On the Road: The History and Archaeology of Medieval Communication Networks in East-Central Europe. By Magdolna Szilágyi. Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2014. 250 pp.
There is very little secondary literature in Hungarian historiography on the subject of the history of roads, or Altstrassenforschung. A few works by József Holub (1917), Endre Tóth (1970/2008), and in particular Lajos Glaser (1930/33) are indeed the only bits of scholarship on the topic in Hungary. This makes the stimulating and innovative inquiry under review here even more important and, indeed, pioneering.
Szilágyi’s study of the history of roads and routes of travel in East Central Europe is based on archival research. She examines an immense quantity of written sources and engages in additional selective fieldwork. With regards to the Hungarian secondary literature, her work represents the first profound and comprehensive study in the field of the historical and archaeological study of medieval road systems, their different functions, and the hidden remnants of tracks in the landscapes. This extract of a dissertation, Árpád Period Communication Networks: Road Systems in Western Transdanubia (defended at Central European University, Budapest, 2012), is a pioneering work in the study of East Central Europe that constitutes a significant contribution to the growing body of scholarly literature on the study of old roads in the European context.
The selected area of study is within Vas County in Western Transdanubia. However, given the approach and geographical framework of the inquiry, in which Szilágyi raises several general research questions, it constitutes much more than a mere case study of a given area. The regional focus in this case—and this is essential—helps establish the precise limits of the investigation, which is not merely a traditional historical-geographical reconstruction of the topography of a regional road network based on maps and fieldwork. The period in focus is the Árpád Era, i.e. the period from 1001 to 1301.
In her monograph, Szilágyi uses written sources and map collections held in the Hungarian National Archives, the National Széchényi Library, the Archaeological Archives of the Savaria Museum and the Archive of Vas County, as well as a considerable number of printed sources. Selected field observations complement the traditional sources, and Szilágyi offers penetrating evaluations of recent findings of archaeological investigations, not going beyond the limits of individual excavations as such. She is thoroughly familiar with the necessary complementary analytical methods, which she uses in her reconstruction of medieval road systems on the basis of the historical terminology, archaeological evidence, historical and topographical documentation, and personal identification of features in the field.
A 44 page-long bibliography demonstrates wide-ranging insight into recent regional research in Hungary. It includes translations of the Hungarian titles into English, which is very useful in a work intended for an international readership. The many footnotes (566 in total), which primarily provide citations of the wide spectrum of hodonyms (names of streets or roads) in their original contexts, indicate that the inquiry is predominantly a historical–etymological study based on written sources. The written sources, which are indispensable in the study of medieval roads in Hungary, consist primarily of documents—in particular regarding perambulations—drawn up for legal purposes (property boundaries). Related sketches and maps come up later. Most of the terms are in Latin, which is hardly surprising given the subject and the period of history in question, though there are some in German and Hungarian. More recent road maps (from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) were used to locate medieval tracks. The maps of the Cadastral survey that was carried out in the nineteenth century were of special importance in identifying toponyms (field names), which were often related to old roads in their function as boundaries.
After a brief but concise presentation of the historiography and the sources, the main problems discussed in the related chapters are: the possible constancy of Roman roads in the medieval road system (Chapter 2) and the terminology of medieval roads (hodonyms), hierarchies within the road network, legal differentiations (rights, obligations), functional aspects, modes of travel and transportation, topography, road construction (especially urban archaeology) and river crossings (fords, bridges) (Chapter 3). Within the context of the European scholarship on medieval roads, this investigation adopts a distinctive approach, creating a framework of eight “categories” (relevant characteristics), which are treated in individual subchapters. These chapters, which are grouped under the headline “Terminology and characterization of medieval roads,” form the main section of the study. They inspire further individual and comparative studies in each field and in other regions.
One of the specific and, in research on the former Roman provinces, essential research questions concerns the influence (continuity) of the Roman road network on the development of a new and different settlement pattern and related road networks in medieval times. This question is often a subject of debate. The medieval documents—specifically the ones from or pertaining to Western Transdanubia—mention “ötteveny” or “kövesút,” terms which refer to the wide strips of gravel that remained from ancient Roman road constructions. Roman alignments survived in urban street patterns (especially in Savaria, where the city of Szombathely stands today, and to some extent Scarbantia, today the city of Sopron). However, due to later transformations of settlement locations, many sections of Roman roads fell into disuse and decay. The remnants of the ramparts were even avoided and alternative medieval routes evolved.
A comprehensive chapter is devoted to a functional differentiation of the medieval road network based on considerations related to production, transport and travel, drawing primarily on analyses of documented terms. Certainly, most of the tracks did not serve one specific function, but this approach opens up a broader view on the economic history of traffic and communication based in part on the complexity of the road network. It is important to note that the focus of the study is thus not only main routes of long-distance travel and transport, but also the connections between places of production and consumption (regional transport systems), including for instance salt roads, wine roads, market roads, livestock roads, drift roads, mill roads, etc., and also between private and public demands (for instance, pilgrims routes, military roads, and church roads).
The subchapter on salt roads (184.108.40.206.) in the section on functional aspects is particularly interesting. The terms referring to these roads point to a well-organized transport system in the hands of the king from sites of production (mines in Transylvania) to centers of trade (Szeged, Szalacs) and from these centers to a regional distribution network. Here “sajtosút” (road of the salt carriers) is mentioned as a specific term that was in use in Transylvania. Salt roads have been a distinct field of research in Germany and Austria for quite some time now. The long-distance cattle drove roads constituted another specific network connected with distinctive infrastructure. The monograph thus touches on an additional field of research by incorporating discussion of the relevant sources.
This historical-archaeological study, which adopts an ambitious and theoretically nuanced approach and aspires to offer more than a mere reconstruction of a regional historic road network, opens up new directions in the investigation of medieval and Early Modern road systems for travel and transport in East Central Europe, drawing on the long-standing and also recent intensive research activities in this field, especially in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Szilágyi’s challenging and substantial study, in which she adopts a historical and philological approach, is a welcome contribution to the various initiatives concerning the study of the history and development of communication, travel and transport networks in a European context. This noteworthy book should stimulate further investigations in Hungary and East Central Europe.
A pozsonyi prépost és a káptalan viszálya (1421–1425). A szentszéki bíráskodás Magyarországon – a pozsonyi káptalan szervezete és működése a XV. század elején [Conflict between the Provost and the Chapter of Pressburg (1421–1425). Jurisdiction of the Holy See in Hungary – Organization and Operation of the Pressburg Chapter in the Early Fifteenth Century]. By Norbert C. Tóth, Bálint Lakatos, and Gábor Mikó. (Subsidia ad Historiam medii aevi Hungariae inquirendam 3.) Budapest: MTA TKI, 2014. 464 pp.
One of the increasingly prominent topics of research in recent Hungarian medieval historiography is ecclesiastical history and, more precisely, the investigation of the middle class in the medieval clergy, i.e. members and the operation of chapters. In 1971, Elemér Mályusz issued his fundamental monograph (composed mainly in the 1930s) on Hungarian ecclesiastical society before the battle of Mohács. In the monograph he drew attention to the fact that the middle and lower layers of the medieval Hungarian clergy had not been examined. Only a decade later, József Köblös, embarking down the path blazed by Mályusz, published the first archontology of four chapters (Buda, Székesfehérvár, Győr and Pressburg). Some years later, he published a comparative sociographic analysis of the prebendaries in these four institutions. Inspired by these works, over the course of the last fifteen years several researchers have made significant contributions to the study of this topic. (Cf. Tamás Fedeles, “Die ungarische Dom- und Kollegiatkapitel und ihre Mitglieder im Mittelalter. Forschungsstand, Aufgaben, Initiativen,” in Kapituly v zemích koruny české a v uhrách ve středověku [The Chapters in the Czech and Hungarian Kingdoms in the Middle Ages], ed. Václav Ledvinka and Jiři Pešek. Documenta Pragensia Supplementa II , 161–96.)
Tóth, Lakatos, and Mikó’s book is itself based on a charter and its copies from January 1425, which the three authors came across as the following twelfth part of the Zsigmondkori Oklevéltár was being compiled. (Norbert C. Tóth and Bálint Lakatos, Zsigmondkori oklevéltár [Sigismundian Cartulary], vol 12 (1425) .) A thorough examination revealed that there are altogether fifteen (!) copies of the charter, which all together contain a composite legal procedure between the chapter of Pressburg (Hungarian Pozsony, today Bratislava) and its provost, László Sóvári Sós. The research group, having finished the aforementioned volume of the sourcebook, managed to examine the legal case in detail, which resulted in this book.
The work of the three medievalists consists of four separate units. The first part includes six separate studies that mostly concern the functioning of the courts of the Holy See in the Middle Ages, the structure of the chapter of Pressburg, and a detailed analysis of the court case between the provost and the chapter. The second main part provides data on three members of the collegiate chapter of Pressburg who were important with regard to the court case, followed by a prosopographic database and survey of the estates of the chapter. The third main part contains the Latin documents that are connected to the legal case, regardless of whether they are later transcriptions or full-text publications of authentic originals. The edited documents are complemented by an explanation of some legal terms and short summaries of the individual documents. The fourth part is the obligatory detailed index of place and personal names discussed in the book.
By tackling the exhausting textual and genealogical problems of the charter, the authors ended up raising questions, the answers to which demanded separate analyses. The first study covers the historiography of Hungarian ecclesiastical jurisdiction and presents the operation of the Esztergom Holy See during the vicariate of Vicedomini Máté (Matheus de Vicedomini de Placentia) and his delegate substitutes. The authors conclude that the legal actions of the Esztergom Holy See, compared to the practice of European and other Hungarian Holy Sees, consisted mostly of affairs concerning marriage and inheritance, whereas cases in which members of the clergy formed both parties are less in number but were more significant. The second study is a penetrating examination of the personal relationships within the chapter itself. As discussed by the authors, the collegiate chapter of Pressburg lacked both the lector and cantor, and consisted of 14 members. It was the custos and the provost who determined the life of the chapter, and royal nomination dominated the selection and promotion of members within the body. The following chapter is an overview of the course and sections of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In addition to a valuable overview of the existing literature (both Hungarian and in other languages), it provides new data concerning legal terms in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. The analysis of sessional data led to the conclusion that, apart from major feast days (i.e. Christmas and Easter) and the period around the harvest, ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the operation of the Holy Sees was continuous, as was true in the case of secular courts.
The fourth paper investigates the suit of the chapter against its own provost concerning the prebendaries’ action and the provost’s counter-action, commissioning the case to delegated judges in Pressburg, the investigation and judiciary stage in the city, and the provost’s appeal to King Sigismund himself, who ordered György Pálóci, archbishop of Esztergom, to review the case. The chapter as a body accused Sóvári with altogether 34 different articles, including liturgical defaults, offences against the prebendaries and economic misdeeds. The provost was compelled to compensate the chapter financially (306 florins and the cost of the proceedings), but the most humiliating detail for him was that he was obliged to make apologies to the body. As a result of Sóvári’s appeal, one fee was waived, deadlines for liquidation were disburdened, and the obligation that he apologize was abrogated.
The fifth and sixth studies deal with the rights and obligations of the chapter. The right to the quarter or, in some villages, to the whole tithe (which, according to the suit, had been violated by the provost) was financially crucial to the prebendaries, as three-fourths of their whole income might have originated from ecclesiastical earnings, and manorial income was only the remaining one-fourth.
Among the expenditures of the church, an unmarked tax is analyzed in the last study, namely the 63rd article of the acts issued by King Sigismund in 1397. This stipulated that every ecclesiastical figure should spend half of his income for military purposes. The paper comes to the conclusion that the middle class members of the clergy actually paid this tax, though less than the prescribed half, whereas prelates supplied their banderia, mounted forces. Calculations suggest that middle class members of the clergy contributed with an annual 11,000 florins to national military expenditures, and prelates did so with more than 60,000 florins, which meant a significant portion of the royal budget for defense.
In summary, the book provides a complex approach towards both the history of the Pressburg chapter in a relatively narrow scope and an overview of medieval ecclesiastical legal proceedings in Hungary at the same time. It calls attention to the fact that records of legal cases (even if copies) might contain significant data concerning ecclesiastical bodies and the individuals they involved, and charters of this kind should be analyzed with similarly thorough methods. (For a similar case between the Veszprém chapter and its provost, Pál Emődi, see the recent Monumenta Ecclesiae Vesprimiensis 1437–1464, edited by Gábor Dreska and Balázs Karlinszky and published in 2014 by the Veszprém Diocese.) The book provides a summary of its findings in German and Slovak, as well as a detailed bibliography, which will be useful to further investigations of the topic.
Cities and their Spaces. Concepts and their Use in Europe. Edited by Michel Pauly and Martin Scheutz. Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 324 pp.
Urban settlement has always had a strong and complex spatial dimension. According to some definitions, one of the main distinctive criteria between towns and villages is precisely the more sophisticated topography of the former. Every town or city develops its unique structure and built form, which undergoes changes over time, providing ample food for thought for many branches of historical research. One might think that the spatial turn in history writing, which has been acknowledged now for a long time, would have been particularly welcome among urban historians. Indeed, as noted in the introduction to the present volume (which was written by its two editors), the localization of various features in urban space has always been on the agenda of scholars of a city’s past. The identification of particular buildings or neighborhoods and the ties they had to families or social groups have been familiar themes in praises of towns, city chronicles, and academic works alike. From the perspective of methodology, however, urban history can strongly benefit from the sociologically and theoretically inspired new wave of modern and post-modern spatial studies, which are presented in the volume in Keith Lilley’s essay on “Conceptualizing the City.” After having been engaged for centuries with the questions of “who, what and where,” urban historians have now been prompted by these new impulses to engage more systematically with the issue of “how?” and—no less important—“why?”.
The book reviewed here does a great service by extending the scope of up-to-date spatial inquiries, or at least providing good raw material for them, concerning cities in regions that are often neglected in this context or studied within the boundaries of national paradigms (and languages). The reason for this greater openness is that the present collection of 19 articles (14 in English, 4 in German, and an introduction in both—one gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the editors to have the articles translated) is based on two conferences of the International Commission for the History of Towns (ICHT) organized in Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Prague, both of which welcomed a good number of local speakers and participants. These two cities at the same time are home to institutions that have been active in editing and publishing the Historic Towns Atlas series of their respective countries. Knowledge of primary sources and recent research on the spatial development of a good number of towns is therefore readily available.
It follows logically from these premises that the great flagship enterprise of the ICHT, the towns’ atlases, are utilized as reference works in many of the articles here. Ferdinand Opll, the editor-in-chief of the already completed Austrian atlas series, shows new ways of using the toponyms on the maps and in the topographical gazetteers (mainly in the Irish atlas series) for comparative research. Regarding the example of the names of gates and suburbs that lay beyond them, he offers a typology of naming patterns as reflections of spatial thinking and awareness of the hinterland and its main contact points. His study demonstrates that it is well worth pursuing comparisons in the cases of other kinds of urban toponyms on a European scale.
