Zsigmond király Sienában [King Sigismund in Siena]. By Péter E. Kovács. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, 2014. 308 pp.
With his 2008 book Hétköznapi élet Mátyás király korában [Everyday life in the time of King Mátyás], Péter E. Kovács won himself the title of the “new Antal Szerb,” a moniker on which he is clearly playing a bit in the book under review. This play is a two-sided coin. Szerb’s style, which was aimed at an audience of lay readers (I am thinking perhaps first and foremost of his A világirodalom története [The history of world literature], ), was indeed more accessible to wide readership than most traditional scholarly literary histories. However, it did not win the admiration of most of the scholarly community precisely because of the subjectivity of Szerb’s assessments and the many humorous but misleading pronouncements, such as his whimsical remark, “Klió nem kilóra mér,” which might be translated into English as “Clio does not measure by the kilo.” Furthermore, E. Kovács also seems to aspire to don Szerb’s laurels as a belle-lettrist, an ambition palpable both in his style and his literary allusions, as I explain below.
The book examines the 288 days that King Sigismund of Luxemburg spent in Siena between July 1432 and April 1433. E. Kovács draws on a wide, almost unparalleled array of source materials and offers daring theories, and he always keeps historical authenticity (credibility) in the foreground, taking care to name his sources specifically and precisely. His sources include chronicles, such as the Chronicle of Eberhard Windecke (the so-called Bern chronicle) and the chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet. Given the absence of archival resources, E. Kovács uses works of literature, such as the romance by Eneas Silvius Piccolomini (the letter Pope Pius II) and the poems of Antonio Beccadelli. At the same time, E. Kovács keeps repeating that his work is impossible, nonsensical (see, for instance, p.46) and that archival research of a historian is frequently as fictive as any novel. Perhaps the most striking example is when E. Kovács cites the opening speech given at a 2014 book fair by contemporary Hungarian novelist Gyögy Spiró (p.159).
The book consists of ten chapters which diverge considerably both in their length and worth. They do have at least one thing in common. Namely, they all present new information concerning the history of the mentality, culture, and literature of the time and place under discussion. The chapters contain a wealth of information concerning the details of Sigismund’s trip to Rome, though they do not always draw on the newest secondary literature (for instance some of the works of Ágnes Máté), which is surprising simply because E. Kovács emphasizes his sincere interest in the subject (p.13, 17–28). Just to cite two examples, one might think of the publication by A. Sottili of text from the account given by Johannes Roth (Pirckheimer Jahrbuch 15/16 ) or A. T. Hack’s publication of text from a writing by an anonymous author on the participants in the journey (Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur Beiheft 7 ). The best parts of the texts are the passages in which E. Kovács immerses himself in the era. His descriptions become very evocative and he does not digress or mention less pertinent associations, for instance in his description of the reception in Siena (pp.26–27, 58–60) or his presentation of the various accommodations (pp.63–72). It is certainly worth noting that the array of appendices (which meet high scholarly standards) is impressive and praiseworthy. It would also have been useful to have a proper index in order to make the work more easily accessible, though perhaps this would have made it too long.
Following a description of the arrival, the reader is given a glimpse into everyday life in Siena. How much did things cost? Who slept where, and on what? What did they eat? How did they pass the time? What did an average day consist of for a king? How much did the revels in Siena cost? E. Kovács offers answers to these and other questions. The book is indeed a micro-historical endeavor, and it includes shorter histories, for instance on Miklós Várdai or on Sigismund’s love life. Indeed, the latter is a recurring motif, and the longest chapter, the title of which is revealing (“Fruit-picking, Sailing, Horseback Riding”), is devoted to this topic. The question of love comes up not only with regards to Sigismund’s fidelity, but also in connection with the most famous love affair of this period. I am thinking of the main characters, Euryalus and Lucretia, of the Piccolomini’s famous 1444 romance, The Tale of Two Lovers. The epistolary novel is interesting to a Hungarian readership in part because one of Lucretia’s suitors is Hungarian. The romance was translated into Hungarian relatively early on by Pataki Névtelen (Anonymous Pataki). It continues to hold the attention of literary historians today, who wonder if perhaps it was translated by Hungarian poet Bálint Balassi. E. Kovács does not reach any conclusion with regards to this question, but he does try to identify the historical figures on whom the characters may have been based, drawing on documents that had not previously been used and also works of secondary literature, though not the most recent works of secondary literature (pp.150–51). Certainly literary historians will find a great many things of interest in this book, for which one can only be grateful. The other topic which comes up regularly is the financial circumstances of the various people in Siena, the conflicts that were caused by financial concerns, and the ways in which these conflicts were addressed. The reader learns, for example, that since the soldiers received only modest wages, they were not able to go to brothels often enough. The locals, however, nonetheless watched the successful courtships of the foreigners with envy. E. Kovács contends that the successes of the Hungarian soldiers with Italian women were repaid in the 1960s and 1970s, when Italian tourists in Hungary enjoyed great popularity among Hungarian women. E. Kovács often seems to be projecting phenomena from our era onto earlier eras, which perhaps gives a lay reader a perspective from which to interpret the events, but it is hardly an approach to be adopted by a serious historian, and indeed it is often a bit irritating. Just to mention a few examples, I do not think E. Kovács’s contention that we should regard the trumpeter of Sigismund’s day as the Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong of his era (p.112) helps the reader better understand the place and profession of the medieval trumpeter, must as I do not think E. Kovács’s mention of Victoria Beckham as a modern, apparently archetypal example helps the reader better understand the popularity of athletic and wealthy men among women (p.145). These examples, which are intended to serve as illustrative parallels, do little more than distract the reader. They also set an expiration date for E. Kovács’s narrative. What will the example of Victoria Beckham mean to a reader in 2050? Clearly very little. E. Kovács’s effort to compensate for the somewhat dry nature of the topic with humorous remarks and parallels is perhaps understandable, but in my view he uses this approach with mixed success. Certainly his primary role model was the aforementioned Hungarian novelist and literary historian Antal Szerb (p.6, 36, 85, 138). Szerb’s novel Utas és holdvilág (translated into English by Len Rix as Journey by Moonlight, ) is set in Siena. The sentence “Cor tibi magis Siena pandit,” which is an inscription on the Porta Camollia in Siena, is also cited by Szerb. E. Kovács paraphrases it and uses this paraphrase as the title of a chapter: “Bursam tuam magis Sigismundus pandit.” This play on words is clever and pertinent, and it illustrates quite clearly how closely E. Kovács has focused on text in his (re)use of models. The switch (the substitution of financial concerns for matters of the heart) is just one example of the playful jibes that make the book a lively read. For the most part, E. Kovács identifies the figures on whose work he draws (Hungarian novelist and poet Dezső Kosztolányi or Hungarian novelist Géza Ottlik, for instance), but sometimes the reader is left to figure this out for him or herself.
It is worth saying a few words about the appearance of the book as well. It contains strikingly beautiful illustrations which are closely tied to its contents. Unfortunately, it also contains numerous typos and editing and typesetting flaws, which are distracting at best, for instance “Jannus” instead of “Janus” (p.119). The name Euryalus is spelled correctly once or twice, and there are numerous typesetting mistakes and mistakes with word hyphenation at the end of a line (see for instance pp.167–68). These mistakes clearly reflect poorly on the editor and the publisher, not the author.
In summary, the book’s very striking exterior immediately captures the reader’s interest, as does the title. Fundamentally, it fulfills one’s expectations, if one can avoid asking the question, “who was this book written for.” It is exciting and offers many new insights, presented in a distinctive and at times amusing style.
Emőke Rita Szilágyi
Imprinting Identities: Illustrated Latin-Language Histories of St. Stephen’s Kingdom (1488–1700). By Karolina Anna Mroziewicz. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015. 314 pp.
As a researcher at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Karolina Anna Mroziewicz has studied the roles played by illustrated printed books in identity building processes in the Hungarian Kingdom. In the book under review, she examines the ways in which these works contributed to the emergence of an image repertoire that continues to exert an influence on the shape of Hungarian society today. The play on words in the title draws attention to the relationship between book printing and the formation of national identity.
The major sources on which Mroziewicz’s study is based were selected according to the following three criteria: they are narratives concerning historical events that took place in the kingdom of Saint Stephen, they contain a series of illustrations which builds up a visual narrative relevant to the content of the book, and they were written by Hungarians and for a Hungarian readership. Appropriate quotations from works by well-known and lesser known authors (for instance from the books Mroziewicz has consulted, from correspondence, from the Tripartitum by István Werbőczy, and even from a handwritten distich on the inner cover of Mausoleum) make each chapter highly readable.
In the first chapter following the introduction, Mroziewicz argues that the medieval past of the Hungarian Kingdom, primarily the Árpád Era, was of major importance in assertions concerning the continuity of Hungarian statehood and Christianity among the Hungarians. The main actors in these narratives were the Hun leaders, the holy kings of the Árpád House, and fearsome soldiers. The image of the Hungarians as the chosen nation led to the emergence of a discourse of national preeminence, which gave the Hungarian community coherence and a teleological sense of purpose.
Hungarian patron saints were used to support claims for the recognition of Hungarian interests within the sphere of Habsburg and Ottoman rule. These patron saints are the focus of the third chapter, as the pillars of the community of faith who became part of collective memory through political and religious rites. The roles of the Virgin Mary, Saint Stephen, Saint Emeric, and Saint Ladislaus in this process are discussed in detail. Mroziewicz examines how, from the early twelfth century onwards, images of the Virgin Mary (from the time of the reign of King Matthias, which is described as Patrona Hungariae) found their way first into historiographic works and then into the royal iconography. The roles of Saint Stephen and Saint Emeric are discussed together with mention of the Holy Crown, which through its alleged link to the holy king and patron of the kingdom gained exceptional prominence and popularity in Hungarian narratives of the Early Modern period.
Ladislaus I, as a knightly king, was the most often depicted patron saint in Hungary between the fourteenth and the late fifteenth century. According to the visual narratives, he not only overcame the Cumans, but also was believed to have guarded the kingdom after his death when it faced invasions of infidels. The result was a ritualization of social life, which was a crucial space for expressions and negotiation of communal identity. The cult of patron saints played an essential role in bringing a community together on different levels of political, social, and religious existence.
The fourth chapter, entitled “Rulers of Hungary,” examines the growing importance of the Holy Crown in visual and literary narratives. All the works under discussion show the history of Hungarian kingship with recurrent coronations of successive kings, each of whom wears the Holy Crown. The meaning of kingship was coded in the royal poses, gestures, and garb. Images of kings functioned as “ideograms,” standing for royal duties and prerogatives. They gave visual expression to the abstract notion of iustitia, defensio, the continuity of kingship, and a transcendental hierarchy.
The next chapter, which deals with the nobility and aristocracy, examines the historical circumstances of Hungarians of high birth and how these people were made to serve in the reproduction of the social hierarchy and the broadening of the political and cultural spectrum of the people depicted. In this chapter, Mroziewicz focuses on the links between likenesses of the nobility and aristocracy and the images that were drawn of them in legal treatises and other historical sources. After surveying the origins, strata, customs, and legal status of the nobility, she discusses the shared membership of its representatives in the corporate body of the Holy Crown.
Mroziewicz devotes a separate subchapter to the unprivileged role of Hungarian noble and aristocratic women (5.5.2.). In the materials she examines there are considerably fewer likenesses of noblewomen than there are of noblemen, and portraits of females always come after portraits of their husbands and fathers. In the literary sources eulogies accompanying their likenesses are generally conventional and do not provide any in-depth descriptions of the female figures depicted.
Among the nobility, a separate group of likenesses includes individual portraits of leading intellectuals, poets, writers, and well-educated figures of both noble origin and humanistic aspirations. These eminent men of letters constituted a narrow but renowned group among the nobility. Mroziewicz concludes that both printed and painted likenesses of members of the Hungarian nobility and aristocracy followed analogical visual patterns, which reproduced the male-orientated order of the society. Women fit into their worldview and lives as daughters, wives, and mothers, supporting and procreating the male line. The main function of the portraits Mroziewicz has studied was to reproduce the existing social hierarchy and, by doing so, to broaden the political and cultural resources of the well-off figures depicted. Noble and aristocratic likenesses recorded and passed on a set of collective memories about shared legal customs, a common tribal and Christian past, and, finally, heroic deeds in the wars against the Ottomans.
