pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Erika Szívós

Bonds Tried by Hard Times: Jews and Christians on Klauzál tér, Budapest, 1938–1945*

 

This essay examines local society in Belső-Erzsébetváros, the inner 7th district of Budapest, before the Second World War, and in particular the changes in residential composition brought about by wartime events. Today, Belső-Erzsébetváros is increasingly frequently branded “the old Jewish district” of Budapest. One main goal of the article is to offer a critical reassessment of this historical image, in part by considering the complexity of the inter-ethnic, inter-confessional and interpersonal relations among local residents in the interwar period. The author analyzes the residential mix of denominationally Jewish and Christian individuals in one particular area of the inner 7th district, namely Klauzál Square, on the eve of the Second World War, and the essay offers possible explanations for the high degree of inter-confessional cohabitation. The analysis is based on the census records of 1941, as well as oral history interviews. The second half of the article concentrates on the way in which the social fabric of the neighborhood was frayed by political and historical circumstances between 1941 and 1945. By late 1945, pre-war patterns had been upset in many ways, and, as post-war sources suggest, the residential composition of local society began to undergo profound and irreversible changes.

 

Introduction

 

The new millennium has witnessed the revival of historical “Jewish districts” in several cities of Central Europe. Urban quarters such as Berlin’s Scheunenviertel, Prague’s Josefov, or Krakow’s Kazimierz have been increasingly rediscovered as embodiments of a Jewish past.1 As for their residential composition, these areas have in fact long ceased to be Jewish quarters, and in some cases even the historical accuracy of the name is questionable. In any case, World War II and the Holocaust led to the almost complete disappearance of the Jewish population, and the long decades of state socialism brought about the social restratification or depopulation of these areas, usually accompanied by physical decay.

Belső-Erzsébetváros, the inner section of Budapest’s 7th district, has been similarly redefined during the past fifteen years as the historic Jewish quarter of Budapest. One of my aims in this article is to challenge the increasingly pervasive historical stereotypes being attached to Belső-Erzsébetváros as the “old Jewish district” of Pest, and to contribute to a more accurate understanding of the area’s composition in the past. As part of this endeavor, it is my explicit goal to show inter-ethnic, inter-confessional and interpersonal relations in all of their complexity. I will concentrate on one striking aspect of that complexity: the mixing of Jews and Christians in one area of the inner 7th district of Budapest on the eve of World War II.

The chosen location is Klauzál tér [Klauzál Square], until recently the only square in the densely-built inner 7th district. This space is, in my opinion, representative of the surrounding urban quarter of Budapest in several ways. Set against the background of contemporaneous events, I will analyze the composition of Klauzál tér households in 1941 based on the data provided by the national census of that year, with a special emphasis on the forms of denominational mixing.2

I will attempt to offer possible explanations for the surprisingly large proportion of apartments shared by Jews and Christians in the sixteen residential buildings surrounding Klauzál tér. I will constantly refer to the broader context, calling attention to long-term processes such as assimilation and the traditions of a characteristic urban neighborhood as well as developments which had immediate and often permanent effects on the composition of the inner 7th district, such as the discriminative laws passed by the Hungarian parliament from 1938 onwards, Hungary’s entry into the war, the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944, and the ghettoization measures introduced later that year.

The rediscovery of former “Jewish districts” in Central European cities began in the last decade of the twentieth century, and was in most cases related to the profound changes brought about by the political transition of 1989–1990. Following the collapse of state socialist systems, new conditions emerged in almost every field related to urban development, and permitted the physical and symbolic reinvention of hitherto neglected urban spaces in the early 1990s.3

The physical revival of former “Jewish districts” has been accompanied by the construction of historical narratives and the refashioning of the historical images of those neighborhoods. The process has sometimes revolved around reinvention rather than reconstruction, evoking the past character of a particular district according to the needs of the present.4 Clearly, the former ethnic character is irrevocably gone; even if those areas undergo a profound social transformation, their pre-war Jewish residents will never return, and it is typically not the descendants of former Jewish residents who come to repopulate districts such as Krakow’s Kazimierz or Berlin’ Scheunenviertel. The “Jewish” character of these old-new districts thus has to be vested in something other than residential composition.

As part of a branding strategy to make these quarters unique and touristically attractive, Jewish monuments are preserved, Jewish histories are presented in a professional way (as in Josefov), and Jewish cultural traditions are revived for the sake of today’s consumers. When, as part of a more general gentrification process, the neighborhood acquires new cultural and entertainment functions, the Jewish aspect may become more and more pronounced, marked by Jewish festivals, music performances, specialized bookstores and publishing, and the revival of various forms of Jewish theatre (as in Kazimierz and Belső-Erzsébetváros).5 The area becomes a lieu de mémoire for those who want to remember, and a place of identification for those who feel they can personally relate to Jewish traditions. The fact that identification is often based on a false or at least strongly “edited” image of the past does not hinder the blossoming of the remembrance industry.

Similarly to its counterparts in other Central European cities, Belső-Erzsébetváros has been the object of historical reinvention in many ways. In the past fifteen or twenty years, it has become increasingly common to refer to the area as the “old Jewish district of Budapest”. Labeling the neighborhood as such offers the possibility of identification and involvement (not only for local residents but also for non-residents who cultivate explicitly Jewish identities) and offers rich opportunities for touristic use and city marketing.6 The inner 7th district, branded as the Old Jewish Quarter, is routinely included in the guidebooks as one of the important sights of Budapest, besides being the destination of a more specific Jewish tourism. Such a reinvention of a historical district, however, harbors inherent dangers. It can easily lead to the creation of an ethnocentric and purifying historical narrative which leaves non-Jews out of the story, and purges the neighborhood’s historical image of its non-Jewish components. That is nothing short of a profound falsification of the historical realities that once characterized Belső-Erzsébetváros, the inner 7th district of Budapest.

Historians do not all agree that Belső-Erzsébetváros (and the adjoining stretch of Belső-Terézváros)7 can justifiably be called a historical Jewish district at all. Those who do emphasize the crucial importance of the area in the history of “Jewish Budapest,” with its high concentration of Jews from the late eighteenth century to World War II; even more importantly, they emphasize the fact that the area is home to several institutions which have been central to Jewish life in Budapest: the main synagogues of the three major branches of Judaism, various religious schools, prayer houses, a ritual bath, kosher butchers, and kosher restaurants.8 In addition to the still-functioning institutions, the argument goes, there used to be countless other Jewish venues located in the area.9 Critical interpretations do not deny the central significance of Belső-Erzsébetváros (until 1882 part of Terézváros) in the history of Budapest Jewry,10 but they do stress the fact that the neighborhood has never been a homogeneously Jewish area and that Christian churches as well as various ethnic groups have always been strongly represented.11 They also point out that except for two and a half months during Word War II, the area has never been a ghetto in the formal sense.

Even the historical approaches which emphasize the mixed character of Belső-Erzsébetváros and point to the simultaneous presence of Hungarians, Romanians, Jews and other ethnicities and confessional groups tend to treat them as separate entities. While this approach may be accurate for earlier historical periods, it is problematic for the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most historical narratives completely miss out on the extremely close symbiosis of people and routinely classify them as members of different groups. Equally ignored are the multiple identities created by the simultaneous use of different languages, the varying shades of religiousness, and the extent to which individuals of different inherent ethnicities developed an additional Hungarian identity.

Fig1 szivos opt

Figure 1. Map of the inner city of Budapest, with “the old Jewish district of Pest” highlighted.12 Edited by the author

My use of the notion “Jewish” needs to be clarified here, as its unconsidered use is thoroughly problematic for this particular period. Labeling people as Jewish retrospectively, on the basis of their formal religious affiliation and especially on the basis of their origins, may be misguided on several grounds and amount to the denial of those people’s own chosen identities.13 The anti-Jewish laws of 1939 and 1941 in Hungary were based precisely on that kind of denial: they lumped together diverse groups of people often by nothing else than legally imposed racial criteria. Some of these individuals indeed had strong Jewish identities. Some of them, although still formally Jewish (i.e. belonging to the izraelita denomination), were thoroughly secularized and would have long left their Jewish identities behind if the intensifying anti-Semitism of the era had not constantly reminded them of their roots. Many other people classified as Jewish by the racial laws of 1939 and 1941 were not even Jewish by formal criteria; they had been baptized as Christians earlier or were born into families who were already members of Christian denominations.

Calling everybody who suffered from anti-Jewish persecution Jewish calls into question several victims’ own identities, and denies—in retrospect—their freedom to reconsider their identity during their lifetime. In his monograph on the Budapest ghettos of 1944/1945, Tim Cole uses the word “Jewish” in quotation marks all the way through the book—for the reasons I outlined above. With his words: “I can’t make those dead live again, but I can give those killed as ‘Jews’ their freedom to choose their own identity.”14

In this study, as a working solution, I will take the denominational categories of the 1941 census at face value and interpret them as rough indicators of Klauzál tér residents’ affiliations. I will use the terms Jewish, Roman Catholic, Lutheran etc. without quotation marks, and I will comment on these categories wherever necessary. I am aware that classifying someone as “Catholic” in this period may be just as problematic as classifying someone as “Jewish”; many Christians’ religious affiliations were also fading into mere formality by 1941, no matter how heavily Christian values were stressed in the official discourse of the era. In most cases, I will not be able to say anything certain about individual identities because my sources do not permit such conclusions. But I will attempt to draw attention to attributes that, in my interpretation, are indicative of assimilation, secularization, and the weakening of religious identities, or conversely, mark strong religious ties, group cohesion, and/or exclusionism.

The picture that unfolded in front of my eyes while I was analyzing the Klauzál tér questionnaires of the 1941 census surprised me in many respects. The fact that at the outbreak of World War II this area had a high concentration of Jewish residents was obviously no breathtaking news. The neighborhood had had that kind of reputation ever since Belső-Erzsébetváros had begun to take shape and acquire its urban character nearly a century before. That reputation can be confirmed statistically by early twentieth-century population census figures, especially if the 7th district is broken down into smaller units. In the immediate Klauzál tér (then called István tér) area, 51 to 80% of the population was Jewish in 1900.15 The overall proportion of “Israelites” within the 7th district was 35.8% that year (compared to the Budapest figure of 23.6%). Although no such detailed maps are available from the censuses of 1910, 1920 and 1930, the overall figures for the 7th district can be determined in those years: 38.5% of the district’s residents belonged to the Jewish faith in 1910, 39.1% in 1920, and 36.3% in 1925. (The Budapest percentages for Israelites in the same years were 23.1, 23.2 and 21.6 %, respectively.)16

The fact that the area was not purely Jewish but denominationally and ethnically mixed was not such big news either; as pointed out earlier, sober commentators have always emphasized it, and historians of the area today rarely miss to point out the neighborhood’s compound character. (The figures quoted above in themselves indicate that in the same periods, 61 to 64% of the 7th district’s population belonged to Christian denominations, and even in the most densely “Jewish” areas, non-Jewish residents made up 20 to 30% of the population.)

What I found striking during my research was the degree and intensity of coexistence among Jews and Christians in semi-public and private spaces. The mixing of various groups in public spaces did not seem so surprising; interactions on the square, in the street or in the market hall are, after all, understandable in a traditionally complex neighborhood. However, the close mixing within buildings and, even more importantly, within individual apartments was something I would not have expected, and something I felt called for explanations.

The 1941 census was taken at a sinister moment for the population of Belső-Erzsébetváros. The first and second anti-Jewish laws had strongly determined the atmosphere since the late 1930s. They heavily affected the local population economically, depriving many people of their property, means of living, career options, and educational opportunities. The second of these, Act XV of 1939, defined the category of “Jewish” on racial grounds; its stipulations therefore affected several local citizens who were Jewish by origin but not by religious affiliation. The third anti-Jewish law was passed seven months after the 1941 census had been taken.17 The latter piece of legislation interfered with the most private human relations and potentially affected the most private spheres; for example, it forbade new marriages between racially defined Jews and non-Jews, and also forbade sexual relationships between Jewish men and Christian women. Even if we consider that the state of affairs recorded by the 1941 census preceded the passing of the third anti-Jewish law of 1941, in the reigning atmosphere, with the second anti-Jewish law already in effect, it is not at all self-evident why Christians would continue living with Jews in the same apartments as sub-tenants or vice versa, why they would at all choose a neighborhood with a strongly Jewish reputation, why Christians would serve as housemaids in Jewish households, and why Christians would continue to work for small Jewish-owned businesses in such large numbers.

Apartments Shared by Jews and Christians: Mixed Household Structures
on Klauzál tér in 1941

When examining Klauzál tér apartments and their residents in 1941, one finds that, with three exceptions, 23 to 63% of the buildings’ apartments were shared by Jewish and Christian tenants. The types of denominationally mixed households varied; the nature of mixing and the reasons for Jewish and non-Jewish cohabitation may have been different in each and every case. Nonetheless, it is possible to identify certain main types of mixed households in the buildings around the square. In the following, I will attempt to create a rough typology; the brief descriptions of some individual households are meant to serve as illustrative examples.

 

Table 1. Ratios of denominationally Jewish, Christian and mixed apartments
in Klauzál tér buildings, house numbers 1–1618

 

Klauzál tér

House number

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

Number of purely Jewish apartments

5

0

3

4

9

4

2

2

8

6

1

1

8

2

11

4

Number of purely Christian apartments

5

13

7

7

9

3

5

7

9

18

7

4

13

14

9

6

Number of mixed Jewish–Christian apartments

4

6

9

2

10

7

1

4

6

7

8

4

10

2

10

17

Ratio of mixed apartments

29

32

47

15

36

50

12.5

30

26

23

50

44

33

11

33

63

 

A) One of the most common combinations was represented by Jewish families sharing their apartments with their Christian housemaids. The practical purpose of this widespread arrangement was common knowledge at the time: as opposed to members of the family, the Catholic or Protestant maid did not have to observe holidays or live according to religious rules, and thus could do housework and other chores during the Sabbath. In some Klauzál tér buildings, this pattern seems to have been almost the rule: for example, in 11 Klauzál tér (the building that included one of the major municipal market halls of Budapest), seven of the eight Jewish households employed live-in Christian maids. The fact that even a rabbi, living in another building (6 Klauzál tér) with his wife and five daughters, shared his family apartment with a Roman Catholic housemaid suggests that the practice was considered to be perfectly acceptable and was tacitly sanctioned by religious authority. (The same rabbi, Árpád Schwarcz,19 also complemented his income just like any common folk did on Klauzál tér at the time: an additional subtenant and his wife, both Jewish by religion, rented space in his apartment.)

 

B) The degree of mixing was more pronounced when Jewish families rented out some of their apartment space to Christian subtenants, or the other way round: Christian residents sublet parts of their apartments to Jewish subtenants. For example, in a relatively simple household structure in 12 Klauzál tér, a Jewish family, consisting of a baker, Ármin Moskovits, his wife, his mother-in-law and his four daughters (one a seamstress by trade, another a corset maker, and the two youngest, schoolgirls), one of the rooms was rented out to a Calvinist subtenant—a factory worker—and his Catholic wife. In 5 Klauzál tér, a Jewish family consisting of a sales assistant, Ernő Nagy, his wife (furrier by trade), his child, and his tailor father rented out one of their rooms to a Roman Catholic couple: a carpenter and his wife. In addition, the family employed a live-in Greek Catholic housemaid.

An example of the reverse case—where Christian tenants sublet their rooms to one or more Jewish subtenants—was an apartment in 5 Klauzál tér. The head of household was a Roman Catholic shoemaker, Márton Perennei, who used one of the three street-facing rooms of his large apartment as a workshop. He and his wife shared their place with a Roman Catholic relative and his Catholic spouse, but also rented out one of the rooms to a divorced Jewish woman. The latter woman’s occupation was listed as housewife (háztartásbeli), but not housemaid or domestic servant (háztartási alkalmazott), and her status in the household was listed as subtenant. Nonetheless, we can assume that she helped out in the household just like female relatives—mothers-in-law, widowed sisters etc.—often did in apartments where no live-in maids were employed.

Even though these apartments were relatively spacious by local standards and the general Budapest standards of those times, the physical closeness of people in these households is striking. Subtenants in such apartments usually used the same kitchen and bathroom as the main tenant and his or her relatives, and, due to the usual layout of the larger apartments on Klauzál tér, rented one of the rooms adjoining the rooms used by the family, the two sections being separated by a door. The main family and the sub-tenants were thus literally in hearing distance of each other, not to mention the constant and unwitting involvement in each other’s lives. We can assume that in such households and subleases, denominational differences and origin did not matter very much for people who shared the same apartment, otherwise they would not have chosen to live in the same space in such close proximity.

Middle and lower-middle-class households on Klauzál tér were often quite populous in 1941, as we have seen in the cases quoted above. Living conditions among the working class on Klauzál tér were even more crowded; the apartments of workers, and sometimes those of poorer craftsmen and -women, often resembled mass dwellings. Modest one-room-and-kitchen apartments frequently housed eight, ten, or even more people: the main tenant and his or her relatives plus several subtenants, some of whom were renting only bed space. One of the inner-courtyard ground floor apartments in 10 Klauzál tér, for example, housed a remarkably complex group of people: the main tenant and his wife were Catholic; one of their subtenants was Calvinist whose ethnicity (nemzetiség) was listed as Gipsy (cigány); another subtenant was listed as Israelite by religion and Jewish by ethnicity;20 and there were further four bed renters who were all Catholic by denomination and Gipsy by ethnicity. These eight people shared a place consisting of one room and a kitchen.

Such overcrowded apartments were typically located on the ground floor in the back sections of courtyards, but not exclusively. Necessity sometimes also turned higher-prestige apartments into mass dwellings; their residents had probably seen better days earlier in life and, judged by their occupations, can in no way be considered lower class by interwar standards. Jewish and non-Jewish mixing occurred on this level, too. In one of the pretty three-bedroom apartments on the second floor of 6 Klauzál tér, the main tenant, unmarried seamstress Margit Weinfelder, shared one room with her mother and her typist sister; all three were Jewish by religion. The rest of the apartment, who knows in what order, was used by two Jewish subtenants, both shop assistants; the wife of one of them; two female relatives of the main tenant, both Jewish; a Catholic subtenant who was employed in the Hotel Royal; a Lutheran shoemaker, his Calvinist wife and their child; and a further Roman Catholic female subtenant whose occupation was listed as “housekeeper presently without a job.” The household was thus home to altogether thirteen people, which was rather far from the middle-class decency a three-bedroom home would originally represent.

 

C) Special attention should be paid to those apartments where domestic life and business were combined in a traditional and patriarchal – or sometimes matriarchal – way. This setup seems to be a very characteristic household formation on Klauzál tér. When it comes to the occupational profiles of Klauzál tér residents, it is clear that the fashion trades were dominating the scene. As the detailed answers on the 1941 census sheets show, master tailors tended to rent spacious apartments which also functioned as their businesses, and often combined family residence and workshop in traditional ways. In such apartments, one or two of the large and well-lit rooms, overlooking the street and accessible from a hallway, was used as dressing room and workshop. According to the 1941 census questionnaires, some of the master’s apprentices and employees also lived permanently the apartment, while some of the rooms were used by the tailor and his family themselves. This pattern was in no way a unique feature of Belső-Erzsébetváros, neither was it specific to tailors’ households; indeed it was fairly common practice among craftsmen in Budapest between the two world wars.21 In 13 Klauzál tér István Homonnay, a Calvinist gentlemen’s tailor, thus declared his three-bedroom apartment—complete with kitchen, hallway, bathroom and maid’s room—on the census form to be “part dwellings, part workshop,” home to his family members, his apprentice and an additional subtenant, seamstress by trade. Children of the family were often trained in the fashion trades too, and so the grown-up sons and daughters were active as employees in the family workshop.

One of my interviewees from Klauzál tér (born 1926), daughter of a tailor and a tailor herself, used to live in just such an apartment. She narrated that tailors in the inner 7th district before Word War II were in fact expected by their clients to rent large apartments in order to create an aura of prestige and elegance; but keeping up their costly three- or four-bedroom flats—which counted almost as upper-middle class standard in the 1930s—was often quite a burden for them and for their families.22

The census records confirm her narrative. The great majority of prestigious apartments on Klauzál tér in 1941 were rented by master tradesmen who used part of them as their workshops cum fashion salons. We may even find some irony of history here: those grandiose, over-100-m2 apartments with adjoining parlor-size rooms, bathrooms, toilets, and seven-meter-long and two-meter-wide hallways must have been originally intended for a completely different kind of clientele when they were built back in the late 1800s. Only a few cases can be found among the census records in which higher status professionals or wealthy rentiers occupied the large apartments on the square; one such was a woman doctor, dr. Ibolya Németh, Mrs. György Morgenstern by married name, who ran her private practice in her apartment in 7 Klauzál tér. The only exception was 16 Klauzál tér. This building, constructed in 1907, contained several spacious and modern apartments, and therefore housed a relatively large number of solid middle-class families.

In some cases, some of the subtenants came from the same trade as the head of the household even though the household was not functioning as a business. In such cases, the common profession might have been more important than religious differences; in 5 Klauzál tér we find, for example, a Calvinist shoemaker and his wife among the subtenants of the Jewish shoemaker Salamon Weisz in one of the first-floor apartments.

 

D) Finally, mixed households included all those in which spouses lived in mixed marriages and other familial bonds existed among denominationally Jewish and Christian individuals. Even though such relationships were few in number on Klauzál tér, they are still notable, given that the neighborhood had the reputation of housing the more or less traditional segment of Budapest Jewry. As we will see from some specific cases, there were several possible variations, all with one thing in common: people living in these relationships were about to face hitherto unimaginable legal intrusions into their private lives after the third anti-Jewish law was passed in 1941.

The Klauzál tér cases in 1941 represent a whole spectrum of mixed relationships and familial bonds. In one of the apartments in No. 13 a Jewish waiter was married to a Roman Catholic wife; their grown-up son, optician by occupation, was Jewish by religion like his father was. (According to time-sanctioned custom in Hungary, daughters born in mixed marriages usually followed their mother’s religion while sons followed the father’s faith. Even though several diversions from this pattern were known, it was followed as the rule of thumb in the majority of cases.) This married couple in 13 Klauzál tér had three Roman Catholic and one Greek Catholic subtenants.

In the same building, a Roman Catholic mother (divorced or widowed, as she used her married name Mrs. Ernő Dornbacher née Teréz Szabó), office clerk by occupation, was sharing her apartment with her student son Gábor, who was listed on the census form as Jewish by religion.

In one of the three-bedroom apartments in 5 Klauzál tér there lived a Roman Catholic tailor, Imre Stein, who apparently fell under the effect of the racial laws: even though he was indicated as Roman Catholic under the heading “Religion,” a red letter “i” (= izraelita), repeated in black, marked his origins in the same row on the census questionnaire. (Red “i”-s were later additions on the census forms, not entered at the time when the census was taken.) Imre Stein had a Roman Catholic wife, two little daughters (both Catholic), and a Catholic maid whose mother tongue was German but whose ethnicity (nemzetiség) was Hungarian. Except for the father, no other members of the household had red “i”-s at their names, i.e. none of them were classified as racially Jewish in or after 1941.

In some cases, one has reason to suspect that grown-up members of the same household were living together as unmarried partners, but contemporary statistics did not leave much room for people to declare that. The closest people came to an open declaration of their partnership took place in the household of a divorced cook, Géza Berger, Jewish by religion. He shared his home with a divorced Roman Catholic waitress called Mrs. Huber. The latter’s status on the census form was not “subtenant” but “[person] in shared household” (közös háztartásban).

A Jewish-non-Jewish couple living together like that—if we assume they lived together as partners—risked exposure to legal persecution after August 1941, when the third anti-Jewish law (Act XV of 1941) was passed. As some recent studies show, the mere suspicion of sexual relationship between Jews and non-Jews could be enough for people to be reported to the police and for the police to start an investigation of alleged “miscegenation,” trying to discover what individuals were doing together in entirely private spaces.23 In the extreme case, the accused had to prove in court that they had no sexual relationship with each other. Laura Palosuo quotes a case from an oral history interview, recorded for the Raoul Wallenberg Archive in Uppsala after World War II, in which an unmarried Hungarian couple, one Jewish and the other Catholic, were taken to court in late 1941 for “miscegenation.” The couple had three children together, so it was easy to accuse them of having an intimate relationship. Their lawyer, however, advised them both to confess that they, as law-abiding citizens, ceased to have sex after Act XV of 1941 was passed, and refrained from connubial contact in spite of the fact that they were living together. In the end they were acquitted, as the prosecutor did not manage find evidence for the alleged intimate relationship.24

 

Attempted Explanations: One Hundred Shades of Integration

 

What kind of explanations can be offered for the large proportion of mixed households on Klauzál tér? The first important point is that religious affiliation, as it was declared on a census sheet, only gives us a rough estimate of an individual’s identity, and tells us very little about the actual role religion played in his or her life. Even if we accept that religious affiliation in the Horthy era was an important element of one’s identity and self-definition (which was obviously strengthened by the official promotion of Christian values and by the institutionalized discrimination against Jews), there were many people, especially in a modern urban environment, in whose lives religion mattered little.25 Those who appear on the census forms as Israelites by denomination may have been in fact thoroughly secularized and assimilated, and equally secularized may have been those Roman Catholics, Calvinists and Lutherans who lived in the same buildings or households with them. Advanced levels of secularization and assimilation could make the denominational differences unimportant or completely irrelevant for those people who agreed to share apartments on Klauzál tér.

Even if we put aside the thoroughly secularized types, there was a broad spectrum of possible identities barely reflected by the religious categories of census statistics. Within the single category “Israelite,” there were three major confessional groups in Hungary (Orthodox, Neolog and Status Quo Ante),26 all with their separate traditions and organizations, and within these communities, several individual varieties, shades and choices existed in terms of dress, customs, and the strictness of religious observance. Individual choices often depended on age and generation (second- and third-generation Budapest residents as a rule abandoned the traditional costume, beard, and other distinctive signs of Jewishness even if they grew up in Orthodox families). But they also depended on the strength or weakness of family pressure, and the extent to which a person wished to step out of a predominantly Jewish social environment and integrate into majority society professionally and socially. Even though this kind of integration became increasingly difficult and was in the end institutionally blocked in the Horthy era, the multitude of individual strategies prevailed.27

In the light of these considerations, it is in many cases impossible to tell what shade of Jewishness an individual represented if he or she was registered as “Israelite” on a census form in 1941 unless we know more about that person from another source (e.g. from an oral history interview or a written mémoire).28 Nonetheless, the composition of Klauzál tér households may, at least indirectly, give us certain clues about the members of these households.

We can assume that the importance of religion in a family’s life would be reflected in the denominational homogeneity of the household as recorded in the census forms of 1941. Jewish households in which religious law was strictly observed remained homogeneously Jewish, the only concession being the employment of a Christian housemaid. Such Jewish families, if they sublet parts of their apartments, accepted only Israelite subtenants. Prejudices and self-defense mentalities, however, are other possible explanations. Several purely Christian apartment-workshops—a common enough phenomenon on Klauzál tér in 1941—remained purely Christian because the master craftsman, head of the family business, refrained from employing Jewish apprentices and journeymen and refused to take on Jewish subtenants even if he may not have been particularly religious. Many Jewish workshops apparently followed the same exclusionist policy with regard to Christians, but that does not necessarily tell us either how pious the master and his family actually were.

All that said, my actual concern here is not homogeneity but mixing. In any case, the presence of Jewish employees and subtenants in predominantly Christian households and of Christian employees and subtenants in Jewish households implies a degree of openness on all sides. It also indirectly indicates attitudes which were at least lenient towards certain religious rules; it must have been practically impossible, for example, to keep strictly kosher in a mixed Jewish-Christian household if all parties had access to the same kitchen.

Some remarks still have to be added here regarding residential standards and norms. Obviously, the standards of residential space were different in interwar Budapest from the standards of today. This is particularly true in a predominantly lower-middle-class area like the inner 7th district. Expectations of privacy in that historical era seem to have been much lower, and necessity could radically overwrite whatever expectations there were. As historical studies suggest, and as a multitude of Klauzál tér examples demonstrate, “decent” families living with their children—often grown-up children—in one or two rooms and subletting the remainder of their rooms to either relatives or strangers was a fairly common thing to do in Budapest between the two world wars. Around 1941, an estimated 25 per cent of families shared their residence with strangers29 (subtenants or bed renters). This practice was considered socially acceptable in broad segments of the middle and lower middle class, and was usually the first solution that came to mind in certain situations like widowhood or unemployment.

All that said, the picture captured by the 1941 census might be in some ways special. Existential pressure may have played a part, too, in people’s willingness to take on subtenants from different religious backgrounds. Jewish craftsmen and professionals who lost their jobs or businesses as a result of anti-Jewish legislation could not afford to be too selective; they badly needed subtenants to supplement their income, and were often willing to accept Christians as a result. This may be inferred from the presence of Christian subtenants in several Jewish households on Klauzál tér, because the pattern was particularly common where the head of the family was unemployed. Denominationally Jewish widows and single women acting as heads of households – women who frequently pursued trades themselves – appear to have been the least choosy when it came to rooming subtenants. Some of them kept a whole stable of subtenants that included Christians and Israelites, single persons and married couples, and men and women, as is demonstrated by the case of Margit Weinfelder quoted earlier.

The introduction of labor service for Jewish men in Hungary30 was to become another pressure that pushed Jewish families to take on subtenants, especially after the breadwinner(s) were called up for extended periods of service and were away from home for months or years. The Defense Act (II of 1939) caused Jewish men to be conscripted in larger numbers from June 1940;31 but this fact is not reflected explicitly in the 1941 Klauzál tér census forms (census questionnaires were filled in on January 31, 1941).

When we interpret denominational mixing within individual households, we definitely have to take personal and professional attachments into account. These attachments could overwrite the differences in background; professional bonds in various trades may have bridged denominational differences or made them irrelevant.

Certain trades can be interpreted as subcultures in which Jewish/non-Jewish encounters were particularly common. The fashion industries so characteristic of the inner 7th district were among these. If a Christian person became a tailor in Pest in the 1930s, he tacitly accepted that his employer, or many of his colleagues or employees, might be Jewish and that his workshop could be located in a “Jewish district”; if he did not like the idea it was wiser to choose another trade. A non-Jewish interviewee, born in 1928 and living on Klauzál tér since 1951, related that her two uncles, both Catholic tailors, used to rent apartments in the inner 7th district—one in Holló utca and one in Király utca—before World War II, because “the neighborhood was the place to be for tailors.” One of Mrs. M. H.’s uncles ran his workshop at home, and the other in a separate shop in Ó utca. Mrs. M. H. later married a tailor herself; her husband had also been raised in the inner 7th district, and at the time of their marriage he was living with his aunt in 16 Klauzál tér. It was obvious from Mrs. M. H.’s narrative, as well as from her unwittingly expressed attitudes, that for her and her tailor uncles, everyday relations with Jewish people were completely normal, and their attitudes toward Jewish colleagues and neighbors were entirely positive.32

It is also likely that in a mixed neighborhood where members of the Jewish faith and people of Jewish origin represented a critical mass, Jewish/non-Jewish differences simply did not matter, or they did not matter more than the differences among Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists; and certainly much less than one would expect in a historical period when public life was thoroughly politicized and permeated by racial ideology. In this sense, the neighborhood around Klauzál tér can be interpreted as a subculture, a local subculture in which the strong presence of Jewish people was considered normal, and in which forms of mixing had long traditions. In such a subculture, anti-Semitism was much less of an issue than in other walks of life. People who did not like such a neighborhood moved out or never even moved in, and those who stayed considered the composition of the area something of a given.

 

A Shattering Microcosm: Forced Changes in the Social Character of a Neighborhood during World War II

 

In many ways, however, the picture presented by the 1941 census is the last detailed imprint of a peacetime world that was never to return; local traditions of coexistence were soon to be disrupted by politics and legislation.

In 1941, that micro-world was already shadowed by the war and threatened by the escalation of anti-Jewish discrimination; the anti-Jewish laws were taking increasing economic and occupational effects on the local residents of Belső-Erzsébetváros. Residents of the inner 7th district, around 50 to 60% of whom may be estimated to have been defined as Jewish by Act IV of 1939 and Act XV of 1941, and among whom the overwhelming majority were artisans, shopkeepers, employees of private shops and businesses, office workers, or professionals, must have been particularly hard hit. Indeed, the effect of the anti-Jewish laws is clearly detectable when one reads the 1941 census records for Klauzál tér. When asked about their occupations, respondents who were Jewish by religion very often gave answers such as “office clerk without a job,” “accountant presently unemployed,” “shoemaker currently without occupation” and so on. The census forms were filled in by the respondents themselves (more precisely, filled in and signed by the heads of households), many of whom were Jewish craftsmen and professionals affected by the discriminative laws, and it is not difficult to see in answers like those quoted above an intentional statement of what they saw as the temporariness and injustice of their conditions.

Apart from the anti-Jewish measures, the impact of the war became increasingly tangible for the population of the inner 7th district after 1941. After Hungary’s entry into the war, non-Jewish men were called up for military service and Jewish men for labor service. These naturally also affected their families.

Measures were already being taken against Jews of non-Hungarian citizenship in 1941.33 Belső-Erzsébetváros was one of the areas in Budapest which concentrated Orthodox Jews, and which housed large numbers of Jewish refugees who arrived from Galicia (part of occupied Poland), Slovakia, the Ukraine, and other Eastern European territories by then under German dominance. Many of these Jewish residents of Belső-Erzsébetváros, holding Polish, Czechoslovak, or Romanian citizenship, had in fact originally been citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy—some of them subjects of the Hungarian Crown—or were descendants of former Austro-Hungarian citizens. These people became citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy’s successor states after World War I, and even though many of them were Hungarian speakers who continued to cultivate a Hungarian identity, they found themselves regarded as unwelcome “aliens” by the Hungarian state after 1920. In 1936, a decree was passed in Poland, as a consequence of which Jews (Polish citizens) living in Hungary lost their Polish citizenship. They were joined by Polish-Jewish refugees coming from Austria after the Anschluss, and further refugees coming from Poland after the German invasion of Poland in September 1939.34

From 1936 on, measures were repeatedly proposed to prevent the “influx” of Jews from the surrounding countries. These policies climaxed in the summer of 1941, when Jews with non-Hungarian citizenships (termed rendezetlen állampolgárságú zsidók, roughly translatable as “displaced Jewish persons”) were expelled from Hungary in a single organized operation. An estimated 14,000 to 18,000 “displaced Jewish persons”—some of whom were actually Hungarian citizens—were expelled from Hungary in July and August. They were gathered together, transported by train to the Galician border, and handed over to German authorities. Most of these people were soon to become the first mass casualties of the Hungarian Holocaust in a mass murder near Kamenec-Podolski in August 1941, where German SS units were assisted by Ukrainian militia men.

“Displaced Jewish persons” living in Budapest, intended for deportation, were gathered in the synagogue in Rumbach Sebestyén Street in the inner 7th district and at other Budapest locations before being transported to the Ukrainian border. The Jewish families whose citizenship was indicated as non-Hungarian on the Klauzál tér census forms are likely to have been among them. The historian has a strong sense of foreboding when she encounters on a 1941 census sheet for Klauzál tér a Jewish family all five members of which were Polish citizens. Were they all going to die at Kamenec-Podolski five months later? Was it at all possible for them to avoid that fate? According to the census data, 5 and 6 Klauzál tér concentrated a particularly high number of Jewish families with non-Hungarian citizenships. One married couple, according to their answers on the census form, had been living in Budapest since 1908; they were Hungarian by mother tongue but they declared Polish to be their citizenship. Man and wife in another apartment in Klauzál tér 5, both Jewish, were Hungarians by native tongue but they were both Turkish citizens.

The German occupation of Hungary in March 1944 brought about an immediate deterioration in the position of everyone legally classified as Jewish in Hungary. After a series of humiliating discriminative measures, such as being obliged to wear the yellow star of David (April 1944), ghettoization soon began in towns and cities outside Budapest, followed by the organized deportation of Hungary’s Jewish population. As a result of the publication of the so-called Auschwitz records, international protest, and other factors, Admiral Miklós Horthy stopped the deportations in July 1944, and the legally-defined Jewish population of Budapest was eventually saved from mass deportation. Many of them, however, fell victim to other atrocities later.

In Budapest, the ghettoization of the Jewish population in June 1944 took an untypical form. Instead of declaring one particular area of the city to be the Jewish ghetto, a mayoral decree ordered that all Jews in Budapest must move into so-called yellow-star houses (buildings designated specifically as Jewish places of residence). A list of buildings, by district, street and house number, was published on June 16, designating buildings in all districts of the capital city. The spatial distribution of yellow-star buildings turned out to be rather uneven: the majority of them were located on the Pest side of the city, and their concentration was particularly high in the areas where the proportion of the Jewish population of Budapest tended to be the highest, namely in the 5th, 6th, and 7th districts.35

According to that logic, one would expect Klauzál tér to have been heavily affected. And indeed, in the June 16 order, five buildings (out of sixteen located on the square) were designated as yellow-star buildings: Klauzál tér nos. 1, 3, 4, 6 and 9 (see Figure 2).36

The first ghettoization decree, however, was thoroughly revised within a few days. As Tim Cole showed in detail, several buildings designated as yellow-star houses were deleted from the list between June 16 and June 22 and several new ones were added, as a result of petitions filed by residents and owners of the buildings in question. Budapest authorities were in fact flooded with petitions after the ghettoization order of June 16, 1944 had been issued: the petitioners were both Jews and Christians, some of them mixed-marriage spouses.37 The motivations of the petitioners varied: non-Jewish owners often wanted their buildings removed from the list; so did non-Jewish residents who did not want to leave their homes (according to the first version of the concept, non-Jews were all supposed to move out of the designated yellow-star buildings); in other cases, the petitioners were Jewish residents who did not want to move, and therefore wanted their buildings to be declared yellow-star houses.

On June 22, a new order of the Mayor was published in Fővárosi Közlöny naming the buildings added to and deleted from the June 16 list. As a result of protests and requests, the list of yellow-star buildings published on June 22 ended up being significantly different from that published six days earlier. Another result of the petitions (some of which were filed after the final list of designations had been published on June 22) was a more practical solution for “mixed” buildings: Christians were permitted to stay in their homes, even in designated yellow-star houses, if they wished to do so, while Jews were not allowed to remain in non-yellow-star houses after June 22.38

As far as Klauzál tér was concerned, three further buildings were added to the existing list of yellow-star houses on June 22, namely Klauzál tér nos. 5, 15 and 16 (see Figure 2). That meant that eventually 50% of residential buildings on Klauzál tér became yellow-star houses – a very high proportion compared to the figures for designated houses in the 7th district as a whole and even compared to any other street or square within the inner 7th district.

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Figure 2. Yellow-star houses on Klauzál tér (designated on June 16 and June 22, 1944).  
Map by the author and Trephneor 

 

The story of the first phase of ghettoization seems to reveal, implicitly at least, important facts about local ties, and the attitudes of local residents living on Klauzál tér. As pointed out before, the addition of further houses to the list of yellow-star buildings was most frequently the result of owners’ and residents’ petitioning. So was the deletion of particular buildings from the list. So the addition of Klauzál tér 5, 15 and 16 to the previous list of numbers 1, 3, 4, 6 and 9, and the fact that none of the earlier designated yellow-star houses were cancelled from the list until June 22, show that there was a fairly high “demand” for yellow-star designation, while occupants seem to have shown a relatively low resistance to their building becoming a yellow-star house on the square.

Some of the reasons seem to be obvious. As I have shown earlier, Klauzál tér, and of course the whole neighborhood around it, had a long-standing reputation of being fairly “Jewish,” that is, of having a high concentration of Jewish residents. The surviving forms of the 1941 census offer us a rare chance to determine the numbers of those who were denominationally Israelites on the micro level, that is, on the level of individual buildings and apartments. If we consider religion alone, as declared by respondents on the 1941 census forms (disregarding the “Jewish” status imposed upon people by racial law), it is clear that a fairly high proportion of residents in the Klauzál tér houses were denominationally Jewish at the time Hungary entered World War II.

These proportions more or less match the range characteristic of this part of the 7th district. If we count the main tenants, who were most often also the heads of households, we find that the actual percentages differed from building to building; Klauzál tér 6 led the list, with 79% of the main tenants being Jewish.39 In most cases, the denomination of the head of household (“izraelita”) would be indicative of the religion of the whole family, although as late as 1941 the equation between two should no longer be automatically assumed. The denominational composition of the individual households was of course usually more complicated than the denominational status of the main tenant’s immediate family; as I have also shown above, several other residents—e. g. housemaids, sub-tenants, bed renters, apprentices, distant relatives etc.—lived in the Klauzál tér apartments with the main tenants and their immediate families.

The percentage of denominationally Jewish residents in the Klauzál tér houses, according to the census forms, varied between 24% and 70%. We can assume that Jewish presence continued to be similarly high on Klauzál tér, or even surpassed the 1941 percentages in June 1944 when yellow-star buildings were about to be designated all around Budapest. In fact it was probably higher, because in 1944 all those residents who were legally defined as Jewish on racial grounds were added to the denominationally Jewish when authorities determined the proportion of “Jews” within residential buildings in Budapest.

All in all, many of the buildings on Klauzál tér in June 1944 had a good chance of being designated as yellow-star houses on the basis of their resident populations. Yellow-star houses, at least in principle, were supposed to be designated on the basis of two main principles: the ownership of the building and the composition of the tenants. If the owner was Jewish, and/or if the majority of the tenants living in the building fell into that legally defined category, the building had a good chance to be declared a yellow-star house. (The actual practice, however, was much more confused and inconsistent.)40

Sources clearly suggest that, in comparison to other Budapest districts, the legally non-Jewish residents of the 7th district were particularly willing to stay in their old homes even if their buildings were designated as yellow-star houses. According to Tim Cole and his sources, at the end of November in 1944, 144 of the 7th district’s 162 yellow-star houses were partially occupied by non-Jewish tenants.41

As far as Klauzál tér is concerned, I can only attempt to offer explanations for that high level of persistence. In the case of Klauzál tér itself the quality of housing, the relative prestige of the location and the pleasant environment could all play their part. Klauzál tér was a far more pleasant place to live than its immediate neighborhood: it offered a green park and nice views, and five of its sixteen buildings had well-lit apartments overlooking the streets on two sides. It can be assumed that several Christian tenants preferred to stay in their well-situated apartments rather than move to uncertain locations somewhere else in the city.

Furthermore, the economic profiles of Klauzál tér residents were often closely tied to the locality. As I have shown earlier, the inner 7th district had a high concentration of tradesmen in general, most notably those in the fashion industry. Tailors, shoemakers, lingerie makers, hatters and furriers represented a high proportion of local artisans and businesses. In such an environment, people pursuing the same trade nearby were not necessarily rivals. They rather constituted a network, allowing tradesmen to refer clients to each other and providing a constantly available pool of labor. Certain Klauzál tér buildings concentrated tailors and seamstresses in striking ways; in 5 and 6 Klauzál tér, for example, there were 18 of them in 1941, master tailors sometimes literally next to each other on the same floors of the building. It is quite notable how Jewish and Christian tailors and their families also lived as next-door neighbors in other buildings. For example, in 13 Klauzál tér in 1941, the Calvinist tailor István Homonnay—mentioned earlier in this article—was the next-door neighbor of a Jewish master tailor named Emmánuel Bergmann. Their living conditions were fairly similar—both rented large, three-bedroom apartments—although while Homonnay’s household seems to have been fully trade-oriented, Bergmann’s grown-up daughters were office employees, representing a more upwardly mobile variety.

Trade networks presumably offered mutual assistance in the situation created by the anti-Jewish laws, in which several independent master artisans lost their businesses in the course of 1939–1941. Their fellow-tradesmen could offer them employment or provide work for members of their families. Assistance by fellow tradesmen must have been particularly vital at a time when Christian heads of families and grown-up sons were being conscripted for military service, and Jewish men were being called up for labor service. The women and adolescents left behind had to take the place of the conscripted men, and if they had experience in the same trade, they could potentially find work, if they needed it, through intra-trade connections.

The above considerations may be hypothetical, but they can help explain why Christians in the inner 7th district seem to have been so reluctant to move out of the neighborhood in 1944. Having to leave one’s apartment in 1944 could mean losing one’s clientele, and also losing immediate contacts with fellow tradesmen, suppliers, and actual or potential employees such as journeymen and apprentices.

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Figure 3. The walled-in ghetto in the inner 7th district42

One has to be careful, however, not to draw an entirely idealized picture. The discussion of professional relations raises an issue that may represent a more problematic side of Jewish-non-Jewish relations in and around Klauzál tér. Under the second and third anti-Jewish laws, several shopkeepers and artisans lost their licenses or could not renew them after they expired in 1939. Christian practitioners of the same trades obviously benefited from the decrease in competition. In the case of retailers, non-Jewish applicants could apply for the rental contracts of shops lost by Jews. These are, however, hypothetical considerations; as the census records show, the great majority of shops around Klauzál tér were still owned or rented by denominationally Jewish persons in early 1941.43 Further research is needed to find cases in which Jewish shopkeepers on Klauzál tér lost their businesses as a result of the anti-Jewish laws; neither have I encountered any documented cases of Jewish shops on Klauzál tér taken over by Christians.

The reluctance of non-Jewish residents’ to leave their locality in the inner 7th district can be indirectly evidenced by the circumstances of final ghettoization, that is, the setting up of the walled-in Pest ghetto in late November 1944. It is particularly telling that that the ministerial decree ordering ghettoization threatened local Christian residents with labor camp service and internment if they did not move out of the ghetto area.

[…] whilst the cooperation of non-Jews forced to relocate was being sought through the provision of alternative properties and limited compensation, their cooperation was also being guaranteed through a mixture of propaganda and threat. The ghettoization decree concluded with an appeal from the interior minister for “non-Jews” affected by the decree to play their part in the war effort. “I expect the Christian inhabitants to obey my decree with understanding and self-sacrificing spirit, thereby helping to solve finally the hitherto neglected Jewish question.” And this appeal was backed up by the threat of state-sanctioned punishment. For the non-Jewish inhabitant who failed to comply with state demands for relocation, the punishment was to be the transportation of the head of the family to a labor camp and the internment of all family members. [My italics, E. Sz.] Thus the forced relocation of “non-Jewish” inhabitants from the ghetto area was about both carrot and stick. This differed radically from the treatment of non-Jewish requests to remain in yellow-star houses [earlier] in 1944.44

In my opinion, the threat of such harsh measures strongly suggests that the lawmaker or the issuer of the decree expected people to disregard, bypass, or sabotage the order. In this case, the minister’s appeal was targeting the non-Jewish population of the inner 7th district, people who clung to their history of staying in place even if that meant living in yellow-star houses, and did so in the highest numbers in the whole of Budapest between late June and late November 1944.

But non-Jewish residents of the ghetto area did have to move out in the end, and some of them never returned to that part of the 7th district. Neither did those Christians who were killed in action, fell victim to the war, died in air raids, or were captured by the liberating Soviet troops after the siege of Budapest to be transported to the Soviet Union. And neither did several residents determined Jewish by the racial laws of 1939–1941: those who perished in labor service, those who were deported and did not survive, those who were gathered from the streets by Arrow Cross groups and killed, those who were driven in death marches to the Western borders of Hungary, and those who went missing during the winter of 1944/1945. Together with all those who committed suicide, or died of disease and starvation in the ghetto during the siege of Budapest, a substantial part of the inner 7th district’s 1941 population would disappear from that area forever.

 

Summary

 

The wartime story of Belső-Erzsébetváros reveals something very important about the shared fate of its residents, whether they were Jewish or non-Jewish in terms of legal definition. If we stop interpreting pre-war Belső-Erzsébetváros as a “Jewish district,” and, as I have attempted to do in this study, understand the density of Jewish-non-Jewish relations in that urban area, we come to understand that the politics of persecution was far from being an exclusively Jewish concern. It is rarely discussed in narratives of the Hungarian Holocaust that anti-Jewish legislation often also negatively affected non-Jews. Even though the people in question were not the intended targets of persecution, a large number of them experienced injustice and disruption in their lives, and suffered personally from the effects of discriminative legislation and then the anti-Jewish policies of 1944/45.

Belső-Erzsébetváros exemplifies such experiences in a concentrated way. The enforced designation of yellow-star houses, a large number of which were located in the inner 7th district, disrupted the lives of many Christian residents, namely those who moved out of their homes during June and July of 1944. Even if “pragmatic” solutions eventually allowed several Christians to stay, and were content with the separation of Jewish and non-Jewish people within the same building, many families nonetheless changed residence. After the “big” ghetto was set up in November 1944, there was no longer any choice: tens of thousands of Belső-Erzsébetváros’s non-Jewish residents were forcibly relocated to make way for those who were to be crammed into the ghetto.