The four studies connected to the territory of modern-day Romania also draw on many examples from towns that have been included in the atlas series. Paul Niedermaier, the initiator of the Romanian atlas project and author of multiple volumes on urban development in Transylvania, follows his own hypothetical-deductive method, suggesting previous phases of development by studying the plot-patterns on cadastral maps. While one may express some skepticism concerning the accuracy of the reconstructions and their dating, the processes of the “genesis of closed spaces” and market infill that he describes with reference to the example of Sebeş (Szászsebes, Mühlbach), Sibiu, Sighişoara (Segesvár, Schäßburg) and other settlements have parallels in many towns of Europe. His disciple, Maria Crîngaci Ţiplic, examines the relationship between trade privileges and the evolution of urban space in the same three towns. It is indeed worthwhile looking at these two phenomena in parallel, but it is difficult to distinguish cause and effect, especially knowing that the pace at which the kings “followed up” on the development of commercial contacts with administrative measures depended a great deal on royal policy. It is also important to distinguish which kinds of privileges actually had local impact. Liberation from paying customs at faraway places could have at best indirect consequences, whereas, for instance, staple right resulting in increased need for storage could indeed influence the structure of the merchants’ houses and the use of public space, as has also been demonstrated in the case of Hanseatic towns.
Urban development in the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia is discussed in the articles by Laurenţiu Rădvan, the author of a comprehensive monograph on the subject, and Dan Dumitru Iacob. Rădvan’s well-balanced analysis follows long-term processes in the shaping of streets and plot structure and the roles of monasteries between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. He clearly distinguishes between the first period, when the influx of German and Hungarian settlers via Poland and Transylvania brought along a “systematic topographical outline of inhabited space,” whereas from the sixteenth century onwards colonists arriving from the Balkans and the Levant spread other models of organizing space, such as the wide areas of bazaars and the encroachment of orthodox monasteries, which in the long run contributed to reductions in urban autonomy. Iacob’s study takes up the story from this point and describes the modernization of the markets of Iaşi in the nineteenth century. He considers commercial streets and zones both in the center and the suburbs and explains how the carefully crafted projects of creating civic or parade squares were carried out by local authorities.
Similar sets of questions concerning the centers and central marketplaces are taken up by Roman Czaja in his discussion of cities in the territory of modern-day Poland, taking Elbląg (Elbing) as the central example. Czaja observes a strong conservative tendency in retaining the medieval main square as a commercial and community center and even keeping the fortifications intact. It was partly due to major town fires or to the unavoidable need for modernization in the nineteenth century that the medieval inner city lost its exclusive role as the most important urban space, although it still retained its role as a platform for public rituals and a social meeting place. The phenomenon of incremental growth is demonstrated by the maps of Görlitz, Auma (in Thuringia), Bruneck (in Tirol) and Ljubljana in Karlheinz Blaschke’s contribution. The German historian has dedicated the work of a lifetime and several monographs to plot the churches dedicated to St. Nicholas and the adjoining merchants’ settlements as catalysts of “spontaneous development” of urban spatial structure.
Abandoning the order of the volume, I complete my look at the range of contributions on Central Europe with two studies on medieval and Early Modern Bohemia. Martin Musílek’s investigation of property transactions in the Old Town of Prague in a relatively short period between 1351 and 1367 seems to imply a micro-historical approach, but as the author points out, these seventeen years capture an important moment of transformation of the urban elite from an old stock of merchants to a new, more craftsmen-dominated group of house-owners and council members. One may wonder if the Black Death of 1347–49 had any impact on this shift, although there is no reference to this in the article. However, the similarity of this process to the changes in Buda’s leading elite a few decades later makes it seem likely that such a change would have taken place in any case. In Robert Šimůnek’s study on towns as “theatres” of sacral representation Prague plays rather a supporting role, while the center stage is taken by Český Krumlov, from where an exceptionally detailed fourteenth-century description of the local Corpus Christi procession has survived. The author explains the importance of such an exercise in the visualization of social hierarchies and also touches on some of the changes at the turn of the fifteenth century.
On the western periphery of Europe, Ireland has set a new trend in topographical research with its high quality town atlases, which include detailed and informative gazetteers. This series is the basis for the articles by Anngret Simms and Howard B. Clarke, two of the great movers and shakers of the atlas project on a European scale. Simms provides a masterly example of the comparative use of three atlases, those of Tuam, Armagh and Limerick, highlighting the impact of the Reformation on the uses of urban space. She points out that due to the political circumstances, i.e. the close association of Reformation and colonization in Ireland, resisting the new movement and reestablishing the Catholic Church in particular quarters of the towns in question can be considered a form of ethnic survival. Her study can be instructive for scholars investigating the topographical impact of the dissolution of monasteries in any other part of Europe, too. Clarke’s insightful analysis of the hinterlands of medieval Dublin offers an overview of the main directions of contacts and their changes over time in five periods from the eighth century to 1500. His study also points out the importance of assembling the evidence from the broadest possible spectrum of sources for periods when no administrative records are available, from place-names to church dedications or the distribution of church prebends or special types of pottery produced in Dublin.
Remaining with the topic of hinterlands, Jean-Pierre Poussou discusses this issue in the case of the four largest French port cities, Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen/Le Havre and Marseille. He examines whether there was a relationship of dominance or relative interdependence between the big ports that were (with the exception of Marseille) by estuaries of rivers 50-120 kilometers away from the open sea, the smaller outer harbors and the settlements along the same rivers or beyond, on the mainland. He also examines the change caused by the increasing volume of colonial trade, especially with the West Indies in the eighteenth century, which reinforced “the primacy of the large ports.” Hinterlands are also the subject of inquiry in Caroline Le Mao’s contribution on the provisioning of French maritime arsenals with the most essential raw materials, particularly wood, in the late seventeenth century. Although these large military-industrial complexes were established and run not by towns but by the absolutist state, according to Le Mao, “a town and its arsenal were inextricably linked,” thus their well-researched system of transport infrastructure has relevance for the civilian aspects of urban life as well. The fourth article concerning hinterlands, by Máximo Diago Hernando, offers a broad overview of the territorial politics of Spanish towns from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries. His concept of hinterland is more legal than economic, unlike the two French contributions presented above. He shows that towns in the kingdoms of Léon-Castile and Aragon received by royal decree large territories to control in order to foster the colonization of areas reconquered from Muslim rule. Later, the controlled estates were often reduced due to the crown’s actions to donate or sell some villages, while the towns, especially in Aragon, managed to purchase more land for their lordships. In any case, strong royal supervision remained the defining factor.
Rosemary Sweet’s analysis stands out because of her decision to focus on the “conceptualization and cultural production of historic urban space rather than its purely physical manifestation,” connecting closely to the postmodern agenda outlined by Keith Lilley’s introductory essay. She eloquently demonstrates how, through the combined effect of a growing body of knowledge on the architectural heritage of cities and towns and the increasing modernization in a time of rapid urban change (“uncovering Roman sewers while digging their own”), views and value judgments on urban space have changed. Her examples refer to Rome and Britain, but similar inquiries can and should be profitably extended to other parts of the continent, including the Kingdom of Hungary in the nineteenth century.
Finally, two articles discuss urban space in modern and post-modern times. Lars Nilsson describes processes in Stockholm between 1860 and 2010 to show changes in the town planning strategies in certain neighborhoods of the inner and the outer city. Two of the most instructive questions raised here are the recovery and restructuring of the Inner City in the face of deindustrialization and the impact of spatial transformations on social inequalities and segregation. Peter Clark traces the emergence and typology of green spaces in cities, from promenades and parks to recreation grounds, allotment gardens and private gardens. His focus, however, is more social than spatial, looking for agents of change and the interest groups benefitting from them.
The essays in this volume, which were written by prominent urban historians from all over Europe, clearly demonstrate that the study of cities and their spaces is rewarding. As Anngret Simms emphasizes, cities and settlements “reflect historical processes” and long-term changes over time. She adds that “large-scale topographical maps … communicate cultural meaning and as such, we should learn how to read these maps as the expression of cultural shifts.” The validity of her statement goes beyond Irish towns and should be a helpful reminder to all readers, and some of the authors too. Many of the articles use maps skillfully to demonstrate their point, while others unfortunately are not supported with visual materials, although their authors definitely used them in their research. Another minor shortcoming is the lack of mention of historic place names and the failure to provide a proper gazetteer of these names, especially in the case of Transylvania. In sum, the main value of the book lies, in addition to the practical information in contains, in the relevant and thought-provoking questions that may be, mutatis mutandis, posed across regions and over time, questions that will increase our understanding not only of urban space, but also of those who created, inhabited and perceived them.
Dzsámik és mecsetek a hódolt Magyarországon [Mosques in the Territories of Hungary under Ottoman Occupation]. By Balázs Sudár. (Magyar Történelmi Emlékek. Adattárak.) Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2014. 650 pp.
The Ottoman occupation of Hungary, which lasted roughly a century and a half, fundamentally changed the fates of the peoples living in the Carpathian Basin. Yet soon after the expulsion of the Ottoman forces from the region, very few traces of their presence remained. Within a short period of time, the majority of the works of Islamic architecture had been partly dismantled or rebuilt to serve other functions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why romantic historians in the nineteenth century, distanced from the period of occupation by two centuries, wrote ever more positively about the era. The question of the balance of salutary and regrettable consequences of the Ottoman occupation remains a subject of debate today. Thus, one of the tasks for historians was to determine the extent to which the Ottomans came to inhabit the occupied territories of the Hungarian kingdom and the extent to which they transformed the settlements to better fit their culture and lifestyles. Balázs Sudár has undertaken this task. He has gathered all of the data on the mosques that were built in the Carpathian Basin and published them in this thick book.
The book, which was published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is divided into three long chapters. The first part is essentially a preliminary study in which the author summarizes the relevant data and information already known to the community of scholars and presents the sources. At the beginning of the chapter, which has been further divided into ten subchapters, he provides a detailed presentation of the Islamic and Christian written sources and image sources, including archeological findings. This is followed by a brief history of the scholarship and a short though all the more important explanation of the terminology, which contains precise definitions of the terms “occupation” and “Turk.” Sudár then offers a summary of Islam belief and practice on the basis of the current Turkish and international secondary literature. This summary is important in part because, lamentably, to this day European publics still have little more than a superficial knowledge of Islam and the role it plays in the lives of Muslims.
The chapter dealing with the number of places of worship for Muslims in the territory under occupation is an important part of the book. As Sudár notes, in the 1660s, when Evliya Çelebi was writing his famous travelogue, there were roughly 400 places of prayer in the parts of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman rule. If one considers the size of the Balkan peninsula, this might seem a comparatively small number. If we recall that at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were roughly 9,000 Christian edifices in the Carpathian Basin, 400 seems trifling. There were minarets only in some 50 cities, and they were lost in the surrounding forests of Hungarian villages. This shows that the influence of Islamic culture was limited at most. The Hungarian population was not responsive to the new faith. However, if we closely follow the process of the construction of mosques, we see that over the course of the seventeenth century the occupying forces came to settle in the lands more and more, and thus in the long run there was a perfectly good chance that the areas of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman occupation might have shared the same fate as Bosnia or Albania.
The last subchapter of the introductory essay deals with the people who founded the places of prayer and the people who maintained them, as well as the distinctive features of the buildings themselves. The reader gains a thorough understanding of the construction and functions of the mosques and the roles they played during the period of occupation.
The reference section comprises the longest part of the book, consisting of some 450 pages with information about the individual mosques. The text, which has been arranged in alphabetical order on the basis of the names of the settlements, contains everything we can know about the various edifices. Alongside citations from the sources, one also finds a chronology, biographies of the people who founded the mosques, and a list of the works available in the existing secondary literature. One of the great strengths of the book is the inclusion of a wide array of relevant images and visual sources. For instance, one finds many prints, maps, and archeological ground-plans that help one understand details of the text. Thus, the book contains a great deal of new information for local historians, so hopefully knowledge of these kinds of details will soon reach the wider reading public. The book also contains innumerable interesting tidbits, for instance mention of the distinctive windows and two mihrabs of the Suleiman mosque in Szigetvár, no similar versions of which have yet been found anywhere in the Balkan peninsula.
With this work of scholarship, Balázs Sudár has done a great deal to fill a lacuna in the secondary literature on the subject of the traces of Ottoman religious culture in the territories that were once under occupation, and his book contains a wealth of information that will be of interest both to Hungarian historians of the era and people curious about Islamic culture and local history. Given the value of this book, it would be important to have it translated into English well and as soon as possible, since it would constitute an indispensable resource for the international community of scholars with an interest in Ottoman history.
A Divided Hungary in Europe: Exchanges, Networks and Representations, 1541–1699. Vol. 1–3. Edited by Gábor Almási, Szymon Brzezinski, Ildikó Horn, Kees Teszelszky, and Áron Zarnóczki. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 738 pp.
This three-volume publication is the product of a four-year research program entitled “Hungary in early modern Europe,” which was headed by the late Ágnes R. Várkonyi. The purpose of this Hungarian Scientific Research Fund-funded program was to study Hungary’s presence and place in Europe and its role on the “European stage” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The 29 case studies arranged in three volumes put the cultural, religious, intellectual and political relationships between Hungary and the rest of Europe in focus. They examine questions of cultural transfer and exchange, thus seeking to situate Hungary in the European context. They are the result of an international cooperative endeavor. Although most of the contributors are prominent Hungarian historians, one also finds Slovak, Polish, American, Croatian and Dutch scholars among them.
The first volume (Study Tours and Intellectual-Religious Relationships) investigates how cultural exchange between Hungary and Europe affected intellectual life in Hungary. The essays in this volume deal with two major subjects, academic study tours and intellectual-religious exchange. For instance, Gizella Keserű examines the study tours of Unitarians from Transylvania. András Péter Szabó investigates those of the Lutherans from Upper-Hungary to Prussia. Gábor Almási compares the peregrination tours of Hungarian students with the study tours of students from other East-Central European countries. Ildikó Horn investigates the peregrination of the Transylvanian elite, providing an explanation for the decline of such ventures in the seventeenth century. In regard to intellectual-religious relationships, three studies examine international Catholic intellectual life and scientific exchange. Farkas Gábor Kiss studies the possibilities and severe limitations of the exchange of scientific knowledge between Hungary and the rest of Europe based on the case of Athanasius Kircher. Ildikó Sz. Kristóf examines descriptions of peoples and lands of other continents in the calendars published by the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava). Another Jesuit, Martinus Cseles, and his discovery of the account of Brother Julianus are the subject of an essay by Paul Shore. Two other essays approach the question of cultural transfer from a different perspective. István Monok compares the publishing activity of three major cities (Paris, Basel, Venice) from the point of view of books on Hungary and Hungarians, and Péter Király studies the role of foreign musicians in Hungary.
