with perhaps a translation of the core parts of the book into English to ensure a broader readership. The most interesting and innovative sections, alas, are delegated to the last two chapters, as the rest of the book is dominated by a more generic survey of the scholarship. Regrettably, the first four chapters distract the reader from the real interpretive gems this work offers in the last quarter of the book.

In similar fashion, the book offers no opportunity to engage Ottoman studies more usefully. Much can be drawn from Frantz’s cases, but they could have been more directly inserted into a larger discussion on Ottoman affairs as studied by a growing list of sophisticated young scholars. Here, the administration of Kosovo is almost read in isolation from the larger Ottoman dynamics, which unfortunately reinforces a geographic divide in how scholars still train students to read the transnational contours of Ottoman experiences. Moreover, this violence in Kosovo resonates in important ways throughout the larger Eastern Mediterranean world, and some discussion of this could have reinforced the larger points made in the last quarter of the text.

Isa Blumi

Stockholm University


Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions. By Ali Yaycioglu. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. 364 pp.


“Backed by a few reformist bureaucrats, a petty ayan in the small Balkan city of Hazergard launched a coup, deposed the sultan and enthroned a new one, in short order becoming grand vizier with extraordinary powers” (p.189). This story is about a provincial notable (ayan), Mustafa Bayraktar, in the early 1800s Ottoman Empire. He then orchestrated an agreement, known as Deed of Alliance, with the new sultan in September 1808. How this could have happened and what it means in world history are the central problems of Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions, the new book by Ali Yaycioglu, professor of Ottoman history at Stanford University.

Yaycioglu inserts the extraordinary chain of events of 1807–1808 and the Nizam-i Cedid (“New Order”) reforms that preceded them into two large historical frameworks: the regional context of the transformation of the Ottoman provincial power structure in the eighteenth century and the global context, encompassing the American War of Independence, the French Revolution, and Napoleonic Europe.

The great conceptual challenge of this grand analysis and deep microhistory is the idea of popular sovereignty. Can we detect the rise of (a type of) popular sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire in the late 1700s? Whose representative is Bayraktar, a notable? This is a question that has occupied professional Turkish and non-Turkish historians of the Ottoman Empire since at least the 1950s, as Yaycioglu underlines (p.234).

In order to answer this question, Yaycioglu returns to the classic theme of provincial notables in the Ottoman Empire of the late eighteenth century. Joining—and also challenging—revisions of Ottoman political history, such as those by Ariel Salzmann, Baki Tezcan, Frederick Anscombe, and Karen Barkey, Yaycioglu argues that defeats and weak central structure transformed “the vertical empire […] to a horizontal and participatory one” (p.2), and that the reform that was enforced by the sultan resulted first in a counter-revolt and then in a “constitutional synthesis” of provincial notables (p.4)—the Deed of Alliance, signed in September 1808 in Istanbul by the new sultan, Mahmud II, and the notables. Here, three alternative modes of reform come together: what Yaycioglu calls the “order of the empire” (top-down reform), the “order of the notables” (partnership), and the “order of communities” (participation of the public). He notes the “oligarchic character” of the Deed and argues that it carried a new conception of the state as a “collective enterprise” of provincial notables and the dynasty (pp.234–36). Thus, “the partners of empire” are the notables, and this book is, in essence, an analysis of the conditions that produced this partnership.

The first conventional point Yaycioglu challenges is the interpretation of the janissaries. Borrowing the idea of Cemal Kafadar, who suggests looking at janissaries as having become a social movement or at least a social-urban network by the seventeenth century, Yaycioglu considers them as claiming representation on behalf of the larger population in the early 1800s (p.162) (French revolutionaries, who sided with the janissaries, certainly looked on them in this way [p.56]). This assumption transforms the image of the janissaries as “reactionary forces” into a complex social phenomenon that was well integrated into urban society. In Chapter 1, Yaycioglu shows that Sultan Selim III’s reforms (the New Order) excluded the janissaries from the new imperial vision by establishing new, reformed army units—which were “only” army units (p.41), as opposed to the urban/civilian networks of the janissaries.

For someone like the author of this review, who is specialized in the history of the later decades of the nineteenth century, Chapter 2 brings important historical material and arguments. Continuing a historiographical tradition of researching provincial notable families (for Arabists, Albert Hourani first announced their importance in the 1960s), Yaycioglu highlights them as “natural leaders” of local communities turned state-appointed “managers.” The argument, based on extensive archival evidence, is that there was a “localization,” a “monetization,” and a general “vernacularization” of imperial governance in the provinces in the late eighteenth century (pp.79 and 89). This is a closer look on what Karen Barkey theorized as an ayan “protomodernity” highlighting the transformation in Ottoman property relations. An informal system emerged parallel to the formal imperial structure, and it empowered local strongmen to negotiate with the center (Yaycioglu uses the idea of “bidding”) and thus to see the empire as “an enterprise,” but—and this is a serious but—this system was never institutionalized (pp.113–4).

Although Yaycioglu promises in Chapter 3 to show that “communities are active participants” in politics (p.117), in fact, this part of the book unearths the relationship between local communities and their notables. Despite great insights (for example, that the kadi court was a space and institution in which “the community speaks to the empire” [p.115]), this chapter is a continuation of the notable theme. Yaycioglu shows that in the 1770s, “ayanship” became an office (thus the original Arabic plural a‘yan [notables] in the Ottoman administrative language became a noun in the singular, such as in the phrase “Ismail, the ayan of Ruse”), and this state office was on and off in the 1780s–1790s (p.127, pp.135–38). This part of the book is the weakest point of the otherwise elegantly constructed general argument. The author uses the local “election” of the ayan as evidence of collective participation in politics in the late eighteenth century. This would mean that communities participated in imperial politics through the ayan. The author thus almost entirely identifies politics with the person of the ayan. Second, the political idea conveyed by the English terms “election” and “elected persons,” used by Yaycioglu throughout, does not adequately describe the Ottoman ihtiyar eyledikleri (p.135), which is perhaps closer to the original Arabic meaning of “the chosen/preferred ones” from the verb, “being chosen.” The question of representation certainly opens many avenues for further research.

The last two chapters are eminent microhistographical reconstructions of the events of 1807–1808 and a magnificent analysis of the Deed of Alliance, with attention duly paid to perception of the Deed in later historiography in Turkey and outside it. Here, the great insight is the causal explanation of change: first, a coalition of janissaries and notables against the New Order (May–June 1807); then a new coalition of notables with New Order partisans (fall 1807–summer 1808); and, finally, the janissaries and urban Istanbulite’s counter-reaction (November 1808), possibly sanctified by the new sultan’s tacit agreement. There are two less exposed actors in the background: “the urban crowd”—the people of Istanbul, who appear mostly in their association with the janissaries—and the Russians, who try to realize their interests in both Wallachia/Moldavia and in the imperial capital itself. This complex crisis culminates in late September 1808, when some groups of notables and their top figure, Mustafa Bayraktar, convene to sign the Deed of Alliance with the young Mahmud II. However, the Deed, which secures the “partnership” of notables, does not protect Bayraktar, who soon dies during the violent revolt by the janissaries and the urban population in November 1808 (pp.198–199).

In its use of archival sources and its conceptual framework, Partners of the Empire embodies superb scholarship. It speaks to fundamental questions—popular sovereignty and the commensurability of European political developments. The emphasis on the Ottoman figure—the provincial ayan—and his imagined “partnership” in the empire is a significant contribution to our knowledge. At last, we now have a detailed exploration of their world.

Still, there are limitations. Although Yaycioglu does his best occasionally to point to Damascus, Mosul, and Cairo, his story is a story of Ottoman notables in Anatolia and what is today Bulgaria/Romania/Greece, the provinces that were close to the imperial capital. There are statements to be questioned, for instance, the claim that Mehmed Ali Pasha in the Egyptian province was ethnically Albanian, even though there is no evidence for this widespread myth; and in general, we are offered no explanation as to why the 1807–1808 events in Istanbul were largely effects of the provincial situation in the European parts of the empire. Perhaps the Russian connection is more important than we thought. The emphasis on differing regional trajectories is somewhat missing.

Finally, as any good book does, Partners of the Empire leaves the reader with additional questions. Does the notable “partnership” truly reflect un-institutionalized popular sovereignty? Does this conceptual framework, somewhat echoing new British imperial studies (empire as corporation), adequately describe the case of the Ottomans in the Napoleonic age? From a longue durée perspective, what other ways would be available to reframe this age in a non-Western conceptual vocabulary?

Adam Mestyan

Duke University


The Making of the Greek Genocide: Contested Memories of the Ottoman Greek Catastrophe. By Erik Sjöberg. (War and Genocide 23.) New York: Berghahn Books, 2016. 266 pp.


The scholarship on the massacre of the Ottoman Armenians in World War I has born witness to rapid developments in the past decade. Historians have examined the causes, courses, and consequences of the genocide, including important facets, such as details of Young Turk wartime demographic policy, Armenian experiences of victimization and resilience, and international responses to the genocide. This new scholarship has also challenged the conventional understanding of the genocide as a binary Turkish-Armenian issue. Non-Turkish perpetrators such as Kurds and non-Armenian victims such as Assyrians, Yezidis, and Greeks have also been taken into consideration in this new trend. Detailed examinations (David Gaunt, ed., Massacres, resistance, protectors [2006]; Tessa Hofmann, ed., The genocide of the Ottoman Greeks [2011] have sketched, with vivid empirical evidence, a more complex picture of Christian victimization in the Ottoman Empire. In some provinces, all Christians were targeted from the outset; in other provinces, only Armenians were; again in others, a mosaic of persecution continuously shifted throughout the World War I. The arguments might be reconcilable: yes, the Armenians were singled out across the vast country for complete annihilation, and yes, although not necessarily planned by Istanbul, the mass murder of Syriacs and Greeks quantitatively and qualitatively may well have reached genocidal proportions. In short, the 1915 genocide, like most genocides, was a multi-layered process of destruction with a broad range of victims.

Erik Sjöberg has written a dense, varied, and admirable book on the memories of the Greek genocide in the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The Making of the Greek Genocide examines how the idea of the “Greek genocide” emerged as a contested cultural trauma with nationalist and cosmopolitan dimensions. The book asks how and why the concept of an Ottoman-Greek genocide began, developed, and polarized discourses inside the Greek-American community and Greece. Six very diverse chapters address a set of issues, all of which revolve around the production of knowledge and memory of the destruction and disappearance of Greek-Orthodox Ottomans during World War I. Chapter 2, for example, discusses the transition from authoritarianism to political pluralism in Greece, and its impact on the contestation of nationalist narratives. It argues that in the 1980s, the Pontian Greeks lobbied for recognition of their wartime fate as a “right to memory,” in an attempt to establish the community as genocide victims. This set the tone for further discussions on the victimization of Greek Orthodox Ottomans during World War I.

Chapter 3 moves forward to the 1990s and examines how the genocide debate became a bone of contention between the Greek left and the Greek right, due to the two camps’ differing interpretations of the Asia Minor catastrophe: the left saw it as a consequence of the brutal Greek occupation of Anatolia, while the right traced the Turkish genocidal intent to the pre-war period. Sjöberg demonstrates how Greek socialists and nationalists vigorously debated the historicity of the events, as well as interpretations of the events, and arrived at diametrically opposed conclusions. Chapter 4 provides more context for Greek discourses on genocide by discussing how Greek activists saw other genocides, such as the Armenian genocide and the Holocaust, as a template, a comparison, and a foil for formulations of their own claims of genocide. Both of these other genocides are relevant for the Greek historical experience: the Armenian genocide as a contemporaneous historical context for the Greek genocide and the Holocaust as a genocide which Greek populations witnessed, as their Jewish neighbors were deported to be gassed in Auschwitz-Birkenau. On the one hand, Greek nationalists saw Holocaust memory as an imposition that distracted from their own history; on the other hand, other activists saw these cases as an opportunity to articulate more inclusive, cosmopolitan concerns.

The last two chapters are the most global in terms of their relevance. Chapter 5 explores how Greek Americans adopted the genocide narrative and shaped it according to diaspora concerns of ethnicity, cultural assimilation, and communal competition. The chapter focuses on Thea Halo’s famous novel Not Without My Name, which deals with issues of memory, narrative, and identity as it pertains to the fate of Halo’s Assyrian and Greek family during the genocide. The book was influential in bolstering a diasporic social movement that aimed to have the Greek genocide recognized in the American public domain, as the Armenian and Jewish catastrophes had been recognized. Orientation and validation of ethnic identity in diaspora played a role in this process, as did “trauma envy” or “victim competition.” Despite these efforts, the Greek genocide remains a controversial issue in American public discourse. The final chapter centers on international academic recognition and the efforts by activist academics to have the victimization of Greeks and Assyrians appended to and amalgamated with the Armenian genocide in conferences, publications, curricula, and public debates. Sjöberg discusses, with precision and equanimity, how some academic research in area studies (especially in the United States) has often functioned as an extension of diasporic power and influence. When the issue of recognition of the Greek genocide became the subject of exchanges among genocide scholars, the results of these exchanges were ambivalent: whereas some scholars forcefully argued for including the Greek experience as genocide, others were more cautious and called for more research, not more advocacy.

The Making of the Greek Genocide is a thoughtful, well-written, and original contribution to the scholarship on the politics of memory in the aftermath of mass violence. Sjöberg treats themes as wide-ranging as cultural trauma, diaspora politics, ideology, national identity, etc. His breadth of reading and use of Greek-language sources and critical treatment of the different positions in the (often polarized) debates add significantly to the quality of the book. From time to time, the book dwells on topics that could have been discussed in half the space that it takes, but this is a minor quibble. One can only hope that future publications on the Ottoman Greek catastrophe take Sjöberg’s arguments seriously.

Uğur Ümit Üngör

Utrecht University


Keletre, magyar! A magyar turanizmus története [To the East, Hungarian! A history of Turanism in Hungary]. By Balázs Ablonczy. Budapest: Jaffa, 2016. 296 pp.


Balázs Ablonczy’s Keletre, magyar! provides a timely and intriguing overview of the idea of the East in Hungarian culture, with a clear focus on Turanism as a specific form of reflection and public sensibility. Turan, a key concept in the Hungarian Orientalist vocabulary and a central notion in the book under review, refers in the first instance to the Central Asian steppe north of Iran. Beyond the purely geographical meaning, the word has acquired linguistic and wider cultural and political meanings, and it has been often used to refer to pre-historic times. As Ablonczy rightly emphasizes, Hungarian Turanism has been similarly multifaceted. In his introduction, Ablonczy enumerates ten distinct ways in which the expression has been employed in Hungarian culture (pp.15–16).

Keletre, magyar! provides engaging sketches of key Turanist personalities, their ideas, and oeuvres. Moreover, it covers their joint agendas, forms of cooperation, levels of official support, and broader societal impact. Ablonczy displays strong interest in the major associations that shaped the history of Hungarian Turanism, but he also explores several influential individuals who were active outside these institutions. While he agrees that the key to greater liberty and prosperity in modern Hungary was successful adoption of Western institutional forms, and Turanism has essentially been an ideology based on the rejection of these institutions, he argues that it would be judgmental and premature to view the latter merely as the nationalistic illusions of a failed imperialism. As the book argues, imperial notions may have played a role in Hungarian Orientalism, but the dominant form of this Orientalism had little to do with colonialism and much more to do with the idea of kinship. The dominant idea in modern Hungary has indeed been that the ancestral homeland of the Hungarians was somewhere in the East.

More generally, Ablonczy views the popularity of the Eastern idea in modern Hungary as a reaction to the tensions deriving from the Hungarians’ Eastern origins and Western role models and as an attempt to escape their widely acknowledged linguistic isolation. The questions concerning their linguistic and ethnic kinship have indeed both been heavily contested, and not infrequently, if misleadingly, conflated. The debates on kinship have tended to be dominated, as Ablonczy highlights, by ethnographic and linguistic arguments, and relatively few professional historians have actually gotten involved in them.

The book begins by recounting the prehistory and birth of the Turanian idea. Ablonczy shows how early “proto-Turanian” ideas displayed a marked sympathy for the Persians, which was increasingly replaced after 1848 by new affinities for the Turks, especially among advocates of Hungarian independence. Ablonczy concludes that Turanism emerged when various threads were woven together, including debates on the origins of the Hungarians and their language, the program of Hungarian expansion in Southeast Europe and the Middle East, the fashion for the Orient, the awakening of “Turanian” people, various scholarly developments (such as the emergence of Oriental Studies further West), and the discourse on originality, authenticity and ancientness (p.46). The book thus shows that there was clear political will behind Turanism, but also a scholarly framework inspired, perhaps above all, by the theories of the German philologist and orientalist Max Müller. Turanism had a brief moment of scholarly relevance in the early twentieth century.

A Turanian Association was founded in Budapest in 1910. Originally, the term referred to a more general interest in Asian things. The question of the kinship of the Hungarians became its exclusive concern only in the 1920s. The Association had three major groups among its members: leading public personalities, scholars and activists, and a few artists. This was also reflected in the program of the association, which was a combination of broadly imperial political and economic goals, strictly scholarly aims, and larger cultural agendas. The Association gained additional prestige when Austria-Hungary was allied to both the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria during World War I. It even acquired offices within the House of Parliament as it came under the mandate of the Ministry of Culture. The period between 1916 and 1918 constituted the peak of its activities, when, rather exceptionally in its history, Turanism belonged to the dominant stream of Hungarian nation building and contributed to the development of imperialistic visions. Characteristically, the first Hungarian cultural institute abroad was opened in Istanbul in 1916. Moreover, stipends were awarded primarily to Turkish students to pursue their education in Hungary at the time.

After the end of the Great War and the dismantling of the Kingdom of Hungary, Turanism was propagated by three parallel organizations with partly overlapping agendas, and it came to serve as an expression of anti-Western resentment. At the same time, as Ablonczy shows, the prestige of Turanism decreased under the regency of Horthy, and not simply because many of the scholars involved did not represent Oriental Studies. Turanists may have been successful in organizing public lectures, language courses, and scholarly expeditions, as well as in publishing journals, but they were much less successful in managing governmental plans, and they played a rather limited overall role in shaping internal and foreign policy; the international reorientation of Hungary towards Finland, Turkey, or Japan remained moderate, with Turanism by and large restricted to a rightist and extreme rightist slogan.

If the Turanist ideology might thus be considered a political failure in interwar Hungary, it nonetheless exerted an influence on notable achievements in culture and art, Ablonczy argues. While it may have produced no great literature, Turanism inspired the buildings of István Medgyaszay, the interior designs of Ede Toroczkai Vigand, and the sculptures of Ferenc Medgyessy, all of which managed to sublimate the Eastern origins of the Hungarians in an appealing manner. They ought to be considered lasting achievements, Ablonczy maintains, temporarily abandoning his scholarly tone. Moreover, the connections to Finnish and Estonian culture peaked in the inter-war period, when (contrary to the popular wisdom of today) the Finno-Ugric idea was still very much part of the Turanian package. As Ablonczy shows, radical Finno-Ugrists in fact played key roles in the leadership of the Association until 1944, and the journal Turán published over 1,500 articles on Finno-Ugric topics.

If this was a fair and balanced assessment, more critical but similarly precise is Ablonczy’s evaluation of Turanism in Hungary and its potential “Turanian” allies as profoundly asymmetrical. The desired strengthening of Hungarian links to Turkey and Finland, the two potentially most important partners, proved mutually incompatible. Furthermore, while Turanism was relatively widespread in Turkey, members of the second, more radical generation of Turkish Turanists were even less interested in Hungarians than the first. They rather followed a pan-Turkish path, focusing on Turks in Europe and Asia, and they often considered religious differences a divisive matter (this was a question of considerable importance, and the book would have done well to have devoted more attention to it). Thus, Hungarian Turanists were able to count on few international partners, and they tended to be perceived sharply negatively further West.

The book closes with intriguing though more impressionistic chapters on developments since 1945. As Ablonczy highlights, the large majority of Turanists were acquitted in 1945–46; their Turanist engagement was in fact hardly ever part of the accusations against them. After the major Turanist organization was disbanded in 1947, the state security apparatuses of communist Hungary, somewhat surprisingly, seem to have pursued no special investigation of Turanist networks. As Ablonczy shows, Turanian ideas may have been deprived of public support in the postwar decades, but they were reproduced not only in emigration but to some extent also within Hungary. The various paths and dilemmas of Turanists within Hungary during these decades are explored through biographical sketches of László Bendeky, Gábor Lükő, and István Mándoky, as well as the admittedly rather atypical example of Adorján Magyar.

Certain elements of Turanist thinking were thus preserved throughout the decades of communist rule, while others were further radicalized. As Ablonczy explains, as the Finno-Ugric theory was canonized via linguistic arguments, non-conformists started to denounce it from the position of political opposition and “national science.” Some of them, especially those in emigration, even began to propagate the supposed connection between the Hungarians and the Sumerians. Ablonczy argues that this is how the current opposition between Finno-Ugrists and the propagators of a “nationally conscious Eastern idea” emerged.

The dominant trend of Westernization after 1989 at first left Turanism marginalized, but its impact would visibly increase in the early twenty-first century. The radical rightist political party Jobbik and the “Eastern opening” of the Fidesz-led government after 2010 both played on Turanian notions. This may have seemed like a widespread cultural and political revival, however, in more recent years, the political tide has again turned against Turanism, Ablonczy concludes.

Keletre, magyar! represents a rare and somewhat unusual combination, of which Ablonczy has emerged as a leading proponent in his native Hungary. While the book is based on considerable original research and important novel findings, the genre Ablonczy employs is essentially that of popular scholarship.This combination is certainly not without pitfalls, however. He ultimately manages to provide a stylish, accessible, and well-documented account without merely reproducing well-canonized knowledge. While Balázs Ablonczy agrees that many forms of Turanism have been based on a sense of loss and frustration and have proposed radical and illusionary solutions, the laudable scholarly-public agenda of his book is to broaden the scope of Hungarian intellectual and cultural history and thereby incorporate long neglected phenomena in an empathic but far from uncritical manner.

Ferenc Laczó

Maastricht University


The First World War and German National Identity: The Dual Alliance at War. By Jan Vermeiren. (Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare 47.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2016. 458 pp.


The impact World War I had on the development of different nationalisms and nation-building processes has recently become an important topic in the international historiography. The new book by Jan Vermeiren fits well into this trend, as it discusses how the close wartime alliance between imperial Germany and the Habsburg Empire changed the concept(s) of German national identity between 1914 and 1918. It analyzes the published accounts and private papers of different Austrian and German political actors and intellectuals about German nationhood, and it shows how the ideas on which these actors and intellectuals touched in their writings influenced decision-making processes both in Berlin and Vienna.

Vermeiren’s volume is divided into eight major chapters. In the first part, he examines portrayals of Austria in the German national discourse between 1871 and 1914. He reinforces the conventional understanding of this period, and he argues that it was dominated by the Protestant state-centered concept, which saw imperial Germany as the continuation of the Prussian Kingdom. This mostly overwrote the regional antagonisms, and it paid limited attention to the ethnic Germans living outside the borders of the empire. The second chapter examines the effects of the outbreak of World War I on this traditional perception of German nationhood. It argues that immediately after the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, sympathy for the Habsburg Empire grew. After the hostilities had begun, the military alliance between the two powers was presented not only as a product of shared interests, but also as a culturally and historically rooted special friendship. Although this concept of “Niebelungstreue” contains many motives of the latter “Großdeutsch” ideology, it was almost always extended to non-German ethnic groups, mostly to the Hungarians. In these texts the Habsburg Empire was presented as a German-dominated, but multi-ethnic state, whose existence was necessary for Germany and the stability of Central and Eastern Europe.

In the next chapter, Vermeiren explores how perceptions of Austria-Hungary changed among the German elites during the war. He argues that in the beginning of the conflict the idea of the “Austrian Miracle” dominated the discourse in both empires. According to this narrative, the outbreak of conflict led to the “miraculous” and immediate reconciliation between the different nationalities of the Habsburg Empire. This positive picture was not really shared by most of the political and military leaders during the later phases of the war. They were often dismissive of the performances of the Habsburg soldiers (especially the Czechs) and concerned about the fragile construction of the empire.

The fourth chapter turns to how the wartime alliance led to a reinterpretation of German historical traditions concerning the Habsburg Empire. It focuses on the public commemorations on Bismarck’s 100th birthday (1915), the 50th anniversary of the Austro-Prussian war (1916), and the new image of the Holy Roman Empire among Catholic intellectuals. Vermeiren discusses, for example, the commemoration of 1866, and he examines the shift from the victory of Königgrätz to the peace treaty of Prague. The latter was presented in the propaganda as the opening act of fruitful cooperation between the two empires.

The book then examines the development of the famous Mitteleuropa debate, with a focus on the motives of different authors and their views on the ethnic Germans’ role in the planned post-war order. Vermeiren also analyzes the impact these ideas had on the reformulation of the German war aims. In the sixth chapter, he discusses the relationship of the German political elite to the Kingdom of Hungary. Vermeiren argues that Berlin considered the Magyars its most reliable non-German ally. Consequently, the German political leadership neglected the complaints of right-radical circles, and it never criticized Hungary’s assimilation policy against, among others, the ethnic Germans of the country.

In the next chapter, Vermeiren analyzes various concepts of the Polish nation state. He presents the factions and fault lines within the Austro-Hungarian and German elites concerning the visions of the future of Poland. Vermeiren clearly demonstrates how security concerns and ethnic aspects, together with foreign policy calculations, influenced the various authors and decision-makers. He examines how these factors overwrote national considerations and ultimately hindered the establishment of the Polish state until the end of World War I. Finally, Vermeiren considers the debates concerning the ethnic problems of the Habsburg Empire. He discusses the different solutions proposed by German and Austrian intellectuals about the radical reformation of the Habsburg Empire after the end of the war.

Jan Vermeiren’s book concludes with the observation that the concept of “Großdeutschland,” i.e. the unification of every ethnic Germans in one state, did not really prevail during World War I. He refutes the traditional right-wing claim (accepted by many post-1945 historians) that the common experience in World War I united the German people across the borders. He demonstrates clearly that, in 1914–1918, the Greater German fervor was almost always overwritten by practical political considerations. The stability of Austria-Hungary as an ally was more important to the Imperial military and political leadership than the interests of ethnic Germans in Central Europe. Also, the visions of liberal intellectuals, including the vision of a new Mitteleuropa, were more a challenge to Prussian state centrism than a program for the unification of all Germans in one state. The war undeniably raised awareness of the German minorities of Central Europe, however, the völkisch concept of nationhood became dominant, but not exclusive, only after the shock of military defeat. In this sense, Vermeiren argues, the idea of the Anschluss in 1918–1919 was more a product of “Realpolitik” in Berlin and Vienna than a consequence of a wartime ideological development.

Vermeiren’s book is a well-written and carefully argued study, based on several different types of sources, many of which have remained underexplored in the secondary literature. His conclusion concerning the impact of military defeat on German nationalism fits well into the recent trend in historiography, which locates the origins of interwar political developments in the immediate post-1918 turmoil. Vermeiren’s analysis is not restricted to an examination of different intellectual concepts. He also demonstrates clearly how the various wartime ideas influenced (or in fact did not influence) the decision-making processes in Berlin and Vienna. Although the volume’s main focus is the German Empire, it breaks with the narrow state-centric approach and examines the changing character of German nationalism in its broader Central European context. It examines the views of Austrian, Hungarian, and Slavic politicians and intellectuals, and it explores Germany’s relationship to the other ethnic groups of the region.

This broad perspective naturally poses some limitations. Unfortunately, Vermeiren does not discuss more extensively the views of the local German elites in the contested multi-ethnic regions like Tyrol or Transylvania, though such analyses could have shed light on the complex interactions between local narratives and the völkisch ideas, and they might also have helped explain the presumed radicalization of these regional elites after 1918. Furthermore, he sometimes relies on memoirs written in the interwar period (for instance, views on the Károlyi party discussed on p. 201). In such cases, Vermeiren would have done well to have paid more attention to the ways in which the military defeat and the subsequent revolutions influenced these retrospective narratives about the wartime alliance.

These minor problems notwithstanding, Vermeiren’s monograph constitutes an excellent contribution to the modern cultural and social history of World War I. His findings concerning the development of German nationalism add significantly to the scholarship on German history and the changing character of nationalisms in Central and Eastern Europe.

Tamás Révész

University of Vienna


Edvard Beneš: Un drame entre Hitler et Staline. By Antoinе Marès. Paris: Perrin, 2015. 502 pp.


Edvard Beneš (1884–1948) was undoubtedly a key player on the Czech and European political stage between the end of World War I and the outbreak of the Cold War. Beneš became Czechoslovakia’s foreign minister in 1918 and then president in 1935, and thus it is hardly surprising that his name is linked to crucial events in Central European politics, including the dissolution of Austria-Hungary, interwar diplomacy, the Munich conference of 1938, the expulsions after World War II, and the establishment of communist regimes in Central Europe. In 2015, the Paris-based publisher Perrin released the first academic biography of Edvard Beneš in French. The author, Antoine Marès, is professor at Paris 1 University (Sorbonne), and he is one of the most respected specialists on contemporary Czech and Central European history. The biography is the culmination of three decades of research on Beneš’ personality, life, and career.

The book is essentially a political biography that privileges the description and analysis of struggles for power, negotiations, networks, and political concepts. This approach is fitting, since Beneš’ life was dominated by politics. His World War II secretary Jaromír Smutný went so far as to describe his boss as a “machine for working and thinking, without human feelings” (p.420). In his narrative, Marès links Beneš’ professional activities and the international position of the Czechoslovak Republic. In his depiction, Beneš appears as the incarnation of Czechoslovak diplomacy and as a “seismograph” of the political upheavals in Europe. By emphasizing the larger political context, Marès seeks to pass historical judgment on Beneš’ masterpiece: the Czechoslovak Republic. Thus, Marès’ work is part of the ongoing debate over the nature of the Masaryk-Beneš “democratic” regime (pp.432–34).

The book is divided into three chronological parts. Part 1 (“History of an Ascent”) describes the early years of Beneš, including his exile during World War I (pp.21–118). Part 2 (“Architect of the Foreign Policy of Prague”) covers his 17-year-long tenure at the head of the Foreign Ministry (pp.121–227). Part 3 (“Times of trials”) covers Beneš’ presidential years between 1935 and 1948. This final part, which examines the most tragic years of Beneš’ life, makes up nearly half of the book (pp.231–412).

Although Beneš remained in the governmental sphere for nearly three decades, Marès builds his narrative on the concept of ruptures. He associates the most important moments of Beneš’ life with changes in social, political, and strategic contexts. Beneš, born to a middle-class family, suddenly found himself at the top of the social pyramid in 1918–19 thanks to the outcome of World War I. According to Marès, Beneš, who was initially a monarchist, became a republican during World War I and finished his political career as a promoter of the Soviet model. His vision for the architecture of the region evolved in parallel: after supporting ideas of Habsburg federalism at the beginning of the century, he then believed in the radical independence of Czechoslovakia in the interwar years, and, finally, he supported a strong orientation towards the Soviet Union in the 1940s. In this cocktail of constant transformations, Marès identifies two key phases: the “glorious” period before the Munich “trauma” (1938) and the subsequent “catastrophic” period (pp.413–15).

Beneš was and remains a controversial figure. He is both a symbol to be admired and the target of sharp criticism. Marès places himself in close relation to the works of the Prague-based “Society of Edvard Beneš,” which he describes as a “besieged fortress” which is “attached to the values of parliamentary democracy and nationalist convictions” (pp.428–29). Despite the declared authorial intention not to descend to hagiography (p.413), Marès offers grandiose characterizations of the second Czechoslovak president, describing him for instance as “the embodiment of the Czechoslovak democratic model” (p.433) and even “the cornerstone of Europe’s defense of democracy” (p.422).

Marès admits that Beneš himself believed his destiny was to act as the leader of the Czechoslovak Republic. The Czech politician, according to Marès, had a deep inner conviction in his own infallibility (p.277) and showed “extreme optimism” (p.253). This vision of himself as a Messiah of sorts pushed him to adopt controversial political methods. As Marès claims, during the presidential election campaign of 1935, for example, Beneš bribed some MPs in order to secure their votes (p.235). However, Marès concludes that Beneš was guided not by a thirst for power or money (pp.117, 243), but by “wider national interests” (p.184). At the same time, Marès suggests that these personal qualities contributed to the failures Beneš began to face beginning in 1938. According to Marès, Beneš misjudged the intentions of the leading geopolitical players in Central Europe, such as Berlin, Paris, and Moscow. Until 1938, he remained convinced that Nazi Germany was not interested in attaining the Sudetenland, but would rather attack Austria and Poland. He believed that Berlin would prefer to rule over the whole of Czechoslovakia or, if that proved impossible, to leave the Sudeten Germans inside the republic as an instrument of pressure from within (p.230, 250). Beneš also overestimated the French security guarantees for Czechoslovakia, formalized in the 1924 treaty (p.278). His third fatal mistake lay in his “naïve” expectation that Moscow, which became the military hegemon in Central Europe in 1944–1945, would refrain from interfering in the internal affairs of Czechoslovakia. This illusion may have been dispelled, according to Marès, after the Soviet takeover of Carpathian Rus (p.355).

Marès traces in detail the changes in Beneš’ views on national issues in Czechoslovakia. He is depicted as a supporter of the “czechoslovakist” ideology, which provided privileges for the Czechs and Slovaks, but marginalized the remaining third of the population of the country (p.158). According to Marès, Beneš favored the union of the Czech and Slovak lands mainly for geopolitical and demographic reasons. He was allegedly not averse to the idea of assimilating the Slovaks (p.265). Referring to the Sudeten Germans, who outnumbered the Slovaks in the Czechoslovak Republic, Beneš, according to Marès, ceased to recognize them as compatriots on the eve of the Munich conference. He secretly proposed to his Western associates to hand over around 2 million of them, together with some of their territories, to Germany (pp.280–83). Beneš’ determination to put an end to the Sudeten question grew during the war; however, until December 1943, Beneš adhered to the idea of combining human transfers with territorial transfers (p.344). As of 1944, Beneš sought international support only for the expulsion of the Germans and the Magyars (pp.350–51). When Czechoslovak sovereignty was restored, the deportations targeted close to 3 million Germans, and Marès characterizes them as a paradoxical triumph of Hitler’s ideas of ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless, Marès seems inclined to justify the postwar treatment of the Sudeten Germans as “the lesser evil,” which supposedly allowed the maintenance of “civil peace” in Czechoslovakia (pp.369–72).

Built on Czech and French archival sources, the book Edvard Beneš: A tragedy between Hitler and Stalin synthesizes Marès’ original findings and the conclusions of other Beneš biographers. Marès does not ignore Beneš’ critics, but he ends up producing a rather distorted, apologetic portrait. Also, the book dwells on the “heroic-tragic” episodes of Beneš’ life (his struggles in World War I and World War II), but does not cover his interwar activities in similar detail. Marès portrays a rather stereotypical image of Beneš’ undertakings as Foreign Minister in the 1920s and 1930s as the protagonist of the triad consisting of the Little Entente, France, and the League of Nations. Last but not least, the book contains a few small factual errors, typos, and some confusion in the references.

Despite these limitations, the book certainly deserves the attention of historians of international relations and of Central Europe. Marès achieves the aim of writing a biography which continuously mirrors the most complex political and social upheavals in Central Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. In addition, Marès’ insights into Beneš’ life, including his childhood, his relationship with his wife Hana, and his health issues, provide a more human image of this historical figure than the typical literature on diplomatic history. Finally, the book contributes to a better understanding of the many factors that shaped interwar decision-making in Prague through the prism of Czechoslovak-French political relations. Marès thus enriches our current understanding not only of Edvard Beneš’ life and career, but also of crucial social and political stakes during the “European civil war.”

Aliaksandr Piahanau

Toulouse University


Unified Military Industries of the Soviet Bloc: Hungary and the Division of Labor in Military Production. By Pál Germuska. Lanham: Lexington, 2015. 328 pp.


With his Unified Military Industries of the Soviet Bloc, Hungarian historian Pál Germuska has made an important contribution to the historiography of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Subtitled Hungary and the Division of Labor in Military Production, the monograph examines the workings of economic and military cooperation within the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and the Warsaw Pact (WP) from the perspective of a smaller Eastern European country. Germuska rightly stresses that the “majority of works dealing with the military industry of the Soviet Union do not even mention other Warsaw Pact-COMECON member states” (p.xiii). Treating Hungary’s integration into both organizations from the angle of the military industry, Germuska has identified an intriguing and long overdue inroad into both organizations. He thus successfully addresses a significant hiatus in the “post-second World War history of Hungary’s national economy,” which “cannot be analyzed or understood without considering the international power dynamics and foreign economic relations that prevailed” (p.xii).

Germuska’s perspective allows him to address a number of issues, which are crucial to an understanding of Cold War Eastern Europe, such as military and economic integration, specialization, the relationship between the Soviet Union and the other WP/COMECON countries, and the increasing scope for maneuver of smaller WP/COMECON members. These are all important themes, which deserved further attention in scholarship. Hungary is an excellent starting-point for a new assessment of the dynamics of the COMECON and the WP, because it was very (pro-)active in both organizations. Tracing the Hungarian role in the division of labor in military production from the foundation of the COMECON in 1949 to the collapse of both the COMECON and the WP in 1991, Germuska paints a compelling picture not only of the manifold initiatives of the country but also of its growing assertiveness.

In six chronological chapters, Germuska charts the development of Eastern European economic and military cooperation from a Hungarian perspective. The important topics addressed include the restructuring of the COMECON in the early 1950s, the foundation of COMECON’s Military Industrial Standing Commission and its incipient specialization from 1955 to 1963, the organizational reforms and burgeoning dissent in the WP in the 1960s, and the surfacing conflicts of interest in the 1970s. Although the main developments in the 1980s are treated in less detail due to a scarcity of available archival sources, Germuska still succeeds in explaining how “[t]he international political tension and economic difficulties of the early 1980s served to heighten the interdependence of COMECON countries” and enhance “conflicts of interests between the energy-exporting Soviet Union and energy-importing member states” (p.237).

Germuska is very sensitive to the conflicts and different interests of the countries participating in both organizations, which, according to him, grew in intensity in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite its relative brevity, the chapter dealing with the 1980s proves particularly fascinating. It shows simultaneously how Gorbachev had “begun to declare privately that the program of socialist integration was dead,” while the Soviet Union publicly “advocated the notion, obviously inspired by the economic integration in Western Europe, of establishing a common COMECON market” (245–47). In the meantime, Hungary was the strongest critic of this idea, “espousing the introduction of an open market-economy” instead (p.247). Meanwhile, the process of integration into Western European institutions ultimately seemed the more alluring objective to the former Soviet satellites after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. This Westward turn of the Eastern European members sealed the fate of both the COMECON and the Warsaw Pact in June and July 1991.

The book prioritizes an analysis of foreign economic relations over the international power dynamics. With meticulous research drawing on materials found in a wide range of mostly Hungarian archives (from which he quotes extensively), Germuska unveils an enormous amount of information about other Warsaw Pact countries, too. Moreover, the wide time-span from 1949 to 1991 enables him to trace the evolution of both organizations, while offering the reader an overview of the development of Eastern European cooperation in the Cold War from a novel perspective. The broad time sweep combined with the meticulous research guarantees a detailed treatment of the topics at stake, but it also requires a lot of background knowledge from the reader.