Long-time domestic relations were often upset during 1944: for example, Christian maids and housekeepers, many of whom had been living with Jewish families for several years almost as family members, taking care of both the household and the children, were not allowed to stay with their employers after yellow-star houses were set up. These women, especially the elderly ones, often had nowhere to go – as is mentioned explicitly in one of my oral history interviews.45 Apprentices and employees living in craftsmen’s households were forced to leave in a similar way if denominational differences made separation unavoidable.

The anti-Jewish measures and later the principles of ghettoization affected everyone who lived in mixed marriages and mixed families. When the head of a family lost his living or was conscripted for labor service, his non-Jewish relatives also suffered. The ghettoization concepts were designed to artificially separate family members on racial grounds. The anti-Jewish law of 1941 had forbidden new marriages between Jews and non-Jews, but at least did not annul already existing mixed marriages. Ghettozation orders, however, beginning with the creation of yellow-star buildings in June 1944, in theory required spouses to move apart if one of them was a Christian and the other one was considered to be legally Jewish; the same orders required a “half-Jewish” child, born from a mixed marriage and considered legally Jewish, to separate from his or her Christian parent, step-parent or grandparent, and conversely for a legally Christian child. In practice, couples often refused to separate and parents stayed together with their children; some people petitioned the authorities to be able to do so, and many simply ignored the law.

The historian is intrigued by the subsequent fate of her heroes and heroines from 1941. What happened to them all? Did Zsigmond Hauser and his family all die in Kamenec-Podolski? Did István Homonnay move out of his grand apartment when all non-Jews were forced to move out of the ghetto? Did he say goodbye to his next-door neighbor and colleague Emmánuel Bergmann? Did he ever manage to move back? Did Imre Stein die as a Jew, in spite of being a baptized Roman Catholic, leaving his Christian wife and two daughters behind? Did Mrs. Huber lose his Jewish partner during the war, and did she return to live on Klauzál tér afterwards? Later sources often provide the answers, reflecting the losses and implying much about individual fates. The records of the 1945 census,46 for example, betray the changes in the resident communities of Klauzál tér buildings. While a surprising number of the 1941 families, including several Jewish families, can be identified in the 1945 census documents, it is obvious at closer inspection how many of those families had lost some of their members during the war. In the case of certain buildings, newcomers clearly dominate the 1945 lists of tenants.

A systematic comparison of resident communities in 1941, 1945 and 1970 will be the subject of another study; as I am going to show, there were even further-reaching changes to come in the postwar period. But it was clearly the Second World War and the Hungarian Holocaust that triggered off the neighborhood’s profound transformation in terms of population and social character.

 

Archival Sources

 

Budapest Főváros Levéltára [Budapest City Archives]

IV. 1419. j. “Az 1941. évi népszámlálás lakásívei” [Forms of the 1941 National Census by Apartment], Budapest, Klauzál tér, buildings No. 1–16.

IV. 1419. n. “Az 1945. évi népösszeírás lakásívei és házigyűjtőívei” [1945 National Census Apartment Forms and Lists of Main Tenants of Buildings], Budapest, Klauzál tér, buildings No. 1–16.

 

Published Sources

 

Kőrösi, József and Gusztáv Thirring. Budapest fővárosa az 1901-ik évben: A népszámlálás és népleírás eredményei [Budapest in 1901: Census Results] Vol. 2. Budapest: Grill, 1905.

Thirring, Gusztáv. Budapest főváros demográfiai és társadalmi tagolódásának fejlődése az utolsó 50 évben [The Demographic and Social Stratification of Budapest in the Past 50 Years], Statisztikai Közlemények 70, vol. 2. Budapest: Budapest Főváros Statisztikai Hivatala, 1935.

Ezer év törvényei [Laws of One Thousand Years], http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=1&k=5 (1918–1945). Accessed December 12, 2012.

 

Periodicals

 

Fővárosi Közlöny, Vol. 54 (1944).

 

Interviews

 

Interview with Mrs. Z. M. July 5, 2011. Interview conducted by the author.

Interview with Mrs. M. H. May 10, 2011. Interview conducted by the author.

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Komoróczy, Géza. “Városkép-műemlék: Pest régi-új zsidó negyede” [Monument of a Townscape: the Old-New Jewish Quarter of Pest]. In “Belső-Erzsébetváros: harctér” [Inner Erzsébetváros: a Battlefield], edited and the interviews conducted by György Petőcz and Júlia Váradi. Mozgó Világ 30, no. 11 (2004): 42–6.

Komoróczy, Géza. A zsidók története Magyarországon [The History of Jews in Hungary]. Vol. 2. Budapest: Kalligram, 2012.

Kósa, László ed. A Cultural History of Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Translated from Hungarian by TimWilkinson. Budapest: Corvina–Osiris, 2000.

Küppers, Kirsten. „Marketing mit Davidstern.” http://www.hagalil.com/czech/festival/oranienburg.htm. Accessed December 17, 2012.

L. Nagy, Zsuzsa. A haszonból élő kispolgár: kisiparosok és kiskereskedők a két világháború közötti Magyarországon [The Profit-Oriented Petit Bourgeoisie: Small Craftsmen and Retailers in Interwar Hungary]. Debrecen: Multiplex Média–Debrecen University Press, 1998.

Lévai, Jenő. Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry. Zurich: The Central European Times Publishing Company, 1948.

Lugosi, András. “Sztalin főhercege: Kohn báró vacsorái a Falk Miksa utcában a fajgyalázási törvény idején” [Stalin’s Archduke: the Soirées of Baron Kohn in Falk Miksa Street at the Time of the Miscegenation Law]. Fons 17, no. 4 (2010): 527–76.

Murzyn, Monika A. Kazimierz: Środkowoeuropejskie doświadczenie rewitalizacji/The Central European Experience in Urban Regeneration. Krakow: International Cultural Centre, 2006.

Murzyn-Kupisz, Monika. “Reclaiming memory or mass consumption?” In Reclaiming Memory: Urban Regeneration in the Historic Jewish Quarters in Central Europe, edited by Monika Murzyn-Kupisz and Jacek Purchla, 363–96. Krakow: International Cultural Centre, 2009.

Palosuo, Laura. Yellow Stars and Trouser Inspections: Jewish Testimonies from Hungary, 1920–1945. Uppsala: University of Uppsala, Department of History–Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2008.

Perczel, Anna. “Hogy a negyedben jól lehessen élni” [So that We Can Live a Good Life in this Quarter]. In: “Belső-Erzsébetváros: harctér” [Inner Erzsébetváros: a Battlefield], edited and the interviews conducted by György Petőcz and Júlia Váradi. Mozgó Világ 30, no. 11 (2004): 16–8.

Smagacz, Marta. The Revitalization of Urban Space: Social Changes in Krakow’s Kazimierz and the Ticinese District in Milan. Pisa: Edizioni Plus–Pisa University Press, 2008.

Stark, Tamás. Zsidóság a vészkorszakban és a felszabadulás után, 1939–1955 [Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust and after World War II, 1939–1955]. Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1995.

Szakály, Tamás. Tér, történelem, társadalom: Belső-Erzsébetváros története a városegyesítéstől” [Space, History, Society: the History of Inner Erzsébetváros since the Unification of Buda, Pest and Óbuda]. MA thesis, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Humanities, 2010.

Tóth, Erzsébet Fanni. „Walking the Jewish Past? The Effects of Tourism on the Interpretations of the Budapest Jewish District.” MA thesis, Central European University, Sociology Department, 2008. Budapest: CEU–Budapest College, 2008.

Ungár, Richárd. Új mesék a Dob utcából [New Tales from Dob Street]. Budapest: Makkabi, 2006.

Waligórska, Magdalena. “Spotlight on the Unseen: the Rediscovery of Little Jerusalems.” In Reclaiming Memory: Urban Regeneration in the Historic Jewish Quarters in Central Europe, edited by Monika Murzyn-Kupisz and Jacek Purchla, 99–116. Krakow: International Cultural Centre, 2009.

Weisz Mandel, Marianna. Mi lett volna, ha…? [What Would Have Happened If…?] Budapest: Aposztróf, 2010.

1 For the Jewish past of the Scheunenviertel, see Verena Dohrn et al., ed., Transit und Transformation. Osteuropäisch-jüdische Migranten in Berlin 1918–1939. Charlottengrad und Scheunenviertel, vol. 1 (Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2010). For the the process of the Scheunenviertel’s recent reinvention, see Kirsten Küppers, Marketing mit Davidstern. http://www.hagalil.com/czech/festival/oranienburg.htm, accessed December 17, 2012. For the early transformation of fin-de-siècle Josefov, see Cathleen M. Giustino, Tearing Down Prague’s Jewish Town: Ghetto Clearance and the Legacy of Middle-Class Ethnic Politics around 1900 (Boulder: East European Monographs; New York: distributed by Columbia University Press, 2003). For the past transformations as well as the current revitaliztation of Kazimierz, see Monika A. Murzyn, Kazimierz: Środkowoeuropejskie doświadczenie rewitalizacji/The Central European Experience in Urban Regeneration (Krakow: International Cultural Centre, 2006); also Marta Smagacz, The Revitalization of Urban Space. Social Changes in Krakow’s Kazimierz and the Ticinese District in Milan (Pisa: Edizioni Plus–Pisa University Press, 2008).

2 Questionnaires/forms of the 1941 census were filled out apartment by apartment, and contained detailed information on the apartment (e.g. number and type of rooms, infrastructure etc.) and the main parameters of its residents (i.e. their status in the household, occupation, marital status, religion, citizenship, ethnicity, mother tongue, and the date the resident moved into the apartment in question). The Klauzál tér questionnaires, sorted by buildings, are preserved in the Budapest Főváros Levéltára [Budapest City Archives], hence BFL. See census forms of the 1941 national census by apartments [Az 1941. évi népszámlálás lakásívei], Budapest, Klauzál tér, buildings No. 1–16. BFL IV. 1419. j. (1–4 Klauzál tér: census area division (számlálójárás) 512/II; 5 Klauzál tér: census area division 519/a; 6–7 Klauzál tér: census area division 519/b; 8–9 Klauzál tér: census area division 518/II; 10–13 Klauzál tér: census area division 518/I; 14–16 Klauzál tér: census area division 514/II.) Data from the Klauzál tér questionnaires of the 1941 census have been entered into a database of my own. Any further mention of Klauzál tér apartments and their residents will be based on this database and the source material referenced above. I would like to thank András Lugosi, historian and archivist in the Budapest City Archives and an expert of interwar sources, who guided me through the census material, and with whom I could always discuss the problems that arose during my research. I would also like to thank Emese Gyimesi and Dávid Csillik for their assistance in building my database.

3 For a comparative study of the renewal and reinvention of historic Jewish districts in Central Europe see Monika Murzyn-Kupisz, “Reclaiming Memory or Mass Consumption?” in Reclaiming Memory: Urban Regeneration in the Historic Jewish Quarters in Central Europe, ed. Monika Murzyn-Kupisz et al. (Krakow: International Cultural Centre, 2009), 363–96.

4 This aspect is strongly stressed by Monika Murzyn-Kupisz, “Reclaiming Memory or Mass Consumption?” and also Magdalena Waligórska, “Spotlight on the Unseen: the Rediscovery of Little Jerusalems,” in Reclaiming Memory, 99–116.

5 For the revival of specifically Jewish cultural venues in Belső-Erzsébetváros, see Eszter Brigitta Gantner and Mátyás Kovács, “Altering Alternatives: Mapping Jewish Subcultures in Budapest” in Jewish Topographies: Visions of Space, Traditions of Place, ed. Julia Brauch et al. (Aldershot: Ashgate, c2008), 139–58.

6 Erzsébet Fanni Tóth, “Walking the Jewish Past? The Effects of Tourism on the Interpretations of the Budapest Jewish District” (MA thesis, Central European University, Sociology Department, 2008 Budapest: CEU–Budapest College, 2008).

7 Until the late eighteenth century, the area used to lie outside the walls of the city of Pest, and was part of a suburb called Terézváros. After the demolition of the city walls, Terézváros was incorporated in the city; later, after the unification of Pest, Buda and Óbuda in 1873, it became one of the administrative districts within Budapest. Eventually, the southern part of Terézváros split off and became a separate district called Erzsébetváros—the 7th District—in 1882. The area referred to today as “the old Jewish quarter of Pest” includes today’s Inner Erzsébetváros as well as a stretch of today’s Inner Terézváros (see Figure 1).

8 Anna Perczel, “Hogy a negyedben jól lehessen élni” [So that One Can Live a Good Life in this Quarter] and Géza Komoróczy, “Városkép-műemlék: Pest régi-új zsidó negyede” [Monument of a Townscape: the Old-New Jewish Quarter of Pest], both in: “Belső-Erzsébetváros: harctér” [Inner Erzsébetváros: a Battlefield], ed. and interviews conducted by György Petőcz et al. Mozgó Világ 30, no. 11 (2004): 16–8 and 42–6.

9 Komoróczy, “Városkép-műemlék: Pest régi-új zsidó negyede”; Kinga Frojimovics et al., Jewish Budapest: Monuments, Rites, History. Translated from Hungarian by Vera Szabó, translation edited by Mario Fenyő and the authors (Budapest: CEU Press, 1999), 67–200.

10 The inner part of one-time Terézváros evolved as the first significant “harbor” for Jewish immigrants attracted by the city of Pest, and continued to absorb a large part of Jewish migrants throughout the nineteenth and early twenteeth centuries.

11 Vera Bácskai, “A pesti zsidóság a 19. század első felében” [The Jews of Pest in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century], Budapesti Negyed 3, no. 2. (1995): 11–12; Gábor Koltai and Attila Rácz, Ezerarcú Erzsébetváros [The Thousand Faces of Erzsébetváros] (Budapest: Erzsébetvárosi Önkormányzat, 2011), 31–60; Tamás Szakály, “Tér, történelem, társadalom: Belső-Erzsébetváros története a városegyesítéstől” [Space, History, Society: the History of Inner Erzsébetváros since the Unification of Buda, Pest and Óbuda] (MA thesis, Eötvös Loránd University, Faculty of Humanities, 2010), 6–21.

13 For the treatment of the problem, see e. g. Gábor Gyáni, “Image versus Identity: Assimilation and Discrimination of Hungary’s Jewry,” Hungarian Studies 18, no. 2 (2004): 153–162; Tim Cole, Holocaust City: The Making of a Jewish Ghetto (New York and London: Routledge, 2003), 44–8.; András Gerő, “Új zsidó múlt“ [New Jewish Past], in András Gerő, A zsidó szempont [The Jewish Point of View] (Budapest: PolgART, 2005), 105–8.

14 Cole, Holocaust City, 48.

15 See the map titled “Az izraeliták eloszlása” [Distribution of Israelites], in József Kőrösi and Gusztáv Thirring, Budapest fővárosa az 1901-ik évben: A népszámlálás és népleírás eredményei [Budapest in 1901: Results of the Census], vol. 2 (Budapest: Grill, 1905), 56–7.

16 Gusztáv Thirring, Budapest főváros demográfiai és társadalmi tagolódásának fejlődése az utolsó 50 évben [The Demographic and Social Stratification of the Capital City Budapest in the Past 50 Years], Statisztikai Közlemények 70, vol. 2 (Budapest: Budapest Főváros Statisztikai Hivatala, 1935), 43.

17 The Hungarian pieces of legislation referred to as anti-Jewish laws in historiography were clearly discriminative in intent but did not always betray that intent in their names. For the full texts of the so-called anti-Jewish laws (Act XV of 1938, Act IV of 1939, Act XV of 1941, and Act XV of 1942) see Ezer év törvényei [Laws of One Thousand Years], http://www.1000ev.hu/index.php?a=1&k=5 (1918–1945), accessed December 4, 2012.

18 Not counting the units which functioned purely as businesses, i.e. shops, workshops or storage spaces..

19 All the names used in this text are fictitious, in accordance with Act LXIII of 1992 on the protection of personal data, currently in effect in Hungary.

20 This was an exceptional case and probably a mistake on the census form. As opposed to, for example, interwar Czechoslovakia, choosing “Jewish” as one’s ethnicity was theoretically not possible in Hungary in the Horthy era, paradoxically not even at the time of the racial laws.

21 For the the common combination of home and workshop, and for the training of the majority of apprentices in such domestic conditions see Zsuzsa L. Nagy, A haszonból élő kispolgár: kisiparosok és kiskereskedők a két világháború közötti Magyarországon [The Profit-Oriented Petit Bourgeoisie: Small Craftsmen and Retailers in Interwar Hungary] (Debrecen: Multiplex Média–Debrecen University Press, 1998), 203–5. According to L. Nagy, 47 percent of Budapest craftspeople worked in their homes in the late 1920s, and only 53 percent of them had workshops elsewhere.

22 Interview with Mrs. Z. M., July 5, 2011. Interview conducted by the author.

23 An excellent case study which deals with such a police investigation and the subsequent court case is András Lugosi, “Sztalin főhercege: Kohn báró vacsorái a Falk Miksa utcában a fajgyalázási törvény idején” [Stalin’s Archduke: the Soirées of Baron Kohn in Falk Miksa Street at the Time of the Miscegenation Law], Fons 17, no. 4 (2010): 527–76.

24 Laura Palosuo, Yellow Stars and Trouser Inspections, Jewish Testimonies from Hungary, 1920–1945 (Uppsala: University of Uppsala, Department of History–Uppsala Programme for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, 2008), 85. Reference for the source of the Palosuo quotes is Raoul Wallenberg Archives, F2C:22, file 553, 7.

25 Authors on the churches and religion in interwar Hungary acknowledge the overall tendency of secularization even when they write about the revivalist movements in Christian churches and the active role their social organizations played. See e.g. László Kósa, „Churches and Religion” in László Kósa ed., A Cultural History of Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, transl. by Tim Wilkinson (Budapest: Corvina–Osiris, 2000), 204.

26 For the history of the separation of these congregations and their later relations see Géza Komoróczy, A zsidók története Magyarországon [The History of Jews in Hungary], vol. 2 (Budapest: Kalligram, 2012).

27 For anecdotal stories of diverse Orthodox mentalities, see Richárd Ungár, Új mesék a Dob utcából [New Tales from Dob Street] (Budapest: Makkabi, 2006). From Új mesék a Dob utcából, see for example the stories titled “A menyasszony: Mirjam bász Zelde” [The Bride: Miriam bat Zelde], 48–53, and “Focimeccs a Szent István Parkban” [Football Match in Szent István Park], 91–5.

28 See e.g. Marianna Weisz Mandel, Mi lett volna, ha…? [What Would Have Happened If…?] (Budapest: Aposztróf, 2010.) The author of this mémoire used to be a Klauzál tér resident herself between 1935 and 1941. In her book she tells the story of her family, all of whose members are identifiable on the 12 Klauzál tér census questionnaires from 1941.

29 Vera Bácskai, Gábor Gyáni and András Kubinyi, Budapest története a kezdetektől 1945-ig [The History of Budapest from the Beginnings to 1945] (Budapest: Budapest Főváros Levéltára, 2000), 224. For a more detailed treatment of the problem of subletting in the Horthy era, see Gábor Gyáni, Bérkaszárnya és nyomortelep: A budapesti munkáslakás múltja [Tenement Block and Shanty Town: a History of Working-Class Housing in Budapest] (Budapest: Magvető Kiadó, 1992), 178–85.

30 On the introduction of labour service, see Randolph L. Braham, The Wartime System of Labor Service in Hungary: Varieties and Experiences (Boulder and New York: The Rosenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies Graduate Center/The City University of New York and Social Science Monographs, distributed by Columbia University Press, 1995), v–x.; see also Géza Komoróczy, A zsidók története Magyarországon [The History of Jews in Hungary], vol. 2 (Budapest: Kalligram, 2012), 574–77.

31 Géza Komoróczy, A zsidók története Magyarországon, vol. 2, 575.

32 Interview with Mrs. M. H., May 10, 2011. Interview conducted by the author.

33 See the chapter “Kamenyec-Podolszki” in Géza Komoróczy, A zsidók története Magyarországon, vol. 2, 623–26.

34 Tamás Stark, Zsidóság a vészkorszakban és a felszabadulás után, 1939–1955 [Hungarian Jews during the Holocaust and after World War II, 1939–1955] (Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1995), 14–5.

35 Cole, Holocaust City, 105–15.

36 Polgármesteri rendelet [Mayoral Decree] No. 147.501-147.514/1944-IX. Fővárosi Közlöny, 1944. No. 30 (June 16). Appendix, 1–8. For yellow star buildings designated on Klauzál tér, see page 4. Many adjacent buildings in neighbouring streets, some practically overlooking Klauzál tér, were featured on the list as well, but for the purposes of the present study, and for reasons of consistence, I will not include them because they were not Klauzál tér addresses per se.

37 Cole, Holocaust City, 131–56.

38 Cole, Holocaust City, 154–55.

39 This figure matches Beáta Fabó’s count for that building; she mentions the percentages of Jewish tenants within some of the Klauzál tér buildings in her article. See Beáta Fabó, “A Klauzál tér,” in Kismező, Nagymező, Broadway: Várostörténeti tanulmányok, ed. Mária Kemény (Budapest: Műcsarnok, 2009), 78.

40 The Jewish to non-Jewish ratio within residential buildings was not assessed on the basis of the 1941 census, obviously because by 1944 such a survey had to be based on racial rather than denominational criteria. So at the beginning of June 1944, Budapest authorities carried out a rapid survey which involved every residential building in the city; caretakers were required to supply data to the authorities about their buildings’ residents, and so had a central role in the survey.)

41 Cole, Holocaust City, 154.

42 Source: 8935.1944. BM. The Hungarian Ministry of Interior´s Official Map of the Budapest Ghetto. http://h2oreuse.blogspot.hu/2008/06/budapest-jewish-quarter.html, accessed December 17, 2012.

43 Street-level shops and other kinds of businesses were registered on the same kind of form as apartments in the 1941 census, and in many cases the shopkeepers were recorded on the forms as tenants, with all their personal parameters, including religion, as if they had been residents.

44 Cole, Holocaust City, 215, quoting J. Lévai, Black Book on the Martyrdom of Hungarian Jewry (Zurich: The Central European Times Publishing Company, 1948), 375.

45 Interview with Mrs. Z. M., July 5, 2011. Interview conducted by the author.

46 For the lists of main tenants and for individual census questionnaires in the Klauzál tér buildings, recorded in the census of 1945, see BFL IV. 1419. n.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Roland Perényi

Urban Places, Criminal Spaces: Police and Crime in Fin de Siècle Budapest

 

This essay examines the processes by which police oversight came to emerge in Budapest at the turn of the century and expanded to cover ever larger sections of the city. It also considers aspects of public safety from the perspective of the relationship between the capital and the urban communities on its periphery. The patterns of the expansion of police authorities in the urban space suggest that, rather than exercise control over social groups (workers, the poor) perceived as potentially dangerous by representatives of power, the police were called upon to protect private property, and in particular to exercise authority in parts of the city in which members of the elite and middle class lived. In contrast, in the outlying parts of the city one has the impression at first glance that the police increased its presence first and foremost in areas in which members of the working class lived. Closer scrutiny, however, reveals that the expansion of the authority of the municipal police to the outlying parts of the city served not to further the “compelled acculturation” of workers, but rather as a means of removing “undesirable” elements (criminals, vagrants, and beggars who traveled between the inner districts and the outskirts) from the capital.

 

Historical scholarship is devoting increasing attention to the notion of space and spatiality. The utilization of space as an analytic category has become so widespread in Western social history that, in addition to “linguistic” and “cultural” turns, some have begun to talk about a “spatial turn” as well.1 Urban-history research ascribes particular importance to the notion of space. Few social historians from Central and Eastern Europe have dealt with the issues of the police and the everyday presence of crime in urban space. Thomas Lindenberger examined strikes and various uprisings in pre-First World War Berlin as well as the “everyday clashes” (alltäglicher Kleinkrieg) that took place between Berliners and police patrolling the streets of the city during this period.2

The present analysis will focus primarily on incidents of the latter type. However, one must not overlook the interaction between workers and state authority present on the streets: the assertion of some historians that the increasing supervision over public spaces in the modern city took place primarily in working-class districts serves as one of the points of departure for this study.3 Therefore our primary goal is to find out how Budapest police gained control over the city’s public and semi-public spaces around the beginning of the twentieth century.

In the first half of this study, we will analyze the manner in which police established and subsequently extended their authority to an increasing proportion of the public spaces in Budapest. The decades between the 1890s and the outbreak of the First World War are especially interesting from this standpoint, since it was precisely during these years that Budapest underwent its most dynamic period of development. This development entailed not only benefits, but presented the city administration and police with new problems as well.

One of the most significant consequences of the urban development that occurred in Budapest in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the emergence of an expansive suburban zone around the city. In the second half of this study, we will examine the public-safety aspects of relations between Budapest and communities located on the perimeter of the city. The present analysis thus highlights not only the significance of discourse surrounding crime within the police and public milieu during this period, but deals with general urban-historical phenomena connected to relations between Budapest and its suburbs through an examination of the local press as well.

 

1. Attempt to Localize Police Presence in Urban Space

 

The distinction between public and private spaces represents one of the unique features of the modern city. The process of separating these two types of space was not, naturally, free of conflict, since certain urban spaces qualified as public also functioned as private spaces for certain social groups. However, city administrative officials and police, who had begun to exercise increasing surveillance over urban spaces, became less and less tolerant of manifestations of private life in such spaces.4 Authorities attempted to restrict usage of city streets exclusively to traffic, enacting various municipal and police regulations aimed at preventing other types of activity in public spaces.5 Many previously tolerated modes of behavior became unacceptable as a result of the 1879 law on petty offenses. Robert D. Storch characterized the process of tightening the degree of supervision over the growing urban masses as follows:

Despite some dramatic confrontations, the police carried out their mission as ‘domestic missionary’ in the largest cities not by pursuing a policy of over suppression at every opportunity, but rather through the pressure of a constant surveillance of all the key institutions of working-class neighborhood and recreational life. […] It was precisely the pressure of an unceasing surveillance and not the intense but sporadic episodes of active intervention and suppression which ultimately produced the main impact on working-class neighborhood.6

The current study examines the process of extending police surveillance over public spaces in Budapest at the beginning of the twentieth century. The primary source of information for this analysis is the Budapesti útmutató [Budapest Guide] published annually beginning in 1902. This publication, which later bore the revealing subtitle Az utca rendje [Order in the Street], listed the precise location of all the police guard posts in Budapest. Present study used this data in an attempt to localize these posts in the city’s public spaces.7 The annual report of Budapest State Police published in 1904 is particularly interesting from this perspective, because it contains the planned location of new guard rooms and posts in the city. Although a chronic lack of money and personnel prevented the Budapest police from ever establishing these new guard rooms and posts, the 1904 plan does provide a clear indication of the locations in Budapest where police officials felt the need to extend the force’s surveillance.

 

The Main Characteristics of Police Surveillance

 

The periodical Rendőri Lapok [Police News] described street policing in Budapest in the 1890s as follows in an 1894 article entitled “A fővárosi államrendőrség” [The Budapest State Police]:

Street service in Budapest is a combined system. It is based neither on fixed guard posts (as in London) or guard patrols (such as the night service in Paris), but is mixed. During the day there are only guard posts, while at night guard patrols also perform service. We do not have separate night watch, as in Berlin (the Nachtwächterkorps), but only a shop guard, though this does not belong to the cadre of the police and as a private institution does not in the least satisfy the requirements expected of modern night shop guards.8

Figure 1 Police office opt

Figure 1. Police officer catching a criminal.
Source: Kornél Tábori, Pesti élet [Life in Pest] (Budapest: Révai és Salamon, 1910)

 

The system described above remained unchanged over subsequent years. Police manuals and guide books published beginning in the 1900s illustrate the unique aspects of the Budapest police’s surveillance service. Perhaps the most important of these publications was the 1906 Rendőrközegek tankönyve [Police Officer’s Handbook], which offered detailed information regarding the Budapest police’s surveillance service. The text book reveals that four police officers were assigned to posts located outside buildings and two police officers were assigned to posts located inside buildings.9 The book states that police officers were prohibited from engaging in the following activities while on duty: leaving their post without permission, smoking or sleeping at their posts, entering a location requiring police surveillance without reason, partaking in “unwarranted conversation” and receiving gifts or “free provisions.” Police patrols maintained public safety on the more sparsely populated fringes of Budapest. One of these patrols consisted of two police officers, either mounted or, more commonly, on foot.

The surveillance service proved to be especially difficult at night, when “invasive patrolling” was used instead of static surveillance so that police officers would “not leave a portion of their watch without continual supervision for lengthy periods of time.”10 A 1913 report from the Budapest police chief reveals that shop owners in the city center complained on several occasions that the night service was ineffective and that nighttime burglaries had increased, thus suggesting that the system described above did not always work as intended.11

 

Police Surveillance and the Social Map of the City

 

In addition to the Budapesti útmutató, reports from the Budapest chief of police also provide an important source of information needed for an examination of the expansion of police surveillance over public spaces in the city. The content and amount of detail in these reports differ greatly depending on the district of the city in question, though they do specify the relationship between the specific social-spatial features of each district and the measures the police needed to take in order to maintain public safety in the district.

The first district of Budapest provided the city police with the greatest amount of work. Migration from the outskirts of the city represented the primary source of problems in the district, which counted 84,727 inhabitants in 1913. According to the Budapest police chief’s report regarding the latter year, such migration entailed the arrival to the district of “the lower social classes and the dubious livelihoods and elements presenting a danger to public order and safety.” The police’s surveillance service did not have sufficient capacity to keep watch over the enormous amount of territory on the periphery of the district. (This outlying territory constituted just over 90 percent of the total area of the first district, which at the time included sectors of mostly vacant land now located in the 11th and 12th districts.) The section of the report dealing with first district stated that “burglaries were very frequent, particularly of uninhabited villas and summer homes during the wintertime.” The report added that poultry theft was frequent in this sector of Budapest, noting that vacated villas located in the popular residential and hiking district on the Buda side of the city “provide dangerous livelihoods with such good hiding places that even the repeated and partially successful raids are hardly able to permanently cleanse the district.”12

Data in the Budapesti útmutató casts the text of the report in a different light, indicating that the greatest concentration of police in Budapest was located in the Buda Castle district, particularly in the vicinity of the Royal Palace and on roads leading to the castle. The data suggests that the Budapest police’s surveillance network was much less extensive in the adjacent Krisztinaváros and Tabán neighborhoods. The increase in police sentinels in the year 1913 took place not in the frequently cited districts of Budapest, but in southern Buda.

The Budapest police chief’s report portrayed the city’s second and third districts as more calm than the first from a law-enforcement perspective, attributing this to the stable social composition of the population living here. According to the report, there was no serious crime in these districts, only petty theft and minor burglaries.13 Police surveillance in the second and third districts focused on Margaret Bridge and its main access roads in 1913, while the planned extension of surveillance to the Rózsadomb [Rose Hill] villa district planned in 1904 also took place in the former year.

The historic Óbuda, or third district stretching up the Danube River to the northern perimeter of Budapest presented the city’s police with a much greater challenge in terms of surveillance than did the more densely populated second district. The Budapest police concentrated its attention in the third district on its Fő [Main] Square and the Margaret Hospital. The police likely decided to place the hospital under heightened surveillance due to the proximity of the Óbuda brick factories, which were notorious criminal hangouts in the early 1900s.

The 1913 report offered a much more detailed social and criminal depiction of the districts on the Pest side of Budapest. The report stated that the fourth district bordering on the Kiskörút [Small Boulevard] presented Budapest police with the least number of problems in this part of the city because “the population consists primarily of elements to be counted as part of the intelligentsia.” The Budapest police chief’s report attributed the social homogeneity of the fourth district to its high rental fees and lack of small apartments. The report noted, however, that crime had increased in this district as well as a result of the general economic and consequent moral crisis in Hungary: “The struggle for survival drives new victims into the arms of crime every single day, increasingly even those who previously knew of destitution and crime only from the pages of the press.”14 It was perhaps not therefore coincidental that the number of thefts, burglaries and shop robberies increased in the fourth district, the main commercial district in Budapest.

Police in the old inner-city fourth district, the smallest in Budapest in both area and population, did not have to contend with the challenge of extending surveillance activities to sparsely inhabited outskirts. Perhaps as a result of the fourth district’s central location and prominent commercial and touristic profile, the Budapest police established its most comprehensive observation network in the city in this district composed of an intricate web of winding streets and small, irregular spaces.

The police concentrated its presence to a similar degree in Budapest’s financial center located in the section of Lipótváros [Leopold Town] extending to the Nagykörút [Grand Boulevard]. In 1904, the Budapest police focused primarily on the Hungarian Parliament Building, the Supreme Court building and Szabadság [Liberty] Square, while in 1913 police placed the area of Dorottya and Nádor streets under heightened surveillance. The strengthened police presence in the latter sector of Lipótváros stemmed from the fact that the 1910 increase in personnel had taken place primarily in and around financial institutions. The Budapest police chief’s 1904 report reveals that the force intended to extend its reach to the primarily industrial districts lying beyond the Grand Boulevard, though had only partially implemented this plan by 1913.

The Budapest police’s deployment of sentinels described above clearly corresponds to its notion of the spatial arrangement of the district’s population. The police chief’s 1913 report declared that “from the perspective of social distribution, there is perhaps no other district in the city that displays as much diversity, no other district is arranged in such a unique way as Lipótváros.” The report divided the inner part of the district extending to the Nagykörút into two parts: one section between Alkotmány [Constitution] Street and Ferenc Deák Street encompassing “wholesalers, financial institutions, industrial enterprises, banking commission agents and the plutocracy in general, which consider it the most expedient to situate themselves around and near the stock exchange—the throbbing living space of the commercial and financial world”; and the section lying beyond Alkotmány Street in which predominately public buildings were located. According to the report, merchants, civil servants and private white-collar workers “who had been driven out of the inner parts of Lipótváros” inhabited the section of the district lying beyond the Nagykörút that had not long before been the site of steam mills and lumber yards.15 The report stated that the periphery of the district consisted of factories and housing for their workers.

The Budapest police identified a similar sectoral division in the city’s sixth district, known as Terézváros [Theresa Town]. The police divided this district into an inner sector bordered by Károly and Váci Boulevards (today known as Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Avenue) and the Felső Erdősor [Upper Forest Line]. The police chief’s 1913 report noted that this sector of Terézváros was the location of residential neighborhoods housing the “upper middle class mixed with the more distinguished middle class” and also served as a “center of brisk trade.”16 This sector was the most densely populated and built-up part of the sixth district. The report identified the sector extending from Felső Erdősor Street to Aréna Avenue (today known as György Dózsa Avenue) as a villa district in which magnates, artists and “the more prominent middle class” lived. According to the report, Terézváros also included a third sector situated on the outskirts of the district, where workers and less prosperous social-classes had engaged in a pattern of “island-like settlement.”

Aréna Avenue therefore represents the most important dividing line on the police map of the district, one marking the gulf between “prosperity and poverty, satisfaction and dissatisfaction.” As a result of the sharp social and spatial separation that existed within the population of Terézváros, the Budapest police chief recommended that the district be divided into two parts in terms of police activity, because “this is the only way to guarantee adequate surveillance, permanent oversight and effective operations.” The police chief noted that such a division was also necessary due to the fact that “workers movements exercising an influence on the entire country stem from the population living on the outskirts of the district.” 17

Data from the Budapesti útmutató suggests, however, that the periphery of the sixth district consisting primarily of industrial buildings and small colonies of workers was not under police surveillance of any kind at the beginning of the 1900s and that such surveillance within the district had extended only to the railway junction located on Mexikói [Mexican] Avenue by the year 1913. Though the number of police sentinels increased in Terézváros during this period, they were not concentrated in the “critical” areas cited in the report, but in the vicinity of the heavily travelled central locations of Andrássy Avenue, the Városliget [City Park] and Aréna Avenue.

The proposed division of the sixth district was based on concepts that require some further nuance. Maps of Terézváros from the early 1900s clearly demonstrate that a significant amount of the territory lying beyond Aréna Avenue was either uninhabited or only sparsely inhabited and that the danger the police attributed to workers’ movements was present only in the “working-class district” of Angyalföld located in the northern part of the district. The Budapest police chief’s 1912 report supports these conclusions, asserting that Angyalföld was a “meeting place for hooligan elements” and that “if disturbance rears its head at any location, the people of the street receive their most devoted and destructive reinforcements from Angyalföld.”18

The report on the seventh district known as Erzsébetváros [Elisabeth Town] called for this district to be divided into distinct law-enforcement sectors as well. The report stated that the seventh district consisted of four main territorial components based on the district’s social structure: the “intensive commercial hub” lying between Károly [Charles] Boulevard and Erzsébet Boulevard, home to the “more refined middle class”; the newly built-up area lying between Erzsébet Boulevard and Aréna Avenue, whose residents were “divided in equal proportion between the working- and middle-class”; the area lying beyond Aréna Avenue, which did not represent such a sharp dividing line as it did in Terézváros; and, finally, the Zugló neighborhood “to be taken completely as a peripheral territory.”19

8394

Figure 2. Inner Budapest and the neighborhood of the district known as “Csikágó” [Chicago].
Source: Map of Terézváros and Erzsébetváros (6th and 7th districts) in Gyula Kozma’s School Atlas, 1906. Museum Kiscell, Collection of City Maps.

 

It is interesting to note that the police report on the district did not even mention the most notorious section of Erzsébetváros—the neighborhood of the district known as “Csikágó” [Chicago] as a result of its checkerboard street pattern, rapid population growth and increasing crime rate.20 In spite of Csikágó’s infamy, police concentrated their forces along the four previously mentioned avenues in the seventh district, deploying only two guards to the interior of this perilous neighborhood.

The Budapest police chief’s 1913 report asserted that public-safety conditions in the seventh district were satisfactory: “Although the extent of crime has expanded, it has exceeded the ordinary range of fluctuation mainly in its volume. Theft and burglaries have undergone a particular increase.”21 The report nevertheless recommended that police surveillance be extended only to the outskirts of Erzsébetváros.

The sixth district of Terézváros, the seventh district of Erzsébetváros and the eighth district of Józsefváros [Joseph Town] contained the highest populations of all the districts in Budapest in the early 1900s. The 1913 report did not provide a detailed analysis of the spatial distribution of the population inhabiting Józsefváros, because this district’s relatively uniform degree of development and lack of peripheral territory made its division into sections impossible. In its analysis of public safety in Józsefváros, the report declared that members of “inferior classes” had taken up residence in “dives and overcrowded apartments” in the district, thus making the police’s work much more difficult.22

The spatial distribution of police sentinels underwent no significant change in Józsefváros between the years 1904 and 1913. By the end of this period, eighth-district police had begun to focus their activity on Kerepesi, Köztemető, Orczy and Üllői Avenues forming the perimeter of the district, maintaining supervision over the latter roadway in cooperation with police from the neighboring ninth district.

Ferencváros [Francis Town] represents another Budapest district possessing an extremely diverse spatial distribution. The population of the inner portion of the district extending to the Grand Boulevard was primarily middle class, while that of the outer portion of the district was primarily working class. According to the Budapest police chief’s 1913 report, the large periphery of this district was a “veritable industrial town whose workers live predominantly in nearby communities: Kispest, Erzsébetfalva, Soroksár and Csepel.”23 The most critical location in Ferencváros from a public-safety standpoint was the “protective forest” on the border of the district located between the Gubacsi dűlő neighborhood and Erzsébetfalva [Elisabeth Village], which the report indicated was ravaged by gangs of thieves. This area, known locally as “Little Bakony” in reference to the Bakony Hills of west-central Hungary, was especially significant for residents of Erzsébetfalva, many of whom crossed it on their way to work at the local weapons factory. For the Budapest police, this territory represented a “no man’s land” into which Pest County gendarmes could not venture because it lay within the boundaries of the city. A journalist writing in the Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny [Elisabeth Village Gazette] declared that people rarely entered this sector of Ferencváros, noting that “it sometimes occurs that as [the “state police”] enjoy themselves in the dense succession of taverns, one can hear cries for help emanating from those being assaulted in the bushes.”24

The 1913 report contained a very positive assessment of the expansive, yet sparsely populated tenth district of Kőbánya [Stone Quarry]:

The tenth district has projected large-scale future development over the past year. [There were] massive projects to build the horse-racing course and the nat’l. breeding-animal marketplace, while hundreds of workers from the new factories being built on Maglódi and Gyömrői Avenues increased the size of the population and at the same time reduced the expanse of vacant plots of land.25

The rise in population and built-up territory in Kőbánya presented the police with a greater number of law-enforcement tasks in this district. The report identifies those locations in the tenth district where the police were unable to adequately perform their surveillance duties: Gyömrői and Ceglédi avenues, the district’s railway freight-yards, the horse-racing course, the animal marketplace and the neighborhood of Rákosfalva. The report concluded that these locations “should be disconnected from the activity on the district’s outskirts” located around the Rákoskeresztúr Cemetery and the agricultural land in the Felsőrákos area.26

An article that the Police Chief of Kőbánya, Miklós Rédey published in the local newspaper Kőbányai Hírek [Kőbánya News] in 1912 reveals more information regarding public-safety conditions in the district. The police chief stated in his article that “nine-tenths” of Kőbánya’s population consisted of industrious working people, adding that the district “virtually lacks the inferior element that customarily endangers public safety.” According to Rédey’s article, much of the police’s work in Kőbánya stemmed from pub brawls and accidents at the large number of industrial workshops and freight yards in the district. The police chief asserted that major instances of robbery in this district occurred only in the Népliget [People’s Park], noting that “fellows who wander in from the city,” not locals, committed these crimes. The article portrays Kőbánya as an idyllic suburb lying distant from the clamor of the big city, though recognizes that the rapid development taking place in the district would soon put an end to this condition.27

 

Police Surveillance in Operation

 

The Budapest police’s surveillance service served several purposes: the duty of sentinels posted on the street was to ensure that citizens complied with laws, statutes and city regulations regarding behavior in public spaces. The steady expansion of police surveillance-activities is reflected in the rise in the number of criminal procedures launched in connection to transgressions that had previously been tolerated.

One such offense involved 53-year-old “retail medicinal-herb seller” Mrs. Antal Bodrás, who according to a February 11, 1893 hearing on charges of endangering public health, had been selling henbane, which served as a popular basic ingredient for poisons, elixirs and potions, on Rákóczi Square in the eighth district of Budapest. Mrs. Bodrás confessed to her misdemeanor, though asserted that “she had been doing this undisturbed for decades [italics mine] and this is why she had never [had any trouble] with the authorities.” The judge hearing the case found Mrs. Bodrás guilty of the charge, ordering her to pay a five-forint fine or spend 15 days in jail.28

Forty-four-year-old “tinsmith Gypsy” Antal Sztojka from the village of Szalkszentmárton in central Hungary was similarly baffled at his 1896 arrest for allegedly “pulling out and displaying his private parts” in front of the Szent István [Saint Stephen] Hospital in Budapest. Mr. Sztojka admitted to the charge, though claimed that he had merely sought to “satisfy his urinary needs” at a secluded location and had not intended to commit an offense against public morals. In the end, the court acquitted Mr. Sztojka, finding that he had not committed an act of indecency. 29

Police data reveals an increase in disciplinary action taken in Budapest public spaces in the early 1900s. Statistics from this period make it possible to analyze changes in the effectiveness of surveillance over time and thus determine if the spatial redistribution of police forces exercised an influence over the frequency of behavior violating established norms in public spaces.

Police data regarding petty offenses of various types are the most useful for this purpose, since it may be assumed that in the majority of cases police officers posted on the streets served as the party reporting or responding to the transgression.30 Moreover, statistics regarding such offenses were the only to be assorted according to city district, therefore making it possible to more or less determine the spatial distribution of violations of the law that resulted primarily in the imposition of fines.31

 

The following table displays the number of police reports of petty crime in the ten districts of Budapest in the years 1904, 1908 and 1912.

 

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VIII

IX

X

1904

2,325

3,695

2,592

5,453

4,615

10,788

18,332

17,152

7,717

2,075

1908

2,164

4,979

2,679

7,357

5,379

19,765

27,395

15,183

7,842

2,541

1912

3,335

3,341

1,765

2,954

4,556

18,182

13,122

6,662

8,174

4,763

 

The table above shows that the greatest number of police reports of minor offenses occurred in the busiest and most highly populated sixth, seventh and eighth districts of Budapest. However, whereas the number of reports of minor offenses rose significantly in all districts of Budapest with the exception of the first district between 1904 and 1908, the number of such offenses dropped significantly in all districts of the city with the exception of the peripheral districts and, again, the first district between 1908 and 1912. The greatest decline in the number of petty offenses reported to the police during the latter four-year period took place in the seventh and eighth districts, where this number fell by over fifty percent. These two districts were among those in which the Budapest police conducted its greatest increase in the number of sentinels between 1908 and 1912.

Whereas it is customary to attribute declines in serious crime to an increase in the effectiveness of the operations of law-enforcement organizations, decreases in minor crime reflect a rise in the deterrent capacity of the police. The decline in petty crime in Budapest over the four-year beginning in 1908 suggests that the police’s effort to take gradual control over the public spaces in the city was successful. The fact that the population of Budapest, which rose from 733,000 to 880,000 between 1900 and 1910, increased at a faster pace during the first decade of the twentieth century than did the number of minor criminal offenses committed in the city over that period can be attributed, at least partially, to the effect of “coercive acculturation” on the part of police stationed in the streets.

The disciplinary and didactic impact of police officers performing surveillance duties could be felt only in those public spaces of the city in which police authority was truly present. There remained certain locations in Budapest that city authorities and élite classes considered to be dens of crime and ideas posing a threat to the social order due to a lack of such police authority. Most of these spaces lay beyond the inner sections of Budapest in which the city’s middle-class luxury apartments and villa districts were located.

The permanent presence of the Budapest police in public spaces reflects the spatial structure of the city’s social composition, establishing a sharp division between the bourgeois and working-class spatial environments.32 This segregation between what the Budapest authorities and élite classes considered to be the benign and malignant elements of society manifested itself in the zonal spatial-division of the city that characterized police discourse during this period. Various works of urban history and sociology have, however, shown that the spatial segregation of the social classes in Budapest was not nearly as strong as it was in major cities located in Western Europe and North America.33 The cognitive image that the Budapest police had formed of the city in the early twentieth century, nevertheless, included a fairly distinct spatial separation of the various social classes

 

2. Crime and the Suburbs

The Role of the Suburban Zone in the Development of Budapest

 

The appearance of large suburban zones was one of the natural byproducts stemming from the development of modern cities, including Budapest in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The belt of suburbs surrounding Budapest began to form sometime around the middle of the 1800s. Suburban communities grew at a particularly high rate along the periphery of the Pest (eastern) half of Budapest in the quarter century between 1870 and 1895. Most of the inhabitants of the new suburbs were initially migrants from other parts of Hungary, though by 1900 migrants from Budapest constituted an increasing proportion of the population of these suburbs. The rising number of outward migration from Budapest was primarily the result of the extension of public transportation to the suburban zones.34

This process resulted in a significant transformation in the social composition of the population living in the suburban zone. According to geographer Pál Beluszky, “whereas in the final decade of the nineteenth century the population of the suburbs was composed primarily of artisans producing for the Budapest market, producers for city food markets, employees, small-scale entrepreneurs, Hungarian State Railways workers living along railway lines and less well-to-do pensioners, the industrial workers became the dominant social group living in the suburbs following the turn of the century.”35 Data showing that the total population of the communities located on the perimeter of Budapest had, at 1.2 million, exceeded that of the city itself by the year 1900 demonstrates the rapid pace of growth that was taking place in these suburbs.36

The notion of annexing the suburbs to Budapest was a permanent topic of debate during the period in question. The idea of establishing Greater Budapest galvanized public opinion in both Hungary’s capital city and its surrounding suburbs. The burgeoning local press in the latter communities published a steady stream of articles expounding the potential advantages and disadvantages of annexation to Budapest.37 The stated objective of the newspaper Budapest Környéke. Társadalmi és Közgazdasági Hetilap [The Environs of Budapest. Social and Economic Weekly] was to combat those points of view which asserted that land speculation was destroying the zone on the periphery of Budapest, that the suburbs were losing their “healthy” rustic atmosphere and that the “capital city Moloch” was swallowing these communities.38

Disputes in the press regarding the expansion of the authority and jurisdiction of the Budapest state police reveal the significant degree to which public-safety considerations influenced relations between Budapest and its suburbs. The territorial jurisdiction of the Budapest police doubled in size during the period under consideration in this paper as compared to that defined by Police Law XXI of 1881. The town of Újpest [New Pest], the largest suburb of Budapest at this time, represented the first stage in the process of extending the jurisdiction of the city police.