The intention of the second volume (Diplomacy, Information Flow and Cultural Exchange) is to investigate the history of cultural transfer in the areas of international relations and diplomacy. For instance, Dóra Kerekes studies the interpreters, an important group of cultural mediators in seventeenth-century Istanbul. A topic closely related to the exchange of culture and knowledge is the research on information flows in politics, which is the subject of several of the essays. These chapters study the details concerning information gathering networks, both the networks of the Transylvanian Principality as a whole (Gábor Kármán) and those of individuals (e. g. Ferenc Nádasdy by Noémi Viskolcz). The crucial role of the individual actors in these information-gathering and diplomatic networks is emphasized. Mónika F. Molnár examines the activities of a famous “information agent” and scientist, Luigi Marsigli, and his activities at the Habsburg-Ottoman borderline. The Transylvanian István Kakas and the broadly international contexts of his mission to Persia are investigated by Pál Ács, and the Hungarian contexts of the assassination of Antonio Rincón and Cesare Fergoso are studied by Megan Williams. Péter Tusor examines the unexpected appointment of Péter Pázmány to the position of Archbishop of Esztergom and the responses and repercussions in Vienna and Rome.
The third volume (The Making and Uses of the Image of Hungary and Transylvania) deals with the image of Hungary and the Hungarians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the various local uses to which it was put in the political communication across Europe. Two essays focus on the Holy Roman Empire. Nóra G. Etényi studies the news pamphlets and publications on the military and political developments in Hungary which appeared in the Empire in the second half of the seventeenth century. Orsolya Lénárt analyzes changes in the image of Hungary based on Eberhard Werner Happel’s novel. Two studies deal with the Low Countries as well (the essays by Kees Teszelszky and Orsolya Réthelyi). Another two essays examine the images of Hungary in Early Modern Croatian (Iva Kurelac) and Moldavian and Wallachian (Klára Jakó) historiography. Tamás Kruppa and Szymon Brzezinski investigate the perception of Hungary and Hungarians and related topoi in Italy and in Poland-Lithuania.
The authors of the volumes focus on the questions of cultural transfer and exchange and by this approach they seek to place Hungary in a European context. They approach the aspects of diplomacy and politics too in terms of cultural exchange, and consider the image of Hungary as a product of this exchange of knowledge and information as well. Besides they concentrate on the intellectual and diplomatic networks and the important role individual historical actors played in these networks. These approaches have already gained significant international attention (cf. primarily the fundamental work Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, vols. 1–4, ed. R. Muchembled and W. Monter) but have just recently started to be applied in Hungarian scholarship on the country’s period under Ottoman rule.
The importance of the publication therefore lies not simply in the fact that the authors used a wide array and large quantity of new sources, thanks to their extensive archival research (the essays are based on archival sources from more than 25 cities across Europe), but primarily in the use of these new research methods and approaches. The research areas and themes represented here (such as church history and the history of communication) likewise constitute topics and fields that have undergone considerable development over the course of the past few decades in Hungarian historiography. Thus, these volumes seek to give insights into current Hungarian historical scholarship as well.
The references and footnotes are thorough and shed light on the most recent historiography of Early Modern Hungary, and they were composed with an international readership in mind. All of the essays in this compelling three-volume publication provide ample material for the study of the connections of Hungarian elite circles to the contemporary European cultural trends in the Early Modern period. Much as the Hungarians of the period in question kept up with trends at the time, the authors of these essays have remained abreast of international scholarly trends and tendencies today, and indeed they have “provided us with a state-of the art knowledge of early modern Hungary” (Vol. 1, p.ix).
Pálos missziók Magyarországon a 17–18. században [The Pauline Order’s Missions in Hungary in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries]. By †Ferenc Galla. Edited by István Fazekas. (Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae – Classis 1, vol. 11.) Budapest–Rome: MTA-PPKE ‘Lendület’ Egyháztörténeti Kutatócsoport–Gondolat, 2015. 536 pp.
Ferenc Galla (1888–1977), a Catholic priest and historian and at one time a professor of church history (Royal Hungarian Péter Pázmány University of Budapest, Faculty of Theology), was one of the greatest researchers of sources on the Early Modern history of the Hungarian Catholic Church in Rome, mainly in the Archives of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide). As he spent almost the last three decades of his long life living under a communist regime in Hungary, he was not allowed to publish much of the data he had collected. He spent these decades of forced silence supplementing the Roman material with sources from the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of the Hungarian Treasury and the Hungarian Chancellery). He wrote several important monographs and essays on these sources, which remained unpublished at the time, but which are now held in the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of Families, Corporations and Institutions), together with his huge bequest of manuscripts. These manuscripts were discovered by the narrow community of professional historians in the early 1990s, and they have since served as sources of inspiration for various scholars, but were still waiting to be published.
For more than 10 years now, the series Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae has published monographs, essays, source materials, repertories and bibliographies concerning Hungarian historical research in the Vatican. Thus, Galla’s legacy found the perfect caretaker in its editorial committee, which is under the leadership of Péter Tusor. The volume under review is the third one published as part of the series, following Ferences misszionáriusok Magyarországon: a Királyságban és Erdélyben a 17–18. században [Franciscan Missionaries in Hungary: In the Kingdom and in Transylvania in the 17th and 18th Centuries], which was issued in 2005 (Classis 1, vol. 2), and Pápai kinevezések, megbízások és felhatalmazások Erdély, a Magyar Királyság és a Hódoltság területére (1550–1711) [Pontifical Provisions, Faculties and Commissions in Transylvania, Habsburg and Ottoman Hungary (1550–1771)], which was published in 2010 (Classis 2, vol. 3). The editing and redacting of the present text, as in the case of the aforementioned volume issued in 2005, was done by István Fazekas and is ample testimony to his competence and attentiveness.
The volume consists of three parts, which are arranged chronologically. The first deals with the history of the Pauline Order from its general reform in the 1630s to the late 1670s. The chapter is structured around the biography of János Vanoviczy (c. 1612–1678), Pauline missionary and head of the apostolic prefecture maintained by the order, but this part also deals with the monasteries that had been in continuous operation since the Middle Ages, as well as the ones that were founded in the period under discussion. Focus, however, is on the beginning of the evangelistic activities of the Paulines and the establishment of the apostolic prefecture in 1667. The second part is dedicated to the development of Pauline missions during the wartime period of 1671–1711, namely the anti-Habsburg uprisings, Kuruc Wars, the Great Turkish War and Ferenc Rákóczi II’s war of liberation. This chapter, however, uses a regional division. After an introductory section on the Pauline missions of the era in general and the old and new monasteries (again), it contains four sections concerning four different territories affected by the missions of the order, namely Szepes (Spiš) and Árva (Orava) Counties, Transdanubia and the regions recaptured from the Ottoman Empire (in this case, only the Diocese of Pécs, the city of Nagyvárad (Oradea)and Transylvania). Finally, the third part, which is considerably shorter than the previous two, summarizes the characteristics of the Pauline missions in the eighteenth century and evaluates the work of the order in this area. The last seventy pages of the volume consist of a list of sources and a bibliography, a particularly extensive index of people and places, and a detailed English abstract (some 10 pages long) including a map of the Pauline missions in the seventeenth century.
Although the published manuscript represents the most complete surviving version of the monograph, it is still an unfinished variant, as the work was probably never totally finalized by Galla. Thus there are significant differences between the three parts of the volume. First, as already mentioned, the third part is only one-third as long as the first two. Second, only the annotations of the first part survived or were made up by the author. Accordingly, there were differences in the editorial work on the text. The first part needed only the revision of the originally ponderous style of the author to make it more flowing and the division of the enormously long notes into shorter ones. However, the annotations in the first part still remain long, and as every single note relates to several paragraphs, sometimes even pages, they contain many repetitions of the main text when specifying the exact topic to which they pertain. In the other two parts, the annotations were compiled by the editor, partially on the basis of the original notes of the author from a former version of the manuscript. Fazekas also cited recent historical literature in order to refresh the study, which is more than half a century old.
As is the case in other works by Galla, his positivist method of accumulating data is often supplemented by explanations of the histories of families and places, general national and church history, and biographies of individuals, mainly members of the Pauline Order and Hungarian aristocrats. More importantly, he summarizes certain sections in general terms either before or after the given details, and in these sections he has ventured several ascertainments that have not been discredited since. These are the features that make Galla’s recently published volume really notable, not to mention his treatment of a huge amount of data, so far unknown, from Rome as well as from Budapest, the importance of which can hardly be overestimated.
Conflicting Values of Inquiry. Ideologies of Epistemology in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Tamás Demeter, Kathryn Murphy, and Claus Zittel. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2015. 410 pp.
The fact that a collection of essays that will in all likelihood find its place on library shelves reserved for philosophical studies is being reviewed in a historical journal by a sociologist should be taken as a good sign. The editorial intention, beyond doubt, was to deliver a bouquet of studies primarily philosophical in their subject matter and to show that, in addition to a revisionist approach to primarily classical chapters in the history of philosophy, a wider, social scientific questioning and treatment of their subjects can also yield essays interesting and relevant for a broad interdisciplinary academic readership.
The volume, however, seeks to achieve further goals, or, if you will, even higher purposes. As Tamás Demeter, one of the editors, highlights in his introductory essay (“Values, Norms and Ideologies in Early Modern Inquiry”), studies aimed at exposing underlying political, religious or ideological commitments in scientific debates have been in vogue since Shapin and Schaffer came out with Leviathan and the Air-Pump in 1985 (Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life ), and while such aspirations have not yet become part of the mainstream, they are familiar enough now to venture beyond or away from the territories that they have uncovered. Hence, “the present volume suggests that with an awareness of this context, it is now worth turning back to questions of the epistemic content itself” (p.2).
In the first essay, which also serves as an introduction to or an overview of the aspirations of the articles that follow, Peter Dear, a renowned historian of science, gives a short account and evaluation of Leviathan and the Air-Pump, the milestone work that this volume now goes beyond, at least if the contributors have met their aim. “Going beyond,” Professor Dear assures his reader, does not mean turning against, and his overview serves to avoid throwing out “the baby with the bathwater when attempting to elaborate other sorts of accounts” (p.11). The so-called Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, or SSK exemplified by the Leviathan and the Air-Pump called for an account of scientific ideas in terms of the acts and actions that they facilitate (p.12), a kind of a contextual analysis that rejects the internal logic of the history of science, refutes the notion that scientific knowledge can be accounted for solely on the basis of prior forms of scientific knowledge, and argues that these systems of knowledge are not purely built upon and consequences of one another. This contextual analysis, also known as the “Strong Program,” advocates an elaboration (explanation or understanding) of all scientific knowledge, whether held to be true or false by contemporaries or present-day representatives of the field, with reference to the historical, political, ideological etc. context within which they are expressed. As Peter Dear puts it, it calls for an interpretation of knowledge-production in terms of an understanding of the stakes that scientific discourses and debates carried for the participants. This approach, as he points out, equates the answers yielded by “instrumental” questions with “understanding.” It is precisely here that the present volume most sharply diverges from the SSK program, for it draws a categorical distinction between the two. Dear considers this a “fundamental incommensurability” between the questions posed by an intellectualist history of science and philosophy and those addressed by SSK.
That there is such a sharp difference or even incommensurability between the emphasis on the instrumental use of ideas and, as is the aim of this volume, their account with reference to “values” (understood in a broad sense) is not entirely clear. Neither Peter Dear nor the other authors seem entirely convinced, in their presentation of their arguments, that this is the case. The distance, however, that Conflicting Values manages to put between the SSK and its own endeavor is less significant than the vast and up-to-date knowledge and the novel questions and interpretations that the authors of the volume offer in their supposedly “post-SSK” scholarly essays on early modern European science.
As is evident from many features of the book (from the perspective of form the similar structure and length of the chapters and from the perspective of content the effort to revise traditional readings of well-known episodes of the history of science and philosophy), the editors had a clear vision which they managed to sustain. The authors, says Tamás Demeter, were asked not to write traditional chapters in the history of philosophy but instead “to explore how certain non-epistemic values had been turned into epistemic ones, how they had an effect on epistemic content, and eventually how they became ideologies of knowledge” (p.2) In fact, as indicated in a short acknowledgment, the collection was based on two preceding workshops in the course of which the ideas were discussed at length and common grounds were established. Hence, this volume, authored by a rather impressive group of historians and philosophers of science, succeeds in avoiding the trap into which many such collections fall. Rather than merely presenting some writings that are at best interesting in themselves, this book grows into an organic whole the parts of which not only function together but also enhance one another.
The unifying idea behind the essays puts the volume at a crossroads of history, philosophy and sociology: “the volume as a whole drives towards the study of those values, norms, and standards that unify knowledge-making practices, which otherwise, from the perspective of different disciplinary canons, may easily seem to be entirely disjointed” (pp.8–9). This junction has been marked by certain territorial battles. As John Henry, himself a highly acclaimed associate of the Edinburgh School of Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, contends in his essay (“Testimony and Empiricism: John Sergeant, John Locke, and the Social History of Truth”), while philosophers in the modern tradition have been “blind to social epistemology until very recently” (p.121), the sociology of knowledge entered territory hitherto occupied by philosophy and history, and so, as an even more recent development, sociologically inclined interpretations are more abound in philosophy, suggesting an attempt to recover lost ground. However, the volume shows—and this is one of its greatest merits—that peaceful learning and inter(trans)disciplinary cooperation can flourish in the place of conflict, bringing a deeper understanding of how philosophical and scientific knowledge has been (and is being) produced. For as John Henry contends, “the fact is, our epistemologies, our theories as to what counts as knowledge, and therefore our ideas about what is true, as much as those developed in the early modern period, depend upon our social and political starting points; and if they change, they do so because those broader circumstances have also changed” (p.121).
The general topic of the essays, as is marked in the subtitle of the volume, is Early Modern European philosophy and science. The subject matter of the chapters ranges from very well-known figures of the history of philosophy (such as Kant or Hume) to less familiar characters, such as the controversial Catholic thinker John Sergeant or the hydraulic engineer Giovan Battista Aleotti. Nonetheless, the choice of the topic is not the innovative aspect of the studies. Whether they concern well-known or forgotten chapters in the history of European thought, they all aspire to frame their subject in a novel way, and they all propose new interpretations of their topics.
Thus, in the first thematic block (“Devices and Epistemic Values”) we learn about the important but rarely acknowledged role that sixteenth-century engineers, through the processes of codification of their practical knowledge, played in the emergence of theoretical knowledge and empiricism as a scientific practice (Matteo Valleriani). Or, as an example of reclaiming and reinterpreting classic topics, Dániel Schmal’s essay examines the famous metaphor of the camera obscura. Schmal argues against the traditional view, claiming that the simile does not suggest a concept of the enclosed nature of the mind but can more plausibly be interpreted as illuminating an active mind, a cognitive machinery that comes into contact with reality through rather complex processes.