Germuska convincingly analyzes the interplay between the COMECON and the Warsaw Pact. This is a very thought-provoking issue on which little research has been done. It reveals parallel developments in the two organizations and also instances of miscommunication between them. With the Warsaw Pact as the military engine, most topics related to the military industry were, in fact, discussed within the COMECON, which therefore takes center-stage in this book. Germuska even claims that “cooperation in the area of military industry […] perhaps constitute[d] the most effective facet of the organization’s activity” (p.269). This is, in itself, a very interesting observation, since the COMECON has hardly ever been treated from a military perspective before.

This book offers more than a portrait of Hungary’s role in the Soviet bloc’s military industrial complex. By charting Hungary’s position within the Soviet bloc’s military industries, Germuska defies the conventional image of the COMECON and the WP as Soviet monoliths, which solely existed to further Soviet interests. On the contrary, from the 1960s onwards, both organizations became steadily more multilateral, and Hungary took an increasingly pro-active role in them within this broader context. The book thus shows not only that there was an extent of Eastern European integration, something which has often been questioned or simply ignored, but also that the history of Eastern European integration was much more complex and multi-layered than has usually been claimed. Germuska accordingly does not fall into the trap of adopting a teleological approach, which would falsely assume that both organizations were doomed to fail.

Germuska’s book therefore tallies with a recent trend in New Cold War History, which revises the role of Eastern European countries in international organizations, while deemphasizing the role of the Soviet Union. He may still conclude that despite “signs of hegemonic cooperation based on mutual interests […] the imperial outlook remained predominant all the way until 1989–90” (p.287), but his monograph nevertheless successfully shows that neither the COMECON nor the Warsaw Pact were mere monoliths, and their histories were much more complex and intriguing.

Germuska does an admirable job showing that cooperation within the military industry was an important driving force in the development of the Soviet bloc’s economic integration. His sophisticated treatment of the new archival sources allows for a nuanced approach to and a subtle analysis of Eastern European cooperation. Simultaneously shedding new light on Hungary’s national economy and on Eastern European cooperation during the Cold War, it is a must-read for those who wish to understand the post-World War II history of Eastern Europe in its full complexity.

Laurien Crump

Utrecht University


The Warsaw Pact Reconsidered: International Relations in Eastern Europe, 1955–69. By Laurien Crump. New York–London: Routledge, 2015. 348 pp.


At a meeting of the Political Consultative Committee of the Warsaw Pact (WP) in Bucharest in 1966, the personal secretary of Andrei Gromyko, the USSR’s minister of foreign affairs, commented on the interaction in this socialist international organization: “‘It used to be very easy [ … ]: the SU proposed something, and the other socialist countries adopted it without discussions. Now it is no longer that simple. Every [country] has its own opinions.’ He added that ‘this is very good, [ … ] but we lose too much time” (p.191). His remarks epitomize the themes and aim of Laurien Crump’s history of the WP from the mid-1950s to the end of the 1960s. The volume tells the story of how this institution of the Soviet bloc gradually turned into an arena for the affirmation of its members’ national interests, how it morphed from being supposedly an instrument of Moscow’s hegemony into a multilateral socialist forum. Crump goes even further and deals with two additional topics: the relationship between WP and détente (the Conference for European Security and Cooperation) and WP’s attitude toward the Global South.

Crump offers a fresh narrative about the WP starting from an original premise. Rather than telling a story based on a “hegemon” vs. its “satellites,” her central point of reference is the issue of sovereignty. The book documents the massive shift in terms of intra-bloc dynamics when Nikita Khrushchev replaced the Cominform with the WP in 1955, which signaled the transition from an inter-party organization to an intergovernmental one: “a window of opportunity [had opened] to make their voices heard in a multilateral platform” (p.24). The new framework was obvious during subsequent crises of what was called the international communist movement: the Hungarian Revolution and the subsequent Soviet intervention, the Albanian-Soviet and the Chinese-Soviet splits, and the second Berlin Crisis. Khrushchev became reluctant to deal unilaterally with intra-bloc problems. In the case of Hungary, he consulted in October 1956 with party leaders from Czechoslovakia, the GDR, and Bulgaria. The decision about the second invasion in Hungary was taken only once Imre Nagy accepted the end of single-party rule. Crump emphasizes that Khrushchev could not use the WP to support Soviet intervention in Hungary. Therefore the crisis “highlighted what the WP was not” (p.37).

Crump connects the analysis of the various splits and rebellions within the WP. Albanian separation from Moscow precipitated the Sino–Soviet divorce (p.65), which in its turn was a defining lesson for Romania’s counter-hegemonic stand within the organization (p.74). The latter also triggered a clarification of individual stands among other WP members. This argument is enriched by reminders of the non-European side of the story. The role of China and other Asian socialist countries (Vietnam, Mongolia, North Korea) in influencing dynamics within the WP is consistently highlighted. Crump argues that the deepening of the Sino–Soviet split, to the extent that the two communist giants came very close to full-scale war in the border clashes of March 1969, “drove the WP in the arms of Western Europe” (p.292).

During 1960s, the WP appeared to be in continuous crisis, since its members disagreed on the goals and scope of the alliance. Crump shows how the disagreements were not mainly between the USSR and the rest. The central triggers of dissent were the relationship between Romania and the GDR or Poland, tensions between Poland and the GDR, and, last but not least, Czechoslovakia’s search for autonomy and “socialism with a human face.”

Unsurprisingly, Crump allocates significant space to the Prague Spring and the Soviet bloc’s attitude toward it, and she develops a novel take on a well-trodden topic. In contrast to the existing secondary literature, she draws a distinction “between multilateral decision-making by several WP countries and Warsaw Pact decision-making” (p.216). From this standpoint, Czechoslovakia’s invasion was not under WP command. It was, to use Crump’s pun, “a coalition of the willing” (p.235).

Crump is careful to draw further important distinctions here. She points out that “at the heart of the disagreements between Romania and the other WP members lay a different interpretation of the concept of ‘flexibility’” (p.161). The former wanted liberty of action inside the alliance, while the latter sought a clearly structured alliance that would give the WP more discretion in dealing with the outside world. She also shows how all European Soviet allies attempted to encroach on the WP agenda by pushing their priorities to the forefront. This was the engine of the organization’s multilateralization and professionalization (e.g., the gatherings of deputy ministers of foreign affairs or military reform).

The volume’s most innovative insight, however, lies in its emphasis on the relationship between the WP and the Helsinki process, which defined the timeframe that followed the end point of Crump’s volume. From Adam Rapacki’s initiative at the UN in 1964, the Bucharest declaration in 1966, or the Budapest appeal in 1969, WP dynamics were essential to the consolidation of European security and cooperation and to “the multilateralisation of détente” (p.296). She sets herself apart from previous authors by insisting that “it was not the Helsinki Process that served to emancipate the WP members from the Soviet grip … instead, the multilateralisation of the WP had facilitated the WP members’ autonomous stance within the Helsinki Process” (p.290).

There is one connection that Crump does not sufficiently highlight: the search for cohesion-cum-sovereignty within the WP was catalyzed not only by Western European integration, but also by the rise of the Global South in the 1960s. As János Kádár remarked in 1964, around the same time that the group of 77 at the United Nations was taking shape, “the foreign ministers of the NATO countries get together and consult; so do the foreign ministers of the Arab, African, and Latin American countries. We are the only ones who cannot get together. Why? What is happening at this session is a crying shame” (p.139). By the end of the 1960s, the WP acquired enough modus operandi to strengthen its members’ position within pan-European cooperation. This captivating volume would have benefited indeed from a stronger focus on how the Global South was one of the avenues along which state socialisms found their way into what Mikhail Gorbachev later called “the common European home”.

Bogdan C. Iacob

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

pdfVolume 6 Issue 1 CONTENTS


The Habsburg Empire: A New History. By Pieter M. Judson. Cambridge, MA–London: The Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 2016. 567 pp.


In recent decades, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the changes of regimes in Eastern and Central Europe, interest has grown in the histories and ultimate falls of the empires that once ruled the region. It is thanks, in part, to this new interest in the pre-World War I history of the region that numerous new, engaging works of scholarship on the Habsburg Monarchy have been published. In contrast with earlier assessments, which were rather one-sided and negative, a new “revisionist” trend has emerged, which is particularly prominent in the United States. The earlier scholarship tended to present the Habsburg Monarchy as an anachronistic state or a so-called “prison of nations,” the fate of which was allegedly sealed from the outset, and the decades immediately preceding its fall were characterized as a time of chronic crises and death throes (the mere titles of the monographs and articles that were published on the subject in the 1960s, 1970s, and even 1980s exemplify this tendency). The newer literature, in contrast, reassesses these schematic views. The roots of this earlier “master narrative” are found in the scholarship that was published in the period leading up to the Great War and the period immediately after the war. The arguments that were made by R. W. Seaton-Watson and Oszkár Jászi (to mention only two of the more emblematic names), which rested on the notion of tensions between centripetal and centrifugal forces, exerted a decisive influence on the scholarship on the Monarchy and its fall for a long time. Works of history that approached the region from the perspective of the nation state did not really know how to deal with the many peculiarities of the Habsburg Monarchy, though to paraphrase an article by Gary B. Cohen in 1998, with regards to the monarchy of the Dualist Era, one can speak neither of absolutism nor of anarchy (“Neither Absolutism nor Anarchy: New Narratives on Society and Government in Late Imperial Austria” [1998]). As Cohen suggests, when historians concentrate too narrowly on the collapse of the monarchy and study its internal conflicts according to an approach that is too narrow in its perspective (first and foremost the national conflicts and, in connection with them, the failure of the state to democratize), then a number of other important processes are pushed to the margins. One of the great merits of the reviewed book is that it does not repeat the notion—at this point a wearisome cliché—that the empire was “doomed to collapse from the outset.”

The other side of the coin (the factors that contributed to the Monarchy’s relative stability and functionality) were neglected for a long time. Beginning in the 1970s, one could see signs of a shift. In Hungary one might think of the work of Péter Hanák as perhaps the most illustrative example.

In the emergence of the aforementioned trans-national tendency in the United States, along with Cohen, John W. Boyer, the Hungarian-born American professor István Deák, and their students, Pieter M. Judson, the author of the book under review, played a significant role. In his earlier works, Judson, who is now a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, studied the transformation of liberal politics and political culture (Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire, 1848−1914 [1996]). In other works, he examined the process of nationalization which came in the wake of the work of the “national activists” on the language border, and the phenomenon of the national indifference. Alongside the books by Cohen, Jeremy King, and Tara Zahra, Judson’s Guardians of the Nation (2006) constitutes one of the fundamental works in the new assessments of national identity. It offers a lively analysis of complex and highly malleable identities, the very complexity and malleability of which seemed to have escaped entirely the notice of the earlier approach, which tended towards simplification.

Judson’s new monograph on the last two centuries of the Habsburg Monarchy fits into this narrative well. It places emphasis not on nation building, but rather on state building. The book begins with a story from 1911: in a multiethnic small town in Galicia, passions and tempers flare in connection with the election. The soldiers sent to quell the disturbance shoot into the crowd and 26 people were killed. The story, however, is not about electoral corruption, national antagonisms, or the brutal measures taken by the authorities. Rather, it is about the odd unity among the linguistically, ethnically, and denominationally diverse people of the crowd, for whom the election (i.e. the future of the monarchy) was at stake. Judson offers the following explanation of the purpose of the book: “This book is about how countless local societies across central Europe engaged with the Habsburg dynasty’s efforts to build a unified and unifying imperial state from the eighteenth century until the First World War. It investigates how imperial institutions, administrative practices, and cultural programs helped to shape local society in every region of the empire, from the late eighteenth century until the first decades of the twentieth century. It also examines how citizens in every corner of the empire engaged with these various practices and institutions, often appropriating them from their own purposes or reinterpreting them to fit their interests. Taken as a whole, these complex processes of empire building gave citizens in every corner of the empire collective experiences that crossed linguistic, confessional, and regional divides” (p.4.). Judson considers it important to show that, alongside the ruler, the bureaucracy, and the military, the imperial Habsburg state “was also an ongoing project that engaged the minds, hearts, and energies of many of its citizens at every level of society” (p.5.).

The book is captivating from the outset. The writing is elegant and precise, and the manner of presentation is enthralling. Judson shows a remarkable gift for balance as he mixes a presentation of the events (knowledge of which is indispensable to understanding) with a discussion of processes and innovative approaches. The antecedents and the annals history are painted with broad brush strokes, with all of the advantages and disadvantages that this involves. With regards to the annals history, Judson is very judicious in his selection (though in some cases readers ought to have already some knowledge of the topics). He strives to use individual stories to shed light on and bring the reader closer to a given era and the theme at hand, but his goal is not to provide yet another account of the events, but rather to build his own quite innovative interpretation of these events. Rather, building on the ideas and interpretations presented in the first paragraph of this review, he focuses on the ways in which the empire functioned, and he examines how the empire was part of the everyday lives of its citizens and how its citizens identified (or did not) with it.

Judson presents the history of this unusual Central European state formation (which, as the book itself demonstrates, was actually not so unusual) from the second half of the eighteenth century to its fall (though in the epilogue he even goes a bit further). He contends that the Habsburg Monarchy was a perfectly viable formation in which, from the middle of the eighteenth century until the outbreak of World War I, numerous attempts were made to modernize the structure of the state, attempts which were always aimed at improving the quality of life and the circumstances of the subjects or citizens of the state. Thus, the most emphasis is placed on presenting this process of development, while aspects which are not tied (or not directly tied) to this concept are given significantly less consideration. Judson examines the monarchy from a “Gesamtmonarchie” point of view, but he gives each of the individual countries and crownlands considerable attention, being moderate and balanced. Interestingly, one has the impression that, in this delicate balance, the peripheral regions, first and foremost Galicia, are given greater emphasis than, for instance, the Austrian hereditary provinces.

The point of departure for the narrative is the period of the reign of Maria Theresa and Joseph II. It was under their rule that the desire for a unified, centralized monarchy first began to exert sway. New institutions were created in pursuit of this goal, and numerous reforms were introduced. While these reforms and institutions undoubtedly yielded results in many spheres of public life, they were not sufficient to allow the monarch to achieve the goal of creating a united empire. There were many reasons for this failure: the traditions of autonomy in the provinces and the opposition of the traditional elites to Joseph II’s reforms, not to mention the national movements that were emerging in the colorful linguistic and ethnic mix of the monarchy. Even Joseph II’s personality contributed in part to the failure of these efforts. In the wake of the work of the reformers, however, a bureaucracy and system of rules took form that constituted the principal uniting force of the monarchy. In Judson’s estimate, the Allgemeines bürgerliches Gesetzbuch (issued in 1811) played a role of particular importance in this process as a tool of state integration, which established the preconditions for civic equality, linking citizens of the state directly to the monarchy, and not to the feudal estates or provincial bodies. In principle, this and the creation in 1804 of the Austrian Empire established a unified state and the unifying institution of state citizenship (even if the Hungarians saw this very differently, both at the time and later).

After the death of Leopold II and in the wake of the French revolution, the empire in Central Europe became a bastion of ossified conservatism for a few decades, but the tradition of the Rechtsstaat endured, and beneath the surface a new economic and social order was beginning to take form. Liberalism and nationalism—the two most influential ideologies of the nineteenth century—were spreading to ever wider circles. The revolutions of 1848 brought about the decisive turn. In the chapters on the revolution, Judson offers a vivid picture of the complex and often mutually contradictory efforts, but he emphasizes that, with the exception of the Italians and, later, the Hungarians, the other ethnic and national groups of the empire and their elites remained loyal to the dynasty. They did not seek to bring down the empire, only to transform it better to suit their needs and interests. Given the overall interpretation presented in the book, it is perhaps not surprising that there are only a few references to the civil war in this chapter. The revolution, however, also cast light on the fundamental problems faced by the empire.

The subsequent period attempted to find various solutions to these problems, and it was in this period that the united empire was actually made a reality, even if only for a short time. In the previous section of the books, Judson adheres for the most part to the traditional periodization. For the period between 1849 and 1914, however, he diverges from the norm. To be more precise, he regards the decades between 1849 and the 1880s as a single, unified period, since, in his assessment, as of 1849, the government was essentially liberal. A process of reform had begun, according to Judson, the result of which would be the emergence of a liberal empire (as the title of the fifth chapter, “Mid-Century Modern: Emergence of a Liberal Empire,” suggests). However, his argument is not entirely convincing when he tries to characterize the Silvesterpatent (with which Franz Joseph, still a young man and relatively unseasoned ruler, withdrew the Imposed March Constitution), as the beginning of what was “an ambitious and in many ways forward-thinking program of economic, social, and cultural renewal.” Although both recent Austrian and Hungarian historiography have offered nuanced portraits of the neo-absolutist era, with regards to the intentions of the monarch and his most influential advisors one can hardly harbor any illusions. (See for instance Stickler, “Die Herrschaftsauffassung Kaiser Franz Josephs in den frühen Jahren seiner Regierung: Überlegungen zu Selbstverständnis und struktureller Bedeutung der Dynastie für die Habsburgermonarchie” [2014]). Furthermore, some of the reforms, for instance the decision to abolish what remained of the feudal system, had been a consequence (and arguably victory) of the 1848 Revolution, which the regime would not have been able to undo in the wake of the conflict. Judson acknowledges that the price of reforms was the introduction of a police state (since the empire was compelled to use force to compensate for its lack of legitimacy, primarily in the Italian provinces and Hungary), but in his assessment, the attempt to forge a unified, centralized empire had far greater and more general significance. Although various attempts were made to make the system and the dynasty itself more popular (Franz Joseph’s wife Elisabeth or “Sissi” was given an important role in this), the period beginning in 1849 was clouded by foreign policy failures (the threat of Italian and German national unification), financial difficulties, and internal discontent (in particular, the openly oppositional conduct of the Italians and the Hungarians). The Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867 was a consequence of the Italian fiasco and the gradual marginalization of the Austrian Empire in the wake of German unification, but this disrupted the unity of the state and thus, at least in Judson’s assessment (though he does not emphasize this) it was a step backwards. Hungary never really fits neatly into Judson’s interpretation of events up until 1867, and it fits even less into his assessment of the empire after the Compromise. He does not really find a persuasive solution to this, but he raises many questions and dilemmas that merit further thought in connection with Hungary and many other matters.

The most exciting part of the book is chapter six (“Culture Wars and Wars for Culture”) and seven (“Everyday Empire, Our Empire”). The ever increasing authority and jurisdiction of the state and the ever increasing number of tasks it had to address in the spheres of infrastructure and social politics, combined with the transformation of politics itself (the involvement of ever wider circles of the masses instead, merely, of the narrow elites in politics as part of the process of democratization), gave rise to challenges that were confounding not only for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, but for all of the old monarchies of Europe. One of the virtues of this book is that it demonstrates how, in many cases, the problems facing the Monarchy were merely local variations of the great problems of the era. Judson offers convincing examples of how the state attempted to address the cultural differences among its peoples, first and foremost in Cisleithania. While the central bureaucracy made noble efforts to modernize the Monarchy and make the state apparatus effective and efficient (as persuasively argued recently by John Deak: Forging a Multinational State: State Making in Imperial Austria from the Enlightenment to the First World War [2015]), a partly contrary process was also underway. The local elites and, first and foremost, the political activists were “attempt[ing] to both manage and take advantage of the entrance of larger numbers of people into political life” (p.271).

According to Judson, in whose earlier work the notion of national indifference already played a significant role, in the local societies in which they lived, people who spoke various languages did not necessarily perceive cultural differences as such. The significance of these differences grew in the wake of political mobilization. The efforts of the political activists to attain institutional protected rights for the people who spoke a given language contributed to the tendency among people in local communities to see themselves and one another “in terms of language based-categories” (p.272). Thus, political conflicts were given a linguistic, cultural, and ultimately national tinge, but the nationalizing elites (political activists, representatives, journalists) played a significant role in this. As the electoral base in Cisleithania broadened as a consequence of parliamentary reforms, the popularity of cultural principles and arguments grew in politics: “Activists naturalized their particular political agendas by expressing demands in the more inclusive language of ethnic nationhood. This language made cultural commonalities the basis for group identification” (p.272). Nation building was a difficult and tiring process, and for precisely this reason Judson feels that, in order to understand this process, we need a concept of “event-driven” or “situational” nationalism. In a manner familiar from his earlier works, Judson contends that “nationalist conflicts” (he deliberately uses this term instead of “nationalities conflicts”) were a product of institutions. Institutions and administrative practices made significant contributions to the deepening of a sense of cultural difference. The story begins, according to Judson, with the bitter fight between the conservative federalists and the liberal Vienna government (the so-called Bürgerministerium) in power after the Compromise, and Judson considers the symbolic implications of this fight. Nationalists later continued to add to the tools used in the “culture wars” of the 1870s. The press and the societies that began to appear in ever larger numbers in the 1860s played a significant role in this. Given the focus of his earlier research, Judson concentrates primarily on Cisleithania, and the vast majority of his examples are drawn from these territories of the empire.

The presentation of the paradoxical process of the elevation of language and language use to the critical and decisive factor in identity (i.e. the principal criterion of membership in the “nation”) is extremely interesting, in particular the presentation of how the state’s efforts to guarantee equal linguistic rights for all of its citizens led to the rise of separate, closed national groups that defined themselves on the basis of language. In connection with this, the emphasis shifted from individual rights to group rights, and in administrative and legal practice nations became legitimate legal actors. Indeed, the political activists who stood up in the name of the nation sought increasingly to use the law in order to compel people to make the “correct” decision, for instance when it came to the question of children’s schooling, as studied by Tara Zahra. In other words, in the end, there was a battle underway over national upbringing, and it displaced the national indifference (Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900−1948 [2008]). The last stage of this came with the Moravian (1905) and then later the Bukovinian (1910) and Galician (1914) compromises, which put new tools for the cultivation of national identity in the hands of political activists. Thus, the language rights of the individual were transformed into the right of the national community over its members: “the liberal constitutional guarantee of language rights to the individual gradually became transformed into the right of the national community over its members. This steady legal transformation was the culmination of cultural arguments that had long maintained first, that an individual hat a fundamental and authentic national identity, and second, that the cultural gulf between national communities was unbridgeable” (p.316).

It is unfortunate that Hungary, the other half of the monarchy, is presented less elaborately. Either it is not mentioned in these analyses or Judson merely adds a shade of nuance to the traditional image. (Though this is in part a consequence of the lack of similar research and the paucity of scholarship on the subject in English, it is primarily due to the fact that Hungary simply does not fit well into the larger interpretation.) Yet careful consideration of the consequences of the two diverging political practices would have been interesting from this perspective.

Parallel to this, Judson presents the efforts of the liberals to emphasize the new civilizing mission of the empire and their attempts to achieve this mission in Galicia and Bosnia. The conclusion he reaches following a presentation of an instance of corruption in Galicia, however, is an exaggeration at best, particularly if one takes into consideration the antecedents: “The liberals had also made the East a site of corruption, of arrogant chicanery, and worst of all, of downright failure”, and liberalism, furthermore, “had been revealed as simply one more sectarian political party or set of ideologies that benefited only a part of Austro-Hungarian society at the expense of other parts of society” (p.327).

Judson then presents the developments that took place in the monarchy over the course of its last three decades, including increasingly rapid urbanization, the development of infrastructure, the spread of literacy, and, parallel to all this, the growth of the state bureaucracy. Social questions, the workers’ movement, the appearance of social democratic parties, and expansion of the right to vote in Cisleithania and, in contrast, the freeze of suffrage in Hungary created new problems. However, the monarchy produced fascinating phenomena, such as the use of many languages in the military. The activities of veteran organizations, which were used in an attempt to strengthen a sense of patriotic attachment to the empire, offer a clear example (as Laurence Cole has shown in his research) of the complex role that patriotism played in everyday life, and they shed light on the interesting intertwining of imperial patriotism and regional and ethnic identity. The political storms of the turn of the century were partly national conflicts, but the “nationalist movements shaped their demands around the institutions and expectations created by empire,” and the actors thought within these frameworks (pp.381–82). Following the crisis of the turn of the century, the decade before the outbreak of World War I was again a period of consolidation. People who were engaged in fierce debates in parliament were eager to reach compromises in the wings. “Habsburg bureaucrats and party politicians had long demonstrated a flexible creativity in negotiating structural modifications intended to make the empire function more effectively and to give it greater longterm political stability” (p.376). World War I interrupted this complex but fundamentally positive process. In Judson’s view, the processes of modernization and integration essentially had been successful. The national movements and conflicts had not significantly weakened the state, and they certainly did not contribute to its fall. The monarchy fell because of the war and the consequences of the war.

At the time of World War I, destructive tendencies and processes were set in motion which led to the collapse of the monarchy. First and foremost, the military leadership (the Armeeoberkommando, or AOK) bore responsibility for pushing the bodies of civil administration to the side and harassing, for the most part, citizens of the empire who were Serbian, Ruthenian, or members of other nationalities that had been branded “suspicious.” By doing so, they alienated these people from the monarchy. The military dictatorship (the term is borrowed from Josef Redlich) caused a rupture in the traditions of the constitutional state. In addition, the state was no longer able to perform the tasks it was expected to perform, and members of the civilian population who were indigent received assistance primarily from the nationalist organizations. This further undermined the legitimacy of the monarchy and contributed to its disintegration. The last chapter offers a short overview of the afterlife of the monarchy and the ways in which the multinational successor states, which presented themselves as nation states, in many ways passed on the repudiated legacy of the monarchy. The maps and the attentively chosen illustrations offer an excellent complement to the book.

Many comprehensive works have been written on the history of the Habsburg Monarchy, and they have all had to address the fundamental difficulty of writing on what was a composite state formation. The authors not only had to plough their way through the swollen body of secondary literature, they also had to be able to incorporate the histories (written in seven or eight different languages) of the individual lands and provinces into their work. And any author writing on the Habsburg Monarchy had to have a true gift for synthesis in order to grasp the history of the empire in all its complexity. From this perspective, Judson is the ideal scholar, for he knows the most recent secondary literature in English and also uses the secondary literature in German, Czech, and other Slavic languages. He also merits recognition for his efforts to devote adequate attention, alongside Cisleithania, to Hungary. The fact that the most recent works of Hungarian historians are the least frequently mentioned in his inquiry is less his fault and more due to the shortcomings of Hungarian historiography. This also explains the unevenness of the sections of the book that deal with Hungary. Since the writings of Hungarian historians have not been adequately spread in international scholarly forums (first and foremost in English), they have not become part of the larger circulation of ideas among historians outside of Hungary, although recently, there have been numerous efforts to change this, for instance the very journal in which this review is being published. I would mention only a few of the mistakes or misunderstandings in connection with Hungarian history as examples: allegedly the national assemblies of the Reform Era did not deal with the peasantry or the cities (p.152); in 1848, Hungarian citizenship was tied to the use of the Hungarian language, and this was one of the reasons behind the Serbian uprising (p.200); Judson repeats a mistake often found in the works of history of the successor states according to which after the so-called Lex Apponyi, (a law passed in 1907 on the legal state of non-state schools), all instruction in the schools of the non-Hungarian nationalities had to take place in Hungarian (pp.304–05); and until 1896 the Jews were not eligible for election to public office (p.518, note 31). Judson’s treatment of the various layers of the nobility is often vague, and it is often unclear what the terms “noble” or “gentry” actually are intended to mean, precisely. However, these kinds of small imprecisions are insignificant given the many merits of the book.

Judson’s efforts to remain balanced and impartial are clear in his use of settlement names and proper names. In the case of settlement names, he uses several variants, depending on the ethnic makeup of the given community. This merits praise in part because it is hardly common practice at Anglo-Saxon publishing houses. Judson also avoids normative terms when dealing with the nationalities. Instead, he prefers phrases like “German speaking” or “Czech speaking,” and he also uses the word Hungarian instead of “Magyar”. Proper names are given on the basis of the professed ethnicity of the given person, though there are a few exceptions to this rule (for instance Julius Andrássy instead of Gyula Andrássy).

Judson is clearly biased in favor of the Habsburg state which forms the subject of his book, but he is not frustratingly apologetic. Thus, a great work has been written on the eve of the centennial of the fall of the Habsburg Monarchy which rethinks the existing scholarship on the subject and challenges the old paradigm. It paints a new, balanced picture from an interesting perspective of this multifaceted Central European state.

Judit Pál

Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj


Thinking through Transition: Liberal Democracy, Authoritarian Pasts, and Intellectual History in East Central Europe After 1989. Edited by Michal Kopeček and Piotr Wciślik. Budapest–New York: CEU Press, 2015, 599 pp.


If there is one methodological point upon which classical historians of intellectual history such as Quentin Skinner, post-structuralist theoreticians such as Judith Butler, or social historians of the political field such as Gareth Stedman Jones would undeniably agree (in spite of their conspicuous differences), it is that the primary purpose of intellectual history or the history of ideas is not essentially to retrieve or recuperate the (real or accurate) meanings (of texts). Rather, it is about activity. In other words, intellectual history is above all about linguistic action; it is in the first place an analysis of the situational employment, or, more aptly phrased, the strategic deployment of language in order to generate meaning in, or in dialogue with, specific or variable contexts (these may consist of other texts, particular historical constellations, configurations, or traditions, counter positions, etc.). Precisely this act presupposes an audience and attests to the social and public character of the utterance as activity, particularly in the realm of political philosophy.

The edited volume assembled by Michal Kopeček, Head of Department of Late- and Post-Socialism at the Institute for Contemporary History and Assistant Professor at Charles University, Prague, and Piotr Wciślik, PhD candidate at the Central European University, represents not only a successful example of good practice in consideration of the above; more importantly, it offers a novel and refreshing take on the history of the political transformations of East Central Europe (ECE) in the post-communist era, a field that has been long and eminently dominated by the normative and often ahistorical prescripts of “transitology” scholarship (and business). The volume is the result of an exploratory workshop convened in 2011 by a group of East Central European intellectual historians under the auspices of the Institute for Contemporary History (Prague) and the Heinrich Böll Stiftung, in cooperation with the ERC-funded research project “Negotiating Modernity: History of Modern Political Thought in East-Central Europe,” the innovative and bold aim of which is to provide a synthetic and comparative history of political thought in the region. (The first volume, which covers the nineteenth century, has already been published, see Trencsényi, Janowski, Baar, Falina, and Kopeček, A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe, vol. 1 [2016]). Thinking through Transition brings together 18 essays by scholars from the region and beyond, combining the strengths of history, political science, sociology, and anthropology. It focuses on the political and ideological metamorphoses of actors and institutions in ECE with a greater and more systematic emphasis on the cases of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia, but it also includes contributions on ex-Yugoslavia and Romania (one essay on each). A series of essays tackles the transitions from a comparative perspective, and this enhances the analytical strength of the book.

The specific contribution of intellectual history in general and this volume in particular to a subtler understanding of Zeitgeschichte lies in its analyses of the transfer and circulation of ideas from a bottom-up perspective. In other words, it endeavors to contextualize the circulation of ideas in the specificities of local cultural discourses, historical trajectories, and political configurations, without, however, neglecting their interregional, European, and/or global entanglements. Intellectual history is operationalized through a variety of paradigms, testifying to the methodological pluralism in the field, from classical Begriffsgeschichte, which examines mutations of concepts like “totalitarianism” or “civil society,” to the worldview of specific intellectuals and their cohorts, from the legal history of rights and constitutionalism to the history of transfer, from the sociology of knowledge to history and memory politics. The political field appears as a rapidly shifting and dynamic arena involving a constant and (in contrast to transition theories) unpredictable restructuring of positions. Going against the grain and challenging the frequently encountered picture of a glorious passage from immobile dictatorship to liberal democracy, the volume discusses 1989 as a reconfiguration of the political field rather than as a sudden break with the past. Though 1989 functions as the springboard of narration, several essays trace and connect discourses back to earlier intellectual genealogies; they demonstrate how both past intellectual standpoints and present concerns provided the particular ideological admixture and the choice of positionality in the present, drawing upon an arsenal of actual or fictitious continuities, discontinuities, and/or reconfigurations of political discourse, a circumstance perhaps best exemplified in the transformations of “1989” itself: from an initial symbol of consensual politics to a floating signifier and, eventually, a convenient moment of contestation in order to redraw the lines of the political. Moreover, this volume exemplifies the fact that intellectual history is not only about the life-cycle of ideas but also about the performativity of the political, in other words, the capacity of actors to occupy timely key political/ideological spaces in relation to their political opponents and therefore not only to define the political agenda but also to capture public space and social imagination. Here, the interplay between ideological choices, socioeconomic factors, and power becomes most apparent. Organized around five comprehensive thematic blocks—liberalism, conservativism, populism, the left, and the politics of history—the volume charts the political and ideological landscape of the post-1989 era as it was framed through the tension between the “space of experience” and the “horizon of expectations.”

The first thematic section addresses the transformation of dissident liberal discourses and the unspectacular career of liberalism in post-communism. Ferenc Laczó analyses post-dissident liberal discourses in Hungary based on a sample of five leading liberal intellectuals involved in the publication Beszélő. In spite of their varying and ambiguous content, most post-dissident concepts of liberal democracy in Hungary showed paradoxically stronger affinities with the left than with the right. Often articulated in a polemical and abstract style, they most probably contributed to the marginalization of political liberalism after its heyday in the early 1990s. The remarkable afterlife of the concept of “totalitarianism” in post-communist Poland is the focus of Piotr Wciślik’s essay. He demonstrates how the boundaries of the political were redrawn via the contestation of the post-totalitarian divide. This involved the transitional reconfiguration of political languages in the merger between formerly competing concepts of totalitarianism of the ex-dissident elite and the liberal “new realists” of the late 1980s. In the rapidly-polarizing political field, radical anti-communism emerged as the strongest language of political contestation. The mutation, which constituted an almost outright setback of Václav Havel’s idea of civil society as conditioned by Havel’s contestations with his neoconservative political rivals of the ODS, is the focus of Milan Znoj’s essay. Though initially conceived as a concept based on the dissident experience but also drawing upon the local intellectual tradition of the first republic, Havel’s concept ebbed in a moral populism that eventually contributed to the rise of anti-communism. Paul Blokker offers a comparative analysis of the rise of legal constitutionalism after 1989, understood initially as an antidote to the ideological instrumentalization of law in the previous period. Though representing the dominant paradigm, legal constitutionalism also saw the parallel rise of alternative models, such as democratic and communitarian constitutionalism. Finally, Blokker expounds on the reasons why a radical form of communitarian (nationalistic/conservative) constitution could be established in countries like Romania and Hungary.

The three case studies in the second thematic block are devoted to examining the impact of conservative ideas. Petr Roubal looks at a small yet influential group of Czech post-dissident neoconservatives and their alliance with neoliberal economists around the Civil Democratic Alliance (ODA). They shaped the belief in neoliberal shock therapy and advocated a radical break with the past, playing a leading role in pressing for the denunciation of the communist regime and the adoption of an uncompromising stance towards Slovak demands for greater autonomy, which they interpreted as left-wing nationalism. How conservativism, though lacking strong continuity and even an independent political organization, nevertheless imposed itself as the language of the right in Poland is the focus of Rafał Matyja’s essay. He examines the ideational convergence of intellectual groups around the publication Res Publica, the Young Poland Movement (RMP), and right-wing liberals of the 1980s. Conservativism was a school that arose out of a religious outlook on reality, but it gladly borrowed from the language of Anglo-Saxon neoconservatives. Zoltán Gábor Szűcs analyzes the aborted constitution-making project of the socialist-liberal government in Hungary between 1994 and 1998. Though initially indifferent to constitutional amendment, Fidesz was able to base its own conservative and highly contested constitutional revolution (the so-called Basic Law of 2011) on the systematic promotion of a conflicting vision of politics, thus turning the tables on the consensualist politics and the predominantly technocratic policy approach followed by the socialist-liberal coalition after 1989.

Is populism the antithesis of or a constituent part of democracy? In other words, is populism a syndrome of the region or a symptom of the age? The third section of the volume focuses on these questions. Camil Alexandru Pârvu pleads for a wide characterization, and he contends that populism is a symptom not merely of fringe parties in contemporary Romania, but also of mainstream ones. The roots of populism lie in a succession of blockages of political representation and the endemic constitutional crisis that accompanies them. As a result, most political parties relatively easily shifted their political identities towards a strong populist mode. The Janus face of populism is at the center of András Bozóki’s contribution regarding the populist phenomenon in Hungary. He examines populism’s inherent paradox, namely the promise of broad inclusion of the people in the political process while in essence populism serves the opposite goal. In the case of Hungary, not only has populism been applied flexibly to different and contradictory political platforms, it has also been used for exclusionary political purposes. Viktor Orbán’s policies of pampering the middle classes at the expense of the lower classes offer perhaps the most illustrative case. Finally, Juraj Buzalka deals with “political necrophilia” in Slovakia, that is, the popular practice of ritual reburials of political leaders in post-communist states as a political symbol for legitimizing actual political power. He explains why the reburial of interwar prime minister Milan Hodža seemed best to fulfill the qualifications for Slovakia’s return to Europe, even though in popular memory Hodža would never match the popularity of the authoritarian leader of the Slovak People’s Party, Andrej Hlinka.

The fourth thematic block of the volume addresses the left’s soul-searching between communist legacy, neoliberal challenge, and global protest movements. Ágnes Gagyi examines attempts to formulate the agenda of the political left in post-1989 Hungary beyond the official successors of the Hungarian Communist Party. These attempts were made by various groups and activists (“Politics Can Be Different,” Anarchism, the United Hungarian Left, Left Alternative, Erzsébet Szalai, András Lányi, “Protect the Future,” 4K!, etc.) operating within and outside of the Marxist tradition, their common ground being a diagnosis of the social effects of post-socialist neoliberal politics and concomitantly the incubation of a new extreme right. Though liberalism and the right have had a firm grip on politics in Poland since the 1990s, the left’s vitality of ideas after 2002 is disproportionate to its political weakness, argues Maciej Gdula. By tackling issues related to memory, gender, populism, neoliberalism, and the knowledge society, the Polish left has managed to distance itself from the previously common use of naturalized concepts of liberal democracy and the market, which had effectively functioned as imaginary standards with which to “discipline” and frame the political body. Stanislav Holubec focuses on the Czech case by analyzing seven figures of the post-communist intellectual left and their endeavors as public intellectuals. They allow a certain typologization along the lines of five different traditions and generations: reform communism, the anti-Stalinist radical left, new party members after 1970, sympathizers of environmental politics in the 1980s and 1990s, and, finally, a group of outright converts to the left. In the last contribution to this section, Zsófia Lóránd takes a closer look at feminist discourses in Serbia and Croatia in the 1990s and the ways in which feminists resolved to redefine democratic politics in order to counter dominant political discourses that equated democracy with the free (allegedly liberal) expression of nationalism. The feminists’ agenda targeted essentially three topics: 1. civil society and active citizenship, 2. the inclusion of women in politics and 3. critiques of patriarchy.