The last chapter is about the afterlife of illustrated books on Hungarian history. The impact of these books is studied on two levels. The first concerns direct responses to the texts and images recorded on the pages of the books themselves, while the second level involves the reception of the books in the historiographical, literary, and artistic traditions. The Chronica Hungarorum proved the most influential among the sources in question, and it has the most complex reception history, a history which in fact continues up to the present day. In the history of the reception of the Chronica Hungarorum, the textual and visual components of the book followed different paths. Only the facsimile edition of the chronicle, published in 1980, joined the visual and verbal layer of the book again.
In sum, illustrated books on history contributed to the formation of the visual and literary imagery of Hungarian mythology and the pantheon of saints, monarchs, and their subjects in both public and private spaces. They served as a treasure trove of motifs, which, in addition to the individual fortunes and misfortunes of the personalities depicted, also represented the whole community and stood for the fate of the emerging nation.
Imprinting Identities is richly illustrated, which is appropriate given its focus, and it brings the materials in question closer to the reader. However, some of the small, black and white reproductions (especially reproductions of paintings) do not contribute to the argument of the book, and the only color picture, which is on the front cover, is a rather modern representation of the illustrated histories.
All in all, Mroziewicz’s book is a successful attempt to further our understanding of the role of illustrated Latin-language histories of Hungary in the process of identity construction in the Early Modern period. The author studies the topic from the perspectives of art history, literary history, history, historiography, and book culture, and she adopts a multifocal and comprehensive approach in her synthesis.
Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Tanulmányok a konstanzi zsinat 600. évfordulója alkalmából [Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Essays on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance]. Edited by Attila Bárány and László Pósán. Debrecen: Printart, 2014. 454 pp.
The Council of Constance was one of the decisive events in Europe in the Middle Ages, and it had a significant influence on the future of the continent. On November 5–7 2014, a major conference was held by the Institute of History of the University of Debrecen focusing on this event on the occasion of its 600th anniversary. The conference and the papers that were read were in part the fruit of work that has been underway at the University of Debrecen for years on the era of the reign of King Sigismund of Luxembourg. The organizers also sought to contribute to a German research project on the Council (“Das Konzilsjubiläum 2014–2018. 600 Jahre Konstanzer Konzil”). Editors Attila Bárány and László Pósán have organized the 31 essays in the book into four thematic groups. The first and longest (consisting of 11 essays) addresses political power relations in Europe at the time and the complex relationships in diplomacy and Church politics. The second section deals with the decisions that were made at the Council. In particular, the essays examine the consequences that these decisions had for the Kingdom of Hungary and the religious and Church processes that were underway within the Kingdom of Hungary. The third part consists of five essays on the political, social, and economic relationships in Hungary. It is followed by the second-longest and perhaps most colorful section, which deals with cultural trends and tendencies, including heraldry, Humanist literature, and pilgrimages to destinations beyond the borders of Hungary, but biographic and genealogic studies were also included in this part of the volume. The last section of the book contains essays on the military history of the era, more specifically two essays on the Hussite Wars and one on the struggles against the Ottoman Turks. It is quite clear on the basis of the topics addressed in the essays that the book covers many of the important aspects of the Council. The goal of the conference organizers was to draw as wide a range of scholars on the era of the Council as possible into the conference and the published collection of papers from the conference. Given the breadth of the book and limitations of space, I can only touch on a few of the essays in this review.
The history of the sixteenth general council was shaped to a large extent by the political constellation in Europe at the time. The essay by Attila Bárány focuses on the efforts of King Sigismund to bring an end to the Hundred Years’ War and the ways in which he attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to act as an intermediary first between the French leagues and then between England and France. Bárány examines the complex relationships between the Luxembourgs on the one hand and France, England, and Burgundy on the other, and he persuasively demonstrates that Sigismund always sought to remain neutral, though he also sought to ensure that Brabant and Luxembourg not end up under the control of Burgundy and that England not gain strength in the Netherlands.
The other major armed conflict at the time of the Council was taking place in the northeastern corner of Europe between the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania on one side and the Order of the Teutonic Knights on the other. Pósán focuses on this struggle. After peace negotiations in Buda and the delegation led by Benedek Makrai in 1412–1413 failed to yield results, the issue was taken before the Council. The Order accused Ladislaus II and Witold, grand duke of Lithuania, of being Christians in appearance only, and they claimed to have a just cause for war. The Polish diplomats, of course, dismissed these contentions. They offered the Teutonic Knights first Podolia and then Cyprus, and they were prepared to submit to Sigismund’s decision. Ultimately, the issue was decided by the appointment of Pope Martin V, with which the Poles lost all of the privileges that Pope John XXIII had granted them. Ladislaus II and Witold both withdrew. According to Pósán, while the conflict remained unsettled, with the moral victory of Ladislaus II the debate came to a close in Constance.
Sigismund achieved a remarkable triumph in 1411, when he was chosen to serve as King of Germany. The essay by Márta Kondor examines the development of the imperial chancellery and the makeup of the royal council. Drawing on analyses of the chancellery notes, she concludes that the imperial chancellery began to become active in the middle of 1411. It may have functioned under the organization of Johannes Kirchen, though there may also have been a division of labor. Kirchen used the imperial seal to certify legal documents, while High Chancellor János Kanizsai (or his deputy), as secretary to the king, used a secret seal. With regards to the council, Kondor has determined that alongside the imperial council, there was also a Hungarian council, though the king summoned the members of the council only as a function of the importance of the issue at hand. He discussed problems of governance with a narrower “operative body.”
From the perspective of Hungary, one of the important decisions of the Council concerned the question of taxes on Church benefices. As of 1417, at least in principle no taxes had to be paid to the papal treasury on the appointment of people who had been suggested for office by the Hungarian king. In his essay, Tamás Fedeles examines the extent to which this matter of principle was also a matter of practice under Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. Fedeles examines an item-by-item summary of the taxes that were paid into the papal treasury and the treasury records and analyzes 58 promissory notes of Hungarian origin from the period in question. Thus, he has determined that the idea of more modest taxes on archbishops and tax exemptions allegedly offered by the pope remained on paper only (in this case mostly because the archbishop of Esztergom and for example the bishop of Zagreb promised to pay higher taxes to the papal court), and barely half of the sum that had been agreed upon actually was paid into the apostolic treasury (Camera Apostolica) from the whole clergy of Hungary. According to Fedeles, the explanation for this lies in the fact that, as the king of Hungary, Sigismund was better situated to enforce his will, in particular with regards to the upper layers of the clergy. The papacy was willing to overlook this because of the threats posed by the Hussites and, more importantly, the Ottomans.
Since Sigismund was in general far from Hungary during the Council, he had to ensure that he had suitable people in power to tend to the various issues that came up during his absence. Norbert C. Tóth examines the administrative tasks of the royal vicars in the period between 1413 and 1419. Drawing on chancellery notes, the “itinerary” of the great seal, and the queen’s charters, C. Tóth endeavors to determine as precisely as possible who the vicars were and what they did. The only two people that Sigismund made vicars were Miklós Garai and the aforementioned János Kanizsai, but both Garai and Kanizsai joined him in Western Europe, and this confused affairs. In the time period under discussion, four people served as lieutenant governors of the king. The first was Queen Barbara of Cilli (Sigismund’s wife), followed by Garai for the better part of 1414. There is evidence to suggest that Pál Özdögei Besenyő served as vicar between 1416 and 1417. He may have served in this position until Garai’s return to Hungary. While Kanizsai officially began to keep accounts as vicar in 1417, the king only returned to Hungary in 1419. Thus, in all likelihood, Garai tended to the tasks of the position following the archbishop’s death in 1418.
László Veszprémy examines King Sigismund’s responses to the Hussite wars, the outbreak of which was prompted by the decisions of the Council, to determine his aptitude as a military leader and diplomat. According to a view that has gained widespread currency in the secondary literature, Sigismund regarded the Hussitism as a pan-European problem and sought to put an end to it with military action. Taking into consideration the king’s troop movements and diplomatic endeavors, Veszprémy comes to the conclusion that Sigismund would have preferred to address the situation simply by weakening and dividing the opposition and then using diplomacy. After he was made king of Bohemia in 1419, it was obviously problematic for him to order the occupation of a region over which he had just been made ruler. Veszprémy examines the struggles between Sigismund and Žižka and concludes that the two sides were fighting two completely different wars. Sigismund did not want to destroy the Hussites with a rapid assault and devastating blows. Rather, as Eberhard Windecke, the chronicler of the king has also contended, he sought to use political strategies. Put simply, it was not the military conflict so much as the search for a political resolution that lasted almost two decades.
In his essay, János Véber examines the only surviving work by Miklós Barius, a speech addressed to Ladislaus V of Hungary. Véber also considers the various ways in which this speech was preserved over time. One copy was kept as part of a book of formulae, in the compilation of which Barius himself may have played a role. Gábor Kiss Farkas discusses a similar topic, namely the influence of Humanist epistolary books, by comparing the writings of Pier Paolo Vergerio, János Vitéz, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, and Johannes Tröster. The essay by Enikő Csukovits also bears thematic affinities with these two contributions. Csukovits draws attention to the function of the Council as a scholarly forum by examining the geographical works of Pierre d’Ailly and Guillaume Fillastre. The Council had easy access to texts that were indispensable to the works that they compiled. For instance, the work of Ptolemy spread across Europe again in large part due to the role of the Council as intermediary. Regrettably, because of the nature of the Hungarian sources, we do not really know how interesting the “book market,” which was remarkably broad in its scope, was to the Hungarians who took part in the Council.
Along with the flood of new ideas, new religious movements also came to Hungary in the period under discussion. In her contribution to the collection, Beatrix Romhányi argues persuasively that Franciscan religious ideas and practices arrived not from the south, as has been suggested in the secondary literature, but rather from the West. Pope Martin V, who supported the Franciscans, may have played a significant role in this. Romhányi compares the circumstances of the foundation of Franciscan monasteries and demonstrates that, in contrast with the fourteenth century, during the reign of King Sigismund the wishes of patrons were decisive factors in the process, as was the call for the monasteries to play representative functions.
The examples on which I have drawn within the framework of this brief review suffice to illustrate that the essays in this collection meet very high standards of scholarship and offer a great deal of new, important information and insights that will be of considerable interest to scholars on the Middle Ages. Perhaps one of the greatest merits of the book is that it clearly demonstrates the extent to which Hungary’s history was inseparable from the history of the rest of Europe at the time. The essays offer numerous examples of ways in which the Council and the events that took place at the time of the Council influenced events in Hungary. In other words, they offer ample testimony to the fact that the Kingdom of Hungary was an integral part of Europe. The essays offer excellent presentations of these complex interrelationships, actions, and reactions, and they will undoubtedly encourage further research on the subject.
Péter Haraszti Szabó
Expulsion and Diaspora Formation: Religious and Ethnic Identities in Flux from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century. Edited by John Tolan. (Religion and Law in Medieval Christian and Muslim Societies 5) Brepols: Turnhout, 2015. 244 pp.
Without doubt, the question of why people go into exile and what exile means for their cultural identities is of remarkable and sad topicality in Europe and indeed all over the world. Present-day political debates concentrate first and foremost on the problem of how people who have suffered expulsion or have chosen exile for other reasons can integrate into a host society. In view of urgent needs and challenges, fundamental questions including the possible social, political, and economic causes of expulsion or flight, the meaning of exile experience for the identity of a given diasporic group, and the roles of certain aspects of culture in the construction of “new” or maintenance of “old” identities sometimes seem to recede into the background. Still, each of these questions is relevant if we are trying to understand both the realities and the narratives of expulsion and flight. The importance of this kind of broader approach to the doubtlessly challenging topic of exile is impressively demonstrated in the volume edited by John Tolan. The book takes a chronologically and geographically comparative perspective and consequently deals with “religious and ethnic identities in flux from Antiquity to the seventeenth century” (this is the subtitle of the book). It is comprised of eleven essays in English and French that were presented at a conference held at Central European University, Budapest in June 2013. The idea for the conference and the book arose from a promising three-sided cooperative effort among Tolan’s own project RELMIN (The Legal Status of Religious Minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean World; Université de Nantes) and a collaborative project on “Trans-European Diasporas: Migration, Minorities, and the Diasporic Experience in East Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean” (Heidelberg University and Central European University Budapest).