The second part of the book focuses on a topic now fashionable in science studies: the epistemic status of testimony. John Henry gives a reevaluation of John Sergeant’s thought. As far as testimony is concerned, Henry claims that it is a crucial feature of Catholicism, which is at the core of Sergeant’s thinking, and that it is purely based on testimonial and consensual (communal) knowledge, whereas in Protestantism, knowledge is based more on the individual mind. This difference, argues Henry, necessarily led Sergeant to an epistemology also inherently different from that of Locke, and it inevitably deemed Sergeant to obscurity. In the next chapter, Falk Wunderlich closely scrutinizes Hume’s theory on the testimonial evidence of miracles. Since Hume rejected the possibility of miracles, this starting point led him to a more refined notion of the epistemic status of testimonies than is generally held, argues Wunderlich.
The third thematic block of the volume revolves around the role religious embeddedness at times plays in scientific inquiry. Giora Hon questions the widespread notion that it was Copernicus whose work marked the transformation of science, and attributes such significance instead to Kepler’s Astronomia nova. Her core argument is that Kepler’s natural philosophy is essentially theological, and it is the theological context of his work that should be acknowledged in order to reconcile the conflicting views in historiography that prevented him from being elevated to the status of the astronomer who revolutionized science. Tamás Demeter’s chapter invites us to look at Hume again. He shows how Hume regarded natural theology, a theologically guided inspection of natural phenomena and the dominant scientific approach at the time (and up until the second half of the nineteenth century, one might add), as something akin to superstition. As Demeter points out, the notion that, as an organized body of knowledge, religion needed to be judged by the same epistemological standards as other bodies of knowledge (such as natural and moral philosophy) contributed to the emergence of a secular ideology of natural inquiry. The next chapter ventures far afield from the British Isles, to eighteenth century Hungary. János Tanács examines the history of mathematics. As is a common denominator in the volume, he challenges a widely held notion in the history of science. He claims that the so-called Problem of Parallels—and Bolyai’s revolutionary problem-solving, which marked the emergence of non-Euclidian mathematics—was not simply motivated by Kant’s ideas (as has been discussed in detail), but was also deeply influenced by the Protestant intellectual milieu. His essay explores the “confessional embeddedness” of this mathematical question in late eighteenth-century Hungary.
The next thematic unit consists of two essays that analyze cases of strategic communication in situations of conflict or controversy. Gábor Áron Zemplén describes how Newton’s “strategic maneuvering,” found in passages on rainbow colors, helped him circumvent objections and accumulate social credit for his new theory, which conflicted with contemporary geometrical optics. Thus, the reader can learn how, even in the case of a seemingly “pure” scientific argument, strategic communication and rhetoric played a role not to be ignored or underestimated. Zemplén’s conclusion describes Newton as more of a great rhetor than a rigorous scientist of physical phenomena: “[i]n theology, Newton believed that God revealed the truth through prophecies, ‘to try men, and convert the best’. And that is exactly what his first article tried, and, with time, achieved” (pp.242–43). In the second essay of the block, Axel Gelfert takes a look at Hobbes’s natural philosophy (his writings on science and geometry), seeking again to expose a strategy, a kind of a hidden agenda, behind the scholarly thoughts. In this case, the conclusion is not all that surprising, since, according to Gelfert, it is Hobbes’s attempt to contribute to peace and provide ways of managing conflicts and disagreement (which poisoned his society and caused him considerable concern) that lies underneath his scientific argument.
Following the essays on scientific devices, testimony, religious context and strategic communication, two writings are paired in a block on the “science of man.” Thomas Sturm explores attempts to develop theories of the mind based on Newton’s methods of analysis and synthesis and concludes that none of them were “good enough” (i.e. they were overshadowed by Newton’s optics) to grow into an early form of psychology. Eric Schliesser’s essay takes us back to Hume, providing a thorough analysis of three passages from various texts to reconstruct distinct intellectual traditions (and the differences between them) to which Hume claimed to belong at various times in his career. These intellectual traditions also framed a system of sciences and placed the “science of man” within it.
The last thematic unit (“Ethics in Epistemology”), with its moral philosophical focus, contains what could perhaps be considered the most “traditional” studies in the book. And yet, even in these three writings, a clearly discernible aspiration to untangle underlying values or personal agenda and to demonstrate how such factors are thickly woven into the threads of philosophical and scientific thinking leads to arguments no less novel or provocative than the ones presented in the previous chapters.
Sorana Corneanu’s approach to Francis Bacon’s concept of the charitable, beneficial character of legitimate knowledge is historical par excellence. She traces the historical context of the concept of charity in order to arrive at a nuanced interpretation of Bacon’s notion of the benefits of knowledge. She shows how Bacon’s concept was embedded in different traditions but at the same time new in some aspects of his understanding. Not surprisingly, Corneanu’s interpretation also serves to refute the nineteenth-century utilitarian reading of Bacon that still exerts an influence on receptions of his writings today.
Even Spinoza is not spared thorough scrutiny that unveils his personal attachments to certain ideals which, apparently, gave way to some logical flaws and a whole conceptual edifice constructed from top to bottom. Ruth Lorand looks at Spinoza’s theories of the ideal life and shows that, despite the seemingly strict logical structure of Spinoza’s argument, the conclusion (the description of the “free man” and the valuable life) preceded the theorizing. According to Lorand, Spinoza basically molded his metaphysics with the final conclusion already in mind. However, Spinoza is not the only great emblem of ethical thinking whose prejudices are challenged: in her conclusion, in line with Hume (and Max Weber), Lorand intimates (without, however, providing any further support) that Spinoza can be taken as a paradigm for the inevitable problems encountered in the course of any attempt to base metaphysics on values, for “the effort to validate a normative theory is self-defeating” (p.368).
From the point of view of disciplinary boundaries and boxing, the last philosophical study of the collection is perhaps the least ambiguous. Catherine Wilson paints a portrait of Kant that is considerably less flattering than the usual accounts, revealing the significant extent to which his epistemological interests were subservient to his normative ones, as he sought to reject the views of his contemporaries. In other words, he is exposed to have had a “deeply personal and not altogether appealing agenda” (p.405).
As is probably obvious from this short overview, the book offers essays that cover a wide range of topics from the volume’s main thematic realm. Some are more philosophical in their focus or emphasis, others perhaps more sociological or historical in their considerations or methodology, but each one of them presents strong and thought-provoking arguments in support of novel (sometimes even provocative) interpretations of familiar topics. They shed new light on fairly well-known themes and figures while, in accordance with the editorial conception, persuasively arguing in support of the conclusion that, in order to understand ourselves better, it is worth looking at how issues of personal, religious and political preferences and similar factors affect or are inherent parts of the ways in which we construct theories. These scholarly essays demonstrate the main theme of the volume and illuminate ways in which non-epistemic values not only play a role in the process of the construction of great scientific theories, but themselves become epistemic values, assumptions about what counts as “true” and what does not: ideologies of knowledge. Put blatantly, whether we approach the question of knowledge as historians, philosophers or sociologists (or other representatives of the sciences), it would be prudent to keep in mind that we are (only) human.
Császárválasztás 1745 [Imperial Election of 1745]. By Márta Vajnági. Budapest: ELTE BTK Középkori és Kora Újkori Egyetemes Történeti Tanszék, 2014. 186 pp.
Márta Vajnági’s monograph, Császárválasztás 1745, investigates the circumstances of the propaganda war that received more publicity than any other in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Charles VI, the War of Austrian Succession was fought not only on the battlefields, but also with pamphlets and an array of press products in the political publicity. In 1745, after the death of the Bavarian Emperor, given the military and political situation, the Habsburgs seemed to have a good chance at a run for the throne of the “king of kings.”
The book is the paperback edition of Vajnági’s doctoral dissertation, which she defended in 2011. Primarily, Vajnági follows the approach used in works on the history of propaganda and in the study of diplomacy and representation. She does not merely examine the context of the imperial election on the basis of available archival sources (Elias Fromm, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I., ein Beitrag zur deutschen Reichsgeschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts ; Josef Posch, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I. 1745 ), but rather offers a comparative analysis of the pamphlets that were published in large numbers during a period marked by upheavals in press technology. The main subject of the volume is the ways in which the campaign for the election of the emperor in 1745 appeared in the contemporary political media and political sphere.
Beginning in the 1990s, the problems of propaganda and the public sphere in the Early Modern era began to be given more and more attention in Hungarian and international historical scholarship. The history of the Holy Roman Empire, in which there were extensive reading networks and numerous active presses, has proven a particularly engaging field for research. For instance, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, whom the eighteenth-century historiography left in the shadow of Maria Theresa, emerges as a very exciting figure. Although Hans Leo Mikoletzky wrote articles about Francis I in the 1960s and called attention to his indisputable role in and talent for addressing economic issues, Renate Zedinger’s monograph, published in 2008, was the first and so far the only comprehensive contribution to the scientific biography of Francis I that attempted to assemble a less fragmentary picture of the Emperor. (Hans Leo Mikoletzky, “Franz Stefan von Lothringen als Wirtschaftspolitiker,“ Mittelungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs 13 (1961): 231–57; Renate Zedinger, Franz Stephan von Lothringen (1708–1765). Monarch, Manager, Mäzen .) One finds a similar example in the Hungarian scholarship dealing with Francis of Lorraine, who tends to be mentioned only with reference to his Hungarian governorship (1732–1741). (Bernadett Bakács, “Franz Stephan von Lothringen als Ungarns Statthalter 1732–1741,“ Jahrbuch für österreichische Kulturgeschichte 10 (1984): 27–36.) From this point of view, the importance of the Vajnági’s monograph can hardly be thrown into question.
Vajnági discusses the historiographical antecedents and the sources, and she defines the applied conceptual categories very precisely. She then offers an introduction to the extensive diplomatic context of the imperial pre-election, the very sensitive and constantly shifting systems of alliances and the military and fiscal background of the hostile powers. It is also important to observe that the author not only analyzes the so-called Reichspublizistik sources, but also takes into account the Dresden and Hanoverian diplomatic records of the well-known diary writer, Johann Joseph Fürst von Khevenhüller (1706–1776), who served as Grand Marshal (Obersthofmarschall) and, from 1745, Grand Chamberlain (Oberstkämmerer).
In the middle parts of the book, Vajnági examines both the German and the French arguments of the pro-Habsburg and anti-Habsburg pamphlets and considers the tractates of 1745 from a comparative approach. Hence, the reader is given clear insights into the debates in which the two sides used anonymous publicists to underpin their own political legitimation and power representation. These analyses exemplify the richness of contemporary political culture in their complexity regarding interpretations of the most prominent historical and legal arguments, which were often used in supportive propaganda materials and in attacks. On the one hand, the three hundred-year imperial continuity of the Habsburg dynasty seemed to guarantee the permanent security and sway of the empire. On the other, the long rule of the Habsburgs provided obvious arguments against development and in favor of suppressing the orders of the Empire. The topoi, rhetorical formulas and ideas that were used for the defense of Francis of Lorrain (such the depiction of Maria Theresa as a German heroine who embodied all the virtues of her Habsburg ancestors) were completely accommodated to the image-building policy of the Habsburg(-Lorraine) dynasty in the eighteenth century. The conclusions of the chapter will be useful for other fields of research, such as interpretations of funeral speeches, imperial laudations, and different sorts of gala speeches and poems.
In the final thematic part of the book, the ceremonies of the imperial election come to the fore. Vajnági not only describes the coronation, but also examines the historical-legal traditions and regulations. In these chapters, she admittedly tries to adapt the approach to the study of rituals and representations initiated by Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger to her subject, and she discerns symbolical meanings behind the spectacular ceremonies. (Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Des Kaisers alte Kleider. Verfassungsgeschichte und Symbolsprache des Alten Reiches .) In Vajnági’s interpretations of the ritual acts, the reader recognizes not only the ceremonial Ordo, but also the participants and the insignia of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which represented symbolic unity in an age of internal warfare and disintegration.
In conclusion, the well-edited monograph presents a clear, perspicuous, but also complex picture of the imperial election of 1745, the working mechanisms of the Holy Roman Empire, and the diplomatic, political and ritual historical dimensions. Although the book was written in Hungarian, Vajnági has also published more articles in English in which she presents her conclusions. (Márta Vajnági, “Britain-Hanover and the Imperial Election of 1745,” Hungarian Journal of English and American studies 14, no. 1 (2008): 1, 51–64; Márta Vajnági, ”The Habsburgs and the Impeial Crown in the Eighteenth Century,” Das Achtzehnte Jahrhundert und Österreich 26 (2012): 92–102.) The appendix includes two highly important German and French pamphlets, which exemplify the predominant attitudes of the debates. The book will prove interesting and valuable for scholars who have an interest in the German political and media culture of the eighteenth century.
The Charmed Circle. Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765–1790. By Rebecca Gates-Coon. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2015. 380 pp.
For a decade, research on the Imperial and Royal Residenz has called for a new understanding of the circle of the five princesses that dominated aristocratic social life during the coregency and reign of Joseph II (1765–1790). So far, studies on Vienna have systematically referred to the seminal work of Adam Wolf (Fürstin Eleonore Liechtenstein, 1745–1812 nach Briefen und Memoiren ihrer Zeit ), which examines the correspondence of Eleonore Ötting, princess of Liechtenstein. Wolf’s insights remain profound and valuable today, and the challenge of outdoing his penetrating analyses is both daunting and alluring. Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to aim to do just this. She ventures the contention according to which the société played a significant role in the reforms implemented by Joseph II. It was, she suggests, a kind of Imperial shadow cabinet that generated confusion between the court and the government.
After the first chapter, which provides the information necessary to understand the close ties between the families (Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Sternberg, Öttingen-Spielberg, Clary, Kinsky, Lichtenstein, and Kaunitz), Gate-Coon examines the five Dames in the context of the history of European aristocracy, which she defines as a “social class,” regardless of the differences in national status and economic, social, political and cultural circumstances across the continent and even within Austria. However, the debate on the domestication of the nobility, which is based on a discussion of Norbert Elias’s paradigm of societé de cour, is limited to two paragraphs, in spite of the fact that it represents one of the most complex and thoroughly studied trends in European history of the eighteenth century. Gates-Coon’s position is clear. She sticks to the Austrian historiographical mainstream and pays little if any attention to the counter-models recently developed by Jeroen Duindam and Éric Hassler, which she regards as little more than samples of academic erudition. The latter’s work (La Cour de Vienne, 1680–1740: service de l’empereur et stratégies spatiales de l’élite nobiliaire dans la monarchie des Habsbourg ) actually provides a very accurate analysis of Viennese aristocratic society between 1680 and 1740, which was not organized around the Emperor or the Imperial family at all. Thus, the “société des cinq princesses” would have constituted a new form of socialization for the members of the Imperial family, an insight that Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to have missed. However, she does provide a narrative of the social activities and distractions of the Viennese court over the course of the second half of the eighteenth century, drawing heavily on primary sources, which is one of the great strengths of the book.