The last section in the volume deals with the politics of history and memory. The article “1989 After 1989” by James Mark et al. scrutinizes the memory of 1989 in the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia from a comparative perspective. It demonstrates how the wrangling for the canonization and interpretation of 1989 related either to questions concerning the reconfiguration of the nation and its history or served as a point of distinction between left and right. The authors analyze the specific constellations, which resulted either in positive identifications with 1989 postulating a national identity based on democracy and freedom or negative identifications, which stage 1989 as a betrayal of expectations and a moment of great lost opportunities. Gábor Egry deals with concepts of history and the nation in 1989–2010 and shows how and why the community of destiny (nation) came to predominate over the community of will (republic) in contemporary Hungarian politics. 1989 offered an opportunity to redefine community and brought up several neglected or taboo topics (such as 1956, the Treaty of Trianon, and the end of World War II), which eventually led to mutually exclusive interpretations of the past by political actors and signaled the loss of a common history. In this stalemate, the concept of suffering emerged as the nation’s strongest identity marker. Stevo Đurašković shows how the nationalist Movement for Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) was able to gain power in the 1990s by appropriating the national identity-building discourse developed by Slovak communist intellectuals in the post-1968 normalization period. Relying largely on the historical concoction devised by Vladimír Mináč, the HZDS was able to promote the self-image of a state-founding, all-embracing people’s movement. Finally, Zoltán Dujisin discusses the transregional cooperation of post-communist memory entrepreneurs, who via a state-driven institutional apparatus pursue the establishment of a mnemonic regime based on the equalization of communist and Nazi crimes and the externalization of the communist experience from the region. This “usable totalitarianism,” which is based on a crime-centered narrative, is crafted through the cooperation of portions of the political and academic elite, who are also backed with appropriate financial and institutional resources. Their interpretation of history, stylized as the “politics of truth,” is presented as an allegedly “specific” Eastern European contribution to the European memory regime; it contrasts and clashes, however, with the prevailing West European memory consensus, built upon the “politics of regret.”

Thinking through Transition is not a book for beginners; it does not offer a comprehensive history of the East European transition. Rather, it provides compact, thoughtful, and dense analyses of transitional politics through the lenses and methodological instruments of intellectual history. It brings together essays with varying strengths and emphases, and with its focus on local contextualization, it certainly keeps its promise to engage with the origins, genealogies, adaptations, and dynamics of ideas, not as simple transplants, but as energetic and resourceful local processes with their own historical trajectories. The volume is truly informative and thoroughly analytical, and it offers a persuasive example of the capacity of intellectual history to offer a different historicization of the East Central European transition. Narrating the history of this transition is a daunting task, perhaps first and foremost because it means charting and framing an as yet non-existent scholarly field and doing so without the comfort and reassurance of hindsight. Furthermore, historians find themselves faced with open-ended, dynamic, and mutating processes, which in the twenty-first-century information society develop unprecedented forms of acceleration. In addition, in view of the abundance of normative paradigms (transition studies, modernization theory, democratization studies, path dependency etc.) that have been used to explain the transition, developing a new structure of narration where ECE is not the object but becomes the subject requires imagination and creativity. Finally, it is challenging because of the project’s ambitious aim of simultaneously accommodating a comprehensive narrative and a comparative perspective.

The time frames used in the individual essays are rather variable (from a couple of years or decades to genealogies traced back to the nineteenth century), so it is quite hard to assemble them into a bigger and consistent picture in spite of their thematic ordering into ideological currents and the volume’s insightful introduction, which binds them together very intelligibly. The comparative perspective is applied occasionally but not consistently throughout the whole volume. Missing is a systematic and coherent thematic and chronological framework of comparison for East Central and Southeastern Europe capable of accommodating synchronic and a-synchronic developments in each case and explaining them adequately as parallel or contrasting developments (though this is provided to a certain extent by the introduction). In what respect and to what degree do they react to similar or different challenges, in what respect are they or were they reacting to similar or different influences, and in what respect and to what degree have they had similar or diverging historical trajectories?

Second, there is little emphasis on inter-regional intellectual cross-influences between the countries of East Central and Southeastern Europe. In my view, this represents a desideratum not only for the post-1989 period, but also for the era of the Cold War. It is common knowledge that the Cold War imposed its own geography upon the globe, a specific way of seeing and understanding the world but also a particular way of structuring networks of information. An interesting question here is to what degree and in what way is the post-1989 period a reshuffling of this geography and its networks. Can we discern or fashion interesting patterns here for intellectual history? And furthermore, to what degree and in what form did foreign interventions in the form of think tanks, foundations, capacity building, etc. help structure or delineate the lines of the political internally (locally)?

Third, the issue of sample representativity might need to be considered more closely and thoroughly, since it frames and structures the comparative endeavor. Nolens volens, a certain selection, prioritization, typologization, and structuring of topics will have to be made. At times, I had the impression that the concept of intellectual history was perhaps stretched a bit too far (burial rituals, memory politics, etc.); not that I feel compelled to defend some kind of imaginary or purist borders of intellectual history, which do not exist anyway, and one of the volume’s definite assets is its inclination towards experimentation; however, given the abundance of themes and areas that might potentially be covered and integrated (for example, the intellectual history of economic or religious thought, both of which are absent from the volume), such an overstretching might prove tricky in the long run.

Fourth, in spite of the indisputable merits of local contextualization, it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture with respect to European and global developments. Some of the essays reflect individually on this, but this is insufficient for an analysis which makes the explicit claim to narrate a regional history. Also, it is crucial to provide an approximate or stringent time frame in order to further an understanding of the directionality of transfers and their interdependence. Neoliberalism and the way in which it bounced back and forth between Eastern Europe and the Western world during the Cold War as exemplified by Johanna Bockman’s innovative study on the left-wing origins of neoliberalism” (Bockman, Markets in the Name of Socialism: The Left-Wing Origins of Neoliberalism [2011]) is a good example. Another good example is populism and its spectacular resurrection in the West. Greater attention will therefore need to be paid to global temporalities and the ways in which they affect the contents of discourses. Where the East European left took the stage in the 1990s (for instance in Hungary), it did so not only after the fall of communism, but simultaneously with the rise of “New Labour,” which was itself a capitulation to capitalism. The sensitive question here is the extent to which local timing shaped the events and the extent to which global timing was decisive or at least significant, and also how the local and global trajectories paralleled each other and how they diverged.

Fifth, in contrast to the nineteenth century, when Europe represented predominantly an idea, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries it also represents concrete structures and policies and communicating public spheres. How does this affect the ways in which we narrate European intellectual history?

Sixth, although the individual essays are assembled under traditional and established ideological currents (liberalism, conservativism, etc., which in fact is quite comforting and reassuring for an intellectual historian), it would seem to me that the major challenge for contemporary intellectual historians is how to provide intelligible categories for the present blurring of ideological borders (for example, the appropriation of the defense of social rights by the extreme right wing, the patriotic turn of both the left and the right, the anti-EU positions of both the radical left and the radical right) so typical of post-industrial society. Do we group them according to well-known and established political categories? According to their self-ascription? According to their institutional affiliations to transnational party unions and associations? When I discuss the intellectual development of Viktor Orbán with my Hungarian liberal-democratic (and anti-communist) friends, they all tend to push him into the communist corner, the official justification being that this is the milieu out of which he initially emerged. However, Fidesz belongs formally to the European conservative party block, and Orbán’s politics are explicitly populist. Which political category can digest all this?

Thinking through Transition provides unique insights into the complex constellations described above. Nevertheless, local contextualization cannot deliver better answers unless it maintains the dialogue with bigger contextual frameworks by demonstrating their affinities, cross-fertilization, cleavage, or distance. The volume is particularly successful in avoiding a portrayal of Eastern Europe either as an aberration from European and global developments or as a mere passive recipient of ideas. This paradigm would need to be elaborated and developed further in its full complexity—admittedly not a simple task. Thinking through Transition is certainly a brave and important step in the right direction.

Augusta Dimou

Leibniz Institute for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg


pdfVolume 6 Issue 2 CONTENTS


The Routledge History of East Central Europe since 1700. Edited by Irina Livezeanu and Árpád von Klimó. Abingdon–New York: Routledge, 2017. 522 pp.

The Routledge History of East Central Europe since 1700 is a multi-authored textbook which introduces the state-of-the-art in the multifaceted historiography of modern East Central Europe without aiming to impose a single coherent perspective. The volume conceives of East Central Europe in rather broad and flexible terms: in the editors’ own words, East Central Europe lacks fixed boundaries, but it contains both “Central Europe” and “Southeastern Europe” (p.8). The volume consists of a brief introduction and ten long chapters, eight of which are thematic and cover the modern era since approximately 1700. The remaining two chapters are essentially chronological and somewhat narrower, focusing on the period of communism and its legacy and the post-89 years and ambiguous process of Europeanization, respectively.

The altogether twenty-one contributors cover mainstream topics in the political, socioeconomic and cultural history of East Central Europe, while also devoting significant attention to several newer scholarly subjects, such as gender, territoriality, migration, and commemorations. The book begins with an exploration of the momentous territorial changes in East Central Europe in modern times and the overarching shifts among its various “regimes of territoriality.” Drawing on Charles S. Maier in particular, the insightful overview penned by James Koranyi and Bernhard Struck plead for a conceptualization of the 1860s and the 1960s as the two key caesuras in the reorganization of political space. In their interpretation, the 1860s meant a shift from imperial rule over multiethnic spaces to attempts to “right-size” the nation through new infrastructures and territorial control. The 1960s brought the beginnings of a still ongoing global opening, in which territoriality no longer appears to be at the forefront of politics.

Koranyi and Struck combine an interest in high-level and local-level politics to provide a crisp narrative of how, by the nineteenth century, the epicenter of geopolitical struggles had shifted from the northern part of the region to the south, and how the map of the region was settled. They perceive stark continuities in the defining ideas, territorial ambitions, and homogenization projects which were characteristic of the region from the 1860s until the post-World War II period, while also fully acknowledging the novelty of imposing well-policed borders after World War I. While the two authors do not question that Nazi and Soviet policies fundamentally reshaped East Central European societies, they view these imperial projects as a drastic acceleration of preexisting trends, rather than as ruptures. They subsequently note that the practice of redrawing ethnic boundaries and spaces seems to have largely petered out by the 1960s, sourly adding that this has to do with the fact that the brutal process of “right-sizing the nation” had basically been completed by then. Koranyi and Struck could have devoted more attention to the varied conceptualizations of the region across time (beyond the period to which they aptly refer as the rise of Eastern Europe), their narrative nonetheless remains a theoretically informed and richly detailed overview which amounts to a seminal contribution to the volume.

While recurrently drawing on the cases of Hungary and, to a lesser extent, Bulgaria for examples, Krassimira Daskalova and Susan Zimmermann’s chapter on women’s and gender history similarly belongs among the highlights of the volume. Viewing gender as a primary way of signifying power relations which intersects with questions of class, religion, and the nation, the two authors emphasize that East Central European gender history has tended to be marginalized within both gender history and studies on East Central Europe. Their ambition is therefore to reveal several fruitful ways in which a gender-conscious history of this multifaceted region could help further reinterpretations of dominant paradigms in both of these larger fields.

Their clearly structured and nuanced chapter examines primarily the history of women’s lives, status, and experience to highlight historically changing gender norms and social practices in six major realms: education; work and social politics; law and citizenship; empire, nation, ethnicity; gendered scripts of sexualities and intimate relationships; and women’s activism and movements. Particularly noteworthy are Daskalova and Zimmermann’s depictions of the mixed blessings for women brought by the introduction of the modern legal system and, later, the socialist state. They show, for instance, that contrary to mainstream (and gender-biased) narratives on the rise of modern equality, the nineteenth century made the legal differences between men and women more pronounced. The authors subsequently show how, during the period of state socialism, formal equality was combined with persistent practices of gender difference. They argue that, on the one hand, socialist regimes did more than West European states to abolish the legal subordination of women, and state socialist education policies in particular greatly improved the latter’s social standing and opportunities. On the other hand, the enormous and forceful mobilization of women into the world of paid labor produced largely segregated and stratified labor markets, while the gendered division of care-taking remained widely ignored. In addition to the fact that it is complex and balanced, another key strength of the chapter is that it highlights several possibilities for further research. Daskalova and Zimmermann plead in particular for the need for more entangled histories across macro-regions, which would simultaneously recognize and explore the major effects material scarcity had on East Central Europe.

The single chapter of the volume devoted entirely to cultural history focuses on the creation of literary cultures, broadly conceived. In other words, it aims to connect the production of cultural representations to social and political currents. Irina Livezeanu, Thomas Ort, and Alex Drace-Francis trace various movements, networks, and schools of thought, while highlighting the often underestimated connections among intellectuals within the region. The three coauthors assert that under communism, literary and cultural life achieved unique social and political relevance. They argue that this was the culmination of earlier trends, the origins of which can be traced all the way back to the absolutist experiments of the eighteenth century and the various attempts to rethink the relationship between government and the citizenry since then.

The three coauthors show early on that, contrary to the assertions typically found in national narratives, language-building and print development went hand in hand with projects to consolidate imperial rule and standardize public education. They subsequently sketch how, at the time of the rise of modernism, the cultural life of East Central Europe still remained less differentiated and more holistic than some of the “major cultures” further west. As Livezeanu, Ort, and Drace-Francis perceptively explain, the interwar period brought more militant and ideologically-driven intellectual and artistic agendas and, therefore, sharper polarization, but also much more of nationalization. Moreover, the coauthors focus on the wartime cultural transformation that facilitated the postwar revolutions. Their treatment of the postwar period strikes a balance between the tragic cases of individual intellectuals and the unprecedented availability and accessibility of high culture. Its erudite longue durée explorations and emphasis on the postwar relevance of literary culture make this one of the paramount contributions to a volume in which cultural history is rarely given detailed attention and several chapters arguably treat the postwar period a bit hastily.

Patrice M. Dabrowski and Stefan Troebst, for instance, trace the uses and abuses of history from the eighteenth century to 1989. They offer numerous valuable insights, especially into the rather hesitant Ottoman and the rather drastic post-Ottoman politics of history. While their perspective is broad and the number of cases analyzed impressive, Dabrowski and Troebst slightly underplay the communist experience in order to buttress their claim that the long nineteenth century, the interwar period, and World War II were all of greater relevance in determining the new-old patterns of remembrance since 1989.

Similarly, Ulf Brunnbauer and Paul Hanebrink are interested in the successes and failures of a broad variety of political visions and ideologies, but they cover only visions and ideologies of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth. They offer an excellent brief survey of major trends in political-ideological thinking on a regional scale, covering the liberals, the left, the agrarians, and the right in an equally balanced manner (even if, understandably for such a short narrative, the depth of coverage cannot match that found in the new A History of Modern Political Thought in East Central Europe). However, Brunnbauer and Hanebrink end rather abruptly with the communist takeover, leaving the reader somewhat perplexed about what they refer to as the stubborn persistence of certain key political ideas, despite the massive subsequent transformations.

The chapter entitled “Communism and Its Legacy” provides ample compensation for these choices. In this chapter, Malgorzata Fidelis and Irina Gigova explore four themes, namely state-building and nation-building, social relations, East-West interactions, and the decline and fall of communism. Viewing the departure from the limiting totalitarian framework of omnipresent state control and the new interest in everyday life as welcome developments in scholarship, the authors are interested primarily in new scholarship that complements or directly challenges previous scholarly and popular understandings of the epoch and its impact. Highlighting that the study of communism remains very much a work in progress, Fidelis and Gigova provide brief overviews of several of the most fruitful avenues for new research. These avenues include the continuities across 1945, which may help contextualize and explain the rise of Stalinism; state-society negotiations under communist regimes; new forms of leisure and consumption; the experiences of and meanings attached to socialist spaces; East–West entanglements; and, last but not least, how East Central Europeans imagined the West during the Cold War. This is a perceptive, up-to-date overview of English-language publications, even if the exclusive focus on the latter and the neglect of studies on the Soviet Union constitute notable self-imposed limitations.

Joel Brady and Edin Hajdarpasic’s chapter on religion and ethnicity examines how the legitimating power of religion, ethnic solidarities, and nationalism interacted across different periods and regimes in East Central Europe. Approaching recent discussions of ethno-religious fusion and the ascendance of secularism in a rather critical manner, the authors develop an intriguing anti-teleological narrative with a marked focus on the Ottoman and post-Ottoman history of Southeastern Europe. Their main aim seems to be to challenge the rather popular millet-to-nation narrative. Brady and Hajdarpasic explain first that historians who emphasize the millet concept tend to overstate the systematic aspects of religious differentiation in Ottoman societies. Brady and Hajdarpasic continue by underlining that Muslim–Christian confessional distinctions, ambiguities, and antagonisms may have already been profoundly transformed by the violence of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, but that the toppling of Ottoman structures also produced deep divisions and exacerbated older ones within Orthodox Christianity. At the same time, several attempts were made even in later times to bridge the Christian–Muslim divide (most notably, the successful Albanian one and the much less successful South Slavic one). These are all valuable insights, which add up to a convincing reinterpretation of the relationship between religion and ethnicity in modern Southeast Europe. The chapter is both sketchier concerning the countries further north and rather brief and somewhat unspecific with regards to what it calls the “complex alignment of conservative, nationalist, and fascist forces with Christian religious organizations” in the first half of the twentieth century (p.198) and what it introduces as the complex relationship “between socialist states, religious institutions, and nationalist currents during the Cold War” (p.200).

Bogdan Murgescu and Jacek Kochanowicz´s chapter on the economic history of the region poses an implicit challenge to most of the other chapters in this volume and to much of what qualifies as mainstream today, more generally. Eager to suggest sharp dichotomies, Murgescu and Kochanowicz assert that the economic underdevelopment of East Central Europe compared to the West (its persistent backwardness, as they insist) has been all too real. In their sobering though fairly old-fashioned overview of economic development, Murgescu and Kochanowicz assert that the project of catching up with the Western core has been centrally important in modern times, but has remained basically unaccomplished, despite what the authors present as the continuous and unidirectional import of ideas, institutions, investment, and innovation from the West. Without analyzing entanglements with the Western core in a more complex fashion, they explain that East Central European history has been characterized by overly sharp discontinuities, so that, some fluctuations notwithstanding, wealth, knowledge, expertise, and practices could not be sufficiently accumulated.

Reinhard Heinisch’s political science contribution on party politics and the European Union is arguably even more at odds with the agenda and general tenor of the rest of the volume. Whereas the rise of “Europragmatism” traced by Heinisch may indeed be viewed as a seminal process of recent years, the author’s somewhat homogenizing perspective on a highly diverse region and his strong reliance on simple survey results make this a less than fully satisfying addition. In my assessment, less or more would both have yielded better results; the process of Europeanization might well have merited more attention on the longue durée too, and the history of the post-89 transition period could already have been discussed in a more encompassing fashion. Last but not least, the chapter on demography and population movements explores demographic and economic pressures, as well as the increasing roles of the state and violence in population movements. Theodora Dragostinova and David Gerlach focus on key developments in migration history, such as the shift from imperial mixing to national “unmixing,” from routine and seasonal to sustained and long-distance migration, and from the Cold War-era restrictions to the most recent patterns.

In sum, The Routledge History of East Central Europe since 1700 strikes an admirable balance not only between the many diverse areas it covers, but (partly through the strategic pairings of authors) also between the two, traditionally separately treated macro-regions it studies under the label “East Central Europe.” At the same time, the volume devotes limited sustained attention to more peripheral regions, including the recently much discussed borderlands. More crucially for a textbook of this kind, the volume achieves a fine balance between historical facts and narrative, on the one hand, and historiographical analysis and reflection, on the other. The themes chosen are large, important, and diverse enough that, with the single and only partial exception of the post-89 chapter, no individual choice appears questionable. Although the coverage is thus fairly representative, the emphasis which is put on some issues and questions in the volume (along with the failure to place emphasis on some other issues and questions) may nonetheless be viewed more critically. Despite the remarks on the key importance of social and cultural history made in the introduction, the volume contains no summary of social transformations and, as noted above, only one of the chapters focuses on cultural history. Other major themes, such as the transformation of state institutions and the recently much discussed roles of wars and violence, are recurrently hinted at rather than substantially discussed. Last but not least, most of the chapters make limited attempts to contextualize East Central European trends in broader continental or global frameworks. Even so, the volume manages to convey and reflect on several of the dominant historiographic trends and key research findings in the English-language scholarship of recent decades, and it presents a rich, thoughtful, and accessible new history of a highly complex region over three centuries.


Ferenc Laczó

Maastricht University

pdfVolume 6 Issue 2 CONTENTS


Central Europe in the High Middle Ages: Bohemia, Hungary and Poland, c. 900–c. 1300. By Nora Berend, Przemysław Urbańczyk, and Przemysław Wiszewski. (Cambridge Medieval Textbooks.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 550 pp.

This book introduces the history of Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary between the tenth and the thirteenth centuries. The first chapter, written by Nora Berend, provides a detailed discussion of what is understood by the phrase “Central Europe,” and how this concept can be applied to the history of the Middle Ages. Passing in review the complex historiography of this term and related terms, including the studies of Oskar Halecki and Jenő Szűcs, who both strongly advocated for the importance of this region in the history of Europe as a whole, and countless others, who outlined the specific features of this historical region, Berend concludes that there are many equally valid and legitimate ways of describing this part of the European continent. However, she notes that the concept of such a region did not exist in the Middle Ages, nor did the three polities form a unity. She nonetheless argues that Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary did share common features in their early development. Berend insists that she and her co-authors do not intend to essentialize the region by describing its unique features, and they are wary of entering the debate about whether or not the region belongs to the West or the East; instead, they are “attempting to evacuate value-judgments inherent in proving that these countries belonged to Western civilization,” and they are not “trying to isolate the region through the use of this term (i.e. Central Europe) from ‘the East’” (p.38). Taking an innovative approach, the authors want to explore in a systematic manner the similarities and differences between the three polities, but not with the intention of defining indicators of a fundamental difference with the rest of Europe.

The book is organized into thematic chapters that follow a chronological framework; each chapter is divided into sections which treat the three principalities side by side, providing an opportunity for comparisons and pointing out similarities and differences. Berend wrote the sections on Hungary; Przemysław Urbańczyk and Przemysław Wiszewski, an archaeologist and a historian respectively, were commonly responsible for the sections on Poland and Bohemia. A chapter describes the state of research regarding Slavic and Hungarian migrations and the connections between early Slavs and the Avar Empire. The subsequent one describes the formation of the three polities and the role of Christianization in this process. The focus then shifts to political developments, social and economic processes, and Church history in the formative period of the eleventh and twelfth centuries. The last chapter deals with the “new developments” of the thirteenth century, including social transformations, the impact of the Mongol invasion, urbanization, and cultural changes. Altogether, the book alternates between narrative sections which outline the political framework and thematic chapters which describe cultural and social processes.

The result is a lot more than a mere introduction to the history of this region. Paying attention to details and providing an up-to-date overview of recent research, the book explains often complex subjects in an approachable manner. The bibliography favors publications in western European languages, but it is not limited to them, and thus it provides Anglophone readers with references to easily accessible publications, while acknowledging scholarship which only a smaller subset of the intended readership will be able to consult. This is a very fortunate and balanced approach. Although few (too few) scholars outside of Central Europe might read Polish, Czech, or Hungarian, even fewer (if any) read all three of these languages. Thus, this book, while intended primarily for students or instructors not familiar with the region, will certainly also be useful to many who study one of these three polities, but are less familiar with the other two; it will facilitate access to this historiography for a younger generation of scholars and hopefully inspire some to learn these languages.

The book, however, is much more than a survey of research. The combination of the expertise of Berend, Urbańczyk, and Wiszewski allows for systematic comparisons of medieval Bohemia, Poland, and Hungary with a depth of coverage that is unusual. The systematic parallel presentation of developments in the three polities for each aspect discussed allows the reader to see similarities and differences, which are usually summarized at the beginning or end of each section. For instance, the parallel discussion illustrates that in Poland and Hungary, Christianization and the consolidation of central power were interrupted by pagan rebellions, but this did not take place in Bohemia, where such processes had begun earlier. The relationships between the three polities and Byzantium and the Holy Roman Empire were shaped differently: Bohemia was integrated into the latter, while the rulers of Poland and Hungary were involved in varying alliances and were seeking to strike a balance of power with other polities. Similar problems of succession and the role of seniority were dealt with in varying circumstances, but led everywhere in some degree to forms of territorial subdivisions.

If this were not enough, the book also provides an original revision of prevalent ideas and even misconceptions about Central Europe. For example, some readers might find it surprising that no chapter is devoted specifically to “German colonization” (or whatever other terms of phrases might be used), but that a chapter on social changes deals with the integration of immigrants and the appearance of a “multi-ethnic society” (p.465, for Poland). One could argue that this is just a new way of describing the same phenomenon, or that it provides an entirely new perspective, free from the ballast of past ideologies and more relatable to readers of the twenty-first century. Few, however, would deny that there is a lot in this book to stimulate reflection and discussion on a fundamental period of the history of this part of the continent, whatever term one prefers to use to refer to it.

Sébastien Rossignol
Memorial University Newfoundland and Labrador

Deserting Villages – Emerging Market Towns: Settlement Dynamics and Land Management in the Great Hungarian Plain: 1300–1700. By Edit Sárosi. (Archaeolingua. Series minor, 39.) Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2016. 320 pp.

It is a commonplace that there are “two Hungarys,” one to the west of the Danube and one to the east. Transdanubia is an area with hundreds of small villages, sloping vineyards, hills, a dense network of rivers, and relatively extensive woodlands, while the lowland that falls to the east of the Danube has a rather sparse settlement network, mostly mid-sized towns, and the land between them is dotted by only a few scattered houses. There are hardly any significant rivers between the Danube and the Tisza, and the extent of the woodlands is low compared to the western part of the country or the Northern Hungarian Mountains. This landscape, the so called puszta, the “cultural desert,” became an integral part of Hungarian identity. The book by Edit Sárosi discusses the process during which this landscape came to existence.

As indicated by the title of the book, the goal of the inquiry is to discuss long-term changes in the settlement network and land management strategies in the Danube–Tisza Interfluve area, which covers more or less the central third of present-day Hungary. Sárosi not only provides an overview of the development and the transformation of the settlement network of the region, she also discusses in detail the center of the interfluves area, specifically the town of Kecskemét, and she puts the development of the town and the surrounding villages in the context of the environmental and economic changes of the region. As stated in the introduction, the book aims not only to discuss the specific context of the changes which took place in the settlement network of the region, but also to give a methodological tool for further research into historical landscapes (including human landscapes).

The book consists of eight chapters, including the conclusions. The first presents the main research problem and gives a brief but useful overview of the available sources (documentary evidence, maps, toponyms, and archaeological records). For some reason, the environmental archaeological data was omitted, which however does not mean that Sárosi did not use findings from this discipline.

The second chapter provides a general image of the landscape of the Danube–Tisza Interfluve. The landscape as explained by Sárosi has changed significantly over the course of the last millennia. The process during which the “cultural desert” came into existence can certainly be connected to human activity. It is rather unclear, however, when this landscape became dominant. According to Sárosi, from the foundation of the Hungarian state (around the year 1000) and the intensification of arable farming, the forest steppe started to shrink and gave way to the puszta, a process which was very much accelerated by forest clearance in the Ottoman period. Although there is no question that by the early eighteenth century the region lacked woodlands, as nicely described by contemporaries such as Matthias Bel (whom Sárosi quotes), the extent to which the woodlands were victims of the Ottoman occupation is rather unclear.

The third chapter is dedicated to the study of the network of villages in the surroundings of Kecskemét. This is a critically important issue, since until now it has been rather unclear when the relatively dense network of villages in the period between the tenth and the thirteenth century were deserted and when the lands belonging to these villages became properties owned or leased by the inhabitants of Kecskemét. The author carefully presents the major waves of settlement abandonment based on the written sources and the archaeological data, and she analyzes how the present settlement network was formed. She convincingly argues that the networks of isolated farmsteads between the towns in the region are only partly products of the Ottoman-period economy. The formation of farmsteads the people of which lived off of gardening in the proximity of market towns can be associated with the Ottoman period, but in the case of farmsteads at the sites of former villages, there is no persuasive evidence of any such continuity. This is perhaps one of the most important lessons of the book, and Sárosi devotes more attention to it in chapter seven.

The next chapter is dedicated to the perishing villages themselves. The book provides a detailed morphological analysis and a description of the elements of the villagescape in the late medieval period. Chapter five, however, turns to the discussion of the centers, namely the market towns, as a special type of town, of which Kecskemét is certainly a perfect example. The introduction of this chapter may be a bit longer than necessary, but the second half of the chapter offers a well-written discussion of the role of the town in the urban network of the early modern Great Hungarian Plain. There are references to the other major market towns in the region, such as Cegléd and to some extent Nagykőrös, but more detailed comparisons with these settlements may have been yielded more insights.

Chapter six is dedicated to the topographic development of Kecskemét, of which Sárosi is without a doubt the most important authority. She provides the reader with a very precise analysis of the topographical development and the features of the townscape. The lack of Franciscan friaries in the region up to the eighteenth century, which is a phenomenon peculiar to the area (and mentioned by the author in this chapter), would certainly be worth a detailed study.

As already mentioned, the seventh chapter is probably the most important section of the book, since to some extent it wraps up the preceding chapters. It very clearly demonstrates that agriculture and its major restructuring in the late medieval period and, moreover, in the sixteenth century fostered the development of Kecskemét as a town. Chapter eight summarizes the main findings of the book, which are broken into two categories; settlement patterns, and land-management and settlement morphology.

The book is rich in visual supporting materials, most of which are not simply included but are used and referred to by the author, which makes the book reader-friendly. There are a few terminological inconsistencies, the most important of which is the Great Hungarian Plain, which in most cases is referred to as the Great Plain by Sárosi, and this may be a bit confusing for the international readership. The bibliography is exhaustive, the only possible oversight being the recently published works of Kyra Lyublyanovics on Cuman farming in the Great Hungarian Plain.

Despite these minor shortcomings, the book is unquestionably a major contribution to the settlement history of the Danube–Tisza Interfluve area, but in fact it is much more than that. It is a book which truly integrates different research perspectives and traditions, using English landscape archaeology as a reference point, but also integrating archaeology, landscape history, environmental history, and settlement history. Thus, it offers a path that hopefully many similar monographs will follow.

András Vadas
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Das Reich als Netzwerk der Fürsten: Politische Strukturen unter dem Doppelkönigtum Friedrichs II. und Heinrichs (VII.) 1225–1235. By Robert Gramsch. (Mittelalter-Forschungen 40.) Ostfildern: Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 2013. 456 pp.

The original goal of this book by Staufer Prize-winning historian Robert Gramsch was to offer a new look at the history of the German interregnum (1254–73), though both the beginning date of this period and the precise definition of the term itself proved complex, since the interregnum in fact meant a permanent dual kingdom, the prototype of which had already existed in the period between 1225 and 1235. Gramsch focuses in his inquiry on the period in which Frederick II and Henry VII shared power (he considers this the precursor to the interregnum). In his assessment, the renunciation of the crown by Henry VII in 1235, which given the manner in which it took place and the collaboration of the imperial princes seemed to be the high point of the reign of Frederick II and the Hohenstaufen dynasty, in fact was the beginning of the end. However, the emperor had brought down a legally elected king who had wielded power, and this dramatically undermined the institution of the kingdom itself, creating a dangerous precedent (pp.55–56). Since the followers of Heinrich Raspe (1246–47), the later rival king, earlier had been supporters of Henry VII and, according to the earlier secondary literature, Henry’s imprudent politics had played a serious role in the weakening of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, Gramsch focuses in his inquiry on Henry himself and his reign.

Perhaps the most distinctive and innovative feature of Gramsch’s book lies in the methodology he has chosen, specifically the sociological study of networks. He strives to uncover the positive, negative, and neutral ties between the Church and secular princes of the Empire and the relationships between its most important towns. This tendency to place local actors in the foreground of inquiries into historical events is not uncommon in the German scholarship on the Middle Ages. However, this method has only been used effectively in studies on the period of Henry the Lion. Gramsch, however, departs down this road, but he offers considerably more, for he has two essential goals: first, he seeks to demonstrate the usefulness of research on networks in the scholarship on the Middle Ages and, second, he offers a reinterpretation of the reign of Henry VII on the basis of information and networks of relationships brought to the surface with this methodology.

The first chapters deal with network research itself, familiar only in recent decades in German scholarship, but quite well-established among Anglo-Saxon historians. The style of this section is entirely comprehensible even to a lay-reader, if perhaps at times a bit dry. This methodology makes it possible for the historian to offer a reconstruction of interrelationships which, because the sources were either scattered or only tangential, earlier had been largely ignored. Thus, it becomes possible to offer a more complex picture. The network models that are thus brought into the foreground are not rigid snapshots, since both the networks and the actors within them influence one another, and the complex new interrelationships that emerge constitute an excellent foundation for historical analysis (though the dynamic processes and individual shifts in values cannot be brought into the discussion).

By examining the politically relevant acts which took place between 1225 and 1273, Gramsch creates his own database, on which his study rests. Of the 153 actors in this database, he focuses on 68 who, because of their influence and their involvement in the various conflicts, are particularly important to his model of the ties between the imperial princes. The book includes 22 color tables, which show year by year the relationships of the individual federative groupings to one another, relationships which were determined by ties of blood and marriage, hostile or friendly acts, the so-called series dignitatum in charters, and the presence of the Hoftag (a kind of informal imperial diet).

The larger section of the book presents the conflicts that arose in the course of Henry VII’s reign, conflicts which played key roles in the development and transformation of the imperial network. In the course of this discussion, Gramsch places in a new light several questions which have been regarded essentially as answered in the secondary literature. Just to mention but a few, the goal of the assassination of Engelbert, archbishop of Cologne, on 7 November 1225, for instance, was not actually to kill, but rather to kidnap him. It was motivated not by envy of the territorial power of the neighboring princes, but rather by the confrontation on several fronts between Herman II, lord of Lippe and his allies on the one hand and Cologne on the other (pp.140–57). Gramsch offers a similar reinterpretation of the persecution of heretics by Konrad von Marburg in 1231–32, which have become infamous for their brutality and which can be tied to the landgrave of Thuringia’s offensives against Cologne and Mainz (pp.290–300).

Gramsch’s examination of the Empire’s networks also casts light on two fundamental reasons for the break between the emperor and his son, reasons which have been largely ignored in the secondary literature. The first was Henry’s marriage, or to be more precise, the decision of the emperor to make Margaret of the House of Babenberg the queen consort of Germany instead of Agnes of Bohemia. The Austrian secondary literature offers no explanation for this decision, but Gramsch suggests that it was perhaps influenced by the machinations of Louis IV, landgrave of Thuringia, and Leopold VI, duke of Austria (pp.104–05). The other neuralgic point was the relationship with the House of Wittelsbach, which was essentially the only serious subject of political discord between father and son. While Frederick II began to pursue demonstrably anti-Bavarian politics in 1225 (p.220)—and the appointment of Louis I as imperial regent in no way contradicts this—with the exception of a short intermezzo in 1229, Henry VII remained pro-Bavarian until 1233.

Though the book focuses on the networks and political turns within the Holy Roman Empire, in the case of some of the events the narrative also touches on the Kingdom of Hungary, though the theories it presents concerning the rule of Andrew II of Hungary are easy to be refuted. The most interesting of these concerns an (alleged) agreement which was reached at the same time as the Graz agreement. Gramsch suggests that, according to this other agreement, Andrew II withdrew his support for his niece, Agnes of Bohemia, and in exchange, Leopold VI withdrew his support for the Order of the Teutonic Knights, which the Hungarian king longed to see driven out. Indeed, Andrew even prevailed on the pope to do the same, as allegedly proven by the passage of the bull which begins “Intellecto iam dudum,” according to which the severed crownlands lying in the territory of Prince Béla could be retaken. Since Prince Béla only came to the fore in Transylvanian politics in 1226 the authorization could not have applied to the estates of the Order in Burzenland. Moreover, in the course of the Austrian–Bohemian–Hungarian conflict of 1233 (which is given considerable emphasis), according to contemporary sources there were two (not one) Hungarian military campaigns, and the notion of an allegedly anti-royalist conspiracy of the Hungarian magnates of 1235 (mentioned in Gramsch’s narrative) cannot be considered plausible, given the testimony of the chronicler Master Roger.

These debatable theories, however, in no way detract from the significance of this monograph as a serious contribution to historical scholarship, for Gramsch offers a fundamentally new and persuasive picture of Henry VII: he emerges as a ruler who knew how to handle the imperial princes, sensed shifts in the networks of relationships, was capable of taking action, and was gifted with political foresight. Thus, his fall was not a consequence of his personality or his political clumsiness, or even bad luck. Rather, Frederick II, having recognized the unviability of the system of a dual kingdom (which he had created), made use of the unusually balanced internal network of relationships in the Empire and deprived him of power. Because of the influence of the imperial propaganda, Henry was seen by his contemporaries and the historians of later centuries as the rebellious son, even though he only “slipped into” revolt (pp.345–52).

Gramsch’s book persuasively demonstrates that research on networks of relationships does indeed have an important place in the (German) scholarship on the Middle Ages, and the book itself will occupy an important place in the libraries of historians interested in the Hohenstaufen period.

Veronika Rudolf
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Ritual and Symbolic Communication in Medieval Hungary under the Árpád Dynasty. By Dušan Zupka. (East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, 39.) Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2016. 224 pp.

The introductory part of the book contains a short description of the sources, in which Zupka states that the main source of the book will be the fourteenth-century Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle. Zupka then gives a short historiographical introduction to the Slovak and Hungarian secondary literature. The first chapter of the book gives an overview of the terminology and the general historiography of the rituals, focusing mainly on the German and English scholarship while the second deals with the rituals of power and the royal symbols. This latter chapter contains analyses of the different types of coronations, the laudes regiae (royal acclamation), cingulum militiae (the girding by sword), and court festivities. Chapter 3 focuses on the rituals of reconciliation, which reference to several examples. The fourth chapter focuses on the solemn royal entries (adventus regis) in medieval Hungary and in particular the ritual acts that were performed in Dalmatia. Following the discussion of the royal entries, the fifth chapter focuses on the greeting rituals among royalties. The final, sixth chapter is a conclusion which highlights the roles of rituals, offers some discussion of the ways in which these rituals may have been acquired as well as how they continued to evolve in the late Middle Ages.

Zupka has made a significant contribution to the literature with this book, since it is the first comprehensive work that deals with the royal rituals in Hungary in the Árpádian period in such detail and subtlety. He draws attention to the rituals and the symbolic communication used by the Hungarian kings, and he puts every chapter and topic of the book in a larger European context and interprets the results of his analyses in light of the roles played by the rituals in medieval society. The chapters start with a general introduction based on European history. Zupka then presents the Hungarian cases, and each chapter ends with a short conclusion. The work is well-structured and clearly arranged, and the construction of chapters helps the reader put the Hungarian cases in the European context.

Zupka has examined a topic which, until now, has been neglected in the secondary literature, and this deserves recognition, but I nonetheless must make a few critical observations which highlight the main problems with the methodology and the findings of his study. First, while the author gives a detailed summary of the English and German secondary literature and makes broad uses of Slovak historiography, some crucial Hungarian works, such as Ágnes Kurcz’s research on chivalry and girding by sword and András Vizkelety’s work on the wedding-ceremony of Prince Béla, are conspicuously absent from his discussion. Moreover, while Zupka deals with several Dalmatian and Croatian cases, such as the royal entries into Dalmatian towns, royal acclamations, royal oaths, etc., he completely neglects the Croatian historiography, for example the works of Mladen Ančić on the image and rituals of the Hungarian kings or Ana Marinković’s research on King Coloman’s royal chapel in Zadar, which helps further an understanding of early Hungarian royal symbolic ceremonies and artifacts in Dalmatia.