The First Expansion of the “Observing Gaze”: Újpest and Rákospalota

 

The town of Újpest established an autonomous law-enforcement organ in 1871, when the municipality decided to employ eight armed bailiffs.39 However, this local force of law and order proved ineffective, failing to control a riot that took place in 1874 following the mysterious suicide of a local butcher after his arrest for resisting tax authorities, thus forcing municipal officials to summon the military to control the disturbance.40

Following the suppression of this riot, the district magistrate in Vác ordered that the town located to the north of Budapest establish an independent police force. The district magistracy shortly thereafter approved the municipal statute regarding the foundation of a local law-enforcement organization.41 The notion of incorporating Újpest into the jurisdiction of the Budapest police emerged just as the municipality began to organize its own police force.42 The latter idea resurfaced during preparation of the aforementioned Police Law XXI of 1881, though was rejected due to the increased operational costs it would have entailed for the Budapest police.43

However, the possible expansion of the jurisdiction of the Budapest police to include the community of Újpest remained on the agenda even after officials declined to make this measure part of Police Law XXI. Evidence suggests that the newly created police force in Újpest was unable to ensure public safety in the community. Minutes from an 1886 meeting of the municipal council, for example, show that officials from Újpest engaged lamplighters to help the local police perform their duties, primarily those stemming from an increase in the number of beggars in the town.44 Press reports claimed, however, that the increased duties of the police in Újpest arose mainly from the settlement in the town of people with “previous convictions” who had been expelled from Budapest, though continued to commute to the city in order to conduct their “business.”

Minutes from the Újpest municipal council indicate that the reorganization of the police in the 1880s was closely connected to the issue of acquiring regular council rights. Minutes from the council show that the town of Újpest established a separate committee to deal with these two issues late in the year 1886.

On September 25, 1886, the head of the state police’s detective department, Ödön Splényi, sent a memorandum to Police Chief János Török describing the public-safety problems in Újpest.45 According to Splényi’s memorandum:

 

The exceedingly dangerous circumstance has emerged in which those forced to leave the territory of Budapest as a result of their notorious police records and those who still live in the city, though are under permanent police observation as a result of their threatening nature, chose to establish their permanent residences on the territory directly adjacent to Budapest in the town of Új-Pest located in the jurisdiction of Pest Pilis Kis Kun County.

Splényi attributed the settlement of “those with criminal records” in Újpest to the good transportation links between the suburban community and Budapest and the “scandalous and disturbingly lenient” attitude of the Újpest municipal council toward these dangerous elements.46

Splényi stated in the memorandum to the Budapest police chief that he believed there were two methods of resolving the problem outlined above: either place Újpest under the authority of the Budapest police or have the deputy lord lieutenant (alispán) of Pest County instruct the Minister of the Interior to “banish those expelled from the territory of Budapest as a result of their menacing schemes from the communities lying in the direct vicinity of the city.”47 At the end of his memorandum, Splényi voices criticism of Újpest town marshal Géza Csapó, asserting that “his unreliability and permissive behavior toward many with prior convictions has become the subject of popular discourse.”48 Splényi’s difficulties with the town marshal did not end here. An investigation of the November 1886 burglary of the Festetich Chapel in Újpest, which Splényi and his detectives launched without consulting local officials, revealed that Csapó had helped to hide the items stolen from the building.49

In December 1886, the Minister of the Interior ordered Budapest Police Chief Török to submit a report regarding the possible incorporation of Újpest into his force’s jurisdiction, requesting that the report stipulate “the number of police personnel that would be required and the amount of expense that implementation of such a measure would entail.”50 Török’s January 17, 1887 report, which he based on data regarding Újpest obtained from Hungary’s Central Statistics Office, proposed that the Ministry of the Interior use the Budapest tenth-district police force as an organizational model for that to be established in Újpest even though the population of the latter community exceeded that of the territorially larger tenth district. 51

In the summer of 1887, the Újpest municipal council considered a proposal to request Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County officials for permission to have the community placed under the authority of the Budapest police, though it is not clear whether Police Chief Török’s January report to the Minister of the Interior had inspired the council to examine this possibility. However, on July 30, 1887, the Újpest council rejected this proposal on the grounds that the extension of the Budapest police’s authority to the county would infringe upon the “autonomous rights” contained in the community’s municipal statute and would, moreover, cost too much. The council then voted unanimously to approve a proposal to have a platoon of gendarmes stationed in Újpest.52

The Budapest police had thus completed preparations for the possible broadening of its jurisdiction in 1887, although such expansion did not take place for another two years. Evidence indicates, however, that the Budapest police had already become quite active in the communities of Úpest and Rákospalota before the adoption of Law XLVI of 1889 officially extended the force’s authority to include these two suburbs. An article published in the December 12, 1888 issue of the newspaper Pesti Hírlap [Pest News], for example, indicated that the Budapest police “had become tired of the abundant chorus of reproach voiced in the newspapers after every single break-in . . . and decided to eradicate all burglars from the face of the earth—that is just from Újpest.”53 According to this article, the Budapest police had conducted a raid in Újpest that had resulted in the arrest of ten suspected criminals, including their “governess,” Mrs. Sándor Száraz Julcsa Dombai, who was responsible for training the “talented” young thieves and pickpockets. The author of the Pesti Hírlap article concluded that “Újpest has thus become clean—one-hundred pieces of gold for one burglar!”54

Law XLVI of 1889 therefore institutionalized an established practice. The initial expansion of the Budapest State Police’s jurisdiction involved two communities located in Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County that had previously fallen under the authority of the gendarmerie.

Minutes for meetings of the Újpest municipal council suggest that the relationship between the Budapest State Police and town officials and residents was tense at the outset. For example, on December 27, 1889, the Újpest magistrate recommended that the municipal council invite police leaders to a banquet in order to “demonstrate the cordiality of relations with them” and refute the notion that officials from the community had opposed the decision to place the town under the jurisdiction of the state police.55 In 1890, one member of the Újpest council complained that the police’s treatment of the local population was too severe, while in 1891 member of the body declared that “there is no connection between the police and the community, and the captain does not belong to the council, thus there are no relations of any kind.”56

The Budapest police began operating in Újpest and Rákospalota, whose total population was 30,000, in 1890, with 28 officers, four of them mounted.57 Reports from the police chief and articles in the press both describe an unambiguous improvement in public safety in Újpest and Rákospalota following the incorporation of these communities into the jurisdiction of the Budapest police.

An article published in the newspaper Budapest Környéke in 1907 argued that the positive results the Budapest police had achieved in Újpest served as evidence that the jurisdiction of the city police should be expanded further to include more suburban communities. The author of the article claimed that the arrival of the Budapest police to Újpest had forced “approximately 260 notorietous [sic] families” to leave the community, noting that “the song had long told of the Újpest sixpence, though today the Budapest papers are writing that the main lair of the counterfeiting gang has again become Erzsébetfalva and Kispest.”58

In 1896, authorities from Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County submitted an official request to have the authority of the Budapest police extended to the suburban communities of Cinkota, Mátyásföld, Csömör, Pestszentmihály, Soroksár, Kispest, Szentlőrinc, Budaörs, Budafok and Albertfalva, indicating that officials from the county were satisfied with the work the police had done in Újpest and Rákospalota.59 However, the Minister of the Interior rejected this request on the customary grounds that it would cost too much. The jurisdiction of the Budapest police was, nevertheless, expanded one more time during the period under consideration in this paper. It is worthwhile to examine this episode in detail, because the local interpretation of the relationship between the extension of the Budapest police’s authority and public safety provides a clear illustration of the unique relationship between the city and its suburbs.

Figure 3 Perényi subur opt

Figure 3. The expansion of Budapest State Police in the suburban zone, 1890–1912.
Overview of the districts and boundaries of Budapest on a 1908 survey map.
Source: Museum Kiscell, Collection of City Maps

 

The Second Phase of Expansion: Erzsébetfalva, Kispest, and Pestszentlőrinc

 

The establishment in 1912 of a Budapest State Police station in Kispest to direct the force’s operations in that suburb as well as the neighboring communities of Erzsébetfalva and Pestszentlőrinc represents the second phase in the expansion of the jurisdiction of the city police. The justification for this measure contained in a footnote to Law LX of 1912 stipulating the extension of the authority of the Budapest police to Kispest, Erzsébetfalva and Pestszentlőrinc clearly displays the attitude of the state toward the expansion of the jurisdiction of the city police to its suburbs:

The law-enforcement administration of the rapidly developing towns bordering on the capital city requires completely different regulations and management than thpat of other communities in order to ensure that the personal and material security of their populations is sufficiently protected.

The justification for Law LX of 1912 furthermore warranted the extension of the Budapest police’s authority to Kispest, Erzsébetfalva and Pestszentlőrinc on the grounds that public-safety conditions in these three towns were similar to those in Budapest and that improvement of law-enforcement operations in them would serve to reduce crime in the city as well.60

The debate that took place surrounding the expansion of the Budapest police’s jurisdiction can be followed in issues covered in the local press in the village of Erzsébetfalva, which gained the Hungarian administrative rank of nagyközség [Major Commune] in 1897. Beginning in the middle of the 1890s, there was always at least one newspaper published in Erzsébetfalva that featured crime as one of its permanent themes. Articles published in these newspapers clearly depict the odd, dual relationship that existed between Budapest and Erzsébetfalva: while the latter community strove to develop its own identity, it also kept its sights on the possibility of one day becoming part of Budapest. This dual endeavor is reflected in the title of a local newspaper that began publication in 1897: Budapest-Erzsébetfalva.

Although newspapers published in Erzsébetfalva presented the prospect of incorporation into Budapest as a much-desired objective, this did not prevent them from voicing criticism of conditions in the city as well. These newspapers frequently published articles regarding sensational crimes committed in Budapest and the city’s moral decadence. Although Erzsébetfalva newspapers took an increasingly unfavorable view of the actions of Budapest “detectives” in the town, they nevertheless supported the extension of the Budapest police’s authority to the community.

The author of the lead article in the February 28, 1897 issue of the newspaper Erzsébetfalva, entitled Helyi viszonyaink [Our Local Conditions], expressed hope that the arrival of the Budapest police to the community would exercise the same impact on local public-safety conditions as it had in Újpest: “In brief, we can confidently say that Erzsébetfalva is at present where Újpest was eight to ten years ago, i.e., it is home to the rascals who give the capital city’s police the most work.” Although the author did not go so far as to request that the Budapest police establish a station in Erzsébetvalva, he did propose that they conduct regular raids aimed at capturing criminals living in the area.

Local newspapers focused increasingly on both the problem of criminals from Erzsébetfalva active in Budapest as well as local crime. Hungary’s gendarmerie established a post in Erzsébetfalva in 1895, while the community later had its own police magistrate. It appears, however, that neither the gendarmerie nor the police magistrate were able to handle the increasing law-enforcement tasks in the community. Articles criticizing local law-enforcement organizations for the increasing number of crimes and beggars and tramps loitering on the streets became more and more frequent beginning in the 1900s. The author of an article appearing in an 1898 issue of the newspaper Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny [Erzsébetfalva Gazette] speculated, for example, that “Personal and material security is protected better perhaps even in the deserts of Nubia than here in the vicinity of the country’s capital city in the town of Erzsébetfalva.” 61 According to the lead article of the January 11, 1903 issue of the newspaper Erzsébetfalva lamenting the “moral decline” taking place in the community, poor public-safety conditions and political conflict among local public-officials would lead to a decline in the value of property in Erzsébetfalva and make annexation of the town to the city of Budapest impossible.62

A letter to the editor from “a taxpayer” published in the January 30, 1898 issue of the Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny suggests that brisk competition had emerged between towns and villages located on the periphery of Budapest to be incorporated into the jurisdiction of the city police following the aforementioned 1896 submission of an official request to have the authority of the Budapest police extended certain communities in Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County. The editorial, which appeared under the title Néhány szó állami rendőrségünkről [A Few Words on Our State Police], complained that the municipal council in Erzsébetfalva had not campaigned with sufficient vigor to have the town placed under the jurisdiction of the Budapest police, thus it was likely to receive only a guard post, while Soroksár would get an independent police station.63

The local press also reveals that the Erzsébetfalvi Otthon [Erzsébetfalva Home] “community-defense” association had launched the civil initiative to have the town placed under the authority of the Budapest police almost immediately after its elevation to the status of Major Commune in 1897.64 Bringing the Budapest police to Erzsébetfalva therefore appears to have been connected to the town’s aspiration for independence and the establishment of administrative and judicial organizations in the community.65

The Erzsébetfalva municipal council fully supported the above initiative, deciding in August 1900 to ask the Minister of the Interior to have Budapest police placed in the community and to appropriate 8,000 krone for this purpose in spite of the “oppressive financial situation.”66

It was therefore not coincidental that enticing the Budapest State Police to begin operations in Erzsébetfalva carried such importance. It was for this reason that residents of the community took such great interest in reports published in the Budapest press regarding the Minister of the Interior Kálmán Széll’s plans. However, the August 9, 1900 issue of the newspaper Erzsébetfalvai hírlap [Erzsébetfalva News] reported with regret that contrary to rumors appearing in certain Budapest newspapers, the Minister of the Interior had “postponed satisfying the request until a better time, citing poor financial circumstances.” 67

It is clearly evident that this issue galvanized public opinion and that the press did everything under its power to ensure that it would remain in the news. Minutes from meetings of the Erzsébetfalva municipal council show that town leaders made a serious attempt to convince the Budapest police to start law-enforcement operations in the community. In 1901, the council announced, for example, that the town did not want to raise its own police force, because “only the extension of the authority of the state police to the territory of the community can improve our public-safety conditions as a result of our immediate proximity to the main capital city.”68 The council therefore submitted a new request to expand the jurisdiction of the Budapest police—again without success. Local officials nevertheless continued to advocate expanding the authority of the Budapest police to include the town in spite of these failures. In 1905, for instance, the local council refused to support a proposal to post five more gendarmes in Erzsébetfalva, “but instead urges having the Hungarian royal state police brought in, for which the assembly has already voted to contribute 8,000 krone annually for operating exspenses [sic].”69

Figure 4 Mosonyi opt

Figure 4. Police officer and women waiting for expulsion from Budapest at the courtyard
of the police barrack in Mosonyi Street, 1908. Source: Museum Kiscell, Photo Collection

 

Pest-Pilis-Solt-Kiskun County confronted the issue of extending the authority of the Budapest police again in 1909. On July 27 of this year, the county’s lord lieutenant submitted a proposal to the interior minister requesting that the Budapest police perform service in the communities of Kispest, Pestszentlőrinc, Pestújhely, Lónyay-telep, Erzsébetfalva, Kossuthfalva, Csepel, Budafok, Albertfalva and Budakeszi. The proposal stipulated that the county would contribute 20,000 krone annually to cost of police operations in these ten communities.70

The interior minister approved this request, presumably as a result of the offer of greater financial support than stipulated in earlier petitions. The Budapest State Police opened its station in Erzsébetfalva on October 1, 1912. According to an article published in the Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny two days before the opening of the station, new local Police Chief László Vaday “does not want to introduce the institution of the state police with iron rigor, but wants to first familiarize and understand.” The article quoted the captain as saying “This, of course, applies only to the well-intentioned and benevolent population, because those with prior convictions would do well if they were to move their homes as far away as possible.”71

 

Summary

 

At first glance, an examination of the spatial expansion of the Budapest police in the late 1800s and early 1900s would appear to suggest that this expansion took place primarily in working-class districts on the perimeter of the city. However, Budapest State Police sources did not cite strengthening supervision over workers living in these areas as the main reason for the extension of the force’s authority. Only the justification contained in the footnote to Law LX of 1912 broadening the jurisdiction of the Budapest police to Erzsébetfalva, Pestszentlőrinc and Kispest indicated that extending the force’s surveillance activities to the working-class Wekerle-telep neighborhood of the latter town played a role in this expansion process. Data published in the Budapesti útmutató clearly shows that the police presence in Erzsébetfalva, Pestszentlőrinc, Kispest and Újpest was insufficient at the time of their incorporation into the jurisdiction of the Budapest State Police to conduct permanent surveillance activities in these rapidly growing communities. It therefore seems highly probable that law-enforcement operations in the four suburban towns mentioned above were not aimed primarily at serving as an instrument of “coercive acculturation” of their working-class populations. The introduction of the obligation for residents to register with the police, not the expansion of permanent supervision over public spaces, represented the main motive for extending the authority of the Budapest State Police to communities lying on the periphery of the city. This registration obligation theoretically made it possible for the Budapest police to clear undesirable elements—“commuting” criminals, tramps and beggars—from these sectors of the city’s suburban zone.

At the same time, the surveillance system represented a serious impediment to the police’s “coercive acculturation.” As police manuals published at the time indicated, sentinels performing service on the street were not permitted to leave their designated posts. The Budapest police were therefore unable to suitably play the type of civilizatory role that police in many other large cities filled at this time. In his analysis of the “event diary” of a Boston police patrolman, Alexander von Hoffman concluded that a police officer who was permanently on the move represented an important figure in the daily life of an urban district or neighborhood.72 The activity of such an officer was important primarily from the standpoint of enforcing compliance with middle-class norms, not protection of property.73 Police patrolmen in the United States were able to establish a social microcosm based on informal relations with the residents of his district. This took place in an environment that was simultaneously friendly and hostile and, at the same time, assisted police in the performance of their everyday activities. Police built and sustained important contacts with local shop owners, barkeepers and apartment caretakers. This degree of sociability could not emerge between police and the masses on the streets until these informal contacts proved to be mutually beneficial.74

The potential for establishing such informal relations between police sentinels and local residents was much smaller in Budapest than it was in the United States or Great Britain. In terms of its functions and mission, the Budapest State Police followed the stricter German model, exercising a greater degree of social control than did the more liberal law-enforcement organizations in the English-speaking world.

The manner in which a police officer conducts surveillance over an urban space is not irrelevant. The acquisition of surveillance technics is a particularly interesting issue in light of the composition of Budapest police’s guard-personnel. Although no attempt has yet been made to systematically examine the social history of the Budapest police and written sources published during the period in question deal primarily with the force’s officer corps, available data makes it possible to draw a few conclusions relevant to the theme of this study. Although statistics regarding police personnel are extremely sketchy, it can be discerned from this data that during the era under consideration the prior, civilian occupation of a significant number of police sentinels (mounted and foot police plus those satisfying their probationary period) fell under the “farmer” category. The proportion of police who had previously worked as farmers rose steadily in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rising from 52 percent of all police guard-personnel in 1884 to 79.1 percent in 1912.75 The fact that people who had previously worked in agriculture were more likely than those from any other occupational field to select the relative financial security of police service likely stemmed mainly from the low prestige and difficult conditions connected to the law-enforcement profession. The sustained effort of the Ministry of the Interior to raise the “intellectual level” of police personnel and to improve the material conditions surrounding police service through multiple increases in wages and other benefits exercised no considerable impact on this situation.76

As a result of the predominantly rural composition of the police’s personnel, many officers performing service on the street possessed similar spatial experiences as the immense number of migrants who formed the majority of the urban population. The cognitive map that oriented most of the police posted on the city streets was comparable to that of many of its inhabitants: the new environment of the modern city presented them with a totally unfamiliar spatial experience. In addition to the permanent fluctuation in police personnel, the insufficient familiarity of many police of rural origin with Budapest and its environs served to reinforce the “static” relationship that existed between the police and the residents of the city.

Summing up, it can be ascertained that the spatial expansion of police surveillance evolved differently in Budapest than it did in Western Europe and North America as a result of the relatively late professionalization of the Budapest police beginning in the 1880s and the city’s unique urban development. As Eric H. Monkkonen’s book on urban law-enforcement in the United States between 1860 and 1920 shows, the focus of city police in the United States shifted in the 1890s from maintaining supervision over “dangerous classes” to “crime control.” 77 However, the spatial presence of the Police in Budapest, whose development into a major city took place relatively late, primarily fulfilled a civilizatory function from the very outset rather than conducting oversight of “dangerous classes.” The models for the expansion of police surveillance presented here likewise show that the everyday work of the Budapest police concentrated mainly on the protection of property and supervision over districts of Budapest inhabited by the élite and middle classes rather than on surveillance of social groups deemed to be potentially dangerous, such as workers and the poor.78

 

 

Archival Sources

 

Budapest Főváros Levéltára (=BFL) [Budapest City Archives],

V.371.a. Erzsébetfalva nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi jegyzőkönyvek [Documents from the Major Commune of Erzsébetfalva, Minutes from the Municipal Council], volume carton 1.

V.672.a. Újpest nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi gyűlések jegyzőkönyve [Documents from the Major Commune of Újpest, Minutes of the Representative Body Assemblies], volume 5.

VI.1.b. A M. Kir. Államrendőrség Budapesti Főkapitányságának általános iratai, Vegyes iratok [General and Miscellaneous Documents from the Budapest Police Department of the Hungarian Royal State Police], 9668/1886.

VII.13.b. A Budapesti Királyi Járásbíróság iratai, Büntetőperek iratai [Budapest Royal District Court Documents, Criminal Trials], 9745/92.

VII.13.b. A Budapesti Királyi Járásbíróság iratai, büntetőperek iratai [Budapest Royal District Court Documents, Criminal Trials], 42445/896.

Printed Sources

 

A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1896. évi működése [The 1896 Operations of

the Budapest State Police]. Budapest, 1897.

A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1912. évi működése [The 1912 Operations of

the Budapest State Police]. Budapest, 1913.

A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1913. évi működése [The 1913 Operations of

the Budapest State Police]. Budapest, 1914.

“A fővárosi államrendőrség” [The Budapest State Police]. Rendőri Lapok, October 14, 1894.

“Államrendőrséget a főváros környékének” [State Police for the Budapest Area], Budapest Környéke, April 7, 1907.

“Az államrendőrség” [The State Police]. Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, September 29, 1912.

“Az államrendőrség kiterjesztése Erzsébetfalvára” [The Expansion of the State Police to Erzsébetfalva]. Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, July 9, 1911.

“Az ujpesti betörő szövetkezet” [The Újpest Burglary Cooperative]. Pesti Hírlap, December 12, 1888.

Baksa, János. Rendőrségi almanach [Police Almanac]. Budapest: Stephaneum, 1923.

Budapest Környéke, March 31, 1907.

Erzsébetfalva, January 11, 1903.

Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, June 26, 1898.

Kispest-Szent-Lőrinczi Lapok, April 20, 1898.

“Közbiztonságunk” [Our Public Safety]. Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, August 14, 1898.

Laky, Imre. Rendőrközegek tankönyve [Police Officials’ Text Book]. Budapest: Pátria, 1906.

“Néhány szó állami rendőrségünkről” [A Few Words on Our State Police]. Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, January 30, 1898.

Rédey, Miklós. “Kőbánya közbiztonsága 1911-ben” [Public Safety in Kőbánya in 1911]. Kőbányai Hírlap, August 14, 1912.

Ugró, Gyula. Újpest 1831–1903 [Újpest 1831–1903]. Budapest: Magyar Városok Monográfiája Kiadóhivatala, 1932.

 

Bibliography

 

Beluszky, Pál. “Az elővárosok útja Nagy-Budapesthez” [The Path of the Suburbs to Greater Budapest]. Tanulmányok Budapest Múltjából [Studies on Budapest’s Past] 30 (2002): 121–52.

Bogyirka, Emil. Pesterzsébet története [The History of Pesterzsébet]. Budapest: Pesterzsébet Önkormányzata, 2000.

Gyáni, Gábor. Az utca és a szalon: Társadalmi térhasználat Budapesten, 1870–1940 [The Street and the Salon: Social Spatial Usage in Budapest, 1870–1940]. Budapest: Új Mandátum, 1999.

Gyáni, Gábor. Budapest – túl jón és rosszon: A nagyvárosi múlt mint tapasztalat [Budapest—Beyond Good and Bad: the Big City Past as Experience]. Budapest: Corvina, 2008.

von Hoffmann, Alexander. “An Officer of the Neighborhood: a Boston Patrolman on the Beat in 1895.” Journal of Social History 26 (1992): 309–30.

Lindenberger, Thomas. Straßenpolitik: zur Sozialgeschichte der öffentlichen Ordnung in Berlin 1900 bis 1914 [Street Policy: the Social History of Public Order in Berlin from 1900 to 1914]. Bonn: Dietz Nachfolger, 1995.

Mészáros, Borbála. “A helyi sajtó szerepe a főváros környékén: Kispest-Szentlőrinc 1895–1918” [The Role of the Local Press in the Vicinity of Budapest: Kispest-Szentlőrinc 1895–1918]. Tanulmányok Budapest Múltjából [Studies on Budapest’s Past] 32 (2005): 137–57.

Monkkonen, Eric H. Police in Urban America, 1860–1920. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Preisich, Gábor. Budapest városépítésének története: Buda visszavételétől a II. világháború végéig [The History of Urban Construction in Budapest for the Recapture of Budapest until the End of the Second World War]. Budapest: Terc, 2004.

Sallai, János. “Újpest rendvédelmének története” [The Law Enforcement History of Újpest]. Újpesti Helytörténeti Értesítő [Újpest Local History Bulletin], no. 4 (2002): 13–15.

Stedman Jones, Gareth. Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society. Oxford: Penguin, 1971.

Storch, Robert D. “The Policeman as Domestic Missionary: Urban Discipline and Popular Culture in Northern England, 1850–1880.” Journal of Social History 9, no. 4 (1976): 481–509.

Thale, Christopher. “The informal World of Police Patrol: New York City in the Early Twentieth Century.” Journal of Urban History 33, no. 2 (2007): 183–216.

 

Translated by Sean Lambert.

1 For a more detailed account see Gábor Gyáni, Budapest – túl jón és rosszon: A nagyvárosi múlt mint tapasztalat [Budapest—Beyond Good and Bad: Metropolitan Past as an Experience] (Budapest: Corvina, 2008), 9–21.

2 Thomas Lindenberger, Straßenpolitik: zur Sozialgeschichte der öffentlichen Ordnung in Berlin 1900 bis 1914 [Street Policy: the Social History of Public Order in Berlin from 1900 to 1914] (Bonn: Dietz Nachfolger, 1995).

3 Gábor Gyáni, Az utca és a szalon: Társadalmi térhasználat Budapesten, 1870–1940 [The Street and the Salon: Social Spatial Usage in Budapest, 1870–1940] (Budapest: Új Mandátum, 1999), 41–3.

4 Ibid., 34.

5 Lindenberger, Straßenpolitik, 65–6.

6 Robert D. Storch, “The Policeman as Domestic Missionary: Urban Discipline and Popular Culture in Northern England, 1850–1880,” Journal of Social History 4 (1976): 487.

7 This analysis uses the 1908 version of a Budapest map based on data collected in 1870–74 to identify the location of streets, house numbers and buildings listed in the Budapesti útmutató.

8 Rendőri Lapok [Police News], October 14, 1894, 5.

9 Imre Laky, Rendőrközegek tankönyve [Police Officials’ Text Book] (Budapest: Pátria, 1906), 291.

10 Ibid., 291–300.

11 A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1913. évi működése [The 1913 Operations of the Budapest State Police] (Budapest: 1914), 69.

12 Ibid., 60–1.

13 Ibid., 67.

14 Ibid., 69.

15 Ibid., 79–80.

16 Ibid., 83–4.

17 Ibid., 83–6.

18 A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1912. évi működése [The 1912 Operations of the Budapest State Police] (Budapest: 1913), 73.

19 A Rendőrség 1913. évi működése [The 1913 Operations of the Budapest State Police], 91–2.

20 Kornél Tábori and Vladimir Székely offer a decidedly plastic description of “Csikágó” in their 1908 work Nyomorultak, gazemberek [Wretched, Villains].

21 A Rendőrség 1913. évi működése [The 1913 Operations of the Budapest State Police], 92.

22 Ibid., 94.

23 Ibid., 100–2.

24 Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, June 26, 1898.

25 A Rendőrség 1913. évi működése, 102–3.

26 Ibid., 102–3.

27 Miklós Rédey “Kőbánya közbiztonsága 1911-ben” [Public Safety in Kőbánya in 1911], Kőbányai Hírlap, August 14, 1912, 1–2.

28 Budapest Főváros Levéltára (=BFL) [Budapest City Archives], VII.13.b. A Budapesti Királyi Járásbíróság iratai, Büntetőperek iratai [Budapest Royal District Court Documents, Criminal Trials], 9745/92. An interesting aspect of the procedure against Mrs. Bodrás was that the district doctor questioned during the hearing declared that he found nothing wrong with the retail sale of medicinal herbs.

29 BFL, VII.13.b. A Budapesti Királyi Járásbíróság iratai, Büntetőperek iratai [Budapest Royal District Court Documents, Criminal Trials], 42445/896.

30 It must be mentioned that petty offenses included many acts that are not relevant to the theme of this study, such as not reporting the birth of a child within the prescribed time limit. However, since we were not able to find a better indicator than statistics regarding minor transgressions, it was necessary to utilize such data.

31 Data regarding complaints of petty offenses stem from the Budapest police chief’s reports from the years 1904, 1908 and 1912.

32 Gyáni, Az utca és a szalon [The Street and the Salon], 353.

33 See Gábor Csanádi and János Ladányi, Budapest térbeni-társadalmi szerkezetének változásai [Changes in the Spatial and Social Structure of Budapest] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1992).

34 For information regarding the development of the Budapest suburban zone see Pál Beluszky, “Az elővárosok útja Nagy-Budapesthez” [The Path of the Suburbs to Greater Budapest], Tanulmányok Budapest Múltjából [Studies on Budapest’s Past] 30 (2002): 121–52.

35 Ibid., 129.

36 Gábor Preisich, Budapest városépítésének története: Buda visszavételétől a II. világháború végéig [The History of Urban Construction in Budapest from the Recapture of Budapest until the End of the Second World War] (Budapest: Terc, 2004), 123.

37 See Borbála Mészáros, “A helyi sajtó szerepe a főváros környékén: Kispest-Szentlőrinc 1895–1918” [The Role of the Local Press in the Vicinity of Budapest: Kispest-Szentlőrinc 1895–1918], Tanulmányok Budapest Múltjából 32 (2005): 137–57.

38 Budapest Környéke. Társadalmi és Közgazdasági Hetilap [The Environs of Budapest. Social and Economic Weekly], March 31, 1907.

39 Gyula Ugró, Újpest 1831–1930 [Újpest 1831–1930] (Budapest: Magyar Városok Monográfiája Kiadóhivatala, 1932), 350–51.

40 Ibid., 46–52.

41 Ibid., 351.

42 See János Sallai, “Újpest rendvédelmének története,” [The Law Enforcement History of Újpest], Újpesti Helytörténeti Értesítő [Újpest Local History Bulletin] 4 (2002), 13.

43 Ibid.

44 BFL, V.672.a. Újpest nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi gyűlések jegyzőkönyve [Documents from the Major Commune of Újpest, Minutes of the Representative Body Assemblies], vol. 5.

45 BFL, VI.1.b A M. Kir. Államrendőrség Budapesti Főkapitányságának általános iratai, Vegyes iratok [General and Miscellaneous Documents from the Budapest Police Department of the Hungarian Royal State Police], 9668/1886. Police detectives presumably began to focus more attention on Újpest following the 1884 arrest of a gang of counterfeiters in the town. See János Baksa, Rendőrségi almanach [Police Almanac] (Budapest: Stephaneum, 1923), 36.

46 BFL, VI.1.b A M. Kir. Államrendőrség Budapesti Főkapitányságának általános iratai, Vegyes iratok [General and Miscellaneous Documents from the Budapest Police Department of the Hungarian Royal State Police], 9668/1886.

47 Ibid.

48 Ibid.

49 BFL, V.672.a. Újpest nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi gyűlések jegyzőkönyve [Documents from the Major Commune of Újpest, Minutes of the Representative Body Assemblies], vol. 5.

50 Ibid.

51 Ibid.

52 Ibid.

53 “Az ujpesti betörő szövetkezet” [The Újpest Burglary Cooperative], Pesti Hírlap, December 12, 1888, 4–5.

54 Ibid.

55 BFL, V.672.a. Újpest nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi gyűlések jegyzőkönyve [Documents from the Major Commune of Újpest, Minutes of the Representative Body Assemblies], vol. 5.

56 Ibid.

57 A Budapest Fő- és Székvárosi Állami Rendőrség 1896. évi működése [The 1896 Operations of the Budapest State Police] (Budapest: 1897), 58.

58 “Államrendőrséget a főváros környékének” [State Police for the Budapest Area], Budapest Környéke, April 7, 1907.

59 A Rendőrség 1896. évi működése [The 1896 Operations of the Budapest State Police], 4–5.

60 Ibid.

61 “Közbiztonságunk“ [Our Public Safety], Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, August 14, 1898.

62 Erzsébetfalva, January 11, 1903.

63 According to the author of the letter, Soroksár’s advantage over Erzsébetfalva stemmed from the fact that “Soroksár goes in delegation, asks, begs, offers budgetary contributions and even goes so far as to propose a location, because it knows the difference between a police guard-post and a police headquarters.” Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, January 30, 1898.

64 Cf. Emil Bogyirka, Pesterzsébet története [The History of Pesterzsébet] (Budapest: Pesterzsébet Önkormányzata, 2000), 94.

65 Erzsébetfalva fell under the jurisdiction of the district magistrate’s office in the village of Ráckeve and the district court located in the village of Ócsa. Kispest-Szent-Lőrinczi Lapok, April 20, 1898.

66 BFL, V.371.a. Erzsébetfalva nagyközség iratai, Képviselőtestületi jegyzőkönyvek [Documents from the Major Commune of Erzsébetfalva, Minutes from the Municipal Council], vol. carton 1.

67 Ibid.

68 Ibid.

69 The cost of bringing five more gendarmes to Erzsébetfalva would have been only 2,000 krone annually, which reflects the preference of local officials for the Budapest police. Ibid.

70 “Az államrendőrség kiterjesztése Erzsébetfalvára” [The Expansion of the State Police to Erzsébetfalva], Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, July 9, 1911.

71 “Az államrendőrség” [The State Police], Erzsébetfalvai Közlöny, September 29, 1912.

72 This “move-on system” also characterized the operations of the English police. See Robert D. Storch, “The Policeman as Domestic Missionary: Urban Discipline and Popular Culture in Northern England, 1850–1880,” Journal of Social History 9, no. 2 (1976): 482.

73 Alexander von Hoffmann, “An Officer of the Neighborhood: a Boston Patrolman on the Beat in 1895,” Journal of Social History 26 (1992): 317. According to Christopher Thale, New York police officers objected to the introduction of a stationary sentinel posts, such as that used in Budapest: “When an experimental patrol system was tried in 1911, forcing many officers to remain riveted to a single spot in an intersection, patrolmen objected that talkative citizens had become impossible to escape.” Christopher Thale, “The Informal World of Police Patrol: New York City in the Early Twentieth Century,” Journal of Urban History 33, no. 2 (2007): 195.

74 Cf. Thale, “The Informal World of Police Patrol,” 203.

75 At 70 percent, immigrants constituted a similar proportion of the police personnel in the city of London. Gareth Stedman Jones, Outcast London: A Study in the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society (Oxford: Penguin Books, 1971), 131.

76 János Baksa, Rendőrségi almanach [Police Almanac], 53–4.

77 Eric H. Monkkonen, Police in Urban America, 1860–1920 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 147.

78 This study has not addressed another major disparity that Monkkonen’s book reveals regarding the social role of police in Budapest and those in the United States. Whereas the social activity of the police in the United States—such as searching for lost children and providing the homeless with temporary shelter—decreased in the late 1800s and early 1900s as a result of the institutionalization of urban social policy, that of police in Hungary increased during this period. Budapest police utilized mainly repressive measures, such as expulsion, until the beginning of the twentieth century, whereas they received a much greater social role, such as in the area of child-protection, pursuant to the supplementary criminal law approved in 1908. Monkkonen, Police in Urban America, 86–128.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Árpád Tóth

Social Strategies of the Lutheran Burghers of Pressburg, 1750–1850

 

This essay is intended to further an understanding of the early stage in the rise of the bourgeoisie in Hungary through a thorough examination of the Pressburg (in Hungarian Pozsony and today Bratislava) Lutheran parish, which was arguably one of the most urbanized and broad-minded communities in terms of social ambitions of the period. After an overview of the historiography of the burghers in the late phase of estate societies, the author describes the demographical and social settings in which the burghers were both able and compelled to make decisions concerning the futures of their children. In the second part the essay analyzes three families that proved especially talented in their endeavor to adapt to the changing circumstances with a diverse family strategy that included the attainment of the status of nobility, family links to the estate elite, academic schooling, emigration to more promising cities, and the creation of super-urban family networks.

 

While the emergence of the middle class in the modern era has long been a central topic in West European historiography, a number of factors have contributed in some way to the failure of the mainstream Hungarian historical profession to devote noteworthy attention to this social process. One of the chief causes lies in the fact that the middle class—here understood as the bourgeoisie of great industrialists in the tradition of the classical Marxist approach—never attained influence as great as that of their West European counterparts, since the landowning aristocracy retained social pre-eminence even in the so-called bourgeois period (1867–1945). By contrast, leadership of the political movement that aimed to demolish the feudal system and the legal bonds of the estate-based society was undertaken by the enlightened and nationalist élite of the middle ranks within the landowning nobility (from the 1830s onwards). Therefore, a consensus was formed that the main social force in the transformation of nineteenth-century Hungary consisted mainly of these well-educated, well-to-do and liberal gentry families rather than any social segment connected to the urban economy and modern entrepreneurship.

Another reason is that the historical interpretation long remained within a framework defined by the values of the traditional nationalist élite groups. Gyula Szekfű, the influential conservative historian of the interwar period who was greatly skeptical about the social transformation of the modern era, and later leading researchers in the Communist period agreed that the emerging modern bourgeoisie had no significant antecedents among native-born social elements.1 They assumed there was a sharp difference in terms of attitudes to business mentality, market competition and relations to the emerging state between the old burghers (alte Bürgertum) and the modern bourgeoisie. According to this view, the traditional freemen (master artisans and shopkeepers) of the free royal towns, and their guild organizations, generally preferred to seek protection from the local authorities and the national government when they faced competition from (pre-)capitalist rivals. Town authorities continued to represent guild interests and did their best to keep away potential danger caused by the immigrants pursuing an entrepreneurial style of business.2

This negative view of the old burghers has been challenged somewhat by recent research, particularly by a monograph on early- and mid-nineteenth century great merchants active in Pest (i.e., the greatest mercantile center) by Vera Bácskai.3 Combining statistical method and prosopographical analysis, Bácskai has proven that a significant and increasing proportion of wholesale merchants in the period of the Napoleonic Wars had their roots in Hungary—their percentage grew from 57 percent to some 75 percent during the first half of the century. In addition, one out of three was born or spent his childhood in Pest, whereas those coming from abroad did not exceed 20 percent. She has also refuted the notion that an overwhelming majority of the wholesale grain trade was continuously dominated by Jewish merchants, a thesis long held by mainstream historiography. Instead, the social origin of the most successful early entrepreneurs seems rather heterogeneous, with a number of domestic German Lutheran traders as well as ”Greek” (i.e., Orthodox originating from the Ottoman Empire), Roman Catholic and Calvinist wholesalers. In addition, analysis of their business careers and social aspirations has revealed that there was no remarkable difference among merchants of various origins in terms of the versatility and flexibility in their business strategies, their ambitions to join the élite of society and their decisions concerning their children’s future. Her experimental prosopographical analysis has uncovered that the emerging group of early Pest entrepreneurs was comparable to their Western counterparts in terms of their values and social practices. In addition, recent research has demonstrated the highly heterogeneous social background of the early voluntary societies in Pest, and this also underscores the relative strength and self-confidence of the burghers of Pest.4

The great merchants of Pest undoubtedly numbered among those burghers in early and mid-nineteenth-century Hungary most likely to be affected by modern attitudes to individualism as well as to actively shaping one’s own career. Yet, it is relevant to ask how widely and deeply these notions pervaded contemporary society. What was the social framework in which individuals could and did make their decisions concerning their own lives and those of their children? How large a choice did townsfolk have when they contemplated their sons’ futures? How acceptable was it, according to social norms of that time, to let their descendants break the tradition of family trades and have them study at a “higher level”? How far did their social environment tolerate the trespassing of social boundaries? How rigid was in this sense the old border between the estates (Stände) of freemen and noblemen (gentry) in the last decades before the legal dissolution of estate-based society in 1848? And how deeply rooted were other sorts of social divisions within urban society, such as belonging to religious denominations (cf. conflicts among Roman Catholics as the “established church” in Hungary, Protestants and Jews) or to ethnic groups? How acceptable was it, for instance, to marry a member of another religious or ethnic group or of a different estate? An analysis of these aspects of social divisions makes it possible to gain a deeper insight into the strategies behind family decisions concerning choices of schooling, vocations and social coalitions.5

My article examines the features typical of social strategies within the German Lutheran community of Pressburg.6 A medium-sized town situated along the Danube and the northwestern border of Hungary, Pressburg had long ago become a passage for immigrants arriving from the German Empire as well as a place where the latest cultural influences first reached Hungary. In the period of the Ottoman occupation it became the capital, and even after the liberation it remained the seat of the main governmental institutions until 1783. It became one of the first centers of the Reformation, and the Lutheran parish remained populous and influential even in the age of the Counter Reformation. In the eighteenth century it was undoubtedly the most urban Protestant congregation in Hungary, with a number of merchants, cattle traders, professionals and artisans with crafts supplying high-ranking demands. There is good reason, therefore, to assume that its leading and influential members had both a realistic vision of society and ambitions to maintain or improve their social status through conscious family strategies.7

It is not the aim of this article either to compare the case of the Pressburg burghers to other Lutheran communities in the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary or to put it into the wider context of the German Protestant world reaching as far as North America or the southern coast of Russia. An intensive case study of a rather specific social milieu, it does not imply that the German Lutheran urban population was in general such an enlightened, assertive and conscious social group.

 

Demographic Conditions

 

Among the conditions constituting the framework in which individuals can ponder various alternatives and make their decisions, I will illustrate only two: demographic circumstances and social hierarchy. There are others, such as economic structure and trends, the network of social institutions, or (individual) psychological motives, but we know too little about these components, and even less about the ways they could contribute to decision-making; limited space restricts our scope, as well.

What makes demographic conditions such a significant factor in our context is the fact that offspring had very limited chances of surviving infancy and reaching adulthood in this period. When planning family strategies (i.e., the ways of transmitting social status across generations), parents must have been aware that all their decisions were subject to the toll taken by various diseases affecting mainly the youngest.

Certainly, it is well known to present-day historians—just as the early-nineteenth-century European population must have been aware—how unfavorable the premodern demographic environment was for raising children. Yet there was considerable variation within this scale according to region, degree of urbanity, position on the social ladder and economic background. Whereas figures on infant mortality rates calculated for England around 1840 show a scale between 70 and 250 with an average of 166 (per thousand),8 among the Lutherans of Pressburg the situation was even worse. In the period between 1800 and 1830 the proportion of those not reaching the age of one year ranged between 30–36 percent and 22–30 percent, among male and female population respectively. The proportion of those dying at age 20 or older never exceeded 40 and 45 percent for the two sexes.9 If broken down by social groups (merchants, artisans and winemakers), our findings prove that the experience of losing young children in the Pressburg Lutheran community was widespread, if not equal, and we must presume that many burgher families faced permanent concern when trying to sort out descent. In order to gain a deeper insight into this demographic schema, I used statistical analysis as well as a method combining traditional family reconstitution with aspects of social history. I created a database consisting of 250 families to analyze the age at first marriage, the frequency of birth, the prevalence of remarriage after losing a spouse, the age of wives at the last birth, the frequency of infant and child mortality, as well as the number of descendants reaching adulthood and their later careers.

The pattern shown by my data is a general lack of family planning. Most women were 40–42 years old when they bore their youngest children, with very few exceptions (when they were either 44–45, or 30–35). There are some faint signs of a limitation in the number of children in three merchant families in the first decades of the nineteenth century, but even in these cases one cannot be sure whether it was the result of a conscious decision or more a consequence of illness. The usual interval of some 17–20 months between two births as well as the prevalence of remarriage among widows still in their procreative period all had a positive impact on the high rate of fertility. By contrast, the pattern of nuptiality could have an opposite influence on fertility since some 37 percent of women dying between 18 and 40 were single and the rate of unmarried women among those over 40 was nearly 9 percent. This in practical terms means that many women within the Lutheran community were excluded from reproduction. This impact was magnified by the custom whereby Pressburg Lutheran women married relatively late: their average age at their first marriage was 22–23 years. This figure counts as rather high in contemporary Hungarian comparison and is clearly closer to the West European system of marriage patterns than its eastern counterpart.10 All this means that demographic conditions in general enabled burgher couples to make decisions concerning the future of their children on a wide scale, but they had to keep in mind the constant threat that their offspring would not reach the age to marry or set up their own business.

 

Social Scale, Social Hierarchy

 

Once they had given birth to children, parents had to take into account the possible choices among various social positions of urban society. Although Pressburg was one of the biggest towns of Hungary, with a population growing from 28,485 in 1787 to 42,238 in 1850,11 the Lutheran community did not constitute a “complete urban society” of its period. What is most clearly missing, or at least strongly underrepresented, is the non-authorized artisans and all those making a living from casual industrial or commercial work. But even among the self-employed, a Lutheran had differing chances to establish himself in various jobs or guilds. Statistical analysis of the composition of those registered as freemen shows that while the proportion of Roman Catholic and Lutheran population was 70–75 and 25–30 percent respectively, the rate of the various vocations differed greatly for the two denominations. While in traditional crafts producing basic items of clothing (such as tailors, shoemakers, bootmakers) mostly Catholic masters were admitted into the guilds and thereby into the community of freemen, certain specialized trades (e.g., clockmakers) were represented mainly by Lutheran artisans. The custom whereby certain crafts (e.g., skinners, locksmiths and gingerbread bakers) were reserved for Protestants, whereas others (e.g., chimney sweeps, confectioners, coffeemakers and carpenters) were reserved chiefly for Catholics can only be explained by tradition and by the fact that the majority of the masters in these guilds continuously belonged to these religions. In almost all guilds there was a clear degree of bias in favor of one of the great denominations, although this distortion decreased over time. In addition, cattle traders and ironmongers were almost exclusively Lutherans, while other fields of commerce were more evenly represented within the two Christian denominations.

The most obvious disproportion can be found among winemakers. The vicinity of Pressburg has for centuries been a center for vine cultivation, and burghers of virtually every type had vineyards on the outskirts of town, with merchants owning the largest areas. These vineyards were worked either by wine-producing burghers who cultivated their own estates or non-burgher vine-growers (Hauer) who were employed by the landowners. Analysis of the burgher lists shows that some 16 percent of all newly admitted freemen (1802–1849) were winemakers, who made up the single most numerous vocation, but three out of four winemakers were Lutheran. In addition, the church record books of the German Lutheran parish indicate an even wider group of Hauer, many of whom would later become freemen but who were probably too poor to apply the title of burghers’ right at the time of their wedding. Altogether 30.5 percent of bridegrooms (first marriages only!) and 40.5 percent of parents were either burgher wine producers or Hauer between 1780 and 1848, and this high rate clearly indicates the weight of this type of income. Helpful for understanding the close relationship between vine cultivation and membership in the Lutheran Church in Pressburg is the structure of immigration: the bulk of these people came from an area extending south of the town with a number of Lutheran market towns and villages. Many families in this northern part of Moson County (Wieselburger Gespanschaft) issued several branches across generations as migrants settling in Pressburg.

Social mobility was rather uneven among various groups in the Lutheran community, however, and it was precisely wine producers who displayed the least sign of “social strategies” in terms of choosing a vocation for a son different from that of his father or brother(s). It is typical to find families with ancestors going back to the early eighteenth century in which the sources characterized all adult males as wine producers across 5-6 generations. In these cases the only deviation from the original social status occurred when certain branches of the family became carters (Landkutscher), obviously based on their knowledge of the vicinity around Pressburg. By contrast, there seem to be signs of a conscious diversification of crafts among one group of master artisans, e.g., families tied to the cattle trade tended to be engaged in running inns and working as butchers. This was true even of crafts utilizing various remains of the cattle slaughtered, such as soap makers, tanners or skinners. In addition, little is known about how diversely one earned one’s living. In the 1840s the local newspaper published advertisements of the Pressburg joiners in which they promoted their store with imported furniture.12 Contemporary tax lists show evidence that a number of shoemakers and bootmakers pursued their trades only half of the year, possibly dividing their time seasonally with the cultivation of the vineyard or field.13 On the whole, agriculture, craft and commerce were not nearly as separated from each other as the social status specified in the sources implies.

Planning social strategies did not end with the choice from among various artisan crafts and trades or the decision to abandon the family’s traditional source of income. In a period when the norms characteristic of estate-based societies were decreasing in force, even more choice may have seemed realistic when parents made decisions about their children’s futures. Although not a large-scale path to upward social mobility, ennoblement was a possible career for men of burgher origin, and this happened relatively often in larger towns. In the Pressburg Lutheran community a couple of merchants and cattle traders acquired the gentlemanly title from the ruler in the eighteenth and early nineteenth century, though Protestants remained the unfavored subjects of the realm for most of the period. However, a more frequent way of climbing higher on the social ladder, at least in terms of rank and prestige, was to attend higher schools.