Accordingly, the articles present historical case studies of exile from different European and Mediterranean regions (Hungary, England, the Iberian Peninsula, Egypt, and Malta), chronologically ranging from Antiquity to Early Modern times. By combining these different examples, the editor has tried to shed light on the possible causes of expulsion, ways to integrate diasporic communities into their new societies, and meanings of memories of the country or culture of origin for the formation of group identities.
In the opening article on “Exile and Identity” (pp.9–29), Tolan deals with three examples of Jewish expulsion from French regions (France, Brittany, Gascogny, and Anjou) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Tolan takes these case studies as a starting point to develop helpful general thoughts on the other two key aspects of the volume (modes of integration and modes of constructing group identities of medieval diasporas). He thereby convincingly prepares the way for the following articles, several of which also examine case studies of Jewish diaspora experience.
In her study on “The expulsion of Jews from Hungarian Towns on the Aftermath of the Battle of Mohács” (pp.51–83), Katalin Szende looks at three important Hungarian towns in the early sixteenth century: Sopron, Pressburg (today Bratislava), and Buda. Szende shows how the cases of expulsion that took place in the 1520s were closely connected both to the fatal experience of the devastating Hungarian loss at Mohács and urban economic structures that had essentially been developed in the fifteenth century. Three topographical figures and an appendix on the ways in which Jewish properties changed hands after the expulsion nicely complement the text.
Similarly, Robin Mundill analyzes different (political, economic, and social) explanations for “The Jewish Experience of Expulsion from England in 1290” (pp.85–101). Mundill’s concise contribution sheds light on the argumentative attempts of contemporaries to justify the expulsion of the English Jews and displays how demonized stereotypes of the “wicked Jews” entered the political and cultural discourse of medieval and Early Modern England.
In Patrick Sänger’s contribution (“Considerations on the Administrative Organization of the Jewish Military Colony in Leontopolis,” pp.171–194) the focus shifts from the immediate event of expulsion to the question of what became of expelled Jews in their new “host societies.” Sänger presents the remarkable case of the so-called politeuma, a military colony organization which was used by King Ptolemy VI to integrate Jewish refugees who had come to Egypt from Judaea in the second century BCE.
In the next essay, another example from Egypt becomes the focus of interest. In his study on “Jews in Alexandria in the Late Middle Ages through Venetian Eyes” (pp.195–216), Georg Christ demonstrates that group ascriptions such as “the Jews” do not always prove helpful or truly applicable terms. As the case of Jewish merchants in Alexandria suggests, “sub-categories” such as Jews from Venice or Latin vs. Oriental Jews appeared to be much more relevant for contemporaries than a common identity of the “Jewish diaspora.”
Though the question of Jewish experiences of expulsion and diaspora is also the focus of the articles by Nadezda Koryakina (“The Terms Golah and Galut in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Responsa,” pp.104–16), Carsten L. Wilke (“Allegory and Mental Adaption to Exile Among Refugees of the Iberian Inquisition,” pp.117–34), Josep Xavier Muntané i Santiveri (“Une révision du terme ‘sefardi’ appliqué aux juifs de Catalogne,” pp.149–69) and Marianna D. Birnbaum (“Christopher Marlowe and the Jews of Malta,” pp.217–29), these contributions adopt a significantly different approach. They do not focus on particular historical events but rather address certain source types, social ascriptions, or contemporary ways of dealing with Diaspora experiences in writing and poetry. While Birnbaum thoroughly analyzes Christopher Marlowe’s drama “The Jew of Malta” against the historical background of the events described by Marlowe, Wilke examines literary forms of handling exile in Early Modern Spain (providing two of the analyzed texts in an appendix). Experiences of Spanish exile are also addressed by Koryakina, who discusses responsa literature of the late Middle Ages and traces mentionings of exile in them, as well as by Muntané who examines contemporary terms and descriptions of Jews in medieval Catalonia.
The three-step approach to “exile and diaspora formation” suggested by the editor is far from limited to examples from Jewish experience, as is demonstrated by two other case studies. In her article on “Cuman-Hungarian Relations in the Thirteenth Century” (pp.31–49), Kyra Lyublyanovics examines the social and economic diversity of Cuman migrants to Hungary. Lyublyanovics pays attention to political aspects of the Cuman migration (e.g. the relationships with Hungarian rulers and nobility), as well as religious, ethnic, and economic questions (e.g. the problems of conversion, language, customs, etc.). She manages to paint a complex picture of an ambivalent and diverse diasporic group while also indicating questions which remain unanswered and which could therefore be the subject of further research. With his contribution, Marcell Sebők turns our attention to the “Conviction and Expulsion of Hungarian Protestants” (pp.135–47) as decided by a tribunal in 1674. Sebők not only reconstructs the context of the trial, he also discusses the arguments quoted by the Catholic advocates of expulsion and the Protestant defendants. He convincingly shows how later writings and historical interpretations on both confessional sides were influenced by the conflicting experiences.
In her thoughtful conclusion, Susan Einbinder (pp.231–37) brings together the main issues that are addressed in the individual contributions and raises some new aspects (e.g. gender questions), which demonstrate the potential that the topic has for further research. Undoubtedly, Tolan’s volume provides helpful insights and new perspectives, and it certainly will encourage further study in the field.
Városfejlődés a középkori Máramarosban [Urban development in Medieval Maramureş]. By László Szabolcs Gulyás. (Erdélyi tudományos füzetek 280) Cluj: Transylvanian Museum Society, 2014. 151 pp.
The study of residences and major towns has been a focus of research for decades in Central European scholarship. However, free royal towns and residential cities represented only a very small proportion of the urban centers in medieval Central Europe. Most of the towns were limited in size and had few legal privileges compared to villages. The volume under review discusses the urban development of five (or rather six) towns that certainly belong to the latter category. The settlements in question lie in Maramureş/Máramaros, a geographical and ethno-cultural region in what was once the northeastern part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary (it was a county in Hungary, and today the word also refers to a county in Romania consisting essentially of the southern half of the historical region). Four of the six towns discussed by László Szabolcs Gulyás lie in Ukraine, while the other two are found in Romania.
The book consists of nine chapters, including the short but important epilogue. The first chapter discusses the existing scholarship on the urban development of the Maramureş region. Apart from some important source publications, research carried out on salt mining in Maramureş and on the Early Modern history of the region, most of the works were written by local historians, and they vary strikingly in quality. The second chapter examines why five (Câmpulung la Tisa/Hosszúmező, Khust/Huszt, Sighetu Marmaţiei/Máramarossziget, Tiachiv/Técső, and Vyshkove/Visk) of the six towns in medieval Maramureş were frequently regarded as belonging to the same group. They were all in royal hands in the early fourteenth century and were all given privileges together in 1329. Gulyás demonstrates that the towns got their common privileges on the basis of the early privilege letter of the settlement of Vynohradiv, issued in 1262. It would have been helpful to have included the two charters on facing pages in order to allow the reader to compare the two documents more easily. The chapter draws attention to the limits of the 1329 privileges that the five towns received. The settlements hardly enjoyed any more freedoms than those usually granted to settlements of invited guests (hospes). However, the towns were in a favorable position than otherwise, because with only a few short exceptions the king was their landlord until modern times.
The whole region of Maramureş was not settled until quite late; the county was one of the last such administrative units to be created in the Kingdom of Hungary. People only began to settle in Maramureş in large numbers in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The fourth chapter is devoted to the study of the people who settled here. In the Middle Ages, the region was ethnically very diverse. It was inhabited by Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and Romanians. The early bestowal of privileges reflects the granting of rights to the German settlers, but later the ethnic makeup of the towns shifted and they became more predominantly Hungarian speaking. Romanians and Ruthenians, though present in the county as of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries respectively, were present only in small numbers in the towns. They inhabited the surrounding villages, and mention of them in the primary sources is connected to economic exchange between the towns and the villages of the region.
As Gulyás demonstrates, the settlements received their privileges when salt extraction began in the region. This was certainly the most important motivation for the king to encourage people, in particular miners and administrators, to settle in Maramureş. The fifth chapter therefore deals with salt mining in the region. As the book discusses, not only were mines opened in the region, but the king also established the center of a salt mining chamber in Khust/Huszt. Gulyás analyzes almost all of the surviving written primary sources on the region up to the battle of Mohács (1526), and many of the salt chamber bailiffs (sókamaraispán) are mentioned in the book. Historians would have benefitted from an archontology on the administration in the region in the Middle Ages, which has yet to have been done. However, the chapter is a very important part of the book, as it clearly demonstrates how the extraction of a mining good was crucial in the urbanization process of a particular region.
In the sixth chapter, Gulyás looks at the legal life of the towns. He feels at home in this chapter, as in a number of his earlier works he analyzed literacy, the issue of charters, and sealing practices in market towns in medieval Hungary. He draws attention to the differences in the legal lives of the five towns with particular regard to their designation in charters. He also discusses the magistrates of the towns and their jurisdiction. The seventh chapter addresses the economic life of the towns. Given the lack of other sources, the professional makeup of the towns, i.e. the presence of craftsmen, is discussed on the basis of names appearing in legal documents. The presence of the kinds of craftsmen who according to Gulyás’ methodology were in the settlements (smiths, furriers, tailors or potters) is by no means proof of the urban characteristics of the settlements. The only characteristically urban feature was the relatively high number of learned people (literatus), but this can be easily explained by the need for literate people to manage the administration of salt mining. The penultimate chapter is seemingly a small digression from the main focus of the book, which is the study of the five aforementioned towns. It discusses the sixth urban settlement in the county, Ruske Pole. The settlement began to develop a century later than the other towns, and it was never granted the liberties that the other towns received. However, it lies in the geographic center of the region and thus may have served as a market center for regional trade. This is indicated by a market privilege from the early sixteenth century that provided as much as four annual fairs to the town. Of course, the extent to which this was implemented or the fairs themselves were successful remain open questions.
András Kubinyi, the late Hungarian urban historian, established a set of criteria (a point system) on the basis of which towns in the Hungarian Kingdom can be compared. His system allows for a more critical evaluation of the character of a town in the Middle Ages. Gulyás should have reevaluated Kubinyi’s assessment of the towns of Maramureş according to this system, since for instance in the case of Ruske Pole Kubinyi was not aware of the four annual fairs. Had he known about them, he would have given the settlement more points on his scale. Based on Kubinyi’s criteria, the settlements analyzed in Gulyás’s book were not much more than villages with some central functions. In their case, these functions were connected to mining and the administration necessary for mining. In the epilogue to his book, Gulyás also refers to this problem. He argues that urban privileges in themselves tell very little about the characteristics of a settlement in the Middle Ages. As he shows, none of the five or six towns became urbanized until the end of the Middle Ages, and the raise of these settlements may have only been due to the local presence of a natural resource, namely salt.
The book was published by the Transylvanian Museum Society, an important institution which publishes a book series in Hungarian on scholarship related to Transylvania (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek, or “Transylvanian Scientific Books”). The volume includes a useful map, indexes, and abstracts in English and Romanian. Each of these supplements is important, and they make the book easier to use. However, the omission of a list of the various names of the settlements, and in particular their present-day names, is a regrettable shortcoming.
Augsburg – Wien – München – Innsbruck: Die früheste Darstellung der Stephanskrone und die Entstehung der Exemplare des Ehrenspiegels des Hauses Österreich. Gelehrten- und Künstlerbeziehungen in Mitteleuropa in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts. By Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy. Budapest: Institut für Geschichte des Forschungszentrums für Humanwissenschaften der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015. 168 pp.
Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy, the authors of the book under review, have accomplished an ambitious project. The purpose of the two authors, both of whom are members of the “Holy Crown of Hungary research project,” was to find the oldest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary. This book is the first work to adopt an array of approaches from diverse disciplines, including history and art history, in order to identify the authentic and unique appearance of the Hungarian royal insignia. Another task undertaken by Buzási and Pálffy was to correct the often incorrectly formulated story about the Ehrenspiegel des Hauses Österreich. They made a comparison of existing copies of the Ehrenspiegel and tried to discern the similarities and differences among them. Finally, they also examined the mechanisms of humanist networks in the middle of the sixteenth century and the connections within these networks, which were strong despite the large geographical distances.
The publication is divided into 15 chapters. The first is an overview of the secondary literature on the history and the traditional images of the Holy Crown. The authors point out that the view according to which the Ehrenspiegel illustration of the crown is the oldest one is not correct. There must have been an earlier image. Luckily, in the collection of manuscripts and rare books of the Austrian National Library in Vienna, the researchers found a short letter by the Ehrenspiegel author, Clemens Jäger, in which Jäger claims to have used a written description or image. Presumably, this sketch or written description was made by copper engraver and Viennese court artist Hans Lautensack.
The following chapters explain the development of the Ehrenspiegel as a historical and propagandistic work and its role in the rise of the Habsburg dynasty. This impressive humanist publication was commissioned by the Augsburg merchant family Fugger in the middle of the sixteenth century. The route of the Ehrenspiegel from the Fugger library to the princely collection of the Bavarian dukes and, later, to the royal Bavarian collection, where it is held today in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, is also introduced.
The short and compact biography of Jäger, who was from Augsburg, is thoroughly discussed, with particular focus on his humanistic abilities and failures. An interesting perspective is offered by the story of the way in which the Habsburg dynasty acquired the Holy Crown under the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I.
Various explanations are provided concerning the different copies of the “Ehrenspiegel,” which were made in the second half of the sixteenth century, after the original version was authored in Munich. Today, these copies are held in the Austrian National Library in Vienna (signature Cod. 8614* and Cod. 8613.) and in the Saxon Regional and University Library in Dresden (signature Mscr.Dresd.L.2). The authors attempt to establish a logical chronology of the copies, identify their origins, and find the original version. In this case, the research group had to undertake field research, because the last person to devote research to this question was historian Franz Unterkircher, who was active in in the 1960s. Buzási and Pálffy examined the artistic production, the writing material, and the inks used in each version of Ehrenspiegel.
A further aim was to identify the artist or the circumstances under which the given versions were made. However, the attempts made by Buzási and Pálffy to do this proved unsuccessful. In the attempts to establish similarities and differences among the various versions, the authors were always careful to compare the same pages of each.
The twelfth chapter is dedicated to the question of the actual appearance of the Holy Crown of Hungary. Once again, Buzási and Pálffy adopted a comparative approach to all the “Ehrenspiegel” versions. Moreover, in addition to these very early images of the crown, the authors also added an image from the 1668 Spiegel […] der Ehren by Birken. This print is based on the Ehrenspiegel. It was made in honor of Emperor Leopold I. It was possible to demonstrate that the extended use of printing from the seventeenth century on resulted in an increase in the number of the illustrations of the Holy Crown of Hungary.
As a point of criticism, it is worth noting that for some readers it may be unclear how the chapter about the discussion concerning the coat of arms of Sopron (Ödenburg) is connected to the research on the earliest image of the crown. Although the examination of this coat of arms is partly based on the study of heraldic emblemata appearing in the Ehrenspiegel and on two occasions Sopron was the site of Hungarian coronations later in the seventeenth century, this chapter is only loosely tied to the main topic of the book.
I find myself compelled to make a critical remark concerning the translation, which is an indisputable failure of the book. The language is uneasy and difficult to comprehend. Moreover, confusion is caused by the failure to differentiate between the so-called Fuggerchronik and the Ehrenspiegel in the beginning of the book.
However, apart from these shortcomings, Pálffy and Buzási attained their aims. They succeeded in identifying the origins of the earliest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary, which was made between April 1553 and November 1561, probably by Hans Lautensack, and was later used by Clemens Jäger for his Ehrenspiegel manuscript. The authors’ new approach clarifies the history of the extant Ehrenspiegel copies; one was made for Tyrolean governor Archduke Ferdinand II, while the other was made for his nephew, Archduke Maximilian III. For the first time in the secondary literature, all of the extant copies have been compared and similarities and differences have been specified, a process that is furthered by the impressive layout and graphic presentation, involving many images of reasonable size and quality.
In some cases, the authors guide the reader through the investigation as if they were actual detectives. In sum, we have a detailed and well-structured work with new findings on the history and art history of the Hungarian Holy Crown. We can only hope to see more publications like this one from the Lendület Holy Crown of Hungary research project.
„Légy cseheknek pártfogója, magyaroknak szószóllója…:” Cseh–magyar jezsuita összefüggések a kezdetektől 1773-ig [“Be the patron of Czechs, and the advocate of Hungarians…:” Relationships between the Hungarian and Czech Jesuits from the beginnings until 1773]. By Eszter Kovács. (Művelődéstörténeti műhely, Monográfiák 2.) Budapest: PPKE–OSZK, 2015. 367 pp.
The recently published volume by Eszter Kovács deals with cultural relationships between Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits in the period between 1556 and 1773. Several papers have already been published on the relationships between Bohemia and Hungary in both countries. The Protestant contacts have been examined in depth by Richard Pražák. However, until now, none of the works has examined the relationships from the perspective of the Catholic Church, and especially not from the point of view of the activities of the Bohemian Jesuits. Eszter Kovács uses new resources in her examination of the endeavors of the Bohemian Jesuits in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Brno. So far, these sources have been examined primarily by Czech historians, despite the fact that they have many bearings on Hungary, as Kovács has discovered. Still, no one has examined them from the perspective of Hungarian scholarship, so the sources may provide a foundation for further studies. In the cultural history of seventeenth-century and eighteenth- century Hungary, thanks to various mediators between Czechs and Hungarians, there were many signs of Czech influences on the nobility, aristocracy, clerical order, and peregrinates. Kovács chose to focus on the Society of Jesus in her examination of the nature of the connections between the Hungarian and Bohemian cultures within the order, the mediators between these two cultures, and the manners of the mediation. The first two parts of her complex and ambitious work are dedicated to these questions.
Kovács divides the period between 1556 and 1773 into two phases. The first phase covers the period up to 1623, when the Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits belonged to the same Austrian province, while the second, between 1623 and 1773, corresponds to the era when the province of Bohemia was independent. In this period, the role of Jesuits in Hungarian residences had undergone a change, since Hungary was more than a simple missionary target, like it had been before, and the majority of Bohemian Jesuits had practical duties. (This idea needs more clarification, especially with regard to the opposition it raises.)
More and more Czech Jesuit teachers and scholars arrived to teach in Hungarian schools, which became popular among Bohemian students as well, especially the University of Nagyszombat (today Trnava, Slovakia). At the end of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province supported fights against the Ottomans: each college paid a certain sum to support the cause, depending on its size, and the field missionaries served in the fighting armies.
In the third large chapter, Kovács summarizes her findings. She demonstrates Czech influences in hagiography, theater history, and the process of the propagation of Czech in Hungary. Because of its current role in Slovak national identity, she devotes a separate subsection in this chapter to the cult of Saints Cyril and Methodius. After the Slovak version of the hymn book by Benedek Szöllősi (Cantus Catholici, Pysně Katolické) had been published, Cyril and Methodius appeared regularly in Hungarian hagiographies. The myth of the Moravian Empire as part of the Carpathian Basin became interesting for Czech and Hungarian historians (for instance Sámuel Timon, György Szklenár, and Bohuslav Balbín) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Since the cult was an artificially created one, with no roots either in Hungarian or Slovak culture, Kovács attempts to examine it as the myth of Saints Cyril and Methodius and not as part of national histories.
The most important points of the argumentation are summarised in each subchapter, making the text clear and easy to follow. At the end of the volume, there is a useful appendix containing several detailed tables of names, places of birth, locations of the monastic quarters, periods of activity, and functions of the Bohemian and Hungarian Jesuits. The first table, based on the Catalogi personarum et officiorum provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu. I. II. (ed. Ladislaus Lukács, Romae, [1978–1982]9, is concerned with Hungarian Jesuits who lived in Bohemia until 1623. The second table is based on the same catalogue and contains data on Bohemian Jesuits who lived in Hungary in the same period. The last table, which is based on the Catalogus generalis seu Nomenclator biographicus personarum Provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu (1551–1773), [1987–1988]), deals with the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province living in Hungary between 1623 and 1773. The volume comes to a close with illustrations of prominent personalities, pictures of title pages, and several diagrams, which help one understand the data presented.
To raise a few points of criticism, a map of Jesuit activities in the contemporary Bohemian Province would have been very useful. One also could have considered providing an examination of Jesuits’ book lists from Jesuit residences in Hungary: what kinds of Czech books were found in Hungarian Jesuit convents, and vice versa. Furthermore, it would have been worthwhile to discuss the role of the Czech language in Hungary in more detail.
Despite these minor shortcomings, the volume is still a carefully designed, useful contribution containing important source material for the study of history, church history, cultural history, and several other disciplines, such as research on various kinds of networks and their roles. Its perspicuous style and exhaustive detail make the volume not only indispensable for scholars, but also enjoyable for lay readers.
Vísperas de sucesión: Europa y la Monarquía de Carlos II [On the eve of succession: Europe and the Monarchy of Charles II]. Edited by Bernardo J. García García and Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño. Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2015. 395 pp.
In 2015, the tercentenary of the end of the War of Spanish Succession took place, commemorating the end of a momentous and far-reaching conflict both on an internal, Spanish level and on the international level, since its outcomes affected the future of the European powers and their respective areas of influence and colonies around the world. The main cause of the war is well-known: Charles II, the last Spanish monarch of the Habsburg dynasty, died childless and, thus, heirless.
On the occasion of the tercentenary of the war, scholarly works were published on the period and various academic events in various disciplines were organized. The commemoration of the outbreak of war, the X Jornadas Nacionales de Historia Militar (10th National Journeys of Military History), which was held in Sevilla in November 2000, was one such event. However, despite the importance of the political and strategical struggle for power, the War of Spanish Succession is not as well-known as other conflicts (e.g. the Peninsular War of 1807–1814). This statement is even more accurate concerning the hidden aspects, or petite histoire, of the war, which in the end offer important perspectives on the grande histoire. Without knowledge of the details of the anecdotal events, which in the end offer insights into behavior and attitudes and enrich our understanding of facts, we cannot hope to have a complete and accurate grasp of the causes of these pivotal events of history.
The volume under review attempts to fill this gap. The studies examine hidden processes of political decision-making. A war is waged not only on the battlefield, but also in offices, among administrators on different levels of power, and in the halls and antechambers of palaces. The studies shed light on the intrigues devised by decisive figures, who favored one cause or another and sought to implement measures that would eventually lead to armed clashes. This is the petite histoire, which ultimately leads to as more nuanced understanding of the great events and the motivations of the various parties to these events and helps us better understand the entire subject.
Two of the most outstanding representatives of this trend are Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio and Bernardo José García García, both of whom are corresponding members of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. They are scholars of Hispanic studies from a European perspective, and both have studied court society, life in the Habsburg court, and Habsburg policy. Both have authored a wide range of publications, which are significant landmarks in the secondary literature on Early Modern history dealing with what might best be characterized as the spirit of the people, foreign policy, and the nature of a nation in the broad sense. The book under review focuses on the era of the rule of the last Habsburg king of Spain and the years before the War of Succession. It represents a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the context and the motives underlying these events.
The book offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the years of international political unrest between the Austrian Habsburgs and the Bourbons, two great dynasties opposed by their sense of honor and their pursuit of hegemony. Published by the Carlos de Amberes Foundation, the volume contains essays which are the fruit of several international research projects undertaken in collaboration with sixteen renowned scholars from Spain and other countries, such as Luis Ribot, Alfredo Floristán, Sánchez Belén and Joaquim Albareda from Spain and Davide Maffi from Italy and Charles-Édouard Levillain from France. The publication opens perspectives on the years before the outbreak of the conflict. Several topics are discussed in the volume, many of them essentially untouched in the secondary literature, but certainly important to our understanding of the era. The discussions are based on comprehensive and detailed fieldwork in all cases and on analyses of a wealth of unpublished documents.