The other major problem is that the whole book, which deals primarily with the eleventh and twelfth centuries, is based on a single narrative source, the fourteenth-century Hungarian Illuminated Chronicle. The author mentions in the introduction that the dating and the credibility of this source is highly debated, and he also indicates that Hungarian and non-Hungarian historians have reached a fairly widespread consensus that the eleventh-century and twelfth-century parts of the chronicle are based on an older text and are reliable. The author accepts that some parts of the source are probably unreliable for the examined period, and others may be reliable, and then for the rest of the book essentially sets aside the question of source criticism. In my opinion, if an inquiry is based as exclusively as Zupka’s book on one later narrative text, the historian is obliged to examine the credibility of the texts critically, not treating them as if their authors were eyewitnesses to the events. The fact that the earlier parts of the Chronicle are based on an older text and the events described in it are probably factually reliable does not necessarily mean that the descriptions of the rituals are accurate and credible and not simply embellishments crafted by a chronicler which reflect the original author’s aims, but not the actual events. The other problem with Zupka’s use of sources is that he made little use of legal sources. For example, throughout the first half of the twelfth century, the kings of Hungary took oaths when they visited Dalmatian cities, and these oaths were later put in written form that came down to us. However, when Zupka examines these oaths, he uses only the thirteenth-century chronicle of Thomas of Split, instead the contemporary charters from Trogir or Zadar. Some overlooked charters preserved the composition of the royal entourages during the royal entries in Dalmatia, and others provide information about gift-giving rituals which had an important place in maintaining the relationship between the coastal cities and the Hungarian royal court, both in ecclesiastical and secular contexts.

As a minor critical note, sometimes it seems that Zupka aims to show similarities between Hungarian and European rituals, and he fails to emphasize the uniqueness and distinctiveness of some acts which were customary in Hungary. For example, he does not appear to realize that the structure of the Hungarian royal visits in Dalmatia had changed by the end of the twelfth century, and the royal oaths were no longer part of the ceremonies. He also fails to deal with the rituals of the dukes of Slavonia in the thirteenth century, who had rituals similar to the rituals of the kings. The dukes of Slavonia, who were the royal governors of the territory and often the crown princes of Hungary, made solemn ducal entries in Dalmatian towns (for instance, Duke Andrew in 1200 and Duke Coloman in 1226). Their visits to their territory were marked by shows of great pomp, and they probably had symbolic first visits too, along with gift-giving rituals. They also had their own entourages, which resembled the king’s company in many respects.

As a second smaller critical note, it should be mentioned that Zupka uses toponyms inconsistently: the cities and places that are in present-day Slovakia are mentioned in their Slovak version in the case of Bratislava and Nitra. When a city is outside the border of modern Slovakia or is not in Hungary, Zupka sometimes mentions the cities by their Hungarian names and sometimes indicates also the city’s official name today, but sometimes he mentions only the modern, non-Hungarian toponym (e.g. pp.43, 58, 63). I also do not understand the distinction he draws between Hungarian and “Magyar” history (p.191).

In conclusion, Zupka has produced a well-structured supplementary monograph which highlights several issues which have either been forgotten or simply neglected in the secondary literature on Hungarian and Central European history. Zupka exhaustively knows and uses the international secondary literature on the rituals and acts of symbolic communication in Hungary of the Árpádian period, and he successfully puts the Hungarian cases in a wider European context. However, the use of sources, the complete lack of source criticism, the failure to take into consideration the Croatian secondary literature, and the failure to address the uniqueness of certain Hungarian rituals leaves unanswered questions for the reader and throws into question the reliability of the author’s findings.

Judit Gál
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Székesfehérvár története az Árpád-korban [The history of Székesfehérvár in the Árpádian period]. By Attila Zsoldos, Gábor Thoroczkay, and Gergely Kiss. Székesfehérvár: Városi Levéltár és Kutatóintézet, 2016. 365 pp.

In November 1490, after having captured the town of Székesfehérvár as part of the campaign he had launched in order to acquire the Hungarian crown, the king of the Romans, Maximilian I recounted the events of the conflict in a pronouncement that was highly propagandistic in nature. In his account, he referred to the town as the capital and strongest town of Hungary (“la principalle et plusforte ville dungrie”). Without throwing into question the merits and might of Maximilian’s military, as it so happens, in the late Middle Ages Székesfehérvár was not considered the capital of Hungary, the ruler’s claim notwithstanding. Indeed, it was not even considered a particularly well-fortified settlement. The town was significant at the time first and foremost because it was the site of coronations. Thus, as was by then established Hungarian tradition, a ruler was only regarded as legitimate if he had been crowned in the basilica in Székesfehérvár, the royal church which had been founded by the first Hungarian king, Saint Stephen of Hungary, and which was under the direct authority of the Apostolic See. The prestige of the town rested not simply on the role it played during the reign of Saint Stephen, but also on the acts of his descendants and successors, who added to its fame. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the town enjoyed the most prominence under the rulers of the Árpádian dynasty, i.e. in the period between 1000 and 1301. Hungarian scholarship has something of an outstanding debt, in that it has failed to devote sufficient attention to the history of the town during the Árpádian period. Attempts have been made over the course of the past few centuries to offer a narrative of the history of the town in the Middle Ages, i.e. from the earliest times until the Ottoman occupation in 1543. These forays, however, do not bear comparison with the current undertaking of Attila Zsoldos and his co-authors, neither from the perspective of their methodologies nor from the perspective of their use of sources. Fejér vármegye története [The history of Fejér County], a several-volume narrative written by János Károly at the end of the nineteenth century, focuses on Fejér County. Only the second volume is dedicated to the county seat, Székesfehérvár. Károly’s narrative thus focuses on the history of a region, in which the history of the town is only a little more than a chapter. Gyula Lauschmann’s Székesfehérvár története [The history of Székesfehérvár], which was written in the first half of the twentieth century, focuses exclusively on Székesfehérvár, but in the narrative of the history of this town, which obviously stretches over the better part of a millennium, only a small section is devoted to the Árpádian period. The work of Attila Zsoldos, who is an internationally renowned scholar of the Árpádian period, situates the history of the town under the Árpádian dynasty in the larger political history of the age. Zsoldos adopts a methodology, in his study of the first three centuries of the town’s history, which breaks with the accepted approaches to urban history in Hungary. Only two of the five chapters are devoted to a chronological presentation of the events which influenced the development of the settlement and which can be reconstructed on the basis of the available written sources. Zsoldos narrates these events like a chronicler presenting the history of the town. He divides his linear account of the history of the town, which relies strictly on written sources, into two parts. The pivotal moment comes in 1241 with the Mongol invasion, which constituted an important turn in the development of Székesfehérvár. As a consequence of the Mongol invasion, which swept aside almost everything in its path, the privileges which had been enjoyed by the people from Western Europe who had settled in the suburbs (“suburbium”) and moved to the walled town (“castrum”), first and foremost Walloons (the so-called Latins) became privileges of the entire town. The two narrative parts of the book are found between four chapters which focus on specific questions in the history of the town in the Árpádian period. In these chapters, Zsoldos sheds the garb of chronicler and dons instead the robes of the researcher, examining in each a question that was decisive from the perspective of the development of the town. In the first chapter (“The Beginning”), he attempts to identify the geographical, economic, and historical factors which played a role in the decision to found a town on a site at which there had been no earlier settlements in Antiquity. Zsoldos places considerable emphasis on the fact that, at the time of the Hungarian Conquest, the area around what would later become the town was part of the tribal occupation territories of the Árpáds. In connection with this, the question of the origins of the name of the town, which literally means “white castle” and which was used very early on, comes up. Zsoldos takes time in this chapter to refute myths concerning the town, for instance the notion that Grand Prince Géza, Saint Stephen’s father, was buried in Fehérvár. Zsoldos also explains in this chapter the essential (in his assessment) difference between the center of castellany, which came to constitute the inner town of the medieval town, and the center of principality, a term which is more generally known. The third chapter (“The Capital”) examines the ways in which contemporaries considered Székesfehérvár the capital in the eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. Unquestionably the most important factor from this perspective was the fact that the town was the holy center of the Árpáds, since it was home to the Basilica of the Virgin Mary and the Provostry, both of which had been founded by the first Hungarian Christian king. Two younger scholars, Gábor Thoroczkay and Gergely Kiss, present the history of the royal basilica, its privileges, and its estates. The town was important in the Árpádian period not simply as a religious center, but also as the site of coronations and royal burials. Furthermore, some important institutions functioned from the outset in Székesfehérvár, and this added to the role of the town as a seat. These institutions included the royal assizes of Fehérvár sometime around 15 August, which were first held in the twelfth century. At the royal assizes it was the ruler himself who adjudicated on the matters of his subjects. While the king saw to his responsibilities in the administration of justice, inevitably events of national significance arose which created opportunities for the passage of new laws, which the ruler did with the cooperation of his prelates and notabilities. Thus, Székesfehérvár also served as the site of the “congregatio generalis”, a form of assembly which was the precursor to the later national assemblies. As the “loca credibilia”, the cathedral chapter in Székesfehérvár continued to enjoy national jurisdiction, which makes it even more likely that the royal archive was also held in the cathedral chapter. In contrast with the third part, the fourth, entitled “The Town of the Bourgeoisie,” examines not what the town was able to give to the kingdom, but what it was able to give its own denizens, first and foremost the settlers from Western Europe, who must have been present, alongside the center of castellany, as of the middle of the eleventh century. It is worth asking how the privileges of the Latins became the privileges of an entire community, in particular since this later served as a kind of legal precedent in other towns of the Hungarian kingdom. The more interesting question in the scholarship, however, is not which rights and privileges the people who came to and lived in the town were able to obtain and assert in the course of time, but rather whether or not the contents of the original charter, which did not survive, can be determined on the basis of the privileges that were later confirmed or strengthened. Zsoldos carefully examines whether the denizens of the town who lived either in its suburbs or in various parts of the inner town actually were under the jurisdiction of the town or rather were under the authority of the chapter or in some cases some other Church institution. The privileges which gave economic advantages to people involved in commerce and crafts were an important subset of the privileges of the town burghers, as were the privileges which applied to the properties they acquired with the wealth they had obtained. The last chapter of the book, the title of which is not terribly informative (“Fehérvár at the End of the Árpádian period”), presents the topography of the town in the eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth centuries. Zsoldos moves from the “castrum”, that is the center of the settlement in the direction of the suburbs, which means that he moves from the parts of the town about which we have the most information and sources to areas on which we have almost no information at all. He redraws the map of the town in the Middle Ages, since he persuasively shows that the suburb given the name Nova villa was connected to the town not from the south (as has been contended in the secondary literature). Rather, it joined the area of the earliest “Budai suburb” from the south. Zsoldos takes into consideration the religious, administrative, and economic institutions and public spaces of the settlement, and on the basis of the number of office-holders and the order in which the various suburbs figure in the documents issued by the town in the late Middle Ages, he establishes a hierarchy among the various parts of the settlement. This part of the inquiry unquestionably goes beyond the history of the town in the Árpádian period. Zsoldos, Thoroczkay and Kiss have placed the genre of the urban history monograph on new foundations. Moving from national political events, the defining social changes of the period, the general historical trends and tendencies of the Árpádian period, and the general sources on which historical inquiries have relied, they arrive at the distinctive features of the town of Fehérvár itself. The chronologically arranged history of events and the interpretive sections of the narrative are complemented with relatively substantial summaries in German and English, which follow the structures of the chapters and subchapters. The book, which is indeed impressive as a work of fine scholarship, also contains an array of arresting visual materials, and familiar illustrations are presented to the reader in images of very high quality.

Renáta Skorka
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Das Wiener Stadtzeichnerbuch 1678–1685: Ein Bettlerverzeichnis aus einer frühneuzeitlichen Stadt. By Sarah Pichlkastner. (Quelleneditionen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 12.) Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 417 pp.

Contemporary social and political problems and questions almost always raise questions concerning history, and historians, when dealing with the problems of the present, strive to respond appropriately, searching in the past for answers to the problems societies face today. This is particularly true of questions and issues connected to social and economic history. The question of social welfare, the fate of the poor, and people living on the border of poverty has been one of the more prominent of these issues for a long time now. Clearly, this question is made even more pressing by the crisis of the welfare state, which has emerged as the states of Western Europe have found themselves increasingly unable to sustain the social network that was developed and financed in the decades following World War II and the state’s role in the provision of social welfare has diminished.

Sarah Pichlkastner agrees that there are important links between historical scholarship and the social problems we face today. In her introduction, she insists on the relevance of this question by examining the measures taken in the European Union and, more narrowly, Austria to address poverty. Pichlkastner and her work in the publication of sources form an integral part of the research that has been underway in the Institute of History of the University of Vienna, since under the leadership of Herwig Weigl and with the participation of historians from the countries neighboring Austria several conferences have been held and conference volumes and sources have been published.

The sources which Pichlkastner has published were originally compiled when state relief for the poor was being institutionalized, a process which reflected medieval and (perhaps more palpably) early modern attitudes concerning beggars and the indigent. In her introduction, Pichlkastner offers a detailed presentation of this process, i.e. the institutionalization on the municipal level of relief for the poor, one of the most important aspects of which was the classification of the poor, or in other words, the decision concerning whether or not someone deserved succor or not. One of the most important criteria in this process was whether or not the person in question was a denizen of the city. Similarly important was the question of what lay at the cause of the person’s indigence and whether or not he or she was capable of working. The Wiener Stadtordnung of 1526, which brought an end to the revolt of the Vienna City Council, introduced regulations similar to the regulations in other major European cities. These regulations established limits on begging and a more organized form of providing for the poor. Sources on the basis of which a separate volume of records was kept in Vienna are essentially tied to this. A volume based on these sources from the period between 1678 and 1685 survived among the documents of the Vienna general hospital. A “Bettelzeichen” was essentially a form of identification indicating that the person who bore it was worthy of (i.e. eligible for) the support of the burghers of the city and the municipal government. As was usually the case in questions of municipal administration in the Habsburg Monarchy, the changes moved in the direction of increased state authority and oversight. Pichlkastner makes no specific mention of this, but the issue of relief for the poor was one of the aspects of administrative and governmental life in the city that the commissioners who were delegated to oversee the elections (earlier the so-called Eidkommissar, later the Wahlkommissar) had to audit and oversee. According to the instructions they were given, they were expected to inspect the alms houses and paupers’ asylums maintained by the city and audit their management. They were also expected to examine the conditions in which the indigent lived and determine who the people were for whom the city provided support. The decrees of Leopold I (1693) and Joseph II concerning the poor limited the provision of relief for the indigent to care given in alms, houses and hospitals under state supervision and regulation. In these institutions, in compliance with the earlier principles, care could only be provided for people who, according to the state regulations, had been classified as worthy of support.

The source materials that Pichlkastner has now made available are based for the most part on the inspections and audits concerning the poor and measures taken to provide relief for the poor. The reader is presented with the visitations that were conducted by the commissioners. The information in the Vienna source consists of these inspections. Pichlkastner has done a superb job with this source publication, and the source itself is unique in that one rarely if ever finds so much information in one place. The published documents of the inspections contain 1,100 entries, which would be sufficient as the foundation for a complete social history inquiry. The “Wiener Stattzaichen” does not simply offer the reader a mechanical publication of the source (though accompanied with excellent notes). Rather, it offers a complete analysis of the information published. The documents clearly show the relationship between the state and society on the one hand and the issue of the indigent on the other. They also shed light on the determinations that were made concerning who was eligible for the support of the community. The most frequently cited justifications for providing someone with support included advanced age, many children, various illnesses, and a disability which prevented someone from working. As the capital of the Habsburg Monarchy, a demographically large city with 50,000 inhabitants and a wealthy settlement, Vienna was an attractive destination for people who for whatever reason found themselves on the margins of society. The pivotal events of the period also played a role in this, as illustrated by the fact that the number of people who received care grew dramatically in 1663, when the Austro–Turkish War broke out, and during the siege of Vienna in 1683. Since archival sources deal for the most part with people who were in the highest echelons of society (since in general only people belonging to higher social strata were involved in the legal cases for which written sources were created and kept), the group of sources published here sheds light on a social stratum on which historians heretofore had very little data. The information contained in this source material will be useful from the perspective of social history, for instance the information included alongside the names, such as place of origin, place of residence, age, reasons for needing assistance, denominational affiliation, general health, and family status. One finds no comparable plethora of data concerning a relatively coherent social group anywhere in the region.

Making excellent use of the materials at her disposal, Pichlkastner presents the group of sources she has made available. Her analysis sheds light on the circumstances under which the sources were created, the administrative system which oversaw the social welfare system at the time, and the system of oversight and inspection that emerged. Though her analysis focuses first and foremost on the issue of relief for the poor, one can nonetheless find parallels in it that are interesting from the perspective of municipal politics, since one finds traces of the controlling role of the external council in the case of Vienna, much as one finds signs of its influence a few decades later in the case of the Hungarian royal free cities. The map indicating the institutions where the indigent were taken in (mostly churches and monasteries) also shows the situation of relief for the poor in the seventeenth century.

The second large chapter contains an excellent analysis which sheds light on the reasons for the creation of the “beggar’s identification paper” (“Bettelzeichen”), the ways in which the information included in these identification papers evolved over time, and the distinctive features of other kinds of sources that were also related to the issue of relief for the poor. Pichlkastner also presents the antecedents and secondary literature connected to this group of sources. This is followed, in the third section, by a presentation of the published archival sources. Pichlkastner makes excellent use of the approach characteristic of the younger generation of Austrian archivists. These researchers consider the “Quellenkunde” and “Aktenkunde” analyses found primarily in German scholarship important, first and foremost from the perspective of methodology. Pichlkastner’s analysis presents the emergence, evolution, and distinctive features of the identification papers used in Vienna (the “Stadtzeichen”), as well as the circumstances and timing of their inclusion in the archives. In other words, she provides a description of the source materials she has made available that adheres to the guidelines for a General International Standard Archival Description set by the International Council on Archives. In her analysis, she presents the entire series (not just the published volume) in detail, indicating which kinds of source we are dealing with and whether the series can be considered a municipal book or not. Pichlkastner then presents the content of the group of sources and draws attention to the shifts in their structure. This is followed by a brief presentation of the source critical characteristics. In the fourth part, we find a codicological analysis of the published volume, which presents its external and internal characteristics. Pichlkastner separates and offers a detailed analysis of the handwritings in which the notes from the different parts (which to some extent were compiled separately) were written, and she tries to determine the identities of the people who wrote the notes.

The clarification of the fundamental principles of the publication reveals that there was no standard Austrian practice, since had there been, it would have sufficed to refer to a given norm. The basic principles of the publication strive rather for comprehensibility, using letter for letter transcription, but also noting abbreviations and corrections. Adhering to the basic principles established, Pichlkastner provides an excellent source publication with an appropriate quantity and quality of notes. Given the nature of the source, these notes concern primarily the settlements mentioned. The people identified were usually regiment owners or members of larger families. When identifying place names, in general Pichlkastner uses today’s administrative and state borders, though she is not consistent in this, since in the case of territories outside of the Habsburg Monarchy, she also refers to the administrative units that existed at the time. In the case of Vienna, she briefly identifies the sites of the municipal buildings, hostels, and churches mentioned. The source critical notes are given in alphabetical order beginning anew page by page, and they are clearly separate from the notes concerning content.

The last chapters contain a source analysis stretching to some 70 pages. Pichlkastner provides a comprehensive analysis of the circumstances of the creation and publication of the source. Her analysis clearly demonstrates that a source can indeed provide important information on a social stratum that is otherwise almost absent from the typical sources used by the historian. This information allows us to map both individual life stories and common characteristics, as well as the circumstances that caused people to fall into poverty. It is particularly worth noting, for instance, that in general the assessments were made concerning women, women who remained, either alone or with their children, without support in Vienna. In contrast, many of the men were either married or no information was provided concerning their family status (this confirms our knowledge of the family model in the early modern era). The difference between men and women living in poverty is also clearly illustrated by the fact that almost every man lived together with children, while in the case of women only 40 percent lived with a child or children. In many cases, external reasons had brought about the fall into poverty: the Swedish war, the currency depreciation in the 1620s, various epidemics, and the Ottoman siege of 1683.

The data also makes it possible (and Pichlkastner takes excellent advantage of the opportunity) to glean insights into the livelihoods of people who had fallen into poverty before their fall. The picture she draws reveals that most of the people who had become impoverished had been day-laborers or vine-dressers. The other notable groups were soldiers and servants. 14 percent of the people fallen into poverty were artisans and 2 percent were peasants, which shows that in general skills as a craftsman or peasant land holdings were enough to ensure someone a living. In addition to the analyses noted above, which are particularly important from the perspective of social history, Pichlkastner also provides a discussion of place of residence (the 1683 Ottoman siege of the city can be considered the dividing line in this), and we also learn of the begging nodes in the city (which are indicated in the identification papers), information which makes the analysis of the cities spaces distinctive and interesting.

In summary, this volume constitutes a remarkable source for the study of institutional relief for the poor in the early modern era. From the perspective of social history, it is unique in the region, since one does not find any comparably informative or comprehensive sources on the stratum of people who had fallen into poverty.

István H. Németh
National Archives of Hungary

A test a társadalomban: A Hajnal István Kör Társadalomtörténeti Egyesület 2013. évi sümegi konferenciájának kötete [The body in society: Proceedings of the conference of the Hajnal István Circle – Hungarian Social History Association, Sümeg, 2013]. Edited by Emese Gyimesi, András Lénárt, and Erzsébet Takács. Budapest: Hajnal István Kör Társadalomtörténeti Egyesület, 2015. 435 pp.

The annual conferences of the Hajnal István Circle, a prominent association of social historians in Hungary, always revolve around a theme which offers a variety of opportunities for reflection on and discussion of topical problems and issues in history and society. The 2013 conference, organized in Sümeg, focused on a theme which is paramount to our understanding of historical narratives, as each human experience is strongly shaped by it: that of the body. The proceedings of the conference, organized into six main thematic units (customs, norms, beliefs; body images; body narratives; body politics; the healthy body – the sick body; sexuality) were published as a collection of essays in 2015.

Though the editors of the collection kept this structural organization more or less (the book consists of six main chapters under the same headings), however arbitrary it might be, the book begins with an oversight. While the book is a conference publication, so the background information could be found on the Internet (for example, the theoretically well-supported call for papers), an introductory paper would have been useful. Such an introduction could have been used not only to inform the reader about the goals and the results of the conference, but also to prompt reflection on the broader theoretical background and the current trends in body history, in which these findings could be contextualized. The first article (which may well have been strategically selected as the first) by Gábor Klaniczay offers some compensation for this oversight. Klaniczay begins with a few critical remarks, and he reflects precisely on this issue of theoretical background and current trends. As part of the Body-narratives – Body-images chapter, his article deals with the question of the human body and stigmatization. Klaniczay aims to give a short theoretical-historiographical overview of the most seminal works in this field. These theories then reappear in the articles throughout the book.

The first chapter deals with textual and figural representations of the body in a variety of contexts, from, for example, stigmatization and body metaphors to transsexuality. It highlights the diversity of readings and approaches that could be taken to the central theme. This multiplicity of readings remains something of a background issue in the subsequent chapters as well. Above, I mentioned the arbitrariness of the structural organization, since most articles could be put into several categories (not simply representation, healthsickness, or sexuality). Nevertheless, in this instance, this arbitrariness should be emphasized as a merit, since it puts in the foreground the multilateral approaches to the different themes. For instance, Franciska Dede’s treatment of her topic is exemplary in this sense. She focuses on the figure of Zsigmond Justh (1863–94), a young late nineteenth-century writer who suffered from tuberculosis. Approaching Justh’s illness from several possible interrelated readings, she gives a complex image of the perception of the self in the contexts of health and sickness, as well as in a variety of social settings and networks of relationships. Tibor Takács has chosen a more or less similar method of exploring the murder case of a party functionary; the afterlife and treatment can be clearly traced in a number of disparate documents (indictments, reports, verdicts, autopsy reports) which provide possible understandings and perception(s) of the body.

The subsequent chapter, under the heading The Healthy Body – The Sick Body, focuses on a rather traditional and indispensable theme in body history. However, the inquiries do not approach the issue exclusively from the perspective of medical history, but also from the perspectives of historical demography, social history, and sports history. Several of the authors aim to give an overview of their topic in a broader timespan. Ferenc Tar, for instance, summarizes the development of healthcare at Hévíz, and Szilvia Czingel reflects on the hygienic culture of Budapest at the turn of the century, though the articles often fail to maintain their focus. Miklós Zeidler’s article on the interrelated issues of sports, health, and ideals of beauty, however, gives a rather balanced image of the transitions in the connections between exercise and ideals of beauty between the eighteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.

Sexuality, which by now is another traditional perspective from which to consider the history of the body, is central to the third chapter. Most of the authors, however, managed to find a less-discussed context or angle from which to consider it. Boldizsár Vörös approaches it from the viewpoint of representations: the use of nudity in Hungarian advertisements at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, showing both sides of the coin (the supporters and the counter-arguments), along with the functionalist application of nudity and the changing legislation. Emese Gyimesi’s treatment of the marriage of Júlia Szendrey and Árpád Horváth is an investigation into the separate discourses on the sexuality of husband and wife that served as a basis of conflict in their marriage, and Orsolya Völgyesi, also focusing on a marital conflict from the first half of the nineteenth century, examines a criminal act (adultery culminating in homicide) through the filter of judicial documents and the letters of Ferenc Kazinczy. Gábor Szegedi discusses a probably less known chapter of the history of marriage and sexuality in Hungary, the history of sexual counselling in the first half of the twentieth century, embedding it in the theoretical context of Foucault’s ideas on biopolitics. Szegedi argues that sexuality can be both a punitive and controlling instrument of the authorities, and he also highlights that the Hungarian example underpins another component of Foucault’s theoretical approach, notably the role of racism, especially “scientific” racism in the management of modern (bio-politic) states.

The authoritative control of the human body forms the bulk of the subsequent two chapters, which examine the question from two main angles: the control of and the punitive or injurious measures against the body. One of the obvious examples of body control is abortion, the legislation of which often carries ideological underpinnings. In his article, Gábor Koloh examines the increasingly strict legislation and the criminalization of self-induced abortions in the interwar period, while Henrietta Trádler discusses the “fetal politics” of the Hungarian Soviet Republic in the context of socialism, feminism, and psychoanalytic theories.

Another often emphasized approach to the theme of authoritative control is the workings of the secret police in dictatorial states. Rolf Müller, however, examines the operation of the State Protection Authority (Államvédelmi Hatóság, ÁVH) from a quite unusual angle—not from the viewpoint of the victims of state violence, but on the basis of the documentation produced by the authorities. He differentiates between the separate levels of violence (demonstrative, direct, and hidden), and he emphasizes that the secret police were anything but secret. Because of its means of operation (measures carried out against the “enemies of the state”) and the lack of sufficient infrastructure to hide its activity, the so-called secret police gained symbolic importance in everyday language. Though spatially and temporally farther, the article by Veronika Novák also discusses the logic of state violence (in this case, executions), linking the intensifying focus on deviance and criminal activity in fifteenth-century and sixteenth-century Paris to the changing perception and use of space by authorities.

Taking violence and the possible injuries suffered by the body to the level of individuals, several of the articles explore the actual consequences of state control and violence. Within the framework of punitive and transformative institutions (the prison and the military), the human body is exposed to deterioration and injuries, as a consequence either of punishment or self-mutilation. This issue forms the focus of the inquiries by Tamás Dobszay and Julianna Erika Héjja. Tamás Dobszay examines the stages of physical-mental deterioration in the context of the deprivation model, drawing on the example of Ferenc Kazinczy’s captivity narrative, and Julianna Erika Héjja shows, by examining military recruitment, how state control can lead to self-mutilation as a means of avoiding compulsory military service in the late eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century.

The last chapter deals with the customs and traditions connected to the human body, though with the exception of Tamás Bezsenyi’s article showing the (urged) change in Turkish women’s fashion as the catalyst of social transformation, the treatment of the topic seems a bit unilateral. Of all the customs and traditions which could have a bearing on the human body (customs surrounding marriage, birth, etc.), only the questions of death and burial are discussed in traditional (though a bit outdated) contexts and approaches, for example by Tünde Noémi Farkas. Farkas examines the transformation of the approaches to death on the basis of Transylvanian funeral orations and obituaries between the Early Modern and the Modern periods, partly within the context of Philippe Ariés’ disputed theory on changing attitudes to death.

My critical remarks notwithstanding, I find this volume a very important contribution to the writing of body history in Hungary. Although the articles vary in quality, the reader can gain valuable insights, for example, into the use and applications of some of the seminal theories in Hungarian source material, or into ongoing or nearly completed research initiatives, and also into the possible further directions for study in body history. Furthermore, one significant merit of the volume is that it gives voice to the younger generation (MA and PhD students), as their ongoing projects (MA theses, PhD dissertations) will shape in part the agenda for further research in this field.

Janka Kovács
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

Metternich: Stratege und Visionär. Eine Biografie. By Wolfram Siemann. Munich: C. H. Beck, 2016. 983 pp.

Metternich has long served as a bugbear and whipping-boy. Victor Bibl’s books Zerfall Österreichs and Metternich: Der Dämon Österreichs with their German-nationalist agenda supplied blunt and salty invectives, while Heinrich von Srbik’s massive biography from 1925 and Hanns Schlitter’s useful collection on pre-1848 Austria were more appreciative of Metternich’s self-conception as “rocher d’ordre”. Wolfram Siemann’s massive Metternich: Stratege und Visionär makes a new case for a nuanced understanding of Metternich, who, Siemann suggests, needs to be liberated from the clutches of his detractors. The best way of rescuing Metternich from liberal and nationalist vilification is an extensive source-based biography, and Siemann succeeds admirably well in tapping fresh material from the Vienna Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv and from the rich collections of Metternich’s papers at the Prague National Archives.

Wearing his erudition lightly, Siemann manages to cover his ground in elegant and highly accessible prose. It is in the area of international relations that his narrative reaches full stride. His findings parallel Miroslav Šedivý’s splendid Metternich, the Great Powers and the Eastern Question (2013), which demolishes many clichés about Austria’s allegedly stolid and reactionary politics towards the Ottoman Empire. Siemann also sheds rich new light on Metternich as paterfamilias, admirer of the arts, lover, and entrepreneur, discussing his manorial governance and the establishment of ironworks on his land at Plaß/Plasy (the chapter heading Frauenversteher und Majoratsherr is a gem of historical prose). Siemann offers a very valuable discussion of Metternich’s 1819 Italian journey in Emperor Franz’s retinue and adduces a striking letter in which Metternich highlights that pagan and Christian art were irreconcilable in late Antiquity. The early Christians, Metternich argues, had to “extirpate” the superior pagan arts “root and branch” (mit Stumpf und Stiel auszurotten, p.621). Strikingly, this contention harmonizes with the perceptions of Franz Grillparzer, who also was in the emperor’s retinue, yet Grillparzer was reprimanded by Metternich for calling for the removal of the cross from the Coliseum in his poem Campo vaccino. Metternich’s abolition of feudal dues on his domains, his modernization of harvesting and viticulture, and his advocacy of the Monarchy’s participation in the Zollverein have been overlooked by previous historians, and Siemann provides a superb discussion of these matters (pp.751–63, 786–91).

Siemann’s book is highly remarkable because it offers a reappraisal of Metternich as a conservative Enlightener: Siemann ably reconstructs Metternich’s early experience of the Revolution, bringing to life the ransacking of the Straßburg town hall by the urban crowd, which included young Metternich’s tutor Johann Friedrich Simon, and Metternich’s experience of his father’s management of the riot-riven Austrian Netherlands from Brussels. In this key, Siemann convincingly analyzes Metternich’s 1794 sojourn in London as a formative period. Having experienced Edmund Burke’s oratory skills in the House of Commons during the impeachment trial of Warren Hastings, Metternich also purchased and devoured the first edition of Reflections on the Revolution in France while in London.

After having provided a novel and nuanced account of Metternich’s diplomatic achievement at the Vienna Congress, Siemann goes on to discuss the fields of policing, political repression, and surveillance after the 1819 Karlsbad decrees. Here Siemann provides an excellent foil to Andrew Zamoyski’s glossy and gesticulatory Phantom Terror: The Threat of Revolution and the Repression of Liberty, 1789–1848 (2014). He carefully reconstructs the horror of violent conspiracies, plots, and planned coups that made Europe tremble in the 1820s; Karl Ludwig Sand’s 1818 murder of playwright August von Kotzebue appears as part of a proto-Salafist killing spree of prim fanatics which was directed against lax ancien régime morals as much as it was against political repression (p.662). Siemann highlights the social hardships of a young academic precariat which drove its members into radicalization. In connection with this, Siemann also dismantles the verdict of Gentz and Treitschke, according to which Metternich, obsessed as he was with the machinations of diabolic “demagogues,” refused to connect the rise of new liberal and radical political forces to tangible transformations in society. Siemann tries to determine the real threat conspirators posed, and he seeks to show that Metternich, while fighting rabble-rousing “demagogues,” also sought to quell radicalism by ensuring prosperity: Metternich was convinced that a rising living standard would diminish the appeal of nationalism across Europe.

Refreshing as readings like these are, they also clearly indicate the limits of Siemann’s study. Metternich emerges from Siemann’s book as something of a “genius” of statecraft, so much so that Alexander Cammann, in his review for Die Zeit (“Gerechtigkeit für ein Genie,” 3 March 2016), suggested that the volume would make good bedside reading for Angela Merkel. Metternich’s credentials as a peacemaker and prescient, responsible critic of modern nationalism seem impeccable here, but Siemann’s treatment of Metternich as a benign advocate of a Europe of multilingual and multi-religious empires remains strangely lopsided. Siemann’s account should be compared with older Austrian post-imperial literature on Metternich’s benign role in the nationality conflicts of the old Monarchy (e.g. with the writings of Hugo Hantsch), many of whose basic premises it shares. Siemann makes much of Metternich’s moderate “liberalism” (p.166), but his hero’s general politics in the Germanies contradict this assessment (one need only think of his thwarting of Hardenberg’s constitutional scheme for Prussia).

Siemann’s overall argument suffers from a serious weak spot: Metternich’s role in the internal workings of the Habsburg Monarchy is surprisingly absent from the book. Siemann does provide a helpful, fresh account of Metternich’s rivalry with Franz Anton Kolowrat-Liebsteinsky. He debunks Kolowrat’s self-fashioning as a “liberal” as mere window-dressing designed to denigrate Metternich as “reactionary.” Siemann argues that this served to disguise Kolowrat’s system of patriotic patronage, which cemented the dominance of the Bohemian nobility in the higher bureaucracy (pp.819–24). In March 1848, Kolowrat posed as one of the heroes who brought down the “system” Metternich, with the prince serving as a welcome scapegoat for the old regime (pp.832–40). Siemann reminds us that this “system” was an effective myth created by Metternich’s adversaries and that the powers of the prince in domestic affairs were much more limited than critics and admirers would concede. This is a point Metternich himself repeatedly made after 1848: “Mit meiner Allmacht muß es wohl übel gestanden haben!” But this cannot justify the omission of Metternich’s role in the internal workings of the Empire, an omission that effectively undercuts Siemann’s account of Metternich the “liberal.”

Since Siemann chooses to say rather little about Metternich’s domestic activities, he remains unable to establish whether there was any solid timber under the beguiling veneer of Metternich’s “reformism” and “federalism” (pp.623–27). What reformism, what federalism? Given that the book only briefly discusses Lombardo-Venetia, but completely neglects Galician and Hungarian affairs, Siemann fails to produce tangible evidence in support of his assertions. Quite surprisingly, István Széchenyi and Palatine Joseph are barely mentioned, and the relevant literature in Western languages is completely absent from the bibliography. No reference is made to the works of Gyula Szekfű (for instance État et nation; Iratok a magyar államnyelv kérdésének történetéhez, 1790–1848, which contains a highly valuable primary source material in German and Latin), Erzsébet Andics (Metternich und die Frage Ungarns, the appendix to which contains the rich correspondence between Metternich and Palatine Joseph), or Sándor Domanovszky’s edition of Palatine Joseph’s political writings, not to mention the older studies by Eduard Wertheimer, Franz Krones, and Mihály Horváth.

Siemann’s remarkable and eminently readable book will remain an indispensable point of reference for Metternich’s political life and intellectual profile up to 1815, as well as for the key role he played in the unmaking of the Napoleonic empire. It shows that Metternich’s worldview was shaped in the crucible of the Revolution, and it sets new standards for the study of his activities as manorial lord and industrialist. It is in these domains that the study breaks rich new ground. Here Siemann’s achievement is massive, but his omission of Metternich’s role in the internal affairs of the Monarchy is equally glaring. Given this imbalance, Siemann’s claims about Metternich’s moderate “liberalism” and “federalism” remain ultimately inconclusive. The Metternich that emerges from Siemann’s monumental study is quite simply too good to be true.

Franz L. Fillafer
University of Konstanz

Experten und Beamte: Die Professionalisierung der Lehrer höherer Schulen in der zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ungarn und Preußen im Vergleich. By Márkus Keller. (Studien zur Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte Ostmitteleuropas 24.) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2015. 276 pp.

The publication under review is the German translation of a dissertation originally published in Hungarian in 2010. Keller worked on the dissertation at the Berlin College for Comparative European History, and further support, encouragement, and contacts were provided through an Immanuel Kant Scholarship and through close cooperation with the graduate program in social history at the Eötvös Loránd University.

The dissertation offers a comparative study of the professionalization of the teaching profession in secondary schools in Hungary and Prussia. The temporal framework is the second half of the nineteenth century, and the focus is on the last third of the century.

Keller provides a detailed chapter on theory and methodology in which he offers an overview of the most important social science theories concerning professionalization in the German and Hungarian science of history (regrettably, he does not offer a more detailed overview on this subject). He does, however, quite accurately note the different terms used in the German and Hungarian social historiography (“Bildungsbürgertum” versus “intelligencia”), and he discusses the most important German literature on the comparative method in the science of history. He thus justifies, more or less convincingly, the selection he made of the things compared and presents the sources on which his inquiry is based (for the most part, print publications of teachers’ associations, union statutes, the corpus juris, notices, statistical data, and newspapers). In the case of Hungary, the most important source was the newspaper of the National Association of Secondary School Teachers (Országos Középiskolai Tanáregylet, or OKTE), which was most active from the 1870s onwards. In the case of Prussia, where at the time similar teachers’ associations emerged as bodies representative of the interests of people in the profession, Keller draws heavily on Zeitung für das höhere Unterrichtswesen, in which the proceedings of the union assemblies were published.

Another chapter is devoted to the foundation of this interest in the comparison of the situation in Hungary and the situation in Prussia. One learns with astonishment that the Prussian union law, which was in force as of 1850, was more liberal than the Hungarian law “in the time leading up to the Compromise” (p.77). As a source, Keller refers to the state lexicon (Staatslexikon) published by Julius Bachem in 1904. He seems completely unaware of the research found in the eighth volume of Habsburgermonarchie (“Politische Öffentlichkeit und Zivilgesellschaft,” second sub-volume, Vienna, 2006), which is an essential source for any research on this subject.

The most informative chapters are the next two (chapters four and five), in which Keller presents the findings of the comparative research on two important questions, the “self-image” of pedagogues and their relationship to the state.