 

Schooling

 

Established and run originally by church organizations, schools became increasingly important for the state during the period of enlightened absolutism in the Habsburg Empire since in the eighteenth century rulers began to see them as potential political devices through which subjects could be trained to be “useful to the state.” While the entire hierarchy of former Roman Catholic education was taken over by the government, the Protestants’ autonomy resulted in the schools of the Lutheran and Calvinist churches remaining independent of state regulation.14 In the case of the Lutheran school of Pressburg, it was the congregation that ran and financed its operation. After its reorganization by its director, Mathias Bél (1684–1749), a renowned scholar and polymath, in the 1710s the Lutheran gymnasium (later called lyceum) started to attract Lutheran youngsters from all over the country, in addition to a number of Calvinist young gentlemen, sons of priests and (from the 1790s onwards) Jewish boys.15 As was typical of Protestant schools in Hungary, all levels of education, from the basic skills of reading and writing in the mother tongue and rudimentary mathematics to advanced-level studies of theology and law, were organized in the same institution. This meant that the local population had a significant advantage in educating their sons since their children could participate in education as long as they wanted without having to pay for the extra costs of accommodation.

When describing Pressburg society in his Notitia, Bél had reproached the town’s burghers because “only few of them join the Muses, even though they are talented and born to cultivate better arts;”16 an analysis of the enrolling books of the school in fact reveals a remarkable degree of attendance by burgher sons. It is precisely the norms, practice and structure of society’s “use” of school that is closely examined by a relatively new branch of historiography in Hungary, the social history of education; this focuses on the demand side of schooling (i.e., the need for the various functions of education by the students and their families) rather than the supply side (state policy concerning the schooling system and individual institutions). The leading researcher in the field, Csaba Sasfi, has stressed that advanced-level schools had multiple functions, as the local population tended to send their sons there without the aim of completing all their classes.17 Primarily offering preparation for academic studies, secondary schools became a means for burghers to learn the social norms, lifestyle and behavioral patterns characteristic of the privileged estates of society.

This may explain why a significant number of Pressburg burgher families decided to participate in schooling at the secondary level also, even though its curriculum was based on the classical humanistic erudition, with Latin grammar as the core subject and including the study of ancient Roman poetry and rhetoric. A clear contrast could be seen between the strategies of those families proposing to spend only a few years in the school and of those registering in the academic classes with an eye towards gaining a profession and later pursuing a career as a honoratior (professional of non-noble origin), as priests, teachers, lawyers or officials. The latter type amounted to some 50 and more than 100 students in the Lutheran community, in the second half of the eighteenth and in the first half of the nineteenth century, respectively.

As for the former strategy, by the mid-eighteenth century it became usual for the families of merchants and the upper grades of artisans among the Pressburg Lutheran community to send at least one of their sons to these Latin classes of the gymnasium. In the subsequent period there seems to be a clear trend of spreading participation in secondary schooling in several respects: first, descending along the social hierarchy, since after the turn of century even a couple of sons of wine producers joined the merchant and artisan boys in the Latin grammar classes of the school. Figure 1 shows the distribution of all boys born in the two sample years of 1797 and 1829. It indicates that 32.3 and 35.7 percent of them died before the age of 10 in these two years respectively, while among the survivors a considerable percentage attended not only the primary classes of the gymnasium but also the secondary and academic classes (at least 17 and 22, respectively). These proportions appear even more remarkable if we take into account that the bulk of the rest either were from one of the neighboring settlements (which belonged to the Pressburg parish but probably did not use its school) or were sons of winemakers (who presumably attended one of the two other Pressburg Lutheran schools, which offered only primary-level instruction and were situated in the wine-producing outskirts).

 

Figure 1. Distribution of boys born in 1797 and 1829 according to the number of classes they attended in the Lutheran gymnasium

 

 

1797

1829

all girls

 

103

137

all boys

 

124

154

 

died

 

died 0–1

22

39

died 1–5

15

13

died 5–10

4

3

died 0–10

altogether

41

55

 

in school

 

Prim:2.

6

10

Prim:3.

8

8

Latin:1.

11

10

Latin:2.

6

4

Latin:3.

?

4

Acad.

?

4

in school

 

25

40

 

altogether 

52

59

from a neighboring settlement

 

17

25

father: winemaker

 

23

28

„rest”

 

12

6

 

Moreover, the number of brothers within the same family who went on to study in the Latin classes grew as the years progressed. Between 1780 and 1848 we know of at least 17 burgher families with three or more sons that sent all their surviving sons to the grammar class. Taking into consideration that plenty of these young men would later follow their father’s burgher vocation (such as merchant, baker, butcher or locksmith), one might judge such an education as unnecessary. This widespread custom of schooling was parodied by Mór Jókai in his autobiographical novel Mire megvénülünk (By the Time We Grow Old, 1863): in it a Pressburg master baker urges his son to study Latin, but when he flaunts his own knowledge, it soon turns out that his sentences are grammatically incorrect.18 Yet the strategy seems rational in its social historical context, since its function lies in the burghers’ prospects of decreasing their social distance from nobility.

 

Migration, Immigration, Emigration

 

One of the reiterated theses in the former historiography about the old burghers in Hungary was that their orientation and concerns typically stopped at the walls of their own town. Since most of their privileges were valid only locally, they had no interest in what happened beyond. According to this view, their aspirations to maintain the economic order were confined to the local market. However, the analysis of the Pressburg Lutheran burghers’ relation to their geographical space indicates a rather different picture. While the existence of a constant flow of migrants arriving and settling down in the town is unsurprising, the patterns of migration routes, the decision to leave Pressburg temporarily or permanently and the changes in these patterns throughout the period under scrutiny reveal that migration should rightly be considered a social strategy in this historical context.

Immigration patterns reflect the special situation of the town in terms of the spatially isolated distribution of Lutheran population. Figure 2 shows the proportions of various clusters of the Pressburg congregation according to place of origin and time. I distinguished: 1. Lutheran bridegrooms in all marriages registered in the church record books; 2. those admitted to the freemen of Pressburg; and 3. those elected to the respectable outer council of the town (to which 50 Lutheran members had to be co-opted in every local election). One conclusion drawn from the data is that there was a constant, massive, if somewhat waning, immigration from the German territories as compared to the Hungarian places of origin, and these “foreign” immigrants had a good chance not just to settle in but also fit into the local community. The main zone of emanation within the German Empire was the principalities of Bayreuth and Ansbach (incorporated into Bavaria during the Napoleonic Wars), the environs of Nuremberg and the area of the Vogtland and Southern Saxony: in other words, the Lutheran territories lying closest to Pressburg (even if the migrating distance exceeded 200-300 kilometers). The vocational distribution of these newcomers sheds light on the nature of this migration: the majority of those originating from Bayreuth were either butchers or born into such families and arrived from the direction of the cattle-driving route. By contrast, the most typical occupation of the Saxon and Silesian newcomers was cloth-making, and because this region was considered the pioneer territory of the textile industrial in Central Europe it seems reasonable to interpret this move as economic expansion. Scarce evidence for a chain migration of butcher and cloth-making families across generations from these directions strengthens this explanation. As for the immigrants from Hungary, the two most numerous groups are the winemakers from the vicinity of Pressburg and the long-distance migrants from the traditional Lutheran burgher areas (such as the mining towns of Schemnitz, Kremnitz and Neusohl in the central region of the Northern Highlands, as well as the merchant towns of the Zips area, including Leutschau and Käsmarkt).19 The latter group of immigrants included a number of merchants and higher-ranking artisans, probably with the intention of putting down roots in the capital, where economic potential looked better.

 

Figure 2. The proportions of various clusters of the Pressburg Lutheran parish according to place of origin

 

 

 

Born in Pressburg

other places in Hungary

hereditary
lands

German Empire

other

altogether

freemen’s son

rest

1768–1785

freemen

33.1

13.6

37.6

0.0

14.4

1.4

487

1787–1801

outer council

45.0

0.0

25.0

0.0

27.5

2.5

40

1790–1801

bridegrooms

43.8

21.0

18.4

1.0

15.2

0.6

315

1802–1815

 

 

bridegrooms

50.9

20.4

10.1

0.5

17.0

1.1

436

freemen

43.3

15.3

17.9

1.3

21.0

1.3

386

outer council

30.8

3.8

53.8

0.0

11.5

0.0

26

1816–1830

 

 

bridegrooms

42.9

17.6

14.3

1.3

21.7

2.1

608

freemen

50.6

4.8

16.1

3.6

22.9

2.1

336

outer council

46.4

0.0

35.7

0.0

17.9

0.0

28

1831–1849

 

 

bridegrooms

42.4

24.0

14.2

1.1

12.6

5.7

824

freemen

64.1

5.2

13.7

0.8

16.0

0.3

387

outer council

46.9

0.0

25.0

0.0

28.1

0.0

32

 

Yet, church record books also uncover cases of migration in the opposite direction, at least in certain towns.20 Kaschau (Kassa, Košice) seems a preferred destination in this respect, with a number of merchants leaving Pressburg in favor of establishing a business in this provincial capital of the Eastern part of Northern Hungary. Other major towns with Lutheran populations also experienced immigrants of Pressburg origin. The Patent of Tolerance of 1781, which made it possible to found Protestant congregations practically everywhere in the country if the community financed its operation, greatly widened the opportunities of Lutheran burghers to find subsistence outside their place of birth. An outstanding case was Pest, the rising mercantile center and future capital, where the size of the Lutheran Church reached 1,338 by 1831 and 3,457 by 1847,21 and where the most common place of origin among the newcomers was Pressburg.

It is not only the appearance of Pressburg-born burghers in other places that calls attention to this emigration. There seems to be a clear transformation in the social composition of the Pressburg Lutheran community, with a growing proportion of wine producers22 and a parallel decrease in the number of merchants and artisans. In addition, the number of the families with no male descendants living in Pressburg constantly increased in the early and mid-nineteenth century. Rather than explaining this tendency in a demographic context, it is reasonable to interpret it as a symptom of a social strategy, which in turn seems to reflect the weakening attraction of Pressburg within the urban hierarchy.

There are various patterns of emigration, however. One type is when families with a number of descendants aim to put down roots in major urban centers to create an interurban family network, such as in the case of the Spielmann family of ironmongers, who had merchant houses in Pressburg and Kaschau simultaneously.23 The cloth-making and cloth-trading Köttritsch family of Pressburg, who founded a branch in the nearby town of Tyrnau (Nagyszombat, Trnava) at the beginning of the nineteenth century, also exemplifies the structure. After the death of the head of family in Pressburg in 1821, his oldest son (who had previously settled down in Tyrnau) returned and took over the family business while his former place was taken over by another family member. In these cases spatial expansion may have resulted in constant communication and economic cooperation among the branches of the family. By contrast, there are a growing number of examples when establishing roots in a new place went hand in hand with leaving Pressburg for good. These cases probably reflect the fact that these burgher families assessed their economic chances rather pessimistically and saw little sense in staying. Dozens of leading or middle-ranking Lutheran families left Pressburg in the course of a few decades, and such an act seems to be convincing evidence of a pronounced willingness to take risks.

 

Social Strategies Examined at the Level of Families

 

In the previous section of the article I concentrated on the Lutheran parish of Pressburg and examined the burghers’ social horizons on the community level. Now I shall shift my focus to the family-level in order to show how the practice of social strategies worked in this seminal social unit. I take the cases of three burgher families to show the dimensions and scale of decisions as determinants of strategies in change. Obviously, this manner of depicting burghers’ strategies highly distorts and oversimplifies the complexity since it sheds light only on spectacular cases. Therefore, it is important to stress that the following analyses of a few highly mobile and conscious families should be contrasted with equal weight to the immobile and passive majority of Pressburg Lutheran townsfolk.

One of the most fabulous cases of constant and active adaptation to the changing social environment is the history of the Tekusch family. The man who founded this highly successful family was Johann Georg Tekusch (1702?–1748), a master furrier born in the mining town Schemnitz (Selmecbánya, Banská Štiavnica) who arrived and settled in Pressburg in 1725. At that time this move meant that he had left a provincial town to migrate to the emerging capital of the country. It should be added, however, that migration to a more favorable place was a tradition within his family, since his father, Mathias Tekusch, was also a newcomer – he himself had left the nearby mining town of Kremnitz in order to set up business in the center of the reviving gold mining in Hungary. The marriage of Johann Georg to the daughter of a leading butcher implies his respectable social status, which was reinforced by his election to the prestigious, if not influential, outer council of the town. When he died, his funeral was conducted according to the richest custom, usually reserved only for town elders, priests and the urban resident gentry.

In the history of his family, we can detect vocational diversification starting from his children’s generation. His eldest son, Georg Gottlieb (1737–1814), also became a furrier but married the daughter of a leading merchant in 1762. His younger twin brothers, Johann Georg (1744–1794) and Andreas Paul (1744–1825), were trained in the soapmaker and the furrier trades respectively. Their sister married a master furrier (born into the family of a soapmaker in a nearby town), so it may be concluded that they all married spouses of equal rank from the upper level of burgher society. Like his father, Georg Gottlieb became a member of outer council and Johann Georg’s election to a respectable civic office also reflected their prestige within the burgher community.

In the next generation we can observe three major changes. The spatial horizon of their social strategies widened greatly, as a fur-trader descendant (one of the younger Johann Georg’s sons) moved into England.24 Although we have no data referring to this branch of the family, the English painter Margaret Tekusch (1845–1899) may have been related to them.25 Another important target of expansion became Pest and Buda, as the emergence of two centers seems to have stimulated Georg Gottlieb Tekusch to send three of his sons to settle there. Wilhelm Christian (born in 1776) became first a freemen as a merchant in Buda (in 1806) but later moved to the opposite bank of the Danube to set up his trade, which included the tenancy of a major inn and the job of catering to the newly founded, gentry-based debating society (Nemzeti Casino). Of his two elder brothers, Johann Gottfried (born in 1770) put down roots as a furrier in Pest, where he was registered as the first Pressburg-born Protestant freeman and later became the treasurer of the Lutheran congregation, while Karl Valentin (born in 1772) founded a mercantile business.

It is striking that none of the seven male descendants of Georg Gottlieb pursued their traditional family business in Pressburg. The eldest son, Georg Gottlieb, Jr. (1763–1834), became a baker while his son and grandson, both also named Georg Gottliebs (1789–1833 and 1818–? respectively), were granted the title of freemen as master millers. It should be noted that commerce in grain became a highly profitable business in the mercantile towns along the Danube in the period of the French Wars, and the Tekusch may have participated in this trade. At the same time, the profitability of the furrier trade comparatively decreased as reflected in the tax sums imposed on the various artisan crafts.26 The baker Georg Gottlieb was elected to a significant civic office in charge of attending to the fortunes of the orphaned burgher offspring. However, it seems that the decline in the family’s fortunes started with his generation. Of his three children, only his son reached adulthood and after his wife’s death he did not remarry. All the marriages in this branch of the family that we have knowledge of from 1814 onwards were linked to recently immigrating baker families, a sharp contrast to the pattern of family relations in the mid-eighteenth century.

Among the other sons of Georg Gottlieb Tekusch, the eldest, Johann Samuel (born in 1768), became a freeman in Pressburg as a merchant in 1792, but he may have left the town since we have no further evidence for his life or death. Two other brothers left the social conditions of the burgher families. Johann Michael (1764–1813) attended even the highest classes of the Lutheran school and then continued his studies at the highly prestigious University of Göttingen, later becoming a professor of the Pressburg lyceum and finally (from 1803 on) the Lutheran priest of Brünn, the center of predominantly Roman Catholic Moravia. His social rank is well reflected in his marriage to the daughter of a central figure of the Pressburg Lutheran community, Gottfried Habermayer. His younger brother, Johann Ehrenreich (1778–1840), followed another path to social ascendance: he became a cavalry officer and died as a retired lieutenant colonel.

On the whole, the seven generations of the Tekusch family show an outstanding example of the burghers’ need to perceive and react to the changing circumstances around them. Moving to flourishing or promising towns, making decisions concerning their sons’ futures on a wide scale of burgher vocations and preferring also gentlemanly or professional careers all reflect a conscious contemplation of social aspirations and chances.

Although also a highly mobile family, the Birnstingels followed a completely different geographical route to Pressburg. The son of a bootmaker in Rust, a very small town on the Austrian border, the founder, Johann Georg Birnstingel (1746?–1831), took a considerably greater step than Jeohann Georg Tekusch when he decided to set up business in the capital. We have no data about his training and see only the result: he became a merchant trading in “Norimberg products,” that is, various sorts of highly sophisticated industrial goods such as musical, drawing and mathematical instruments. The young man of provincial origin first settled in the Schlossgrund in 1775, when he married the daughter of a local merchant, Johann Georg Rudolph. Through his marriage he entered a network of burghers with family ties to Ödenburg (Sopron) and Raab (Győr). His ancestors probably had their roots in this territory also, since there is evidence for a certain Lorenz Birnstingel (born in Rust) acquiring the freemen’s right in Ödenburg in 1633, and other Birnstingels also lived in this town up to the early eighteenth century pursuing the trades of butcher and bootmaker.27 However, scanty evidence makes it impossible to link them to the Pressburg merchant Johann Georg Birnstingel.

From the time of his settlement onwards, he spent a decade in the market town of Schlossgrund, where the local economy was heavily focused on the demands of the high-ranking inhabitants of the royal castle (converted in the 1760s into a modern royal residence for the governor of Hungary). Then, in 1785 Birnstingel moved to the free royal town of Pressburg, where he became an influential personality: he was elected to the outer council as early as 1789 and several merchant families asked him to be the godfather of their children. Unlike his contemporary Georg Gottlieb Tekusch, he may have found his own business lucrative enough not just to train their sons for this vocation but to make (at least a few of) them stay in Pressburg. Although his eldest son, Samuel Michael Birnstingel (born in 1777), left for Pest, where he became a dealer of Norimberg products (“Zur Stadt Nürnberg”) and a freeman (in 1809), later on, after his father’s retirement, he returned to Pressburg and took over the family business. First he was admitted, together with his brother Mathias Christoph (born in 1782), into the merchants’ guild in 1825, which might have indicated the reorganization of the family company into a joint business, though both became freemen only in January 1832, i.e., a few months after their father’s death. There is no evidence for Mathias Christoph’s status before this time and therefore one may guess he worked for his father’s business. Another brother, Johann Georg Birnstingel (born in 1780), set up his merchant house in Pest also at a relatively late age (in 1814), but he probably stayed there.

The decisions linking the Pressburg and Pest branches to each other imply that the elder Birnstingel sought to create a family network of traders in Norimberg products. Moreover, there were even more merchants among their relatives. In Pressburg, Johann Márkus (a burgher born in Rosenau and a son-in-law of the elder Johann Georg Birnstingel), belonged to this circle; he became an incorporated merchant in Pressburg in 1833 and also dealt in this type of goods. The two owners of a Pest haberdashery, a Pressburg-born merchant Karl Freyburg and his partner, Samuel Raitsch (originally from Raab), also married Birnstingel’s daughters. Given this wide network of merchants, it is surprising that we have no information for any Birnstingel interests in either town after the bankruptcy of the Pressburg firm in 1842. One can only assume that their business must have failed and, as a consequence, they either left these towns or changed their way of subsistence.

The short history of the Birnstingels showed further similarities to that of the Tekusch in terms of their orientation to non-burgher society. Unlike the first three sons of the founder of the Pressburg merchant house, his youngest son, Johann Karl (1786–1821), became an officer. Further research should uncover the reasons why he became a “retired lieutenant” at the time of his (early) death. His brother-in-law, the lawyer Gábor Nagy, represented another example of gentlemanly occupation within the Birnstingel family’s pattern of social diversification. Another dimension of leaving the traditional social position can be traced in marriages to non-Lutheran people: both Samuel Michael and Mathias Christoph married Catholic brides.

While both the Tekusch and the Birnstingel families decided to orient themselves towards Pest-Buda when they perceived the decline of Pressburg, another respectable Pressburg Lutheran family ignored the future Hungarian capital city in its strategies and preferred Vienna as their destination. The last family coming under closer scrutiny in this article is the Habermayer, who owed their financial and social success to the cattle trade. Although the first Habermayer settled in Pressburg only in 1762, by that time the family had become one of the largest cattle-oxen companies in the Moson region, through which the main route of cattle export to Vienna and the southern part of the German Empire led. In the first half of the eighteenth century a couple of marriages were contracted in Pressburg by sons or daughters of butchers called Habermayer living in Nickelsdorf, but the main branch of the family arrived in the town from Raab. It was in 1770 when the Empress Maria Theresa commissioned the Habermayer brothers of Raab to manage the beef supply of Vienna during a critical era caused by high meat prices.28 Although their venture went bankrupt as early as 1772, it is striking that a Lutheran burgher family of Hungary was chosen for this duty of such high importance by the Catholic court. By that time the Habermayers had already been ennobled (in 1760) by the queen, presumably a reflection of their wealth and social recognition.

The establishment of close relations in Pressburg seems to have been an important goal of the family. With his marriage in 1750 to the daughter of one of the most respectable Pressburg burghers (Mathias Pauer), the Raab cattle trader, Johann Adam Habermayer, became integrated to the Lutheran core of the town’s burgher society. Later two of his younger brothers would go further in putting down roots in Pressburg. Gottfried Habermayer (1730?–1812) set up his ironmonger firm in 1762 and in the same year he married the daughter of Thomas Teutsch, a merchant who formerly served both as the treasurer of the congregation and as an influential civic official in charge of managing the town’s treasury (chamberlain). Gottfried was soon elected to the outer council and later also became chamberlain – a position he seemingly “inherited” from his father-in-law. Marrying one of the granddaughters of Johann Georg Tekusch in 1764, his brother, Johann Andreas Habermayer, pursued the trade of his father and elder brother. The high esteem in which the two brothers were held by the Lutheran community is well reflected by the respectable list of town councilors, priests and prestigious burghers who assumed the role of best men at their weddings.

The head of the family, Gottfried Habermayer, may have had an ambitious vision of social ascendance when he made decisions concerning his children’ future. Among his ten male descendants (and sixteen children) all three surviving sons studied at the Lutheran gymnasium (in the second Latin class), after which two went on to learn the merchant’s trade while Johann Ferdinand (born in 1777) became an officer in the army. The eldest brother, Thomas Christoph (born in 1765), later settled in Wiener Neustadt, where he became an influential member of the Lutheran community – after the great fire that hit the town in 1835 he financed the rebuilding of the church. By contrast, the youngest brother, Franz (born in 1782), remained in Pressburg and became his father’s heir in 1813. The family firm had a wide and flexible variety of goods to trade in, as an 1840 source mentions him as a “great- and wine merchant (Groß- und Weinhändler).” The social status of his three sons-in-law also indicates a clear effort to diversify family relations: his first daughter married Professor Michael Tekusch, the second her own cousin, Mathias Habermayer, and the third a lawyer born in Raab. As for the next generation, the only son of Franz, Franz Gustav (born in 1818), became a junior accountant of the newly established Pressburg Savings Bank (1842). In the context of the growing institutionalization of credit accumulation his participation in the modern form of banking can be duly interpreted as a sign of flexibility.

A significant trend in the history of the Habermayer family is their tendency to find various ways of earning income as alternatives to the cattle trade and, from the late eighteenth century on, to give up entirely the traditional type of family business. This is well exemplified in the case of Johann Andreas Habermayer, who made his only son, Andreas Paul, a merchant dealing in grain (born in 1772 and incorporated into the Merchants’ Guild in 1803, that is, in the heyday of the commercial boom during the Napoleonic Wars), but since we have no further information about his activities he probably soon disappeared from Pressburg. In fact, Johann Andreas was the last member of the family who earned his living as a cattle trader.

In the last years of the eighteenth century, two additional Habermayers arrived and settled in the town. Johann Daniel (1764?–1812) and Mathias Habermayer (1764–1844) were sons of the abovementioned Raab cattle trader Johann Adam and must have been familiar with the town since they had attended its school for many years. In the first half of the nineteenth century this branch of the family played a major role in the Lutheran community.

The owner of the chemist’s shop on the main square of the town, Johann Daniel Habermayer became a freeman of Pressburg as an apothecary in 1789 and was elected to the outer council in 1801. He married the daughter of a Pressburg merchant, Johann Georg Jung, and it is precisely these vocations that appear in the next generation: Johann Daniel’s daughter became the wife of an immigrant apothecary (Michael Fiedler), while his son Stephan Karl (born in 1799) set up a mercantile firm in Vienna. His move from Pressburg must have been advised and supported by his uncle Mathias Habermayer, since Karl had become an orphan early on and Mathias was appointed as his guardian.

Mathias Habermayer was a leading figure within the Lutheran community. He was admitted into the Merchants’ Guild in 1795 and he married the daughter of Johann Adam Zechmeister (1729?–1803) that same year. Through his marriage he later inherited his father-in-law’s monopoly on commerce in the various kinds of ores exploited in the mines of the Northern Hungarian mountains. After his first wife died during childbirth, Mathias married his cousin (a daughter of Gottfried Habermayer). Of the four children born of this incestuous marriage, only one reached adulthood: Karl Rudolf, who completed his mercantile studies at the Polytechnic School in Vienna, then (in 1840) became his father’s partner and later his heir.

Mathias Habermayer’s firm had a changing profile. In the period of the French Wars he dealt mainly in grain but he would later widen the range of the goods he sold. According to the 1812 tax book he belonged to the top of the greatest taxpayers though the rate he had to pay was not outstanding. His prestige in the urban community can be measured if we take into consideration that he was elected into the outer council in 1812. This date immediately followed the death of Gottfried and Daniel Habermayer, the implied assumption being that he “inherited” his family’s place in this burgher body. He also held the position of the treasurer in the Transdanubian Lutheran superintendentia (the highest level of ecclesiastical organization, extending from Pressburg to the mining towns). His influence within the congregation is best indicated by the location and appearance of his tomb in the Lutheran cemetery: he was buried just in front of the entrance, together with the priests.

Unlike the Tekusch and the Birnstingel families, the Habermayers were held in high prestige by the Lutheran population for a remarkably long time – probably almost a century. The main factors explaining their success might be the flexibility in their social strategies, their high-ranking civic and ecclesiastical offices as well as their noble status. In addition, the various branches of the family seem to have moved frequently, and this enabled them to expand.

 

Summary

 

The historical image of the old burghers in Hungary in the late feudal period was long painted in gloomy colors since they were depicted as passive and narrow-minded participants in a period of incipient modern social transformation. A change in scale to micro-historical methods, a focus on social strategies and the use of a wide range of historical sources have resulted in a revision of this old interpretation. Analysis of the various social strategies revealed a widespread use of the local gymnasium by the upper ranks of the Lutheran community of Pressburg for fulfilling social aspirations, and the manifold directions of migration also testified to the conscious decisions of burgher families. In addition, the detailed study of various burgher families indicated a further method of showing the striking diversity of social strategies. On the basis of all these, it seems proper to state that this Protestant and fundamentally German community bore many similarities to the urban middle classes of the West European type in the nineteenth century. It is not my intention to overgeneralize this conclusion for any of the groups of early- and mid-nineteenth century Hungarian towns, however. An intensive case study into a specific urban community with various unique determinations, such an analysis cannot afford to overstate its results. Instead, it should contribute to a reformulation of questions and suggest new methods to be applied in other historical contexts.

 

Archival Sources

 

Archív Mesta Bratislavy [Bratislava City Archive]

Tax books (3.d.), 1812/13 (No. 185.) and 1845/46 (No. 188.)

Testaments (4. n.), vol. 16.

Lyceálna knižnica v Bratislave [Bratislava Lyceum Library], Matriculae studiorum (manuscripts).

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MNL OL) – [Hungarian National Archive] Microfilm copies of Church Record Books, X 7770 (records of the Pressburg German Lutheran Church).

Archivum Palatinale, Conscriptio regnicolaris art. VII. 1827. ordinata, Specialia, N.56.

 

Bibliography

 

Anderson, Michael. “The Social Implications of Demographic Change.” In The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750–1950, edited by F. M. L. Thompson, vol. 2, 1–71. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Bácskai, Vera. A vállalkozók előfutárai [The Forerunners of the Entrepreneurs]. Budapest: Magvető, 1989.

Bácskai, Vera. “A régi polgárságról” [On the Old Burghers]. In Zsombékok. Középosztályok és iskoláztatás Magyarországon [Tussocks. Middle Classes and Schooling in Hungary], edited by György Kövér, 15–37. Budapest: Századvég, 2006.

Bél, Mátyás. Hungariából Magyarország felé [From Hungaria towards Hungary]. Budapest: Szépirodalmi Kiadó, 1984.

Hajnal, John. “European Marriage Patterns in Perspective.” In Population in History. Essays in Historical Demography, edited by D. V. Glass and D. E. C. Eversley, 101–3. London: Edward Arnold, 1965.

Hanák, Péter. “Polgárosodás és asszimiláció Magyarországon a XIX. században” [Embourgeoisement and Assimilation in Hungary in the Nineteenth Century]. Történelmi Szemle 17, no. 3–4 (1974): 513–36.

Házi, Jenő. Soproni polgár családok 1535–1848 [Bourgeois Families in Sopron, 1535–1848]. Vol. 1. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982.

Ingrao, Charles W. The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618–1815. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Jókai, Mór. Mire megvénülünk [By the Time We Grow Old]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1963.

Levi, Giovanni. Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

N. Kiss, István. Bécs húsellátásának válsága (1770–1773). Marhaexport, politika és profit. [The Crisis of Beef Supply in Vienna (1770–1773). Cattle Export, Politics and Profit]. In: A Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum Közleményei [The Transactions of the Hungarian Museum of Agriculture]. Vol. 1975–1977, edited by Imre Takács, 397–418. Budapest: Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum, 1978.

Nagy, Lajos. “Budapest története 1790–1848” [The History of Budapest 1790–1848]. In Budapest története a török kiűzésétől a márciusi forradalomig [The History of Budapest from the Expulsion of the Turks to the March Revolution]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1975.

Sasfi, Csaba. “Az oktatás társadalomtörténeti megközelítése: négy dunántúli nemesifjú kiművelése a reformkorban” [The Social Historical Approach to Education: the Education of Four Noble Youths of Transdanubia in the Reform Era]. Korall 3–4 (2001): 20–51.

Sasfi, Csaba. “A felsőbb iskolázottság térhódítása a magyarországi késő rendi társadalomban” [The Spread of Higher Schooling in Late Estate Society in Hungary]. Történelmi Szemle 51, no. 2 (2008): 163–94.

Szekfű, Gyula. Három nemzedék és ami utána következik [Three Generations and What Comes Next]. Budapest: Királyi Magyar Egyetemi Nyomda, 1934.

Tóth, Árpád. Önszervező polgárok. A pesti egyesületek társadalomtörténete a reformkorban [Self-organizing Burghers. The Social History of the Associations of Pest in the Reform Era]. Budapest: L’Harmattan, 2005.

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Tóth, Árpád. Polgári stratégiák: Életutak, családi sorsok és társadalmi viszonyok Pozsonyban 1780 és 1848 között [Bourgeois Strategies: Life Paths, Family Fates and Social Conditions in Pressburg between 1780 and 1848]. Pozsony: Kalligram, 2009.

Tóth, Árpád. “Az evangélikus polgárság házassági piacának alakulása a Kelet-Felvidéken 1750 és 1850 között” [Trends in the Marriage Market of the Lutheran Burghers in the Eastern Highlands between 1750 and 1850]. In Piacok a társadalomban és a történelemben [Markets in Society and History], edited by Károly Halmos (forthcoming).

Vörös, Károly. “A magyarországi társadalom (1790–1848). A polgárság” [Hungarian Society (1790–1848). The Bourgeoisie]. In Magyarország története 1790–1848 [The History of Hungary, 1790–1848], edited by Gyula Mérei, 547–89. vol. 1 Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1980.

 

1 Gyula Szekfű, Három nemzedék és ami utána következik [Three Generations and What Comes Next] (Budapest: Királyi Magyar Egyetemi Nyomda, 1934), 67–8; Péter Hanák, “Polgárosodás és asszimiláció Magyarországon a XIX. században” [Embourgeoisement and Assimilation in Hungary in the Nineteenth Century], Történelmi Szemle 17, no. 3–4 (1974): 513–36; Károly Vörös, “A magyarországi társadalom (1790–1848). A polgárság” [Hungarian Society (1790–1848). The Bourgeoisie], in Magyarország története 1790–1848 [The History of Hungary, 1790–1848], ed. Gyula Mérei, vol. 1 (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1980), 547–89.

2 For the historiography of the topic: Vera Bácskai, “A régi polgárságról” [On the Old Burghers], in Zsombékok. Középosztályok és iskoláztatás Magyarországon [Tussocks. Middle Classes and Schooling in Hungary], ed. György Kövér (Budapest: Századvég, 2006), 15–37.

3 Vera Bácskai, A vállalkozók előfutárai [The Forerunners of the Entrepreneurs] (Budapest: Magvető, 1989).

4 Árpád Tóth, Önszervező polgárok. A pesti egyesületek társadalomtörténete a reformkorban [Self-organizing Burghers. The Social History of the Associations of Pest in the Reform Era] (Budapest: L’Harmattan, 2005). For an English summary: Árpád Tóth, “Voluntary Society in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Pest. Urbanisation and the Changing Distribution of Power,” in Who Ran the Cities? City Elites and Urban Power Structures in Europe and North America, 1700–2000, ed. Robert Beachy and Ralf Roth (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007), 161–77.

5 I use the term “strategy” following the definition of Giovanni Levi, as a “rationality ... actively engaged in transforming and utilising both the social and the natural world.” Giovanni Levi, Inheriting Power: The Story of an Exorcist (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), xv.

6 The town, now Bratislava, has had various names in history (Latin: Posonium, Hungarian: Pozsony) but I use the German one since this best fits my context.

7 I am grateful to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences for supporting my research with a János Bolyai Research Grant. The article is based largely on my book: Árpád Tóth, Polgári stratégiák: Életutak, családi sorsok és társadalmi viszonyok Pozsonyban 1780 és 1848 között [Bourgeois Strategies: Life Paths, Family Fates and Social Conditions in Pressburg between 1780 and 1848] (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2009).

8 Michael Anderson, “The Social Implications of Demographic Change,” in The Cambridge Social History of Britain, 1750–1950, ed. F. M. L. Thompson, vol. 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 16–7.

9 Tóth, Polgári stratégiák, 201–2. Sources: Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MNL OL) [Hungarian National Archive] Microfilm copies of Church Record Books, X 7770 (records of the Pressburg German Lutheran Church). The rates are calculated for ten-year periods.

10 John Hajnal, “European Marriage Patterns in Perspective,” in Population in History. Essays in Historical Demography, ed. D. V. Glass and D. E. C. Eversley (London: Edward Arnold, 1965), 101–43.

11 Although both figures come from census data, it is problematic to compare them since the territory of the town changed just before 1850 due to the incorporation of a neighboring market town (königlicher Schlossgrund, Podhradie).

12 Intelligenzblatt für Ungarn, February 13, 1821, 161.

13 MNL OL, Archivum Palatinale, Conscriptio regnicolaris art. VII. 1827. ordinata, Specialia, N.56; Archív Mesta Bratislavy [Bratislava City Archive], Tax books (3.d.), 1812/13 (No. 185.) and 1845/46 (No. 188.).

14 Charles W. Ingrao, The Habsburg Monarchy, 1618–1815 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), 188–91.

15 Lyceálna knižnica v Bratislave, Matriculae studiorum (manuscripts).

16 Mátyás Bél, Hungariából Magyarország felé [From Hungaria towards Hungary] (Budapest: Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1984), 245.

17 Csaba Sasfi, “Az oktatás társadalomtörténeti megközelítése: négy dunántúli nemesifjú kiművelése a reformkorban” [The Social Historical Approach to Education: the Education of Four Noble Youths of Transdanubia in the Reform Era], Korall no. 3–4 (2001): 28–31; Ibid., “A felsőbb iskolázottság térhódítása a magyarországi késő rendi társadalomban” [The Spread of Higher Schooling in Late Estate Society in Hungary], Történelmi Szemle 51, no. 2 (2008): 163–94.

18 Mór Jókai, Mire megvénülünk (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1963), 40–1.

19 Banská Štiavnica, Kremnica, Banská Bystrica, Levoča and Kežmarok respectively.

20 Árpád Tóth, “Az evangélikus polgárság házassági piacának alakulása a Kelet-Felvidéken 1750 és 1850 között” [Trends in the Marriage Market of the Lutheran Burghers in the Eastern Highlands between 1750 and 1850], in Piacok a társadalomban és a történelemben [Markets in Society and History], ed. Károly Halmos (forthcoming).

21 Lajos Nagy, “Budapest története 1790–1848” [The History of Budapest 1790–1848], in Budapest története a török kiűzésétől a márciusi forradalomig [The History of Budapest from the Expulsion of the Turks to the March Revolution], ed. Domokos Kosáry (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1975), 397.

22 The proportion of wine producers among the fathers of baptized children: 9.5 percent in 1763–65, 14.3 percent in 1783–85, 28.8 percent in 1803–1805, 31 percent in 1823–1825, and 33.8 percent in 1843–45.

23 A son of an ironmonger from Pressburg, Joseph Samuel Spielmann married and set up his own trade as a merchant in Kaschau in 1824 while his elder brother Karl Gottlieb remained in his native town and took over his father’s business after his death. https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1942-22646-13273-59?cc=1554443&wc=M9MJ-V3Y:663924448, accessed December 17, 2012.

24 The testament written by the unmarried Rosina Tekusch (1770–1836) alludes to her brother Samuel “denmalen zu Neugatte Strud in England wohnhaft.” Archív Mesta Bratislavy, Testaments (4. n.), vol. 16.

25 See her painting Hearts are Trumps, a copy of the original painted by Sir John Everett Millais, http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4524420, accessed December 17, 2012.

26 Furriers belonged to the medium cluster within artisans in 1812. While 19 furriers worked in Pressburg in this year, their number fell to 3 by 1846.

27 Jenő Házi, Soproni polgár családok 1535–1848 [Burgher Families in Sopron, 1535–1848], vol. 1 (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982), 125.

28 István N. Kiss, Bécs húsellátásának válsága (1770–1773). Marhaexport, politika és profit. [The Crisis of Beef Supply in Vienna (1770–1773). Cattle Export, Politics and Profit], in: A Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum Közleményei [The Transactions of the Hungarian Museum of Agriculture], vol. 1975–1977. ed. Imre Takács, (Budapest: Magyar Mezőgazdasági Múzeum, 1978), 397–418.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Gábor Czoch

The Transformation of Urban Space in the First Half of the Nineteenth Century in Hungary and in the City of Kassa

 

The two most important changes in the urban spaces of the walled cities of Hungary in the period between the end of the eighteenth century and the middle of the nineteenth were the growth of the outer cities and the demolition of the city walls. This essay examines the consequences of these changes from the perspective of the social and political consequences of the shifts that took place in the concept of the city and the borders of the urban space, considering a specific case on the one hand, the city of Kassa (or Košice), and national tendencies on the other. The physical growth of the city and the gradual urbanization of the outer cities not only led to changes in the prevailing understanding of the “city” (which earlier had been identified as the area within the city walls), but made increasingly inevitable the creation, in a space that had been fragmented by the various privileges enjoyed by some of its inhabitants, of a legally unified city, as well as the incorporation of the outer cities, which had varying statuses, into the jurisdiction of the municipality. This, however, conflicted with the prevailing system of noble privileges, and the situation went unresolved until 1848, when the revolution made possible the transformation of the political structure of the entire country.

 

This essay examines the problems that arose with the transformation of urban spaces inherited from earlier centuries, urban spaces which were once clearly demarcated by city walls, but which with the passage of time became increasingly amorphous and fluid. The focus of analysis is Kassa (in Slovakian: Košice, its German name is Kaschau), a city lying on the banks of the Hernád River, where the northeastern range of the Carpathian mountains meets the lowlands, the region known in Hungarian as the Alföld. Today Kassa is the second largest city of the Slovak Republic. Throughout the period under discussion, it was a real multiethnic city, mostly with German, Hungarian and Slovakian speaking inhabitants. The growth of the city, which was founded in the second half of the thirteenth century by settlers (for the most part German speakers – hospes), was influenced in part by its advantageous geographical location, but also to a significant extent by the fact that it fell on an important trade route that crossed the Carpathians, linking the Kingdom of Hungary with Poland, Silesia, and the city of Krakow. Kassa profited considerably from trade with territories in Poland, in particular the trade in wines made from the vineyards in the nearby region of Tokaj.

During the period under examination, in other words from the end of the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth, Kassa was the regional center of the northeastern territories of the Hungarian Kingdom. (Figure 1). In its role as a regional center it was one of the most important cities in Hungary, though from the perspective of its population it was only a medium-sized city in comparison with other settlements in Hungary, and was small in comparison with urban centers in the rest of Europe. According to the census taken under Joseph II in 1784 its population numbered only 7,590. According to the census carried out by the city itself in 1847, this number had grown to 14,959. The census taken in 1850 by the Austrian authorities indicates a decline in the population to 13,034. It is worth noting, however, that contemporaries did not consider this census reliable. According to the census taken in 1857, which was taken in part as corrective measure for the previous one, the population of the city was 16,417.1 In the case of Kassa, indices of population growth fall far behind similar indicators for the most rapidly growing cities in Hungary, which were found primarily in the lowland grain-producing regions, not to mention the city of Pest, which at that time was becoming the capital of the country and bore witness to an almost fivefold growth in its population.2

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Figure 1. Commercial centers in Hungary, c. 1828

 

As the above-cited indices of demographic change demonstrate, the various transformations in the structures of urban space did not take place suddenly in the city of Kassa, nor were the consequences they brought abrupt. As an explanation of the relevance of the city from the perspective of a discussion of urban change, however, one could borrow from the reasoning of Jean-Claude Perrot. In Perrot’s study (now regarded as a classic) of the development of the city of Caen in the eighteenth century, a medium sized regional center in comparison with other cities in France at the time, Perrot sought to capture the birth of a modern city. He justified his choice of Caen as the subject of his inquiry with the argument that in Caen the elements of the process under scrutiny appeared in a kind of “rural hibernation,” and so in his view individual aspects of the changes in question were particularly accessible to analysis.3

The processes of urbanization took place at varying paces in the countries and regions of Europe, and indeed in some cases the rate of change varied even on the level of different settlements. These processes differed not simply in their chronology, but also in the consequences they bore.4 Not surprisingly, in the case of individual cities local and regional peculiarities and the features of the narrow political, social and cultural context played prominent roles, but in addition to these characteristics there were also numerous common elements and trends the explanation for which lies in the similarities in the character and nature of the challenges brought about by urbanization. Whether an examination presents rather the differences or the similarities, the individual and distinctive or the general and shared characteristics depends to a great extent on the level of the analysis one adopts in the course of one’s research. In this essay I examine the transformation of the structures of urban space (the growth of city outskirts, the demolition of city walls, and the consequences these changes had for urban life), on several levels. Thus I endeavor to situate the various changes that took place in the city of Kassa in the larger national context. Of the many questions that arise, I analyze the shift that occurred in the understanding and representation of urban space, as well as some of the social and political implications of the transformation of this space.

Fig 2 CzochG orig1 térk fmt

Figure 2. Anton Svajcer’s map and sketch of Kassa from the 1780s.
Source: Hungarian National Archives, Maps Collection,
Cameralistic Maps S section–Arcanum Database

 

Shifts in the Understanding of the Concept of the City, as Reflected in Maps and Written Accounts

 

Of the old depictions of the city of Kassa, unquestionably one of the most beautiful is the one done by engineer Anton Svajcer. It was included, no doubt in part because of its fine execution, in Magyarország régi térképeken [Hungary on old Maps], an album intended to offer a representative sample (Figure 2).5 The editors of the album date the map to roughly 1780, though they note that we know nothing regarding the person who commissioned the map and little regarding its actual execution or the motives for its creation. Nor do we know much of the life of Anton Svajcer. The depiction consists of two parts. In the larger, more dominant section of the portrayal one sees the ground-plan for the fortified city, including the ramparts, the ring of multiple walls and bastions, the lines of the streets, and the long main street that runs north-south and broadens towards the southern end, serving also as the main square and giving the city its distinctive shape. The marketplace was here, as were (and are today) two of the most extraordinary examples of gothic architecture in Hungary, the Cathedral of Saint Elizabeth and the Chapel of Saint Michael (which predates the cathedral), not to mention the coffeehouse, the covered market, and the pillory. This broadened section of the main street was in fact a small island in the middle of the city between two branches of the Csermely stream, which ran north-south through the city. Using letters that corresponded to a list on the side of the drawing, Svajcer designated the parts of the city that he considered the most important (indicating first and foremost the four quarters of the city, an administrative division of the urban space that had existed since the Middle Ages) and the public buildings. Naturally he made mention of the two old gates to the city, one on the northern end, the other on the southern, and the newer third gate, a side-door to the southwest that had been named after Joseph II on the occasion of his visit to the city.6

The smaller section of the depiction, which almost resembles an offhand addition, is comprised of a sketch of the city beneath the map. Bearing the title Prospectus Civitatis Cassoviensis versus Occidenterri, it depicts the city from the west. In the foreground one can see the line of a meandering street bordered by trees and in the distance the tall ramparts and the strong walls and bastions. Beyond this, one sees only the upper sections of the city houses and rooftops crowded together in rows, as well as seven buildings that rise above the city walls. Svajcer lists these separately: six churches and the Rubra Turris, in other words the tower next to the cathedral, which served both as a bell tower and a fire lookout tower.

From the perspective of the questions raised here, Svajcer’s map and his depiction of the city is important for what it fails to show. At the time at which the map was presumably being done, the city of Kassa already had three outlying districts the population of which, according to the census taken in 1788 (Conscriptio Animarum), was only a few-hundred short of the population of the inner city (meaning inside the city walls). The population of the outer city numbered 3,520, compared to 3,917 people living within the city walls.7 On the map-section of a survey (1764–1787) prepared with the intention of laying the groundwork for a precise military map of the Habsburg Empire and taken about the region of Kassa at roughly the same time that Svajcer’s map was being done (1782–1785), the outlying districts of the city can be clearly seen on the northern and southern sides of the city, around the two old gates, and along the western city walls (Figure 3). The Hernád River forms the eastern border of the city, thus limiting the further growth of the outlying districts. The depiction also shows that at the end of the eighteenth century the city walls and the outlying districts were not quite adjacent. There was a broad, empty strip of land between them. The cartographer Svajcer did a sketch of the city from the perspective of an imaginary observer who is standing somewhere in the middle of this strip of land, between the city walls and the buildings of the western outlying districts, with his back to the outer city.

Fig 3 CzochG orig2 tér opt

Figure 3. Kassa on the basis of the map-section of the first military survey (1782–1785).
Source: Maps Collection of the Ministry of Defense Museum and Institute of Military
History–Arcanum Database. Papers of the First and Second Military Surveys of Abaúj County

 

The figure for the population of the city of Kassa in the census taken in 1784 by the order of Joseph II includes the population of the outlying districts, as does the series of annual surveys that were taken by the city council as of 1788. There was a practical explanation for the decision to include the parts of the city lying beyond the city walls, since the outlying districts were under the direct administration of the city council. (This was not true in the case of every city, and I will return to this later.) The sovereign sought not simply to have a survey taken of the entire population of the country according to settlement, but also to have a registry assembled of all the men fit for military service, though of course the census was also intended to determine questions of taxation. Joseph II also wanted to compel the local administrative bodies to keep continuous records of demographic data concerning the people under their jurisdiction.8 The council used the local censuses for their own purposes, such as the assessment of taxes. The city administration collected taxes from the population of the outer city, so from the perspective of jurisdiction, political belonging, and taxation, the city of Kassa included the outlying districts.

Regarding the depiction of the city on Svajcer’s map, since we know nothing about the reasons for which the map was created, one can venture little more than hypotheses. As noted above, in his portrayal of the city the dominant features of the urban space are depicted the most prominently, first and foremost the city walls with the bastions and the gates, the main square and main street with the attached side streets, the churches, the towers, and the houses crowded against one another. Together these elements of urban space form the profile of a settlement that essentially corresponds to the concept of an urban municipality familiar from earlier times all over Europe, a concept of which one can read in Tripartitum, a summary of medieval legal customs in Hungary by the humanist legal scholar István Werbőczy. According to Werbőczy, “The city is a multitude of houses and streets, surrounded by the necessary walls and fortifications, that possesses the qualities conducive to good and upright living.”9 It is worth emphasizing, from the perspective of the discussion here, that while this book was never elevated to the status of law in the Hungarian Kingdom, after its publication in 1517 it nonetheless served as a fundamental reference work for three centuries, and therefore continued to be held in considerable esteem at the time the map was made. Thus it is also quite possible that Svajcer—assuming his task was to depict the city of Kassa—never even considered including the outer city, since according to the definition of the city given in the Tripartitum, the outlying districts did not constitute part of the city proper.