The volume, which is divided into three thematic blocks and written in a clear and concise style, provides thoughtful and exhaustive essays on various subjects. For instance, the discussions include an examination of the ways in which the agents and notables intermingled, e.g. Valenzuela, the Duke of York, and the Marquis of Harcourt, who contrived court intrigues in favor of the Bourbons. The articles also examine the ways in which the Habsburgs plotted in European capitals to acquire personal power. These analyses provide a new approach to the study of the figure of Charles II, who perhaps has been treated a bit unjustly by historians. The essays offer a richer grasp of the delicate political context, in which grandees did not always have the common good of the Monarchy in mind, as the essays by Christopher Storrs and Lucién Bély illustrate. While presenting the historic junctures in this period of the history of the Spanish Monarchy, Bernardo José García correctly highlights that the last decades of the reign of Charles II resulted in a more accurate and better documented vision.
In a broad sense, taking into account the influence of the powerful states and cities of Europe, such as Italy, Portugal, Buda, Vienna, London, and the ubiquitous France of Louis XIV, this book adds to efforts to rekindle and deepen research on the period and sheds light on its historical significance. The volume offers persuasive support for the argument that the situation in which Spain found itself was not as dire as is usually assumed, although it certainly did not wield as much power as it had in the sixteenth century. The negative factors that had already been identified at the time, such as instability and increasing political tensions, were exacerbated by Charles II’s personal weaknesses as a ruler (mental and physical frailty and his failure to father an heir). Attempts were made to deny or disguise these weaknesses. This book provides analyses of the events and people from both a Spanish and an international perspective. This is particularly evident, for example, in the discussion of art, which highlights its political and propagandistic uses.
In short, this book is noteworthy, as it constitutes a substantial contribution to the secondary literature on the last phase of Spanish Habsburgs, casting new light on this important moment in the emergence of modern Europe.
Evaristo C. Martínez-Radío Garrido
A Kalocsa-Bácsi Főegyházmegye 18. századi megújulása Patachich Gábor és Patachich Ádám érsekek idején (1733–1784) [The eighteenth-century revival of Kalocsa-Bács Archdiocese under Archbishops Gábor Patachich and Ádám Patachich]. By Tamás Tóth. Budapest–Kalocsa: METEM–Kalocsai Főegyházmegyei Levéltár, 2014. 494 pp.
In 2015, Tamás Tóth’s book was chosen as Publication of the Year by the Society of Hungarian Archivists. The volume deserves recognition for many reasons. It approaches the process of the eighteenth-century Catholic revival from new perspectives. The principal question of the work concerns the extent to which the reorganization of the archdiocese after the Ottoman era was possible in the spirit of the Council of Trent. The book itself is the product of extensive research based on Tóth’s Italian-language dissertation defended at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2006 (Tóth’s dissertation was published as a book in Hungary in 2011). Over the past few years, Tóth has not only broadened the base of his sources, he has also added a layer of nuance to his thoughts on the topic. The thoroughness of the research is reflected in the rich appendix: the author and the publisher made an attempt to collect all the reproductions of materials, images, and written sources connected to the topic.
This volume fits well alongside research that has been undertaken over the past two decades on bishoprics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Along with Tóth’s contributions to the subject, the recent scientific works published concerning the dioceses of Győr, Eger, Veszprém and Pécs offer a more nuanced and exhaustive overview of denominational history in Hungary. The efforts that were made by these dioceses to adopt various reforms varied significantly depending on the facilities at their disposal and their individual histories, and thus only this combination of macro-historical and micro-historical analyses can provide a foundation for a synthesis.
One of the merits of the work is that it is complexly synthetic: the argumentation is based on abundant secondary literature and numerous collections of sources. The primary archival sources are held in Kalocsa, Budapest, Vienna, Zagreb and Rome, where the author carried out his research. He successfully forged out of this plethora of information a harmonious unity. The ecclesiastical events and persons on which he focuses are organized into an elaborate system and are presented as part of a network of contacts. Thus, the work offers a more subtle and thorough understanding of the reasons behind certain events and decision-making mechanisms than was previously available in the literature. Tóth focuses on context, and he traces the trajectories of aims and decisions until they reached their eventual completion. Hungarian and international ecclesiastical scholars will both profit from his findings.
The volume focuses on the activity of Gábor Patachich (1733–1745) and his nephew Ádám Patachich (1776–1784), two of the archbishops of Kalocsa. Tóth offers a thorough narrative of the history of the eighteenth-century archdiocese through their biographies. Moreover, there is an even wider cross-section of the book. The author has managed to present the entire history of the Hungarian Catholic Church between 1526 and the 1780s in this book. One might logically expect an overview of the epoch. By providing this contextualization of the lives of the two archbishops, Tóth has presented a vivid historical process. This broad perspective was applied to the careers of both prelates and to the history of the diocese as well. The Patachiches had important bases and engaged in important activities before becoming archbishops of Kalocsa. The detailed presentation of their careers offers a major contribution to Hungarian church history.
During the Ottoman conquest, the archdiocese of Kalocsa fell almost into a condition of ruin with respect to its infrastructure and personnel. Thus, Gábor Patachich started his reconstruction work from something of a “tabula rasa” state. In addition to presenting the careers of the two archbishops, Tóth also examines how the archdiocese was renewed and developed according to the reforms of the Council of Trent. This perspective determines the structure and sequence of the chapters in the book: Tóth examines the two archbishops’ attitudes towards the seminary, the cathedral, the chapter, the archbishop’s residence and the parish organizations, and also the visitations and the ministry.
The Trent-type church regulation reforms can be clearly interpreted, from beginning to end. The full meaning of Patachich’s motto, “si nullus incipiat, nullus finiet,” becomes clear in the book: everything Gábor Patachich initiated with sacrifice and devotion came to be completed by his nephew. Tóth aims to explore the period between 1745 and 1776, but he emphasizes that his work on the careers of the archbishops should not be seen as an isolated inquiry on eighteenth-century church history.
This type of diocese history, which examines the history of a given diocese in a broader context, works well only if the writer establishes a clear structure. Tóth’s book does this. In the first chapter, he presents the medieval and Early Modern history of the Kalocsa Archdiocese on the basis of a wide array of sources. After a sophisticated introduction of antecedents, the reader learns about the renaissance of the Hungarian church, an era in which the initiatives of the two Patachich archbishops offer outstanding examples: the efforts of Gábor Patachich were based on the objectives and principles of the Council of Trent, and they reached their initial stages, while Ádám Patachich improved and completed them. A particularly interesting and important part of the book is dedicated to the political and administrative engagements of the archbishops in Kalocsa.
Tóth’s book will have a seminal role in eighteenth-century ecclesiastic research: it gathers all of the available information on the Archdiocese of Kalocsa in a single volume, and it provides new viewpoints, data, and sources that will help historians interpret the events discussed in a much more detailed context and as parts of logical processes.
Österreich und der Immerwährende Reichstag: Studien zur Klientelpolitik und Parteibildung (1745–1763) [Austria and the perpetual imperial diet: Studies on client politics and party formation.]. By Michael Rohrschneider. (Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 89.) Munich: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014. 395 pp.
For the past few decades, German historians have been working on an ambitious though difficult enterprise: the “rediscovery” and “reevaluation” of the Holy Roman Empire and its institutions. In this process, the history of the perpetual imperial diet in Regensburg (1663–1806) has been a somewhat neglected topic, since its complexity and the abundance of sources produced during the diet may be a bit discouraging for a historian. However, as Michael Rohrschneider’s monograph illustrates, a careful choice of focus may help prevent one from getting lost in the labyrinth of primary sources on the perpetual imperial diet.
Currently a research fellow at the University of Cologne, Rohrschneider restricted the timeframe of his research to the period between 1745 and 1763, when the foundations of Austro–Prussian dualism were laid. The novelty of his monograph lies in his use of a methodology borrowed from network research and the history of communication and in the introduction of an imperial subject from an Austrian perspective. After a presentation of the frameworks of Austrian imperial policy, Rohrschneider analyses the spaces, target groups, intentions, and resources of this policy, thus reconstructing the clientele and “party”-building and “party”-managing strategies of the Viennese court. Finally, two case studies provide interesting insights into the mechanism of the Viennese client policy.
Concerning Viennese imperial policy, Rohrschneider refines several earlier historical clichés. First, although the growing importance of the hereditary lands in this period is undeniable, Austria did not aim to separate from the Empire. Its goal was to strengthen the Habsburg positions within the Empire and to prevent Prussia, the arch-fiend, from extending its political influence to smaller imperial estates. Nor was Emperor Francis I indifferent or entirely repressed by Maria Theresa and her advisors in imperial affairs. He regarded himself as the defender of the small estates, and he had strong opinions on imperial policy—differing on many occasions from the views of the Viennese ministers.
Due to the various titles held by Maria Theresa and Francis I, Austria was able to send four delegates to the imperial diet: a Principal Commissioner (a representative of the Emperor), a Deputy Commissioner, a delegate for the Bohemian Electorate, and another delegate for Austria. These people were “old-style diplomats” in the sense that their personal and social networks (family, friends, etc.) had played the crucial role in their appointments, while professional skills were, if not negligible, secondary. Though one of Vienna’s primary aims was the harmonization of the activity of all of the delegates, Rohrschneider clearly presents how difficult this was. Rivalry and overlapping competencies generated tensions among Austrian and imperial ministers, authorities, and the delegates in Regensburg themselves. After the appointment of Kaunitz as State Chancellor, the intention to outweigh the imperial organs in imperial matters became even more perceptible.
In the second major section of the book, the chapters focus on the establishment and management of the Austrian clientele and “party.” As Rohrschneider emphasizes, clientele and “party” were overlapping but not identical groups: Austria provided protection and support for her clients in return for their full cooperation at the diet, whereas members of the “party” followed the Austrian policy according to their own deliberations and interests. Although “party” meant a loose, fluctuating clique of supporters, the existence of an Austrian and a Prussian “party” in Regensburg (and an opposition) was undoubtedly reflected in contemporary diplomatic reports, which regularly referred to these groups as Parthey, Affectionates, Widrig-gesinnten, etc.
Rohrschneider identifies three major target groups of the Austrian clientele-building and “party”-building policy. The first consisted of the officials of the different imperial institutions (e. g. the high courts), who held their positions at the Emperor’s grace. The second included ministers and the direct advisors of the princes, and the third one consisted of the envoys delegated to the imperial diet (the most significant proponents and opponents among them are introduced in detail). The aim of integrating them into the Austrian “party” was twofold: first, to expand and affirm the existing client network, and, second, to attract Prussian clients to the Austrian clientele.
Rohrschneider convincingly describes the mechanism of Austrian client and “party” policy. Austrian delegates frequently organized informal meetings and private events in Regensburg, where the public activity of the Austrian “party” could be harmonized. The Viennese court spared no effort in their attempts to woo the absent imperial estates so that they would entrust their votes to an Austria-friendly delegate. From time to time, members of the pro-Austrian community were assured of Austria’s trust. Through the effective use of various types of media, they were provided reliable information concerning Austria’s plans and the happenings at the diet. In order to establish new and strengthen existing bonds, the imperial court helped its clients make advantageous marriages, gain admission to illustrious orders, and be elevated into the higher nobility. The Emperor could promote a favorable decision for his clients in legal matters or appoint them to high administrative, legal, ecclesiastical, and military positions. The close relationships were also reaffirmed by the exchange of various presents, which could even be regarded as a form of corruption that was absolutely customary and not illegal at the time.