Chapters 3, 4 and 5 examine the circle itself. The society was established during the coregency (1765–1780), when the Emperor was associated with the government of the Austrian Lands. Gates-Coon contextualizes the rise of the circle in the milieu of the profound and sometimes controversial reforms of the monarchy. She also emphasizes the organization of the circle and the central position hold by Eleonore Liechtenstein, writing that “the Emperor’s friendships with the other four Dames developed naturally in the course of his association with Eleonore Lichtenstein” (p.127). However, Gates-Coon’s decision to base her inquiry almost exclusively on Eleonore Liechtenstein’s correspondence indicates a bias that is never questioned.
Gates-Coon emphasizes the influence of the princesses on the Emperor. To understand this influence, it would have been interesting to compare it with the one of the other circles with which Joseph II socialized, for instance the one of Count Windischgraetz. Philipp Cobenzl’s Memoiren gives valuable information concerning this circle (briefly mentioned on p.35), which brought together men and women of less important aristocratic rank to discuss the sciences, philosophy and politics. Cobenzl clearly acknowledged that this société functioned until women lived, and he felt that women were the vital element of this sociability. Cobenzl also helps his reader grasp a fact that Derek Beales has already noted, namely that Joseph II acceded to the circle of the five princesses through the mediation of Cobenzl and the Windischgraetz society. While the Grand Chamberlain Rosenberg was an active member of the five princesses’ circle, the people that Joseph promoted politically were the men of the Windischgraetz’s entourage.
In fact, the circle of the five princesses had more influence on the court than it did on the government, an important detail that Gates-Coon seems to acknowledge when she writes, “she [Eleonore] would prefer, she said, that he (Joseph II) have less regard (bontés) for her and greater consideration for her husband Charles” (p.120). Joseph was clearly aware of this, saying “please be just, I beg you, to the emperor, who can do nothing about the constitution of his Empire, and to Joseph, who can do nothing about the fact that he is emperor” (p.140). Other contemporary sources, like Count Fekete de Galántha’s Esquisse d’un tableau mouvant de Vienne in 1787, which Rebecca Gates-Coon fails to mention, throw into question the notion that such a coterie could have exerted any significant political influence. As a radical Josephinist, Fekete hardly censured this aristocratic society or its habits, which Rebecca Gates-Coon very precisely describes. Finally, it would have been interesting to look at this société as a conservative group of interests, superficially concerned about their position at court and how reforms and wars would affect their incomes, more than as a sign of a fashionable female Austrian Aufklärung, a fact that the book, its initial claim to the contrary, ultimately acknowledges.
David Do Paço
“A Sanguine Bunch.“ Regional Identification in Habsburg Bukovina 1774–1919. By Jeroen van Drunen. (Pegasus Oost-Europese Studies 24.) Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Pegasus, 2015. 653 pp.
The mythos of Bukovina as an allegedly successful regional “realization” of the Habsburg vision of the supranational state seemed interesting enough to contemporaries before 1914 to be the subject of feuilletons, reports, and similar kinds of publications. After 1918 and in particular during the Cold War, another facet of the mythos was added that owed its existence to a romanticization of the past (with a look back on the fate of Europe since) and that affectionately cultivated an image of the vanished world of Bukovina as an Austrian crownland and at the same time a charmed “Europe in miniature.” With the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, people set out in search of this fabled crownland in memoirs, travelogues, and collected impressions of places. Admittedly, the not infrequently miserable everyday realities of the region (which is now divided between Romania and Ukraine) brought observers back to their senses or, quite the opposite, prompted them to sink deep into the mythos of the past. From the outset, nationalist perspectives on the history of Bukovina represent an opposing standpoint. The focus from the national perspective is always on one’s “own.” The other “foreign nations” existed only on the margin, as a kind of foil. Van Drunen pays particular attention to this in his introductory overview of the secondary literature. Even when, at first glance, this introduction seems a bit inconsistent, it contains a decisive benefit in comparison with other works on Bukovina. Beginning with newer monographs on the history of Bukovina (after 1918) and covering historical narratives (before 1918), including contemporary descriptions of the late eighteenth century that in this context may well have been better used as sources, van Drunen covers a long arc to strongly nationalistic (German, Romanian, and Ukrainian/Soviet) studies. He discusses detailed individual, central works (such as writings by Ion Nistor, Rudolf Wagner, Vasyl Botushanskij) and their selective perspectives, which to a large extent in turn influenced the (national) secondary literature on this one-time Austrian crownland since World War II and particularly since the fall of communism in Central Europe. On the whole, it is up to the more recent literature on Bukovina (and in particular the work under review) to take the whole question and subject it to critical scrutiny and not simply to address selected moments and events.
In his dissertation, which he submitted to the University of Amsterdam, van Drunen offers a persuasive investigation of the subtleties of the question of the identity of Bukovina: “The central question remains to which extent a regional identification was experienced and debated during the crownland’s existance” (p.4). In the discussion, which is divided into four blocks (I - Introduction and theoretical framework; II – Bukovinians; III – Elements of Regional Identification; IV – Summary and Conclusion), van Drunen attempts to cast light on the complex situation from various perspectives. He emphasizes from the outset the meaning of the multiple identities of a space (region) and its population, which in the pre-Modern era was largely organized around agriculture and therefore had a settlement structure in which the cities resembled islands. In his discussion of the secondary literature, van Drunen finds fault with the widespread reliance of historians on sources the origins of which lie in one of the given national discourses and/or were predominantly urban in nature and therefore have only limited relevance in a discussion of the majority of the people, who lived in rural settlements (one finds pertinent remarks on this on pages 43, 113, and 161). Even in the varied development of nationally active elites there were people with distinctive and sometimes ambivalent backgrounds (for instance Silvestru Morariu Andrievici, p.168). A clear categorization is therefore often only possible with regards to a concrete occasion. Even the national parties—and this is one of the important conclusions of the inquiry—saw themselves as essentially Austrian. The functioning constitutional state gave them the necessary form and sphere for their activity (p.394). The current search for structures of identity among the rural population—and van Drunen must concede this point—can therefore only be carried out in an indirect manner, and it remains, whether we like it or not, focused or even restricted to the urban elites (p.180).
Van Drunen draws attention in his inquiry to numerous salient elements of the foundations of regional identities, which also opens the door to the themes he has chosen. Here lies one of the great merits of the monograph for the scholarship on Bukovina and, naturally, the history of the Habsburg Monarchy. The central institutions include the diet and the university (Part III), but also the Church (characterized as “the quintessential Bukovinian institution” (p.581), which van Drunen analyses in another context (Part II). There is another institution that van Drunen also could have made use of from this perspective as a meaningful source with a wide scope: the Bukovina (German-language) press. Recently, many important studies have been published that place particular emphasis on this aspect (for instance Ion Lihaciu, Czernowitz 1848–1918. Das kulturelle Leben einer Provinzmetropole ; Corbea-Hoişie et al., Prolegomene la un dictionar al presei de limba germana din Bucovina istorica (1848–1940) ; Zeitungsstadt Czernowitz: Studien zur Geschichte der deutschsprachigen Presse der Bukowina (1848–1940) ). First and foremost, the Czernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung, which was edited and published by Philipp Menczel, provided a public forum which was consistently as aware as it was critical of the supranational idea of the Austrian state and therefore became a primary basis for regional (if predominantly urban) identity creation (p.612). Van Drunen has a critical view of the oft-mentioned National Compromise of 1910. The significance of the Compromise is often interpreted retrospectively, though actually it really gave rise to a kind of adjacent existence at the time, and much less a shared existence or coexistence (p.371). Nonetheless, one should note that in comparison with the other crownlands of Cisleithania this attempt alone and the agreement that was reached (even if there was never really enough time to begin to implement this agreement before the outbreak of war in 1914) were both signs of a certain awareness of identity, based on the will (which found manifestation in the agreement itself) at least to search for a way of getting along with one another. Thus, here two of the analytical levels of the study overlap. It is quite correct that the Compromise was not an expression of a kind of tolerance that was widespread throughout the region, but rather more an idea cherished by the urban (primarily the Czernowitz) elites. Tolerance among the rural people of Bukovina was based, in contrast, on a pre-modern form of loyalty and a sense of belonging (the embodiment of which was the Kaiser), and not on any kind of reaction founded on anti-national sentiment. The elites, in contrast, were navigating stormy seas of national feeling. For them and for the Austrian administration, the Compromise was a momentous achievement, an affirmation of the lowest common denominator that could be reached at the time. It was a formidable step, in spite of everything, even if it only managed to take the wind out of the sails of the increasingly radical nationalist demands for a short period of time (p.372).
Van Drunen examines in minute detail various examples of efforts that were intended to foster a sense of identity or at least could be seen as having had this as their goal, but he presents them in all of their contemporary ambivalence. In doing so, he identifies the danger that each of these institutions could at the same time become a platform for intolerant nationalism. Ironically, the shared feature of the national movements lay in the fact they were among the phenomena that essentially had been imported and were largely based in urban communities. They were therefore often dependent on diametrically opposed figures who were characterized as foreigners or aliens (see pp.232, 603). At least—and van Duren puts considerable emphasis on this in his inquiry—national aspirations came from the rural (majority) population, even if the elites targeted these groups and also drew on them for their efforts to assert their legitimacy.
Finally, the Austrian administration saw, in cautious maneuvering between the parties and their largely nonpartisan conduct, one of their most important tasks (p.599). The reader might perhaps have the—incorrect—impression, while reading the monograph, of a failure that was foreseeable from the outset. Yet Bukovina society functioned until 1914, in spite of the pervasive quarrels, and it portrayed itself positively, without of course meaning, in saying this, to intone a hymn to the mythos I mentioned at the beginning of this review. If one were looking to find fault with van Drunen’s superb contribution to the secondary literature, I would mention his failure to discuss a fundamental facet that must always be taken into consideration in an assessment of Bukovina: namely the context, i.e. the relationship of the crownland at the time to the rest of the Habsburg Monarchy, but also to its international neighbors, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Romania. Not that mention of this would have cast any less critical light on the direly flawed political attempts (such as the diet, the liberal alliance, or the National Compromise), as van Drunen quite accurately observes, but rather because a flavor of reality at the time allows us to see the distinctive features of this crownland and the (missed) chances it had in an entirely different light. The social, political, and economic problems are discernible in other peripheral areas of the empire. Van Drunen demonstrates in his presentation the complexity of this crownland by the example of the question of identity. And yet Bukovina itself was not so unusual. Rather, it was the context in which it existed that was unusual.
Die Donauschwaben 1868–1948. Ihre Rolle im rumänischen und serbischen Banat [The Danube Swabians: Their Role in the Romanian and Serbian Banat]. By Mariana Hausleitner. (Schriftenreihe des Instituts für donauschwäbische Geschichte und Landeskunde, Band 18 – Quellen und Forschungen, Band 2.) Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014. 417 pp.
Mariana Hausleitner’s monograph on Danube Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian Banat between 1868 and 1948 is a well-written and balanced study that aims to explain the reasons behind the different treatment of Swabians in the two countries at the end and in the immediate aftermath of World War II. In Yugoslavia, a process of ethnic cleansing took place that involved mass killings and expulsions, whereas in Romania anti-German provisions included expropriations and deportation for forced labor to the Soviet Union. The latter measures were nevertheless smaller in scope in comparison with what happened to Germans in Yugoslavia.
Hausleitner’s comparative approach is welcome, considering that academic research on German “expellees” tends to be country-focused. Furthermore, Die Donauschwaben also has the merit of presenting and comparing the developments related to Banat Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia in a wider context. It emphasizes, for example, the links between what happened to Swabians and what happened to other ethnic groups in the two countries.
The study is divided into seven chapters. The first one presents the rationale underlying the comparative approach. The point of departure is the question “why so many Danube Swabians in the Yugoslav part of the Banat were killed after 1944 and why the survivors were expelled” (p.9, my translation - C.C.). This question grew into a comparative investigation of the reasons for the differing fates of Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia. The second chapter explores the pre-1918 history of the Swabians of the region in its broader multi-ethnic context. Thus, it sets the stage for the core of Hausleitner’s research, which unfolds in the following four chapters. The third chapter gives particular attention to the workers’ movement in Banat and its stance on the minority issues in the interwar period. The fourth one looks at the “nationally-oriented” Danube Swabians in the two countries and their relationships with their neighbors. The fifth chapter analyzes the period 1938–1944 in the Romanian and Serbian Banat, marked by National Socialist radicalization. The sixth chapter examines the anti-German measures in the two countries in the aftermath of World War II. Finally, the seventh and last chapter sums up the similarities and differences between the historical developments related to Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian parts of the Banat.
Hausleitner’s answer to the question as to why the treatment of Swabians was so different in the two parts of the Banat at the end of World War II is the conclusion of a rich and complex line of argumentation. One of the main points she raises has to do with the significantly different experiences of the war and of Swabian participation in the war in the two countries. Romania was, until August 23, 1944, an ally of Hitler’s Germany, whereas Serbia was placed under military occupation by the Nazis. Swabians were in effect directly involved in the administration and plundering of the communities of Western Banat. The gruesome deeds of the SS division Prinz Eugen (which targeted both partisans and civilians), the population resettlements, and the property confiscations, all of them processes in which a significant number of Swabians played important roles, contributed to the growth of anti-German feeling, which may offer some explanation for the massacres that took place at the end of the war. In the Romanian Banat, Swabians became a privileged ethnic group, enjoying the open support of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, this led to different developments, as Romanian authorities also aimed to put a cap on these privileges. For example, they directly and successfully opposed attempts of Swabians to get hold of confiscated Jewish property, in order to prevent Romanian Germans from acquiring too much power.
Furthermore, there was some opposition to National Socialism in Eastern Banat, albeit frail, from within the German community. It came on the one hand from conservative Catholic circles and on the other from organized left-wing workers in industrial centers, such as Reşiţa (Reschitz). There was no such opposition in Western Banat. Thus, at the end of the war, as Hausleitner shows, there were still voices who could claim to speak on behalf of Germans in Romania, which was not the case in Yugoslavia. This observation leads me to another great merit of Hausleitner’s study, namely the attention she devotes to the left-wing movement in Banat. She shows, for example, how before 1918, in a context in which bourgeois Swabians were prone to adopt Hungarian culture and learn and use Hungarian, Social Democrats and workers’ associations promoted the German language and German culture in their milieus, but without embracing nationalism. In this context, it is worth noting that the German-language left-wing tradition in Eastern Banat is usually ignored in Swabian historiography, as it does not tie in well with the conservative, völkisch, right-wing outlook of the latter. Consequently, Hausleitner’s final observations on the postwar West German career of former Swabian National-Socialists, who bore significant responsibility for the tragic fate of the community, are also relevant. Hausleitner shows how the West German associations that purported to represent Swabians from Romania or from Yugoslavia were from the very start heavily influenced by the presence of former Nazis who managed to stylize themselves as protectors of the community.