Based on the available sources, it is difficult to offer much in the way of substantiation for the hypotheses above regarding Svajcer’s intentions. However, other sources concerning the city of Kassa do offer confirmation of details considerably more important from the perspective of the questions at hand here. Svajcer’s depiction suggests a conception of the city that was shared by many of his contemporaries. In other words, at the end of the eighteenth century the “city” was still considered commonly to mean the parts of a settlement lying within the city walls. This is clearly illustrated by a 1789 description of the city by Ferenc Kazinczy, one of the most influential writers of the time, not to mention an entry on Kassa by scholar and statistician András Vályi that was included in a description of Hungary published in 1796. The two authors, both of whom knew the city well, draw a clear distinction between the outer city and the intra muros, and both consider the latter to be the city proper.10 Some of the provisions of the 1798 city statute also indicate the prevalence of this conception of the city. One could cite several relevant examples: “a burgher who owns a house here in the city and outside in the Hóstát [a term that referred to the area beyond the walls of the historical city center].”11 Or with regards to the provisions concerning fire safety: “Here in the city and outside in the Hóstát in each house or at least in every third house […] there will be ladders and pots filled with water.”

Decades later, one continues to find references to the city proper as the area surrounded by the city walls, for instance, the 1837 description of Kassa by Elek Fényes, who is considered the father of the science of statistics in Hungary. Regarding Kassa he writes, “The city itself, which was strongly fortified long ago, is small, as its length is no more than 380 fathoms, and its breadth at the widest point is no more than 330.”12

In texts dating from the 1840s, however, the earlier dichotomie of the terms “city” versus “outer city” (in Hungarian város and külváros) are increasingly replaced by the terms “inner city” versus “outer city” (belváros and külváros). This change in terminology can be regarded as a sign that what had at one time been considered the outer city was no longer seen as a separate entity, but rather had come to be regarded as a constituent part of the urban community. It is worth noting that the Hungarian word “belváros” [“inner city”] was a product of this era. According to the dictionary of the words that were created as part of the movement to modernize the Hungarian language, the first, deliberate use of the word can be found in a text on Vienna that dates from roughly the end of the 1780s.13 With regards to Kassa, in the indexes of the records of the meetings of the city council the designation “belváros” first appears as a separate heading in 1845, though it can also be found in some of the decisions of the council dating from 1844.14 In descriptions I know of the city it was first used by the Kassa-born Imre Henszlmann, the founding father of the art history in Hungary, in an 1846 article written for the periodical Magyar Föld és Népei [Hungarian Lands and its Peoples]:

Between the exterior entrenchments that once stood and the city outskirts on the northern, western, and southern sides there is a large, wide slope (Galcis) around which the outer parts of the city, as in the case of Vienna, extend in a three-quarter circle along the inner city, because on the fourth side, the eastern side, there is nothing resembling an outlying city, but rather only a few mills, gardens, and a bath near a millstream.15

In the series of censuses Conscriptio Animarum which were taken by the administrative territorial division of the urban territory the term “belváros” appeared in 1847, though it refers not simply to the four traditional quarters of the city surrounded by the earlier walls, but also to the parts that were built either at the base of the walls or where they had stood.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, parallel with the increasing use of the term “belváros,” the meanings of the terms “inside” and “outside” the city also changed. At the end of the eighteenth century they had been used unambiguously to refer to areas either inside or, respectively, outside the city walls. However, in an article on Kassa published anonymously in a periodical in January 1848 one reads the following: “The territory of the city stands thusly, according to sections. The inner territory of the city is 500 hold [a term used to measure land], the vineyards are 540 hold, the meadowlands 23,000, cabbage gardens 200, and arable land 7,000. The forests only on the border of the city are 10,000 hold; rivers, ditches, streams, crags, gullies, roads and other unusable areas are 5,700 hold.”16 Thus the author, who on the basis of this detailed description must have known the city well, clearly considered the outlying parts of the city constituent as inner parts of the city proper and regarded only the cultivated lands surrounding Kassa, which belonged to the city, as lying beyond its borders.

 

The Demolition of the City Walls

 

The shift in the meaning of the notion of urban space discernible in the sources mentioned above was related fundamentally to the accelerating growth of the outer city and the increasingly tight fusion of the outer city with the intra muros. The gradual demolition of the city walls, a process illustrated by contemporary maps and depictions, shows this process quite clearly from another point of view. In addition to the military map made at the beginnings of the 1780s (drawn just in the same time as Svajcer’s map), a second military map dating from 1806 also clearly depicts the fortifications of the city (Figures 3 and 4). The map depicting the city as it looked in 1830 and another done in 1856, however, show the disappearance of the major parts of the city walls (Figures 5 and 6). The maps also clearly show the growth of the outer city.

Fig 4 CzochG orig3 tér opt

Figure 4. Kassa on the basis of the map-section of the second military survey (1819).
Source: Maps Collection of the Ministry of Defense Museum and Institute of Military History–Arcanum Database. Papers of the First and Second Military Surveys of Abaúj County

 

Two nineteenth century chroniclers, one who wrote in German, the other in Hungarian, also make mention of the demolition of the city walls, Johannes Plath in 1860 and József Tutkó in 1861. On the basis of their descriptions, the demolition of the walls took place roughly as follows.17 According to Tutkó, in 1706 the prince Ferenc Rákóczi II, who led an uprising against the Habsburgs, ordered the fortification of the city, which sided with him against Vienna. “[O]n the basis of the plans of French engineers, [Rákóczi] had the outermost entrenchments surrounding the city erected, the better part of which were still standing in the third decade of the nineteenth century.” In Plath’s account one reads the following: “until 1827 the hillocks around the city walls and the ramparts enticed the inhabitants of the city to take pleasant strolls, and also provided a place for the mirthful youth to play ball games and fly kites.”

According to the Hungarian chronicle, in 1802 the people of Kassa requested permission from the chancellery of the Hungarian royal court for the construction of a new gate, in addition to the existing city gates. The so-called “mill gate” was completed in 1805. The chronicler also notes that in 1803 at the site of the lower gate “the last remains of the castle that had once stood were also hauled away and a straight road through the gate was being built.” According to Plath, “the side city gates, as the Joseph and Mill gates were demolished” in 1827. He wrote that also in 1830 “the lower city gate was completely demolished and the main street was lengthened, creating a beautiful view from the cathedral of the road leading to Pest and Eperjes.” (Eperjes is today the city of Prešov in Slovakia, which lies some 30 kilometers to the north of Kassa.) The Hungarian chronicle dates the next step in the demolition of the city walls to 1840, when the process of removing the entrenchments surrounding the city on its western side and leveling the ground was begun. In his aforementioned 1846 description of Kassa, which gives a sense of the city before the upheavals of the 1848 revolution, Imre Henszlmann writes:

Fig 5 CzochG orig4 tér fmt

Figure 5. Joseph Ott’s map of Kassa, from roughly 1830.
Source:  “Plan der königl. Freistadt Kaschau” (Joseph Ott).
Hungarian National Archives, Maps Collection S 11. no 490: 2 – Arcanum Database

 

The center of the city is elliptical, a shape given by the one-time fortifications that surrounded the inner city. These fortifications consisted of double stone walls and entrenchments that were filled with the waters of the Csermely stream. Over the past several years the entrenchments have been filled and gardens have been built on them. The walls have been partly demolished. The entrenchments now only remain in the northern part of the city, the walls however still stand in other areas as well. The southern side has been completely leveled. And the gates too, having long lost their function as fortifications, have recently been completely torn down.18

Jean-Luc Pinol and François Walter date the largest wave in the process of the demolition of city walls in Europe to the period between 1790 and 1825.19 In the case of the city of Kassa, however, the process began only at this time, as the requests for the construction of new gates and the reconstruction and enlargement of the existing gates indicate. The more rapid demolition of the walls occurred in the 1830s and lasted into the 1840s and indeed even later. By the middle of the nineteenth century, however, the better part of the fortifications separating the outer city and the inner city had been demolished.

Fig 6 CzochG orig5 tér opt

Figure 6. Kassa in 1856. Source: Hungarian National Archives, Maps Collection S 12. Div. X. No. 29.

 

New Construction in the Area of the Entrenchments and the Promenade

 

The German chronicler’s above-cited comment, which makes reference to denizens of the city strolling and playing around the fortifications (which had lost their military significance), suggests that the people of Kassa took possession of the area spontaneously. However, the leaders of the city sought to address the question of how to use this area within a larger framework of urban planning. The inscription on the map dating from roughly 1830 illustrates this clearly: “Plätze zu projektirten Gebäude” [sites for the projected buildings] (Figure 5). According to all signs, however, the plans progressed only slowly at best, and oftentimes the aims and intentions of the city planners came into conflict with the unplanned use of the area by the people of the city. There are few detailed sources on this, however, little more than a handful of notes of cases that were heard at sittings of the city council. The decisions of the council suggest that the leaders of the city had two ideas regarding how to put the area of the ramparts, which they had resolved to demolish, to practical use. They first measured out plots of land for residents of the city who were interested in acquiring lots and later entertained the idea of creating a promenade.

Inhabitants of the city who were interested in acquiring land in the area of the ramparts were able to take possession of a lot in accordance with the conditions accepted by the Hungarian Royal Chamber (Magyar Udvari Kamara) (4594/1843).20 References in available sources suggest that one could come into possession of a lot free of charge, or at least with tax exemptions stretching over several years. At the same time, the owner had to accept responsibility for the considerable labor of leveling and evening the ground. Many of the people of the city who accepted this task, however, postponed the work for a long time, as noted by a city engineer in the course of a survey of the city taken in August 1843. In his report he refers to a resolution of 1833, which apparently stipulated the responsibilities of the owner, but in vain. Thus earlier the leaders of the city had not concerned themselves much with the matter. The Hungarian chronicle indicates that on the western side of the city the demolition and removal of the ramparts began to take place at a more rapid pace in 1840, at which time the idea of creating a promenade increasingly came to the fore. As of 1843 the city council began to issue increasingly numerous resolutions regarding the use of the area of the ramparts, and in May 1844 the leaders of the city again considered the cases of lot owners who had neglected to meet their obligations. The council issued a warning to the property owners and gave them another year to complete the work (2615/1844).

A case that was discussed in July 1845 offers a clear illustration of the prevailing circumstances and the various problems that arose. The question of the territory of the ramparts created two significant problems. The first of these was the task of leveling the ground, the second of drying it out, in other words draining it. The council therefore ordered drainage ditches to be dug, a task for which it also made use of the villeins of the surrounding villages, who belonged to the lords of the city. During the course of the work that had been ordered by the city council damage was done to the vegetable garden of one of the lot owners. The owner lodged a complaint and requested compensation from the council (4316/1845). The council considered the case and determined that the lot in question had come into the possession of its previous owner at auction. As one of the conditions of the sale of the property, the council stipulated that the owner level the “swampy lot” and build the necessary drainage ditch with stone arches, in precise accordance with the instructions of the city engineer, and that the owner also keep it in a state of permanent repair. With the passing of time, however, these conditions and obligations were gradually forgotten, in part because of changes in ownership but also simply because the council earlier had failed to enforce them in the first place. Given the circumstances, the council rejected the request for compensation, explaining its decision with the contention that the obligations of the owner did not change simply because of a change in ownership. The new owner, however, could not have known much of this. The report indicates that he had driven the workers who had gathered by the order of the city leaders from his lot, and indeed his wife too had helped. Thus they not only hampered the construction of proper drainage, but also caused an affront to the council. The husband and wife therefore not only were ordered to tend to the tasks the completion of which they had hindered, but also to appear before the council at its next sitting, where they were personally reprimanded.

A case from three years later offers an illustrative example of how the city leaders faced considerable difficulties in their attempts to realize their plans regarding the uses of the area where the ramparts had stood. A report from August 1848 (4794/1848) states that the owners of the local porcelain works had dumped manure “harmful to health and the air” in the ditch on the western site of the city barracks. The council allowed the owners of the porcelain works to use the drainage ditch on the condition that within ten years they fill the ditch and build a house on it. According to the report this condition had not been met even long after the deadline had expired, so the council ordered an inquiry.

It is worth noting, however, that at least as far as one can know on the basis of available sources there was no consensus among the citizens regarding the council’s project to use this land. At the beginning of 1848, for example, “several inhabitants of the city who kept cattle” submitted a request to the council (3143/1848) to allow them to graze their livestock on the northwestern area of the land where the ramparts had stood. The council rejected the request, explaining that given the need to maintain order they could not permit livestock to graze either in the inner city or in the outer city.

The goal of the leaders of the city was to create an elegant promenade, which they wished to enclose and plant with trees. According to the sources, however, they faced several difficulties. For instance, they had to have the saplings and the stakes with which they were held guarded in order to prevent theft (3736/1848). Some of the denizens of the city, however, wholeheartedly supported the plans for the promenade. A separate society was formed in order to facilitate the work, and donations were collected, significant sums that were turned over to the council in order to support its efforts (960/1844 and 2619/1845). On the basis of the resolutions of the council, the society was headed by two counts, so it is reasonable to conclude that the plans for the creation of the promenade reflected rather the wishes of the elite of the city.

In any event, at the time the promenade began to be built there were already three other pedestrian areas in Kassa. According to the chronicle of the city the first had been built in the heart of the city, on the main square near the cathedral, in 1805.21 The aforementioned description of the city from the periodical Hetilap [Weekly] offers a glimpse of the situation in 1848:

In addition to the abovementioned promenade in the center of the city, there is another at the lower end of the main street and another that was planted with trees last year on the eastern side of the city alongside the ditch of the mill. The western rampart area is also being turned into a promenade, the ground has already been leveled, one part has already been planted with trees, and in this respect in the future we can expect even more, as the council and the selected members of the citizenry of the city have resolved to employ a paid gardener who will plant saplings in a seedling nursery to be established and plant trees along every street and walkway of the city, according to the plans being drawn up, and in the public gardens, and also tend to the trees that have already been planted and see to any problems that arise.22

The creation of the pedestrian areas gave the public spaces of the city a new and distinctive social function, though the sources available in the case of the city of Kassa are not sufficient to enable any kind of thorough analysis of this. The cases that have been mentioned here suffice perhaps at least to illustrate the ways in which the new uses of these spaces diverged from earlier practices. Similarly, one can do little more than venture hypotheses regarding the conflicts that arose when attempts were made to put the various principles of urban planning, which were based on the expertise of engineers, into practice. In any case, the houses and pedestrian areas that gradually came to take the place of the city walls clearly furthered communication and everyday contact between the inner and outer city.

 

The Construction and Growth of the Outer City

 

The available sources yield little information regarding the changes that took place in the architectural appearance of the buildings of the outer city. The various sketches of the city and the travelogues in which one finds descriptions of its buildings understandably dwell first and foremost on the public buildings, churches, and mansions of the aristocrats that opened onto the main street of the inner city. For many aristocratic families Kassa was a popular place in which to spend the winter. In 1789 Ferenc Kazinczy wrote: “the outer city is built in an ample space, but consists of pitiful hovels.”23 András Vályi was a bit more generous in the comments he penned in 1797: “the outer city of this royal town is also spacious.” He notes that there was a reformed church in the outer city, as well as two Lutheran churches. In the larger of the two Lutheran churches services were held in German, in the smaller they were held in Slovak. Vályi adds, “in addition to these buildings the outer city is also graced with splendid gardens.” 24

In 1846 Imre Henszlmann also made a few sparse comments regarding the outer city of Kassa: “with the exception of the farmsteads of the well-to-do burghers and the gardens of the nobility, the outer city consists of miserable thatch-roofed houses made of clay; they are inhabited by Slavs, who represent the largest part of the population of Kassa.”25 A description of the city from 1848, however, offers a picture that is a touch more favorable: “as is the case in the inner city, in the outer city there are also many large houses that were built in fine taste.” The anonymous author, a denizen of Kassa, does add, however, that most of the houses in the outer city were small and many of them had “thatched roofs.”26 The descriptions of the city thus suggest that between the beginning and the middle of the nineteenth century there had been small changes in the appearance of the outer city, but essentially it continued to consist predominantly of ramshackle, rustic houses.

The picture is a bit more nuanced and varied, however, if one considers the changes that took place in the outer city in the period between 1788 and 1847 on the basis of the city censuses, almost all of which have been preserved. As noted earlier, the censuses were done according to the subunits of the city’s administrative districts.27 First the four quarters of the inner city, or intra muros, were taken into consideration. Then as a kind of transitional area came the so-called Submurales, and the outer city was referred to by the sort of umbrella term Suburbium, at first as of 1788 according to individual street names. This simple listing of street names was replaced from 1802 with the division of the areas outside the city walls into the lower, middle, and upper outer city (initially in Latin, and as of 1840 in Hungarian), a process that can be seen as a clear sign of the gradual growth of the outer city. In 1819 the census was expanded to include two new, distinct areas in the outer city, the Aedificiorum post suburba and the Externa civitas. As of 1822 the latter was referred to as Nova Civitas. The names that were given to these areas betoken the territorial growth of the city. Finally, as we have seen, in 1847 the general term “belváros” was used, which included the four quarters of the inner city (intra muros) and the area referred to initially as Submurales and the Nova Civitas.

According to the censuses, in 1806 the population of the outer city exceeded the population of the intra muros for the first time (4,581 residents in the inner city, compared to 4,904 living in the outer city). Over the course of the subsequent decade the patterns of population growth in the two parts of the city were essentially similar, with the population of the outer city sometimes slightly exceeding and sometimes falling just short of the population of the inner city. As of 1817, however, the population of the outer city always exceeded the population of the inner city. According to the 1847 census, it was roughly one-and-a-half times the size of the inner city (6,024 residents in the inner city compared to 8,935 in the outer city).

With the growth of the population the number of houses in the city also grew in the period under examination, but only in the outer city. For instance, in 1801 there were 375 houses in the intra muros, and by 1842 this number had actually dropped slightly to 372. In the outer city, by contrast, the number of houses grew from 789 to 990. It is worth noting that according to the 1760 and 1767 censuses there were 369 and then 378 houses and lots in the inner city. These numbers clearly demonstrate the strong divergence between the topographical continuity (or more simply put, lack of change) in the inner city on the one hand and the rapid growth in the outer city on the other. Furthermore, the average number of people living in a single dwelling also grew in the outer city over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century, in contrast with the inner city, where this number hardly changed at all. While from this perspective the difference between the two parts of the city remained significant in the middle of the century, it had however declined in comparison with the early 1800s (see Table 1).28

 

Table 1. The number of people living in a single dwelling, according to the censuses

1801

1842

Inner city

Outer city

Inner city

Outer city

11.8

5.2

12

6.7

 Source: Calculated from my own database.

 

The data from the city censuses suggest that in the first half of the nineteenth century the outer city retained much of its village-like character, but the picture is considerably more nuanced if one also takes into consideration the occupations of the people living in the outer city29 (see Table 2).

 

Table 2. Division of the population according to occupation

 

1801

1842

Inner city

Outer city

Inner city

Outer city

Artisan

86.3

42.9

70.5

51

Merchant

8

0.6

13

1.4

Intellectual occupation

2.6

1.2

5.0

2.7

Day laborer, agricultural laborer

0.5

46

3.8

29.5

Other

2.6

9.3

7.7

15.4

Total

100

100

100

100

Source: Calculated from my own database.

 

In the early years of the nineteenth century there were still significant differences between the two parts of the city from the perspective of the professional occupations of the population. In the inner city the number of artisans vastly outnumbered the number of people pursuing other occupations. They constituted the clear majority of the population, followed in a distant second place by the merchants, and then, again with a significant drop, people engaged in an intellectual profession or pursuing “other” occupations (such as carriers, musicians, restaurant keepers, retired army officers, etc.). Field and day laborers were only rarely recorded as living within the city walls. In contrast, in the outer city the field workers and agricultural laborers constituted the single largest group at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At the same time, the proportion of artisans living in the outer city was only a few percentage points less than the proportion of agricultural workers. Thus from the perspective of the composition of the population on the basis of occupation the community of the outer city cannot really be considered rural or provincial even at the beginning of the nineteenth century, though it is true that there were almost no merchants and inhabitants of the outer city who were engaged in so-called intellectual professions. The outer city was also distinct in part because compared to the inner city a fairly high percentage of its population was engaged in “other” occupations. This is due primarily to the fact that for the most part carriers and restaurant keepers were found in the outer city.

By the middle of the nineteenth century significant changes had taken place in the occupational repartition of the two parts of the city. While in the inner city the percentage of artisans dropped from 86 percent to 70 percent in the outer city this figure grew to 51 percent. Thus artisans constituted a majority of the population in the outer city as well, with agricultural workers comprising the second largest group at 29 percent of the total population. While merchants and people engaged in intellectual professions still were found primarily in the inner city, their number grew in the outer city as well, thus indicating a decline in the differences between the two parts of the city. Furthermore, with the growth in the number of artisans in the first half of the nineteenth century there was a corresponding diversification in the artisanal crafts found in the outer city. At the beginning of the century most of the artisans in the outer city—a decisive majority—were either stonemasons or carpenters. By the middle of the century they had been joined by boot makers, potters, cobblers, and butchers, but also people pursuing comparatively rare trades, such as hatters, turners, and even “spectacle makers.”

 

Political Debates Regarding the Outer City

 

As the discussion of the various changes that took place in the city of Kassa makes clear, by the middle of the nineteenth century the concept of urban space had undergone a transformation. In contrast with earlier notions of the “city,” the newer concept of urban space also included the areas outside the city walls. I have outlined the various processes this involved: the demolition of the city walls, the growth in the population and physical space of the outer city, and the gradual but continuous urbanization of the outer city from the perspective of the occupations of its population. Legal regulations, however, did not keep pace with these changes, and therefore by the middle of the nineteenth century the actual, everyday use of urban space and the prevailing legal system increasingly came into conflict with each other. Naturally Kassa was by no means the only city of which this was true. One could enumerate other cities in which similar transformations had taken place and comparable conflicts had arisen, but perhaps the best indication of the nationwide nature of these changes is the simple fact that the Diet (the legislative assembly of the Hungarian estates) of 1843/44 had this very question as an item on its agenda.

The debates concerning the outer cities began with the discussion of an extremely detailed bill (numbering more than 400 paragraphs) the goal of which was to implement a thorough reform of the local administrative systems and the national political status of the cities.30 In the contemporary press and in various political treatises the focus was essentially on the political situation. This included the relationship between the cities and the organs of the central government, questions concerning the extent of legal authority, and perhaps most importantly, the question of how many votes representatives of the cities should have in the Diet. Questions of considerable importance regarding the local administration of the cities were also on the agenda, including the question of the status of the outer cities. The bill had been drafted by politicians of the nobility and intelligentsia who sought to implement urban reform. In the spirit of the liberal principles of the age, they hoped to transform the political and social structures of the country and make the prevailing legal order more rational and modern. To this end, they were prepared to accept the consequences of political conflict with the court in Vienna and conservative circles, but they sought to achieve their aims through dialogue and negotiation. The Diet was the most important battleground of their efforts, and their weapon of choice was proposals for legal reform such as the one they presented to the legislative assembly (and therefore also to the sovereign) regarding the cities.31

When preparing the proposal, supporters of the liberal reforms appealed to the principle of “territorial” authority (to use their term).32 Their concept of urban space differed radically from the notion of urban space that essentially identified the “city” as the space within the city walls. According to the proposal for reform, the definition of the space of the city was “the area in which the city exercises its authority.” This definition, of course, made it necessary to designate precisely the exact limits of city authority. This question was particularly significant, and also particularly complex, because the actual physical space of the city was legally quite fragmented. The authors of the proposal strove to minimize this fragmentation, at least to the greatest extent possible. In other words their intention was to make the territorial jurisdiction of the city authorities cover the geographical space of the city as closely as possible, a reform which would have the practical consequence of reducing or eliminating the legal distinctions between the different parts of the city and which would also bring the population of the city directly under the jurisdiction of the city authorities by abolishing various territorial and individual privileges.

Their efforts created two serious sets of problems, the first of which involved urban plots of land that were owned by members of the nobility, the second of which concerned the status of the outer cities. In the case of the plots of land owned by the nobility, the problems arose because, in accordance with the privileges enjoyed by the nobility, these plots were not under the jurisdiction of the city administration and were not subject to taxation. This question was the subject of fierce debates, since the prospect of placing the lands of nobleman under the jurisdiction of the city was fundamentally at odds with the centuries-old privileges of the nobility. In the end the Diet reached a compromise according to which the plots owned by members of the nobility were put under the jurisdiction of the city from the perspective of matters relating to the police and criminal law on the one hand, a measure that constituted a restriction of the privileges of the nobility, while on the other these lands retained their exemption from taxation.

One of the problems that affected the denizens of the outer city the most dramatically and seemed to call for urgent political resolution was the discrimination they suffered in comparison with residents of the inner city (who earlier had been considered the “actual” inhabitants of the city) as a consequence of the prevailing laws. One of the regulations of the city of Kassa regarding fire safety offers a vivid example. According to the regulation, which was issued in 1798 but remained in effect until 1848, people were forbidden to smoke pipes in the streets near the houses, stables, or barns (primarily because of the risks posed by the flammable materials with which the roofs had been built). The punishment for a denizen of the inner city was a fine, but for the same infraction residents of the outer city or people who did not enjoy the civic rights of the burghers were caned.33 In the spirit of the “territorial principle,” the authors of the 1843 urban reform law insisted that “the community of the city is one; the divisions of the city on the basis of inner city or outer city, or from any other perspective, do not form separate communities” (45. §). Thus the concept according to which the outer city forms an integral part of the city as a whole was made law. The Diet accepted this part of the proposal without much debate. However, this individual provision hardly resolved the larger question of the legal status of the outer cities.

Further problems arose in the case of cities around which urban areas (or areas resembling the urban community) had been built that lay not on lands in the possession of the city (as was the case in Kassa), but rather on the estates of members of the nobility. Pozsony (or Pressburg, as it was called in German, and Bratislava by its name as the present-day capital of Slovakia) was one such city. According to a description by Elek Fényes, “Pozsony has essentially one outer city, Blumenthal, though one could also consider Váralja or the Schlossberg and Zuckermandl part of this, because they are separated from the city only by a wooden fence, but these outskirts are either under the authority of the castellany of Pozsony or the comitat of Pozsony.”34 By that time the city of Pozsony and these settlements had grown together to such an extent that according to all signs the authors of the law did not distinguish them from one another. This is why, by their count, the city of Pozsony was home to more than 30,000 people, a figure on the basis of which they suggested that the city be given two votes in the Diet. In the course of the debates, however, some of the representatives in the Diet contended that the census results were misleading since they included areas of the outskirts of Pozsony that legally did not belong to the city proper. The debate went unresolved because of a simple lack of reliable data, although the people responsible for the proposal insisted that they were using the most reliable figures of the time. In any event, if the objection was well founded, the fact that it was raised suggests that the statisticians also considered the outer city an integral part of Pozsony.

In the interests of addressing the problems that arose, for instance, as a consequence of the geographical growth of cities, the bill was intended to make it possible for the cities to incorporate neighboring areas that were directly adjacent with their borders. According to the bill, the annexed area would be entirely under the jurisdiction of the city, and it would lose any privileges it had enjoyed before its annexation. Administrative considerations and everyday use of the areas would have provided adequate justification for application of the “territorial principle,” in other words the creation of a single, unified jurisdiction over areas that in practical terms had merged entirely with the city but from a legal perspective still belonged to other proprietaries. As Baron József Eötvös, one of the leading figures of the liberal political circles, emphasized, for instance, in such cases annexation facilitated “the organization of effective public administration.” In support of his argument he cited the examples of Pozsony and Buda and the areas that had merged with these two cities on a practical level, but still belonged to other proprietaries. As he explained, in the case of these two cities it was impossible to maintain regulations relating to public order because of the prevailing administrative situation.

The aristocrats of the Upper House of the Diet, however, did not agree to this solution. The objection raised by the bishop of Kassa summarizes the reasons for their opposition: if the city of Pozsony were to include Váralja, then not only would Váralja be removed from the authority of the county and placed under the authority of the city, but—an even more disastrous consequence—the territories that comprised the estates of the Pállfy family would cease to be a nobleman’s lands. They would lose the privileges they had enjoyed and become simply the holdings of burghers, subject, for instance, to taxation.

Thus according to the objection that was raised by the majority of the Upper House, such an annexation threatened to weaken not only the foundations of civil law, but also the possessory rights of the nobility, and this was clearly unacceptable. The members of the Upper House therefore suggested that the law make possible, in cases in which it was justified, the expansion of the authority of the city to the areas that fell in its vicinity, but without the actual annexation of these areas. In the course of the negotiations a majority of the members of the Lower House were persuaded to accept this proposal. Thus here too a compromise was reached that was in its essence similar to the one that was reached concerning the properties owned by members of the nobility in the city.

The debates regarding the regulations concerning the territory of the city lasted for several months, but in the end the contending political sides came to an agreement. The bill, however, never became law because of the opposition of the Viennese court. The reform failed because of the question of central supervision over the city authorities. The Viennese court sought, through the members of the Upper House, to create a kind of inspector general who essentially would be given control over the entire municipal government. The Lower House of the Diet did not pass this proposal, and thus the question of the status of the outer city was left to the next gathering of the Diet.

The transformation that took place in the physical structures and conceptual notions of urban space by the middle of the nineteenth century made administrative and political changes inevitable. The various compromises that were reached in the course of the debates concerning these changes reflect the shifting power relations of liberal and conservative political groups. The acceptance of the 1843 bill, which meant the assertion of the “territorial principle,” would have been a significant step from a legal perspective towards the creation of a unified urban area. It would have allowed for the creation of an appropriate legal framework for the changes that had taken place in the structures and uses of urban spaces. The political debates regarding the regulation of urban space and the status of outlying districts, however, touched on the problems of the entire political establishment, which was founded on the privileges of the estates. Thus a comprehensive solution was only possible following the transformation of the entire political system.

 

 

Archival Sources

 

Conscriptio Animarum in gremio Liberaquae Civitatis Cassoviensis (as of 1840: Kassa város keblében létező lelkeknek összeírása [A Registry of the People Living in the City of Kassa]), Archív Mesta Košice, Zbierky, Súpisy domov, obyvateľov [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Collections, Registries of Houses and Population].

Statuta Liberae Regiae Civitatis Cassoviensis – Actum sub sessione Magistratuali atque Electa Communitatis die... January 1798. [Provisions of city statue in 1798] Archív Mesta Košice, Zbierky [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Collections].

Tanácsülések Jegyzőkönyve [Minutes of the Council Sittings], Archív Mesta Košice, Stredná Manipulácia, Magistrátny súd (J) [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Central Archival Order, Documents of the Municipal Assembly].

 

Bibliography

 

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Czoch, Gábor, Gábor Szabó, and László Zsinka. “Változások a magyar város- és településrendszerben 1784 és 1910 között” [Changes in the System of Settlements and Cities in Hungary]. Aetas no. 4 (1993): 113–33.

Czoch, Gábor. “Lakóhely és társadalmi helyzet. A reformkori külvárosok problematikája Kassa példáján keresztül” [Place of Residence and Social Standing. The Problematics of the Outer Cities of the Reform Era on the Basis of the Example of the City of Kassa]. In Kötőerők. Az identitás történetének térbeli keretei [Ties that Bind. The Spatial Frames of the History of Identity], edited by Cieger, András, 237–56. Budapest: Atelier, 2009.

Czoch, Gábor. “A városok szíverek.” Tanulmányok Kassáról és a reformkori városokról [“Cities are Arteries.” Studies on Kassa and Other Towns in the Age of Reforms]. Pozsony: Kalligram, 2009.

Fényes, Elek. Magyar Országnak s a’ hozzá csatolt tartományoknak mostani állapotja statistikai és geographiai tekintetben [The State of Affairs in Hungary and the Lands Attached to it from the Perspectives of Statistics and Geography]. Pest: Trattner, 1836–1840.

Gyimesi, Sándor. A városok a feudalizmusból a kapitalizmusba való átmenet időszakában. (Funkcionális és strukturális változások Nyugat- és Közép-Kelet-Európa városhálózatában, különös tekintettel Magyarországra) [Cities in the Transitional Period between Feudalism and Capitalism. (Functional and Structural Changes in the Network of Cities in Western and Eastern Europe, Particularly with Regard to Hungary)]. Budapest: Akadémiai, 1975.

Henszlmann, Imre. “Kassa sz. kir. város” [The Royal Free City of Kassa]. Magyarföld és népei, Föld- és népismei, statistikai és történeti folyóirat [Hungarian Lands and Peoples, Statistical and Historical Periodical of Lands and Customs] 1 (1846): 15-20.

Hohenberg, Paul M. and Lynn Hollen Lees. The Making of Urban Europe, 1000–1994. Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1995.

Kazinczy, Ferenc. “Magyarországi utak. Miskolcról Kassára” [Travels in Hungary. From Miskolc to Kassa]. In Kazinczy Ferenc művei [The Works of Ferenc Kazinczy] vol. 1 Budapest: Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1979.

Kecskeméti, Károly. La Hongrie et le réformisme libéral. Problèmes politiques et sociaux (1790–1848). Roma: Il Centro di Ricerca, 1989.

Kovács, Alajos. “Kassa népességének fejlődése és összetétele” [The Development and Composition of the Population of Kassa]. Magyar Statisztikai Szemle [Hungarian Statistical Review] 17 (1939): 519–42.

Papp-Váry, Árpád and Pál Hrenkó. Magyarország régi térképeken [Hungary on Old Maps]. Budapest: Gondolat–Officina Nova, 1990.

Plath, Johannes. Kaschauer Kronik. Kassa: Werfer, 1860.

Perrot, Jean-Claude. Genèse d’une ville moderne. Caen au XVIIIème siècle. Paris–La Haye: Mouton et École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales, 1975.

Pinol, Jean Luc, ed. Histoire de l’Europe Urbaine vol. 2. De l’ancien régime à nos jours. Paris: Seuil, 2003.

“Sz. kir. Kassa város leírása” [Description of the Royal Free City of Kassa]. Hetilap 5 (1848): 66-70.

Thirring, Gusztáv. Magyarország népessége II. József korában [The Population of Hungary in the Time of Joseph II]. Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, 1938.

Törvény Czikkely. A királyi Városokról [Article of Law. On the Royal Cities]. Pozsony: Wéber, 1843.

Tutkó, József. Szabad királyi Kassa városának történelmi évkönyve [The Historical Almanac of the Royal Free City of Kassa]. Kassa: Werfer Nyomda, 1861.

Vályi, András. Magyarországnak leírása [A Description of Hungary] vol. 2. Buda: Universitas, 1799.

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Werbőczy, István. Tripartitum. A dicsőséges Magyar Királyság szokásjogának hármaskönyve [Tripartitum. The Customary Law of the Renowned Kingdom of Hungary in Three Parts]. Budapest: Téka, 1990 [1517].

Translated by Thomas Cooper.

1 On the demographic changes that took place over the course of time in the city of Kassa see for instance Alajos Kovács, “Kassa népességének fejlődése és összetétele” [The Development and Composition of the Population of Kassa], Magyar Statisztikai Szemle [Hungarian Statistical Review] 17 (1939): 519–42. From the perspective of the size of its population, in 1786 Kassa was only the thirty-sixth largest city, and in 1846 it had dropped to the forty-eigth place. See Sándor Gyimesi, A városok a feudalizmusból a kapitalizmusba való átmenet időszakában (Funkcionális és strukturális változások Nyugat- és Közép-Kelet-Európa városhálózatában, különös tekintettel Magyarországra) [Cities in the Transitional Period between Feudalism and Capitalism (Functional and Structural Changes in the Network of Cities in Western and Eastern Europe, Particularly with Regard to Hungary] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1975), 264. Regarding the roles of cities as regional centers, in the national ranking list put together by Vera Bácskai on the basis of the data of the 1828 national census, in the second group (coming after Pest-Buda), which consisted of eleven settlements, Kassa was one of the “first-class centers of trade.” See Vera Bácskai, Towns and Urban Society in Early Nineteenth-Century Hungary (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1989).

2 In 1784 the population of Pest alone (in other words not taking Buda into consideration, with which Pest was united officially only in 1873) was 20,700. By 1850 it had grown to 106,379. See Gábor Czoch, Gábor Szabó, and László Zsinka, “Változások a magyar város- és településrendszerben 1784 és 1910 között” [Changes in the System of Settlements and Cities in Hungary], Aetas 4 (1993): 113–33.

3 Jean-Claude Perrot, Genèse d’une ville moderne. Caen au XVIIIème siècle (Paris–La Haye: Mouton et École des Hautes Études en Sciences sociales, 1975).

4 For instance Paul M. Hohenberg and Lynn Hollen Lees, The Making of Urban Europe, 1000–1994. (Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1995); Jan de Vries, European Urbanization, 1500–1800. (Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press, 1984); Jean Luc Pinol, ed., Histoire de l’Europe Urbaine vol. 2. De l’ancien régime à nos jours (Paris: Seuil, 2003).

5 Árpád Papp-Váry and Pál Hrenkó, Magyarország régi térképeken [Hungary on Old Maps] (Budapest: Gondolat–Officina Nova, 1990), 140.

6 József Tutkó, Szabad királyi Kassa városának történelmi évkönyve [The Historical Almanac of the Royal Free City of Kassa] (Kassa: Werfer Nyomda, 1861), 173.

7 Conscriptio Animarum in gremio Liberaquae Civitatis Cassoviensis, Archív Mesta Košice (AMK), Zbierky, Súpisy domov, obyvateľov [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Collections, Registries of Houses and Population].

8 Gusztáv Thirring, Magyarország népessége II. József korában [The Population of Hungary in the Time of Joseph II] (Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1938).

9 István Werbőczy, Tripartitum. A dicsőséges Magyar Királyság szokásjogának hármaskönyve [Tripartitum. The Customary Law of the Renowned Kingdom of Hungary in Three Parts] (Budapest: Téka, 1990 [1517]), Third Part, VIII. heading, §1.

10 Ferenc Kazinczy, “Magyarországi utak. Miskolcról Kassára” [Travels in Hungary. From Miskolc to Kassa] in Kazinczy Ferenc művei [The Works of Ferenc Kazinczy] I. (Budapest: Szépirodalmi Kiadó, 1979), 545–47; András Vályi, Magyarországnak leírása [A Description of Hungary], vol. 2 (Buda: Universitas, 1799), 314–15.

11 My emphasis – C. G. Statuta Liberae Regiae Civitatis Cassoviensis – Actum sub sessione Magistratuali atque Electa Communitatis die... January 1798. [Provisions of City Statue in 1798] Archív Mesta Košice, Zbierky [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Collections].

12 Elek Fényes, Magyar Országnak s a’ hozzá csatolt tartományoknak mostani állapotja statistikai és geográphiai tekintetben [The State of Affairs in Hungary and the Lands Attached to it from the Perspectives of Statistics and Geography], vol. 3 (Pest: Trattner, 1836–1840), 18.

13 Kálmán Szily, A magyar nyelvújítás szótára: a kedveltebb képzők és képzés módok jegyzékével [Dictionary of the Hungarian Language Reform: With an Index of the Preferred Components and Modes of Composition] (Budapest: Hornyánszky Viktor Könyvnyomdája, 1902).

14 Tanácsülések Jegyzőkönyve [Minutes of Council Sessions], Archív Mesta Košice, Stredná Manipulácia, Magistrátny súd (J) [Municipal Archives of the City of Košice, Central Archival Order, Documents of the Municipal Assembly].

15 My emphasis – C. G. Henszlmann, Imre, “Kassa sz. kir. Város” [The Royal Free City of Kassa], Magyarföld és népei, Föld-és népismei, statistikai és történeti folyóirat [Hungarian Lands and Peoples, Statistical and Historical Periodical of Lands and Customs] 1 (1846): 19.

16 My emphasis – C. G. One hold is equaling 0.57 hectares. “Sz. kir. Kassa város leírása” [Description of the Royal Free City of Kassa], Hetilap 5 (1848): 68.

17 See Tutkó, Kassa történelmi évkönyve, 164-82; Johannes Plath, Kaschauer Kronik (Kassa: Werfer, 1860), 203-17.

18 Henszlmann, “Kassa,” 19.

19 Jean Luc Pinol and François Walter, “La ville contemporaine jusqu’à la Seconde Guerre mondiale,” in Histoire de l’Europe Urbaine vol. 2. De l’ancien régime à nos jours, ed. Jean Luc Pinol (Paris: Seuil, 2003), 14.

20 Tanácsülések Jegyzőkönyve. Archív Mesta Košice, Stredná Manipulácia, Magistrátny súd (J). References to the sessions of the municipal council are in parentheses rather than footnotes. I give the number of the resolution of the council first and then the year.

21 Tutkó, Kassa történelmi évkönyve, 175.

22 “Sz. kir. Kassa,” 69.

23 Kazinczy, Magyarországi utak, 545.

24 Vályi, Magyarországnak leírása, 318.

25 Henszlmann, “Kassa,” 19.

26 “Sz. kir. Kassa,” 68.

27 Conscriptio Animarum.

28 This number does not contain the Aedificiorum post suburba, which is to say the buildings lying in the area referred to as the “territory beyond the city.” Most of these buildings were the cellars and taverns that belonged to people who resided in the city. For a more detailed comparison of the growth of the two parts of the city see for instance Czoch, Gábor, “Lakóhely és társadalmi helyzet. A reformkori külvárosok problematikája Kassa példáján keresztül” [Place of Residence and Social Standing. The Problematics of the Reform Era on the Basis of the Example of the City of Kassa], in Kötőerők. Az identitás történetének térbeli keretei [Ties that Bind. The Spatial Frames of the History of Identity], ed. András Cieger (Budapest: Atelier, 2009), 242–44.

29 One can analyze first and foremost the demographic changes that took place, both from the perspective of population and the composition of a household, on the basis of the aforementioned Conscriptio Animarum series, while the composition of the population from the perspectives of trade and profession can be studied on the basis of the Dimensio Domorum series (which in some years was referred to as the Conscriptio Universorum, and as of 1840 in Hungarian as the “Házak és telkek összeírása,” or “registry of houses and lots of land”), which was done in parallel with the Conscriptio Animarum. In my earlier works I have offered a detailed analysis of the various statistical indicators that one can find through a comparison of the two works (indicators cited in this essay as well). This analysis was based on a database of information on the household level that I have compiled using the two sources. The database contains information from two periods of time, the beginning of the nineteenth century, more precisely 1802, and the middle, more precisely 1842. For a summary of the composition of the two parts of the city from the perspectives of the trades and professions of their residents, see Czoch, “Lakóhely,” 247–48.

30 Törvény Czikkely. A királyi Városokról [Article of Law. On the Royal Cities] (Pozsony: Wéber, 1843).

31 Károly Kecskeméti offers an excellent summary in a book written in French of the political struggles and political institutions of the time: La Hongrie et le réformisme libéral. Problèmes politiques et sociaux (1790–1848) (Roma: Il Centro di Ricerca, 1989).

32 For a summary of the debates that followed the proposal of the bill, see Gábor Czoch, “A városok szíverek.” Tanulmányok Kassáról és a reformkori városokról [“Cities are Arteries.” Studies on Kassa and Other Towns in the Age of Reforms] (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2009), 39–68.

33 Statuta Civitatis Cassoviensis.

34 Fényes, Magyarországnak, vol. 2, 429.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

István H. Németh

Venerable Senators or Municipal Bureaucrats? The Beginnings of the Transformation of the Estate of Burghers at the Turn of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries*

 

This essay offers a socio-historical analysis of the urban elite of the city of Sopron in Western Hungary as a paradigmatic example of the changes that were implemented in municipal administration at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries to meet the demands of the centralized state. It examines the process whereby the centralized state began to assert its influence in municipal affairs in the interests of reestablishing and strengthening the cities as sources of tax revenue and furthering the reinstatement of Catholicism. Alongside the confessional shifts that took place, the distinctive social characteristics of the leading urban elite also changed: because of the small number of educated Catholics among the burgesses, an increasing number of state officials and educated servants who earlier had been in the service of owners of large estates rose to prominent positions in municipal administration. Because of the expectations of the state regarding professional qualifications and the dependence on the central offices, the roles of the municipal officials were increasingly intertwined with the affairs of public administration. They came to be the precursors to the so-called “honorácior” stratum, a social class of intellectuals and civil servants who played a prominent role in the growth of a new bureaucracy in the nineteenth century.

Public Administration and Municipal Politics: European Trends

 

The consolidation of the state and the spread of public administration were both fundamental features of the early modern era in Europe. The machinery of the state increasingly strove to extend its reach into the everyday lives of an ever broader social spectrum and to exert an ever larger influence. This tendency involved the introduction by the centralized and later absolutist state of regulations regarding questions that earlier had been decided by the feudal estates and their representatives. One thinks perhaps first and foremost of questions concerning the relationship between serfs and feudal lords or even issues related to religion, medicine, the poor, etc., all of which came increasingly under the purview of the state in the eighteenth century. Military affairs and the financing of national defense, which increasingly became the prerogative of the state, developed under the authority of the absolute monarch, and a process of centralization was underway in other areas of state power that was part and parcel of the new exercise of state control.1 Taxation, the administration of justice, the tasks entrusted to various administrative bodies, etc. became the prerogative of the administration of the centralized state, which was invested with legitimacy and authority. Economic history designates this phenomenon as the rise of the fiscal state, a term that nicely indicates the purely economic, financial relationship between the primary motivations and the solutions that were adopted. These changes exerted an influence on the cities that were under the control of the monarch. The income of the residents of cities (which included ever increasing tax revenues, income from commerce and trade, etc.) constituted an ever larger share of state revenues. Thus the state and the middle class burgesses were bound by ever more common interests.2 According to Fernand Braudel, the large urban communities came into being specifically because of this: “this belated, sudden development would have been unimaginable without the emergence of the states [as legal entities].” The large urban communities played the role of “producers” of the modern state, but the state was at the same time the political body that brought them into being.3

Municipal governments, which were founded on the feudal orders, underwent significant changes as a consequence of these developments. Since the cities in almost every country of feudal Europe were considerably more dependant on the sovereigns than the other feudal orders (which may have derived from their belated formation of an estate), at the outset these measures affected them the most. The secondary literature speaks of the bureaucratization of the cities of the Holy Roman Empire in the seventeenth century and their incorporation into the administrative systems of the centralized state, even (and here the terminology may be a bit overstated) their “nationalization.”4 In the urban communities of the Kingdom of France, by the seventeenth century the municipal leaders rather appeared as the representatives of the centralized state than freely elected officers of the cities themselves. Thus as a consequence of the changes that took place in state administration and municipal politics, by the eighteenth century insular city life was a thing of the past, displaced by a new form of urban community that was an integral part of the modern state and was growing with stunning speed.5

 

New Features of City Politics in Hungary

 

The changes that took place in municipal politics in Hungary were strongly dependent on the relationships between the cities and the central government and feudal estates, as well as the relationship between the feudal estates and the Habsburg government. In this respect dramatic shifts took place over the course of the sixteenth century. True, the medieval Hungarian Kingdom had fallen and from the perspectives of the military and finance the country had become a strongly centralized part of the Habsburg Monarchy, but it nonetheless remained a feudal monarchy with an influential and sizeable political elite. Following the defeat of the Hungarian army at the battle of Mohács in 1526, the Habsburg political, military, and economic leaders and the Hungarian estates realized that in the interests of defending the monarchy and the Hungarian Kingdom they would be compelled to arrive at compromises. This is why the Hungarian estates in Hungary enjoyed considerably more political power, at least within the country, than the estates in the other provinces of the Habsburg Monarchy. The feudal governments in Hungary (the counties or boroughs and the free royal cities) became stronger and more rigid in the exercise of their authorities, and domestic political life and the oversight of the administration of justice remained in the hands of the estates. As a result, the feudal estates in Hungary remained more autonomous and powerful than the estates of the rest of the Habsburg lands.6

Under these political circumstances, settlements that had the status of so-called free royal cities were able to assert their rights and pursue endeavors that promoted their political interests. These cities were completely independent, and as early as the fifteenth century possessed rights of local government and administration independent of the court.7 As of the early decades of the sixteenth century the free royal cities enjoyed increasingly strong feudal rights. They were always invited to national assemblies and they were able to vote individually in the lower house. Their local administrative bodies remained unimpaired in spite of the fact that members of the nobility and, in the case of some cities, the military were moving into the cities and putting tension on this remnant of medieval governance.8 For the centralizing state, however, as of the first decades of the seventeenth century, of the feudal orders it was precisely the free royal cities that represented the first rung on the ladder of intervention in municipal administration. The cities had feudal rights, but they did not have any significant political influence. From the perspective of jurisdiction and authority, the monarch had considerably more direct say in the affairs of the free royal cities. Acting very much like a feudal lord, as of the early seventeenth century the monarch demanded the cities pay yearly property taxes (census). The special military tax (taxa), on which votes were held in the national assemblies, was not imposed on the basis of the taxation quota agreed to by the estates, but rather was determined by the organs of central finance. Indeed as of the 1630s the centralized government was able to increase the number of years in which such taxes were to be paid without the consent of the national assembly.9

7088

Figure 1. Free royal cities in the Kingdom of Hungary, 17–18th centuries

The difference in the relationship between the Hungarian Kingdom and the Habsburg Monarchy on the one hand and the Monarchy and the other Austrian realms on the other was typified by the relationship between the centralized state administration and the cities. As early as the Middle Ages, in the cities of the Austrian lands the magistrates were people representing the interests of the Austrian princes. Commissioners who had been named by the monarch participated in the municipal elections in the Austrian provinces, initially in order to ensure that a municipal officer (a so-called Eidkommissar) took an oath of allegiance. At the turn of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (and later, following a brief interlude, as of 1625), the role of the commissioners changed. Their primary task became to exercise their influence on the municipal officers and to oversee the administration of city (a so-called Wahlkommissar).10 In contrast, the monarch did not begin to intervene in the local administration of the free royal cities of Hungary until the last third of the seventeenth century. The last third of the seventeenth century constituted a turning point from the perspective of city politics in Hungary. Following the defeat of an uprising by the estates against the Habsburg rulers (1670–1671), the monarchy began to keep a more watchful eye on the cities and implement measures to oversee their administration. The steps that were taken were by no means unfamiliar in other states of Europe, but the ideology and methods that had prevailed in the Austrian lands served as a kind of model, methods that first were introduced in 1672 on a somewhat sporadic basis, but later, after 1690, were adopted in (or rather forced on) each of the free royal cities of Hungary.