The last two chapters, two case studies, are interesting not only because they show the Austrian client and “party” policy in operation, but also because they present the perspectives of the clients. The first one, in which Rohrschneider presents the introduction of Prince Thurn und Taxis into the College of Princes, exemplifies how the mighty patron, Austria, was able to support the personal ambitions of an important client. It also reveals the rivalry between the Principal and the Deputy Commissioners, demonstrating that the more influential client could break the carrier of the less influential one. The second case study presents the struggles of Anhalt, a small, Protestant principality neighboring Hohenzollern territories and, thus, traditionally a Prussian client, which was placed under pressure by Austria to join the anti-Prussian coalition at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War. Since Anhalt’s delegate in Regensburg, trying to maintain neutrality in the conflict, did not turn the Austrian approach down, Frederick II openly withdrew his support from Anhalt. As Vienna could only partly reduce the serious financial and political consequences of the Prussian punishment, once the war was over, Anhalt returned to the Prussian block. This episode persuasively illustrates that Austria consciously tried to expand its clientele and “party” at the expense of Prussia, and that in such cases the efficacy of Austrian patronage had its limits.
In summary, Rohrschneider’s monograph is a compelling read, which optimally combines descriptions of the comprehensive structures of Austria’s imperial client and “party” policy with in-depth analyses of the case studies. As the footnotes and the bibliography prove, Rohrschneider consulted a vast array of sources, but thanks to his well-chosen methodological approaches, he succeeded in presenting a well-structured and interesting analysis of a short but significant period of the perpetual imperial diet. The volume is an important contribution to the (re)evaluation of the diet, and it will assuredly serve as inspiration for further research.
Exploring Transylvania: Geographies of Knowledge and Entangled Histories in a Multiethnic Province, 1790–1918. By Borbála Zsuzsanna Török. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2016. 286 pp.
In her book, Zsuzsanna Borbála Török undertakes to write a history of local knowledge production about Transylvania between 1790 and World War I in the academic field known as Landeskunde and to map out its institutional, social and political parameters, networks, sites, trajectories, and reception. The German concept of Landeskunde refers to any kind of research framed within a particular regional optic and carried out as part of an encyclopaedic description of the narrowly defined fatherland (Heimat). Growing out of the earlier notion of Statistik, it was meant to further the economic improvement of a given land and the patriotic education of its citizens. Depending on the German or Hungarian context, Török alternates between the original German term and its Hungarian equivalent, honismeret, but it is unclear whether she perceives any difference between the German and Hungarian uses. The extent to which the Transylvanian authors mentioned in her book themselves would have characterized their endeavors with such terms is similarly unclear, but doubt arises for example in the case of prehistoric and Roman archeologists.
Throughout the book, Török pays particular attention to two trends that unfolded in the long term: the replacement of polymath curiosity by scholarly specialization and the spatial concentration of knowledge production into national core areas. The former, she argues, galvanized Landeskunde research on Transylvania, rather than restraining it. The latter affected the Transylvanian Saxon and Magyar scholarly communities asymmetrically, due to a major transformation in the intellectual life of the province: the opening in 1872 of a Hungarian-language university in Kolozsvár/Cluj.
Two thirds of the book are dedicated to the parallel histories of the two most influential Transylvanian learned societies of the time, the Saxon Verein für siebenbürgische Landeskunde (Landeskundeverein) and the Magyar Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület. Török describes their organizational structure and their customary activities, she investigates the social and ethnic makeup of their memberships and conducts a content analysis of their journals in order to show the shifting patterns of their scholarly interests. She presents subsequent generations of members of the two societies through biographical vignettes about selected Magyar and Saxon scholars.
At its foundation in 1859, the membership of the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület consisted in large part of aristocratic dilettantes, something that changed radically after the society placed its facilities at the disposal of the new university. Thereafter, its ranks were filled by the university faculty, and regular subsidies from the Hungarian state became a major source of its funding. The Landeskundeverein, on the other hand, which had enjoyed the support of Vienna during the neo-absolutist period, took a critical stance towards the Hungarian regime, and it could mostly rely on donations from civil society and on the revenue from its publications. Throughout its existence, its active members mostly came from the Saxon Bildungsbürgertum.
Its strong linkages to the university made the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület more professionalized and thematically more diverse than its Saxon counterpart. During the Dualist Era, it was gradually divided into various sections. In contrast, the Landeskundeverein was better connected across the borders and was regarded with great interest in German academic centers, while its scholarly output fluctuated between positivist standards and provincial amateurism.
Although she regularly mentions parallel or contrasting trends among Romanians, Török chose to limit her focus to the Saxon and the Magyar societies and not to include ASTRA (the Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People) as her third main object of study. She justifies her choice with reference to ASTRA’s much wider range of activities and by its emphasis from the very outset on the nation rather than on the fatherland, which would make it less relevant for a history of Landeskunde. The first explanation is perhaps not terribly controversial, but attention given to works published by ASTRA or written by ASTRA functionaries that fit into the book’s broad definition of Landeskunde could have put into relief the common features of Saxon and Magyar Transylvanian regionalist scholarship.
Admittedly, the terms Landeskunde and honismeret had no counterpart in Romanian. However, a large segment of the original contributions to Transilvania, the association’s review, effortlessly fall into this category, especially in the later decades. Far from putting ASTRA at odds with the other two learned societies, the Romanian-centered perspective of these contributions in fact also harmonizes with the similarly inward-looking bias of contemporary Magyar and Saxon Landeskunde research. George Bariţ’s Părţi alese is certainly no less regional in scope then Georg Daniel Teutsch’s Sachsengeschichte, and Silvestru Moldovan’s cultural travelogues through Transylvania represent popularizing Landeskunde at its purest.
Török’s omission of ASTRA stands on even more tenuous grounds when she claims that its dedication “to the more modern concept of the ‘nation’” (p.3) was something singular. The assumptions behind this idea also represent the book’s weakest points.
Török advances the hypothesis that the European Republic of Letters, which had been held together by scholarly solidarity and by the common use of Latin, and which had crumbled with the advent of nationalisms and with increasing disciplinary fragmentation, may have had an afterlife on the European periphery, and notably in Transylvania. This hypothesis proves wrong early on, and Török fails to take notice of this. From the moment when she takes up the thread of the story, scholarly activity was already mostly carried out in the vernacular and was compartmentalized along ethno-national lines, both in its social networks and its research agendas. The division only deepened over time.
During the Josephine period, an ethnically mixed, enlightened vanguard rallying in masonic lodges perhaps held the promise of a supra-ethnic Landespatriotismus, but the embryonic academic society of György Aranka, the Magyar offshoot of this milieu, promoted a Transylvanianism steeped in Hungarian noble nationalism. During the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, attendance of Protestant German universities and the need to use one another’s unpublished archives led to the formation of some bonds between Magyar and Saxon scholars, but both groups used their vernacular standards in their publications, and their ideological lines had irrevocably parted ways, with Saxons cherishing a cult of their community as an eastern outpost of civilization, first against the background of Austrian imperial patriotism and later turning to German nationalism. There was little overlap in membership between the two academic spheres.
Over the period under study, nationalism and regionalism did not so much stand in a relationship of contrast as mutually complement each other. The ideological horizons of the authors quoted usually range from regionally tinged nationalism to nationally tinged Transylvanian patriotism, and their ethno-national ideologies also left marks on their works of declared supra-ethnic, all-Transylvanian scopes. Therefore, a study engaged with the avatars of regional scholarship could have benefitted from a deeper analytical look at the ideological meanings underlying contemporary utterances in order to reconstruct genuinely implied or rhetorically framed combinations of Transylvanian patriotism and ethnic nationalisms. The book does not provide support for its claim that the European Republic of Letters had an afterlife in Transylvania in any non-trivial sense. Rather than the earlier European Republic of Letters, other multiethnic lands of contemporary Europe would have made more suitable objects for comparison, where civil society became segmented along ethno-national lines as the shackles on the freedom of association and press were lifted. The Bohemian Lands come to mind first.
With all the shortcomings that I have pointed out, the nuanced and lucid comparison of the histories of the Saxon and Hungarian societies is certainly an important merit of the book in its own right. Moreover, and quite conveniently for a time and area on which information is scarcely available in English, Török sprinkles her narrative with abundant background knowledge, which will make her book useful as a history of the Magyar and Saxon cultural elites of Transylvania in the period.
The Politics of Cultural Retreat: Imperial Bureaucracy in Austrian Galicia, 1772–1867. By Iryna Vushko. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 328 pp.
Following the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, a region the size of today’s Czech Republic and populated by approximately 2.5 million inhabitants at the time became part of the Habsburg Empire, of which it remained a part until the end of World War I. Iryna Vushko examines the first hundred years of Austrian administration in Galicia. She argues that the imperial bureaucracy might have failed in its original aim to forge an imperial Germanophone culture out of the pre-existing political, social, and economic circumstances; in the long run, however, it created structures that allowed for the successful integration of this Crownland into the Habsburg Monarchy. Focusing on people rather than on institutions, she presents her argument in eight chronological and thematic chapters.
The first two chapters are dedicated to the early period of Austrian rule in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Habsburg Enlightened absolutism initially perceived Galicia as a tabula rasa which should be remodeled from scratch; very soon, however, this attitude gave way to a more pragmatic view. The former Polish administrators were dismissed, and Vienna dispatched Austrian bureaucrats to serve in the new Crownland; still, it never sent enough of them. Having at his disposal a mere dozen people in his central office in L’viv and not even as many as 2,000 bureaucrats in the entire province, the first governor, Johann Count Pergen, could hardly reshape the administration of such a huge crownland before the expiration of his two years in office. Before coming to Galicia, quite a number of bureaucrats had actually served in the Bohemian lands and where thus better qualified to administer a province where Polish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish were the most widely spoken languages. Still, many of the officials had ended up in Galicia because they did not qualify to be promoted elsewhere, especially people from the lower ranks. Vushko sensibly pays special attention to Galicia’s long-time governor Joseph Karl Brigido, who between 1780 and 1794 tried to reconcile the impetus of the Enlightenment with the interests of the Polish aristocracy, not least by insisting on a partial opening of the civil service to local nobles.
The third chapter deals with the Austrian bureaucracy during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, it contains numerous factual errors, which contribute to mistaken conclusions. Chapter four touches upon the Galician context of the Polish Uprising in 1830–31, in particular on Prince August von Lobkowitz, Galicia’s acting governor at that time. Sympathizing with the Polish case and overestimating his political agency, he stirred hopes that Austria might intervene on behalf of the insurgents. In the end, Lobkowitz could only provide a relatively friendly welcome to individual refugees after the suppression of the uprising.
Chapters five, six, and seven investigate the Austrian bureaucracy’s relationship with Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups—Poles, Ruthenians, and Jews. While Austrian rule, represented in its provincial government, rather quickly made arrangements with the local noble elites, it did not transfer direct power to them, but rather allowed them to participate in Austrian rule via its bureaucratic apparatus. The increasing contacts between Austrian officials and the local Polish elites prompted assimilation processes that have been more convincingly described by Isabel Röskau-Rydel (Niemiecko-austriackie rodziny urzędnicze w Galicji 1772–1918: Kariery zawodowe – środowisko – akulturacja i asymilacja ).
Chapter six, which focuses on Galicia’s Ruthenians, is certainly the best chapter in the book. It draws more on Vushko’s current project on the variety of national identity choices that individuals made in the Habsburg Empire. She skillfully interweaves the biographies of Wacław Precliczek, a fictitious Habsburg official from Jan Lam’s novel Capowice High Society, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the son of Galicia’s very real long-term chief police officer between 1831 and 1848. Lam, himself a Galician novelist from a German-Polish family, draws the picture of a true Habsburg official being transferred from his native Bohemia to Galicia. Married to an anti-German Polish noble and struggling with the need to identify nationally, Precliczek eventually decides to marry his daughter off to a Ruthenian dignitary. The writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, on the other hand, is a person who existed in reality but invented for himself a Ruthenian identity in order to exoticize himself, while also underlining his Habsburg-ness at the same time. Vushko rightly claims that these developments were possible only because of Austria’s educational and ecclesiastical policies towards the Greek Catholic, i.e. Ruthenian population in the late eighteenth century. However, this issue is not linked to the book’s overall topic.
In chapter seven, Vushko convincingly suggests that the administration of the Jewish population should be understood as a twofold story. Whereas in the case of the Christians, the state immediately tried to get direct access to its subjects, in the case of the Jewry it relied on intermediary Jewish administrative structures in order to initiate the long-term transformation of Jewish inhabitants into Austrian subjects. She also stresses the enduring effects of Joseph II’s policy, which was based on the implementation of a German-Jewish schooling system supervised by the Enlightener Herz Homberg.