Die Donauschwaben is undoubtedly a study valuable in both its empirical and methodological dimensions. Yet in addition to pointing out small factual errors which do not change in any way the overall value of the author’s arguments (e.g. Ante Pavelić died in Madrid, not in Argentina, as footnote 63 on page 305 suggests), I would also raise a point of more substantial criticism. Hausleitner depends to a large extent on archival sources in Romania, whereas her discussions of the Yugoslav case are based mainly on secondary sources. It is true that the existing scholarship on Western Banat is richer than the scholarship on Eastern Banat, and Hausleitner emphasizes this very early in the book (p.10). Nevertheless, this difference between the use of primary and secondary sources in the two cases gives at times the impression that the arguments on Eastern Banat are better grounded than the ones on Western Banat. However, this is perhaps merely a semi-important asymmetry in an otherwise solid piece of scholarship.
Enemies for a Day: Antisemitism and Anti-Jewish Violence in Lithuania under the Tsars. By Darius Staliūnas. Budapest: CEU Press, 2015. 284 pp.
It is by now a commonplace in the secondary literature that before 1905, at least, no pogroms occurred in the “Northwest provinces” of the Russian Empire (today’s Lithuania and Belarus), but only in the southwest (Ukraine) and Polish gubernii. John D. Klier’s magisterial Russians, Jews, and the Pogroms of 1881–1882, to name just one important work, argues along these lines. Darius Staliūnas does not directly contradict this thesis. He also concludes that the “Storms in the South” did not significantly spill into neighboring provinces to the north. His purpose in the book is a more subtle one: to show how anti-Jewish sentiment, based on religious, social, and economic factors, developed and led to clashes between Jews and Christians in the decades before World War I. This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the region’s history, Jewish history, and the dynamics of interethnic tension and violence.
Staliūnas focuses geographically on the “Lithuanian” provinces of the Russian Empire, i.e. Vilnius (Vil’na), Kaunas (Kovno), and Suvalki provinces and chronologically on the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, i.e. the period after the 1881 pogroms. His title suggests a loose (though entirely appropriate) understanding of “anti-Jewish violence”: most of the incidents he investigates involved a rise in tension and violence, followed by an ebbing of antagonisms within a few days. At the same time, Staliūnas provides us with an excellent picture of the background to this violence: the general mistrust that existed between Jews and their Christian neighbors, the prevalence of the belief that Jews (at least some Jews) used Christian blood for certain ceremonies, and a frequent conviction among Christian peasants that a certain, limited amount of violence toward Jews was sanctioned by the authorities. This careful and sophisticated examination of the background of anti-Jewish violence is, to my mind, every bit as important as the well-researched “case studies” of pogroms.
The first trigger of anti-Jewish violence that Staliūnas considers is the blood libel. A number of case studies (the earliest from 1801) from the archives are examined and a general pattern is established: a child disappears, Jews arouse suspicion by (for example) not allowing peasants to enter a house or tavern, a mob attacks Jewish residents and businesses, the violence is over in a few hours. Interestingly, in some of these cases, when appealing to the Russian authorities local Jews used anti-Polish (and anti-Catholic) tropes prevalent among Russian officialdom, especially from the 1860s. Not all accusations of ritual murder, however, led to violence. The author concludes that the Russian authorities’ general antipathy to the Jews and their unwillingness (or inability) to respond swiftly and effectively to anti-Jewish violence reinforced the peasant belief that this violence was simply a way of “achieving justice” by punishing (alleged) Jewish malefactors.
Staliūnas devotes an interesting chapter to the crucial years 1881 and 1882, concluding that while major pogroms did not take place in the Lithuanian provinces, tensions did exist, and certain Lithuanian-language flyers and songs from those years can be interpreted as calling for violence against Jews. Still, other texts specifically called on Lithuanians to refrain from violence, and, a few small squabbles aside, major incidents were avoided.
Violence against Jews gained steadily in frequency and intensity after the turn of the century. The Kishinev pogrom (1903) is probably the best known of these episodes, but the Białystok pogrom three years later was much more devastating. As Staliūnas documents, significant violence against Jews occurred in the Lithuanian provinces already in 1900. The author explains these attacks as the outcome of “insulted religious feelings” among Lithuanian Catholics. It should be noted that in the Lithuanian incidents, unlike in Kishinev and Białystok, violence rarely escalated to murder and the most significant consequence was property damage. Still, the background of “righteous indignation” against Jewish lack of respect for Christian dogmas and rituals cannot be dismissed when investigating later, more violent pogrom waves during the 1905 Revolution and World War I (especially 1915). The book concludes with a comparative analysis of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian and neighboring Belarusian provinces.
Enemies for a Day significantly deepens our knowledge of the dynamics of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian provinces before 1914. In this way, this book makes a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the roots of Lithuanian antisemitism. Enemies for a Day is recommended for anyone interested in the history of Jews in Eastern Europe and the study of ethnic relations and violence.
Theodore R. Weeks
Les guerres balkaniques (1912–1913): Conflits, enjeux, mémoires. Edited by Catherine Horel. (Enjeux internationaux 31.) Bruxelles–Bern–Berlin–Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014. 348 pp.
This volume, edited by Catherine Horel and containing essays in English and French, is the second book in part of a larger international project. The first volume, also edited by Horel and published in 2011, deals with the reception and the consequences of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1908 (Catherine Horel, ed., 1908, l’annexion de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, cent ans après ). Obviously, any scholar dealing with the Balkan Peninsula would have great expectations regarding a book that contains essays by a group of internationally renowned experts on the history of the area, particularly, focuses on the Balkan wars of 1912/13, which shook the very foundations of the peninsula, even if it is clear from the outset that an assortment of essays addressing a wide array of themes will never be entirely cohesive. At the same time, the volume includes essays by several authorities on the subject, offering readers samplings and insights into the latest theoretical findings and approaches. However, one should not expect the articles, which discuss the various questions from different angles and according to frequently contradictory national or global narratives, to offer a more nuanced understanding of the conflict or the authors to reflect on one another’s contentions, nor does any dialogue or conversation emerge regarding the conflict, which can be regarded as the direct precursor to World War I (at least in the sense that it clearly demonstrated that the concert of Great Powers was no longer an effective assurance against instability). The volume provides insights into individual issues, but the bulk of the essays either seem to lack the knowledge required to address these questions in depth or, conversely, address overly specialized or specific problems as the subjects of their inquiry. Not even the leading scholars attempt to synthesize the existing scholarship on the subject, let alone provide a comprehensive interpretation of the conflict within the framework of recent theoretical developments, since the volume is first and foremost a collection of case studies. The essays are not only uneven, they are also often one-sided (the conflict is approached almost exclusively from the point of view of the Entente countries and their allies). They do not offer a nuanced overview of the conflict.
The articles have been divided into three thematic groups. The essays in the first section provide a historical analysis of the conflicts. In this group, both in terms of its subject matter and its approach, the most remarkable study is Dimitar Tasić’s interpretation of the role and the social basis of the irregular armed forces on the basis of a comparative analysis of the acts and functions of various paramilitary groups. Tasić argues that the irregular armed forces were by and large heterogeneous regarding their aims and methods, as well as the nationalities of their members and the social backgrounds and origins of their leaders. For instance, many of the soldiers serving under Major Vojislav Tankosić, who was in charge of the Prokuplje Operating Base, were Bosnian Muslims and Albanians, who—although they were fighting to further Serbian aims—were primarily occupied with taking revenge for personal grievances (which were not necessarily of a nationalistic nature). The detachments under the command of Major Branko Vukosavjlević were disciplined, orderly and tolerant, and they followed the orders issued by the higher levels of command.
One of the most outstanding essays is Patrick Louvier’s thought-provoking study on the slow decline that can be observed in the number of the Cretan Muslim inhabitants in the period beginning with the Greco–Turkish War of 1897 (the autonomous Cretan State was established in 1898) and ending in 1913. Louvier’s analysis breaks away from the long-established approach, according to which most of the Turkish people in Crete were town-dwellers, and it offers an examination of the percentage of immigrants and renegades among them. Using several primary sources and consular reports, Louvier also attempts to reconstruct the change in the number of inhabitants during the years.
An insightful essay by Emanuele Constantini deals with the Jewish community of Thessaloniki. More specifically, it provides an analysis of the diplomatic negotiations conducted by the members of this community on the city’s status. Their primary concern was continuity in the commerce of the city. As Constantini’s study shows, the Jewish community not only had large-scale representation in Thessaloniki (with members from diverse social groups, such as factory workers and industrialists), it also used connections with the Jewry of the Great Powers and various international organizations to exert an influence on policy makers.
Bernard Lory analyses the historiographical reception of the Albanian and Macedo-Bulgarian insurrection of 1913 and provides an attempt to reconstruct the events of the rebellion as well. Lory relies primarily on Bulgarian secondary literature in his study, making use also of the memoirs of Hristo Matov, one of the leaders. However, he does not use excerpts from the diary of one of Matov’s rivals, Petar Chaulev, which has also been published. Thus, significant holes remain in his reconstruction of the internal structure of the insurrection.
An essay by Vojislav Pavlović adds little to our understanding of the conflicts, as it provides barely more than an overview of the ideas of the Serbian national historiography in French. Much better is the study by Traian Sandu on the Romanian stance regarding the political situation in the Balkans. His inquiry is impartial and free of political overtones concerning the versatility of the Romanian aspirations and the principles on which they rested. Similarly, Gabriel Leanca’s essay on the Romanian acquisition of Southern Dobruja and the French-Russian alliance is a highly useful work that draws on sources in Romanian, Bulgarian and French.
The second half of the volume deals with the various ways in which other countries intervened in the conflict, but most of the essays offer little more than overviews. The essay by Fabrice Jesné and Mathieu Jestin, which offers an analysis of the roles played by the Great Power consuls during the war, give the collection a refreshing dash of color. It addresses the acts and functions of the consuls with due consideration of their humanitarian, diplomatic, and economic interests. Nadine Akhund’s essay on the scholarly and political work of the Carnegie Commission, which was established in the wake of the war with the task of inquiring into its causes, is similarly useful. Akhund provides a detailed account of the goals of the people who organized the commission, the manner in which the people who participated in the writing of the report were selected (the leader of the commission asked personal acquaintances and confidantes to serve, most of whom, however, arranged to have someone else represent them), their networks of relationships, and their attitudes towards one another. Of the six people who put together the report, two never even made it to the actual site of the conflict, or rather left the group early. The sentimental attachments of Pavel Miliukov, an expert on Macedonia, and Englishman Henry Brailsford to the Bulgarian national cause are palpable in the report (which was also published as a book). Miliukov and Brailsford knew each other well, and given their biases, the report, on which they exerted a significant influence, can hardly be considered objective. But it was the first account prepared by civilians of the costs of the war and the atrocities that had been committed. Odile Moreau analyses the accounts of the fighting by Stephane Lauzanne, a reporter for the French newspaper Matin. The essay is significant in part because there were relatively few Western journalists active on the Turkish side, and it provides a systematic analysis of the chaotic political situation in the Ottoman Empire. It is thoroughly footnoted and draws on recently published Turkish sources on the war.
The third section contains studies of reports, memoirs, and historiographical analyses dealing with the conflict. The essay by Daniel Cain merits particular mention. A main street is rarely named after a journalist. James Bourchier, at one point a reporter for the Times, earned this distinction, as a busy street in Sofia bears his name. Bourchier worked hard to build up the Balkan League and eventually came to serve as a self-appointed diplomat. As an Irishman, he was perhaps particularly sensitive to the plights of “oppressed peoples.” Claudiu Topor examined the role of national rhetoric in the Romanian press during the Second Balkan War, an interesting question in the case of a war in which Romania could hardly appeal to the ethnic principle.
In contrast with some earlier volumes, this collection contains no contributions by nationalist historians representing extremist views, and this is one of its indisputable merits. It is surprising, however, that one finds hardly any Austrian, Hungarian, or Russian authors among the contributors (not to mention the works cited), in spite of the fact that these countries were dramatically affected by the events (Anglo-Saxon authors are only found in the footnotes). As the volume contains essays based on presentations of a conference held in Paris, it is perhaps not surprising that most of the authors are French or Italian, but fortunately representatives of smaller states have also been included. The international network of French historiography is quite palpable. One can sense an attempt to maintain a safe distance from the events (Bulgarian politics are analyzed by a Romanian contributor, the Albanian-Macedonian uprising of 1913 is examined by a French author). While the essays may well have been carefully selected and make use of recent secondary literature (one can reconstruct, on the basis of the works cited, the network of relationships), one notices a kind of circular process of citation, which itself demonstrates how a scholarly community can be constructed. One also notes that Romanian historiography remains well-connected on the international scene. The volume is perhaps interesting reading for specialists familiar with the wide-ranging historiography on the conflicts. The dozen or so well-conceived and thoroughly documented essays offer some compensation for the dozen or so weak essays, the generally uneven standards, and the regrettable typos.
A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja 1914–1918 [The Last War of Old Hungary 1914–1918]. By Tibor Hajdu and Ferenc Pollmann. Budapest: Osiris, 2014. 416 pp.
This volume, authored by two doyens of Hungarian military historiography, fits well into the series of publications aiming to meet public demand on Hungarian history during the Great War. In contrast with earlier attempts, this book aspires to provide a complex and holistic summary of Hungary’s role in World War I. It is divided into six main chapters, out of which the first presents the international and domestic preludes to the war, followed by a balanced analysis in five consecutive sections of every year of the war. In these chronological chapters, the authors focus mostly on the political and military aspects of the Hungarian participation, but they occasionally also discuss the economic consequences of the conflict and the cultural history of the era.
The first part examines the international context leading up to the war with consideration of the main political aims of the great powers. The authors contend that the war was not inevitable, but the unwise behavior of the European political and military elite, together with rising nationalism in Eastern Europe, led to the outbreak of conflict. Although—in accordance with trends in contemporary scholarship—the book emphasizes the responsibility of actors other than Germany during the July crises, it unfortunately fails to engage with the most current “Sleepwalkers” debates (Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 ).
The second chapter focuses on the problematic nature of mobilization and the strategic dilemmas of the Austro-Hungarian military leadership in the summer of 1914. It discusses the first military encounters, particularly the background and the conduct of the ill-fated Potoriek offensives on the Serbian front, and explains why the Austro-Hungarian mobilization plans failed to function during the first month of the war.
The third part not only focuses on the political and military developments of 1915 (including the successful Gorlice-Tarnów offensive), but also provides insights into other aspects of the new industrial warfare. The authors analyze the economic consequences of the war for Hungarian agriculture and industry, explaining these phenomena in an imperial framework. They also present the ways in which the most important technological developments, for example the use of gas weapons, made an impact on warfare both on the Western and Eastern Fronts.