The “self-image” of pedagogues in Hungary, we learn, differed significantly from the “self-image” of pedagogues in Prussia. In Hungary, teaching was an increasingly self-confident profession which, thanks to a vibrant sense of solidarity, was able to assert its moral and material social value (and autonomy). In Prussia, teachers constituted a professional group with considerably less solidarity. Moreover, this group was divided into “humanist” and “natural sciences” (Realfächer) factions, and this division prevented teachers from effectively adopting a unified stance and thus left the profession itself in a weaker social position. The treatment of the subject of “nationality problematics” in Hungary in this chapter merits attention. According to Keller, by the 1870s the question of nationality played only a secondary role, since within the profession people were (Keller claims somewhat uncritically) essentially in agreement with the necessity of “Magyarization” policies through education and schooling. Keller offers no discussion of this subject in the case of Prussia. He focuses more on the internal division and the less successful efforts of teachers to achieve financial and social recognition.

Keller examines the relationship between the teaching profession and the state, which is closely intertwined with the question of “self-image” in the long last chapter. The focus of the discussion is first and foremost on the contributions of teachers to education policy and to the reforms in education policy in the late nineteenth century. Here too, one finds parallels and differences. In Hungary, only later was there an increase in the “power advantage” of the state with regard to the requests and reform ideas of the people in the teaching profession although from the perspective of professional level they were equal in rank. Beginning in the 1970s and lasting until the important law for secondary schools of 1883, there was a growing rift between the Ministry and OKTE which, contrary to what one might expect, made it possible for the teaching profession to attain a certain autonomy. In Prussia, in contrast, schooling had been a state matter for a considerably longer time as was reasserted by the school supervisory law of 1872. But even in Prussia, state intervention grew in the last third of the century, which the teaching profession welcomed since it hoped thereby to achieve a better place, both materially and from the position of social standing. This also explains the process of making teachers in Prussia civil servants, which stood in stark contrast with the situation in Hungary where this was not possible, in particular given the influence of non-state (i.e. Church) schools.

Keller provides a short summary in which he contends that his inquiry refutes an all too familiar view concerning teaching and education according to which the professionalization and modernization of teaching in Hungary and East Central Europe was a “belated development.” His refutation of this view is unquestionably one of the merits of his work.

One cannot avoid noting the numerous editorial oversights and failures (typos, grammatical errors, passages that are poorly translated, etc.). The book does not include a register of persons nor a list of abbreviations (the reader is left to her own devices to learn the meaning of the frequently used acronym OKTE, for instance). Some “professional” assistance, both from the perspective of the underlying scholarship and from the perspective of the editing, would have been helpful.

Brigitte Mazohl
University of Innsbruck/Austrian Academy of Sciences

Habsburg neu denken: Vielfalt und Ambivalenz in Zentraleuropa. 30 kulturwissenschaftliche Stichworte. Edited by Johannes Feichtinger and Heidemarie Uhl. Vienna–Cologne–Weimar: Böhlau, 2016. 261 pp.

At a time when flows of immigrants across borders, the experiment of European unification, and other developments have called forth furious national reactions in parts of formerly Habsburg Europe, the publication under consideration here reminds us that modern nations and nationalism are comparatively recent historical phenomena. Consisting of 30 short essays each subsumed under a keyword (from Auswanderungen [Emigrations] to Zerfall [Disintegration]), this volume enquires into the historical experiences of plurality, difference, and ambivalence in Central Europe with an eye to the challenges today’s societies face. In an opportune way, it documents the attempts by scholars to overcome the national perspectives that long dominated and still influence understandings of late Habsburg history. Until not so long ago, the Habsburg Monarchy was thought of as having been inhabited by a relatively small number of discrete, often mutually hostile nations (whose outlines conveniently corresponded to the conceptions of nationalists and the national power structures that emerged in the twentieth century). This volume reveals that the self-understandings of Central Europeans and their views of one another and the larger world were more ambivalent and conditional, even well into the twentieth century, than nationalists would have us believe.

A short review can hardly do justice to the abundance of essays in this book, which are from a range of disciplines, including literature and languages, anthropology, and the history of music and theater. The few contributions highlighted here seem to me to offer especially promising or interesting samples of current work. Where nations (or their construction) remain at the center of historical interest, the findings of recent scholarship continue to call the old nationalist “master narratives” of political emancipation and progress into question. In an article on “Democrats” (Demokrat/inn/en) written from the standpoint of gender history, the historian Heidrun Zettelbauer shows that a nationalist commitment did not necessarily entail a commitment to the expansion of democratic rights—paradoxically even among women. A prominent German nationalist activist in Styria such as Lina Kreuter-Gallé, for example, did not regard the achievement of women’s suffrage as a primary political goal: “Democracy as an objective aside from nationalist visions was and remained suspect for many female players [Akteurinnen] on the political right until well into the twentieth century” (p.48).

In recent years, the study of the use of language(s) has become one of the most promising ways of approaching the difficult question of perspective and self-understanding among those subject to Habsburg rule. This is especially notable given that the spoken and written word have traditionally been regarded as crucial markers of nationality. As the contributions on “Antagonisms” (Feindschaften), “Historical Representations” (Geschichtsbilder), “Multilingualism” (Mehrsprachigkeit), “Pluriculturality” (Plurikulturalität), and other topics suggest, the inhabitants of Central Europe were far more flexible in daily language practices than historical and popular accounts of clearly distinguishable “peoples” continue to allow. In large urban agglomerations as well as in small towns and villages there were “areas of crossover, of cultural hybridity, and multilingualism” (Simon Hadler, p.59). In the real social world, as Elena Mannová and Jozef Tancer point out, there were “no essentialist linguistic communities, as nationalists imagined them, but rather groups of speakers who made up intended and situational communities of communication” (p.136). Anil Bhatti usefully distinguishes what is labelled “pluriculturality” from “multiculturalism,” a term which implies closed parallel societies (such as those imagined by nationalists) existing side by side with little meaningful contact. The pluricultural world refers, by contrast, to “complicated nets of similarities which overlap and cross” (p.175).

Several of the contributions, such as those on “Orientalism” (Orientalismus) and “Austrian Islam” (Österreichislam), draw highly topical attention to a phenomenon which was apparent in the relationships among other groups in the Central and Southeast European area: the long experience of living side by side or in close proximity bred familiarity which did not necessarily set aside strong elements of strangeness or foreignness. The form of “frontier orientalism” (as opposed to “classical colonial orientalism” p.161) which Andre Gingrich suggests prevailed in Central Europe brought about the transfer from the Near East of themes and motifs in all manner of both high and popular culture, from architecture to figures of speech and place and street names. Franz Fillafer’s article reminds us that the Habsburg Monarchy was a legislative pioneer (1912) in the treatment of (Bosnian) Muslims among its subjects. The “Islam law” passed in 2015 by the Second Austrian Republic improved on the earlier achievement, even as it built on the Monarchy’s “confessionalizing” (p.167) strategies with respect to religious groups.

Pieter Judson’s contribution offers a helpful introduction to the term “national indifference,” which thanks to his efforts and those of other scholars has become one of the most promising analytical tools with which to move beyond dominant nationalist historical discourses. The notion of “national indifference” was in fact a contemporary one employed by nationalist activists as of the 1880s “to describe the behaviors, attitudes, [and] choices of people who appeared to live their daily lives ignorant of nationalist concerns” (p.151). Nationalism was the tool activists then employed to combat indifference, and it therefore should be understood, according to Judson, as a question of “political practice” rather than “cultural authenticity” (p.152). Hence, if we accept linguistic-ethnic-cultural reductionism, then we also accept the premises of nationalism. This is a valuable insight for future scholarship.

Though the book under review is entitled “Re-thinking Habsburg,” the Habsburg Monarchy as a discrete polity composed of distinct territories and existing for a long time as one of Europe’s leading powers is oddly absent from most of the contributions. What did its existence mean to its subjects and citizens, and how did these meanings change over time? To what extent did its existence evoke a (cultural) sense of belonging among its people(s)? How might this sense of belonging have differed from place to place? In a volume devoted to questions of culture and forms of belonging, one might note with some regret the absence of keywords such as “religion” and “Catholicism” or “territory” and “locality.” If people were indifferent to nation, then what influences might have induced affinity? Even after 1900, affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church must still have constituted the most frequent form of culturally conditioned belonging. Precisely in the case of the Habsburg Monarchy, with its long and intimate association with Catholicism, the question of this affiliation needs to be added to the cultural-historical research agenda. Werner Telesko’s fine essay on the widespread revival of the “Baroque” in the nineteenth century recalls the link between this “dynastic-supranational style” (p.30) and the Counter Reformation, which was one of the formative experiences in Habsburg history. Thus, Telesko suggests ways in which the early modern and later history of the monarchy might fruitfully be reconnected.

William D. Godsey
Austrian Academy of Sciences

Eugenics and Nation in Early 20th Century Hungary. By Marius Turda. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 343 pp.

For a long time, eugenics remained a largely under-researched subject within the scholarship on Hungarian intellectual history and the history of science. The topic was rarely discussed, and its controversial nature led to a series of misunderstandings. However, the last 15 years have seen a significant increase in the number of contributions to this field in the form of numerous journal articles and book chapters. The most active author behind this growing body of literature is Marius Turda, and Turda is also the author of the first monograph on the subject reviewed here.

The lack of comprehensive secondary literature on Hungarian eugenics meant that Turda could not follow or challenge any historiographical interpretations; he was forced to develop a new historical narrative practically from scratch. When doing so, he laid down the following three guiding principles: first, “to identify the most important Hungarian eugenicists and to contextualize their arguments within their discursive cultures” (p.12), second, to analyze the connections between eugenics and nationalism, and, finally, to discuss “eugenics in Hungary as part of an international movement of social and biological improvement” (p.12).

Turda´s narrative begins at the turn of the century and ends in 1919, after the demise of Austria-Hungary. These two moments in time could not be more different. The chapters themselves focus on the abovementioned aspects while following the history of Hungarian eugenics chronologically. Some of the milestones in this account are world events like the outbreak of World War I, while other significant turning points are related to the development of the eugenics discourse.

Fin de siècle Hungary and especially Budapest, which at the time was an emerging metropolis with a vibrant intellectual life, were hotbeds of new ideas. They formed the world in which Hungarian eugenics first appeared. Turda convincingly argues that the Hungarian version of eugenics should be classified as a social science (p.16.) Although many eugenicists came from scientific or medical backgrounds, eugenics still enjoyed a position comparable to that of the emerging sociology of the time. It is therefore unsurprising that it was roughly the same circle of intellectuals who showed interest in these two disciplines. These intellectuals were receptive to new ideas and eager to learn about the latest scientific developments, but they were also very keen on using the new theories to understand and critique contemporary Hungarian society. The book demonstrates how eugenic concepts gained influence in Hungary’s intellectual and scientific circles and how the participants in the debates were up-to-date on the latest literature on eugenics from the outset.

Turda is not only a scholar of Hungarian eugenics, but also a historian of Romanian and South East European eugenics who has even published on the general history of the movement. Thus, his description of the international context, including the intellectual influences on the Hungarian eugenicists, is especially intriguing. Similarly captivating are the passages in which he discusses the thoughts and impact of Géza Hoffmann, the only Hungarian eugenicist who managed to gain international recognition.

The book also explains the dissemination of eugenic thought in Hungary and its later institutionalization. According to Turda, from the beginning, these ideas were not considered obscure and they were regularly given attention in various public forums. For instance, the topic was extensively covered in the influential journal Huszadik Század from the mid-1900s onwards. Still, over the years, eugenics became more and more influential. By the time World War I had broken out, eugenics enjoyed considerable significance in wartime health and welfare policies and in a widespread infrastructure of different associations and publications. It even enjoyed recognition in Hungarian officialdom as illustrated by the appearance of eugenic arguments in parliamentary debates.

The influence of eugenics is also indicated by the number of prominent figures who endorsed such ideas. As is commonly known, Count Pál Teleki, who served twice as prime minister (for under a year in 1920–21 and then again in 1939–41), had an avid interest in eugenics. However, it is not common knowledge in Hungary today—and it is to the credit of the book that it draws attention to this—that the similarly influential and equally controversial Bishop Ottokár Prohászka, the leading intellectual behind political Catholicism and Christian socialism, also shared such interests (p.90). But right-wing or conservative intellectuals were hardly the only people to participate in the eugenic discourse. Left-wing intellectuals, socialists, and feminists saw in eugenics a method of social progress (if one accepts a pliable definition of progress, of course).

While most historians who specialize on early twentieth-century Hungary tend to concentrate on the political divisions between left and right, according to Turda, this was only one of the important dividing lines between eugenicists. Dichotomies like the one between the followers of the classical Galtonian interpretation of eugenics and those advocating the German school of racial hygiene were crucial too. Similarly, the nurture vs. nature debate and the debates concerning state intervention further divided eugenicists. These positions cannot be explained merely with reference to the political leanings of the people who espoused them. For instance, József Madzsar was a strong proponent of state enforced eugenic measures despite his firm leftist sympathies.

Perhaps the most interesting and thought-provoking aspect of Turda’s analysis concerns “the problem of nationalism and eugenics.” Initially, the main problems discussed by Hungarian eugenicists paralleled the problems faced by their Western European and North American colleagues, i.e. social issues and public health concerns, such as alcoholism and sexually transmitted diseases. However, Turda argues that in the context of the ethnic tensions of late dualist Hungary, nationalist eugenicists attempted to redefine the Magyar race in a biological framework and develop their study into a bio-political project that combined the eugenic concept of heredity with Hungarian nationalism.

The monograph on this previously understudied topic is not only an important step towards a better understanding of early twentieth-century Hungary’s intellectual landscape. It will also further our understanding of some later developments, such as important aspects of Hungary’s interwar nationalist discourse. In addition to the main body of the volume, the appendices will also be of great benefit to future scholars. Since no similar list of works by Hungarian eugenicists has ever been published, Turda’s 25 page-long bibliography makes it not only useful but downright necessary for anyone planning to do research in this field in the future. The biographical information is similarly helpful, since many of these people remain unknown to historians even today.

Attila Kund
University of Pécs

Etnicitás, identitás, politika: Magyar kisebbségek nacionalizmus és regionalizmus között Romániában és Csehszlovákiában 1918–1944 [Ethnicity, identity, politics: Hungarian minorities between nationalism and regionalism in Romania and Czechoslovakia, 1918–1944]. By Gábor Egry. Budapest: Napvilág, 2015. 560 pp.

Until recently, historians in East Central Europe have analyzed the fates of Hungarian minorities in the various successor states of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy separately, with a focus on the political parties of minorities and ethnic conflict. Gábor Egry, director-in-chief of the Budapest-based Institute of Political History, has embarked on a comparative investigation of Hungarian minorities in his recent 500-page monograph, Ethnicity, Identity, Politics. Hungarian Minorities between Nationalism and Regionalism in Romania and Czechoslovakia 1918–1944. The book brings two welcome innovations: it is comparative in nature and Egry resists the temptation to analyze Hungarian minorities in a vacuum. Slovak, Czech, and Romanian reactions to Hungarian identity politics feature prominently in his monograph. His extensive use of Romanian archival records concerning the German, Hungarian, and Romanian populations is especially remarkable.

Based on years of in-depth archival research in Bucharest, Budapest, Cluj-Napoca, Timişoara, and Târgu-Mureş and other cities in Transylvania with important archives, Egry offers crucial insights into the history of Hungarian minorities and the study of national identity in East-Central Europe more generally. He confidently draws on the so far less thoroughly studied records of the Directing Council (Consiliul Dirigent), reports of provincial agents of the state security police, the mandatory Romanian language exams taken by minority state and municipal officials, and personal correspondence, along with other sources.

Ethnicity, Identity, Politics analyzes the networks among the Budapest, Bucharest, and Prague governments, as well as Slovak, Transylvanian Romanian, and Transylvanian Hungarian political elites. The monograph focuses on how these elites attempted to influence the national identity of Hungarian populations in Transylvania and Slovakia, with particular emphasis on the activities of the administration in Budapest. For Slovakia, Egry overwhelmingly relies on the rich collection of the Hungarian National Archive, which is understandable given that a substantial portion of the book is devoted to a reconstruction of the “Felvidék” [Slovakia] policies of Budapest governments. The author concentrates on policy makers who wielded considerable power in their efforts to influence the ethnic identities of Hungarians and he pays less attention to alternative attempts at identity politics coming from the marginalized political left, liberal writers, and the press. Egry concludes that it was impossible to create a homogenous Hungarian national identity out of the various Hungarian ethnic identities and identifications in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Romania between 1918 and 1944.

Egry asks how Hungarian identities evolved in the interwar period and during the Second World War in Slovakia and Northern and Southern Transylvania, and how changes in these Hungarian ethnic identities contrasted with the identity politics promoted by Budapest governments. The analysis of policies aimed at shaping national identity, which is broken into two parts entitled “Identities” and “Policies and Ethnic Categories,” takes up two-thirds of the book. The third part, which focuses on “Everyday Life,” examines how populations reacted to policies concerning ethnic identity by complying with, ignoring, or selectively conforming to them. While Ethnicity, Identity, Politics compares Hungarian ethnic identities in Romania and Czechoslovakia, it avoids any affirmation of simplistic conceptions of Transylvania or Slovakia as homogenous regions with solid boundaries, and it draws attention to variations in forms of ethnic identification city by city and sub-region by sub-region (p.65).

The geographical and social differences in Hungarian ethnic identity serve as a background to explain both the divergent impact of the Treaty of Trianon on Hungarian populations and the difficulties of Hungarian state-building during the Second World War. In both Slovakia and Transylvania, Hungarians opted for definitions of “Hungarianness” that differed sharply from the one promoted by Budapest, and these initial differences became even more pronounced between 1918 and 1944. Transylvanian Hungarian elites promoted a regional national identity that radically differed from Budapest’s homogenizing and centralizing agenda. This Calvinist-inspired “theological” narrative of ethnic identity stressed differences between Hungarians in Trianon Hungary and Transylvania by pointing to the importance of ethnic community building and community service (népszolgálat) in the latter, for instance. Hungarians and Hungarian elites in Slovakia, on the other hand, represented a geographically, socially, and politically more fragmented group, which did not develop a unified narrative on Hungarian ethnic identity in Slovakia (pp.156–67, 196–204).

Although Hungarian crowds cheered Miklós Horthy during the re-annexation of Southern Slovakia and Northern Transylvania, Egry argues that the buildup of differences in ethnic identity since 1918 threw into question the extent to which the re-annexation actually united minority Hungarians with those in Trianon Hungary. Finally, Egry points out that the territorial revisions of the Treaty of Trianon produced traumas and shifts in national identification comparable to the dissolution of historical Hungary, partially because the nationalizing Hungarian state pushed forcefully to readjust the national identities of Hungarians in the re-annexed territories (p.489).

Egry’s work also serves as a contribution to currently popular debates in Hungary concerning the so-called “Trianon trauma,” which centers on the impact of the demise of Greater Hungary on Hungarian populations. Importantly, Ethnicity, Identity, Politics situates the disintegration of historical Hungary in the history and recent historiography of the “Long First World War” in East Central and Eastern Europe (Heather Jones, Jennifer O’Brien and Christoph Schmidt-Supprian, eds.: Untold War. New Perspectives in First World War Studies [2008]; Jochen Böhler, Włodzimierz Borodziej, and Joachim von Puttkamer, eds.: Legacies of Violence: Eastern Europe’s First World War [2014]). Egry marshals case studies in support of his contention that Hungarian populations went through a series of “traumas,” such as World War I and the subsequent revolutions in the 1910s and 1920s. This argument ultimately questions the uniqueness of the “Trianon trauma” in our understanding of modern Hungarian history. In addition, he points out that the dissolution of the pre-1918 Hungarian state had sharply different impacts on various social groups and in different parts of the former Kingdom of Hungary.

Egry oscillates between arguing that the period of the Second World War marked an important turning point in the national identities of ordinary people and between showing that Hungarian populations had indeed comparably flexible attitudes towards ethnic identity in the 1920s, 1930s, and early 1940s. This ambiguity partially stems from the methodology and source base: the analysis is driven by a series of case studies, some of which clearly represent outliers, such as the story of one Hungarian-Jewish railway operator who decided to move to Moldova in Greater Romania at a time when Hungarian populations from Transylvania were fleeing to Trianon Hungary (pp.466–69). Nonetheless, these case studies show that it was possible to go against the current of ethnic nationalism well into the period of the Second World War.

Given the persistence of flexible ethnic identities and flexible uses of ethnic identity (labeled “everyday ethnicity”) throughout the period under study, it is nonetheless difficult to prove that the ethnic identities of Hungarian populations solidified during the Second World War. While case studies in this book do not allow for sweeping conclusions, they nevertheless persuasively point to the persistence of flexible ethnic identities in the first half of the twentieth century. The inclusion of voices from small town pubs, crowded train carriages, and middle-class dining rooms enriches our understanding of interwar East Central Europe and questions the extent to which Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Greater Romania managed to nationalize populations.

Egry convincingly stresses the importance of East Central European middle-class cultures for both the mediation of ethnic identification and as non-ethnic venues of identity politics, an often overlooked aspect of the interwar history of this region (pp.444–62). The legacy of Austro-Hungarian middle-class culture in Transylvania managed to create bonds among Transylvanian Hungarian and Romanian bourgeoisies vis-à-vis “outsiders,” such as Romanians from the pre-1918 Kingdom of Romania after the collapse of the Monarchy (p.459). Egry shows that an important impact of middle-class sociability in Transylvania was the performance of cultural superiority by educated Transylvanians (both Romanians and Hungarians) against “intruders” from the pre-1918 Kingdom of Romania. At other instances, however, middle-class sociability and the performance of social difference towards majority peasant populations served as a tool with which to erase boundaries between the Hungarian and Romanian bourgeoisie of Transylvania and the Old Kingdom of Romania (pp.457–62).

One of the many important insights Egry offers is that Hungarians and Slovaks in interwar Czechoslovakia had fewer venues for shared middle-class sociability or the construction of joint fronts in identity politics. One reason for this was that the cultural superiority of Hungarians and Slovaks in Slovakia vis-à-vis “petit-bourgeois” Czech culture or the “oligarchic” society of post-1920 Hungary was questionable; Hungarian, Slovak, and Czech ethno-political entrepreneurs were inheritors of Austro-Hungarian “middle-class culture” and thus could not be “stigmatized” as “Balkanic,” unlike the Romanians from the prewar Kingdom of Romania (p.460).

Whereas works published in East Central Europe rarely draw on English-language scholarship on the theory and practice of nationalism, Egry’s work stands out in its unique contribution to both English-language historiography on the region and debates among historians in Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Through the integration of Czechoslovak, Hungarian, and Romanian perspectives on ethnic identity, Egry rethinks Rogers Brubaker’s 1996 “triadic nexus,” which described the interplay of “nationalizing state,” “the national minority,” and the “external national homeland” as relational fields which explain ethnic mobilization (Rogers Brubaker: Nationalism Reframed: Nationhood and the National Question in the New Europe [1996]). Egry adds to this nexus regional non-minority elites, in this case, Slovaks and Transylvanian Romanians, an addition which draws attention to the fact that within “nationalizing states” there were important internal divisions; these divisions allowed for more agency for minorities (pp.18–29). Moreover, Egry argues that the boundaries between regional minority and non-minority elites were often blurred. His addition of regional minority elites to Brubaker’s “triadic nexus” stresses that the binary opposition between Hungarian and Romanian or Slovak and Hungarian national histories can be overcome, and that the history of populations in Slovakia and Transylvania was often “entangled” and impossible to understand from the perspective of national histories (pp.29–30).

Egry’s confident narrative voice connects the dots among the often disparate case studies: the reader should expect a series of brief stories of the manifestations of ethnic identity rather than detailed case studies, which are common in works of this kind (Pieter M Judson: Guardians of the Nation. Activists on the Language Frontiers of Imperial Austria [2006]; Jeremy King: Budweisers into Czechs and Germans. A Local History of Bohemian Politics, 1848-1948 [2002]; Tara Zahra: Kidnapped Souls. National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900–1948 [2008]). The voice of ordinary people is mediated by both contemporary state officials who produced the sources and often by Egry himself, who mostly resorts to paraphrasing rather than directly quoting this rich material—an understandable approach given the breadth and depth of his monograph. A divergence from this approach comes mostly in the third part of the book on “Everyday Life,” in which “freely speaking individuals” come to the fore (pp.362–84).

The main focus on political elites as the people who crafted politics aimed at influencing ethnic identity is less convincing, especially given that Egry shows how even interwar states believed that literature and popular culture (de)formed ethnic identities, which led to the censorship of even inane operettas such as Imre Kálmán’s Countess Maritza in Transylvania (p.451). Writers, left-wing and liberal journalists, and editors of literary journals (even of papers with limited circulation, such as Cluj’s Korunk) likely impacted the ethnic identity of broad middle-class audiences, despite the lack of their direct impact on policy making; more attention to Hungarian Jewish identity politics in Czechoslovakia and Romania could have strengthened Egry’s point that Hungarian ethnic identities were far from homogenous and contradicted the Budapest government’s expectations.

What needs to be stressed is that the breadth and depth of Ethnicity, Identity, Politics makes it one of the most significant contributions to Hungarian historiography in recent years. This monograph is a crucially important reading for historians interested in the politics of ethnic identity in East Central Europe, and it is also useful as an in-depth survey of the history of Hungarian populations in Romania and Hungary between 1918 and 1944. Graduate students will find inspiration in Egry’s use of archival material, while Ethnicity, Identity, Politics will hopefully inspire future comparative studies of the region.

Máté Rigó
Yale-NUS College

Két évtized: A kolozsvári zsidóság a két világháború között [Two decades: The Jewry of Kolozsvár between the two world wars]. By Attila Gidó. Kolozsvár: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület, 2016. 356 pp.

Attila Gidó is a skilled and successful young Transylvanian historian associated with the Cluj-based Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities. In recent years, he has conducted several valuable research projects involving research in the major Romanian, Hungarian, and Israeli archives. Dealing with the interwar history of the Jewish community in Cluj (Kolozsvár in Hungarian), one of the major cities and cultural centers of Transylvania, his new book is an expanded version of his doctoral dissertation, which was first published in Romanian (Două decenii: Evreii din Cluj în perioada interbelică [2014]).

The Jews of Cluj were proud Hungarians before 1920, and they were almost fully integrated into the society of the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy. Later, under Romanian rule, they tended to refer to the previous period as the Golden Age of the Hungarian/Transylvanian Jewry. After acquiring Transylvania, the Romanian authorities did practically everything in their power to dissociate Transylvanian Jews from the Hungarians, promote the dissimilation of the community from its Hungarian language and culture, and force the assimilation of the Jewish inhabitants of the region into the Romanian state. At the time, this strategy was an essential demographical and political matter for the young nationalizing state of Greater Romania.

Gidó is convinced that without a full understanding of the identity strategies of the Transylvanian Jewry, one cannot understand the anti-Semitism of the 1930s or the Hungarian reproaches and anti-Jewish accusations of the early 1940s. Neither, according to Gidó, can one comprehend the post-Holocaust Jewish disillusionment with anything and everything connected to Hungarian identity and culture. Accordingly, Gidó states already in the introduction that the period under scrutiny is of key importance in the history of the integration of Jews. This is probably why he extended and contextualized his research period: to analyze first the situation of the Jewish community of Cluj before the First World War and to conclude with a presentation of the situation of the community after 1940, when under the provisions of the Second Vienna Award the city, together with the northern and southeastern parts of Transylvania, became part of Hungary again, followed less than four years later by the deportation of the Jews in these territories to Auschwitz.

Gidó adopts an unusually complex approach: in addition to using classic historical research methods, he also employs a variety of anthropological and sociological tools. Consequently, his work is not simply historical writing, but rather an interesting experimental attempt at a comprehensive monograph of the Jewish community of Cluj. It is therefore not surprising that the author examines his topic with particular focus on the questions of identity strategies and social integration.

The book is divided into ten chapters, each analyzing the history of the community from a different perspective: historiography and sources; the frames of the research; the history of the community before the First World War; demographic and settlement structure; occupational structure and economic potential; exclusion and restrictions of rights; internal organization of the community, including religious and secular institutions; education and schooling strategies; various identity policies; and the fate of the Jews of Cluj after 1940.

The author offers a clear description and in-depth analysis of the condition of the Jews of Cluj after the First World War, when their history, together with that of the city, went through many dramatic changes, affecting most of all the economic environment and behavior, but also political, social, and cultural relations, as well as religious and minority institutions. Demanding more and more space for themselves in the city and in Transylvania, the Romanians used a wide array of tools to expel Hungarians and Jews from public institutions, prominent places in economic life, liberal professions, and in many cases even from their own homes. The existence of Jewish institutions was also greatly impeded or made impossible. For example, in 1927, the Tarbut, the only Jewish high school of the town, was closed. The institution was accused of being “the nest of Hungarian irredentism,” and it was not permitted to function because the Romanian administration sought loyalty from the Jews to the new state. Furthermore, they also questioned the citizenship of Jews, and this condemned many families in the community to poverty, because there were several occupations which one could only pursue if one had Romanian citizenship.

An intriguing part of Gidóʼs work is his presentation of the activity of the Romanian student movements in support of the introduction of the numerus clausus principle (already adopted by Hungary) as a defining expression of anti-Semitism in interwar Romania. He describes the psychological and the physical acts of aggression against Jewish students, intellectuals, merchants, craftsmen, village barkeepers, and simple citizens during the first years after the Trianon Peace Treaty. He elaborates on the most severe instances, such as the student protests of December 1927, which culminated in the so-called “traveling pogrom,” during which the Romanian students of the Old Romanian Kingdom, traveling by a special train, vandalized and set to fire numerous Jewish religious and secular institutions and businesses on their way through Oradea (Nagyvárad), Huedin (Bánffyhunyad), and Cluj.

An unspoken question seems to run through the book: did the Jews of Transylvania in some sense betray the Hungarians during the interwar period, as alleged by some Hungarian contemporaries and historians, or did they simply try to find workable personal solutions in order to adapt to the new realities and conditions of Greater Romania? Gidóʼs analysis is not confrontational, he does not argue for or against these anti-Jewish accusations. Rather, he tries to exploit and parse an impressive amount of press, archival, and bibliographical information to reveal historical facts, influences, conditions, traps, and, ultimately, the historical truth.

Based on the results of the Romanian census of 1930 and his own approximations, Gidóʼs conclusion is that around 1930 more than half (54 percent) of the Jews of Cluj declared themselves to be of Jewish ethnicity, while the rest of the community continued to identify as Hungarian. Although the author notes that the great majority of the Jewish population of Cluj continued to speak Hungarian at home and in public, consumed Hungarian cultural products, and had many ties with the Hungarian minority society (and thus continued to act as a kin-minority), he is somewhat reluctant to admit that such a dramatic change could not have take place in the period of one decade. In fact, the Jews of Cluj, like many other members of the Transylvanian Jewish community, realized that the political options of the Hungarians and of the Jews living in Transylvania were not always convergent, and by establishing a Jewish Party, an important part of the community started to cast “Jewish votes” instead of Hungarian ones. Otherwise, when for example the non-Jewish Hungarians were supporting the party of Octavian Goga in droves, Jews would have been forced to vote for a political party with an anti-Semitic program.

Nonetheless, Gidó provides an excellent and highly suggestive example how impossible far-reaching dissimilation proved in a short period of time: that of Mór Deutsch, who in November 1918 filed a request to change his last name from Deutsch to Dévényi. The Hungarian Ministry of the Interior informed him on January 30, 1919 that his request had been approved, but by then Mór Deutsch was already living under Romanian rule, and the Romanian authorities did not recognize the decision of the Hungarian administration. We know from other sources that eventually Deutsch changed his name to Dévényi, probably sometime between 1940 and 1944, because in October 1943 his son was enrolled as András Gábor Dévényi in the Jewish High School of Kolozsvár. Beginning in 1953, András Gábor Dévényi lived and worked as a renowned physicist in Bucharest, and when he passed away in December 2015 he still bore the same last name: Dévényi. The Deutsch-Dévényi example may illustrate how advanced the Hungarian assimilation of the Transylvanian Jewry was.

Gidóʼs well-documented book, which contains some 1,260 footnotes and an exhaustive bibliography, offers us a good opportunity to clarify the origins of many clichés and stereotypes, and to arrive at a more nuanced understanding of the complicated history of the Jewish community of Cluj and, through it, of Transylvanian Jews as a whole as part of Hungarian and Romanian history.

Zoltán Tibori Szabó
Babeş-Bolyai University of Cluj

Căpitan Codreanu: Aufstieg und Fall des rumänischen Faschistenführers. By Oliver Jens Schmitt. Vienna: Paul Zsolnay, 2016. 288 pp.

While there is a plethora of biographies on Hitler and Mussolini, the life of Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the founder and leader of the Legion of the Archangel Michael (also known as the Iron Guard), is less known. Apart from Codreanu’s autobiography For My Legionaries or hagiographic works like Ion Banea’s Căpitanul, so far there are no other attempts at a comprehensive portrayal of the leader of the third biggest fascist movement in interwar Europe. This is why Jens Oliver Schmitt’s biography Căpitan Codreanu – Aufstieg und Fall des rumänischen Faschistenführers [Captain Codreanu – Rise and Fall of the Romanian fascist leader] is a novelty on a variety of grounds. Schmitt, professor of South-East European History at Vienna University, seeks to provide a meticulous account of Codreanu’s political, ideological, and private life, drawing on a variety of source documents from Romanian archives, contemporary writings and theoretical works on comparative fascism. Crucially, too, the author attempts to place Codreanu’s life in the broader political context of the interwar period. The biography spans the period beginning with Codreanu’s birth in Huşi in 1899 and ending with his violent death in 1938. It is divided into 48 short chapters which are grouped thematically, a chronological table, and an index of names.    

While Schmitt’s volume is at first glance a comprehensive narrative of Codreanu’s political life, its real strength lies in its examination of how Codreanu’s closest allies shaped his ideology and leadership. Schmitt focuses on Codreanu’s immediate circle of friends and family, aspects of his life which until now have been neglected, yet which Schmitt argues are significant for an understanding of his political career. There is much to support this assumption, as nationalist narratives were intrinsically tied to the Codreanu family’s self-image. In 1902, Codreanu’s father, Ion, a German teacher from Bukovina, changed his family name from the Polish Zelinski to the Romanian-sounding Zelea. “Codreanu” referred to the Romanian broad-leafed forest (codru), an element of the national imaginary. By making the national myths part of his family’s identity, Codreanu’s father expressed his devotion to the Romanian nation, and this was to shape his son’s political convictions. (It is hardly surprising that the family’s genealogy later became the subject of anti-Legionary propaganda, which claimed that the Codreanus were of Slavic ancestry). According to Schmitt, even Codreanu’s military ideals, which were to shape the organizational structure of the Legionary Movement, stemmed from his father and, to a lesser extent, from his education at the Mănăstirea Dealu military school. As for Codreanu’s allies, the author claims that historians have tended to overstate the impact of Bucharest-based intellectuals such as Mircea Eliade or Emil Cioran on Codreanu and his movement. Instead, Schmitt directs his reader’s attention to members of the aristocracy, such as Prince Nicholas of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen and members of the Cantacuzène family, such as Gheorghe (Zizi) Cantacuzino Grănicerul, the leader of the Legionary party All for the Fatherland [Totul pentru Ţară]. Their connections to the royal house were to become Codreanu’s life insurance after 1933. At the same time, Schmitt manages to debunk many of the more lurid stories which emerged concerning Codreanu by noting the lack of evidence. 

The middle chapters offer many insights into Codreanu’s personality and beliefs. Schmitt depicts the founder of the Legionary Movement as a disciplined mystic who regularly withdrew to a hermitage in the Rarău mountains, as a leader who emphasized silence over the loquacity of the political establishment, and as a person who preferred pictures over words. This was indeed a novelty in Romanian politics which stood in sharp contrast to how the satirist Ion Luca Caragiale depicted Romanian archetypical characters. For Codreanu, the promotion of moral rigorousness as a Legionary virtue went hand in hand with the sanctification of violence. He raved about medieval knights and placed more emphasis on chivalric honor than the code of law. These findings are supported by recent research on Codreanu’s charismatic leadership and his and the Legionaries’ religious activism. Schmitt argues that Codreanu’s charisma was not simply a product of his own ostentatiousness, but rather was also sustained by his devotees, who occasionally regarded Codreanu as a demigod or reincarnation of the Archangel Michael. Likewise, Codreanu’s own Christian Orthodox faith was not merely metaphoric or instrumental, but rather constituted a promise of transcendental salvation to the Romanian people. However, his messianism and religious mysticism came increasingly into conflict with his role as a fascist leader. Codreanu’s inability to bring these contrasting identities in line resulted in an irresolute leadership and led to the movement’s collapse in 1938. Correspondingly, Codreanu failed to arbitrate between the different factions which emerged in the 1930s within his organization. Schmitt refers to a “moderate” royalist faction represented by intellectuals like Nae Ionescu on the one hand and a social-revolutionary faction represented by various violent-prone groups and the Legionary Worker Corps on the other. By shedding light on the role workers played within the Legionary movement, Schmitt applies findings from recent studies on this group, which until now has only rarely been made the subject of historical inquiries.

Schmitt’s biography provides new insights into a person who has come to be regarded as one of the most notorious and charismatic fascist leaders in interwar Europe. One strength of the book is that it explores the life of the Legionary leader in settings and from perspectives often overlooked by scholars of fascism. Moreover, it is stimulating to see emphasis placed on the persons and the networks whose impact on Codreanu have been overlooked in the earlier secondary literature. For those less familiar with politics and personae from interwar Romania, the volume is at times less accessible. Some chapters introduce numerous politicians, parties, and places and are so dense that readers may lose track. A slight tendency occasionally to depart from Codreanu’s development in order to incorporate broader historical events notwithstanding, Schmitt’s biography is balanced and well-written, and it presents enough strong arguments to make it worth a read for any scholar of comparative fascism or East European or Romanian history. Overall, Căpitan Codreanu can be regarded as the first authoritative account of the life of the Romanian fascist leader, an account which has been long overdue.

Radu Harald Dinu
Jönköping University

Demokrácia negyvenötben [Democracy in 1945]. By Éva Standeisky. Budapest: Napvilág, 2015. 247 pp.

Éva Standeisky has written an unusual account of circa two crucial years in Hungarian history. Unlike most authors who have dealt with the delicate issue of immediate post-World War II Hungary and its Sovietization, Standeisky does not start from or devote much space to politics, parties, or the intricacies of diplomacy. Nor is the book focused on the rapid social changes that swept through the defeated country. Similarly, the horrors of war and the abusive Soviet occupation only linger in the background. Instead of dwelling on these already familiar aspects of the period, Standeisky attempts to further a nuanced understanding of the elusive concept of democracy in a fluid historical context, and she studies how this elusive concept impacted the trajectory of the country.

These choices do not make the book less politically charged. Connecting 1945 to the topic of democracy is a political statement in today’s Hungary, in which the country’s so-called Basic Law made “constitutional” one specific understanding of national history by declaring that the country’s sovereignty was lost on March 19, 1944 and the subsequent years did not constitute part of “authentic” national history. Neither is Standeisky deterred by such legal “niceties,” nor is she willing to swim with the current of the recent wave of research eager to uncover dictatorial tendencies in all areas starting as early as 1944. Instead, she boldly attempts to reveal people’s agency, a crucial prerequisite of functioning democracy. While a single academic definition of democracy would be difficult to arrive at (the book provides ample illustration of this through the example of intellectual discussions in 1945), Standeisky argues that after the collapse of the old regime and with the slow crystallization of the new, a space for individual agency appeared (köz in the original). Standeisky defines this concept not simply as a social sphere in which people could act and interact, but rather as a view of society beyond its individualist understanding, a view which creates the opportunity but also the moral obligation for everyone to act in the defense of the common good and public interests. In 1945, due to the collapse of the state, she argues, people not only had a chance to engage with the public, this engagement was a necessary precondition of social reconstruction.