The last chapter deals with two important political events in Galicia, the Polish Uprising in 1846 and the Revolution of 1848. Most interesting in connection with the overall focus of the book is the question of the Austrian bureaucracy’s role during the 1846 upheaval, when Polish peasants, instead of joining the noble insurgents, turned their scythes against their lords. The historiographic assessment strongly varies, and many historians claim that the Austrian bureaucracy at least tolerated if not incited the outbreak of violence. Vushko underlines that there are no documents directly supporting this claim, but that one should refrain from perceiving the Austrian bureaucracy as a uniform institution. Even if the provincial administration would certainly not have approved of looting and the killing of about 1,000 nobles, some officials on the local level might well have been in no haste to contain the violence.
Perhaps the most important lesson to learn from Iryna Vushko’s book is that indeed one should not understand the Austrian bureaucracy as always having been consistent, and one should keep in mind that officials had some administrative discretion. The other key message of her monograph is that one must consider the long-term consequences, intended or not, of Habsburg administration for the political and social development of Galicia, even if many administrative measures proved unsuccessful in the beginning. According to the stylistic usages of American scholarly publications, Vushko repeats these messages time and time again.
Ultimately, I am quite troubled with the book’s title and the cultural arguments brought forward by the author. In fact, Vushko seems to be skeptical as well with regards to some of her contentions. While she draws a picture of a cultural struggle starting with the annexation of Galicia in 1772, she rightly does not conceive of Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups in an essentialist way. Her argument that Vienna wanted to install a uniform Germanophone but supra-national bureaucracy is on the money, but allowing educated Polish locals to enter the Austrian civil service was in no way a “cultural retreat.” On the contrary, it fits perfectly with the logic of an imperial bureaucracy, and there is absolutely nothing paradoxical about it. In the end, Vushko seems to disprove the argument herself when she shows that when the central state ceded power to Galician Poles in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848, it transferred control to Polonophone imperial officials who were from inside and not from outside the system.
I also find it difficult to maintain that the Habsburg Empire intended its bureaucracy to be the spearhead of a future supra-national Germanophone culture and society. I do not discern a strong intention towards Germanization, for instance, in the province’s educational system, in which quite a number of Polish and Ukrainian elementary schools were set up and manuals published in these languages during the first decades of Habsburg rule. Agreeably, the sole exception are Galicia’s Jews, who indeed were urged to attend Enlightened German-Jewish schools. Vushko herself explicitly states that before 1848 the crucial identifiers were status and rank (and not ethnicity), and one should refrain from writing the history of Galicia as story of national conflict; yet, the dramaturgy of the book strongly follows this line.
All in all the reader is left with mixed feelings. For English-speaking scholars who are not able to read the rich German and Polish secondary literature on the Austrian and Galician bureaucracy, the monograph may well prove useful.
Military Culture and Popular Patriotism in Late Imperial Austria. By Laurence Cole. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 376 pp.
Laurence Cole is known for his expertise on the late Habsburg Monarchy and topics such as military culture, national identities and loyalties, and civil, military, and imperial relations. In his first monograph,“Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland:” Nationale Identität der deutschsprachigen Bevölkerung Tirols 1860–1914, which was published in 2000, he looks behind the curtain of national belonging as a stable category. Drawing on the writings of Rogers Brubaker, Cole describes nationality as a process in which several agents are involved. He focuses on the example of the German speakers in Tyrol, who became increasingly aware and were pushed to become increasingly aware of their Germaness. In Glanz-Gewalt-Gehorsam: Militär und Gesellschaft in der Habsburgermonarchie (1800 bis 1918), which was published in 2011 and edited by Cole, Christa Hämmerle, and Martin Scheutz, several authors present fresh insights into “new military history.” In other words, they deal not with operations, uniforms, and wars, but rather with different aspects of civil-military relations in the late Habsburg Monarchy and the Habsburg Army.
Cole’s recent book also adopts this approach. He focuses on a specific group of military Habsburg/Austrian actors. Veterans and their associations, although important in numbers as well as in their impact on commemoration, have hitherto been neglected in the historiography. It might be that veterans were not warriors enough to make military historians want to deal with them. On the other hand, to deal with veterans does require insight into the structure of the army, so perhaps the topic seemed overly “military” for cultural historians. Cole, however, offers an exciting combination of military and cultural history. He describes military actors as part of the local civil society, examining not simply how, as a consequence of compulsory conscription, male civilians became part of the army for a time, but also how veterans’ organizations (often together with the local garrisons) played roles in local cultural life. Cole deals mainly with peace-time veterans, who certainly differed from war-time veterans in their understandings of themselves. Most of the veterans Cole describes, especially in the later years, had never experienced a war (with the exception of the occupation of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1878).
Many historians use the term “Habsburg” in the titles of their books or articles, in spite of the fact that often they deal exclusively with the Austrian half of the empire or with one nationality only. From the outset, Cole emphasizes that he is dealing with an assortment of regions within the empire. Most of them were circumscribed by “language borders,” in the sense of Pieter M. Judson’s 2006 book, Guardians of the Nation. These selected examples of multiethnic and multilingual regions are Tyrol/Trentino (populated mainly by German and Italian speakers), Istria/Trieste (populated mainly by Slovene, German, and Italian speakers), and Littoral (adding Croats). To focus on Austria makes sense, as veterans’ associations in Austria, given their spheres of action, often had to negotiate with local civil authorities as well as ministries. They therefore all acted within a comparable legal and administrative framework. Nevertheless, Cole describes the interactions between local military associations and civilians, and this feature of his book makes his inquiry a history from below, which often takes imperial responses into account.
One might ask whether the efforts of these veterans’ organizations to engage in local public life, what Cole calls “popular patriotism,” were solely expressions of imperial loyalty. Cole offers examples in support of his contention that the purpose and aim of these veterans’ societies reflected a diverse array of interests. On the one hand, these associations served social purposes, e.g. supporting invalid soldiers and their families. They often organized cultural festivities in order to collect money. But these festivities often served as means of self-representation, too.
Cole also focuses on the transnational nature of these veterans’ associations. Members came from all parts of the monarchy, all nationalities, and all social classes. Nevertheless, most of the influential figures were retired officers of the common army, who therefore brought their understanding of imperial loyalty and its forms of public expression into the daily work and duties of the associations. It would have been interesting to consider the extent to which these veterans’ organizations had conflicts with one another. I assume conflicts arose not only because of national or regional patriotic issues, but also because of a kind of outbidding, i.e. attempts to outdo one another in their expressions of patriotisms. The associations were competitors in the end, competing for financial support, but also public attention. Cole offers several examples demonstrating this. Veterans jealously monitored one another’s festivities, failures, and successes. Who got more media attention? Who was able to invite the better known public figures? With regards to the associations’ attempts to influence public perceptions, it mattered whether they had the support of a Habsburg archduke or archduchess or merely an “ordinary” retired general. Thus, Cole’s book also sheds light, through the lens of the cultural endeavors of veterans’ associations, on the ways in which members of the Habsburg family participated in public events, sometimes as imperial agents. This includes refusals by members of the Habsburg family to participate and the reasons underlying these refusals.
Since the publication of Nancy M. Wingfield’s 2007 Flag Wars and Stone Saints and Daniel Unowsky’s 2005 The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism, the community of historians has known a great deal more about the importance of everyday interactions in different parts of Austria when it came to public commemorations. One of the most prominent military-historic figures across all of the territories of the Monarchy was certainly Field Marshal Radetzky. Cole describes the role of the veterans in shaping perceptions of Radetzky and contributing to his emergence as a figure of such symbolic importance.
In addition to offering an outstanding analysis, Cole also draws attention to the organization of these associations, their activities, and their composition, meaning the professional, social, and cultural backgrounds of their members. Although mostly supranational, they were not unaffected by local nationalisms, to which they had to react. Cole offers an interesting insight concerning the ways in which former soldiers and officers dealt with language issues. Were depictions of Radetzky on memorial plaques described in other languages than in German? Which languages did veterans use when communicating internally and externally? Were public announcements always printed in all local languages, or just in German? Cole also breaks with the assumption that some nationalities were consistently loyal while others were consistently disloyal to the empire, emperor, and army.
Laurence Cole has published an important work on the relationship between different local communities, military veterans, and high administrative institutions in Vienna. The book is easy to read, though it remains analytical. Due to the structure of the chapters, it is highly suitable for use in teaching. Cole bases his study on an impressive range of archival sources, including central institutions in Vienna and numerous local archives. Here I may point to one shortcoming of the book: although I am aware of the fact that it is always a matter of available space, but it would have been good to include the original version of archival texts, and not to provide only English translations.
Military Culture and Popular Patriotism certainly fills a gap, not only in Habsburg historiography, but also in our understanding of the roles played by veterans during peacetime in a multiethnic, multilingual country.
Apple of Discord: The “Hungarian Factor” in Austro–Serbian Relations, 1867–1881. By Ian D. Armour. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2014. 347 pp.
Ian D. Armour’s book is a perfect example of a work of diplomatic history that is “total” in its approach, by which I mean that it sets aims far more ambitious than those of traditional (and also quite numerous) analyses of bilateral relations, and it also surpasses these traditional studies in the scholarly standards it meets. Armour’s primary contention is that, after 1867, not only did new possibilities emerge for Hungarians to play roles in foreign policy, but opportunities also emerged for Hungarians to further their foreign interests, even though in principle the Compromise did not create any formal or institutional framework for this (formally, the Compromise only allowed for a single, “imperial” foreign policy). The foreign policy pursued by Hungarians often differed significantly from and even ran against the “imperial” ideas and interests, both in its goals and, even more frequently, in its means. One clear example of this was the appointment of the later common Foreign Minister and administrator of the Condominium of Bosnia and Hercegovina Benjamin Kállay to serve as consul in Belgrade in 1868, when at the same time Anton Prokesch-Osten, the ambassador in Istanbul, was a representative of the Austrian imperial idea. Another example would be the support given by Hungarians for Michael Obrenović, who had a Hungarian wife and estates in Hungary, and their opposition to the Karađorđević family, which was hardly beloved of the Hungarian nation because of the role it had played in 1848. For Austria, the Karađorđević family was emblematic of loyalty to the dynasty. In the background, the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Friedrich Beust and Gyula Andrássy, represented contradictory conceptions and ideologies. The former supported a foreign policy that focused on western Europe, while Andrássy promised a more active anti-Russian foreign policy in the Balkans. At the same time Andrássy and Kállay initially rejected the acquisition of Bosnia, in marked contrast with the aspirations of the Emperor, Beust and his circles. Andrássy opposed the idea of an essentially Southern Slav Balkan/Danubian Federation in the interests of protecting the Monarchy, and his opposition had an anti-Russian edge. At same time, he was apprehensive about the strengthening of the Slavic peoples within the Monarchy, which he feared might weaken the dualist structure of the state. For Kállay, the Danubian Confederation represented a counterweight to Habsburg rule (precisely these two reasons were behind his support for the idea of pledging Bosnia to Serbia—in other words, he was not influenced by a Romantic vision of Southern Slav brotherhood, but rather by political self-interest). While Kállay may have been the first Hungarian follower of John Stuart Mill, his notion of liberalism was nonetheless very distant from that of the Englishman. The notion of a Danubian confederation as a counterweight to Habsburg rule may perhaps have fit into this framework, but for instance the role that Kállay exerted in the Karađorđević trial (a role driven by political interests) was in stark contradiction with the principles of classical liberalism. Added to all this was the Croatian question and the problem of the relationship to Serbia and Hungary of the Serbs of Voivodina, who had become more important pieces on the political chess board, since the fate of Bosnia was of key importance from the perspective of winning—or losing—their trust.