Alongside the operational history of 1916, the fourth chapter gives an overview of the experiences of civilians and the changing mood on the home front during the war. Here Hajdu and Pollmann discuss both the intellectual responses and the popular reactions to the conflict, using mostly already published first-hand accounts.
In the chapter on 1917, the focus shifts to diplomatic history. The authors attempt to make a contribution to the long-lasting debate on how the Hungarian elite could have avoided the great territorial losses of the country after the war. Besides presenting the operational history of this year, the authors also argue that the vast majority of Hungarian politicians were too blind to assess the consequences of an alliance with Germany that had become too close, and this led to the very weak position of Hungary after the inevitable defeat in 1918.
In the final part the authors analyze the last desperate attempts of the military and political leadership to change the course of war. They discuss Emperor Charles’ relationship with the civil-military leadership of the empire and they also present how wishful thinking and strategic miscalculations led to the disastrous offensives on the Piave River. In this chapter the authors are generally very critical of the last vague efforts of the Austro-Hungarian political elite to negotiate peace and transform the Empire into a federal state.
A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is undoubtedly a well-written analysis of Hungary’s participation in the Great War. It provides in many respects a far better overview than similar books published earlier in Hungary. The authors manage to write a focused national history, which also demonstrates the Hungarian developments in a wider geographical context. For example, Hajdu and Pollmann present the military and diplomatic history within an imperial framework and provide good insights into the personal relationships between the leading actors of Budapest and Vienna. The volume also discusses briefly the most important military and political developments outside the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, demonstrating their effects on the Habsburg Empire. Furthermore, the book is very well structured and the arguments are clearly formulated, so it successfully achieves a balance between the demands of the academic audience and the wider readership. However, in some cases it would have been preferable to have included more references for the academic audience.
In spite of the fact that A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is a balanced summary of Hungary’s participation in the Great War, it also reflects the main problems of the current Hungarian military history scholarship. Over the course of the past few decades, World War I has been a relatively neglected topic in Hungary, and the vast majority of studies have restricted their focus to the operational and political history of the conflict. Consequently, the book’s chapters in which these issues are discussed provide far better and more cutting-edge analyses then the chapters on the social, economic and cultural aspects of the war.
Contrary to the case of operational history, in these fields Hajdu and Pollmann can only rely on a handful of up-to-date studies. It is therefore not surprising that the authors were not able to present any complex analyses of such significant issues, like the memory of the conflict or the transformation of gender roles between 1914 and 1918. The absence of these two topics from the volume is acute, because they are probably the most widely discussed problems in the international scholarship of the past several decades.
No doubt Hajdu and Pollmann, who were both keen on using modern methodology in their earlier works, made a huge effort to involve some other fields (fields which in Hungary have not been given adequate attention) in their investigation. For example, they write relatively extensively about the brutalizing effects of the war, particularly with regards to such technological developments as gas warfare. Unfortunately, mostly due to the outdated secondary literature, they are not able to engage with the ongoing international debate and present the long-term consequences of the war on domestic and political violence in Hungary. Similarly, the absence of up-to-date studies prevent the authors from providing a cutting-edge analysis of the economic and social aspects of the conflict.
In spite of these problems, A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is probably the best and most complex summary of Hungary’s participation in World War I so far. It draws on many findings in the current historiography, especially in the chapters discussing the operational history of the conflict. Unfortunately, due to the lack of basic research, it does not live up to the same standards in the fields of social, economic and cultural history. Hajdu and Pollmann’s book, with all its pros and cons, reflects well the present stand of Hungarian scholarship on World War I.
KL. A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. By Nikolaus Wachsmann. London: Little, Brown, 2015. 880 pp.
Synthesizing the main findings of a vast corpus of secondary sources and drawing extensively on the author’s own primary research as well, Nikolaus Wachsmann’s KL aspires to offer nothing less than the first comprehensive and integrative history charting the development of the Nazi concentration camps. The book’s integrated approach to the altogether twenty-seven main camps and their over 1,100 satellite camps combines a macro analysis of Nazi terror with micro studies of individual actions and responses. It compares conditions and developments between and within individual camps while also putting them into their wider political and cultural contexts.
The author repeatedly emphasizes that “the KL acted much like seismographs, closely attuned to the general aims and ambitions of the regime’s rulers” (p.626). Accordingly, his KL explores the various incarnations of these flexible instruments of lawless repression over time. The book exemplifies the changing functions of the concentration camps, for instance by discussing how, between 1933 and 1945, Dachau was variously meant to serve as a “bulwark of the Nazi revolution, model camp, SS training ground, slave labor reservoir, human experimentation site, mass extermination ground, and center of a satellite camp network” (p.593).
In accordance with its key agenda of thorough historicization, the over 800 meticulously researched pages of KL (the notes alone fill some 158) proceed in a largely chronological fashion. They trace the non-linear escalation of “terror” in excruciating detail. While Wachsmann highlights that “periods of rising terror” in the camps could be followed by moments of relatively greater “moderation,” such as in the mid-1930s and even in 1943 (p.188), he also explains that absorbing change and adapting without losing its core mission proved to be one of the most terrifying features of the institution (p.192). Alongside its key agenda of historicization, another central ambition of the book is to show how a singular focus on the SS’s attempt to demonstrate its absolute power oversimplifies SS policy, which was in fact also guided by considerations of a more ideological, economic, or simply pragmatic nature (p.158).
The first three chapters of the book chart the origins, formation and expansion of the KL system between 1933 and 1939. Here, Wachsmann shows that the primacy of political terror set the Nazis on the road to absolute rule already in 1933, when up to 200,000 political prisoners were detained. However, there were neither detailed blueprints, nor a coordinated national network of Nazi camps at the time. The many hundreds of new sites could hardly have been more varied. By the mid-1930s, it even seemed likely that the KL system, which held some 3,800 inmates at a time when regular prisons in Nazi Germany held well over 100,000, would simply wither away.
As we know, precisely the opposite happened. The camps expanded, even as domestic political opposition diminished, and by 1937/38, measures related to them were centralized and escalated. Potentially boundless camps, such as Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück were opened, characterized by “a uniform administrative structure, a common architectural ideal, a professional corps of SS men, and a systematic brand of terror” (p.134). As Wachsmann shows, they emerged as “firm fixtures of the Third Reich, outside the law, funded by the state and controlled by a new agency,” the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps (p.134). The main function of these camps soon shifted from browbeating political opponents to terrorizing social outsiders. The twenty months prior to the outbreak of World War II then brought the first huge rise in the death rate, as 2,268 people lost their lives inside the camps (p.169).
Subsequent chapters on the early years of World War II examine wider developments of the camp system as well as daily life in individual camps to thereby explore the descent of the camps into sites of mass death and executions. Arguing that the lethal turn of the KL system had begun as early as between 1939 and 1941 (p.191), the author shows that many key features of the wartime camps, such as “bigger compounds, new camps outside the German heartland, masses of foreign prisoners, lethal living conditions, murderous everyday violence, and planned executions” emerged early on (p.238). By the fall of 1941, the Nazi war of extermination also entered the KL: “with the killing of infirm inmates with poison gas still in full swing, the Camp SS embarked on an even more radical program”, the murder of “tens of thousands of Soviet POWs” (p.242). As Wachsmann rightly highlights, this was “a cataclysmic moment dwarfing all previous killing campaigns” (p.262). By this time, the concentration camps had developed a dual function. As KL asserts, the systematic murder of exhausted, weak, and ill prisoners had become one of their permanent features, and “many structural elements” of the Holocaust had emerged inside the camps before the SS crossed the threshold to genocide in 1942 (p.287-8).
KL focuses on the experience of altogether around 2.3 million registered inmates who were dragged into concentration camps between 1933 and 1945 and of whom over 1.7 million lost their lives. The story it tells thus only partially overlaps with that of the Holocaust. At the same time, the book fully acknowledges that systematic mass killing turned into genocide as the Holocaust entered the KL in 1942. It in fact traces in detail how the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, a focal point for SS economic ambitions and a center of the Nazi Final Solution, was transformed into the largest and most lethal camp by far and became the central location of the Holocaust by 1943. On the other hand, while pointing to institutional and organizational connections between the KL system and the three Globocnik death camps, Wachsmann discusses the latter sites only briefly. (The Globocnik death camps admittedly did not function as concentration camps. As Wachsmann puts it, in them, terror was compressed to its very essence.) However, KL does highlight that 1942 was also the year in which a shift in power between legal and SS terror could be observed as, for the first time, camps held more inmates than German prisons.
The KL prisoner population grew exceptionally rapidly the following year, shooting up from an estimated 115,000 to around 315,000 by the end of 1943 (p.414-5). Over the course of the year, the SS started to press more and more prisoners into the war economy. By the autumn of 1943, a veritable scramble for KL prisoners started, which also meant that the Camp SS could exert less control over them (p.453). Even if concentration camps were admittedly never turned into significant hubs for the German war economy and their main “product” remained the misery and death of their prisoners, Wachsmann argues that their “dramatic descent into squalor and death, which had begun with the outbreak of war in autumn 1939” was thereby “temporarily arrested and reversed”(p.427).
One of the last chapters of the monograph is devoted to the spread of slave labor and satellite camps, whereas others analyze prisoner communities and the final phase of violence. 1944 meant “the climax of the Holocaust in Auschwitz,” when, upon the arrival of Hungarian Jews, “the largest extermination program the KL system had ever seen” was implemented (p.458-9). At the same time, Wachsmann diagnoses a partial erosion of the importance of ideology as a determining factor in 1944, as economic pressures started to dilute the full impact of Nazi racial policy (p.474). Even if there were very clear limits to flexibility, the new policy meant a U-turn in the deployment of Jews, implying a mass influx of Jewish prisoners far into the territory of Nazi Germany. The rapid rise of satellite camps also led to the recruitment of tens of thousands of new guards, among them elderly soldiers, women, and even non-Germans. However, terror continued even as the SS presence diminished. Frighteningly, the everyday operation of the KL apparently did not require a vast army of political soldiers (p.471).
Regarding the inmates, more generally, KL suggests perseverance, solidarity, and defiance as key perspectives from which to analyze their behavior (p.499). Wachsmann explains that the KL provided the most barren grounds for the growth of defiance, and those aiming to violently oppose their tormentors faced terrible dilemmas (p.527). While he emphasizes that inmates retained a sense of right and wrong within the warped world of the camps, he essentially argues that for the most part, theirs was a tale of degradation and despair with few heroic and uplifting moments.
Last but not least, KL dissects how the climax and collapse of Nazi concentration camps went hand in hand. As we learn, at both chronological ends of the Third Reich, the camps were characterized by a high degree of improvisation: in 1933, the KL system had not yet formed and by 1944, it was already starting to fray (p.465). However, as camps increasingly turned into disaster zones, the final months of the KL system proved to be among the most lethal. In early 1945, there was a record of 714,211 registered KL prisoners in all (by comparison, 80,000 men and women were locked up in 1942). When the war ended a mere four months later, an estimated forty percent of them had already died.
KL is likely to remain the definitive overview of its subject for many years to come. However, as is the case with any book aspiring to be comprehensive, some of KL’s emphases may also be debatable. Gender-related issues and questions of memory and remembrance receive rather brief treatment, while the biographical analysis of perpetrators might have been extended too. In terms of the main interpretative thrust of the book, Wachsmann depicts the Nazi concentration camps as a highly distinctive system of domination and contextualizes them almost exclusively within a national framework. Instead of expanding on their comparative and transnational dimensions, KL argues that the sources of their inspiration were German disciplinary discourses and practices rather than foreign precedents and that their manner of transformation made Nazi camps significantly distinct from other “totalitarian camps,” notably the Gulag. Such somewhat debatable choices and contentions aside, KL offers meticulous scholarship and a largely convincing interpretation of how murderous orders from the top and local initiatives from below radicalized each other and ultimately plunged the KL into a maelstrom of destruction.
The Nation Should Come First. Marxism and Historiography in East Central Europe. By Maciej Górny. Translated by Antoni Górny. Editorial assistance Aaron Law. (Warsaw studies in contemporary history 1.) Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2013. 302 pp.
For a long time, the scholarship of historians who were working behind the Iron Curtain during the Communist period was mostly regarded by the “international” (i.e. predominantly the “Western”) community of scholars as part of propaganda efforts and was not taken seriously. In the few cases when it was given due consideration, for instance the works of the internationally renowned Hungarian historians György Ránki, Iván T. Berend, and Péter Hanák, the explanation for this lay in the fact that they had at some point abandoned the gray-suited army of those who falsified and manipulated history behind the Iron Curtain and joined the bright, colorful, “free” world of Western scholarship. So why should the small field of the history of historiography care about this group of pseudo-historians (in the eyes of the West), who did not even speak the right languages, and this not only in the literal sense (since they published their writings in Polish, Hungarian, Czech or Russian instead of English, French or German), but also in the sense of a language that consists of different assumptions and concepts, taken mostly from Marxism-Leninism? But in the 1990s, a few German and other Western historians began to become interested in the historiography of East-Central Europe for two essential reasons: because it concerned seemingly foreign countries, more foreign than their own pasts, and because it was part of the culture of State Socialism, a new field that suited the necessities of post-totalitarian perspectives, which had begun to take an interest in how the world of ideas, attitudes, understandings of Communism worked. And they found, of course, exactly what they were looking for: historians who represented the inner logic of the communist party state.
Now, two decades later, we are well beyond these earlier misunderstandings of the historiography of East Central Europe. The Nation Should Come First is one of the best introductions to this new knowledge. Maciej Górny’s book is the English translation of a text that was first published in Polish (2007) and then in German (2011). Górny’s main thesis is that historical writing in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and even East Germany in the first two decades of State Socialism was marked by strong continuities with pre-war traditions, or, to put it negatively, the influence of Marxism-Leninism and the “manipulation” of historical scholarship by the Communist party and by ideologically “brain-washed” historians had a much weaker impact than is often assumed. In other words: the nation was supposed to “come first” in most history books, not the party. Maciej Górny presents his argument in five chapters.
The first chapter introduces the main questions and debates in the field. The history of historiography is treated as “a broad panorama of concepts and events shaping an image of the past” (p.23). This is, to some extent, an affirmation of the project of the cultural history of historiography of the 1990s, especially regarding the GDR, but, and this is emphasized by the author, the perspective of “postmodernist” Diskursgeschichte has often neglected the study of the content of historiography by almost completely focusing on institutions, forms and styles of discourse and ultimately arriving at the conclusion that historical professionalization was somehow distorted to the east of the Elbe River (p.19). This is a critique of studies by Martin Sabrow and others, though Górny does not include Siegfried Lokatis’ study (which was published within the same Potsdam school), which explicitly shows how the form and content of the history of the German labor movement was shaped by historians embedded in a dense web of institutions of the SED. (Siegfried Lokatis, Der rote Faden. Kommunistische Parteigeschichte und Zensur unter Walter Ulbricht .) Admittedly, this concerns the most political and most controlled part of GDR historiography, but Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung (eight volumes of which were published before 1966) was not just one history book among others. It represented a model for the whole area of modern history.