In the course of these attempts, democracy was the main guiding principle for most people, understood as a clean break with the undemocratic past (and the cornerstone of reconstruction). But, as Standeisky shows, democracy was as elusive and contested seven decades ago as it is today. One of the most important disagreements unfolded between an egalitarian understanding of the concept (democracy as a system that strives for the greatest possible equality between people in material terms) and an interpretation of democracy as the guarantor of individual liberties (a system that tries to defend individual freedom from the intrusion of others and the state). It was this contestation that enabled the Communist party to divide and weaken its opponents, because the egalitarian interpretation was more popular than the individualistic (which was chiefly represented by intellectuals), and this enabled the Communists to curtail individual liberties.

Intellectuals and ordinary people are both in the focus. However, given the huge difference from the perspective of the paper trails they left, it is hardly surprising that the former’s presence is more prominent. Standeisky does not provide an all-encompassing narrative. Rather, she uses meaningful episodes to illustrate her point: democracy was contested, often elusive, but a powerful idea that defined Hungary for a short period when it was equally important for politicians, intellectuals, and ordinary people. Thus, the book includes chapters on a lecture series at the Budapest Pázmány Péter University that provided a platform for politicians and intellectuals to discuss democracy. The views expressed ranged from a communitarian/egalitarian perspective (Péter Veres from the National Peasant Party) to the idea that democracy is a form of government based on consensus building to provide freedom for individuals (professor of law Gyula Moór). In another chapter, Standeisky examines the views of intellectuals concerning the moral foundations of democracy. She shows how sober and generally pessimistic the evaluations by contemporaries tended to be who felt that Hungarian society neither had the necessary democratic experience nor had properly come to terms with its own responsibility for the tragedy that had befallen the country in 1944. These themes recur in a later chapter that presents the views of Gyula Szekfű (of whom Standeisky has an unusually positive opinion) and Imre Kovács from 1945–47.

Standeisky connects her discussion of democracy and morals with politics, demonstrating how instrumental the debate about democracy and the lack of democratic experience was to the success of the Communists. In this context, they were able to “hijack” the debate and position themselves close to the center. Another chapter is devoted to Világ (1946–47), a short-lived journal edited by Lajos Kassák and published by the Hungarian Council of Artists, which was the home of Western artistic Modernism in a country rapidly sliding towards dictatorship. Finally, a sadly all too brief chapter is dedicated to a local emanation of the “public,” the so-called Republic of Dévaványa, a spontaneous popular attempt that exemplifies how local society could be reconfigured in the absence of the state and would be dominated by a strong figure, but also how the new state gradually compelled these local attempts to submit to its will.

The framework connecting these disparate examples is the concept of the public and democracy as an idea embraced by all of the actors permitted to participate in public life. It is certainly a promising approach, although the book remains a somewhat traditional work in the history of ideas. This lack of methodological innovation becomes especially visible in the case of the analyses of debates on democracy, as Standeisky does not use any of the more recent analytical concepts, such as populism or communitarianism, which would have meaningfully complemented her take on the dichotomous interpretation of democracy. Her argument that brief periods like 1945–47 can offer new insights into prior and subsequent periods is an appealing one, but it remains to be more fully explored in further case studies on ordinary people. Nonetheless, Standeisky largely succeeds in presenting a refreshing perspective on a short period that is often too easily lost amidst the large-scale processes of Sovietization. She thereby aptly demonstrates that emphasis on the anti-democratic politics of the Communists from late 1945 onwards should not necessarily lead to a general condemnation of 1945 or its erasure from the history of democratic traditions.

Gábor Egry
Institute of Political History

A magyar irodalomtudomány szovjetizálása: A szocialista realista kritika és intézményei, 1945–1953 [The Sovietization of Hungarian literary studies: Socialist realist criticism and its institutions, 1945–1953]. By Tamás Scheibner. Budapest: Ráció, 2014. 314 pp.

Tamás Scheibner’s book does not seek to map the ways in which literature functions on the basis of literary historical and aesthetic contexts which focus on the oeuvres of individual authors, nor does Scheibner seek to understand how the aesthetics of Socialist Realism functioned on the basis of poetical analyses of individual works. He works from the presumption that in the given era, critical judgement was held captive by individual institutions which were dominated by politics, not literature. He approaches the subject first and foremost from the perspective of interrelationships in cultural history, thus adopting the approach of the current international (primarily Russian and Anglo-Saxon) theoretical literature. Following in the path of Evgeny Dobrenko and Katherina Clark, Scheibner writes about the discourse of Socialist Realism, which as a complex communicational system contains the critical language with which the single accurate narrative concerning external “reality” can be produced. As an aesthetic ideology, Socialist Realism constitutes an unusually closed system, and the symbolic universe which reigns within it determines the single language with which the ideological problems of the era can be discussed and examined and the political and cultural strivings can be expressed. Furthermore, the political, linguistic, and power technique of Socialist Realism was not so much the distinctive property of the people who were actually involved in the practice of literature (in other words, not an internal requirement) as it was a technique of the representatives of political power. In Hungary, József Révai played this role, even as György Lukács assumed a similar role in the field of theory.

Before diving into the substance of the work, it is worth offering some brief discussion of the term Sovietization, which figures in the title of the book. Drawing first and foremost on the works of American scholars (though also taking into consideration the views of some Hungarian authors), Scheibner comes to the conclusion that the notion of Sovietization can only be used in a limited sense. His stance is nuanced, since he does not treat Sovietization as a practice that was implemented on the basis of carefully developed plans, but rather as a technique of domination that evolved and was implemented gradually. The linguistic and methodological nuances of his inquiry notwithstanding, he nonetheless dates the beginning of Sovietization to 1945, and in my assessment he finds himself on “thin ice” in this because he bases his conceptualization on the views of political historians. By this, I only mean to suggest that the scholarship on the era is hardly sufficiently detailed or nuanced to allow us to venture holistic views concerning the entire country on the basis of political decisions, particularly when it comes to social sub-systems.

Given his conceptualization, Scheibner logically begins by examining the institutional steps that were taken by the Hungarian communists in order to seize control of literature. One of the most important ideas took root in Szeged before the liberation of the country from the occupying German forces. Essentially, the idea was that—regardless of any and all financial or infrastructural problems that might arise—the party should have its own printing press, which would be called Szikra (Spark). Scheibner uses all of the tools in the toolbox of the cultural historian to provide a detailed reconstruction of the tasks that the leadership of the printing press would have to address concerning material culture, organization, circulation, and delivery. He then examines the publication politics of the Szikra printing press and comes to the conclusion that – in contrast to the ideologically motivated success stories told in the Kádár era and in spite of the fact that at its launch in the wake of the war it enjoyed a tremendous advantage – it proved a failure. As the author shows, this was due, above all, to logistical blunders and mistakes in publication policy.

The second chapter of the first part of the book examines the cultural and diplomatic background of the establishment of the Hungarian–Soviet Cultural Society, which was created in order to win the sympathies of the urban middle class or at least to temper some of the hostility to the Soviet Union. The Society was emphatically not political in nature. Its primary purpose was to spread knowledge of the culture, sciences, language, and value system of the Soviet Union among the Hungarian citizenry. In the actual activities in which it engaged, however, the Society made clear that the communist elite not only had no desire to nurture any notion of cultural continuity with non-communist and partly even communist left wing initiatives of the inter-war years, it actually sought to dismiss them as a kind of heterodoxy or misunderstanding— separate paths to be scorned. At the creation of a new literary canon and the new intellectual elite, neither political commitment nor artistic calling was the primary question. What mattered, rather, was whether or not the person in question would be able to accommodate and fit into the frameworks of the new system, and also whether or not, with his or her name and reputation, the party might be able to gain some legitimacy.

One of the key questions of the literature of the era concerns what Scheibner—drawing on György Lukács—refers to as the “unity” of Hungarian literature, a symbolic goal that was intertwined with the fashioning of a new literary canon. In my assessment, this question makes vividly clear the difficulty of drawing boundaries between historical eras. It would be problematic and perhaps impossible to understand the emergence and crafting of this canon if one were to take into consideration only trends and events after 1945. Scheibner continuously alludes to the activities of Lukács before the war and outside the borders of Hungary, and indeed he situates all this in the context of the debates concerning Soviet literature and cultural politics. In my view, however, it still would have been worthwhile to have offered a more detailed analysis and discussion of the historical context and nature of Lukács’s vision of canon formation. After all, so-called workers’ literature or the literature of the working class included a significant body of theoretical literature even in the interwar period, which offered critical assessments of potential aesthetic and ethical dilemmas.

Scheibner devotes considerable attention to the so-called Lukács debate (1949–51). He presents the context in which the debate took place, both from the global and the domestic perspectives, and then offers a detailed analysis of the individual standpoints. These events were discursive in nature, much as the political and sociological positions of the individual participants and their places in the party hierarchy played a role in the debate. From this perspective, even Lukács, who is treated as an institution, was not an exception. At the same time, one might well ask, if there was in fact a fixed plan to dismiss or marginalize him (and there may well not have been any such plan), then why the need for a debate at all? In my assessment, which concurs with that of the author, the debate was needed because (though we often forget, in our efforts to understanding the communist concept of politics, that the exercise of power was centered on text and interpretation) the Lukács debate had a function: the introduction of the Socialist Realist discursive style and the establishment of this style as a matter of routine. If we put the whole affair in a larger context and we string the debates together to form a kind of chain that seems reasonable, then—in the shadow of the Rajk trial—we have the Lukács debate (1949–51), the big architects’ debate (1951), and the debate concerning Felelet [Answer] (1952), the first two volumes of a novel by writer Tibor Déry which was initially intended to be a trilogy. As Scheibner argues, on the one hand, these de-bates concerned the accurate interpretation and the introduction of Socialist Realism, while on the other, they also signified a kind of changing of the guard within the party – the communist intelligentsia that was educated in the professional sense was being pushed out of the party.

In the last two chapters of the book, Scheibner logically takes his analysis further in this direction: the First Hungarian Writers’ Congress, which was held in 1951, was essentially the last phase of the process described above. It was a ritual of acceptance, in that Hungarian literature was significantly reorganized and was given a new central forum in the form of Irodalmi Újság [Literary News] and, in the person of Béla Illés, an unusual past master. The long-term goal of all of this was the creation of a new literary and critical language: what was the role of Soviet literature and sentimental evocativeness, and how should the attitudes of writers and readers be transformed? The final chapter before the conclusion deals with the transformations in the structure of the Hungarian Society of Literary History and the content of its journal Irodalomtörténet [Literary History]. This was a move that took place on the level of politics of the profession, and the essential question was how to introduce the aesthetic ideology of Socialist Realism (which in theory was in use) and Marxism into a traditionally Humanist branch of the sciences and how to assure that work would begin and progress in a manner that was acceptable from a political point of view.

In Hungary, after the change of regimes, very little emphasis was placed on the importance of critical self-examination in the individual branches of the sciences, in spite of the fact that there is a great deal in the recent history of the disciplines of philosophy, history, literary history, and of course several other branches of the sciences that would merit rigorous examination. Scheibner’s book is an example of the new modes of thought of a new generation, and if one takes into consideration, alongside this book, the work of scholars like Gábor Rieder, Dávid Szolláth, Gábor Reichert, Ádám Ignácz, and András Ránki, it seems this new generation has a marked interest in (and is making a demand for) a critical reassessment and rethinking of the era in question. Scheibner’s book is based on a well-developed methodology, a serious study of sources, and rich international scholarly references. It is to be hoped that his scholarly efforts will be continued – by himself and many others.

Zsolt K. Horváth
Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest

The Emergence of Historical Forensic Expertise: Clio Takes the Stand. By Vladimir Petrovic. New York–London, Routledge, 2017. 258 pp.

Over the past century, the number of legal proceedings in which historians have been called on to provide expertise has grown significantly. Depending on the nature of the case, judges and representatives of parties have sought answers to all kinds of questions, such as the history of a particular community and its presence in a geographical space, the ideas that have driven the adoption of legal documents, and the functioning of various institutions which were involved in the oppression or extermination of a particular ethnic, national, racial, or religious group. Practitioners needed answers concerning history and, in particular, political and social history. Historical forensic expertise has thus been called on to contribute in legal settings, and it has done so, with varying levels of success. In this book, Vladimir Petrovic traces the development of this inclusion of historical expertise in a setting to which it had previously largely been foreign: the courtroom.

The book begins with a question: is there a role for the historian in court? The issue of historians participating in proceedings has been controversial and has caused heated debates, even if, by now, it is hardly a practice without precedent. Scholars strongly disagree with one another, and they tend to treat the question as a zero-sum game. For some in the field of historical research, historians should not participate in courtroom proceedings at all, while for others, the contributions of historians are both valuable and necessary to the desired outcome, i.e. a fair legal decision. For the former, law and history are simply fundamentally incompatible methodologically, epistemologically, and in purpose, while for the latter, they are based on similar principles and can work together. After all, historians and judges do, fundamentally, establish truth based on evidence (p.6). Disagreements aside, history is inevitably brought into the courtroom, in criminal and civil cases, in numerous jurisdictions, when the courts are called upon to decide on claims that simply cannot be addressed without reference to history in one way or another.

To help address this problem of the role of the historian in the courtroom, Petrovic turns to the past, investigating “history on trial,” “history of trial,” and “history in trial” (p.4). These three themes run through the book, and Petrovic presents the intriguing aspects of each to the reader. By approaching the subject through these themes, he manages to map successfully the different ways in which history and law have interacted. When he began his research, Petrovic found that, somewhat ironically, the story of historical expert witnesses was largely obscure, even though some of the cases in which historians were involved were exceptional and impacted the societies involved strongly. In many ways, some of these legal proceedings influenced how events from the past are remembered and talked about. In Petrovic’s view, a monographic overview of the evolution of historical expert witnessing was needed to help resolve some of the lingering questions on the roles of historians in the courtroom. Petrovic studied sources on several key cases in countries such as France, the United States, Germany, and Israel. Many of the cases aimed to provide a measure of justice for some of the worst crimes of the twentieth century, such as the murder of Jews in Europe and the oppression and segregation of black Americans. The various types of proceedings were conducted in both civil law and common law jurisdictions, which differ considerably from the perspective of how proceedings are conducted. Insights presented in this book on cases as iconic as Brown v. Board of Education (decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1954) or the Eichmann and Auschwitz trials in Israel and Germany in the early 1960s greatly enrich the reader’s understanding of legal history.

The book is structured largely chronologically, analyzing the shifting relationships between history and law in six chapters organized in three parts: one focusing on the preconditions for the emergence of historical forensics, the second part on experiments with this expertise in court, and the third on institutionalizing the practice. These three phases began to become significant in legal practice in the late nineteenth century, and they are not neatly separated. The process of including historical expertize in courtroom proceedings was gradual and multifaceted. In the chapters, important questions concerning the purpose of legal proceedings are raised, especially in criminal cases involving individuals charged with genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. Do these trials have only the narrow purpose of establishing the guilt or innocence of an individual, or do they have a broader social function, such as to inform, educate, and even reconcile populations? These questions are still passionately debated in academia and in legal and policy circles, especially those working in the field of transitional justice.

Given this, some discussion of the experiences of the international, hybrid, and domestic tribunals that have conducted criminal trials would have greatly enriched Petrovic’s inquiry. Ever since professor James Gow of King’s College in London provided testimony at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in its first ever trial (that of Dusko Tadic), historical expertise has been both heavily relied on in investigations and included as expert testimony. Scholars like Robert Donia have appeared in the courtroom in The Hague dozens of times over the course of the past two decades, and this emerging tradition of relying on experts in the courtroom, which present the conclusions of historical research, continues to the present day at the International Criminal Court. Richard Ashby Wilson’s 2011 book Writing History in International Criminal Trials was important in bringing to light the relationship between history and law in international trials, and Petrovic’s contribution is important in that it expands on this broad theme. These trials, after all, also produce an incredible amount of records which are themselves subjects of historical inquiry.

Petrovic succeeds in his efforts to depict the evolution of the use of historical forensic expertise in legal proceedings over the course of the past century. The book is incredibly rich in detail, describing individuals who took part in the inclusion of historical expertise in legal proceedings and the struggles they faced on this path. This in-depth study is, by all means, a significant contribution to scholarship. It establishes a foundation for even better-informed discussions on the still controversial questions: do historians “belong” in the courtroom, and when their expertise is used, how can this practice be improved? Historians are now regular participants in proceedings in the courtroom, and they are likely to remain there. Therefore, the task is now to improve their contributions, and this process of improvement begins with an increasingly subtle understanding of past experiences, the experiences so eloquently presented by Petrovic. Beyond this vital purpose, the book discusses the crucial question of the social role of historians, which in these turbulent times seems even more pertinent.

Iva Vukusic
Utrecht University

pdfVolume 6 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Medieval Buda in Context. Edited by Balázs Nagy, Martyn Rady, Katalin Szende, and András Vadas. (Brill’s Companions to European History 10.) Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2016. 577 pp.

Written by leading Hungarian, English, American, and Czech medievalists, historians, archeologists, and art historians, the volume Medieval Buda in Context fulfils all the promises made in its title. Its detailed, richly-documented chapters, maps, and illustrations offer the reader a thorough presentation of the capital city of medieval Hungary. The volume is well-balanced in its discussion of the distinctive features of the development of the town in the early and late medieval period and, perhaps most importantly, it provides a sophisticated set of different thematic and geographical perspectives on a unique settlement.

The general objective of the volume was not simply to synthesize in English the findings of earlier and more recent research, but also to offer the international public a useable handbook on an East Central European city. The references tend to cite secondary literature available in the main languages, the geographical index enumerates the various names a locality bore in the multiethnic milieu of the Carpathian Basin, the annexes contain a comprehensible list of the Hungarian rulers and the Latin text of the privilege charter of Pest (which was then taken over by Buda), and a select bibliography (Hungarian, English, German, and French primary sources and secondary literature). The book also has symbolic importance, since it can be considered a tribute to the late András Kubinyi, a historian and archeologist who specialized in the history of Budapest. The inspiring breadth of his vast œuvre is palpable in the contributions to the volume (for instance in the multiple references to his research), and the editors also included an article by Kubinyi as one of the chapters of the book.

The structure of the book reflects the difficulty of arranging the specialized analyses, which are sometimes of a limited scope, in thematic groupings and at the same time showing the chronological development of a locality and its surroundings, near and far.

The volume begins with a good introduction by the editors, which offers a short summary of the historiography of medieval Buda and the main lines of its history. This is followed by two introductory chapters which outline the possible avenues of research (the first two chapters are grouped under the heading “Buda: History, Sources, Historiography”). The first chapter, “The Budapest History Museum and the Rediscovery of Medieval Buda,” describes the Budapest History Museum, its exhibitions on the early history of Buda, and the archeological projects linked to the institution (it was written by Zoltán Bencze). The second, “The Fate of the Medieval Archives of Buda and Pest,” shows the quality, quantity, and state of conservation of the written documents concerning medieval Buda (it was written by István Kenyeres).

The central part of the book consists of three thematical blocks on 1) urban topography (“The Topography of Buda”), 2) the institutions and political and diplomatic events related to the city (“Buda as a Power Center”), and 3) the court culture of Buda (“Court Culture of a ‘Capital’”).

There are three chapters preceding these thematic sections, however, which describe the situation of the area and its early localities before the foundation of Buda in the middle of the thirteenth century (these three chapters are grouped under the heading “Buda before Buda”). The chapter by Enikő Spekner shows the importance of Óbuda and Pest (fused with Buda in 1873 to become Budapest). Each settlement was home to important ecclesiastical institutions, early royal residences, and far-reaching commercial activities. József Laszlovszky and James Plumtree analyze the archeological remains of Óbuda and the legends about them. This section of the book concludes with a chapter by Péter Szabó, who examines the natural hinterland of the city of Buda and highlights the role of the Pilis Mountains as a royal hunting forest in close proximity to multiple residences of the Hungarian kings and as a favorable landscape for the foundation of monasteries.

The three central thematic parts are followed by a section offering an overview, both chronological and geographical (“Buda beyond Buda”). Two chapters examine the city at the very end of the Middle Ages, one by László Veszprémy on the events of the half century before the Ottoman occupation of the city in 1541 and one by Antonín Kalous on a moment of symbolic significance, namely the vast pageant of King Louis II and his army departing from Buda for the disastrous battle of Mohács in the summer of 1526. The last chapter, written by Katalin Szende, puts Buda in the wide network of East Central European capital cities and princely residences (20 localities in all, from Karlštejn and Prague to Stari Ras and Bucharest). Szende compares the location and urban layout of these cities, surveys their ecclesiastical and secular buildings and infrastructures, and concludes with the contention that the city of Buda may have been something of a model for these regional centers.

From the perspective of the thematic clusters of chapters, there is a certain emphasis on economics. Judit Benda describes the specialized marketplaces and shops in the city, and István Draskóczy, widening the focus, shows the broad-ranging economic network of Buda, including its ties to German, Czech, Polish, and Italian centers, ties which were maintained by relations among mobile and entrepreneurial German merchant families.

Culture and art also constitute important elements of the chapters. Károly Magyar summarizes the architectural history of the consecutive royal residences, which culminated, as it were, in the splendid late medieval palace complex situated on the southern part of Castle Hill in Buda. Szilárd Papp proposes to resolve the mystery of the attribution of the high-quality stone statue group made undoubtedly for the royal residence of King Sigismund of Luxembourg. Although the sculptors of the ensemble remain unknown, ongoing research suggests very concrete ties to the style and the artists of the French royal and princely courts around 1400. Valery Rees argues in her chapter that late medieval Buda became a regional center of Humanism and Renaissance due to the invitation and royal patronage of Italian and Italian-educated Hungarian artists and intellectuals. Orsolya Réthelyi, after describing the structures and personnel of the Jagiellonian court of the early sixteenth century, shows how the arrival of queens and their retinues influenced and enriched court culture.

Concentrating on institutions and power relations, Réthelyi’s chapter, which highlights the structure of the royal court of Buda, finds its parallel in the description by Martyn Rady of the institutions and working of the urban government, which followed a German model and was modified during the fifteenth century due to the influx and growing importance of Hungarian citizens and weakened by the closeness of the royal residence and some royally appointed officials. Wider in its approach, the chapter by the late András Kubinyi explores the presence of the royal, judicial, and ecclesiastical institutions, together with rituals and language use in support of the contention that Buda was a full-fledged capital city by the end of the Middle Ages.

Curiously, urban society and its stratification do not figure among the problems covered by the chapters of the volume. The subject is raised from time to time in the chapters, first in the general introduction by the editors, but the question is not made an individual approach of its own. On the contrary, the issue of urban space and its configuration, uses, and representations clearly constitutes the main problem of the volume, partly due to close cooperation between historians and archeologists, but also reflecting the recent international and Hungarian interest in the history of urban space, embodied for instance in the flourishing series of the European Historic Town Atlas project (launched by the International Commission for the History of Towns), for which contributions on Hungary began to be published in 2010.

The first element of the study of space is the meticulous reconstruction of urban topography, and many of the chapters are devoted to this objective. As the most general of them, the text by András Végh offers two topographical snapshots, thus highlighting the chronological changes in the urban layout of Buda between 1300 and 1400. Károly Magyar describes the spatial development of the royal palace, and Judit Benda examines the places of commerce. Beatrix F. Romhányi draws a detailed picture of the monastic topography of Buda and its surroundings, showing the preponderance of mendicant orders, the importance of the royal foundations, and a strong presence in the urban territory of monastic buildings and holdings.

The second approach explores the ceremonial and political uses of space. The chapter by János M. Bak and András Vadas analyzes, for example, symbolic representations of power through the emplacement of secular assemblies, synods of the leaders of the realm, and general assemblies of the estates, which were regularly held in Buda, Pest, and the nearby fields and thus contributed to the image of Buda as the capital city. The ceremonial meetings of Hungarian and foreign monarchs took place for the most part under the rule of the Angevin and the Luxembourg kings of the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, when Buda became one of the most important places of international diplomacy, as Balázs Nagy shows in his chapter. The aforementioned texts by András Kubinyi and Antonín Kalous further explore the world of royal entries and pageants, burials, and processions in the urban milieu.

The third aspect of social space concerns the symbolic meanings attached to the elements of urban space, and the chapters dealing with this topic go beyond the chronological borders of the Middle Ages. The chapter by Gábor Klaniczay studies the different sacral spaces around Buda, Margaret Island, Gellért Hill, and the Pilis Forest, rich in religious significations and giving shelter to monasteries, and also sites of (alleged) miracles, foundation myths, and hermit communities up to the Early Modern Era. József Laszlovszky and James Plumtree go even further in their chapter, in which they show how the legends and myths attached to the ruins of Óbuda, mistaken for the palace of Attila the Hun, served the construction of heroic national identities in the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century and continue to intrigue amateur archeologists today.

The importance of topography and spatial development demands a strong cartographic background, and the volume fulfils this requirement with the inclusion of a sensible number of maps and figures, which persuasively support the arguments presented in the texts. They are particularly useful for readers with no previous knowledge of the geography of medieval Hungary. Some minor differences in the nomenclature of the maps might be a bit confusing, but the overall impression suggests clarity and usefulness.

Finally, it is worth noting that the third word of the title of the volume, context, bears a strong spatial connotation too, highlighting a general intention, a thread running through most of the chapters. First, the analyses systematically include in their frameworks the close environment of Buda, i.e. villages and urban settlements of varying sizes and legal statuses. Thus, they clearly suggest that the medieval city can and must be considered as part of a complex, cooperating agglomeration. The second spatial context of Buda is very clearly the so-called medium regni, the central part of the medieval kingdom of Hungary, including old and new secular and sacral centers of power, such as Székesfehérvár (the coronation and burial site of kings), Esztergom (the early royal center and seat of the first archbishopric), Visegrád (the royal residence in the fourteenth century), and Buda and its suburbs (the capital of the kingdom at the end of the Middle Ages). More open and more civic, the third spatial context consists of the network of German-speaking towns of Central Europe, linked by family ties, economic activities, and the adoption of similar legal models. Finally, the fourth spatial context is the numerous Central European and even European capital cities, Residenzstädten, and power centers, which are systematically compared to Buda’s urban layout, royal palace, and legal structures.

The twenty-one chapters of Medieval Buda in Context capture the essence of the most important city in medieval Hungary, and they offer studies on urban topography which are exemplary in their theoretical subtlety and attention to detail, offering a geographical overview and chronological account of the creation of a capital city, a royal court, and urban life in the environment of a medieval community.

Veronika Novák

Eötvös Loránd University

Reneszánsz utazás: Anna királyné 1502-es fogadtatásának ünnepségei Észak-Itáliában és Magyarországon [Renaissance journey: The festivities held to welcome Queen Anne to Northern Italy and Hungary in 1502]. By Attila Györkös. Máriabesnyő: Attraktor Kiadó, 2016. 218 pp.

Attila Györkös’ new study focuses on the journey of Queen Anne de Foix-Candale, the third wife of Wladislas II (1490–1516), from France to Hungary, a voyage which took her through Italy in 1502. Györkös bases his account on French manuscripts. His monograph was published by the “Hungary in Medieval Europe Research Group” in 2016, as part of the series Scriptores Rerum Hungaricarum in Debrecen. The book vividly illustrates that, in addition to charters, foreign narrative sources can also be of major importance in the study of medieval Hungarian diplomacy. Györkös has done the community of historians a considerable service by publishing a previously known but not fully edited account in a bilingual, Hungarian-French edition, making it accessible to a wide range of readers.

The book contains ten chapters and can be separated into two larger parts. The first part is a historical examination of the journey, while the second is the source edition itself. Anne de Foix’s itinerary was recorded by a Breton herald, Pierre Choque, who traveled as part of Queen Anne’s entourage. The first short chapter discusses the manuscript tradition, since Choque’s work, which is preserved in three manuscripts held in the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, was not available in Hungarian translation before the publication of Györkös’ work. Györkös discovered a fourth manuscript in the British Library in London, which is the only illustrated variant. The second part of the volume, the bilingual Hungarian-French source edition, contains both the Paris and London manuscript traditions. Choque referred to images several times, and the book is supplemented by an Appendix which includes the images from the London manuscript.

In the second chapter of the book, Györkös discusses the complex political and diplomatic situation of the era with special regard to the background of the marriage of Anne and Wladislas. Györkös highlights that the marriage should be understood in the context of an anti-Turkish alliance. However, as Györkös argues, in reality the Valois-Jagiellonian approach from the side of the French was more of an expansion against the Duchy of Burgundy than anything else. The meetings started in 1498, and Wladislas II’s idea of a wedding emerged during the course of the intensive negotiations as an alternative solution to the situation. The French king Louis XII offered his two nieces as brides, and in the end, Anne, a relative of the French king on a side branch of the family, was chosen. The preparations for the marriage were halted until 1502, when the embassage embarked on the road to Hungary. The herald was entrusted with the task of recording the details of the journey for his lady, Anne of Bretagne. In the following three chapters, Györkös examines the journey’s phases, and he underlines that sometimes the details of the discussion are repetitive, possibly because it was not easy to give the numerous sumptuous events varying descriptions. Györkös points out that Choque’s narrative has three important features. Choque wanted to fulfill his commissioner’s goal, but at the same time he was a foreign “tourist” and wannabe diplomat. Györkös identifies several names, for example one person who is referred to as the “Czech man” in the earlier historiography and who was identical with Jiří z Běšin, a royal official from Bohemia. Györkös integrates control-sources as well. He consults the Venetian emissary’s reports, letters, and contemporary eyewitness accounts (such as those of Angelo Chabrielis, Girolamo Priuli, and Marino Sanuto), and this enables him to analyze the circumstances of the entries more profoundly. According to Choque’s account, Anne and her entourage set out from Blois in June. After reaching Crema and then Brescia, they arrived in Verona on July 18. Though Choque exaggerated the number of participants in the procession, he discussed in detail the banquets and performances held as part of the dinners in the Italian towns. He highlighted, for instance, the vestments worn by the Queen and the nobles and the various places in Padua visited by Anne, such the cathedral and the famous icon of the Virgin, attributed to Saint Luke in the Middle Ages. The number of sources describing the journey increased after Anne reached Venice. She celebrated for days, enjoying tournaments and visiting the cathedral of Saint Mark in Venice. Choque wrote about a mobile theatre stage in Murano, where the actors performed the Trojan legend during an evening feast. Hence, the volume is useful not only in the study of medieval diplomacy, but also for scholars interested in court culture and symbolism and Italian urban self-representation. Györkös notes that the courts frequently filled pageants with political symbolism, like the Trojan myth, which derived from the Burgundian court. Pageants were strongly influenced by the Italian Renaissance, which included stories borrowed from classical antique tradition. Actresses sometimes dressed up as antique goddesses, for instance Venus, or as Helen of Troy, while male actors played Cupido.

On August 23, the entourage reached Senj, where John Corvin, the illegitimate son of King Matthias Corvin, welcomed Anne with an army to protect her from the neighboring Ottoman threat. One of the images published in Györkös’ book depicts the procession which was led by John Corvin, who wore armor. When the entourage arrives in Hungary, the account becomes less detailed, and the precise route at the end of September remains unclear between Zagreb and Fehérvár. Györkös reconstructs the coronation and wedding by comparing them with the marriage celebration of Matthias Corvinus and Beatrice of Naples, described in the account of Peter Eschenloer, a burgher of Buda. According to Györkös, the protocol of the ceremony is not clear, and he refers to Géza Pálffy, who concludes that the ceremony returned to the previous tradition, altered from the closed, strict Renaissance character. Györkös states that in the entries this opened ordo is not so apparent.

Pierre Choque stayed in Buda from September to December, and he had a chance to acquaint himself with the Hungarian court and the famous sites in the city. He described the queen’s domains and the knightly tournaments, and he praised the good wines, highlighting in particular a spectacular wine-well in Buda. This well is depicted in the London manuscript, but Györkös notes that it was not from the period in question (the period of King Matthias), but was perhaps a later creation. Images like the wine-well call for further detailed analyses by art historians. Aquincum (that Choque identified with Sicambria) piqued the curiosity of the members of the French entourage because the myth of Trojan origins was widespread in the French medieval tradition too. In the French histories, King Priam escaped from Troy, and in the course of his journeys he and his people established Pannonia. This settlement was named after a Frank tribe, the sicambers. Choque finished his text with a report on the economy and military of the Kingdom of Hungary.

In summary, Attila Györkös’ book yields new insights into the travel itinerary of a queen in Italy and the various ways in which influence and place were given symbolic expression through ritual, all on the basis of an eyewitness account, i.e. the travelogue of Pierre Choque. The detailed study of this period suggests several new directions for research, for instance the study of the aforementioned images or Anne’s influence on her surroundings. Györkös has shed light on the background of the contemporary French–Hungarian approach, which lies in the marriage of Anne and Wladislas II, and he has also firmly reconstructed the manuscript tradition. The volume includes a useful map, which helps the reader follow the path taken by the group, as well as a genealogy and indexes. It will capture the interest of scholars of the history of queenship in the late Middle Ages.

Laura Fábián

Eötvös Loránd University

The Visual World of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary. By Béla Zsolt Szakács. (Central European Cultural Heritage 1.) Budapest: Central European University Press, 2015. 350 pp.

The fragmentary codex, which is held in the Vatican library (Vat. lat. 8541), is arguably the most important textual source associated with the pictorial hagiography of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. Until recently, the main sources about this codex were two facsimile editions published in the twentieth century. The first, which was the result of a long-term commitment by Ferenc Levárdy and was published in Budapest (in Hungarian and Polish versions), because of its price remains more easily accessible in East Central Europe up to the present-day. The second (which is gorgeous and expensive and which imitates the original appearance of the parchments to very high degree of detail) was prepared by Giovanni Morello, Heide Stamm, and Gerd Betz for the Belser Publishing House in Zurich. The Vatican codex is a product of rather complicated and mysterious history. The history of the fragments, which originally belonged to the valuable whole and are preserved in New York, Saint Petersburg, Paris, and Berkeley, is similarly complex. The recent book by Béla Zsolt Szakács will be of great assistance to anyone who wants to know more about the fate of this fascinating material and the related scholarly investigations. And, of course, there is much more to learn and enjoy from this publication, which is the first in a new series at Central European University Press bearing the proud title “Central European Cultural Heritage.”

Szakács has devoted a great deal of research to this topic. It was the subject of his dissertation, defended in 1998, and of his monograph in Hungarian, which was published almost a decade later (A Magyar Anjou Legendárium képi rendszerei [Iconographic program of the Hungarian Angevin Legendary] [Budapest, 2006]). The present publication (a translation by Lara Strong) is almost identical with the Hungarian book in its structure and argumentation. Some inclusions in the text and several additions in the bibliography offer testimony to Szakács’s continued interest in the cycle’s mysteries but the integration of the recent literature is m rather haphazard, and not systematic. I would like to have seen at least a brief commentary on important publications which have provided new knowledge about the saints depicted in the legendary. These omissions are regrettable, because in his earlier works, Szakács strove to find and evaluate virtually every relevant contribution to the questions under scrutiny. Even in its present form, however, it is a map of a very complex intellectual undertaking, aimed primarily at the precise reconstruction of the original object. The result is overwhelmingly convincing, because it is based on a genuine critical assessment of existing hypotheses. There is almost nothing to add to this balance of what has been and can be known about the original material, though I would add one point, which is much clearer from beyond the borders of present-day Hungary. Not all of the saints who were canonized by King Ladislas I in 1083 were considered equally important, and this is something worth further consideration. The assertions that Stephen’s legend could have been or was a part of the original legendary are repeated several times in the book. On the other hand, the figures of holy hermits St. Andrew (Zoerard) and Benedict of Skalka are not mentioned. The question of whether they could originally have been included in the legendary is not even posed. Does this disproportionate focus reflect medieval reality, or only a selective appropriation of the saints in the small states on the late kingdom’s territory?

Szakács had always preferred hard facts to abstract reasoning. His interdisciplinary working method is firmly rooted in the best traditions of positivist art history, iconography, codicology, and historiography (to name only the most important impulses), but he seems much less inspired by philosophical discussions. Even his interest in current theoretical discussions in the field of pictorial hagiography is limited. Important works are not discussed (Barbara Fay Abou-El-Haj, The Medieval Cult of Saints. Formations and Transformations [Cambridge, 1994], Barbara Baert, Caput Johannis in Disco: Essay on a Man’s Head, Visualising the Middle Ages [Leiden and Boston, 2012], and Cynthia Hahn, Portrayed on the Heart. Narrative Effect in Pictorial Lives of Saints from the Tenth through the Thirteenth Century [Berkeley and Los Angeles, 2001]). This approach is handy for anyone who wishes to avoid complicated reasoning about the possible anthropological, philosophical, and psychological lessons to be learned from pictorial hagiography. Some authors of recent theoretical works can hardly compete with Szakács’s extremely diligent and meticulous work, which pays close attention to numerous small details and is undoubtedly a virtue of his approach. On the other hand, a reader might be disturbed by some of the details in his text, such as the frequent use of the word “natural” and its grammatical derivatives (which are found on almost every page). Frequently, it is just a rhetorical figure, but in certain contexts it masks a certain lack of interest in fine distinctions and intersections between the binding causality of natural forces and free decisions made by creative people. These questions are relevant to interpretations of image types, which are so persuasively identified in many of the passages of this book. Szakács tried to find a balance between “the power of these image types” and “the convenience of an already established image type” (p.239). The conventions of pictorial hagiography were a product of complicated negotiation processes which lasted for centuries. People who adopted a specific stance had to take care consistently to follow certain path of sanctity. The stereotypes of the genre were frequently results of very complex and even dramatic human acts, and they played important roles in sharp social conflicts. In explanations of these phenomena, there is a strong tension between a complex human understanding, personally involved in the question under consideration, and a distanced “scientific” approach, which has the considerable advantage of impartiality. Szakács has chosen the second approach, for the most part. This decision undoubtedly has certain charm and can even include restrained humor. Nevertheless, with regards to the functions of image types in the codex, it leads to a certain preference for immediate historical contexts, but the lack of sources, as the author justly observes, makes it very hard to make definite statements. There are several strong indications that the legendary was really “Angevin,” but do we have a conclusive proof?

These objections and questions notwithstanding, the book offers many valuable insights, which will be indispensable to future international research on this unique gem of medieval hagiography. There are many promising areas for future research. Among them is the relationship between the Hungarian Legendary and the large fourteenth-century hagiographic collection (Cod. Vind. 370), which came to Vienna from Český Krumlov and is known to modern scholars by the name Liber depictus. Szakács’s book raises several fascinating questions concerning a comparison of the two most important pictorial legendaria from East Central Europe. Alas, he could have gone much further in this direction had he used at least the facsimile of Liber depictus, published in 1967.

Iván Gerát

University of Trnava

A zombori ördögűző: Egy 18. századi ferences mentalitása [The exorcist of Zombor: The mentality of an eighteenth-century Franciscan monk]. By Dániel Bárth. (Vallásantropológiai tanulmányok Közép-Kelet-Európából 3.) Budapest: Balassi, 2016. 316 pp.