There were various reasons underlying the efforts on the part of the centralized state to intervene in municipal affairs. One of the factors, a movement that has often been the subject of study, was the Counter-Reformation, one of the goals of which was to ensure that the leaders of the cities were Catholic, if not exclusively then at least for the most part.11 This was part of the religious policies adopted by the Habsburg government in the Czech and Austrian hereditary provinces, just as it was part of the policies pursued by states across Europe at the time. In the seventeenth century the notion of “one state, one religion” was essentially a uniformly accepted principle in all the states of Europe in which there were efforts to establish a centralized or absolutist government.12 Until this point, however, the measures that had been adopted by the Habsburgs in order to reassert Catholicism had not affected the municipal governments directly. Among the aristocracy, the number of converts grew. As of the second decade of the century positions in state offices were given almost exclusively to Catholics, but forceful measures to compel conversion to Catholicism as part of an effort spearheaded by the state and implemented with the use of organs of public administration only began to be adopted after 1670.13 The election commissioners were charged with the task of ensuring that in local elections Catholics win positions in the municipal governments, but as was the case in the Austrian provinces, they also had to oversee other spheres more closely connected with local administration.14 On the occasion of the annual elections of new officers, the commissioners had to prepare detailed surveys of the cities that touched on almost every aspect of public life. They had to inspect the municipal account books and had to be familiar with the general conditions prevailing in the cities. Their reports included descriptions of the composition of the cities from a religious (confessional) perspective, the states of the churches, and the religious lives of the churchgoers, but also general descriptions of the burgesses of the cities, the municipal administration, the state of the public buildings, the ordinances regarding taxation, and in general every aspect of the local administration.15

The considerations that influenced the commissioners in their decisions to delegate new members to the city councils would have improved the local economies and local administration, rendering them more transparent, since knowledge of economics and law was one of the qualifications that was given particular emphasis in their instructions (alongside belonging to the Catholic Church, of course).16 There was a simple reason to make local administration more effective: the state, which was assuming more and more responsibilities, needed more income, but as of roughly 1625 the cities not only did not provide the central state with more revenues, but even accrued enormous debts in unpaid taxes. The ability of the city burgesses in Hungary to pay taxes dropped dramatically in the seventeenth century, presumably at least in part as a consequence of the European war. The pressures on the state to collect taxes, however, were growing because of the increasing costs of war. As a result, the cities were compelled to take out loans. By the end of the century the cities had accrued debts of more than 10,000 to 15,000 forint, and by the early eighteenth century these debts had doubled and in some cases quadrupled. Sopron, for instance, had remarkably high debts. The 200,000 forint debt it had accrued by the end of the seventeenth century was ten times the city’s income.17

The centralized state was able to exercise continuous control over two important areas of municipal government that earlier had been essentially free of exterior influence, namely the composition of the municipal council and state supervision and reform of the local economy. The surrender of these two aspects of local governance, the two most important privileges enjoyed by the cities, meant the end of city life as it had been known from the Middle Ages. The first step in this process came with the efforts of the monarchs to change the religious (confessional) composition of the councils (which for the most part were Lutherans) and the community of elected officials and as of the second half of the seventeenth century to delegate as many trustworthy Catholics as possible to the bodies of municipal government.18 Twenty-five years later the cameralistic commissioners who had been delegated to the cities ensured that at least half of the people to be elected to positions in the leading elite were Catholic. They also saw to it that the positions of magistrate and notary were filled by people they considered trustworthy. The system by which the leading officers and governing bodies were assured their legitimacy changed as well. Earlier, legitimacy had derived directly from the votes of the burgesses, but by the last third of the seventeenth-century officers were invested in their offices by a commissioner representing the monarch.19

It was not always easy, however, to find the right person for the goals set by the state. Certainly the letters sent by the king on the occasion of a local election stipulated that city officers belong to the Catholic Church, own property (benepossessionatus), and possess the necessary qualifications (qualificatus).20 However, because of the pace with which the state sought to implement changes, often someone without the necessary training or social status found himself serving as an officer in a position of no small importance.21 We have very little in the way of reliable sources, however, regarding the actual competence of the people who were elected to public offices in the last two-and-a-half decades of the seventeenth century or the changes that took place in municipal administration as a consequence of the shifts. In what follows, I attempt to offer a rough picture of these changes and the consequences they had for city politics and society. Taking prevailing trends across Europe into consideration, I present these processes through an analysis of the urban elite of the city of Sopron in western Hungary. I compare tendencies in Sopron with social phenomena in other cities.22 This social-historical analysis is intended to offer an answer to the following question: what changes did the new goals and aspirations of the state bring about in the composition of the urban elites? I also consider the question of whether the elite that developed over the course of this period can be considered a precursor to the new “honorácior” social stratum that evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a new class of intellectuals and civil servants.

 

Expertise, Competence, and Stable Social Roots: the Leading Lutheran Elite

 

Even the royal commissioners, who clearly could be accused of bias in favor of Catholics, could not have questioned the expertise and qualifications of the Lutheran elite of the cities. Before the abovementioned changes in urban policy took place, the vast majority of the city leaders were Lutheran, and there were no Catholic members of the municipal councils virtually anywhere. A detailed study of the leading elite confirms their competency, which was acknowledged and recognized by the cameralistic commissioners as well. The majority of the leaders either had been university students at one point or had completed university studies.23 In addition to their education, they also belonged to the upper classes of the city burgesses. They were connected by a very strong network of family relationships. In this essay I focus primarily on the elite of the city of Sopron, since the data regarding the composition of the population of this city are accurate and detailed. An analysis of their social networks reveals that two or three families became the center of a larger network. It would not be an overstatement to say that almost all of the Lutheran town leaders were related to these families in some way. The families forming the core center were stable and secure members of the narrow circle of burgesses who occupied the most important official positions. The homes of the members of the Lutheran elite were found on the most important streets of the city, a sign of their social prestige.

In the case of the Lutherans who came to power after 1670 one notes a shift in the physical focal point of the community, as they began to assemble around the Lutheran school, but this did not exert much influence on the main tendencies. In general, members of the Lutheran community who held public office owned homes within the city walls.24 Almost all of them had acquired the status of nobleman, a clear sign of their prominence and also an indication that as burgesses who held noble titles they were among the most recognized people of the urban community. In addition to the title of nobility, most of them also obtained the rank of court “familiáris” (in Latin, familiaris aulicae; “familiáris” is a social rank specific to Hungarian feudalism). In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, this title was given primarily to those who performed official, intellectual or economic roles. The goal was to bring the Hungarian gentry, burgesses and the emerging class of civil servants (which thanks to the reforms that had been implemented was increasingly influential) into the group that enjoyed the patronage of the monarch and effectively governed the Hungarian Kingdom in coordination with the court. It is therefore no surprise that some of the Lutheran citizens who obtained the title of familiaris had proof of having obtained a doctorate in law.25 The recipients were members of the group that undertook a wide range of tasks in central finance management offices, thereby putting their education to use. Their presence in government bodies also proves that members of the intellectual class (which was small in number) were very sought after, which far from decreasing the role of the cities in the counties or the state on the contrary increased the prestige of the burgesses and the importance of the urban communities.26

Ferdinand Dobner cimer optPoch csalad cimere opt

Figure 2. The coat of arms of the Poch family.

Figure 3. The coat of arms on the tombstone of Ferdinand Dobner.
Source: Lutheran Cemetery, Museum of Sopron
 

The above characteristics were as typical of the Lutheran municipal elite that controlled urban administrations following the shift in city politics at the end of the seventeenth century as they had been of their predecessors. It is important to note, however, that qualifications and expertise had been given more emphasis by that time (in part in order to ensure that needs of the state be met).27 The Lutherans who occupied the most important positions in cites (in Sopron this meant the Preiniger, Poch, Dobner, and Wohlmuth families) had completed studies at schools of law (for example at the universities of Strassburg or Jena).28 Many members of the next two generations were given noble titles and more prominent positions.

This raises the question, if the state considered members of the Lutheran communities enemies, why did it bestow on them not only noble titles, but also the ranks of court familiaris and even baron? The vast majority of those who were elevated to noble rank got their titles following the uprisings, when the government was attempting to take steps in order to promote consolidation. The siege of Vienna (1683) and the reoccupation campaigns that followed (1683–1699) accelerated the process. During this period, many members of the urban Lutheran elite were raised to noble rank, and received special privileges, including immunity to state taxes and the burdens of war. Leopold Natl was the first burgess to be given the title of baron. In the official municipal records tenure of office in the municipal administrations is indicated as a merit, an indication of the shift in the relationship between the state and the city offices. Municipal officers had become servants of the centralized state.29

It would be rash to draw far-reaching conclusions on the basis of the data below, but two tendencies merit mention, the ennobling of the Lutheran city elite and the legal education so many of the members of this elite had. As of the last decades of the seventeenth century the royal commissioners almost always preferred to choose municipal leaders on the basis of their qualifications instead of selecting Catholics who lacked the necessary education, in spite of the fact that they (the commissioners) had been charged with the task of ensuring that Catholics rise to positions of prominence in city administration. Was this process analogous to the one mentioned earlier in the presentation of the European tendencies of the period? Did the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries bear witness to the initial stages of the process of the creation of an educated, professional municipal leadership in Hungary, a new municipal leadership that had the necessary knowledge of law and economics (in part because this was one of the goals of the Vienna court) and that therefore made it possible to govern the cities more effectively and more “bureaucratically”? One can only confirm the causal interrelationships I have sketched here, however, if one also considers the backgrounds of the Catholic members of the municipal administrations, the people who were helped to positions of influence by the cameralistic commissioners.

 

Strangers at the Forefront of Municipal Administration

 

In the first few years following their arrival in the cities, the royal commissioners (mostly cameralistic civil servants) who were sent to the urban settlements in the last three decades of the seventeenth century installed their civil servant colleagues, the postmaster and custom-house officer of the given city, in their offices. This took place in all of the free royal cities in which there was a Lutheran majority, cities in which it was impossible to find suitable Catholics in order to fill these important positions. Where there were not enough cameralistic officers, they had reliable propertied Catholic noblemen elected to the council.30 This is how the local toll-collector became the mayor and magistrate of Sopron (and two years later a member of the nobility). The local chronicler simply referred to him as a “stranger.”31 In the case of the city of Kassa (present-day Košice in Slovakia, known as Kaschau in German), which was the seat of the police force of Upper Hungary, János Fodor, the toll-collector of the city of Újhely and the judge advocate of the police of Upper Hungary, and then later János Kinisy, a former soldier and later himself toll-collector, were the guarantee in the eyes of the commissioners of the Szepes Chamber that the measures they sought to implement would be executed in accordance with their original intentions.32 The fact that they were given these positions is remarkable, because they were strangers with no local family or economic ties. The new government officers usually did not even have the status of burgess. They obtained it only after having been elected to their positions.33 Despite the fact that Hungarian noblemen often chose to move to free royal cities and even went so far as to become burgesses,34 the majority of the people who as strangers to the communities rose to prominence in the cities did not own property in the inner city (unlike the Lutherans), but lived rather in the outer city, beyond the city walls.35 Indeed in some cases they owned nothing whatsoever within the boundaries of the city. This is a clear indication that these people did not belong to the elite layer of the Sopron burgesses, neither from a social nor an economic perspective.36

While the cameralistic civil servants who rose to the fore in the cities had barely any relationship with the local burgesses and therefore governed the towns as complete strangers, their professional competence could not be thrown into question, for they had a solid knowledge of economics and law. Their role, however, was passing. After a transitional period, the cameralistic commissioners strove to find new leaders for the cities who were tied to the given community, but who as Catholics had been excluded from power.

 

A New Leading Urban Elite?

 

By the last decades of the seventeenth century the election commissioners had come to hold in deep contempt the practice of their predecessors of replacing trained and qualified Lutherans on the inner city councils with unqualified Catholics. In the assessment of the commissioners who came to the cities towards the end of the seventeenth century, these people, the majority of whom were decidedly unqualified, did nothing to improve life in the cities. On the contrary, because of their ignorance of public affairs they did considerable harm to the city and the management of finances.37 In the case of the city of Sopron, Georg Waxman, a soap maker and also the first Catholic to serve on the city council, constitutes a paradigmatic example. He was granted the status of burgess only in 1671, and had owned no property in the city prior to this. In spite of the fact that even the cameralistic commissioners themselves reported that Waxman was a “homo scripturae ignarus,” in other words someone who was unable to write, they nonetheless nominated him for the position of magistrate and mayor (though he was never chosen for either post). He was once even forced to resign because of his unsuitability for the position, a clear sign of his lack of qualifications. In spite of his basic incompetence, he was nevertheless entrusted with the financial affairs and statements of account of the city for six years, even though the commissioners may well have realized the risks of doing this. In subsequent years they were compelled to continue to push Waxman into the forefront of public affairs because there were so few Catholics suitable for such roles in the city that they sooner supported him than the other, generally uneducated Catholics of Sopron, most of whom earned their livelihoods as artisans and tradesmen.38 One comes across similar cases in other cities. In the case of the cities of northern Hungary, for instance, in 1677 the cameralistic administration of the Szepes region (or Spiš by its Slovak name) reported to the monarch that it had had to overcome considerable difficulties in its efforts to help Catholic senators first obtain the status of burgess and then become members of the council, due primarily to their lack of education.39 These problems, however, were transitional. The measures that were adopted and the efforts that were made according to the reports of the cameralistic commissioners suggest that after the initial difficulties had been overcome genuinely qualified people were elected to the important city offices, and when someone was found to be unqualified, he was dismissed.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century significant changes took place among the Catholic municipal leaders as well. The commissioners managed to solve the problem that stemmed from a dearth of qualified individuals among the Catholic residents of the city by finding qualified Catholics for the most important positions who earlier had established a relationship with the city and were already bound by many ties to its inhabitants. As thorough studies of the individual cities reveal, these people were already held in high esteem, in part because of family ties and in part because of their social and economic connections. Some of these “half outsiders” had been officers on the large estates in the area, which were tightly bound to the cities by economic ties. Many of them had already settled permanently in the city and owned dwellings within the city walls. In general they were members of the nobility of the city (in other words people from noble families who did not pursue any occupation)40 who had belonged to the one-time economic elite. It was common for their progeny to remain among the leaders of the city, either in the service of the state in the case of sons or as the wives of civil servants in the case of daughters.41 However, as Hungarians, some of the members of the nobility who had thus come to positions of power did not have the necessary knowledge of languages, and this complicated and hampered their advancement in the cities, most of which were run by German speakers. They too belonged to the nobility and the elite that had knowledge of law and jurisprudence, as indicated, for instance, by the fact that their sons generally also completed university studies and their reports offer testimony of their knowledge of the law.42

From the perspective of the changes that took place in city politics and the efforts that were undertaken to re-Catholicize the urban communities, the best candidates were naturally people who belonged to the older generations of urban inhabitants who had achieved the status of burgess but who also had the necessary qualifications and, of course, belonged to the Catholic Church. Even in this period there were some such people in the cities, a fact that indicates the effects of earlier efforts to reassert Catholicism in Hungary.43 In some cases their place of birth was the city in which they later filled important positions, but in others they were immigrants from predominantly Catholic provinces. One might well ask whether they had perhaps made earlier attempts to acquire positions of influence in municipal offices but had failed precisely because they were Catholic, but the available sources yield no answer to this question. Their circumstances improved dramatically as they came to understand that their abilities and the recognition they enjoyed among the people of the city made them invaluable to the cameralistic commissioners, who were charged with the task of finding Catholics suitable for positions in municipal affairs. The sources suggest that they took advantage of the circumstances in their struggles against one another as well. If an election did not turn out as they had hoped it would, they would attempt to intimidate the commissioner, who found himself in a precarious position, by threatening to resign. According to the commissioners’ reports, it was almost impossible to replace such people without putting unqualified and unsuitable artisans in the positions they would have left vacant.44

Some of these Catholics were relatives of some of the more important Lutheran families of the cities. Mihály Kersnarits, a Catholic who played a prominent role as one of the leaders of the city (for many years he served either as mayor or magistrate), was related through his step-mother to the Artner and Dobner families, two influential families in the Lutheran community. For the commissioners, he was a trustworthy Catholic who enjoyed widespread recognition among the people of the city, in other words an ideal leader in the municipal government and someone on whose behalf even the civil servants of the treasury used their influence. Under the system that had evolved, these people rose to fill prominent positions alongside their Lutheran counterparts, winning the local elections either with only a small minority voting against them or by unanimous consent, something that was remarkable to say the least in the cities, in which Lutherans still constituted a majority.45 Often a Catholic who was also part of the local intelligentsia became a family member not of one of the leading families of the city, but rather of one of the civil servants of the local treasury. These were people who had the status of burgesses and were part of the civic life of the city, but who also became part of the public administration thanks to their relationships with state officers. This gave them many advantages, of course, since as burgesses and members of the elite and the intelligentsia (primarily people with training as physicians and apothecaries) they were esteemed members of the community. And naturally their close ties to the representatives of state power clearly put them in a favorable position. If they happened to be dissatisfied with their circumstances, they immediately could profit from their relatives’ relationships with people in positions of power and could turn with their complaints directly to the Hungarian chancellery, which functioned as the highest forum for interchange between the monarch and his subjects.46 With the help of the cameralistic commissioners educated Catholic burgesses were able to secure positions as notaries, councilors, and even magistrates and mayors if they had moved to cities where the process of re-Catholicization had already taken place. Of the cities of the Hungarian Kingdom, Eisenstadt (Kismarton by its Hungarian name) and Rust (Ruszt), which earlier had been part of Lower Austria, were perhaps the first two places where according to the election commissioners the population was entirely Catholic.47

These examples cast light on how only some of the Catholics who came to displace the Lutheran elite were actually unsuitable for the positions for which they had been selected by the treasury or the cameralistic commissioners. In the first phase of the introduction of the measures regarding city politics in the last third of the seventeenth century a great number of people did indeed rise to positions of prominence in the municipal administration, either as city leaders or members of the inner council, who were essentially strangers to the city. They were primarily civil servants of the treasury, but given their earlier responsibilities they could be considered qualified to tend to the tasks of administration. At the time, there were many Catholics in the high-level offices of the municipal governments who had very little competence in the affairs of civic governance. By the end of the century, most of them had lost their positions, but in some cases they remained the best (Catholic) candidates for the job, given the dearth of qualified Catholic burgesses. By the last two decades of the century there were some Catholic burgesses who had the necessary qualifications, though not many. They rose to positions of importance as individuals with the appropriate social status and background who from the perspective of their family relations had something of a dual identity: they had become relatives of the leading burgess families as people occupying state offices. Thus they can be considered the predecessors of the new leading municipal elite that began to come to power in the beginning of the eighteenth century, and eventually the forerunners (from the perspective of their attitudes) of the so-called “honorácior” class of the nineteenth century. The latter played a prominent role in the spread of the burgess class and lifestyle in Hungary. Thus the processes under discussion here and in the subsequent section of this essay can be seen as important initial steps in the rise of a middle (bourgeois) class in Hungary.48

 

New Tendencies in City Politics at the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century

 

The changes that took place over the course of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries thus played an important role in the virtual transformation over the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries of municipal officers into officers of the centralized state. Their family relations linked them not only to the burgesses of the cities, but also to members of this elite working in other offices of the state. They thereby strengthened the “honorácior” intelligentsia, which was emerging as an increasingly unified modern social group founded on technical and bureaucratic expertise. In the case of the urban elite that rose to power at the end of the seventeenth century, these tendencies grew stronger and incorporated new elements. Intervention into municipal affairs by the state altered the political relationships. A Catholic with the necessary knowledge and skills was increasingly valued, particularly if he nurtured political ambitions. This had been the state of affairs for some two decades by the time Catholics obtained offices in the treasury.49 Since the centralized state was coming to regard the municipal officers more as agents of its own interests, this expectation played a considerable role in the conversion of many of the city burgesses to Catholicism. Undoubtedly from the perspective of the commissioners, who had very little choice when it came to Catholic candidates for public office with the necessary qualifications, this represented a considerable change for the better, and the burgesses who converted were easily able to obtain positions of influence. In the initial stages, however, members of the Lutheran elite were reluctant to convert.50 Nonetheless, there were counterexamples. In the second half of the seventeenth century, fearing the influence of the city magistrate, Hans Weber of Eperjes (Prešov by its Slovak name, and Preschau in German) converted to Catholicism, for instance.51 The only other example one can mention with all certainty is that of Leopold Natl of Sopron, but he only converted at the age of sixty-two (in 1692), when he had already achieved essentially everything that a citizen of the city could have hoped to achieve at the time. He served for years as the leader of the municipal council of Sopron. In 1685 he was given the rank of baron in recognition of his services to the state and county as mayor, magistrate, and noble burgess, and in 1689 he was made a Knight of the Golden Spur.52 In contrast, among the municipal officers who were becoming councilors at the beginning of the eighteenth century there were proportionally far more recently converted Catholics whose parents had been Lutherans and in some cases even Lutheran pastors. Their family relations brought them into close contact with and even made them part of the Lutheran elite of the city, but—and this is a sign of the importance of conversion—of the people who belonged to families who earlier had enjoyed significant influence, only those who had converted managed to attain positions of importance in municipal affairs.53 As they progressed in their careers, they were able to count on the support of the cameralistic commissioners and even the most important high offices of the country. Leopold Kampel of Sopron, for instance, had the support of palatine Pál Esterházy.54 With the assistance of Leopold Karl von Kollonich, bishop of Wiener Neustadt, Friedrich Weber (the son of Hans Weber of Eperjes) attained the position of notary of Besztercebánya (Banská Bystrica in Slovak, Neusohl in German).55 István Kőszegi of Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg) submitted a request to Leopold I (acting as if he considered himself an officer in direct contact with the monarch) in which he asked to be appointed municipal attorney.56

One discerns traces, in the first decades of the eighteenth century, of a tendency among the members of the municipal elite in Hungary that was widespread across Europe. Education and in particular knowledge of law and economics played an important role in the selection of municipal leaders. As a kind of antecedent to this, one notes that over the course of the seventeenth century schooling was an increasingly significant factor in the selection of candidates for positions in government office in nearby Vienna. A decree issued in Vienna in 1656 offers clear evidence of the rise in the importance of the education of an officer. According to the decree, only someone with significant education could be a member of the city council. Indeed gradually education came to be a more important factor than property. Between 1671 and 1705 half of the councilors in Vienna enrolled in one of the universities, and almost all of them were lawyers.57 In the cities of the Holy Roman Empire this tendency had become widespread much sooner. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, lawyers in the German cities played a far more important role than they once had. They also made up an ever larger proportion of the inner councils. At the beginning of the seventeenth century most of the members of the council of the city of Frankfurt were lawyers. As of 1669 only a trained lawyer could serve as mayor.58 In the eighteenth century in most of the Habsburg provinces one could not obtain the position of councilor without having passed a local test in law or completed university studies, and candidates also had to complete a preliminary exam that had to be submitted to the central government authorities.59

In the latter half of the seventeenth century many of the Lutheran city elite in Hungary also had some education or even a doctorate in law. At the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and for the first two decades of the eighteenth century this tendency grew more and more pronounced, in part because of the expectations of the centralized state. At the time almost every member of the Lutheran elite had had some education in law and was active as a lawyer or jurist.60

Ferdinand Dobner paszt opt

Figure 4. Ferdinand Dobner, the Lutheran mayor of Sopron wearing the necklace received from Leopold I.

Source: Nineteenth-century copy, Museum of Sopron

The commissioners only took Catholics who had the necessary qualifications into consideration. By the early eighteenth century there were still not enough such Catholics to meet the demand, so the commissioners sought out servants of the treasury or a landowner who were acceptable to the inhabitants of the city. The political circumstances at the time no longer favored the commissioners (who represented the cities, the state and the monarch) as they once had. One comes across indications in the available sources of concerted resistance, and if a commissioner hoped to arrive at a long-term solution, he was compelled to take the desires of the (for the most part Lutheran) people of the city into consideration and make compromises. The Lutherans accepted the practice of allowing only a Catholic to replace a Catholic on the council, but only if the candidate had already been given the status of burgess at the time of his selection and had already had ties to the freemen of the city. In general the people who were selected for such roles were members of the propertied nobility of the region who had settled in the cities,61 or when it was simply impossible to find a suitable burgess of the city, the commissioners would nominate some civil servant of the treasury. But even in such cases they strove to find someone who was related in some way to the members of the city elite (and they sought Catholics first and foremost, of course). Sometimes they would choose an officer who had married the widow of a servant of the treasury who had been chosen for want of a better candidate.62 Their offspring in general would be able to continue in their parents’ footsteps as denizens of the city invested with the full rights of the burgess class and as the children of families of civil servants and intellectuals, and the members of the next generation were able to assume many of the most important positions in the city. They had far more familial ties to the new leading Catholic elite. The children of Catholic municipal leaders very often intermarried, thereby strengthening their positions through the creation of a strong network of family and economic links. As the steward of the estates of the bishop of Rákos, Johann Michael Schilson, for instance, was made a member of the inner council of Sopron by the order of the monarch. As a member of the council, he married the daughter of Mihály Kersnarits, who served many times both as mayor and magistrate.63 Qualified converts who as Lutherans had acquired knowledge of administration and who, because of their family ties, can be seen as elite members of the urban community were also able to become members of the municipal council.64 As of the end of the seventeenth century, the Catholic members of the city elite began to become a part of the old city elite, as indicated both by the relationships they began to establish with other families of the city and their acquisition of dwellings within the city walls. Those who came into possession of properties in the inner cities already had completed university studies in law and administration and therefore were able to join the municipal leaders as trained city officers. They tended to purchase homes in the innermost quarters of the city and as close as possible to the main squares, where the town hall was located.65

In some cases Catholics were able to take advantage of the available opportunities and launch what turned out to be impressive careers. Some of the officers and intellectuals who arrived from other areas were given opportunities in new places. In these cases, however, we are dealing with the development of individual intellectual-elite families. According to the cameralistic commissioners, Georg Waxman, the aforementioned soap maker, was almost illiterate. His sons, however, were not. Their father was able to learn from his own shortcomings and therefore ensured that each of his two sons receive some education. His older son, also Georg, thus became the city notary and in 1722 a member of the inner council, then magistrate for two years, and in 1734 he became mayor. While the elder Waxman was related to the burgesses of Sopron by marriage, his son Georg took another path. His first wife was not the child of one of the burgess families of the city, but his second wife was the widow of Johann Strauss, the son of Sopron custom-house officer Mathias Strauss. In other words the younger Georg set his sights on the “honorácior” circle of the city elite, a class that held state office and owned property in the city. A further indication of this was his decision to allow his daughter to marry Ferenc Petrák, the son of former mayor János Petrák and a man who was also pursuing a career in state affairs. With the help of a municipal foundation, Ferenc Petrák completed his university studies and later became a member of the inner council and then served as mayor and magistrate.66 His other son, Johann Georg, completed his studies in law with the assistance of this foundation and earned his livelihood as an attorney. He was not able to become a member of the council in Sopron, but in the nearby city of Rust (Ruszt) he served as notary and council member.67 At the beginning of his career the elder Waxman owned only a house in the part of the city lying outside the city walls. In 1699 he purchased a home across from the Church of Saint George, in other words in one of the important parts of the city, which he later left to his older son. In the meantime, in 1719, as his career progressed, his older son was able to purchase a house on the main square of the city in close proximity to the town hall.68 The Waxman family of Sopron offers a clear example of how state intervention in municipal affairs at the end of the seventeenth century created opportunities for families that in earlier times would have faced considerable difficulties had they attempted to become part of the municipal political leadership or the intellectual elite. For them, the changes that were introduced in municipal affairs constituted advantages and opportunities for social advancement, making it easier for them to become part of the increasingly influential circle of officers and intellectuals and later the so-called “honorácior” class of civil servants.

 

Conclusion

 

At the beginning of this essay I raised the following two questions: was it the goal of the central government to develop well-trained, bureaucratic municipal administrations that resembled the administrative municipal bodies in other parts of Europe, and if so, did the central government succeed in this goal? As the cases presented above clearly demonstrate, the answer to both questions is yes. While at the end of the seventeenth century, in its efforts to reassert Catholicism in the cities the centralized state found itself compelled, given the dearth of qualified or educated Catholics, to select people for positions in the municipal councils who lacked the appropriate training, with the passing of a single generation fundamental changes took place. The people who were in positions of power at the time, both Lutherans and Catholics, had an education in law and economics, for the most part were bound to the community by strong family ties and owned property in parts of the city that were important from the perspective of municipal affairs. The emergence of this social group (or class) and the assumption by its members of positions in municipal leadership ushered in a new era, the era of the emergence of a new social layer of bureaucrats and intellectuals, also the era of the rise of the middle class and the “honorácior” layer of civil servants. They had family ties not only to families prominent in city affairs on the local and regional level, but also to families active in the administration of the centralized state. Because of these ties, their interests played a clear role in state administration, and they defended both their personal interests and the needs of their cities, at times even in opposition to the goals and strivings of the centralized state.

 

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Translated by Thomas Cooper.

1 Ronald G. Asch and Heinz Duchhardt, eds., Der Absolutismus – ein Mythos? Strukturwandel monarchischer Herrschaft in West- und Mitteleuropa (ca. 1550–1700) (Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 1996); Ronald G. Asch, “Kriegsfinanzierung, Staatsbildung und ständische Ordnung im Westeuropa im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert,” Historisches Zeitschrift 268 (1999): 635–71; Nicholas Henshall, The Myth of Absolutismus: Change and Continuity in Early Modern European Monarchy (London: Longman, 1992); Alwin Hanschmidt, “Zur Armenpolizei und Armenversorgund in der Stadt Münster im 17. Jahrhundert,” in Städtisches Gesundheits- und Fürsorgewesen vor 1800, ed. Peter Johanek (Köln: Böhlau, 2000), 225–41.

2 Richard Bonney, ed., The rise of the fiscal state in Europe c. 1200–1815 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Marjolein C. ’t Hart, The making of a bourgeois state. War, politics and finance during the Dutch revolt (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1993); Patrick K. O’ Brien and Philip A. Hunt, “The Rise of a Fiscal State in England, 1485–1815,” Historical Research 66, no. 160 (1993): 129–76; Simonetta Cavaciocchi, ed., La fiscalità nell’economia europea secc. XIII–XVIII: Atti della “Trentanovesima settimana di studi,” 22–26 aprile 2007 (Florence: Florence University Press, 2008).

3 Fernand Braudel, Civilisation matérielle, économie et capitalisme, XVe–XVIIIe siècle. 1. Les structures du quotidien. Le possible et l’impossible [Nouv. éd.]. (Paris: Colin, 1979), 463.

4 On the notion of the “nationalization” of the cities see Klaus Gerteis, Die deutschen Städte in der frühen Neuzeit. Zur Vorgeschichte der “bürgerlichen Welt” (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1986), 73–80; Nicolas Rügge, Im Dienst von Stadt und Staat. Der Rat der Stadt Herford und die preußische Zentralverwaltung im 18. Jahrhundert (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2000).

5 Charles Tilly and Wim Blockmans, Cities and the rise of states in Europe, A.D. 1000 to 1800 (Boulder, Coloua: Westview Press, 1994); Alexander Cowan, Urban Europe 1500–1700 (London: Arnold, 1998); Thomas Riis and Poul Strømstad, eds., Le pouvoir central et les villes en Europe du XVe siècle aux débuts de la révolution industrielle: Actes du colloque de la Commission internationale pour l’histoire des villes au Danemark, Copenhague 1976 (Copenhagen, Comité danois pour l’histoire des villes, 1978); Christopher R. Friedrichs, Urban politics in early modern Europe (London: Routledge, 2000); Mathieu Marraud, De la ville à l’État, la bourgeoisie parisienne, XVIIe–XVIIIe siècle (Paris: Albin Michel, 2009); Giorgio Chittolini, “Städte und Regionalstaaten in Mittel- und Oberitalien zwischen spätem Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit,” in Res Publica. Bürgerschaft in Stadt und Staat. Tagung der Vereinigung für Verfassungsgeschichte in Hofgeismar am 30./31. März 1987, Der Staat Beiheft 8 (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1988), 179–200; Otto Brunner, “Souverenitätsproblem und Sozialstruktur in den deutschen Reichsstädten der früheren Neuzeit,” Vierteljahrschrift für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsgeschichte, no. 50 (1953): 329–60; Peter Blickle, Rosi Fuhrmann, and Andreas Würgler, Gemeinde und Staat im Alten Europa (Munich: R. Oldenbourg, 1998); Rudolf Schlögl and Jan Marco Sawilla, eds., Urban Elections and Decision-Making in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1800 (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars, 2009).

6 Géza Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy in the Sixteenth Century, Hungarian Studies Series 18 (New York: Boulder, 2009).

7 Jenő Szűcs, “Das Städtewesen in Ungarn im XV–XVII. Jh.,” in La Renaissance et la Réformation en Pologne et en Hongrie, 1450–1650, ed. György Székely and Erik Fügedi, Studia Historica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 53. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1963), 97–164; András Kubinyi, “Der ungarische König und seine Städte im 14. und am Beginn des 15. Jahrhunderts,” in Stadt und Stadtherr im 14. Jahrhundert. Entwicklungen und Funktionen, ed. Wilhelm Rausch, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Städte Mitteleuropas 2 (Linz/Donau: Österreichischer Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung, 1974), 193–220.

8 István H. Németh, Várospolitika és gazdaságpolitika a 16–17. századi Magyarországon [City Politics and Economic Policy in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Hungary] (Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó, 2004).

9 István H. Németh, “Die finanziellen Auswirkungen der osmanischen Expansion auf die Städteentwicklung in Ungarn,” in La Fiscalità nell’economia europea secc. XIII–XVIII – Fiscal Systems in the European Economy from the 13th to the 18th Century, ed. Cavaciocchi Simonetta (Florence: Florence University Press, 2008), 771–80.

10 Karl Gutkas, “Das Städtewesen des österreichischen Donauländer und der Steiermark im 14. Jahrhundert,” in Stadt und Stadtherr im 14. Jahrhundert. Entwicklungen und Funktionen, ed. Wilhelm Rausch, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Städte Mitteleuropas 2 (Linz/Donau: Österreichischer Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung, 1972), 234–37; Otto Brunner, “Städtische Selbstregierung und neuzeitlicher Verwaltungsstaat in Österreich,” Österreichische Zeitschrift für öffentliches Recht 6 (1955): 221–49; Martin Scheutz, “Compromise and Shake Hands. The Town Council, Authority and Urban Stability in Eighteenth-Century Austrian Small Towns,” Urban History 34, no. 1 (2006): 51–63; Franz Baltzarek, “Die Stadtordnung des Ferdinands I. und die städtische Autonomie im 16. Jahrhundert,” in Wien an der Schwelle der Neuzeit, ed. Franz Baltzarek et al. (Vienna: Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv, 1974), 31–43.

11 Szűcs, “Das Städtewesen in Ungarn,” Cf. István H. Németh, “Európska doktrína alebo uhorská špecialita?” [A European Doctrine or a Hungarian Specialty?], Historický Časopis 57, no. 4 (2009): 641–58.

12 Ernst Hinrichs, “Abschied vom Absolutismus. Eine Antwort auf Nicholas Henshall,” in Der Absolutismus – ein Mythos? Strukturwandel monarchischer Herrschaft in West- und Mitteleuropa (ca. 1550–1700) (Köln–Vienna–Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 1996), 353–71; Rudolf Vierhaus, Staaten und Stände. Vom westfälischen bis zum Hubertusburger Frieden 1648–1763 (Berlin: Propyläen-Verlag, 1984), 15–38.

13 Katalin Péter, “The Struggle for Protestant Religious Liberty at the 1646–47 Diet in Hungary,” in Crown, Church and Estates. Central European Politics in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, ed. Robert John Weston Evans and Trevor V. Thomas, Studies in Russia and East Europe (London: Macmillan in association with the School of Slavonic and Eastern European Studies University of London, 1994), 261–68; Joachim Bahlcke, Konfessionalisierung in Ostmitteleuropa. Wirkungen des religiösen Wandels im 16. und 17. Jahrhundert in Staat, Gesellschaft und Kultur (Stuttgart: Steiner, 1999); Josef Hrdlička, “Die (Re-)Katholisierung lokaler Amtsträger in Böhmen. Konfession oder Disziplin?” in Staatsmacht und Seelenheil. Gegenreformation und Geheimprotestantismus in der Habsburgermonarchie, ed. Rudolf Leeb, Susanne Claudine Pils, and Thomas Winkelbauer, Veröffentlichungen des Instituts für Österreichische Geschichtsforschung 47 (Vienna: Oldenbourg, 2007), 357–66.

14 Scheutz, “Compromise and Shake Hands.”

15 Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv, Hoffinanz Ungarn (=HKA HFU) RN 360. December 1693. fol. 365–72. December 15, 1690.

16 For an example see Rügge, Im Dienst von Stadt und Staat, 70–108.

17 Anton Špiesz, Slobodné kráľovské mestá na Slovensku v rokoch 1680–1780 [The Free Royal Cities in Slovakia between 1680 and 1780] (Košice: Východoslovenské vydavateľstvo, 1983); István H. Németh, “Die finanziellen Auswirkungen,” 771–80, and Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MNL OL) [Hungarian National Archives] Kincstári Szervek, Magyar Kamara Archívuma Miscellanea (E 210) Civitatensia 15. No. 9; MNL OL Kincstári Levéltárak, Magyar Kamara Regisztratúrája E 34 (Protocollum diversarum relationum super restaurationibus liberarum regiarum civitatum) (=E 34 [prot. rest. civ.]) 406, 495.

18 Felhő Ibolya, “A szabad királyi városok és a Magyar Kamara a XVII. században” [The Free Royal Cities and the Hungarian Chamber in the Seventeenth Century], Levéltári Közlemények 24 (1946): 209–67.

19 István H. Németh, “Pre-Modern State Urban Policy at a Turning Point in the Kingdom of Hungary. The Elections to the Town Council,” in Urban Elections and Decision Making in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1800, ed. Schlögl Rudolf (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009), 276–99.

20 “…necessarium valde et expediens iudicavimus, ut quandoquidem catholica ortodoxa per Dei gratiam fides, magnum illic incrementum sumpsisse, frequentesque catholicae bene qualificatae, ad gerenda senatoria, et quaelibet alia inter vos consueta officia, idoneae personae inveniri comperiantur.” Archív Mesta Košice, [Archives of the City of Košice] Schwartzenbachiana No. 9277, Vienna, 16 December 1674. See Ibid., No. 9332, Bratislava, 19 June 1675; No. 9405, Košice, 7 January 1676; No. 9475, Vienna, 24 December 1677; No. 9476, Bratislava, 2 January 1677; No. 11008, Vienna, 2 December 1696.

21 Szűcs, “Das Städtewesen in Ungarn,” 156; Špiesz, Slobodné kráľovské mestá na Slovensku v rokoch 1680–1780, 29–46; Anton Špiesz, “Der Wiener Hof und die Städte in Ungarn in den Jahren 1681–1780,” in Die Städte Mitteleuropas, 83–95; Anton Špiesz, “Rekatolizácia na Slovensku v mestách v rokoch 1681–1781,” [The Reestablishment of Catholicism in the Cities between 1681–1781], Historický Časopis 39 (1991): 588–612; Marie Marečková, “Politická autonomie a vnitřní samospráva východoslovenských svobodných královských měst v 17. století,” [The Political Autonomy of the Cities of Eastern Slovakia], Historický Časopis 41 (1993): 543–550; István H. Németh, “Európska doktrína.”

22 István H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői? A központosuló várospolitika hatásai a soproni politikai elit átrendeződésére” [Servants of the State or Representatives of the City], Soproni Szemle 61 (2007): 125–41; István H. Németh, Kassa szabad királyi város archontológiája. Bírák, külső és belső tanács (1500–1700) [Archontology of the Free Royal City of Košice. Magistrates and the Outer and Inner Council (1500–1700)], Fons Könyvek 3 (Budapest: Szentpétery Imre Alapítvány, 2006).

23 For the reports of the commissioners see: MNL OL E 34 (prot. rest. civ.) 246. On the qualifications and education of the burgesses see: H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 130.

24 Ferenc Dávid, Sopron belvárosának házai és háztulajdonosai, 1488–1939 [The Homes and Homeowners of the Inner City of Sopron] (Sopron: The Sopron Archives of Győr-Moson-Sopron County, 2008).

25 Szűcs, “Das Städtewesen in Ungarn.”; Zsuzsanna J. Újváry, “Egy kereskedőcsalád metamorfózisa” [The Transformation of a Family of Tradesmen], in Óra, szablya, nyoszolya [Clock, Sword, Bed], ed. Vera Zimányi (Budapest: Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 1994), 33–85; Zsuzsanna J. Újváry, “Polgár vagy nemes?” [Burgess or Nobleman?], in Ezredforduló – századforduló – hetvenedik évforduló. Ünnepi tanulmányok Zimányi Vera tiszteletére [Turn of the Millennium, Turn of the Century, Seventienth Anniversary. Essays in Honor of Vera Zimányi], ed. Zsuzsanna J. Újváry (Piliscsaba: Faculty of the Humanities, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, 2001), 395–426; István H. Németh, Várospolitika vol. 1, 439–72; István H. Németh, “Polgár vagy nemes? A városok nemesi rendű lakosainak problematikája a felső-magyarországi városszövetség tevékenysége tükrében” [Burgess or Nobleman? The Complexities of the City Dwellers with Titles of Nobility from the Perspective of the Activities of the City Administration in Upper Hungary], Korall 9 (2002): 79–106; István H. Németh, “Šľachta v mestách – prirodzený proces alebo negatívny jav?” [Noblemen in the Cities—a Natural Process, or Unfortunate Trend], Forum Historiae, no. 2 (2008). On the familiaris aulicae: Jenő Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, 1535–1848 [Burgess Families of Sopron, 1535–1848] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982), no. 10448; Zsuzsanna Vissi et al., Libri Regii – Királyi Könyvek, 1527–1918 [Libri Regii – Royal Books] (Budapest: Hungarian National Archives, 2006), 7.339, 10.17. On the title of familiaris aulicae: Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy, 75.

26 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 130–31.

27 H. Németh, “Pre-Modern State Urban Policy,” 290–91; István H. Németh, “Zmeny v správe miest” [Urban Administration at a Turning Point], in Kapitoly z dejín Bratislavy, eds. Gábor Czoch, Aranka Kocsis, and Árpád Tóth (Pozsony: Kalligram, 2006), 229–47.

28 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 130–32.

29 Ibid., 132–133. On the royal letters of privilege see: Vissi et al., Libri Regii – Királyi Könyvek, 10.17., 17.9., 17.104., 18.172., 24.476.

30 Károly Heimler, Payr György és Payr Mihály krónikája, 1584–1700 [The Chronicle of György Payr and Mihály Payr] (Sopron 1942), 69–70.

31 Ibid., 74; Iván Paur, “Csányi János magyar krónikája, 1670–1704” [János Csányi’s Hungarian Chronicle, 1670–1704], Magyar Történelmi Tár 5 (1858): 23.

32 On János Fodor see: HKA HFU RN 222, August 1666, fols 248–88.; RN 233, June 1671, fols 101–7; MNL OL Kincstári Levéltárak, Magyar Kamara Levéltára [Archives of the Treasury, Archives of the Hungarian Chamber] E 23 (Litt. ad Cam. Scep.) August 5, 1671, January 16, 1672; on János Kinisy: MNL OL E 23 (Litt. ad Cam. Scep.) September 19, 1671, and HKA HFU RN 235 October 1671, fols 41–2.

33 Paur, Csányi János, 23; H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 133–34.

34 H. Németh, “Polgár vagy nemes,” 88.

35 Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, No. 4429, 10710.

36 Ibid., No. 3310; Dávid, Sopron belvárosának házai és háztulajdonosai; MNL OL Kincstári Levéltárak, Magyar Kamara Regisztratúrája [Archives of the Treasury, Registratura of the Hungarian Chamber] E 41 (Litterae ad cameram exaratae) 1680, no. 121.

37 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 134.

38 Ibid. 134–35; Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 11239; Heimler, Payr György és Payr Mihály krónikája, 74.

39 MNL OL E 23 (Litt. cam. Scep.) April 21, 1677.

40 H. Németh, “Polgár vagy nemes,” 86–96; H. Németh, “Šľachta v mestách.”

41 In the case of the city of Sopron Mathias Preiner offers a paradigmatic example: Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 1627; Vissi et al., Libri Regii – Királyi Könyvek, 28.79., 30.147.

42 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 135.

43 On re-Catholization in the cities see H. Németh, “Európska doktrína”; Béla Vilmos Mihalik, “A Szepesi Kamara szerepe az 1670–1674 közötti felső-magyarországi rekatolizációban” [The Role of the Chamber of Szepes in the Reestablishment of Catholicism in Upper Hungary in 1670–1674], Fons 17 (2010): 255–320; Zsófia Kádár, “A soproni jezsuita kollégium kezdetei (1636–1640): Dobronoki György SJ superiorsága” [The Beginnings of the Jesuit College of Sopron (1636–1640): Superior General György Dobronoki], Soproni Szemle 65 (2011): 381–402, 66 (2012): 54–70.

44 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 136–37.

45 Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, No. 2395.; MNL OL E 34 (prot. rest. civ.) pag. 96, 230, 242, 272, 400–1, 490.

46 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 136–37.

47 Ibid., 137.

48 Károly Vörös, “A modern értelmiség kezdetei Magyarországon” [The Beginnings of the Modern Intelligentsia in Hungary], Valóság 18, no. 10 (1975): 1–20; Domokos Kosáry, “Értelmiség és kulturális elit a XVIII. századi Magyarországon” [Intellectual and Cultural Elite in Eighteenth-Century Hungary], in D. Kosáry, A történelem veszedelmei. Írások Európáról és Magyarországról [The Vicissitudes of History: Essays on Europe and Hungary] (Budapest: Magvető, 1987), 138–59; Árpád Tóth, “Hivatali szakszerűsödés és a rendi minták követése. Pest város tisztviselői a reformkorban” [Bureaucratic Specialization and the Imitation of Feudal Models], Tanulmányok Budapest Múltjából 25 (1996): 27–60.

49 HKA HFU RN 157, February 1638, fols 194–9, 235; RN 222, August 1666, fols 248–88.

50 István H. Németh, “A bezárkózó polgároktól a feljelentőkig: állami várospolitika – széthulló rendi város?” [From Reticent Burgess to Informant: State Urban Policy – the Disintegrating Feudal City], Levéltári Közlemények 82 (2011): 124–45.

51 Orsolya Bubryák, “Egy polgári mecénás a 17. században. Weber János eperjesi főbíró (1612–1684)” [A Burgess Patron in the Seventeenth Century. János Weber, Magistrate of Eperjes], Ars Hungarica 31 (2003): 225–80; Holda Hauke, “Die Bürgermeister der Doppelstadt Krems-Stein um die Zeit des Dreissigjährigen Krieges” (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1964), 7–20; Christian Plath, Konfessionskampf und fremde Besatzung. Stadt und Hochstift Hildesheim im Zeitalter der Gegenreformation und des Dreißigjährigen Krieges (ca. 1580–1660) (Münster: Aschendorff, 2005), 454–63; Jörg Deventer, “Die politische Führungsschicht der Stadt Schweidnitz in der Zeit der Gegenreformation,” Jahrbuch für schlesische Kirchengeschichte 76/77 (1997/ 1998): 42–49.

52 Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 2011, 8236; Vissi et al., Libri Regii – Királyi Könyvek, 18.172.