In contrast to the “postmodernist” school, Górny tries to look at institutional and political dimensions, but also at “interconnections between historiography and historical tradition, the imaginings of the national past, the history of ideas and collective memory, and finally, historical myths” (p.24). Chapter 2 examines the institutional changes and continuities and the “creation of early postwar narrations” in the four cases (East German, Czech, Slovak and Polish historiography). He acknowledges that there were numerous personal changes and discontinuities after 1945, although less so in Poland and Czechoslovakia, where universities managed to keep more of their independence than in East Germany (p.39). Similarly, the production of new, Marxist national textbooks of history was less successful in Poland and Czechoslovakia than in Germany, and thus the conclusions of Lokatis’ work cannot be extended to other East Central European countries.
Chapter III, the central part of the book, describes how historians were searching for “progressive” traditions that could be used in the context of the new national historical narratives and how they mostly had little choice but to return to earlier established themes, topics, and heroes already cherished by nationally minded historians of earlier periods. Here, Górny convincingly shows how national narratives, especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia, celebrated their comebacks garbed in new “Marxist-Leninist” language, but with little actual change regarding content and interpretation. In the 1950s, the older historiographical traditions came under attack from “progressive” historians, but their defenders profited from the problem of providing a clear definition of “progressiveness” (p.250). In the end, the fierce debates concerning which traditions were more “progressive” than others only revealed the central dilemmas of Stalinist Soviet-style centralized historiography, which was marked by an attempt to limit the multiplicity of interpretations, which is precisely what keeps the work of historians from becoming dead letters completely detached from reality. The last chapter provides a brief comparison of the four historiographies with other Communist cases (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria).
Árpád von Klimó
Otthon és haza. Tanulmányok a romániai magyarság történetéből [Homeland and Home: Essays on the History of the Hungarians of Romania]. By Nándor Bárdi. Csíkszereda: Pro Print, 2013. 607 pp.
Nándor Bárdi’s Otthon és haza is a summary of more than two decades of intense research on the history of Hungarian minorities. Nevertheless, the book is not a synthesis in which the author adopts one of the two typical approaches to this issue, narrating it either as a story of tragedy, decline and heroism or as a sober, rational and resigned account of inevitable loss. Its nine chapters, each of which would qualify as a separate book on the basis of its richness, take different perspectives on the question of how a minority community was constructed out of a group of people separated from Hungary and attached to Romania. Bárdi understands the term “construction” in a very practical way. In the various chapters of the book, he analyzes the means and mechanisms of establishing the institutions of a(n imagined) community and seeks to further an understanding of how different actors from Budapest, Kolozsvár (today Cluj in Romania) and Bucharest gained or lost agency mainly at one another’s expense. As one might expect, the vision of such a newly emerging community was hardly stable, and this created another field of contestation between the actors, namely contestation over different representations of the minority Hungarians.
The chapters give a detailed analysis of the transition that took place at the end of World War I in the remote city of Székelyudvarhey (today Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romania), a community which was almost entirely Hungarian-speaking. In the wake of the war, revolutionary passions were fading away as the struggle against the Romanianization of the administration became more prominent and intense. The zig-zagging of Hungarian politicians in the first few years of the existence of Greater Romania would have been impossible had they not been able to find allies, for they were compelled to navigate between the expectations of Budapest that they would preserve the loyalty of Hungarians to the Hungarian state and the necessities of finding a place in the Romanian political system. Bárdi discusses in detail the methods with which they secured a level of autonomy vis-à-vis Budapest while also maintaining the unity of a fragile party. Bárdi also shows how and why the members of the first minority generation abandoned the idea of the equality of nationalities based on a vision of organic nations living side by side in harmonious internal unity. They sought instead to establish Hungarian supremacy and regional devolution in Northern Transylvania between 1940–1944 in order to avoid the supposed mistakes of liberal Hungary, which allegedly had led to the dismemberment of the country after World War I.
Two further chapters introduce the reader to the complex and secretive world of pseudo-civic and governmental organizations in Budapest, which channeled funds and information between Romania and Hungary after 1920. These organizations also aimed to control Hungarians abroad to the point of devising social research and identity building projects. The two closing chapters in turn set out a typology of minority political strategies on the basis of their relationship with Hungary and Romania. Bárdi discusses the sequence of generations and their visons of the community, which were formed under the impact of extraordinarily different circumstances following the fall of dualist Hungary and the creation of Greater Romania, including the communist takeover and its consequences.
The author focuses on the ways in which this community was built in the minds and designed on the desks of government bureaucrats, experts, old fashioned noble politicians, young visionaries and calculating political technicians in a fervent search for stability and authentic social organization that was meant to solidify a group thought otherwise to be doomed. In its effort to dissect various relevant trends, the book lacks an overarching argument apart from a modest proposal to complement Brubaker’s famous triadic nexus model with a fourth field of international organizations and international law. This additional dimension is meant to reinterpret the relationship between mutual expectations, fulfilment or non-fulfilment and permanent adaptation. The various perspectives are also bound together by the author’s emphasis on underlying processes of differentiation. Such differentiation was the gradual result of the involuntary and forced separation of Hungarians from Hungary who found a new balance in an altered, more distant relationship with their kin-state, even acquiring a sense of moral superiority over inhabitants of the “motherland,” who, according to some narratives, were (and are) in need of a kind of “national salvation” originating from the Hungarians of the minority community.
Bárdi is unquestionably in his element when he is setting out the details of the politics and policies, the connections between personalities, institutions, the past relationships and present animosities and how the actors used one another while they were attempting to create something called the “Hungarian minority of Romania.” He can account for the last penny spent on Hungarian-language theater brochures, and he describes how these sums were requested, authorized, disbursed and taken to Romania, a process involving plenty of maneuvering on the part of almost everyone concerned. Albeit seemingly insignificant, such minutiae convey details of politics and its mechanisms would never have been discovered in the traditional sources on political history. This abundance of detail helps one deconstruct the typical narratives and makes palpable the concept of “minority construction.” One should note the inflexibility of Bárdi’s model of three distinct elites, which neither allows for a realignment of forces nor can it take into account regional level actors from the majority. It is, however, eminently capable of revealing how fragile the very construct of the Hungarians of Romania as a community and its representations as a unitary group were. This construct remained limited, despite the best efforts of all kinds of social actors, to a dwindling set of institutions, the nationally educated middle-class, and the larger part of the peasantry. The invention of this new society in fact implied a strange existence between two nation states. This conclusion inevitably raises another question: how best to study such a limited and fragile—from a certain perspective almost non-existent—subject?
Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989–1992. By James Krapfl. Ithaca–London: Cornell University Press, 2013. 292 pp.
The historical phenomenon of the 1989 revolutions in East-Central Europe is a prominent topic of historiographical research in the field of contemporary history and Slavic studies. (See Padraic Kenney, A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989 .) Regarding the Czech and Slovak part of the story, an impressive array of books and articles has been published over the course of the past two decades. However, this literature was published mostly in Czech and Slovak and was concerned with rather particular issues, such as regional aspects of the Velvet Revolution or the memory of prominent actors of 1989. (See Milan Otáhal and Miroslav Vaněk, Sto studentských revolucí: studenti v období pádu komunismu - životopisná vyprávění ; Pavel Marek, Prostějovská „sametová revoluce“: příspěvek k počátkům demokratizace české společnosti v letech 1989–1990 ; Ivana Koutská, Vojtěch Ripka, and Pavel Žáček, eds., Občanské fórum, den první: vznik OF v dokumentech a fotografiích .) Apart from the monumental monograph Labyrintem revoluce (Through the Labyrinth of Revolution, a political history of the Velvet Revolution written by Czech historian Jiří Suk, there has been no attempt to publish a comprehensive or at least empirically and intellectually more ambitious history of 1989 in Czechoslovakia. (Jiří Suk, Labyrintem revoluce: aktéři, zápletky a křižovatky jedné politické krize: (odlistopadu 1989 do června 1990) .)
In 2009, Canadian historian James Krapfl published a Slovak version of the book under review. (James Krapfl, Revolúcia s ľudskoutvárou: politika, kultúra a spoločenstvo v Československupo 17. novembri 1989 .) It was a significant development to have, in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a fresh and pioneering account of the events of 1989 in Czechoslovakia finally be made available for readers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The English edition of this book is thus a kind of culmination of Krapfl’s research project, which was launched already in the late 1990s. Its publication was preceded by the publication of several case studies. (James Krapfl, “Revolution and Revolt against Revolution: Czechoslovakia 1989,” in Revolution and Resistance in Eastern Europe: Challenges to Communist Rule, ed. Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe , 175–94; James Krapfl, Poetický základ politiky: Dějiny významu roku 1989, in Kapitoly z dějin české demokracie poroce 1989, ed. Adéla Gjuričová and Michal Kopeček , 134–57.) The Slovak edition of the book was praised as a path-breaking historiographical account of 1989, as Krapfl’s book was the first historical narrative of the Velvet Revolution that aimed to analyze the events “from below” and with respect for both the Czech and Slovak cultural and political contexts.
The narrative of Revolution with a Human Face is based on an extraordinarily impressive source base. The author pursued extensive research in more than forty Czech and Slovak archives and gathered a unique collection of historical documents. The majority of the archival materials used by Krapfl were produced by local activists and revolutionary enthusiasts. Rather than reading numerous official statements produced by Prague and Bratislava revolutionary elites, Krapfl analyzed declarations, posters, leaflets, bulletins, articles and complaints which were formulated in numerous regional hubs of the revolution. These sources enabled him to write a cultural history of the Velvet Revolution that focuses on the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Whereas the majority of available histories are concerned primarily with the agenda of the highest metropolitan representatives of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence, Krapfl lets the rank and file of revolutionary movements speak, who have been portrayed by the vast majority of historians as well as by the post-socialist political and media elites as an anonymous mass rally in the streets and squares of Czechoslovak cities. In this book, these local protesters and activists are finally portrayed as genuine historical actors aiming to push their political agendas based on their specific sets of revolutionary ideals and values.
The first part of the book analyzes narratives of the Velvet Revolution. Krapfl distinguishes between four discourses of revolution: revolution as romance, revolution as comedy, revolution as tragedy and revolution as satire. These four narratives are in fact major interpretations around which the controversy about 1989 was structured since the very first days of the Velvet Revolution. This shows how this revolution was understood by its actors and how its outcomes were evaluated by the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Although there was an ongoing conflict of interpretations, the fact that all four competing narratives characterized the events of late 1989 and early 1990 as a revolution makes the debate concerning whether 1989 was a revolution, a regime change, or something else seem quite pointless. According to Krapfl, in Czechoslovakia 1989 amounted to a revolution because it was understood as a revolution by those actively involved in the events.
The most important and intellectually most exciting part of the book consists of the chapters analyzing the constitution of the revolutionary community and portraying a specific set of values characterized by the author as the “ideals of November.” Krapfl carefully describes collective symbolic practices and public acts, such as happenings, which helped create the new sense of community. His aim is to analyze the ways in which the revolution was experienced by its actors and how the “system of signs and symbols enabled citizens to communicate with one another in new ways and to make sense of the world in ways that had scarcely been imaginable before” (p.70). Thanks to the sophisticated study of numerous texts produced by revolutionary activists, Krapfl managed to define essential values and ideals of the Velvet Revolution. He is able to reconstruct the mental horizon of 1989 in Czechoslovakia in a coherent and convincing way. The book mentions the following crucial ideas and values shared by the members of the revolutionary community: nonviolence, self-organization, democracy, fairness, socialism and humanness. Among other important ideals of the revolution were liberty, human rights, informality, criticism of corruption and emphasis on dialogue. Such “revolutionary idealism” was driven by emphasis on the necessity of overcoming the failed state socialist system, which had produced various inequalities and was corrupt, alienated from the citizenry, excessively centralized, highly bureaucratic and essentially anti-human.
Krapfl’s account of the “ideals of November” is explicit polemics with thinkers like Jürgen Habermas or François Furet, who claimed that the 1989 revolutions did not invent any new or substantial ideas and were essentially backward-looking revolutions of regional importance with rather modest ambitions to restore liberal democracy in East-Central Europe. Krapfl argues convincingly that such interpretations are fundamentally mistaken and flawed by a lack of insight into the original thought that was characteristic of 1989. The originality and novelty of the 1989 revolutions lay in the centrality of ideals of humanness, respect for human dignity and nonviolence. According to Krapfl, the conviction shared by members of the revolutionary community that non-violence and humanness were driving forces of their revolution and more important than any conventional political ideology was a fundamental contribution of the 1989 revolutions to the long tradition of European democratic politics and political thought.
However, the aim of the book is not to create an idealized picture of the “revolution with a human face.” Krapfl also describes the conflicts that arose with the emergence of new power relations and hierarchies after November 1989. The inner dynamics of revolution gave birth not only to an insistence on and assertion of the aforementioned humanist ideals and values, but also to more controversial aspects of public debates, such as regionalism and nationalism. Of significant importance was also the conflict between the centralist aspirations of revolutionary elites and local activists aiming to preserve certain levels of political autonomy. Krapfl collected plenty of evidence showing that local activists were increasingly upset and frustrated by the fact that the metropolitan leaders of the revolution ignored their complaints and appeals. There was a growing suspicion on their part that leaders of the Civic Forum aimed to slow-down the revolution or even bring it to a standstill. This conflict between the pragmatism of new political leaders, who aimed to consolidate power and begin to govern the country, and local enthusiasts and activists, who called for more far-reaching changes, was, according to Krapfl, a chief source of political controversies in the early 1990s. The pressure from below led to the gradual dissolution of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence and the subsequent formation of new powerful political parties, such as the Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Lands and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. These political subjects arranged the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and played a pivotal role in the further development of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the 1990s.
Ironically, the initial struggle of local activists for direct democracy and a general deepening of revolutionary transformations led in the longer perspective to the establishment of two post-socialist national regimes whose functioning was in many respects in sharp contrast with abovementioned “ideals of November.” In the course of the 1990s, it was increasingly evident that the “ideals of November” had not been incorporated into the political culture and political economy of post-socialism. Krapfl’s book thus not only offers an insightful, balanced and highly innovative history of the Velvet Revolution. His analysis of the revolutionary community, its ideals and its internal contradictions also opens new perspectives for reflection on the developments in East Central Europe in the last 25 years. It is worth posing the question to what extent the recent rise of populism and distrust in politics in the region has been influenced by the fact that the “ideals of November” were not further developed or at least adopted by the majority of citizens or the post-socialist political elites. Revolution with a Human Face could thus also serve as the starting point for further critical examination of the developments from the “revolutionary idealism” of the 1989 to recent popular disenchantment with post-socialist democracy.