A Franciscan monk named Rochus Szmendrovich performed several exorcisms in Zombor (today Sombor, Serbia) between 1766 and 1769, and because of his acts he was removed from the local Franciscan Convent. The letters concerning these events are found in the Archive of the Archdiocese of Kalocsa. A scholar is often curious to find something interesting in his or her own birthplace. Dániel Bárth (head of the Folklore Department, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest) luckily found these letters, and he studied them for 14 years.

Bárth inquiry reflects not only his earlier interest in the anthropology of religion (cf. Benedikció és exorcizmus a kora újkori Magyarországon [Benediction and Exorcism in Early Modern Hungary] [Budapest–Pécs, 2010]), but also his knowledge of the fields of history and ethnology. He presents nine interpretations of the case. The chapters are ordered like building blocks, so the reader can follow the researcher’s inquiry step by step. Through a biographical approach (Chapter 1), the reader learns about Rochus’ lower-nobility family and the notable events of his early life, such as witnessing a great witch hunt during his childhood. Later, when he joined the clerical order, parish work was simply not enough for him. He wanted to be a missionary, and he became a Franciscan monk. Chapter 2 is an overview of the series of events between 1766 and 1769. Citations of source texts comprise almost half of the chapter, which, one might think, is somewhat excessive.

The following two chapters (Chapters 3 and 4) outline the local society of Zombor. Bárth states that there were no strict borders of nationality or religion (p.138), and social mobility at the time was high, because the city had only recently undergone a transformation from a military to a civilian administrative center. The presentation of local Church institutions in the fourth chapter gives the reader an overview of conflict and coexistence between (and within) monastery and city. In general, these chapters merited greater emphasis, and this betrays Bárth’s preference for cultural explanations as opposed to social ones.

Beyond doubt, the most thorough and detailed part of the book is the section belonging to the focus of Bárth’s research: demonology and healing (Chapters 5–7). As far as categories and periods are concerned, Bárth relies on Brian P. Levack’s 2013 The Devil Within. Possession and Exorcism in the Christian West, and in particular on a work about demonology in Bavaria by David Lederer (“Exorzisieren ohne Lienz,” [2005]) and another on France by Sarah Ferber (Demonic Possession and Exorcism in Early Modern France [2004]). According to Bárth, unfortunately in Hungary there are no case studies on exorcism in the Early Modern period (p.232), but historians have determined that in eighteenth-century Hungary, the Church’s healing ministry was performed less by exorcists than by the Virgin Mary in Marian shrines (p.201). In Chapter 6, Bárth reflects on Szmendrovich’s readings on demonology, categorizes the signs of obsession, and points out that there were no strict borders between types of demons, neither in general (p.213) nor in the monk’s practice. In the seventh chapter, Bárth deals with public exorcisms, and he offers two explanations for why these public rituals were so spectacular: the tools of the exorcist (and the reactions they provoked) and the latent sexuality (victims were frequently women).

In Chapter 8, Bárth concurs with Levack that the Catholic Enlightenment was the main reason why exorcisms such as those performed by Szmendrovich were rejected by the Church (p.255). Educated prelates (as opposed to priests like Father Rochus) no longer accepted supernatural explanations for all problems in life, and in that regard, they did not live up to the expectations of the common people. With regard to this “cultural rift,” Bárth cites Eric Midelfort’s Exorcism and Enlightenment (2005), a book which presents a similar social rupture and life path, that of exorcist Johann Joseph Gassner from Bavaria. In the ninth chapter, offering a reading of Rochus’ letters as ego-documents, Rochus arrives at the conclusion that the Rochus’ personality, which was marked by an ambivalence between humbleness and self-awareness, very much stimulated the situation (pp.267–72).

The structure of the book, each chapter of which presents a different approach to Szmendrovich’s case, is a strength and a weakness at the same time. This “puzzle game” (p.12) may enrich our understanding without offering a single narrative, but it also makes it hard to follow the storyline. The various interpretations lead us in different directions, and Bárth does not specify which is the most important. To describe his own book, he uses the terms “history of mentality” and “history of events” (p.12). These expressions indicate that the work is not intended as a simple case study. First, it is not about a single case, but rather a series of events. Second, the book oscillates between different scales: it moves between the closest view (the monk’s soul), the city and its surroundings, and cultural history, including a comparison with other European territories. Third, Bárth detects a change of mentality in Zombor which (according to his interpretation) is related to the Catholic Enlightenment, which was affecting other territories of Europe at the time.

Because it suggests a link between a micro-event and a “great historical question,” the book meets the definition of microhistory set forth in István Szijártó’s What Is Microhistory? Theory and Practice (2013). The author builds on two seminal books representing the two main wings of microhistory. Giovanni Levi’s 1988 social historical study Inheriting Power about an exorcist from Santena is discussed in Chapter 5 (pp.195–99), and in Chapter 7 Bárth draws on Carlo Ginzburg’s 1980 cultural historical work The Cheese and the Worms: Cosmos of a Sixteenth-Century Miller (pp.268–69). The title of Bárth’s monograph also echoes these two works. Acknowledging the influence of microhistory, Bárth emphasizes Edoardo Grendi’s notion of the eccezionalmente normale, the exceptional normal, with reference to the use of a specific source and specific incidents as potential gates of entry into general edifices, such as Early Modern popular culture. Furthermore, the discussion of Rochus’ readings is very similar to the readings of Menocchio’s in Ginzburg’s book. Defining the book as microhistory would have given the authors’ arguments more edge.

The site of the events, Zombor, and, more generally, the southern territory of the Kingdom of Hungary (now Voivodina, Serbia) is interesting in and of itself. Its multiple liminalities have shaped historical events and merit a detailed explication. There is 1) a geographical border between the Hungarian Great Plain and the Dinaric Alps; 2) a political border between the Kingdom of Hungary and the Ottoman Empire; 3) a linguistic border between Hungarian, Serbian and Croatian, and German; 4) a religious border between the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Churches; 5) a cultural border between learned Catholic prelates and less educated monks. However, Bárth emphasizes only the fifth: in his view, the most important change that took place (and he characterizes this as a change in mentalities) was a shift in the view according to which exorcism was no longer the only way to heal.

Given the emphasis he places on the alleged importance of this shift, it is perhaps no surprise that Bárth chooses to hide the nationalities of the actors. The sources of the story were written in Latin, and Bárth considers it questionable to classify actors as Hungarians, Serbs, and so on, because we do not have enough data to determine their nationality. His solution to this problem is use Latin first names. This may seem somewhat strange, but one finds similar examples in other historical works, e.g. Matthias Benad’s Domus and Religion in Montaillou (1990). In this work (itself a rewriting of Emmanuel Le Roy Ladurie’s famous Montaillou in a new conceptual framework), Benad also uses Latin names instead of the French versions used by Le Roy Ladurie. The explanation for this practice lies in the fact that in the sources, the Occitan names of the contemporary figures were given in Latin. This solution reveals the variety and complexity of nationalities in pre-revolutionary France and in Hungary, and thus it could be accepted as a common principle by historians in the Carpathian Basin, regardless of their nationality.

As far as structure and style are concerned, one finds only minor problems. For example, the term “mendication” in local practice is used as a self-explanatory concept in several chapters well before Bárth actually provides a clear explanation of its meaning on p.175. The phrasing is amusing, but sometimes a little inconsequent. The book contains several long citations, and it is hard to distinguish them from the author’s text (the typesetting is almost the same). One solution would have been to include them in the appendix, especially in the case of Chapter 2, where the author uses many citations in the narration.

The detailed biographical presentation notwithstanding, there remain unsolved enigmas in Rochus’ life. Were historians to shed light on these enigmas, this might add nuance to our grasp of his motivations. For instance, we don’t know enough about his accumulated wealth, the Szmendrovich Foundation, though some knowledge of this might enrich our understanding of his financial motivations. Research on these questions would be possible if one were to consult the sources not used by Bárth (pp.49–60). Similarly, Rochus’ journey to Rome (p.46) might have resulted in the creation of sources in the Vatican. Maybe the best way to reveal someone’s motivations is to study their personal relationships (a similar and justified criticism was levied against Carlo Ginzburg in a 2001 essay by András Lugosi entitled “A tünetektől az interpretációig. Esszé egy homeopata jellegű történetírói gyakorlatról: a mikrotörténelemről” [From Symptoms to Interpretation. Essay on a Homeopathist-like Historian Practice: About Microhistory.]) Bárth even indicates that there was tension in Rochus’ life between his identity as a rich traveling diocesan priest and a Franciscan missionary living in voluntary poverty (pp.276–77). Finally, we might learn more about the ruptures within the society of Zombor as well. Were there palpable tensions among the inhabitants, as was true in the case of the witchcraft trials of Salem in 1692 as presented by Boyer and Nissenbaum in Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft (1974). Bárth clearly sees his the limitations of his work. This is reflected by several sections in his text in which he writes about his methodological doubts, e.g. the omission of the foundation’s sources and any discussion of the relationship between Rochus and his fellow monks (p.181).

All in all, the book’s main virtue is that it puts the practice of exorcism in context, presenting it not simply as a liturgical practice and a chain of events, but also as a symptom of both cultural and social processes. Like the abovementioned books by Le Roy Ladurie, Midelfort, Lederer, and Boyer and Nissenbaum, The Exorcist of Zombor could be a good example of how to write about micro-events, particularly for historians in Central Europe.

Márton Simonkay

Eötvös Loránd University

A multietnikus nemzetállam: Kísérletek, kudarcok és kompromisszumok Csehszlovákia nemzetiségi politikájában 1918–1992 [The multiethnic nation state: Attempts, failures, and compromises in Czechoslovakia’s nationality policy from 1918 to 1992]. By László Szarka. Dunaszerdahely/Dunajská Streda–Pozsony/Bratislava: Kalligram, 2016. 374 pp.

László Szarka requires no introduction to Hungarian and Slovak readers; as the author of several books and hundreds of studies on the nationality problems of East Central Europe with a primary focus on the Slovak national movement and the Hungarian and Czechoslovak nationality policies, he is a well-established authority in his field. His newest book can be regarded as a summation of his previous writings about Czechoslovakia’s nationality issues. No wonder that the book is based on an unusually large amount of scholarship, including the most recent studies in Czech, Slovak, Hungarian, English, and German; the bibliography comes to some forty-five pages, and it contains archival and published sources, as well as a long list of secondary literature.

The book is divided into an introduction and four chapters, but it lacks a concluding chapter and summary. In a sense, however, the introduction is already a kind of summary, as Szarka states in advance that the Czechoslovak attempt to make a democratic multi-ethnic state failed. Although the book is not meant to be read as a crime novel, this method is a little strange. The author adds that the concept of the “Czechoslovak political nation” was very similar to the concept of the “Hungarian political nation” during the Dualist period. Each of the two states tried to assimilate minorities and therefore contributed to nationality tensions. It is clear that Czechoslovakia had the most liberal nationality policy in East Central Europe when it was founded, but Szarka argues that the image of Czechoslovakia as a democratic nation state was little more than a myth.

The first chapter deals thoroughly with the theoretical background (the elaboration of which amounts to one of the great strengths of the book, although the remainder of the text has a descriptive rather than an argumentative character), nation-forming and state-forming nationalisms, the changes during the Great War, and the making of the Czechoslovak state. The main aim of the book is to examine “what attempts were made to create the constitutional framework of a democratic nation state [in Czechoslovakia]” (35, all translations by the reviewer – PB). As we have seen, by this point readers already know that these attempts failed. However, Szarka thinks that Czechoslovakia can hardly be considered an “artificial country” (p.85). He argues instead that not only the Czechs but also Slovaks and Rusyns regarded the country as their true homeland. What is more, he presumes that its founding fathers (Masaryk, Beneš, and Štefánik) recognized the incongruities and contradictions between the idea of the Czechoslovak political nation and the real minority situation. According to him, Masaryk proposed a “democratic nationalism” (p.109), and the political elite had three different plans to create a democratic nation state, the most famous of which was the idea of an “Eastern Swi­tzerland.” It is indeed a great pity that none of these plans were realized. I would add here that members of the Hungarian political elite also had rather progressive and liberal ideas in the 1860s, but the realities on the ground were rather different, very much like the situation in Czechoslovakia after 1918.

The second chapter (Nation State – Minority Policy) deals with the first Czechoslovak Republic (1918–38). This period is characterized as “nationalism with a human face.” Surprisingly, the chapter starts with reiterations of statements made in the previous chapter, and there is relatively little information about the end of the 1920s and the beginning of the 1930s. The most relevant element here is the self-organization of the Hungarian minority and the roles of the elites. In other words, the focus is on the strategy of the Hungarian minority instead of Czechoslovak minority policy. Szarka sums up three different interpretations of the Hungarian minority history: the so-called grievance policy, self-organization through activism, and the so-called realist option, which combined the first two methods. The next sub-chapter, “Between the Status Quo and Revision,” is about the period between 1935 and 1938. Emphasis is on the international situation, but nationality policies are also discussed. There were several attempts to find a way to a more democratic minority policy: drafts of a minority statute were created, and different plans for Slovak and/or minority self-governance or autonomy were discussed. It was probably too late for such reforms to succeed, but Szarka somewhat generously assumes that “in theory, under peaceful circumstances, they [Beneš and Hodža] would have been able to shape a new, more democratic minority policy” (p.180). We shall, of course, never really know what might have happened under less turbulent circumstances.

Chapter three, “In the Shadows of Hitler and Stalin,” discusses the years between 1938 and 1948, but the sections on 1938/39 and 1945–48 are much more detailed than those on the war years. Szarka suggests that “the dissolution of Czecho-Slovakia in March 1939 was a process with many causes” (p.206). In other words, contrary to the later claims of the Czechoslovak state, it was not simply the work of the minorities. Szarka showed insight in his decision not to separate the years before and after 1945 and to emphasize instead that these years had much in common. After all, forced migration, deportations, and disregard for human and minority rights were carried out under Nazi rule and postwar Czechoslovak rule, and some cases involved little more than a reversal of the roles of the oppressor and the oppressed. There are long pages about increasing German influence on Hungary, which fall outside the expected scope of the book. For his Hungarian readers, the years 1945–48 promise to be among the most interesting. However, this period has been widely discussed already, and Szarka was prudent not to go into too much detail.

The title of the last chapter is “(Inter)nationalism in the Party-State.” This is not the most convincing choice, since the first pages deal with the expulsion of the Germans between 1945 and 1948 (which should have been discussed in the previous chapter), and the period of the regime change is also included. A mere 26 pages are devoted to minority issues between 1948 and 1989. In other words, the longest period is dealt with in the shortest way. While the events of 1968 are depicted in some detail, the coverage of the Husák era is given altogether four pages. Clearly the nationality problem became much less important after 1948, when the only remaining larger nationality group in the country was the Hungarian minority (the actual prime subject of this work). Even the local impact of the 1956 revolution is left unmentioned, although the subject was thoroughly researched in the previous decade by Slovak and Hungarian historians. The only moment during which open debates were held about the minority issue under the communist regime was the Prague Spring of 1968. Szarka summarizes the draft programs of the Hungarian minority leaders and also the various Czechoslovak responses to them. This section of the book discusses only minority issues, devoting little attention to the international situation (e.g. the intervention of the five Warsaw Pact states, etc.). In some sense, this part of the book suits the subtitle of the volume best.

Otherwise, the contents of the book tend to differ from what the title and subtitle suggest in three notable ways. First, the notions of “multiethnic” and “nation state” contradict each other. In my assessment, it would have been more apt to use Rogers Brubaker’s term, “nationalizing state,” instead of “nation state,” and not only in the book itself, but also on the cover. However, it is possible that Szarka intended to make an ironic gesture by choosing this title. Second, although the German, Polish, and Rusyn issues are all mentioned in the book, by far the greatest emphasis is placed on the Hungarian minority. Thus, it would have been more accurate to indicate in the title that this book is mainly about Czechoslovakia’s Hungarians. Third, long sections of the book analyze the international situation, with a focus on Czechoslovak and Hungarian foreign policy, and one recurrently finds passages about the Romanian and Yugoslav minority situations too. As we have seen above, minority strategies are an integral part of the book. In fact, they are given more attention than the minority policy of the Czechoslovak elites. Last but not least, the book seems to be disproportional. While nearly half of it deals with the formation of Czechoslovakia between 1918 and 1921, the years between 1922 and 1935 and also the period between 1969 and 1988 are almost absent.

Despite these reservations, the book remains a highly useful one. It is based on decades of research, which have made Szarka one of the leading experts on the topic. The gravest problem with the book, however, is that it appears to be a “published manuscript” on which no serious editorial work has been done. To sum up, the book has great merits, but it appears unfinished; it is not only unedited, it also requires careful restructuring.

Péter Bencsik

University of Szeged

A Horthy-kultusz 1919–1944 [The Horthy cult 1919–1944]. By Dávid Turbucz. Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2015. 461 pp. 

For those interested in the Horthy era, Dávid Turbucz should already be familiar. Miklós Horthy, one of the most controversial and significant personalities of Hungarian history in the twentieth century and the eponym of a 25-year-long period, has long been one of the focal points of the young historian’s research. Turbucz published a widely received scholarly biography (which also met with interest among lay readers) of Horthy in 2014. His works since have been characterized by thoroughness and impartiality, as is true in the case of his current monograph on the Horthy cult, which is based on his successfully defended 2014 PhD thesis. 

The volume is a synthesis of research begun in 2007. It is no exaggeration to say that the choice of topic is bold and timely, since even today Horthy’s historical legacy provokes lively debates, and thus the question itself is inevitably riddled with traps for the historian. Most readers will surely take a book on Horthy in hand with strong preconceptions and expectations. Turbucz is fully aware of this, and he avoids this trap by emphasizing that he does not intend to politicize the subject from any point of view. Instead, he dissects the highly polarized simplification two contentions made frequently today according to which Horthy was either the “father of the nation” or a “fascist dictator.” One of the most significant precursors to the notion of Horthy as the father of the nation is the Horthy cult between the two World Wars, whereas the latter view draws primarily on the simplistic rejection of Horthy as a Nazi collaborator after 1945. Turbucz is no doubt correct in his contention that assessments aiming at unbiased objectivity will not prevail over colloquial language (and this is unlikely to happen in the near future, even if Turbucz’s volume facilitates this process). 

The book is not about the person and deeds of Miklós Horthy, but on how his contemporaries depicted him during his time in office. Turbucz defines the fundamental objectives of his work as follows: “I did not wish to re-enact what sort of person Miklós Horthy was, even if this cannot be avoided at certain points, but to show what scenes may have influenced the opinions of contemporaries on the Regent between 1919 and 1944. […] In this book, the character of Miklós Horthy appears as he existed in the imagination of others and as the product of cult-construction” (p.19). In short, Turbucz tries to present and interpret one of the most typical expressions of symbolic politics of the interwar period, the Horthy cult, placing it into its own age.  

Like most cults, Horthy’s appeared as a supposed panacea in times of crisis, and this is why it could closely “cohabit” with revisionist thought. The substance of the cult was that the restoration of the glorious past could be expected from Horthy and Horthy only. Like other cults, Horthy’s had its negative effects, which Turbucz points out, namely that by the end of the era, Horthy, like practically everyone who has ever been the object of a cult, started to believe what had been said of him, namely that he was an extraordinary personality without whom everything would collapse. This can most particularly and fatefully be noticed in the expressions and behavior of the Regent during the occupation of Hungary by German troops in March 1944. The cult not only distorted the Regent’s ability to perceive himself and his role, it affected his followers too, hampering their ability to think critically and worsening their appreciation of political realities and responsibilities.

According to the well-established, professional definition used by Turbucz, Horthy was an “authoritarian leader,” and the cult surrounding him was an integral part of a system which can be considered “restrainedly parliamentary, authoritarian, a transition between democracy and dictatorship” (p.39). 

The volume is mostly chronological and partially thematic. In the introduction and the chapter which follows, which examines the theoretical framework, Turbucz clarifies the conceptual basis of his inquiry, provides a detailed bibliography, and presents his interdisciplinary approach. He draws not only on the toolkit of historiography, but also on approaches used in other disciplines, such as political anthropology, explanatory political science, and media studies. He also refers to the “evolution of his research.” We find reflections on his former works in which he refines some of his earlier conclusions. Turbucz is aware of the fact that even a comprehensive and elaborate examination of the cult has to admit to certain limitations. Further significant questions would be to what extant did Hungarian society endorse the Horthy cult, how deeply was it embedded, and how intensely did it affect public opinion and widespread sentiment. Turbucz underlines that in the absence of authentic sources (e.g. public inquiries), no exact answers can be given to these questions. Thus, he does not approach the issue from the point of view of the intended audience of the cult (presumably the larger public), but from the angle of the people who crafted it, concentrating on the factors that influenced the vernacular and the channels that they used. 

Turbucz laudably devotes a whole chapter to a discussion of other European leader-cults and, consequently, the historiographical context, searching for similarities and differences with which he determines the place of the Horthy cult in the history of political thought. He considers the cults of Stalin, Hitler, Codreanu, Churchill, Franco, Hindenburg, Mannerheim, Masaryk, Metaxas, Pavelić, Pétain, Piłsudski, and Salazar. Faith placed in strong men with military backgrounds was part of the European Zeitgeist, which was connected to the crisis of parliamentarianism and was further strengthened by the Great Recession, which began at the turn of the 1920s and 1930s. However, it is worth noting that while many of the “strong military leaders” became de facto dictators, Horthy gradually transformed into a conservative head of state starting from the initial stage of Count István Bethlen’s consolidation policy (1921/22). Subsequently, perceptions of Horthy’s role changed: the Regent became less involved in shaping governmental policy, with the exception of military affairs, so everyday political tasks belonged to the prime minister’s sphere of authority. According to Turbucz, this is important because it clearly suggests that Horthy did not think he could understand and find solutions to all of the problems faced by the state (p.99).  At the same time, he was not the only political figure around whom a cult was formed in Hungary. An analogous phenomenon developed around Gyula Gömbös and Ferenc Szálasi, the latter of whom effectively turned into a dictator by the end of the era. In his comparison of local and foreign examples, Turbucz does not endeavor to offer a complete analysis; this could surely be the subject of further research and  another book. 

The subsequent chapters of the volume survey the development, evolution, and thematic alterations of the cult chronologically, from the beginning to its end, namely the time of the German occupation of 1944. Turbucz primarily undertakes to analyze the functions of the subsegments of the official Horthy image. Thus, he does not offer a detailed examination of the narratives that differed from the official and dominant Horthy image. He places considerable emphasis on identifying and presenting the mediums of the cult, and to this end he examines a vast amount of material from the press, including writings published in 18 contemporary daily newspapers. In addition to the print media, Turbucz also considers the ever-spreading radio and newsreel of the era, which offered new means for cult-building (for example, the volume includes a complete list of newsreels in which Horthy appeared, pp.397–400). 

The fact that the Horthy Cult can be divided into sections is well-illustrated by the chapters of the volume. At first, the radical right, mainly members of the military, was the primary architect of the cult, but later in the 1920s, the circle expanded to include levels of the administration, which resulted in the alteration of its substance. In 1919/20, Horthy was presented as the “savior of the country,” while over the course of the next fifteen years this image transformed into the “builder of the country,” and by the end of the 1930s, as a result of revisionist successes, the Regent was apostrophized as “the expander of the country.” Turbucz also highlights that anti-Semitic shades emerged and were strengthened within the layers of the cult during World War II. In the chronological chapters, he lists occasions which were essential and symbolic moments in the construction of the cult (e.g. the anniversaries of Horthy’s entry into Buda and his election as Regent, his birthday, and his name day), the “scenes” of cult building (military sites, spaces of public education, churches, the parliament, the seats of social organizations), and cult-building techniques (e.g. the naming of public spaces after the regent, and the aforementioned mediums). Turbucz also takes Horthy’s family members into account, who “played significant parts” in the cult surrounding the Regent. 

Questions regarding the builders of the cult and their motivations are raised throughout the volume. With regard to the latter, Turbucz concludes that some people contributed to the process out of sincere faith in the regent’s abilities, while others did it out of career ambition or simply because they were guided by compulsive conformity. At the same time, Turbucz mentions several organizations and people who played a major role in constructing the cult (e.g. author Cécile Tormay, author Ferenc Herczeg, army officer and later politician Gyula Gömbös, the Etelközi Szövetség [League of Etelköz], the Magyar Országos Véderő Egyesület [Hungarian National Defense Association], the Vitézi Rend [Order of Vitéz], etc.) 

The message of the book is supported by two data-driven supplements, the first of which contains thirty-two tables and the second of which includes six picture charts. Both add nuance not only to the examination of the themes of the cult, but also to the discussion of its dynamics. A name index and subject index are also included to facilitate orientation within the volume. The many images found in the last thirty-two pages of the book (fifty-five photographs, posters, and other illustrations) provide an impressive visual addition to the main text. The book amounts to an original and well-balanced professional work of scholarship, which invites further reflection on the issue and furthers a more impartial and thorough understanding of the interwar era. 

Róbert Kerepeszki

University of Debrecen

Szabadkőművesből református püspök: Ravasz László élete [From freemason to reformed church bishop: The life of László Ravasz]. By Pál Hatos. Budapest: Jaffa Kiadó, 2016. 332 pp.

László Ravasz (1882–1975) was probably the most important public actor of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the twentieth century. It may thus come as a surprise that Pál Hatos’ work is the first book-length biography of Ravasz, in which Hatos reinterprets Ravasz’s whole controversial lifework. To clarify the larger context of his work, Hatos contends that in the twentieth century, Protestantism lost some of its intellectual influence and social-political importance. At the same time, he underlines that “the interrelationships between politics and religion had significant effects on the development of society” (p.13) in the period.

The first chapter includes a brief historiographical overview sufficient to demonstrate many open questions. Hatos’ goals are twofold: he aims to interpret how Ravasz was shaped by history on the one hand and how he was able to shape history on the other. Hatos convincingly argues that “the life of László Ravasz can be divided into three periods” (p.15). The first period is the first three decades of his life (1882–1921), which he lived in Transylvania. This is followed by the interwar period (1921–45) during which he served as a bishop in Hungary. The third distinct period in his career came after World War II (1945–75). Interestingly, the structure of the book does not strictly follow this temporal framework, since the text is divided into six main chapters and 35 sub-chapters. The focal point of previous studies tended to be the second period in Ravasz’s, with particular emphasis on his political role during World War II. Hatos balances this by placing similar emphasis on the earlier and later periods.

The chapters on Ravasz’s Transylvanian period also describe the intergenerational mobility of the family. The depiction of the bucolic milieu of Kalotaszeg (Ţara Călatei), where the ancient and the modern were profoundly intertwined, offers ample testimony to Hatos’ excellent storytelling ability. In his introduction of Ravasz’s ancestors, many of whom were in the service of the Reformed Church, Hatos aptly contextualizes his subject. Ravasz studied at a grammar school in Székelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc), in a largely Catholic region, where he learned what minority life meant. However, as Hatos argues, since Ravasz had not yet become a profound believer in the doctrines of the Calvinist Church, his relationship to it was more a matter of role play at the time. In the course of his theological studies in Kolozsvár (Cluj-Napoca), Ravasz attended lectures at the faculty of the arts, since he wanted to become a poet or a writer. Hatos examines the impact that some notable professors (Albert Molnár, Károly Nagy, Károly Böhm) had on him. It is very important that the young theologian became familiar not only with the religious revival and the so-called “inner mission” (or “innere Mission,” a movement led by German evangelists who sought to kindle a “rebirth” of Christianity) in Cluj, but also with modern life in an urban environment. Thus, the young litterateur and editor-theologian praised the erotic poems of Renée Erdős and was enthusiastic about cosmopolitanism.

The early phase of Ravasz’s life ended in 1903, when he started to work as a secretary and assistant pastor at the Transylvanian Reformed Church with bishop György Bartók. I would have been curious to learn more on the roots of Ravasz’s new orientation and the reasons behind this career change. Bartók was a representative of Transylvanian rational and liberal theology, and he did not endorse the idea of religious revival. Ravasz at the time supported the politics of Count István Tisza, and he worked hard not only in the administration, but also as an assistant pastor. Hatos traces his path from the bureau back to the University, where the young scholar filled a vacancy at the Department of Practical Theology in Cluj. To complete the requirements for his degree, Ravasz spent two semesters in Berlin, where he was influenced by the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Georg Simmel. Moreover, he wrote articles about the inner mission, referring to demographic trends of Transylvania as well. This kind of openness remained an important element of his worldview.

Two remarks have to be made. First, Hatos describes Károly Böhm’s value theory and its impact on Ravasz in this chapter. He should have clarified these influences in the earlier subchapter, in which “value theory” is part of the title (pp.39–51). More importantly, Hatos fails to offer definitions of “inner mission” and “revival.” After his studies in Germany, Ravasz came to describe inner mission as a “saint perversity” (p.63), but in interwar Hungary he already followed Albert Molnár’s (one of his teachers in Cluj) “ecclesiastical inner mission method” (p.44). We also read about the “inner mission program of Budapest,” which Ravasz adapted “into Transylvanian ecclesiastic life” (p.120) during World War I. Furthermore, the apostles of inner mission supported him in 1921 (p.154), and as a bishop he supposedly put religious revival and the centralized inner mission in the focus of the ecclesiastic work. Moreover, after World War II, a “revival wave” (p.245) dominated the Reformed Church, resulting in a countrywide boom in religious life. At the beginning of the communist dictatorship, however, this community provided a basis for collaboration. The question that arises here is whether Ravasz domesticated different methods, as was his intention, or inner mission and revival can be interpreted without such a precise meaning, like other generally used phrases, such as populism or racialism. Biographers may understandably prefer not to deal with conceptual dilemmas as their primary task, but an important question is left open.

By the time World War I had broken out, Ravasz had emerged as a well-known practical theologian, pastor, and orator in his region. Hatos gives an extensive overview of the ideological context of his activities. Hungarian Protestantism was being put back on the defensive by secular radicalism and Catholicism, not to mention its inner conflicts. Ravasz realized that the Reformed Church had to adopt new identity politics using modern devices, such as the press and, later, the radio. In 1916, he gave up his scientific and literary ambitions and devoted himself to organizational work for several decades. Hatos cites a forgotten article from 1908 in which Ravasz lays out a “reactionary” (p.91) reform plan against “anarchistic, destructive trends” (p.92) like positivism, historical materialism, sociology, and l’art pour l’art tendencies in the arts. In this document, he preached a Protestant-based new conservatism against the Jews and the Catholics.

However, Ravasz’s spiritual turn was completed only the following year (1909), when he was evangelized by an American Methodist. At the same time, he joined Freemasonry, which may be perceived (as the title of Hatos’ book suggests) as surprising from the perspective of today. However, Hatos contends that quite the opposite is true: membership was a social convention, and what was more remarkable was that Ravasz left the Lodge in 1917. During World War I, Ravasz appeared optimistic, and he contributed to the sacralization of the war. In 1914, he took the editorship of Protestáns Szemle (Protestant Review) over from Dezső Baltazár, and this soon made him known nationwide. He edited the periodical in the spirit of his “reactionism,” thus, like the Catholic ideologist Ottokár Prohászka, it was not the revolutions of 1918/19 that caused his conservative and anti-Semitic turn.

After the Hungarian collapse, Ravasz rethought the idea of cultural supremacy and developed an alternative theory of “minority Messianism” (p.135). However, his minority life was not to last long in Romania. After a long campaign, he was invited to serve as the bishop of the Danube Region in 1921. He proved to be a modern, mobilized evangelizer, who visited his ecclesiae often. He was a spiritual leader, a “professional communicator” (p.84), and a top manager of his Church in one. Hatos offers descriptions of Ravasz’s financial incomes, and he shows how hard Ravasz worked for what he earned. Social constellations and interests meant that the Reformed Church provided an important platform for political reformers, like the népi (or “folkish”) movement.

Hatos analyzes Ravasz’s role as Bishop (1921–48) and his presidency of the Hungarian Reformed Church’s Convent and Synod (1937–48). In addition, he deals with the role of the National Pastoral Association of the Reformed Church (ORLE), where Ravasz served as president between 1936 and 1948. Hatos details the “increasingly close correlation” (p.188) between centralization in ecclesiastical politics and strengthening etatism. Ravasz was a member of the Upper House as well, where he voted for the first anti-Jewish Law in 1938. While he was himself very much a member of the political establishment, Ravasz recognized the dangers of etatism and the spread of anti-Christian ideas. Nonetheless, he was grateful to Hitler and Mussolini for the Second Vienna Award in 1940, and he supported Hungarian participation in the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Hatos presents Ravasz’s anti-Semitic parliamentary and radio speeches, and he emphasizes their wide-ranging impact on society. He does not fail to consider contemporary writings, such as Ravasz’s correspondence, either, which document the anti-Jewish climate of opinion and the pressures that the right-wing exerted on him. Hatos claims that later, during the rapid mass deportation and extermination of hundreds of thousands of from Hungary in 1944, Ravasz proved “the most dynamic Christian leader to organize protests and rescue efforts” (p.245).

Hatos interprets the Hungarian regime change in 1945 as a political, economic, and social “earthquake” (p.16), and he considers “year zero” as the beginning of Sovietization (p.256). Indeed, 1945 is an important landmark, used mostly by historians of politics and international relations, but this importance has been disputed from the perspectives of the history of society, economy, and culture. National and international syntheses convincingly demonstrate that 1949 can be viewed as an alternative endpoint of the interwar period in a broader sense, as Hatos indeed does when he emphasizes that churches were filled with churchgoers in 1945. At that time, Ravasz struggled to maintain the Church as an independent, decentralized institution, and he paid visits conscientiously and frequently to the communities in his district. Hatos offers several examples in support of his contention that “penance became one of the most important discourses of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the decade after World War II” (p.252). It can be presumed that this attitude became the basis of the new Calvinist Church policy during the communist dictatorship. In 1948, Ravasz took a back seat in the Reformed Church, as people like Albert Bereczky and János Péter were being promoted in the hierarchy. During the relatively short-lived Hungarian revolution of 1956, Church collaborators were displaced and Ravasz was brought back into a position of prominence. But after the glory days, which in fact lasted for several months within the Reformed Church, Ravasz lived in retirement with his family in Leányfalu. However, he maintained his intellectual curiosity and followed the newest trends in Hungarian literature and international Protestant theology. He died in 1975, at the age of 93.

In summary, with the minor exception of some incorrect wording (e. g. pp.73, 237, 246, and 279), Hatos has produced an eminently readable biography which is based on serious research into archival sources and press materials and also drawing on previous scholarship. Unfortunately, numerous citations lack endnote references, and the book does not contain an index of names. The book nonetheless remains a significant intellectual product and a must read for scholars dealing with the history of the Hungarian Reformed Church in the twentieth century, and it will be of interest to anyone curious to know more about the person or the era as a whole.

Ákos Bartha

Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Lélektan és politika: Pszichotudományok a magyarországi államszocializmusban 1945–1970 [Psychology and politics:
The psycho-sciences under state Socialism in Hungary]. By Melinda Kovai. (Károli könyvek.) Budapest: L’Harmattan Kiadó, 2016. 514 pp.

The new book by Melinda Kovai is a groundbreaking undertaking which presents the history of the institutionalization and politicization of the science of psychology in Hungary from the middle of the nineteenth century to the 1970s (the slightly misleading title of the book notwithstanding). Kovai offers not a traditional history of an institution or science, but rather a sociological history in which she adopts a decidedly interdisciplinary approach. Indeed, her use of the term “psycho-sciences,” which she borrows from the work of British sociologist and social theorist Nikolas Rose, is one of the clear indications of the innovativeness of her approach. Thus, in her study, Kovai, who herself has training in sociology and psychology, covers a far broader spectrum than psychology or psychiatry, expanding her inquiry to fields like mental hygiene, psychoanalysis, eugenics, and political psychiatry. Kovai examines the creation or domestication of these psycho-sciences in Hungary as social constructs, processes in which mutual interactions among different actors (politicians, doctors, therapists, etc.) played important roles at varying times. These factors exerted a decisive influence on the institutionalization of these sciences, determining for instance which social groups were put into these categories. Kovai also examines a wide range of autobiographical writings (including memoirs, interviews, etc.) in order to shed light on the micro-worlds of the aforementioned actors, and this is another one of the innovative features of her study. Most of these writings were composed by psychologists and psychiatrists, and thus they offer personal perspectives on the institutionalization of the psycho-sciences.

The book is divided into two long chapters. In the first, Kovai examines the precursors to the phenomenon in question, tracing the emergence of the community of specialists from the Compromise of 1867 to end of World War II. The Lipótmező asylum (the name of the institution indicates the part of the city in which it is found, Lipótmező, or “Leopold field,” named after Lipót Göbl, who purchased the area from the city of Buda in the early nineteenth century), which was the largest asylum in Hungary, plays a key role in this chapter, and Kovai uses it as an example with which to present the institutionalization of the psycho-sciences in Hungary. In Hungary as in the rest of Europe, this process was part of the larger process of modernization. The first state lunatic asylum was created in 1868 as one of the signs of the country’s recently won independence. State-of-the-art treatment for the patients was considered an important task and criterion of the civilized modern state. Lipótmező became one of the most important bases for the science of psychiatry in Hungary, though physicians were trained not here, but rather in the clinics. Kovai shows the importance of World War I in the evolution and spread of the sciences of psychiatry and psychology, since large numbers of soldiers who suffered terrible neuroses because of their experiences in the war desperately needed treatment. In other words, suddenly the psycho-sciences became strategically important in Austro-Hungarian and German military affairs. This played an important role in the institutionalization of something which earlier had been regarded and had functioned merely as a movement. Thus, it contributed to its emergence as a medical science.

Psychoanalysis, which was prominent for the most part in left-wing circles and among intellectuals curious about trends in the West, was not given an institutional form before the outbreak of World War I, but the so-called Aster Revolution of 1918 (which saw the brief rise of a parliamentary republic) and, in particular, the Soviet Republic of Béla Kun gave it new momentum. Under these two governments, psychoanalysis enjoyed considerable state support, in part because individual representatives of the science were given positions in state institutions and in part because state institutions the essential function of which was to cultivate it were founded. The Soviet Republic in Hungary followed the example which had been set by the Soviet Union, where psychoanalysis enjoyed a place of distinction into the 1920s as a branch of the sciences that strove to understand the human psyche. The fall of the Soviet Republic in Hungary led to various forms of discrimination in the interwar period, in which anti-Semtism played the most prominent role. Therapists had to clear themselves of any accusation of having communist sympathies. Nonetheless, one can still speak of a sort of golden age of psychoanalysis in the interwar period in Hungary, though because of the aforementioned factors it was never given an institutional framework by the state and existed more as a kind of movement practiced inconspicuously, unlike psychiatry, which during the Horthy era was an important, if not central, part of health care and education policy. Ethnic fault lines were particularly sharp in the medical profession, and this affected psychiatry. Non-Jewish representatives of the science tended to be members of the National Society of Hungarian Physicians, which supported anti-Semitic laws (like the numerus clausus, which limited the number of Jews who could be admitted to university) and government policies (Jews were not admitted to the Society).

These circumstances notwithstanding, the institutionalization of psychiatry in Hungary can still be said to have begun in the interwar period, since it began to become increasingly present and prominent in schools, the military, and the workplace. While the nationalist cultural politics of the era played a role in the institutionalization of children’s pedagogy, economic factors dominated in the career counseling that was provided and the introduction of tests to determine people’s suitability for work. Though there were institutions with profiles in psychology that were maintained by the state at the time, for the most part the professional elite frequented seminars and lectures held in private apartments and studios, i.e. in the kind of semi-open sphere of the urban middle class. People who were unable to attend institutions of higher education or get positions in state offices (either because they were Jewish or because they were women) took part in this semi-open world in which the psycho-sciences were nurtured.