53 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 138–41.

54 Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 2010; MNL Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Soproni Levéltára, Sopron szabad királyi város levéltára [The Sopron Archives of Győr-Moson-Sopron County, Archives of the Free Royal City of Sopron] (SVL) Lad. III, Fasc. 1, no. 3.

55 Štátny archív v Banskej Bystrici, pobočka Banská Bystrica, Magistrat Mesta Banskej Bystrici [State Archives of Besztercebánya, Besztercebánya Branch], Spisy Fasc. 116, no. 21–22. Nagyszombat, February 21, 1675; Protokolly 124, January 1, 1675.

56 Archív Hlavneho Mesta Bratislavy, Spisovy material [Archives of Bratislava] Lad. 36, no. 46/b.

57 Erwin Skoda, “Die Wiener Ratsbürger zwischen 1671 und 1705” (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1974), 110–11.

58 Brunner, “Souverenitätsproblem und Sozialstruktur,” 347–55; Gerhard Dilcher, “‘Hell, verständig, für die Gegenwart sorgend, die Zukunft bedenkend’. Zur Stellung und Rolle der mittelalterlichen deutschen Stadtrechte in einer europäischen Rechtsgeschichte,” Zeitschrift der Savigny-Stiftung für Rechtsgeschichte, Germanistische Abteilung 106 (1989): 39–43; Karl Czok, “Zu den städtischen Volksbewegungen in deutschen Territorialstaate vom 16. bis zum 18. Jahrhundert,” in Die Städte Mitteleuropas im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Städte Mitteleuropas 5 (Linz/Donau: Österreichischer Arbeitskreis für Stadtgeschichtsforschung, 1981), 31–33; Giorgio Chittolini, “Lo stato e i dottori. XV–XVIII secolo,” Ricerche Storiche 19 (1989): 483–610; Gerd Kleinheyer and Jan Schröder, Deutsche Juristen aus fünf Jahrhunderten. Eine biographische Einführung in die Geschichte der Rechtswissenschaft (Heidelberg: Müller, Jur. Verl., 1989); Sigrid Jahns, “Juristenkarrieren in der frühen Neuzeit,” Blätter für deutsche Landesgeschichte 131 (1995): 113–34.

59 Wolf-Ulrich Rapp, Stadtverfassung und Territorialverfassung. Koblenz und Trier unter Kurfürst Clemens Wenzeslaus (1768–1794) (Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 1995), 48–51; Rügge, Im Dienst von Stadt und Staat.

60 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 139–41.

61 Ibid., 140.

62 Ibid., 140–41; MNL OL E 34 (Prot. rest. civ.) 403–5; SVL Lad. XXXVIII. et NN fasc. 1, no. 8.

63 Ibid., 141; Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 908, 5772, 9510, 11240; SVL Lad. XXXVIII. et NN Fasc. 1, no. 21; lad. III, fasc. 1, no. 3.

64 H. Németh, “Az állam szolgái vagy a város képviselői?” 141.

65 Dávid, Sopron belvárosának házai és háztulajdonosai.

66 Házi, Soproni polgárcsaládok, no. 908, 11240.

67 Ibid., no. 11240, 11241. His petition: SVL Lad. III. Fasc. 1, no. 46.

68 Dávid, Sopron belvárosának házai és háztulajdonosai, 45.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Béla Vilmos Mihalik

Sacred Urban Spaces in Seventeenth-Century Upper Hungary

 

This essay examines the changes that took place in the functions of sacred spaces towards the end of the seventeenth century, at the time of the upheavals of the Counter-Reformation in Upper Hungary. After having come under the control of the Catholic Church, the Protestant churches underwent a symbolic transformation characteristic of Catholic practice and belief. This transformation included changes to the furnishings and the inner spaces of the churches. At the time of the uprising led by Imre Thököly and Protestant refugees, along with the Catholic vicarage, these buildings, which were expressions of confessional belonging, became the primary targets of ritual violence. Through similar transformations and renovations, churches which since the Reformation had performed secular functions regained their status as religious buildings. In both cases, the participation of the community in Catholic rituals, such as re-consecration, mass, and procession, played a decisive role, since these rituals strengthened and helped to institutionalize (from the perspective of Catholic rites) the sacral function of the building.

 

Introduction: The Sacred Space

 

“Repair the cathedral church of Eger immediately, Your Excellency, and do begin it at once by the grace of God, because if not, I know that others will do it from Your Excellency’s income.” These lines were written in November 1692 by György Széchenyi, Archbishop of Esztergom, to György Fenessy, Bishop of Eger.1 Even this short quote provides a clear glimpse into the thinking that accompanied such sacred spaces in that era. The repair of the cathedral in Eger—that key northern Hungarian city that served as the seat of an ancient diocese and was recaptured from the Turks in 1687, marking the end of ninety-one years of Ottoman rule—would have been the responsibility of the bishop, but his failure to do so directly would mean others would do so instead, at the episcopate’s expense. Alongside the religious functions of this space, then, others now also appeared—concerns from the financial to those involving church politics. The reputation of the Catholic Church could ride on the question of renovating the cathedral, which had to be defended against those unnamed “others” who could claim a right to use of the cathedral’s space for themselves. The “others” constitute a constructed image of the enemy within society at large; a foe preparing to break into the space under the jurisdiction of the Church—and thus able to commandeer and seize its functions and furnishing. The renovation called for by the archbishop would renew and reinforce the sacral function and the Church jurisdiction of this space, and in doing so would also symbolize the dominance of the Catholic Church, which had returned to the city after a century-long hiatus.

Mihalik fig1

The present essay examines the shifting functions of urban sacred spaces in the final third of seventeenth-century Upper Hungary. This region comprises the northeast of the historical Hungary—thirteen counties that include much of present-day eastern Slovakia, eastern Hungary, the Subcarpathian region of Ukraine, and northern Romania. With the advance of the Ottoman Empire and the consequent splitting of the Kingdom of Hungary into three parts in the mid-sixteenth century, “Upper Hungary” at the time referred to the region bordered by the Ottoman Empire, the Principality of Transylvania, and Poland. It then came under the rule of the Habsburgs, but from the start of the seventeenth century parts of it (by turns smaller and larger) or sometimes all of it came for shorter and longer periods into the possession of the princes of Transylvania, a vassal state of the Ottomans.

Since the region’s center was Kassa (present-day Košice in Slovakia), that city is among those examined in this essay. Kassa was a free royal city that from the Middle Ages onward enjoyed numerous privileges. The city’s central role in Upper Hungary was further reinforced by the fact that in the second half of the sixteenth century it became the seat of the Szepes Chamber, a regional government organ with financial and economic functions, while also being a captaincy general in the Kingdom’s military hierarchy.2 After Eger fell into the Ottomans’ hands in 1596, its bishop and chapter fled to Jászó (Jasov, Slovakia), near Kassa, where it established its headquarters, and from the mid-seventeenth century it moved to Kassa.3 Beside Kassa’s role as the regional administrative, military, and economic center, its importance as a Catholic center also grew, helped along by the founding one after another of a Jesuit college and secondary school, then an academy, and finally, a seminary.4 Kassa thus became a key base of Catholic expansion in Upper Hungary notwithstanding that the city’s population and its leadership were overwhelmingly Lutheran.

The other major urban center examined by this essay is Nagybánya (Baia Mare in Romania). Upper Hungary’s border city with the Principality of Transylvania, Nagybánya over the course of the seventeenth century came under the control of Transylvania’s princes on several occasions. The last time this occurred was during the reign of György II Rákóczi, and these circumstances held firm until 1661. Although, even in the 1670s the Rákóczi family tried reacquiring Nagybánya, a key mining center, the city nominally came under Habsburg rule by the 1660s. Besides the proximity of Transylvania, its mines and its mint accounted for its significance. By around 1667 Chamber employees appeared in town, but only in 1672 did imperial troops manage to march their way in. In contrast with Kassa, Nagybánya had no Catholic tradition, its population was mostly Calvinist, though the city was also home to a small Lutheran community. Even the city’s leaders were primarily from the ranks of the Reformed. In fact, during the Reformation, by the mid-sixteenth century the Catholic Church’s institutional structure had collapsed in Nagybánya, to reappear only in 1674, when a Jesuit mission first comprising just one person, then two, arrived and got to work. In this city the rebuilding of Catholic institutions thus came hand in hand with the recatholicization of urban spaces.

While other examples besides Kassa and Nagybánya will naturally be raised in this essay, these two cities are particularly suitable for an examination of numerous characteristics of the shifting functions of sacred buildings during the conditions of conflict that defined this era, which were tantamount to a religious civil war. The period at issue starts with the collapse in 1670 of the Wesselényi Conspiracy by Hungarian nobles against the Habsburgs—in the wake of which the Habsburg imperial army occupied Upper Hungary, and those who had taken part in the conspiracy or were suspected of having done so were subjected to prosecution and seizure of their estates. Hungary’s constitution was suspended, and in 1673 a governor was appointed in the person of Johann Kaspar Ampringen, grand master of the Teutonic Order, along with a governing council (Gubernium). Coming hand in hand with the political transition was a violent attempt at a counter-reformation; which is to say, an attempt by the Catholic Church to restore the position it had lost in the Reformation. The period under scrutiny in this essay closes with 1699, which marked not only the end of the war against the Ottomans, but also the year in which—following the death of Eger Bishop György Fenessy— both the episcopate and Fenessy’s successor, István Telekessy, returned formally to Eger, their old headquarters, which had been recaptured from the Ottomans in 1687.

Just what do we mean by “sacred space”? Two fundamental processes are requisite to the creation of the social, and thus the sacred, space. The first is spacing—that is, creating the space in its general, physical, palpable sense; the furnishing of its physical details; and adorning it with representative, symbolic value to readily enable its identification as affiliated with a particular confession. The second, synthesizing process is one that enables perception and memory formation—a process that yields the “institutionalization” of the space. The creation and institutionalization of such a space can be well understood through the example of confessionalization. Developing both an external and internal, confession-specific architectural space and furnishing it with appropriate symbols serves to create the physical framework of the sacred space. Hence the possibility of contrasting a richly ornamented, baroque Catholic church with its simpler, more puritan Protestant counterpart. And yet a social space is invariably filled by—and literally brought to life by—social activity. In the case of a Catholic church, this is manifested in the course of its consecration rituals, holy masses, and processions; and in Protestant churches through services and congregational life. All these factors also contributed to the institutionalization of these confessions in the early modern period.5

Above all, it was the church itself, and the space delimited by its walls, that counted as a sacred space—standing out as it did amid the overall fabric of the city, in which it played a central role even in the early modern period. Alongside religious rituals and other such activities, the sacral function of this space was reinforced by canon law, whose rules and regulations aimed in part to restrict its secular use considered as inappropriate, albeit often in vain.6 The key role of the physical church was further bolstered by the numerous social functions that complemented its sacred character. Besides its being a space organizing society, it conveyed a sense of social hierarchy, the hierarchy of estates; for example, in seating arrangements in its pews at regular services, in church weddings, and in funerals. As for its legal and political function, the church could be the setting for court proceedings both secular and canonical, as well as inauguration ceremonies for city officials. A church could likewise fulfill military purposes: its relatively fortified construction was suitable for the protection of not only body and soul but also assets. In sum, then, a church represented a central, urban, social space whose role was not limited merely to sacral functions.7

The Reformation brought about a major change in this respect, for the emergent Protestant confessions were less bound to the physical church itself: services could be held even in the open air, while the abandonment of the cult of the saints and their relics further meant that the church no longer had quite the same sacrality as it had in the Catholic sense. Later, though, in the interest of better organizing congregational life they too prioritized use of the church space itself, albeit with a new approach to the look of the interior. Comparable research in other countries of Europe has suggested that the central role of the church as physical space diminished despite this in the early modern age, since the Catholic Church sought to limit the other functions associated with the physical church.8 As this essay will show, this was not at all the case in late-seventeenth-century Upper Hungary, and indeed, whether it applied to the Kingdom of Hungary even in the eighteenth century is in doubt.

And yet the sacred space extended beyond the physical walls of the church itself. In this respect, the square out front was paramount, as it served architecturally to further distinguish the church from the city’s surrounding structure. This space in front of the church is perhaps best conceived of as a secular space dominated by a sacred presence; it was where people entered and left the church, where crowds gathered, and where illustrious guests were welcomed before stepping inside. At the same time, this space also expanded the realm of priestly activity, as it effectively speaking broadened the church’s interior, sacred space.9 At the same, given that it marked the border of the secular and the sacred, it was particularly vulnerable to transgressions, as was often manifested in criminal or other illicit activity—including theft, begging, brawls, and prostitution.10

The most vigorous expansion of the sacred space into the world outside itself occurred in the form of the religious procession, which bestowed secular spaces with a temporary sacrality. According to this understanding of space, the conveyance of relics and the sacrament of the altar, around a city served to purify such otherwise secular spaces of heresy. Of particular importance in this regard was the procession of Corpus Christi, whose holding or not holding allowed one confession to demonstrate its dominance over another and, consequently, often led to confessional strife.11 The structure that such processions assumed made evident the shifting power relationships between various confessions, making it clear to all, for example, that a city’s Catholicized leadership held a stronger role than earlier had been the case.12

In Hungary, it was folklorists who first began to address the matter of sacred spaces. Róbert Keményfi, who summed up his research on this front in a monograph published in 2004, has been the most prominent among them. Examining from various perspectives the means by which confessional spaces can be analyzed, he has devoted special focus to the manifestation of mental space; which is to say, to the use of space and the perception of space as a coded, mental experience.13

In the realm of historical scholarship, meanwhile, recent years have seen a theoretical essay by Veronika Novák and another by András Szekeres likewise assessing the possibilities by which to examine the use of space14—with Szekeres doing so through the lens of works of Edoardo Grendi, which accorded prominence to the spatial analysis of the religious structuring of society and of religious confraternities. Szekeres, too, has emphasized that research into social space vis-à-vis Catholicism in the early modern period presents an opportunity for a “localized reading that can compare the elements of religiosity in the Baroque period and the political structuring of local communities in a more coherent manner than ever before.”15

Veronika Novák, meanwhile, opened the door to new avenues of research by widening the range of possible questions. For example, examining source materials on competing confessions facilitates a comparative analysis of their spatial perspectives. By examining borders and how these borders were crossed, she argues we can shed new light both on how these confessions stood apart from each other and on their interrelationships. The joint analysis of new counterconcepts—private and public space, sacred and secular, closed and open spaces—shall bring new results. As for the present essay, its key starting point is the premise of a sacred space that was ever shifting and used in varying ways both in the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation, as well as the issue of desacralization.16

And yet the examples of sacred spaces in the early modern age are few and far between in the latest Hungarian historical scholarship. Worthy of note is György Granasztói’s research in the city of Nagyszombat (Trnava in Slovakia), which examined the victory of the Catholic Church through changes in the city’s structure—yielding the same local reading in the case of Nagyszombat as András Szekeres did in regard to Catholicization in the early modern age.17

A similarly forward-looking piece of scholarship was Éva Knapp and Gábor Tüskés’s research into the sacral spatial structure of pilgrimage sites, which is also worthy of note for its in-depth analysis of social rituals that engendered sacred spaces—rituals that rendered such pilgrimage sites the cultic, sacral centers of their communities, with significant regional or even far wider geographic implications.18

This essay first examines the recatholicization of Protestant churches and the re-establishment of Catholic sacrality, then addresses the question of spaces desacralized during the Reformation. Next it analyzes ritual violence against churches. Finally it looks at the factors that reinforced or weakened spaces’ sacral characteristics. All in all, it seeks to answer this question: how did the violent Counter-Reformation of the late-seventeenth century reshape the social use of cities’ central space, that of churches?

Making Catholic Churches out of Protestant Ones

 

The seizure of Protestant churches and their handover to Catholics got underway in Upper Hungary in the spring of 1671—with the old Franciscan monasteries in Bártfa and Eperjes (Bardejov and Prešov in Slovakia, respectively) and the Slovak church in Lőcse (Levoča, Slovakia) among the first.19 Plans were already set for these actions by the fall of 1670, which is when János Gubasóczy, Bishop of Pécs20, wrote to Esztergom Archbishop György Szelepcsényi that in Lőcse, “some empty monasteries are already being shrewdly cleaned out, so there should be constant petitions over this.”21 “Cleaning out” here presumably meant that the city leadership had placed these churches’ most valuable furnishings and other items under its own supervision to keep them from falling into the hands of the Catholics.

Church seizures followed a tried and tested procedure. That of the church in Szendrő in 1672 saw the Szepes Chamber provide a strikingly detailed account for its local official, István Pethő. As a representative of the governing administration, Pethő had to proceed in sync with Szendrő’s Franciscan father superior, who represented the Catholic Church. The seizure of this particular church was carried out by the German soldiers stationed there under the command of Captain Georg Wilhelm Schöning. As a sacred space, the church had to be formally reappropriated by the local Roman Catholic representative, in this case the Franciscan, albeit with the support of the Chamber representative acting on behalf of the civil administration—who was authorized to banish the Protestant pastor from the city, which itself was under the management of the Chamber as the representative of its owner, the Hungarian royal treasury. Hence, the act of retaking the church symbolized cooperation between the Catholic Church and the state, further facilitated by the German army, which in turn represented the imperial royal power.22

Difficulties were often encountered in reappropriating churches. In the case of Szendrő, the Chamber signaled its willingness to order the church’s seizure by force: it was made clear that if a key did not turn up, a locksmith would open the door. On November 24, 1671, the door to the cathedral in Kassa, the de facto capital of Upper Hungary, was opened with the help of an axe—as the locksmith had not been succesful.23 In Nagybánya in 1674, local townspeople not only took up arms against the Chamber committee that arrived to seize Saint Stephen Church but also summoned the help of anti-Habsburg bujdosók (fugitives)—resistance that proved effective until put down by imperial troops arriving from Szatmár (Satu Mare in Romania).24

In the wake of a seizure, it was reconsecration that ensured a church’s sacral function in the Catholic sense. On November 25, 1671, a day after the reappropriation of Saint Elizabeth Cathedral in Kassa, the chapter of the Eger cathedral, with Bishop Ferenc Lénárd Szegedy in the lead, entered Saint Elizabeth Cathedral in a procession. Once the bishop had reconsecrated the church, they sang the Te Deum; meanwhile, German guards stationed outside welcomed the cathedral’s reappropriation with canon- and gunfire.25 On the occasion of the seizure of the church in Jolsva (Jelšava in Slovakia) in 1672, the parish priest led a procession into the church while singing the Litany of Loreto. The next day—the first day of Easter—the local organist was on hand to provide music for a holy mass, as were bugle players provided by a contingent of German troops from nearby Murány (Muráň, Slovakia).26 This procession—culminating with the grand entry into the church and accompanied by the music and indeed the thunder of ceremonial canon fire—ensured an audiovisual sensation that simultaneously symbolized the religious mission and the power of the Catholic Church.

A church’s sacrality was likewise symbolized by its furnishings, not least its array of liturgical objects. As for the latter, in the wake of reappropriation the most salient challenge to refurnishing churches was that Protestant city leaders often delayed the return of such objects or outright hid them. In the market town of Gönc (present-day northern Hungary) the new parish priest demanded that city officials return the church’s liturgical objects, but the officials turned over only the chalices, vestments, and rugs in their official inventory, claiming that the rest of the objects being sought had either been previously taken from them or that they didn’t know about them to begin with.27 In Kassa in 1672, the city’s new, Catholic judge, János Fodor, ordered an investigation to determine whether the silver-gilt chalices local Lutheran ministers used in communions had perhaps originated in the treasury of the cathedral that had been reappropriated in the fall of 1671.28 For his part, the parish priest in Eperjes, Augustin Langner, complained that city officials disregarded the Chamber’s decree and ignored the matter of the missing monstrance. In their defense, city officials denied that neglect accounted for their lack of attention to the matter, citing instead the dire poverty they were meanwhile dealing with.29

Chamber records provide but fragmentary data on how churches were furnished or redesigned. In January 1675, Protestants in Szatmár penned a letter requesting permission to keep their wooden church, explaining that it had never been in Catholic hands to begin with. This was evident from its architectural style and its foundations, they insisted, noting that it looked much more like a simple, modest home than a church. They observed that while it was suitable for preaching, for sermons, it was hardly a place to construct an elaborate altar.30 This letter amply reflects one key difference between Protestant and Catholic conceptions of sacred space. As previously noted, early Protestant confessions were not firmly bound to specific spaces. They gave interior makeovers to those churches they appropriated from Catholics, and diverged markedly from the architectural features of Catholic religious buildings when constructing new churches for themselves. The relative simplicity and modest nature of Protestant church buildings stemmed in part from a difference in religious outlook, and perhaps also in part from disparities in material wealth.

The number and design of altars comprised yet another fundamental distinction of Catholic sacred spaces. In Gönc, the parish priest György Horváth sought to have the town fund a new altar, requesting money to purchase boards and nails, as well as compensation for a carver and painter. The city denied the request, advising him to instead devote the sexton’s salary to this end, to which Horváth replied that the sexton didn’t have any salary to begin with.31 In the Jesuit church in Eperjes, in the presence of Ferenc Lénárd Szegedy, bishop of Eger, the main altar was dedicated to the Immaculate Virgin Mary; and as for the two side altars, one was dedicated to Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, and the other to Saint Francis Borgia.32 By 1686, meanwhile, two new altars were all but complete in the Jesuits’ church in Kassa—the Holy Trinity Altar and an altar dedicated to the Assumption of Mary—thanks mainly to the support of Chamber councilor Zsigmond Holló.33

Notwithstanding the dearth of information as to the specifics of churches’ interior redesign in the territory of the Eger diocese during the period, what we do know about—dedication ceremonies, the reacquisition of necessary liturgical objects, and the building of altars—points unequivocally to the re-establishment of the sacrality of the church space in the Catholic sense. This serves also to explain why these elements keep recurring in historical source materials—sources from which it is further clear that not only the Catholic Church, but also government organs devoted considerable efforts to ensuring the recatholicization of sacred spaces by such means. And yet crude violations of sacred spaces accompanied flare-ups of religious strife at the end of the seventeenth century, as the destruction of devotional objects, altars, paintings, icons, and statues, as well as the ransacking of churches came increasingly to symbolize victory over the competing confession. The next section thus briefly addresses the ritual desecration of churches.

Ritual Desecration of Churches

 

The onslaught of attacks carried out by Kuruc rebels after the collapse of the Wesselényi Conspiracy only exacerbated the poorly furnished condition of churches. (The rebels’ ranks comprised members of the lower nobility who had turned fugitives after the conspiracy’s end and organized an army. They were called bujdosók or “fugitives,” and later on Kuruc.) These attacks originated from territories bordering Upper Hungary that were under the control of Transylvania and of the Ottomans. Starting with the first major incursion, in the fall of 1672,34 conditions that amounted to an ongoing civil war prevailed in Upper Hungary for nearly a decade-and-a-half. The most serious and sustained such episode was represented by the anti-Habsburg uprising led by Count Imre Thököly, which peaked from 1682 to 1685 with his recognition by the Ottomans as vassal king of Upper Hungary.

In the course of these attacks there occurred numerous instances of what can best be understood as the ritual desecration of churches. In early October 1672, the Calvinists attacked the Franciscan monastery in Homonna (Humenné in Slovakia), chasing down and robbing the fleeing priests.35 In the fall of 1677, forces led by Pál Wesselényi occupied Nagybánya, forcing the Jesuit priests to escape with little but the skin on their backs. Residents of Nagybánya then defiled the images of saints, broke the cross, and smashed in the windows. Amid scornful remarks and swearing, locals also tore the new altars out of the Saint Martin Church, tossing them onto the square out front before publicly burning them.36 In Kisszeben (Sabinov, Slovakia), locals scattered the consecrated hosts, broke the holy water font, and cut the priest’s vestments to pieces.37 These actions, too, were punctuated by verbal insults, and the Catholics of Nagymihály (Michalovce, Slovakia) were taunted by the rebels thus: “Mary’s fled to Homonna, leaving the papists of Nagymihály with no one to save them.”38

When troops led by Imre Thököly captured Kassa on August 15, 1682, they took chalices, patens, and other valuable objects, including silver, from the Jesuits, whom they chased out of town. The priests left behind their entire library and a well equipped apothecary, not to mention the church containing seven chalices with accompanying patens, two ciboriums for holding wafers, a monstrance, and four silver candleholders; the statue of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, which had been a gift from Ferenc I Rákóczi, Prince of Transylvania; the prince’s silver epitaph; and the gilded main altar adorned with paintings.39 Thököly’s troops plundered the treasury of Kassa’s main cathedral in similar fashion—cashing in a portion of the silver, pearls, and ornaments. They had a goldsmith melt down a large silver monstrance into tiny silver sheets, and they removed the inlaid gems from a gold cross. They returned a portion of the remaining valuables to the main cathedral during the siege by the imperial forces, while entrusting the rest to the sexton. In similar fashion they began to disburse the contents of the library in Saint Elizabeth Cathedral. It was from there, for example, that Lutheran minister János Asbóth borrowed an eleven-volume concordance of the Holy Scripture.40

Such aggressive actions were not limited to the churches themselves, but also targeted the priesthood. In the village of Jernye (Jarovnice, Slovakia), the fugitives stripped the parish priest naked, flogged him, and dragged him down the main road before then taking him away. His counterpart in Kisszeben tried hiding, but in vain: on finding him the fugitives beat him until he lost consciousness, cut off his hair, and to really rub in the ridicule, led him naked into the cathedral, where he was forced to renounce the Catholic faith.41

Pillaging and ritual violence were equally part and parcel of these attacks. The burning of altars signified holy purification, and the desecration of religious objects reinforced the border between the sacred and the secular, with defiled objects winding up outside the sacred space of the given confession. Participants in the ritual desecration of churches assumed the role of church and secular officials when, in defense of given religious doctrines, they acted in what they perceived as in the interest of religious purification.42 These ritual actions targeted those fundamental elements of Catholicism that most saliently distinguished that confession from its Protestant counterparts: saints, images of the Virgin Mary, and altars. And yet among Catholics, memories of such violent acts gradually faded as rituals on their other side of the divide, from consecration to masses, gathered pace anew. The situation was similar in the case of spaces previously ascribed with sacral functions that, since the Reformation, had been used for secular purposes, and which the next section will examine.

Restoring the Sacral Functions of Desacralized Spaces

 

Particularly striking are those instances in which attempts were made to bestow sacral functions to those spaces that had lost them in the wake of the Reformation. Now back on the scene, the Catholic Church demanded the return of such buildings, and it sought to restore their earlier functions by both rearranging the spaces and re-establishing the rituals held within them. Let us consider two examples that illuminate this process.

The reappropriation of Saint Nicholas Church in Nagybánya and the restoration of its sacral functions occurred in a relatively short span of time. The church had presumably been built at the start of the fifteenth century as part of Nagybánya burgher János Omechin’s undertaking to create a foundation to establish a city hospital. By the end of the seventeenth century this foundation also came into the possession of Giródtótfalu (Tăuţii de Sus in Romania), a mill close to Nagybánya, as well as a vineyard hill. The lavish benefice must have been a key factor in the decision in 1674 by the Jesuit mission in Nagybánya to acquire Saint Nicholas Church first even though it was the smallest among the three churches in town. Historical records repeatedly refer to it as a “chapel,” in fact. Another reason may have been that this Protestant city had not used the building for religious functions. The larger Protestant confession locally, the Reformed Church, had long before come into possession of Saint Stephen Cathedral, while the Lutherans had gotten Saint Martin’s Church. All three churches were located in the city center—Saint Martin’s and Saint Stephen’s beside the main square, and Saint Nicholas near Little Market Square (Kispiac tér) not far from the other two.

Until 1674, Saint Nicholas Church had been used as the city stables, and in vain had the Szepes Chamber’s local representatives asked for its return; for city officials did not want to hand over the associated hospital and relinquish their claim to the funds that came with it. Hence they even sabotaged the cleaning of the church: On June 23, 1674, city bailiff István Jarossy informed the Chamber that the locals had even left their billy goats in there.43 And yet the Chamber had already ordered a month earlier that the church’s roof be repaired.44 István Jarossy and officials from the mint in the city had even looked into getting the suitable shingles for the job, but only in August did the church again come into the Catholics’ possession.45

The Chamber demanded that since the city had previously allowed those from Giródtótfalu to raze the church’s sacristy, it should now be rebuilt at city expense and that the church itself be renovated. They practically ordered city leaders to account for and return the church’s onetime collection of devotional and liturgical objects.46 The city in turn denied having authorized the sacristy’s destruction; its officials claimed ignorance as to the fate of liturgical objects, which, they said, had been lost in the conflict between János Szapolyai (1487–1540) and Archduke Ferdinand I (1503–1564), both of whom had claimed the title of King of Hungary.47 Even at the end of December 1674, the city denied having neglected the renovation of the church.48 In its letter to the Chamber of Hungary, the Szepes Chamber emphasized that Saint Nicholas Church, the hospital, and the foundation had been appropriated because the city had used them not in accord with its onetime privileges but for secular purposes.49

Renovation of Saint Nicholas Church dragged on for months, since “purifying” it—removing the traces of its secular uses, that is—took time. In September 1674 the Chamber asked Habsburg general Paris von Spankau to have the armaments stored there moved to Szatmár.50 More details about the renovation are to be had from a letter sent in 1677 by the Jesuit parish priest, Péter Gödy, to the Austrian provincial superior of the order who oversaw the region. According to this letter, the roof had been replaced, a new steeple had been built, a gilded cross had been placed on the church, and the vaulted sacristy had been rebuilt from the ground up. Inside, a new choir box had been built, as had a new pulpit, and the walls had been whitewashed and otherwise renovated. The cost came to a hefty sum, 671 forints. Four months after his induction Gödy could finally hold mass in the church; this, after doing so in a private home up to that point.51

Hence, this space—this church that had been used as a stables in this overwhelmingly Protestant city—now reassumed its sacral functions. Not only had it been renovated and furnished with clearly visible Catholic symbols (a gilded cross, a new steeple, and a redesigned interior), but from December 1674 this space also became newly sacred by the social activity that took place there—namely, Catholic ceremonies.

A similar process unfolded in the case of the Dominican Church in Kassa. A huge fire broke out in that city on August 22, 1674, destroying 155 houses and the city granary.52 The granary buildings had been none other than those comprising the earlier Dominican monastery and church. The Dominican order had left Kassa in 1556, likewise after a fire. In 1578, King Rudolph I had granted the abandoned church to the city for use as a granary on the condition that it be given back to the monks if they return.53 For the next century the church was thus used as a granary, while apartments, houses, and stables, were built on the monastery ruins. But in 1649 the Dominicans’ generalis commissarius in Hungary, Eustachius de Brixia, issued a formal protest that the city was using the buildings and the attendant property for its own ends.54

After the fire of 1674, the buildings were placed under the management of the treasury and a ban was imposed on all private construction there. The church had been desecrated by a most unusual means: the apartments that had been built from the ruins of the adjoining monastery had long seen their sewage diverted into the church.55 On September 12, 1674, Count Otto Ferdinand Volkra, administrator of the Szepes Chamber, signed a contract with master builder Alessandro Canneval, and a couple of days later, another contract with carpenter Paul Hornstein. While the fire had collapsed the church’s main interior wall and weakened its arches to the point where building on top of them was no longer feasible, the exterior walls remained in relatively good condition. Plans called for the nave to be turned into a granary, while the sanctuary was to be rebuilt as a smaller church. Even Ferenc Lénárd Szegedy, Bishop of Eger, agreed to this; General Paris von Spankau likewise approved.56 As for the royal court in Vienna, it assented not only to the building of the new church but also to turning the former monastery into a hospital or else for rebuilding it in line with another religious use.57 The granary was completed, but it is unclear whether the church was indeed rebuilt.

In December 1674 the Dominican order signaled its interest in reacquiring the church and monastery in Kassa, but to no avail.58 In 1680, even a royal decree to this effect proved to be in vain, almost certainly on account of the attack by the forces led by Imre Thököly.59 The Dominican order finally returned to Kassa only at the end of the century when, on December 16, 1697, Leopold I—Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia—authorized its return along with that of its benefices (including the property and income deriving from them) and their estates.60 The Chamber’s support was also vital to restoring the religious function of the Dominican church, though it is worthy of note that the proposal was to divide the church space into a church on the one hand and a granary on the other, which would have preserved a secular use of the space.

The situation was similar in the case of the Franciscan church in Kassa, which had been used partly as an arsenal while the monks were compelled to live under one roof in the adjoining monastery with imperial troops. Add to this that pending the reappropriation of Saint Elizabeth Cathedral, the members of the cathedral chapter of Eger meanwhile held mass there.61

The shifting use of such spaces in the course of the Counter-Reformation therefore manifested itself not only in the recatholicization of Protestant churches, but also in the restoration of the earlier functions of spaces desacralized in the Reformation and since used for secular purposes. It was in the course of Catholic ceremonies and liturgy that these spaces reacquired their genuine sacrality and thus wove their way back into the fabric of a given city’s religious life.

Social Practices that Engendered Sacred Spaces

 

This section provides an overview of those practices and rituals (including ones rooted in Catholic worship) on the part of the broader urban society that helped to further “institutionalize” the sacred. While available sources tend to give accounts of those activities that violated the sacrality, even these reflect typical and atypical acts linked to sacred spaces.

The most important activity in this respect was participation in holy masses. A stellar example is the market town of Gönc, whose Reformed inhabitants were reluctant indeed to participate in Catholic masses. Quoting Saint Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Ex auditu provenit fides”—Faith comes by hearing—the Chamber consequently ordered the local bailiff, István Berdóczy, to compel the residents to take part. Those who failed to attend masses were to be fined twelve forints. In their defense, the town’s Reformed residents explained that their neglect of masses was “the result of a change in teaching which, being old, that cannot get accustomed to anymore” To this the Chamber replied, “Hold onto that which you are happy to hear, our friends, and let pass by your ears that which you are not.”62 The Chamber regarded it as especially important that town officials should show a good example by themselves attending mass. Hence they were particularly subject to reprimands if they did not, as in the case of Gönc.63

With a dearth of concrete evidence, we are left only to assume that seventeenth-century Upper Hungary saw transgressions of the sort among the Catholics that were to occur in the mid-eighteenth century in the Jász region of present-day central Hungary. In the town of Jászapáti during that later era, parishioners were known to chatter and chortle during masses. In Jászberény, a spate of scandalous incidents persuaded the parish priest to suspend processions, while in Jászladány younger folk refused to carry the processional flag.64 Indeed, unsuitable behavior on the part of parishioners was apt to violate the sacred quality that masses and processions bestowed upon spaces.

Likewise important were the sacraments, especially baptism. For example, the authorities sought to prevent Protestants from having their own pastor or teacher baptize a child, thus circumventing the services of the parish priest. In Nagybánya in 1675, a fine of twenty imperial thalers was imposed on anyone who dared slip away to a neighboring village to have a child baptized or to get married in secret. People were instead required to have such rituals conducted by the Jesuits who led the Nagybánya parish.65

Indeed, it was common for Protestants barred from practicing their religion locally to secretly see to their religious needs in neighboring communities and suburbs. As Catholics exerted control over the central spaces of the city, in numerous bi- or multi-confessional cities and towns, minority religions became unable to remain part of the city’s landscape, with the faithful forced to mobility.66 And yet Protestants, not as bound as Catholics to the physical church as a sacred space, could maintain their congregational lives even in private homes or other secular spaces. This was particularly true after the enacting of laws on religion at the 1681 Diet of Hungary held in Sopron. In the summer of 1682, Kisszeben resident István Szirmay provided space in his own home for a minister to conduct Protestant services, and similar efforts were uncovered among Protestants in Kassa.67 In the second half of the 1680s, the tendency for Protestants to be edged out of city and town centers was reinforced more formally as the authorities granted them plots of land for church-building that were situated outside city and town walls. In Kassa, for example, 1687 saw a royal committee led by Count István Csáky designate a territory outside the city walls for the Protestants where they could build a church, a parsonage and a school.68

A less common phenomenon was the temporary conversion of a bourgeois home into a Catholic sacred space. On March 7, 1674, the first representative of the Jesuit mission in Nagybánya, Father Bálint Balogh, found accommodation only in the home of a Greek Orthodox resident in this otherwise hostile city. Soon he was able to move into a private home on the main square that the Chamber had earlier confiscated.69 This was probably the former residence of a prominent Lutheran family, the Proczners, judging from the fact that it was there that Balogh’s successor, Péter Gödy, was induced as the parish priest.70 So too it was there that Gödy presumably held mass until December 1674, after which he continued to do so in the newly renovated Saint Nicholas Church.71 The Jesuit yearbook from the time allows for a microanalysis of this shifting use of space. The city’s Protestant ministers and residents had observed even Balogh’s activities with suspicion, doing everything they could to restrict them to the Greek Orthodox home he both lived in and held mass in. And yet Balogh had held his first masses there with the windows wide open—meaning that the lovely songs accompanying the services could be heard loud and clear by many in nearby homes and on the streets alike. By Easter he was already based on the main square, and the musical mass with preaching drew a large crowd indeed—with “approving murmurs,” according to the Jesuit yearbook.72

Processions expanded the range of sacred space even more. Symbolizing the organizational might of the local community—and, depending on turnout, its unity—they were tailor-made to legitimize the pro-Catholic religious and political changes that had taken place. In 1677 Kassa judge György Hoffmann summoned the city’s guild masters. Citing a decree by the king, he urged them to take part in the upcoming Corpus Christi procession along with guild members. The guild masters resisted. Notwithstanding the fines they faced, their religion, their consciences would not allow them to participate.73 Nor were they keen on having their attendance strengthen the position of the city administration, which had been stacked with Catholics in the early 1670s.

Even the induction of new city officials underwent a makeover, with the ceremony now firmly embedded in Catholic traditions. The accompanying mayoral oath took place in a Catholic church or parsonage, with the city’s prominent Lutherans obliged to attend. A similar innovation was the procession from city hall to the church, a decidedly public demonstration of the transfer of power.74

As with Catholic religious life in general in the early modern age, religious societies played an enormous role in processions. The membership ranks of such societies embraced a wide swathe of society in general, thus serving as a key integrating force—and by virtue of this they contributed notably to the organization of the developing sacred space in cities and towns.75 In March 1678 the Kassa-based Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary invited the leaders of the Szepes Chamber to partake in a flagellant procession to be held on Good Friday, writing that they sought to convey the suffering and passion of the savior.76 The Jesuits and the Franciscans played a key role in the life of religious societies in Kassa, with confraternities even visiting each other’s celebrations. The social activities that such societies encompassed pervaded a city’s spaces; their celebrations saw churches decorated and processions held. On the main holiday of the Agoniae Christi society in Kassa, two Sundays before Easter (Black Sunday), a procession led from Saint Elizabeth cathedral to the Jesuit church replete with a processional flag, bell-ringing, trumpet-playing, and drumming. After the ceremony they returned in a festive procession to the cathedral.77

Conclusion

 

The examples of Kassa and Nagybánya, as well as those of the other communities in Upper Hungary discussed in this essay, serve to underscore the earlier point that buildings were readily identifiable as belonging to a particular confession precisely by virtue of their being suitably designed to reflect that confession’s given architectural precepts and being furnished with its symbols. And yet it was the wealth of social activity—cults of adoration and a whole array of rituals—that bestowed a space with the genuine essence of the sacral function, shaping that space in its own image. Numerous other functions could also be at work, either complementing or else working against the effect of the sacrality. Secular uses injected the economic and military dimensions of city life into spaces previously invested chiefly with a sacral function. This did not mean, however, that the sacral function was forever lost, for it could be restored in part or in whole through public authorization and confessional rituals. Yes, the sacred space could be recreated in constructed, physical reality.

And yet the sacred space was likewise the inspiration for, and the target of, ritual violence ensuing from confessional conflicts. As Catholic priests were sent packing with the Reformation, their churches underwent radical interior makeovers in line with Protestant thinking, aimed in part at erasing the marks of Catholic sacral functions. This could include the violent, ritual desecration or destruction of those furnishings perceived to be characteristic of Catholic churches—most notably, images and statues of the Virgin Mary and saints, altars, and liturgical objects.78 In my assessment such violent acts, which also “channeled” tensions, served all the more to reinforce the sacred space as synonymous with the city center, notwithstanding German research that has suggested the opposite trend in this era. In fact, our examples show that the role of city halls was on the wane as regarded the inauguration of city officials while that of parish churches was on the rise.79

Even alongside the violence, however, signs of peaceful coexistence were also in sharp relief. In Bártfa, for example, the local government’s Protestant leaders in 1686 authorized the church anniversary feast, even ringing the town bells to mark the occasion.80 In Jászberény, even after his own congregation had seen its church destroyed, the Reformed minister often had lunch with the Catholic parish priest, though Protestantism was theoretically banned.81 Beyond its interconfessional coexistence, this region was likewise characterized by ethnic diversity. After the recapture of Eger from the Ottomans in 1687, Hungarians, Rascians (Serbs), and Germans lived alongside each other in this ancient episcopal see—hence a confessional mix that included Roman Catholics, Reformed Church members, Lutherans, and Eastern Orthodox. Muslim converts to Catholicism, the so-called “new Christians” who remained behind comprised yet another major community. The monastic orders that settled here, and the ensuing development of new sacred spaces, likewise played a huge role in the integration of the city’s diverse ethnic and religious groups.

The Catholic Church became one of the major actors of consolidation in Hungary during its years of civil war, the wars to retake Hungary from the Turks, and the years that followed. It was precisely for this reason, then, that Catholic sacred spaces and, more generally, changes in the use of space came simultaneously to symbolize the “glorious” return of the Church and to serve the cause of consolidation. Although Protestant denominations were tolerated, they were squeezed out of city centers. Protestant sacrality did, then, continue to make its spatial mark on cities, only in a different form, now on the periphery.

 

 

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Translated by Paul Olchváry.

 

1 Egri Érseki Levéltár (EÉL) [Eger Archiepiscopal Archives], Archivum Vetus, no. 722.

2 The Szepes Chamber was formed in 1567 initially as an organ tasked with financial and economic matters, and by the seventeenth century it saw to political matters as well. In 1673, Vienna appointed Count Otto Ferdinand Volkra, advisor to the Royal Chamber and vice-president of the Hungarian Chamber, as administrative head of the Szepes Chamber. See also Jenő Szűcs, A Szepesi Kamarai levéltár 1567–1813 [The Archive of the Szepes Chamber], ed. János Varga (Budapest: MOL, 1990), 85–87.

3 Péter Tusor, “Nemesi és polgári érdekérvényesítési törekvések a katolikusok és reformátusok kassai recepta religióvá válásában (A Magyar Tanács és a vallásügy 1648-ban)” [Efforts by the Nobility and the Bourgeois to have Catholicism and Reformed Church Protestantism become the Accepted Religion in Kassa (The Hungarian Council and Religious Affairs in 1648)], Magyar Egyháztörténeti Vázlatok – Regnum 10, no. 1–2 (1998): 5–26.

4 István Bitskey, Püspökök, írók, könyvtárak. Egri főpapok irodalmi mecenatúrája a barokk korban [Bishops, Writers, Libraries. The Literary Patronage of Eger’s Leading Priests in the Baroque] (Eger: Heves Megyei Múzeumi Szervezet, 1997), 32.

5 Susanne Rau and Gerd Schwerhoff, “Öffentliche Räume in der Frühen Neuzeit. Überlegungen zu Leitbegriffen und Themen eines Forschungsfeldes,” in Zwischen Gotteshaus und Taverne. Öffentliche Räume in Spätmittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, ed. Susanne Rau et al. (Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2004), 23, 25–6.

6 Peter Johanek, “Konfessionen in Stadtraum,” in Formierung des konfessionellen Raumes in Ostmitteleuropa, ed. Evelin Wetter (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2008), 156–57. For a distinction between the sacred and the profane see Sarah Hamilton and Andrew Spicer, “Defining the Holy: the Delineation of Sacred Space,” in Defining the Holy. Sacred Space in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Sarah Hamilton et al. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 2–5.

7 Rau and Schwerhoff, “Öffentliche Räume,” 34–8.

8 Regarding the development of churches’ new interior spaces, see Rau and Schwerhoff, “Öffentliche Räume,” 38–9; Graeme Murdock, “Pure and White: Reformed Space for Worship in Early Seventeenth-Century Hungary,” in Defining the Holy. Sacred Space in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, ed. Sarah Hamilton et al. (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2005), 231–50; Andrew Spicer, “Confessional Space and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe,” in Formierung des konfessionellen Raumes in Ostmitteleuropa, ed. Evelin Wetter (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2008), 336–39. For a work examining the diminishing role of central authority vis-à-vis churches and inns, see Andreas Holzem, “Kirche – Kirchhof – Gasthaus. Konflikte um öffentliche Kommunikationsräume in westfälischen Dörfern der Frühen Neuzeit,” in Zwischen Gotteshaus und Taverne. Öffentliche Räume in Spätmittelalter und Früher Neuzeit, ed. Susanne Rau et al. (Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2004), 447–60.

9 Jörg Stabenow, “Verortungen, Spiegelungen. Der sakrale Innenraum als Element der städtischen Raumordnung,” in Räume der Stadt. Von der Antike bis heute, ed. Cornelia Jöchner (Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2008), 107–8.

10 Rau and Schwerhoff, “Öffentliche Räume,” 39.

11 Spicer, “Confessional,” 342.

12 Martin Scheutz, “Kaiser und Fleischhackerknecht. Städtische Fronleichnamsprozessionen und öffentlicher Raum in Niederösterreich, Wien während der Frühen Neuzeit,” in Aspekte der Religiosität in der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Thomas Aigner (St. Pölten: Diözesenarchiv, 2003), 64–5.

13 Róbert Keményfi, Földrajzi szemlélet a néprajztudományban. Etnikai és felekezeti terek, kontaktzónák elemzési lehetőségei [A Geographic Perspective in Folklore Studies. The Possibilities of Analyzing Ethnic and Denominational Spaces and Contact Zones] (Debrecen: Kossuth Egyetemi Kiadó, 2004).

14 Veronika Novák, “A térhasználat kutatása – módszerek és lehetőségek. A társadalmi tér vizsgálata a középkori és a kora újkori városok történetében” [The Research of the Use of Space: Methods and Options. The Analysis of Social Space in the History of Medieval and Early Modern Cities], Urbs. Magyar Várostörténeti Évkönyv 4 (2009): 11–33; András Szekeres, “A tér tudatosulása” [The Realization of Space], in Atelier-iskola. Tanulmányok Granasztói György tiszteletére [The Atelier School. Essays in Honor of György Granasztói], ed. Czoch Gábor et al. (Budapest: Atelier, 2008), 89–100.

15 Szekeres, “A tér,” 99.

16 Novák, “A térhasználat,” 25.

17 György Granasztói, A barokk győzelme Nagyszombatban. Tér és társadalom, 1579–1711 [The Victory of the Baroque in Nagyszombat. Space and Society, 1579–1711] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 2004).

18 Éva Knapp and Gábor Tüskés, “Szakrális térstruktúrák a zarándokhelyeken” [Sacral Space-Structures at Pilgrimage Sites], in Népi vallásosság Magyarországon a 17–18. században [Popular Religion in Hungary during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries], ed. Éva Knapp and Gábor Tüskés (Budapest: Osiris, 2001) 59–80.

19 Béla Vilmos Mihalik, “A Szepesi Kamara szerepe az 1670–1674 közötti felső-magyarországi rekatolizációban” [The Role of the Szepes Chamber in the Recatholization of Upper-Hungary, 1670–1674], Fons 17 (2010): 264–6.

20 As a member of the committee of Lőcse, János Gubasóczy traveled to Upper Hungary. Invested with full authority by King Leopold I (Holy Roman Emperor, King of Hungary, and King of Bohemia) following the collapse of the Wesselényi Conspiracy, this committee investigated those nobles suspected of having taken part and oversaw the seizure of their estates, as well as the operation of the Szepes Chamber. See also: Szűcs, A Szepesi Kamara, 67–8.

21 Esztergomi Érseki Levéltár [Esztergom Primatial Archives], Archivum Saeculare, Acta Radicalia, Classis X. No. 196, fasc. 40, p. 24.

22 Mihalik, “A Szepesi Kamara szerepe,” 270–1.

23 Ibid., 269.

24 Béla Vilmos Mihalik, “‘Ihon már most csak neveti Jesuita…’ Két évtized felekezeti küzdelmei Nagybányán (1674–1694)” [’The Jesuit is Only Laughing Now…’ Two Decades of Religious Conflict in Nagybánya, 1674–1694], in Tanulmányok Badacsonyból [Essays from Badacsony], ed. Béla Vilmos Mihalik et al. (Budapest: FLE, 2011), 66–7.

25 Gyula Pauler, Wesselényi Ferencz nádor és társainak összeesküvése, 1664–1671 [The Conspiracy of Palatin Ferenc Wesselényi and His Associates], vol. 2 (Budapest: MTA, 1876), 422–3.