But the real subject of the book is the history of the politicization of the psycho-sciences after World War II. After the war, a shift took place in the institutionalization of the psycho-sciences, first and foremost because there was a radical changing of the guard, as it were, in the elites. As part of this change, in the new state people who earlier had been excluded from the profession because of the discriminatory laws were given positions. At the same time, as Kovai reveals, the politicization of the psycho-sciences in Hungary was determined first and foremost by ideological dependence on the Soviet Union. The rapid institutionalization and short-lived rise of the psycho-sciences after World War II was linked first and foremost to the transformation of public education, and as part of this, psychologists and psychiatrists who earlier had worked within the frameworks provided by societies and the semi-open sphere (or simply as volunteers) became state employees.

The institutionalization of the psycho-sciences in Hungary was brought to an abrupt halt, however, by the ideological assault which, as part of the Cold War, called psychiatry and psychology into question in the Soviet Union and stamped both as Western sciences. In the 1920s, the psycho-sciences had remained open in the Soviet Union to Western developments, but as the Cold War came to dominate every sphere of life in the postwar world, the scientific nature of psychology was questioned, though psychiatry enjoyed a more protected position, as it was considered a medical science and therefore one of the so-called natural sciences. Thus, it could easily defend itself from ideological attacks according to which it rested on materialistic foundations. Psychology, in contrast, was in a much more vulnerable position, first and foremost because of its ties to the West. This was unacceptable during the Cold War, since one of the goals of political power in 1949 and 1950 was the creation of a Russian (i.e. again, a non-Jewish) psycho-science. So-called Pavlovism was one part of this. Pavlovism was built on the politicization of the lifework of Pavlov, and its primary goal was the transformation of the psycho-sciences into a natural science (first and foremost neural science). As a consequence of all this, “true scientificness” only came back after Stalin’s death. The psycho-sciences never got the kind of state support or re-institutionalization in Hungary that they had enjoyed in the immediate aftermath of the war, before the communist takeover of the country. Kovai shows that in the Kádár era, psychology simply was not a primary concern for the regime, and so in the 1960s and 1970s, it found a place in public education and children’s social services only by coming from the bottom up. As it became gradually easier to establish and maintain relations with the states of the West, Hungarians in the psycho-sciences also became part of the international circulation of ideas.

According to the title of her book, Kovai’s inquiry ends with the year 1970, though in her summary she also makes references to the 1980s. This alone suggests that perhaps the somewhat arbitrary choice of temporal framework was not ideal, and indeed Kovai herself was unable to adhere to it strictly. Furthermore, the second half of the Kádár era (i.e. the period after the fall of Khrushchev) is almost completely absent from the book. It would have been worthwhile to have extended the study of the history of the politicization of the psycho-sciences to the change of regimes, since the phenomena which she describes would have been more easily analyzed and interpreted. I would also note as a point of criticism that Kovai uses terms in her writing which, though they remain in use in sociology and social history to the present day, earlier had strong ideological and political overtones, for instance class, class relations, class conflict, and proletariat. Kovai would have done well to clarify exactly what she meant by these terms. As I have already observed (and characterized as a strength of the book), she uses a wide array of autobiographical texts, but in general, she does not analyze them. Rather, she uses the recollections of people in the field for the most part as illustrations. This constitutes a remarkably positivist use of sources, as if she were assuming that the citations she has chosen will tell us what actually happened. It would have been worth devoting a separate chapter to a discussion of the circumstances under which these sources were written, and it would have been prudent to have dealt with them a bit more critically, and not simply as a means of creating the illusion of the “reality” at the time. However, Kovai herself does indicate some of the lacunae of her account, for there are many blank spots in the history of the politicization of the psycho-sciences. One hopes that similarly complex research will be done and similarly engaging studies will be written on this history.

Gergely Kunt

University of Miskolc

Az első aranykor: A magyar foci 1945-ig [The first Golden Age: Hungarian football up to 1945]. By Péter Szegedi. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2016. 504 pp.

Péter Szegedi has been researching the history of Hungarian football (I use the term used globally for the sport instead of the American term, soccer) for nigh on twenty years. His writings have played a key role in ensuring that the history of sport is no longer a glaring hole in Hungarian historiography or a minor topic left to amateur researchers, but a serious, legitimate field of study. His first monograph, Riválisok (Rivals), which examines the social history of football in Debrecen, was published in 2014. His latest book looks at the first “Golden Age” of Hungarian football, now all but faded from the nation’s collective memory: the age before 1945, which culminated in the first Silver Medal in the World Championships in 1938.

The book begins with the observation that by the first decades of the twentieth century, a well-developed football culture had evolved in three different parts of the world. The first was Great Britain, followed at some distance by Uruguay and Argentina, and then by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (or Austria, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary; more specifically Vienna, Prague, and Budapest). Though they were far behind Britain, they nonetheless established leagues ahead of everyone else.

Szegedi’s work seeks to understand the continental hegemony of Austro-Hungarian football and, specifically, the success of Hungarian football within that. After a survey of the foundational myths of Hungarian football, Szegedi turns to the question of why MTK, Ferencváros, and eventually Újpest stood out so prominently among the other clubs in Budapest and its environs. He goes on to demonstrate how the Hungarian provinces (i.e. the rest of the country, apart from the capital) slowly came to take part in competitive football. He conducts a careful analysis of the increasing commercialization of football, and the discourses surrounding it. He provides a wealth of detail in his chronicle of how Hungarian footballers and trainers spread throughout the world and the significant roles they played in the rise of Mediterranean football in particular. He goes on to demonstrate the strengthening role of state intervention in football, and so on.

In the foreword, two paradigms of sports historiography come together. The book begins thus: “In the summer of 1945, after a forced hiatus of almost two years, the Hungarian National football team was preparing for its first post-War match. The opponents were our old rivals, the Austrians, against whom we played two matches, one after the other. On 19 August, we won 2-0, while the next day, we won again, 5-2, in the Stadium in Üllői Avenue” (p.7). As this citation illustrates, Szegedi starts off using the first-person plural, a characteristic of traditional sports histories borrowed from old-fashioned national and local historiography. He pursues the history of a given community as a member of that community in order to recount that history to the very same community. Within this paradigm, the body and sports are not a historical-social construct, but a phenomenon outside history, a timeless natural given, thus, endless lists of sports successes can serve to demonstrate the greatness of the “we.”

But though the book begins with this traditional language of sports historiography, the work itself consciously avoids this approach. There are in fact no further instances of the author writing in the first-person plural. At most, we could say that Szegedi’s account takes on a nostalgic tinge and keeps slightly less distance from its subject when looking at the lives of the three eccentric aces of this Golden Age (Ferenc Plattkó, Alfréd Schaffer, and Béla Guttmann). But he does not delete this part in the interests of narrative unity, fortunately, as this is one of the most exciting passages in what is already a well-written book, documenting a period when the rules of the media discourse surrounding football apparently had not yet solidified, and footballers occasionally told the media not what they were expected to say, but what they really thought.

It becomes clear from the second half of the foreword that Szegedi does not regard himself as a traditional sports historian at all. According to him, “football is much more [...] than [...] just a game” (p.10). For him, what happened on the pitch is very much connected to what was happening off the pitch. His starting point is that the results of matches are a socio-historical product, which, as he puts it, “are an expression of competing identities.” (Zoltán Barotányi, “‘Ha nyer a csapat’: Szegedi Péter a régi idők magyar focijáról” [‘If the team wins:’ Péter Szegedi on the Hungarian football of yore], Magyar Narancs, August 25, 2016, 20.) In other words, the stadium appears here as the site of civilized social conflict. Every World Cup is a World War without bullets, every domestic championship match is a bloodless civil war. We could say that Szegedi and the social historians of football believe that football is, week after week, a measure of the power relations between various social groups and the positions of various collective identities. In this sense, teams tend to be more or less successful, depending on the power of the social groups they represent (a class, an ethnicity, a religion, a settlement, etc.) and the intensity of the conflicts among these groups.

This conceptual framework seems useful but unfinished. There are many elements of Hungary’s pre-1945 footballing success which it cannot explain. The nations within the Dual Monarchy really were engaged in sharp conflict with one another, but this in itself cannot explain the high quality of the football matches that were played. If that were the case, why were the French and German teams not the best on the continent at the time? We can apply the same logic within the Monarchy as well: if it was heady national feeling or sharp inter-ethnic conflict that lay behind the high standard of football, then why did Vienna, Budapest, and Prague become the capitals of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s football, and not Lemberg (today Lviv), Krakow, or Sarajevo? Or, if the hegemony of MTK and FTC within Hungarian club football found such fertile soil to develop into a Jewish/bourgeois versus non-Jewish/plebeian competition, then why did the peasantry, by far Hungary’s largest social class at the time, not express its yearning for emancipation on the pitch? Why was there not a single football club representing the peasants?

So history does not quite fit the model offered in the book, but furthermore, The First Hungarian Golden Age also applies it inconsistently. When, for instance, Szegedi is faced with the question of how Újpest finally managed to join the ranks of FTC and MTK in the late 1920s, he abandons this conflict-centered approach and links the high quality of football not to social conflict, but to specific social situations. He believes that teams were successful that were from settlements 1) that were relatively well-populated, 2) in which a significant proportion of employment was provided by industry, and more specifically, factories, and 3) in which a significant proportion of the population consisted of Jews. Of the provincial cities, this description perhaps fits Nagyvárad (Oradea) best, but this city was not part of Hungary for part of the period under discussion. And indeed, the first champions of the Hungarian League to come from outside Budapest and its environs were Nagyváradi AC in 1943/44, but this had nothing to do with the significant Jewish population of the city, and very little with its overall population and industrial development. Nagyvárad managed to get their hands on the title thanks in large part to government support. (Bence Barát, “Futball, társadalom és politika a két világháború közti Magyarországon: Az erdélyi labdarúgás és az államilag irányított futball” [Football society and politics in Hungary in the interwar period: Football in Transylvania and state controlled football], MA thesis, Eötvös Loránd University, 2016.) In his discussion of the popularity of Ferencváros, Szegedi at one point explains that FTC, like most popular football teams, owed its popularity to their outstanding results. Here, therefore, the author claims that success in football was independent of the world outside the pitch and that it was not the result of the social circumstances behind the various teams, but could be rather accidental at first and a self-reinforcing trend later. We still do not have, therefore, a comprehensive and working explanation of the success of Hungarian football from a social scientific standpoint. The book, in the end, does not tell us why pre-1945 Hungarian football developed to such a high standard, but rather only how.

But Szegedi’s book nonetheless fulfils a very important function: it reexamines in a critical and empirical way the generalizations, half-truths, and suppositions regarding the history of Hungarian football. The analysis of Hungarian football from a social-historical viewpoint began with Miklós Hadas and Viktor Karády’s 1995 article, and they began their analysis thus: “this article feeds off the common repository of knowledge present in a substantial proportion of Hungarian men, whose elements very often seem self-explanatory.” (Miklós Hadas, and Viktor Karády, “Futball és társadalmi identitás” [Football and social identity], Replika 6, no. 17–18, (1995): 89.) Szegedi is more or less going after such “general knowledge,” checking up on the facts and adjusting and correcting them. He demolishes the myth that violence on the pitch is a sign of the crisis of our disordered age. The widespread assumption that the stands of the Hungarian stadiums were always full of spectators and it is only recently that they have emptied out also turns out to be false. He investigates the social backgrounds from which the players were recruited and whether the widespread suppositions about the divergent ratio of Jewish players on the various teams were true, as well as the original meaning behind the colors of the Ferencváros club. He uncovers a wealth of data on the financial operation of the clubs (incomes, taxes, hidden payments to the pseudo-amateur players), systematically analyses the results of the national team’s and Hungarian clubs’ international matches, and looks at the career trajectories of Hungarians abroad. On some points, however, Szegedi’s empirical research leaves something to be desired. He mentions several times that football fans came predominantly from the lower strata of the middle class, but there is nothing to support this in the book. The most significant shortcoming of Szegedi’s work from a researcher’s point of view, however, is that the book is not properly academic in form. Though there is a bibliography at the end, there are no footnotes, so the sources on which Szegedi relies would be very difficult to locate.

Nonetheless, the book is not only an enjoyable read for a wider audience, but also useful for academics. It is in fact a fundamentally important work. But Szegedi does not develop a comprehensive model to explain the success and failure of football from a social scientific point of view, though there is plenty of call for this. I do not claim to have a general explanation, but let me sketch the outlines of a model that may help us understand the social conflicts played out on the pitch. Long-term success comes to the teams that 1) represent social groups that are sharply in conflict with others but 2) their conflict is not so sharp that the members of these groups prefer to resort to bloodshed, as they are satisfied with symbolic victory over their rivals (which is also a recognition of the other’s right to exist). But only civilized conflicts that 3) can be expressed physically, which is to say those in which the various camps have physical stereotypes about each other, are suitable as a foundation for lasting football success. Another necessary factor for success is that 4) the parties to the conflict be able to spend significant amounts of money on football, which is to say on the representation of their interests, and this is possible if there are many of them, they live in geographical proximity to one another, and they have large disposable incomes. But all this will only lead to success if 5) football is played out in a free-market environment, and the capabilities of the teams are not subject to political decisions. If the competition is not fair or, in other words, if the league tables no longer actually express the power relations of the various social groups, but merely the will of those in power, then spectators will gradually lose their interest in football. The result of this, sooner or later, will be a game of lower quality.

Dániel Bolgár

Eötvös Loránd University

Jüdische Museen in Ostmitteleuropa: Kontinuitäten – Brüche – Neuanfänge: Prag, Budapest, Bratislava (1993–2012). By Katalin Deme (Veröffentlichungen des Collegium Carolinum; 133.) Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016. 317 pp.


In her new book, which is based on her PhD thesis (defended at the School of Culture and Society at Aarhus University), Katalin Deme analyzes three Jewish museums in East Central Europe each of which has a different history and different institutional relationship with the state and the local Jewish community. To be more specific, she looks at the Jewish museums in Prague, Budapest (both traditional institutions founded and now run again by the Jewish communities), and Bratislava (an official undertaking of post-socialist Slovakia). Deme is particularly interested in two questions: first, how did these museums respond to the collapse of state socialism in 1989, and how did they use new opportunities to present Jewish history and culture “independently from the normative patterns” of the communist period (p.4)? Second, how did the three museums define their Jewish identity, how did they represent Jewish history within the respective national master narratives, and what concepts of “national loyalty” did they develop in doing so? Both issues converge around the question concerning the processes of questioning and renegotiating Jewish identity from 1989 on (including again, according to Deme, the problem of the national and ethnic belonging of the Jewry) within a context that was marked by the redefinition of an ethnic and national identity of post-socialist societies as a whole. In short, how did the museums try to reconcile the “Jewish” and the “national” master narratives?

Deme’s central questions are highly interesting and promise to yield new insights into the social, political, and national dynamics of the transition era from socialism to post-socialism. Her findings constitute an important contribution not only to the discussion about nationalism and anti-Semitism in East Central Europe, but, as a result of her focus on Jewish actors, also about post-socialist Jewish life.

While focusing on the period from the early 1990s on, Deme devotes considerable space to the description of the history of the Jewish Museums in question, combining an institutional history with an analysis of the museums’ narratives of Jewish history and culture. One could certainly be critical of this choice, as these sections do not present the findings of original research, and at times one feels lost in the many themes that Deme addresses. Also, it is not clear what Deme understands by “institutional typology” (p.22), which she defines as her objective with regards to the pre-1989 period. Nevertheless, for readers who might be familiar with only one of the cases, this relatively extensive discussion of the historical background can help further a better understanding of the differences and similarities among the three museums.

Deme succeeds in highlighting the continuities and the importance of the past for the situation after 1989 too. This becomes very clear in her discussion of the legacies of the Nazi past, an issue which is important not only for the Jewish Museum in Prague (owing to the richness of its collections partly due to the Nazi project of a Central Jewish Museum), but also for the Jewish Museum in Budapest, which tragically became a very concrete lieu de mémoire of the Holocaust and the collections of which grew considerably after 1945, as it took over the collections of local Jewish communities which had dwindled or vanished (or been destroyed) entirely. Deme’s critical analysis of the ways in which the institutions deal with this difficult legacy, i.e. the ways in which they “come to terms” with their own past, is certainly one of the most fascinating parts of the book, and they make it relevant from the perspective of the current policies and future orientations of Jewish Museums in East Central Europe and beyond.

Her last chapter about the future prospects of Jewish museology in the twenty-first century makes it clear, once more, that Deme does not content herself with an analysis of recent developments, but aims rather to contribute to the discussion about the future orientations and identities of Jewish museums in Europe. For instance, she advocates overcoming narrow national narratives through emphasis on international and transnational aspects and the presentation of Judaism not as a stable category, but in its relations and interactions with the non-Jewish environment.

While the Holocaust is integrated quite differently into the museums’ narratives (as an integral part of the Bratislava exhibition but treated separately, in distinct monuments, in Prague and Budapest), there are several similarities when it comes to the question of the inclusion of the Jews in the national master narratives. The three Jewish Museums tell the histories of old-established minorities and stress the belonging of the Jews to the respective national communities. This is symbolized, for instance, in the emphasis placed on the Jewish contributions to the struggle for national independence (the Czech-Jewish movement in the nineteenth century or the Jews fighting in the Slovak National Uprising in 1944). For the Jewish Museum in Budapest too, Deme demonstrates convincingly how the museum’s focus on Jewish life prior to the Holocaust contributes to a reaffirmation of the narrative of a shared Jewish-Hungarian history, a narrative that would become much less coherent if a critical discussion of World War II formed an integral part of the museum’s narrative.

Whereas the overall conception and the main questions and results (even in the absence of archival research) are all stimulating, several individual parts are less inspiring. The author’s deviations from the main subject and the occasional lack of focus and coherence clearly hamper the reading of the book. Deme’s introduction, for instance, in which she aims to discuss concepts and methodological approaches, is not fully convincing. Her understanding of ethnicity and national identity and its opposition to (exclusively) religious Jewishness does not enable her to discuss multiple and shifting identities with adequate subtlety. She fails to include recent discussions about the concept of “loyalty,” a term she uses only when it comes to memory cultures in her explanations of the attempts of the curators to embed Jewish historical narratives into national master narratives.

When she recapitulates recent academic approaches to museums, she does not go beyond commonly accepted (at least within cultural studies and new cultural history) propositions to understand museums as arenas, for instance, which reveal less about what happened in the past than they do about how this past is interpreted and used in the present. When, in her discussion of the interactions of visual and textual components in museums, she identifies a “double discursive level” (p.10), she overlooks a third important dimension, namely the materiality of objects and the position of the visitor within the exhibition space. Thus, she also undervalues the importance and performative potential of monuments (the Pinkas Synagogue in Prague or the memorials in the courtyard of the Jewish Museum in Budapest), which she does not treat as equal parts of the museums’ narratives because they are non-textual. Furthermore, Deme is interested primarily in the museums’ permanent exhibitions, and she devotes less space to an analysis of the roles of the museums in different areas, such as education, cultural activities, public discourse, and historical research. If, then, Deme concludes that the museums are active agents of cultural memory and “disturbing stumbling blocks” for the majority society which compel them to discuss the “suppressed segments of their own totalitarian past” (p.256), this may be true, but it does not follow as a logical conclusion on the basis of her research.

Last but not least, one has to wonder about her conceptualization of 1989 as a clear watershed in the history and culture of East Central Europe and her generalizations concerning the socialist period. Since she is interested in the “new” possibilities that the “post-totalitarian” (p.12) period offer Jewish Museums, her view of the socialist period is altogether negative, stressing the ideological manipulations and political instrumentalizations of the museums, their “totalitarian identification models” (whatever that means; p.122), and the museums’ decades-long “institutional stagnation” (p.50).

These limitations and weaknesses do not minimize the overall importance of Deme’s book, both as a historical analysis of the Jewish Museums in East Central Europe in the transition era and as a critical discussion of their role in the respective societies, the self-perceptions (or identities), and their possible future orientations.

Peter Hallama

École des hautes études en sciences sociales

Lázadó falvak: Kollektivizálás elleni tüntetések a vidéki Magyarországon, 1951–1961. [Villages in uprising: Demonstrations against collectivization in the Hungarian countryside, 1951–61]. By Gyöngyi Farkas. Budapest: Korall, 2016. 405 pp.


In his book Csendes csatatér (Silent battlefield), Sándor Oláh refers to Transylvanian villages in which the farmers tended to resist collectivization passively. Supposedly, this type of resistance was typical in Hungary too, unlike in the Soviet Union, the Balkans, or parts of Romania, where, according to the research of, for instance, Sheila Fitzpatrick, Viola Lynne, and Denis Deletant, sporadic peasant riots erupted to hinder collectivization.

Gyöngyi Farkas’ book contests this view by focusing on mass demonstrations against communist rule in Hungary (and in this her study is unusual). The cover image captures the author’s intention clearly: the black and white picture depicts peasant women yelling and making threatening gestures. They are among the main actors in her volume, which aims to present the movements initiated by this relatively powerless group.

Accordingly, (inter)national political decisions are shown mostly from this perspective, and very little attention is paid to the state elites. Local elites do appear in Farkas’ account, but, as she persuasively shows, their position proved rather insecure at the time. Local party members were pushed more by the Communist Party to set an example and take part in agitation in favor of the collective farms, but even the membership of the collectives remained reluctant Cadres often experienced the inequities of the communist system from close up, and they were blamed for poor decisions made by the central authorities. These conflicts are revealed in individual stories which show for example how a party secretary was turned into a scapegoat (pp.173–92), or how a chairman of a committee went into hiding to escape agitators arriving from cities (pp.31–35). State employees (e.g. teachers, engineers, and doctors) also generally obeyed calls issued by the Party to show support for collectivization and they represented the official policy of the party more than local cadres.

In addition to delaying implementation of collectivization, hiding was one of the most commonly used and most efficient means of resistance in addition to delaying implementation of collectivization. Female family members could simply stay at home, accomplish the necessary tasks, and refuse to join the collective farms in the absence of their fathers and husbands. Otherwise, passive people adopted forms of active resistance only when they had reached their ultimate limits. In general, the Hungarian peasantry did not favor active resistance. In 1956, many farmers who had had conflicts with agents of the communist state did not take part in the revolution and tried to remain invisible to the authorities. But those who did take part fell into the trap of being branded “counterrevolutionaries,” the label which came to replace “kulak” and “exploiter” as the primary term used by the regime to denounce people (pp.80–82).

Farmers viewed collectivization as a temporary phenomenon. Although they “offered” their lands to the collective or started working in the industrial sector, they returned to their farms at the earliest opportunity. This happened twice, first with the reforms introduced by Imre Nagy in 1953 and then right after the establishment of the Kádár regime in 1957. As life stories show, there were still some limited ways of avoiding joining the collectives (p.43), but this was, of course, exceptional. Most farmers were forced to join the collective farms during the campaigns.

The era of campaigns, specifically the decade between 1951 and 1961, is the temporal framework of Farkas’ study. This choice indicates Farkas’ preference for a social historical approach rather than a political historical one. She focuses, in other words, on the actual experiences of collectivization, rather than on the frequent changes in policies. Furthermore, Farkas highlights features common to both the Rákosi and the Kádár regimes. These kinds of continuities were seldom mentioned before 1989 (Károly Makk’s film Egymásra nézve [Another Way], based on a 1980 novel by Erzsébet Galgóczy entitled Törvényen belül [Within the Law] is a notable exception). Zsuzsanna Varga and József Ö. Kovács have amply demonstrated the widespread nature of state violence prevalent in the countryside until the early 1960s, but their findings remain contested. Farkas marshals new examples and arguments as further evidence of the everyday physical and psychological terror endured by the rural population of the country after 1956.

Farkas’ study reveals differences not so much in the methods used by the elites, but in the reactions of the victims. While in 1951 the whole village stood united in its opposition to the state policies, in 1960 only women tried to oppose or object to the statements on joining the collective (pp.239–78). What caused these changes? As Farkas shows, the decade-long campaign broke the spirit of many of the farmers who earlier had put up some opposition, and it reshaped the group of resisters. The peasantry was under siege during this decade, and it functioned as a slowly waning opposition to the communist dictatorship, which was intent on abolishing private property. This constant war is examined in the second major part of the book.

The first section (“A kollektivizálás elleni védekezés formái,” or “Forms of defense against collectivization,” pp.21–108) is a theoretical overview of resistance based mainly on the ideas presented by James C. Scott in Weapons of the Weak. The virtue of this chapter is the use of this theory in a study on Hungary, with a wide range of examples taken from different parts of the country. These examples consist primarily of individual acts for which the passive assistance of the community was necessary and which themselves often preceded collective acts. Farkas gives more emphasis to leaflets, writings on walls (pp.80–82), and symbolic acts (pp.103–07) than other historians of the period have.

The four chapters in the second part of the book offer a series of case studies from Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg County, which was the most turbulent of the counties: even in the final months of collectivization in February 1960, five out of eight demonstrations against the collectives were held here. Former years proved to be also eventful. The demonstrations (protests in Tyukod and Porcsalma in 1951, people abandoning collectives in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg county in 1953, and protests in Nyírcsaholy in 1960 and Bököny in 1961) represented different political courses and different forms of resistance. The demonstrations in 1951 (pp.109–86) remained an isolated affair, but later, upheaval spread to nearby communities, mostly due to rumors. For the most part, collective acts began not during the process of collectivization, but after the establishment of the collective farms, at a time when the local officials lacked the help of urban agitators. However, the demonstrations in Nyírcsaholy (pp.239–78) followed a different path: in Nyírcsaholy the whole village tried to cooperate in order to limit the work of the agitators, their primary aim being not to avoid collectivization, but to reduce the level of violence.

Farkas examines the villages and local communities on the micro level, and sometimes on the level of individuals. Her approach is multidisciplinary, and she devotes considerable attention to psychological and anthropological factors in her attempts to reconstruct individual strategies and the processes by which news was spread. Scattered evidence suggests that many people did not listen to the official radio news, but got most of their information through private conversations (p.209). In a truly captivating section of the book, Farkas compares the turns of phrase used by a lawyer and his client, a peasant. (pp.369–77).

Gyöngyi Farkas’ work is an important contribution to the historiography of Hungarian collectivization, which can no longer be discussed as a history of passive resistance only. Although opposition was stronger and more noticeable in Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg than in any of the other counties of Hungary, new insights could surely be gleaned from the thorough study of active resistance in the other regions of the country between 1951 and 1961.

Gábor Csikós

Hungarian Academy of Sciences


pdfVolume 6 Issue 2 CONTENTS


Die Habsburgermonarchie 1848–1918. Band XI. Die Habsburgermonarchie und der Erste Weltkrieg. 1. Teilband. Der Kampf um die Neuordnung Mitteleuropas. Teil 1. Vom Balkanenkonflikt zum Weltkrieg. Teil 2. Vom Vielvölkerstaat Österreich-Ungarn zum neuen Europa der Nationalstaaten. Edited by Helmut Rumpler. Vienna: Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2016. 1521 pp.

For more than 40 years, the “Habsburgermonarchie” series has been a shining lighthouse for every scholar of Central Europe in the nineteenth century. Launched in 1973 with the first volume on the economic history of the Habsburg Empire, it has already yielded eleven large thematic overviews, very often consisting of several volumes, which now are considered standard works of reference in the field. The changing editorial team, with its core at the Austrian Academy of Sciences, has thus been able to coordinate the emergence of a unique book series. After more than 40 years of continuous publishing, the whole series today not only offers valuable insights into the history of the Habsburg Empire in the second half of the nineteenth century, but has also become a monument in the history of historiography.

Until last year, however, the volumes concentrated largely on the history of the Monarchy prior to World War I. The history of the war itself started to become an integral part of the series only in 2016, most probably in part as a consequence of the boom in the scholarly and popular activity connected to the 2014 centenary. Like the whole series, the shift towards the history of World War I is very deep and elaborate. The first of the two volumes entitled From the Balkan Conflict to World War deals with the prelude to the war and the overall history of the Dual Monarchy during the war. The second volume, From Multinational Austria-Hungary to New Europe of Nation States, includes essays on the war history of particular nations and closes the two-volume work with a focus on the diplomatic outcomes of the war and general reflection on the last years of the Habsburg Empire. The editorial team does not intend to bring the discussion of the history of the war to an end with these two volumes, which are supplemented by a separate work on the war statistics, and one more volume on the historiography of the war as it emerged throughout the twentieth century will follow.

As the title of the first volume and the overall structure of both volumes suggest, the work examines the war as the culmination of developments which took place in the preceding decades. Manfried Rauchensteiner, Günter Kronnenbitter, and Hew Strachan trace these developments in the cultural and political climate of the late Habsburg Monarchy, in the system of its political and executive power, and in the changing international role of the “regional empire,” as Strachan refers to the Monarchy. All three opening essays trace continuities which connect the war and the prewar period and provide a brief yet useful introduction to the following part, which deals with the war itself.

Here, the work tackles selected issues beyond the national framework, concentrating on the actual military operations, the mobilization of the hinterland, and the economic and cultural aspects, leading to the demise of the monarchy. Martin Moll and Erwin Schmidl trace the changed nature of the total war, which demanded a completely new institutional, social, but also mental setup. The restructuring of economic production, far-fetched use of social-Darwinist thought for the cultural framing of the war, and the large number of displaced persons all generated a completely new context in which the very meaning of statehood and citizenship was reshaped. Lutz Musner complements this discussion with an examination of the experiences of soldiers on the frontlines, where individuals were considered “human material.”

The section on “economic exhaustion and cultural change” emphasizes predominantly the economic aspects of war restructuring. Tamara Scheer, Anatol Schmied-Kowarzik, and Ágnes Pogány provide an informative and factually rich overview of the economic legislation and practices brought about by the outbreak of war and its long duration, which drove the state deeper and deeper into debt. Mark Cornwall traces the reshaping of the cultural sphere on the basis of the example of propaganda that was able to use some of the most prominent writers and journalists of the empire and shaped not only the war morale of the citizenry, but also a large segment of contemporary cultural production. Alfred Pfoser and Wolfgang Maderthaner devote attention to the view from below, and capture the changing cultural patterns predominantly in the German-speaking part of the monarchy, beyond the state-driven propaganda. They examine the other side of the coin, i.e. the widespread frustration with and depression because of the protracted war, which eventually climaxed in widespread revolts, paving the way to the dissolution of the monarchy.

The first volume of the two-volume work suggests at first sight that it tries to capture the history of war beyond the national framework, and the topics seem to have been chosen so as to transcend traditional national narratives. However, most of the contributions use predominantly sources written in German in support of their arguments. The authors also contextualize their studies by drawing on recently published scholarship in English and, where appropriate, Hungarian. There is only sparing mention of sources in other languages, however, limited often to only a few references to older articles and books, and the inquiry occasionally seems to forget the complexity and, indeed, plurality of its subject, i.e. the Habsburg Monarchy as a whole. Hence, the first volume can serve as an outstanding introduction to the current state of the scholarship on the policies and experiences of war. The contributions present a large methodological and topical overview and provide primarily a lively and informative read. On the other hand, by prioritizing sources and literature in German, they also, if in a very subtle way, tend to reproduce the German-centered perspective of the warring empire itself.

As has already become something of a custom in the whole series, this should be outweighed by the second large part that accommodates chapters separated by particular nationalities living in the empire. Entitled “The Nations of the Empire,” this section follows the compartmentalized histories of Germans, Czechs, Poles, Slovenes, and the other nationalities, which were often written by local authors. The frequently underlying script is the gradual alienation of the respective nation from the state. The reproduction of old imperial hierarchies becomes clear when one looks at the structure of the volume. The first two chapters are devoted to the Austrian Germans and the Hungarians. Germans, according to Holger Afferbach, tried to unite loyalty towards the multinational Empire with their German nationalism. Afferbach traces the intricate relations between Berlin and Vienna and the internal engagement of the German national political elites in the Habsburg Monarchy to paint a picture of a self-confident group, which was gradually losing ground. Dániel Szabó provides a very dense narrative, which follows a similar trajectory. By examining nationalistic Hungarian politics, he is able to show the growing alienation of some of the leading Hungarian politicians from the idea of a joint state.

Ivan Šedivý, Dušan Kováč, and Marko Trogrlic tell a similar story for the Czech, Slovak, and South Slav cases. The total mobilization for war, they argue, created unsurmountable divisions between the respective nations and the state, and this contributed to the increasing prominence of the separatist movements, paving the way for the postwar creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The chapters in this section present a predominantly political history of Habsburg repression and anti-Habsburg resistance, which was accompanied by growing social protests and disillusionment with the non-functioning state. Piotr Szlanta offers a similarly intense political narrative for the Poles, in which he traces the impact of Russian occupation and the subsequent deepening crisis of the late war years, which preceded the collapse of Habsburg rule in Galicia. According to Harald Binder, like the Poles, Ukrainians living in the monarchy saw their bond with the Empire disappear primarily because of the clumsy state policies, which were unable to exploit original loyalties to the dynasty. Binder also provides a lot of statistical information to show the enormous humanitarian burden that the Ukrainian population had to suffer. As was true in Polish case, the peace of Brest-Litovsk provides a turning point for the narrative, from which Binder follows the political negotiations leading toward the Ukrainian independent state.

In contrast with the overall title, which emphasizes “The Nations,” the chapters present narratives focused more or less on politics and centered around “big men,” declarations, negotiations, and political alliances within as well as outside of the Habsburg monarchy. They deftly summarize what we already know about the political history of the last years of the Habsburg Empire and hence provide a fundamental source of information for anyone interested in the topic. However, the deep but at the same time somehow narrow focus also has limitations. The reader is left in confusion when it comes to the broader issues of the social and cultural history of the war. The essays often generally treat whole nations as given and stable units which were represented by a few politicians, and they only rarely ask questions which challenge the unifying narrative of vanishing loyalty.

For the Romanians of the empire, Razvan Paraianu tries to go beyond this horizon of classical political history. In his chapter, he also gives the reader an introductory overview of the Romanian historiography of the war, of the war in Romanian national memory, and of the gender and cultural history of Romanians during the war. The reader is given a wide overview of the Romanian experience of the war and its postwar framing, but once again, the nation is treated as a stable unit of analysis, and its political unity is presented as a teleological end of the war. In the Italian case, as was true in the eastern regions of the Monarchy, migration and refugees constituted a formative issue of the war. Elena Tonezzer and Stefan Wedrac summarize the most recent research (mostly written in Italian) and convincingly show how the mass movement of people, from evacuated civilians to the victims of Habsburg political repression, helped foment the radical nationalist program of Italian separatism.

If Habsburg history is compartmentalized into separate national sections, only one group is left as a loyal pillar of the state. Marsha L. Rozenblit´s chapter on Habsburg Jews is thus the only part that tells a somewhat different story. Rozenblit emphasizes the ongoing loyalty of the Habsburg Jews, for whom the Habsburg state was the guardian against rising nationalisms with their indivisible anti-Semitisms. Even in this case, the issue of refugees from the eastern provinces played the key role, but the chapter also tackles the numerous charities that were intended to help the Habsburg state survive and evolve, as well as the widespread grief and nostalgia over the lost Empire.

After elaborating on the particular “national” experiences of the war, the two-volume opus magnum ends with a section entitled “Times are changing” (Gezeitenwechsel). Here, four essays, symptomatically authored by three Austrian historians and one Hungarian, trace the international dimension of the Empire´s demise. Lothar Höbelt examines deeply and informatively the diplomatic history of the Empire in its last four years. His study is supplemented by Helmut Rumpler´s informative overview of the various reform plans and changes in the internal organization of the imperial administration. Imre Ress complements Rumpler´s chapter with a Hungarian perspective and tackles the debates about the changing status of the Hungarian Kingdom within the dualist state.

The work concludes with the Saint-Germain and Trianon treaties, as the diplomatic epilogues to the war and, with it, to the Habsburg Empire. The title of the respective essay, “The Imperialist Peace Order of Central Europe in the Treaties of Saint-Germain and Trianon,” already gives away the main argument. Arnold Suppan argues that the vanquished were pushed to respect the “capitalist economic and social order” (pp.1325–26). This might well leave an informed reader feeling a bit confused. Austria-Hungary and, even more so, imperial Germany had already been indispensable parts of the capitalist order before the war, whether through their position in global trade or through the internal organization of their societies and economies, which were structured around private entrepreneurship and the accumulation of profit. While there were attempts in the tumultuous postwar years to overthrow this setup in favor of radical leftist ideals, Germany and Austria retained major features of capitalist market economies in the 1920s. Suppan, however, not only reproduces the decades-old Marxist notion of the “bourgeois triumph” brought to central Europe by the victory of Entente powers. He also tries to show the irreparable damage that the new international order did to the vanquished states, and ends with an ominous citation of George Clemenceau, according to which the Paris peace order only planted the seeds of a long and deep crisis of the future.

This quote brings to an end not only the whole two-volume work on World War I, but at the moment also the series itself. Hence, it provides the reader with a retrospective interpretation not only of the war, but also of the whole history of Habsburg Monarchy from 1848 until its demise. This interpretation draws on Marxist vocabulary together with the conservative post-Habsburg nostalgia to suggest that the war brought a triumph of the Western capitalist class which in the long run, however, only fostered the rise of Fascism and the cataclysm of World War II. After having read this as the final statement, the reader remains a bit puzzled, since this conclusion does not seem to correspond with many of the preceding essays, let alone the other volumes of the series.

Nevertheless, the two volumes still provide probably the factually richest and most comprehensive overview of the last years of the Habsburg Empire. Many chapters (predominantly in the first volume) are inspired by the social and cultural history of the war, and they provide a very interesting read, mainly on the experiences of the German speakers of the monarchy. The second part summarizes the political history of the Empire´s nations and offers deep insights into the alienation of respective national political elites from the ideal of a common state.

However, if one reads the various chapters as a whole, an old imperial narrative from the prewar period comes to mind. Imperial ethnographers and popularizers of science in the nineteenth century often portrayed the Habsburg Empire as “united in diversity.” The ethnic, linguistic and cultural varieties of its nations were seen as one of the monarchy´s greatest assets, which, however, were united by the common high culture and administration emanating from the Empire´s German and, later, Hungarian-speaking centers. Along this line, most of the topics of the two volumes, which are intended to go beyond the national narratives, is found in the first volume and written by German-speaking and, to lesser extent, Hungarian-speaking and English-speaking authors. A seemingly unifying narrative is presented which should connect the experiences of all of the peoples of the Monarchy, but which is based primarily on German or Hungarian sources and the perspectives of Vienna and Budapest. It is the second volume that gives place to the diversity of particular nations and invites local authors to contribute with their distinctive national perspectives. This perspective focuses primarily on the activities of national political representatives, which it then substitutes for the nations these people were claiming to represent.

Historiographically, the two volumes thus represent disparate works. While the first one offers insight into a wide range of social and cultural topics on which historians have written since the 1990s, the second tends to reproduce the old political history approaches, firmly grounded in older narratives of particular national historiographies. Nevertheless, both volumes together still confirm the central position of the whole book series within the scholarship on the history of the late Habsburg Empire. For anyone dealing with World War I and the Habsburg monarchy, it is an outstandingly valuable reference work, which can serve as a useful introduction for further study as well as a source of rich details on a wide range of topics.

Rudolf Kučera

Masaryk Institute and Archives of the Czech Academy of Sciences



HHR logo