26 Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MNL OL) [Hungarian National Archive], Szepesi Kamara Levéltára [Archive of the Szepes Chamber], E254, Repraesentationes, informationes et instantiae, fasc. 59, April 1673, no. 24, April 7, 1673, Murány. Letter of Michael Angelo Jacquemod.

27 Ibid., fasc. 55, February 1672, no. 36, January 11, 1672, Gönc. Letter of the people of Gönc.

28 Ibid., fasc. 56, June 1672, no. 62, June 22, 1672, Kassa. Letter of János Fodor.

29 Ibid., fasc. 60, July 1673, no. 188, July 29, 1673, Eperjes. Letter of the judge and senate of Eperjes.

30 Ibid., fasc. 67, January 1675, no. 102, January 4, 1675, Szatmár. Letter of the judge and the senate of Szatmár to the Szepes Chamber.

31 Ibid., fasc. 56, April 1672, no. 37, April 14, 1672, Gönc. The letter of the people of Gönc to the Szepes Chamber.

32 Österreichische Nationalbibliothek (ÖNB), Handschriftensammlung, vol. 12.224, anno 1673, fol. 162v.

33 Archivum Romanum Societatis Iesu (ARSI), Austria, vol. 147, anno 1686, fol. 84v–85r.

34 Gyula Pauler, “A bujdosók támadása 1672-ben” [The Attack of the Fugitives in 1672], Századok 3 (1869): 1–16, 85–97, 166–78.

35 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 62, November 1673, no. 47, November 15, 1673, Homonna. Letter of the Franciscans of Homonna.

36 MNL OL, Szepesi Kamara Levéltára, E266, Commissio Breuneriana, fasc. 8, December 1689, fol. 56–57, 5 December 1689.

37 Georg B. Michels, “The Counter-Reformation and the 1672 Kuruc Revolution,” in Friars, Nobles and Burghers—Sermons, Images and Prints. Studies of Culture and Society in Early-Modern Europe, In Memoriam István György Tóth, ed. Jaroslav Miller et al. (Budapest–New York: CEU Press, 2010), 113.

38 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 58, November 1672, no. 97, November 22, 1672, Redmecz. Letter of István Nagymihályi.

39 ÖNB, Handschriftensammlung, vol. 12.226, anno 1682, fol. 91–2.

40 MNL OL, Mikrofilm Gyűjtemény [Collection of Microfilms], no. 1806, Egri Káptalan Levéltára [Eger Chapter Archives], Protocollum extraseriale, vol. AI, no. 756, November 18, 1685, fol. 524v–525r, 528r.

41 Michels, “The Counter-Reformation,” 113.

42 Natalie Zemon Davis, “The Rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth-Century France,” Past & Present 59 (1973): 83, 90.

43 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 64, June 1674, no. 52, June 23, 1674, Nagybánya. Letter of István Jarossy.

44 MNL OL, Szepesi Kamara Levéltára, E244, Minutae, fasc. 36, May 1674, fol. 168, May 12, 1674.

45 Mihalik, “Ihon már most,” 64–65.

46 MNL OL, E244, fasc. 36, July 1674, fol. 31, July 10, 1674.

47 Mihalik, “Ihon már most,” 65.

48 Ibid., 66; MNL OL, E254, fasc. 66, December 1674, no. 60, December 31, 1674. Letter of the Magistrate of Nagybánya.

49 MNL OL, E244, fasc. 37, September 1674, fol. 22, September 12, 1674.

50 Ibid., fasc. 37, September 1674, fol. 204, September 1, 1674.

51 MNL OL, Magyar Kamara Archívuma [Archive of the Hungarian Chamber], E152, Acta Jesuitica, Regestrata 38, fasc. 1. No. 121, July 20, 1677.

52 Béla Wick, Kassa története és műemlékei [The History and Monuments of Kassa] (Kassa: Wiko, 1941), 131–32.

53 Ibid., 373–74.

54 Béla Wick, Adatok a kassai domonkosok történetéhez [Notes on the History of the Dominicans in Kassa] (Kassa: Kereskedelmi és Ipari Könyvnyomda, n.d. [1932]), 21, 23.

55 Wick, Adatok, 25.

56 Österreichische Staatsarchiv (ÖStA), Finanz- und Hofkammerarchiv (FHKA), Hoffinanz Ungarn (HFU), r.Nr. t 249, November 1674, fol. 272–273, 279–280, September 12 and 20, 1674.

57 ÖStA, FHKA, HFU, r.Nr. 249, November 1674, fol. 267, 294–297, October 24, 1674 and November 16, 1674.

58 István Szabó, “Protestáns egyháztörténeti adatok az 1670–1681. évekből a bécsi hadilevéltárból” [Protestant Church Historical Sources from the Viennese Kriegsarchiv, 1670–1681], Egyháztörténet 2 (1959): 325.

59 MNL OL, E250, fasc. 58, nr. 45, November 4, 1680. The Hungarian Chamber instructed the Szepes Chamber to return the monastery minus its assets and furnishings.

60 Wick, Adatok, 26.

61 Béla Wick, Szent Ferenc rendjének története Kassán [The History of the Franciscan Order in Kassa] (Budapest: Múzeum Antikvárium, 2005), 45–51.

62 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 55, February 1672, no. 36, February 11, 1672. Letter of the people of Gönc; MNL OL, E244, fasc. 29, February 1672, fol. 39, February 14, 1672.

63 MNL OL, E244, fasc. 30, July 1672, fol. 86, July 6, 1672.

64 Béla Vilmos Mihalik, “Parish Priests and Communities in the Diocese of Eger in the Mid-Eighteenth Century,” Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des 18. Jahrhunderts 26 (2011): 136.

65 MNL OL, E244, fasc. 38, January 1675, fol. 180, January 15, 1675.

66 Spicer, “Confessional Space,” 341.

67 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 91, March 1682, no. 12, March 1, 1682, Eperjes. Letter of General Karl Strasoldo.

68 Wick, Kassa története, 140.

69 Mihalik, “Ihon már most,” 64.

70 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 65, August 1674, no. 51, August 21, 1674. Letter of István Jarossy.

71 MNL OL, E152, Regestrata 38., fasc. 1, no. 121, July 20, 1677.

72 ÖNB, Handschriftensammlung, vol. 12.224, anno 1674, fol. 192r-v.

73 MNL OL, Mikrofilmgyűjtemény, no. 1858, Egri Káptalan Levéltára, Protocollum seriale, vol. R, no. 386.

74 István H. Németh, “Az önigazgatás és állami felügyelet szimbólumai a magyarországi szabad királyi városokban” [Symbols of Self-Rule and State Control in Hungary’s Free Royal Cities], in “Ez világ, mint egy kert…” Tanulmányok Galavics Géza tiszteletére [This World is like a Garden... Essays in Honor of Géza Galavics], ed. Bubryák Orsolya (Budapest: Gondolat–MTA Művészettörténeti Kutatóintézet, 2010), 59.

75 Antal Molnár, Mezőváros és katolicizmus. Katolikus egyház az egri püspökség hódoltsági területein a 17. században [Market Towns and Catholicism: The Catholic Church in the Territory of the Diocese of Eger under Ottoman Occupation in the Seventeenth Century] (Budapest: METEM, 2005), 125.

76 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 77, March 1678, no. 43, March 28, 1678, Kassa. Letter of the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception of Blessed Virgin Mary.

77 Éva Knapp and Gábor Tüskés, “Társulatok, rekatolizáció és társadalmi átalakulás: a kassai példa” [Confraternities, Recatholization, and Social Transformation: the Example of Kassa], in Éva Knapp and Gábor Tüskés, Népi vallásosság Magyarországon a 17–18. században [Popular Religion in Hungary during the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries] (Budapest: Osiris, 2001), 298–319.

78 Davies, “The Rites of Violence,” 51–91. This major work by Davies inspired numerous case studies that raised analogous examples; see Ritual and Violence: Natalie Zemon Davis and Early Modern France, ed. Graeme Murdock, Penny Roberts and Andrew Spicer. Past & Present Supplement 7 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

79 A different sort of conflict between sacred space and the representative space of authority emerged in Nagybánya at the end of the 1680s, when word had it that city hall was to be appropriated for use as a parish church. In an effort to avert this, residents scratched medieval depictions of the apostles off its walls.

80 MNL OL, E254, fasc. 99, March 1686, no. 171, March 12, 1686, Bártfa. Letter of János Szegedy.

81 EÉL, Archivum Vetus, no. 647/3, Jászberény, no. 1, April 9, 1718.

pdfVolume 1 Issue 1-2 CONTENTS

Ágnes Flóra

Symbols, Virtues, Representation. The Early Modern Town Hall of Kolozsvár as a Medium of Display for Municipal Government

 

A town hall, the most important public asset of the urban community, was at the same time the house of the community, the site of gatherings, and the symbol of town autonomy and privileges in the early modern period. As part of the humanist rediscovery of the antique tradition, a new wave of town hall constructions and renovations began in the second half of the sixteenth century in Transylvania. This essay seeks to determine how the new morality accompanying the Reformation influenced municipal leadership, and how the municipal elite projected its own image in the exterior and interior spaces of the town hall. This kind of civic ostentation, or, as the Protestant preacher Gáspár Heltai put it, “exhibitionism,” may also be ascribed to the emergence and development of early modern civic awareness.

“…the town is like a great house, and a house is like a little town…”
(Leon Battista Alberti: De re aedificatoria. Libr. I. 9.)

 

The display of authority at individual, community or state level has always followed well-defined, observable canons regardless whether its source was the customary law or diplomatic protocol. A study of the symbolic spaces of early modern communities, despite the sparseness of written sources, can elucidate the ideals, principles, virtues and beliefs through which the municipal leadership attempted to demonstrate its power, legitimacy and strength.

The town hall, the local government’s most important building, was at once the central building of the community, the venue for council meetings, and a symbol of the town’s privileges and autonomy.1 This symbol occupied a central position in senses that went beyond the spatial structure of the town. Vitruvius had already written of this.2 Indeed it was the influence of the rediscoverers of antiquity, the sixteenth-century humanists, which led to town halls being re-interpreted at this time. There followed a rash of town hall construction and renovation throughout Europe in the second half of the century.3 There could clearly also have been other, much more pragmatic causes behind the town hall erections, such as the rise of the urban bureaucracy and the broadening of civic rights. Substantial construction undertakings in this period are also known to have taken place in Transylvania. In 1545, the council of Nagyszeben (Sibiu, Romania) decided to purchase a house formerly belonging to Thomas Altemberger and convert it into a town hall.4 Major works were also carried out on the town hall of Brassó (Braşov, Romania) in the sixteenth century.5 We know little of the early-modern form of Kolozsvár’s (Cluj-Napoca, Romania) principal public building, but among the meager sources is some information on its decoration.

Given the prosperity of the town in the sixteenth century, it is reasonable to assume that the town hall on Kolozsvár’s main square was an imposing building designed to present the public face of the municipal elite.6 This study seeks to determine how the new morality accompanying the Reformation showed up in municipal leadership, and how the municipal elite projected its own image in the exterior and interior spaces of the town hall. Furthermore, from the very few surviving sources, I will try to work out who could have been responsible for creating the public display of which the inscriptions were a part.

The town hall on the south-east corner of Kolozsvár’s main square, reminiscent of an Italian palazzo, was built between 1843 and 1845 to plans by municipal master builder Anton Kagerbauer (1814–1872).

Fig.1 varosháza javaslat Gabitol Kolozsvar varoshaza

Figure 1. The old town hall built by Anton Kagerbauer between 1843–1845.
Photo by Melinda Mihály

 

We know little of its predecessors.7 A council building, domus consulatus, is first mentioned in a report by the Kolozsmonostor Convent in 1438.8 We know nothing, however, of its layout or character. In the second half of the fifteenth century, the institution increasingly crops up in the sources not as an administrative centre but a place of assembly, referred to as the consistorium.9 It was referred to as such in the municipal statutes of 1537, too.10 It is reasonable to infer that the building stood on the south-east corner of the market place, in the Media district, the same site as the Kagerbauer town hall. The question of whether it was a converted town house or a purpose-built town hall remains unanswered. It is unlikely that a building for the purposes of municipal affairs would have been erected immediately after the construction of the town walls on a hitherto empty part of what was by then the most important space in the town. More plausible is the conversion of a large town house, guild house or ecclesiastical building.11 It must certainly have been a spacious and suitably imposing building, with rooms capable of accommodating assemblies of the centumviri (“council of a hundred”), perhaps similar to the presbytery on the west side of the square.

In the wave of private building in what might be called the town’s golden age, the second half of the sixteenth century, the buildings in and around the main square were converted into two-storey houses.12 This induced probably an extension to the council building in 1578, too.13

The only known representation of the building is in the background of an oil painting of the south-east side of the Kolozsvár market place, by the Austrian painter Franz Jaschke.14

Fig 2 2171 1 

Figure 2. Franz Jaschke, The market square of Kolozsvár around 1800. Oil painting.

Source: Bruckenthal Museum, Nagyszeben (Sibiu)

 

This shows a building which differed from contemporary town houses, whose frontage was generally not more than 10 meters wide and had a 2+1 layout.15 As in most European towns, its cellar had several functions, but was primarily a jail. In 1580, at the request of the tax collectors, the centumviri16 decided to transfer the male prisoners to the tower of the Közép utca gate and to keep the women in the council cellar.17

The décor of the town hall served the function of official display, as is very clear from the inscriptions that formed part of it. We can form an impression of its scheme from a list drawn up in 1734 and appended later to the council minutes of 1624.18 This description is almost certainly in the hand of the town notary of the time, György Füzéri, and formed part of the first Latin description of Kolozsvár, written the same year.19 That is because Füzeri, co-author of Descriptio civitatis (Description of Kolozsvár in 1734), was by virtue of his post the keeper of the town archive and so was familiar with the minutes of the past council meetings. The sweeping, characteristically eighteenth-century script also points to a practiced man of letters, which proves again Füzéri’s authorship. Füzéri’s recording of the inscriptions must therefore have been carried out originally for the Descriptio book, whose authors, the town councilors of the time, stated their intention that the inscriptions on the town’s walls and buildings should be written down.20 What is more, the authors mentioned that they were omitting the long list for lack of space, and would write it in “a certain book”.21

There also exists a later description, much shorter than the first list, in a multi-volume manuscript collected under the title Egyveleg (Miscellany) from the Sándor Mike collection.22 This was written in 1826, possibly after the earthquake, and recorded inscriptions adorning the façade and the vaulted entry passage. The description does not cover the visual composition of the scheme, and it would probably be inappropriate to attempt a reconstruction. Nonetheless, the content, purpose and possible sources of the inscriptions, and above all what they reveal about the milieu responsible for them, merit careful consideration. The scope of this study does not permit discussion of all of the details.23

Fig 3 2171

Figure 3. Detail from Franz Jaschke’s painting
with the renaissance town hall in the background

 

The coats of arms of the seven free royal towns were—according to our chief source, the Füzéri description—emblazoned above the windows of the main frontage of the town hall. This was a clear message that Kolozsvár was the equal of these towns in terms of rank and prestige. This kind of representation was not necessarily a “local invention” even though we know of no similar painted façade adornments elsewhere in Transylvania. The inclusion of coats of arms as decorative elements of town hall frontages and internal spaces was a widespread practice in Europe, an expression of the town’s status and loyalty to the sovereign. The addition of the royal insignia, marking the time of construction, also turned the building into a monument for future generations.

Despite the presence of two coats of arms of Transylvanian princes, there is a problem in dating the painting of the town hall frontage. This arises from the interpretation of a phrase in one of the inscriptions on the front: renovatio per pictorem.24 Was it a complete repainting or reconstruction? Since none of the surviving sources tell of any major building or painting between 1648 and 1650, we may infer that it was a renovation of, or addition to, existing decorations. Otherwise, we would have to imagine that the sixteenth-century work on the town hall, which certainly involved great emphasis on its windows and furnishings, left the façade and internal spaces without colored painted decoration. This would have been a curious departure from the prevailing custom, in the very period regarded as the town’s golden age.25

We find a clue in the coat of arms of Prince György II Rákóczi of Transylvania (1648–1660) which was almost certainly painted during the renovation, as is confirmed by the inscriptions.26 It follows logically that the other princely coat of arms dates the previous renovation, or perhaps the first painting. The notary who recorded the insciptions stated that Gábor Báthori’s arms stood beside Rákóczi’s.27 This entry requires some caution. First of all, the surviving sources do not tell of any major town hall renovation during the reign of Gábor Báthori (1608–1613), and an event of such financial and indeed symbolic consequence would inevitably have left a mark in the municipal accounts. The fact that the town had somewhat tense relations with Prince Báthori28 also casts doubt on the account by the eighteenth-century “chronicler”, whose historical perspective might have led him to attribute the dragon-tooth Báthori arms to the last reigning member of the dynasty. A much more logical inference is that the dragon’s teeth represented Kristóf Báthori (1576–1581) and were the result of the 1578 renovation. If we accept this, then the work done in 1648 and 1650 was a renovatio in the literal sense, preserving an existing tradition, which—as Füzér’s account shows—was upheld and nurtured until the eighteenth century. Indeed, most of the quotations in Sándor Mike’s manuscript appeared in the list recording the status of 1650. The word renovatio as applied to the works in the second half of the eighteenth century may thus be interpreted in the strict sense, a reconstruction of what was there before, even if inscriptions which had become damaged and illegible were replaced or substituted with new ones.

The words of wisdom for new council members above the portal of the town hall—“every councilor, upon entry to this town hall on taking up his office, leaves his personal affairs outside the door”29—evokes the fashion for mottos on Renaissance architectural sculpture. This was a trend that may be traced to the text-ribbon slogans painted or carved in medieval church interiors or to ancient Roman (grave)stone inscriptions, although it was also standard practice to greet visitors to a public building with a message conveying the values it represented and demanded. Thus the same text greeted councilors as they entered the town halls of Regensburg, Görlitz and even Tallinn.30

Another interesting element, admittedly not directly connected to the frontage, was a device for setting moral examples, a chair the chair standing in front of the building for litigants.31 A Sallust quotation on the left of the chair and a Latin proverb by an unknown author on the right exhorted the parties to recognize their errors.32 The “chair of shame” certainly stood in front of the town hall in 1612, and probably well before that, because the stewards of the town paid a builder for repairs to the chair and the stone wall in front of the town hall.33 The chair of shame was a different kind of moral contrivance from the pillory or the stocks or the cage, serving to deter rather than actually shame. The pillory was for proven transgressors, while those seated on the chair of shame could hope to clear themselves in front of the law.

Most inscriptions, as might be expected, relate to the council’s judicial competence, its chief point of contact with the citizens of the town. Impartiality,34 thoroughness,35 endeavor to reach agreement36 and—above all else—respect for the law37 were the moral precepts to be adhered to by council members as they made their judgments.

The moralizing inscriptions dealt at great length with the role and obligations of the head of the local judiciary, the judge. They stressed the general virtues demanded by the prevailing Christian value system, such as protection for paupers, orphans and widows, even-handedness, fairness and confidentiality.38 The same principles are apparent in the oath sworn by the judge and councilors at the election of the new council in December of each year. The oath was rooted in German urban law, and had come to Kolozsvár via the Buda town law.39 The inscriptions thus served to warn the town elders of what would be demanded of them when they took up their offices.

The other main category of the mottos were those referring to municipal administration. These were extracts from works by ancient authors and from Biblical allegories concerned with good and just government, highlighting the responsibilities, but also the supremacy, of persons in authority.40 Other quotations from the Bible, canon law and classical authors, allegories of strong governance, were aimed at elected or appointed holders of authority. Town elders were held to possess a primacy over other town-dwellers by virtue of their authority and wealth. This principle was stated in the basic text of Kolozsvár’s municipal government, the Buda town law, which in turn drew on various German town rights. A poor man was not suited to be a judge because he “sees need”.41

Legitimacy was based on more than just these practical principles: the medieval tradition that the town council was chosen by God unmistakably survived into the modern age. In 1592, when the councilors sought to be paid for their work, the centumviri refused their request on the grounds that if the council was a body summoned by God, it should look to God for its remuneration.42 This may look like cynicism from today’s perspective, but there was a genuine conviction in the sixteenth century that the twelve members of the highest body of municipal government were doing their duties as a mission for God. We find confirmation of this in one of the inscriptions, which states that whoever is elected for the task should not desire gold and silver, i.e. monetary returns.43

The number of councilors was also a religious symbol: the council members carried out their earthly mission as the twelve apostles. Although this religious legitimation is not substantiated by any surviving pictorial clue from Kolozsvár or anywhere else in Transylvania, it was a common phenomenon in towns elsewhere in Europe, including the Kingdom of Hungary.44 It is by this approach that the community of townspeople, the ordinum inferiorum, can best be interpreted.

It was common during the era of humanism to allude to a town as a respublica, prompted by the contemporary enthusiasm for antiquity. The ideal was the social and political regime of the independent state of classical times, the polis, even though the early modern form of the town did not correspond to the Aristotelian politeia, one of the ideal forms of state, where the public exercises the highest power.45 The early modern European town models were not true republics, even if certain elements of their governance can be traced to that type of state.46 The primacy of the public, and service to the public, the common people of the town, even if not realized in practice, were much mentioned in the sources and in the refined rhetoric of the council minutes. The classical word respublica, repeated several times on the wall of the town hall, may be interpreted in a similar context: it applied to the service which the wise men of the town rendered to the public. These virtues were fused with the concept of council membership. The aldermen’s title prudens et circumspectus advertised a kind of guarantee that these principles would be adhered to and enforced, and also signified the town elders’ distinctive status, the basis for their exercise of authority. After Kolozsvár’s privileges were curtailed,47 the word respublica lost its meaning and was dropped from official rhetoric. This phenomenon shows up in the inscriptions: only the word civitas appeared in those painted on the frontage when the town hall was refurbished in 1775.48

The inscriptions also referred to specific bodies of the municipal administration. The inscription above the entrance to the hall of the centumviri, “Odium senile, privatum commodum, juvenile consilium Republicam evertunt”, apart from its strict moralizing, is a fine allegory for the significance of old and young councilors. The elevated authority possessed by senior members of municipal bodies, particularly when it came to passing on customary law and traditions, derived chiefly from their experience. It was common for the council to solicit the elders’ opinion in regard to a major event.49

The walls of the stewards’ room were adorned with admonitions pertaining to their financial duties: “Exact no more than that which is appointed to you”50 and “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor”.51 Inscriptions concerned with mortality formed the third major category.52 Perhaps the most interesting of these was the inscription above the judge’s head, “Sic transit gloria mundi”, not so much for the message of this old aphorism as its history: it was originally enunciated at coronations of popes, and later of kings.53 In the municipal context, written above the judge’s chair, it served to designate its occupant as the supreme holder of municipal authority.

The description concentrates on the inscriptions and only sporadically mentions carvings and sculptures on the building. The Renaissance window frames of the neighboring Wolphard-Kakas house, some Renaissance features of buildings that still stand today, and the carvings in the stonework collection of the History Museum provide some points of reference for the sculptural work on the town hall, if we consider that the houses of wealthy burghers could not have been permitted to outshine the seat of municipal government.

The description mentions only a few statues. There was a statue of naked Justitia holding sword and scales, representing pure justice, a pipe-playing cherub, and a male figure holding a sword, representing ius gladii which adorned the interior of the town hall. The latter was in all probability a statue of Roland, a customary fixture in German towns or towns with a large German population, symbolizing judicial authority and often municipal autonomy.54 Besides these, a painted representation of death reminded the councilors of their earthly mortality, and a siren symbolized earthly joys. Although the description was mainly concerned with recording the inscriptions, it would probably not have omitted to mention other pictorial or sculptural images had there been any.

Aesthetics could only have been secondary among the purposes of decoration with inscriptions, even though people of the time loved color and pomp.55 We might rather look upon such a presentation of the values of municipal government as the communication of power. Although most of the mottos of the town hall décor clearly had a moralizing aspect, alluding to good government, justice, law and harmony, they also carried a significant symbolic force as displays of authority. The quotations from classical authors inevitably raised the rank and prestige of council members of the town in the eyes of anyone entering any part of the building, be they high-ranking envoys or statesmen, or thieves, fraudsters or rogues sitting on the accused bench. The purpose in each case was the same: to present a coherent system of values to the outside world. The image they conveyed was of course an idealized one, and we should not naïvely imagine that the council and the ruling elite fully internalized this rhetoric or practiced it in their everyday administration. The artificial image-building phrases in many cases say more about the literacy of those who chose them than about the town leadership itself.

Which authors provided the texts used to adorn the chief symbol of municipal government, and what inspired their use? They were, not surprisingly, classical authors whose work was greatly in vogue in the age of humanism and was even commended by the great reformers as reading material for monarchs.56 The texts fell into three main subject areas: the Bible, classical theories of the state, and classical history. These are the main themes of the quotations on the walls of Kolozsvár town hall, among which we can identify words of wisdom by Sallust, Seneca, Plato and Cicero.

We have no reason to doubt that the person who devised the scheme had read and was familiar with these authors, because they all had a place on school and university syllabuses and their work was also collected by citizens of the town.57 The variety of the inscriptions and authors, however, suggest that rather than selecting the quotations individually, the designer of the decoration drew from a florilegium, a thematic anthology concerning good and bad government. The humanist (Germanic) canon unavoidably suggests itself as the chief inspiration for the inscriptions, acquired from the sights and experiences of peregrinations and trading journeys, even though the first person to (partially) publish the inscriptions, Elek Jakab, almost cautioned his readers against seeing in them a simple imitation of this. In fact, such a “transplant” was more of a virtue than a vice. By echoing messages commonly expressed in other European towns, inscriptions such as “This house loathes indolence, loves peace, punishes sin, observes the laws and respects the good”,58 served to display the openness of the Kolozsvár municipal government and its espousal of European municipal principles based on the Christian ethics of the time.

It is not difficult to identify the persons responsible for compiling the decorative scheme. The only municipal administrative officials who had the requisite literary, legal, theological and linguistic abilities for such a project were the notaries.59 It cannot be a coincidence that the first (1592) inventory of town privileges taken by the notary Gergely Diósy60 bears many similarities with the mottos on the town hall: quotations by Plato, Sallust and Aristotle were both allegories of good government and devices of self-display.

*

In summary, the inscriptions on the walls of the early modern town hall of Kolozsvár were both decorations and messages to citizens entering the building, informing them of the high moral standards of their local government. The decorative scheme, with sentences lifted from the Bible and works by classical authors, attests above all to the cultural background of its designer, but also reflects the demand of civic society—as in other European towns—for a building which displayed the virtues of their town in the spirit of contemporary traditions. This kind of civic ostentation or, as Gáspár Heltai, the Lutheran pastor of Kolozsvár put it, “exhibitionism”, may also be ascribed to the emergence and development of early modern civic awareness.

 

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Balogh, Jolán. Kolozsvár műemlékei [The Monuments of Kolozsvár]. Budapest: Kolozsvári Református Kollégium Öregdiákjainak Egyesülete, 1935.

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Jakó, Zsigmond. “Az otthon és művészete a XVI–XVII. századi Kolozsváron. (Szempontok a reneszánszkori művelődésünk történetéhez)” [Home and its Art in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Kolozsvár]. In Emlékkönyv Kelemen Lajos születésének nyolcvanadik évfordulójára [Festschrift for the 80th Birthday of Lajos Kelemen], edited by András Bodor, Béla Cselényi, Elemér Jancsó, and Zsigmond Jakó, 361–93. Bucharest–Cluj-Napoca, 1957.

Kiss, András. “A kolozsvári városi levéltár első levéltári segédlete (Diósy Gergely nótárius 1592-beli magyar nyelvű mutatója” [The First Inventory of the Town Archive in Kolozsvár. The Hungarian Index of the Notary Gergely Diósy from 1592]. In András Kiss, Más források – más értelmezések [Other Sources – Other Interpretations], 129–59. Marosvásárhely: Mentor, 2003.

Kiss, András. “Báthory Gábor és a kolozsvári református eklézsia megalakulása” [Gábor Báthory and the Establishment of the Calvinist Church in Kolozsvár]. In Báthory Gábor és kora, edited by Klára Papp, Annamária Jeney-Tóth, and Attila Ulrich, 298–99. Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem Történelmi Intézete, 2009.

Kiss, András. “Kolozsvár és a Báthoryak: Zsigmond és Gábor” [Kolozsvár and the Báthorys: Zsigmond and Gábor]. Szabolcs-Szatmár-Beregi Levéltári Évkönyv XVII (2006): 327–38.

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Kovács, András. “Kolozsvár városképe a XVI–XVII. században” [The Urban Landscape of Kolozsvár in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries]. In Kolozsvár 1000 éve [1000 Years of Kolozsvár], edited by Tibor Kálmán Dáné, Ákos Egyed, Gábor Sipos, and Wolf Rudolf, 42–59. Cluj-Napoca: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület, 2001.

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Mike, Sándor. Egyveleg [Miscellany], vol. X, Mike Sándor-gyűjtemény a kolozsvári Román Akadémiai Könyvtár kézirattárában [Sándor Mike Collection at the Romanian Academy Library in Cluj-Napoca]. Ms. 45. 607–13.

Mollay, Karl, ed. Das Ofner Stadtrecht. Eine deutschsprachige Rechtssammlung des 15. Jahrhunderts aus Ungarn. Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1959.

Nussbächer, Gernot. Das Kronstädter Rathaus. Brasov: Aldus, 1996.

Pataki, Jenő. “A régi tanácsház és főbírók“ [The Old Town Hall and the Judges]. Kolozsvári Szemle 4 (1943): 276–85.

id. Páter, Pál, id. István Pataki, Pál Gyergyai, and György Füzéri, eds. Kolozsvár leírása 1734-ből [Description of Kolozsvár from 1734], trans. Albert Márkos. Kolozsvár: Minerva, 1944.

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Socoteli [Municipal Accounts]. 3/XVIII, 7/XII. Primăria oraşului Cluj. [Town Archive of Kolozsvár]. Romanian National Archives, Cluj County Archive.

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Veress, Endre. Zalánkeményi Kakas István. Budapest: Magyar Történelmi Társulat, 1905.

Vitruvius. Tíz könyv az építészetről [Ten Books on Architecture]. Translated into Hungarian by Dénes Gulyás. Budapest: Képzőművészeti Kiadó, 1988.

Weller, Thomas. “Der Ort der Macht und die Praktiken der Machtvisualisierung. Das Leipziger Rathaus in der Frühen Neuzeit als zeremonieller Raum.” In Machträume der frühneuzeitlichen Stadt, edited by Christian Hochmuth and Susanne Rau, 285–307. Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2006.

 

Translated by Alan Campbell.

1 Stephan Albrecht, “Das Rathaus – Ein bürgerliches Baukunstwerk,” in Rathäuser im Spätmittelalter und in der Frühen Neuzeit. VI. Symposion des Weserrenaissance-Museums Schloss Brake in Zusammenarbeit mit der Stadt Höxter vom 17. bis zum 20. November 1994 in Höxter, ed. Vera Lüpkes and Heiner Borggrefe (Marburg: Jonas Verlag, 1997), 23.

2 Vitruvius, Tíz könyv az építészetről [Ten Books on Architecture], trans. into Hungarian by Dénes Gulyás (Budapest:Képzőművészeti Kiadó, 1988).

3 Robert Tittler, Architecture and Power. The Town Hall and the English Urban Community, c. 1550–1640 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), 14.

4 The council paid 1922 Rhine florins and 64 denars to the last owner of the Altemberger house, Markus Pempflinger. Arhivele Naţionale ale României [Romanian National Archives], Sibiu County Archive. Magistratul oraşului Sibiu [The Collection of the Town Magistrate]. Konsularrechnungen Bd. 3. 175.; Petre Beşliu Munteanu, Primăria veche din Sibiu. Casa, oamenii, muzeul [The Old Town Hall in Sibiu. The House, the People, the Museum], (Sibiu: Biblioteca Bruckenthal, 2006), 58.

5 See Gernot Nussbächer, Das Kronstädter Rathaus (Brasov: Aldus, 1996), 1–26.

6 The political elite of sixteenth-century Kolozsvár seems to have been dominated by three main groups, each centered around a trade: the goldsmiths, the tailors and—to a lesser extent—the leather workers. This almost exactly matches a model that was widespread during the sixteenth century in European towns where merchants had not displaced craftsmen from political affairs. One important difference in Kolozsvár’s case was that the butchers did not play a prominent role, initially because of the lack of a livestock trade and later because of state monopolies. The strong presence of goldsmiths and tailors also fits with economic and geographical realities: the proximity of precious metal deposits, the related presence of the money-changing chamber and the increasing demand for luxury goods which accompanied the rise of civic life all contributed to the development of these trades. Another reason for the prosperity of tailors and the related boom in the textile industry was the European-wide taste for Renaissance costume and fashion. See Ágnes Flóra, “A Portrait of the Urban Elite of Kolozsvár in the Early Modern Period,” in Studies in the History of Early Modern Transylvania, ed. Gyöngy Kovács Kiss, (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011), 455–56.

7 On the old town hall and its construction under Kagerbauer, see Jenő Pataki, “A régi tanácsház és főbírók” [The Old Town Hall and the Judges], Kolozsvári Szemle 4 (1943): 276–85; Margit B. Nagy, “Kagerbauer Antal és a romantika építészete Erdélyben” [Antal Kagerbauer and Romantic Architecture in Transylvania], in Margit B. Nagy, Stílusok, művek, mesterek. Művészettörténeti tanulmányok [Styles, Artifacts, Masters. Studies in Art History] (Bucharest: Kriterion, 1977), 69–93; Jolán Balogh, Kolozsvár műemlékei [The Monuments of Kolozsvár] (Budapest: Kolozsvári református Kollégium Öregdiákjainak Egyesülete, 1935), 10; Elek Jakab, Kolozsvár története [The History of Kolozsvár], vol. 2 (Budapest: Egyetemi Nyomda, 1888), 709–13; vol. 3 (Budapest: Egyetemi Nyomda,1888.), 566–67, 925–39; László Debreczeni, “Az 1953. évi kolozsvári műemlék-összeírás építéstörténeti eredményei” [Architectural History Study Based on the 1953 Cadastral Survey of Monuments in Kolozsvár], in Emlékkönyv Kelemen Lajos születésének nyolcvanadik évfordulójára [Festschrift for the 80th Birthday of Lajos Kelemen], ed. András Bodor et al. (Bucharest–Cluj-Napoca, 1957), 242.

8 A kolozsmonostori konvent jegyzőkönyvei (12891556) [The Records of Kolozsmonostor Convent], vol. 1, ed. Zsigmond Jakó (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990), 102.

9 The title consistorium first appears on the 1475 statutes of the tailors’ guild. “…in nostri senatus consistorio.” Elek Jakab, Oklevéltár Kolozsvár története első kötetéhez [Chartulary to the First Volume of the History of Kolozsvár] (Buda: Egyetemi Nyomda, 1870), 250.

10 Jakab, Oklevéltár, 380; Romanian National Archives, Cluj County Archive, Primăria oraşului Cluj [Town Archive of Kolozsvár] (henceforth: Town Archive of Kolozsvár), Acte şi privilegii [Collection of Charters], no. 7.

11 See the examples of Nagyszeben (Sibiu) and Brassó (Braşov). Munteanu, Primăria veche din Sibiu, 57–76; Nussbächer, Das Kronstädter Rathaus, 1–26.

12 András Kovács, “Kolozsvár városképe a XVIXVII. században” [The Urban Landscape of Kolozsvár in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries], in Kolozsvár 1000 éve [Thousand Years of Kolozsvár], ed. Tibor Kálmán Dáné et al. (Cluj-Napoca: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület, 2001), 53.

13 Jolán Balogh, Kolozsvári kőfaragó műhelyek. XVI. század [Stonemason Workshops in Kolozsvár. Sixteenth Century] (Cluj-Napoca: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, 1985), 128. The relevant accounts book has since been lost, and so we do not know the items of work for which payment was made, or their amounts.

14 Oil painting, 76 × 51.5 cm. Bruckenthal Museum, Sibiu. MNB 2171. The painting records the buildings as they were around 1810, which is when Jaschke was in Transylvania in the retinue of Archduke Ludwig of Habsburg.

15 Kovács, “Kolozsvár városképe,” 51.

16 The centumviri was an elected body of a hundred men drawn from a broader section of the population, representatives of the city’s districts and members of the guilds. They elected the 12 members of the inner council headed by the judge and the second (royal) judge, and they formed the highest legislative body of the city. The municipal government of Kolozsvár applied the principle of parity. This was a conflict prevention or management system, an administrative and judicial regime based on equal or proportionate representation. It was a common system in towns with more than one ethnic group or a substantial presence of outside merchants in local trade. Similar municipal administrative systems in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary were in Zagreb, Zsolna (Žilina, Slovakia) and Buda, as well as elsewhere in Europe. The essence of the parity system, known as unio, was that the first judge was alternately a Saxon and a Hungarian, and the two ethnic groups were equally represented in every major office. Places were also reserved in equal numbers for Hungarian and Saxons around the table of the lower, inner council “of twelve” and the upper council of a hundred, the centumviri. See András Kubinyi, “Németek és nem-németek a középkori magyar királyság városaiban” [Germans and non-Germans in the Towns of the Medieval Hungarian Kingdom], in Verfestigung und Änderung der etnischen Strukturen im pannonischen Raum im Spätmittelalter (Eisenstadt: Amt der Burgenländischen Landesregierung, 1996), 145–58; Flóra, “A Portrait of the Urban Elite,” 452−53.

17 Town Archive of Kolozsvár Protocoalele adunărilor generale [Minutes of Council Meetings], I/3. (1580), 223 (henceforth CouncilMin). Town halls were universally multifunctional. Thomas Weller, “Der Ort der Macht und die Praktiken der Machtvisualisierung. Das Leipziger Rathaus in der Frühen Neuzeit als zeremonieller Raum,” in Machträume der frühneuzeitlichen Stadt, ed. Christian Hochmuth and Susanne Rau (Konstanz: UVK Verlagsgesellschaft, 2006), 285.

18 The description was added to the end of the minutes of 1606–1624, and at a later date. Elek Jakab wrongly proposed that it was written in 1650, when the inscriptions were made, and might have been an extract of the 1650 minutes. Jakab, Kolozsvár története vol. 2, 713.

19 Kolozsvár leírása 1734-ből [Description of Kolozsvár from 1734], ed. Pál Páter et al., trans. Albert Márkos (Kolozsvár: Minerva, 1944).

20 “Descriptio civitatis ab origine repetita cum inscriptionibus, in moenibus et aliis notabilibus aedificiis undique conspicuis, pro augmento et varietate incolarum ac religionum, vicissitudinibus fatorum, directione item politica, usque ad modernum statum, continuata et compendiose concinnata.” Kolozsvár leírása 1734-ből, 7.

21 Ibid., 32.

22 Sándor Mike, Egyveleg [Miscellany], vol. X, Mike Sándor-gyűjtemény a kolozsvári Román Akadémiai Könyvtár kézirattárában [Sándor Mike Collection at the Romanian Academy Library in Cluj-Napoca] Ms. 45, 607–13.

23 Since Elek Jakab published only extracts of the description, the full Füzéri text and the description in the Sándor Mike collection are given in full as an appendix to the Hungarian version of this study, to facilitate further research. See Ágnes Flóra, “Jelkép, erény, reprezentáció. A kora újkori Kolozsvár tanácsháza mint a városvezetés egyik reprezentációs színtere” [Symbol, Virtue, Representation. The Town Hall of Cluj as a Space for Official Display in the Early Modern Period], in Liber discipulorum. Tanulmányok Kovács András 65. születésnapjára [Essays in Honor of András Kovács on His 65th Birthday], ed. Kovács Zsolt et al. (Kolozsvár: Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület – Entz Géza Művelődéstörténeti Alapítvány, 2010), 159–65.

24 Domus Haec Consultoria Renovata per Pictorem pro Privilegio ejusdem A 1648 eo 1650. CouncilMin. I/6. 397.

25 In 1585, green Barazla woolen cloth was put on the windows. Town Archive of Kolozsvár Socoteli [Municipal Accounts], 7/XII, 3/XVIII. 24a. (henceforth Municipal Accounts). In 1591, Lőrinc Tölcséres put clear glass made by István Kakas into the window frames. Endre Veress, Zalánkeményi Kakas István (Budapest: Magyar Történelmi Társulat, 1905), 41. In 1597, tin-founder Ádám Tölcséres was again paid to install clear glass windows. Municipal Accounts, 7/XII. 23.

26 Two inscriptions record the renovation. One is on the ground floor with the year 1648: “Haec Domus Consultoria Renovata per Pictorem pro Privilegio ejusdem A 1648 eo 1650”, the other with the year 1650: “In summitate vero superioris contignationis scribitur. Renovata est hoc Domus Senatoria Regnante Illustrissimo ac Celsissimo Principe D.D. Georgio Rákoczi Dei gratia etc. A 1650”, CouncilMin I/6. 397–98. The renovation was therefore completed in two phases between 1648 and 1650.

27 “Supra haec visunt Insignia duorum Principum, unius nempe Illustrissimi Transilvaniae Principis Gabrielis Bathori in cujus medio seu Campo tres Dentes Lupini. Alterius Illustrissimi Principis Georgii Rákoczi. Rota scilicet currus pars dimitia.” CouncilMin I/6. 398.

28 See András Kiss, “Kolozsvár és a Báthoryak: Zsigmond és Gábor” [Kolozsvár and the Báthorys: Zsigmond and Gábor], Szabolcs-Szatmár-Beregi Levéltári Évkönyv XVII (2006): 330–32; András Kiss, “Báthory Gábor és a kolozsvári református eklézsia megalakulása” [Gábor Báthory and the Establishment of the Calvinist Church in Kolozsvár], in Báthory Gábor és kora, ed. Klára Papp et al. (Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem Történelmi Intézete, 2009), 298–99.

29 “Quisquis Senator curiam hanc Officii causa ingredieris, Ante hoc ostium privatos affectus omnes abjicito.” CouncilMin. I/6. 398.

30 Collection of Voyages and Travels, vol 6, ed. Awnscham Churchill and John Churchill (London: T Osborne, 1732), 472; Harald Kleischmidt, Perception and Action in Medieval Europe (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2005), 13.

31 “…in qua litigantes sedent.” CouncilMin. I/6. 399.

32 “Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordia maxime dilabuntur.”; “Nobile vincendi genus est patientia; vincit qui patitur: si vis vincere, disce pati.” Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 711; CouncilMin I/6. 399.

33 Municipal Accounts. 12b/I. 135. It has not been possible to identify the function of the wall mentioned in this accounting item.

34 “Audiet alteram partem.” CouncilMin I/6. 401.

35 “Festina lente”; “Ad Judicem spectat secreta rimari et mature discutere nec debet in ferenda sententia praeceps aut subitus esse. Alioquin voluntas ejus praecipitata est noverca Justiciae dicitur.” CouncilMin. I/6. 402.

36 “Concordia res parvae crescunt, discordie maxima dilabuntur.”; “Patientia discors, concordia legum.” CouncilMin. I/6. 399, 401; Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 710, 711.

37 “Justitia tantum”; “Legem nudam”; CouncilMin. I/6. 401, 403; Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 711, 712.

38 “Commune bonam, defendere innocentem…”; “Judices oportet esse justos in sententiis. In verbis veraces. In actionibus honestos, In exercenda Justitia mites. Ante omnia in accipiendis donis abstinentissimos.” (Seneca) CouncilMin. I/6. 402.

39 See Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 189–90; Das Ofner Stadtrecht. Eine deutschsprachige Rechtssammlung des 15. Jahrhunderts aus Ungarn, ed. Karl Mollay (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1959).

40 “Ubi nulla severa Judicia exercentur, ibi etiam bona ingenia corrumpuntur.” Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 710; CouncilMin. I/6. 398. “Inferiorum ordinum culpae ad nullos magis referendae (sunt) quam ad desides rectores.” Corpus Iuris Canonici 2. Decreta Gratiani LXXXVI. C.I., red. Aemilius Ludwig Richter and Emil Friedberg (Leipzig: Tauchnitz, 1879–1881), 298. “Sapientibus Reipublicae capessendae necessitas causa est, ne inprobis relicta Gubernacula[!] pestem bonis inferat” Boethius, De consolatio Philosophiae. Libr. I. Pros. IV; Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 710; CouncilMin I/6. 399.

41 Das Ofner Stadtrecht, 66.

42 CouncilMin I/5. 1592. 90.

43 “Iis, in quorum tutelam atque fidem Respublica relinquitur, auri et argenti cupido nulla sit.” Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 710; CouncilMin I/6. 399.

44 Dietrich W. Poeck, “Zahl, Tag und Stuhl. Zur Semiotik der Ratswahl,” Frühmittelalterliche Studien 33 (1999): 413; Dietrich W. Poeck, Rituale der Ratswahl. Zeichen und Zeremoniell der Ratssetzung in Europa (Köln: Böhlau, 2003), 10–13; István H. Németh, “Pre-Modern State Urban Policy at a Turning Point in the Kingdom of Hungary: The Elections to the Town Council,” in Urban Election and Decision-Making in Early Modern Europe, 1500–1800, ed. Rudolf Schögl (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009), 287–88.

45 Wolfgang Mager, “Respublica und Bürger. Überlegungen zur Begründung frühneuzeitlicher Verfassungsordnungen,” in Res publica. Bürgerschaft in Stadt und Staat. Tagung der Vereinigung für Verfassungsgeschichte in Hofgeismar am 30./31. März 1987, ed. Dilcker Gerhard (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1988), 68.

46 Heinz Schilling, “Gab es im späten Mittelalter und zu Beginn der Neuzeit in Deutschland einen städtischen Republikanismus? Zur politischen Kultur der alteuropäischen Stadtbürgertums,” in Republiken und Republikanismus im Europa der Frühen Neuzeit, ed. Helmut Koenigsberger (München: Oldenbourg, 1988), 143.

47 In 1660, after Várad (Oradea, Romania) fell to the Ottomans, Kolozsvár lost its royal free town status and was put under a county ispán, who became the captain-general of the town. This marked the end of autonomous municipal government in the town until 1703, and the settlement of nobles there changed the structure of its political elite.

48 Mike, Egyveleg, 609–10.

49 Ágnes Flóra, “From Decent Stock. Generations in Urban Politics in Sixteenth-Century Transylvania,” in Generations in Town, ed. Eliassen Finn-Einar and Katalin Szende (Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2009), 214–18.

50 (Luke 3:13). CouncilMin I/6. 403.

51 (Rom. 13:7) CouncilMin I/6. 403.

52 “Omnis hora per tacitos et fallentes cursus nos applicat fato.”; “Omnis dies, omnis hora, quam nihil sumus, ostendit.”; “Vanitas vanitatum et omnia vanitas.”

53 Coronations: Medieval and Early Modern Monarchic Ritual, ed. János Bak (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1990), 187–88.

54 There is a surviving Roland statue in Nagyszeben, probably the same as was drawn on an engraving which records the execution of royal judge Johannes Zabanius (Sachs von Harteneck), and there is a Roland relief in Nagybánya (Baia Mare) on the south wall of St Stephen’s Tower.

55 See Zsigmond Jakó, “Az otthon és művészete a XVI–XVII. századi Kolozsváron. (Szempontok a reneszánszkori művelődésünk történetéhez)” [Home and Its Art in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century Kolozsvár],in Emlékkönyv Kelemen Lajos születésének nyolcvanadik évfordulójára [Festschrift for the 80th Birthday of Lajos Kelemen], ed. András Bodor et al. (Cluj-Napoca, 1957), 361–93.

56Susan Tipton, Res publica bene ordinata. Regentenspiegel und Bilder vom guten Regiment. Rathausdekorationen in der Frühen Neuzeit (Hildesheim: G. Olms, 1996), 27.

57See Gyöngy Kovács Kiss, “Könyvek a kolozsvári polgárok 16–17. századi hagyatékaiban” [Books in the Legacies of 16–17th Century Burghers in Kolozsvár], in Gyöngy Kovács Kiss, Rendtartás és kultúra [Rules and Culture] (Marosvásárhely: Mentor, 2001), 48–59.

58 “Haec domus odit nequitiam, amat pacem, punit crimina, conservat jura, honorat probos.” Jakab, Oklevéltár, II. 711; CouncilMin I/6. 401.

59 They were also mainly responsible for similar visual compositions for public display in towns throughout Europe. Tipton, Res Publica, 51–61.

60 Town Archive Kolozsvár, Index privilegiorum (Diósy-index) 1–2. See András Kiss, “A kolozsvári városi levéltár első levéltári segédlete (Diósy Gergely nótárius 1592-beli magyar nyelvű mutatója)” [The First Inventory of the Town Archive in Kolozsvár. The Hungarian Index of the Notary Gergely Diósy from 1592], in András Kiss, Más források – más értelmezések [Other Sources—Other Interpretations] (Marosvásárhely: Mentor, 2003), 129–59.

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