Obviously, Armour’s “total” approach is rife with complexity and risk given the complicacy of the network of relationships. The divergent visions of Beust and Andrássy make an analysis of the relationships between Prussia and France indispensable. Indeed, an analysis of Hungarian–Croatian, Austrian–Croatian, and Serb–Croatian relations is similarly indispensable to a nuanced understanding of Hungary’s foreign policy ambitions. The prevailing domestic situation exerted a significant influence of Hungarian foreign policy, the essential goal of which was to ensure the viability of Dualism and dismantle the movements among the national minorities within the Empire. From this perspective, it was not at all obvious, for instance, that Andrássy, who was seen as liberal, would proffer Hungary’s support for the liberal-nationalist party in Voivodina and the Serbian nationalist party in Serbia. Indeed, it seemed far more likely that they would enjoy the support of the conservative groups (who favored a limited constitution and strong central power), for instance Milivoje Blaznavac, who served as Minister of Defense and later regent, or Prince Michael. However, this support only seemed likely, for the fault lines in Serbian politics appeared not only on the ideological plane, but also in foreign policy orientation, and these fault lines did not overlap. Not every liberal was also pro-Russian, and not every conservative was pro-Austrian. The elements of French ideology that influenced Serbian politicians could be favorable (the idea of the nation state) or unfavorable (liberalism, nationalism) from the perspective of Hungarian foreign policy.
These complex networks of relationships and inclinations in domestic and foreign policy must be analyzed both from the Hungarian and the Serbian perspective, and this creates further complications. The Serbian prince had to appease public opinion, which called for the liberation of the oppressed Slavic peoples, while also giving due consideration to the actual political constellation. It is hardly surprising that Armour has chosen 1867 as the starting point for his analysis, since with the defeat of the Austrian Empire at the Battle of Königgrätz a new European great power came into existence, namely Prussia, and Austria had to reassess its role and position in Europe, as well as its goals. The Habsburg Empire had effectively been pushed out of Western Europe, and the compromise with Hungary meant both a new Balkan orientation and a long-term rivalry with Russia (and Germany). Michael, Prince of Serbia had to choose between a Balkan Alliance the essential function of which was unclear (Kállay and his circle clearly would not have been pleased if the Alliance had been created in order to attack the Ottoman Empire or if it had acquired a defensive, anti-Habsburg edge) or having the support of a great power. The question was which was more likely to ensure Serbia’s territorial growth and domestic and foreign policy stability. Bosnia was the Apple of Discord, since Austria, Serbia, and Croatia all sought to claim it, and Andrássy’s original idea of promising it to Serbia (this offer may or may not have been sincere, as Armour discusses on pp. 121-155) sowed the seeds of discord between Austria, Croatia, and the Serbs of southern Hungary and Serbia. In Armour’s assessment, originally the Hungarians had not intended to use Bosnia to drive a wedge between Austria, Croatia, and Serbia, but had pursued a genuinely “positive” foreign policy in the Balkans (in the service of their aforementioned anti-Russian and in part anti-Austrian aims). Only looking back had they realized the potential uses of this “premature” promise. Of course the idea of giving Bosnia to Serbia also meant that the other parties would turn against Hungary, which is why the plan was later abandoned.
The approach Armour has adopted requires knowledge of several languages, as well as research in a number of different sites given the scattered nature of the sources. Furthermore, since the secondary literature on the subject is marked by a striking one-sidedness, Armour had to show remarkable critical sensitivity and subtlety in his use of the works of other scholars. His knowledge of languages (Hungarian, Serbian, and German) enables him to offer a thorough assessment at the beginning of his book of the secondary literature in these three languages. This in and of itself constitutes a significant strength of his study in comparison with the relatively one-sided works, which are more limited in their use of sources and, hence, their perspectives. Armour’s book is the first work in English in which the Serbian, Austrian, and Hungarian primary sources and secondary literature are given appropriate (and balanced) emphasis. (The bibliography itself is twenty pages long.) In addition, he also discussed his ideas in person with other scholars on the subject (for instance Imre Ress).
The only weakness of his book lies precisely in its comprehensiveness and the array of perspectives it adopts. While the manner in which he presents contrasting stances in the historiography and identifies contradictions which arise from the one-sidedness of the existing secondary literature, Armour’s own argumentation is not persuasive precisely because of this multiplicity of perspectives. It is often complex and circuitous, or it rests on assumptions (for instance, the contentions he makes concerning the hypothetical goal of Andrássy’s agreements concerning Bosnia in 1867/68, pp.19–55, 121–55). At the same time, the structure of the book is logical, balanced, and proportional. The individual chapters address clearly identified diplomatic problems, and consequently the shifts in foreign policy are similarly clear and accessible to analysis. The emphasis on the events of 1870–1871 is also understandable, since the great power constellation (the Franco–Prussian War) and the maneuverings of the small states and their search for allies are all presented, along with the situation of the Bosniaks (pp.155–259). Armour could have devoted a few more pages to the events of 1875–1878to discuss the ideas and aspirations of the Russians, the British, and the Austro–Hungarians (pp.259–83). Fundamentally, the reader gets the very clear impression that the foreign policy of the Hungarians was based not on any ideological principles, but rather on opportunistic attempts to further the interests of the moment. On the other hand, the appointment of Andrássy as Minister of Foreign Affairs constituted a sharp shift: the political visions and ideas which had been vying for prominence within the Monarchy gave way to a single, general bearing (perhaps a bit paradoxically, this general bearing later changed dramatically in comparison with the original logic, and several elements of Beust’s vision for the Balkans were adopted).
This book was clearly written for specialists, i.e. scholars of the diplomatic history of the Balkans. It will be particularly edifying for representatives of the arguably narrowly focused, (romantic) nationalist historiography of the region, which always seems to be struggling to compensate a bit for the perceived marginality of the region and its states.
Whose Bosnia? Nationalism and Political Imagination in the Balkans, 1840–1914. By Edin Hajdarpašić. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2015. 271 pp.
Edin Hajdarpašić’s book is about nineteenth-century nation-building, a critical phenomenon both in European and Bosnian history. Through rigorous study of a plethora of archival records and primary sources (including newspapers and works of literature and art), it examines the emergence of the narratives that were critical to nation-building processes and the rise of nationalist movements primarily in Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia, countries or regions whose political intellectual elites aimed to influence the loyalties of the peoples of Bosnia and, in doing so, gain control over its territory.
The author provides a clear theoretical framework for his study, drawing for instance on the work of Miroslav Hroch and Eugen Weber, who stress the roles of elites as well as masses, armies, schools, and administration in the transformation of ordinary people into members of a nation. He extends this theory to the mobilization of youth, the importance of money, the demonization of the “other,” violence and killings in the promotion of national awareness and pride and, eventually, liberalization (pp.109–111, 129–134, 141–153).
Hajdarpašić devotes the first part of his book to the awakening of Serb and Croat identity and the notion of Serb and Croat unity in order to free the region from the Ottoman yoke. He presents various actors (students, academics, politicians, and teachers), who began to gain prominence in the 1830s. His focus is Vuk Karadžić, an acknowledged Serb philologist for whom language, poetry and folklore were of utmost importance. Karadžić drew attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he claimed that the purest version of the language was spoken, a version that, in his view, should be used as the linguistic standard (p.23). While collecting folk tales from peasants, Karadžić gradually entered the political sphere, as he wrote about liberation from Ottoman oppression, joined the uprising, and published epics depicting the fight against the Turks as a political duty of Serb patriots. Still, the term “Turk” did not refer exclusively to the Ottomans. It was used as a term for all Muslims. Karadžić considered Bosnian Muslims as originally Serbs, because they spoke “his” language and not Turkish. He regarded them as people who would have to be converted “back” to the Orthodox Christian faith: “in due time, we will be joined by our brothers of the Turkish faith, our brothers by kin and by language—across Bosnia and Herzegovina—then we will be united like the Germans of the Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist denominations” (p.33). Thus, Bosnia and Herzegovina gradually became the center of the greater-Serbia ideology and the heartland of the community of Southern Slavs, which would later be named Yugoslavia. The Serb national movement was linked to the Illyrian movement, as Croats named it, which became known among intellectual circles even outside the borders of the region. In the second chapter, Hajdarpašić discusses a wide range of activists and writers who contributed to the proliferation of nationalist projects, marked by images of suffering, awakening, and liberation. Throughout the book, he examines stereotypes about Islam, Muslims, and Turks, as well as the living conditions of Ottoman subjects. These images of violence, oppression, agony, darkness, evil, impoverishment, and slavery had a political significance “from diplomacy to poetry, from newspaper offices to painting exhibitions—that had a lasting transnational resonance” (p.55). Furthermore, as Hajdarpašić shows, these sources link Christians and Christianity to liberty, light, and morality (p.57). Serb and Croat nation-buildings were founded on these premises (pp.55-89), and I would add that this remains true of the self-images and national narratives of these two countries and cultures today. However, Hajdarpašić fails to stress that the Serb and Croat nation-states were not simply the result of discontent within the Ottoman and later Austro-Hungarian Empires. They were also products of the general post-Enlightenment Spring of Nations all over Europe.
When Bosnia was handed over to Austria-Hungary in 1878, “new interpretations tried to soften the tone of the earlier literature.” Bosnian Muslims were treated as “rediscovered brothers,” a shift that was influenced by the fact that Austria-Hungary had a rather friendly policy towards the indigenous Bosnian Muslims on the one hand, while the Serbs needed the Muslims to expel the Habsburgs from Bosnia on the other (p.80). Hajdarpašić examines this in detail in chapter three.
Neighboring Serbia provided strong support for efforts to build a nation and a state through subversive activities in Bosnia, such as the Young Bosnia organization, of which Gavrilo Princip, who later shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was a member (p.108). In the fourth chapter, Hajdarpašić examines the importance of a passionate, politically conscious, and educated youth to the attainment of nationalist goals. The fifth and last part of the book presents the narrative as it found expression in various newspapers in Bosnia, and Hajdarpašić analyzes the roles of these articles in fostering patriotic sentiments, language, and identity.
On the one hand, Hajdarpašić offers a thorough study of an impressive array of primary sources, and this makes the book a valuable piece of scholarship. On the other, he fails to consult (or at least fails to refer to) other relevant Bosnian authors, such as Safvet-beg Bašagić and Hamdija Kreševljaković, whose works would have given an additional perspective and complemented his narrative. Furthermore, the role of the Bosnian language and Bosniak identity is insufficiently elaborated in the Bosnian context. Hajdarpašić uses the term “Serbo-Croat” to refer to the common language of Bosnia. Interestingly, the Bosnian Franciscan Ivan Franjo Jukić, whom Hajdarpašić cites extensively, claims that Bosnia preserved its local Bosnian language (“bosanski”), despite the strong influence of Ottoman Turkish (Zemljopis i povijestnica Bosne, , p.16). However, due to imported and growing Serbo-Croat nationalism, the Bosnian language gradually disappeared. Hajdarpašić shows that Bosniak (Bošnjak) at one point was an all-inclusive name for all of the inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion. As the Ottoman millet system tended to identify its subjects on the basis of religious categories, Bosniak identity was not that relevant. Serb nationalists like Dositej Obradović and Ilija Garašanin, whose significance Hajdarpašić addresses from several perspectives, wrote about Catholic and Orthodox Bosniaks. However, as Hajdarpašić observes, in the time of the Serb and Croat nation-building movements, school teachers in particular were brought to Bosnia to teach future generations that they were not Orthodox or Catholic, but rather Serbs and Croats, respectively (p.111). Hence, the term Bosniak remained as a designation for the Bosnian Muslim population, for whom Islamic identity was more important than national identity. This made them seem like potential allies to all sides, as the author states: “both Habsburg officials and Serbian-Croatian nationalists came to perceive Bosnian Muslims as a pivotal political group whose yet-to-be-determined national allegiances could make or break their respective projects. Because Muslims appeared as (br)others in these competing national visions, struggles over their ambiguous patriotic potential were especially loaded in Bosnian politics” (p.178).
In the end, an answer to the question asked in the title, “whose Bosnia?” is given at the very beginning of the book: “It is important to remember that Serbian and Croatian movements were inseparably intertwined projects that developed shared repertoires, aims and practices, especially as they concerned Bosnia-Herzegovina. Leading South Slavic figures frequently depicted Bosnia as a space of Serbo-Croatian national convergence … at the same time, however, rival nationalist claims explicitly opposed each other, claiming Bosnia exclusively for one or the other side” (p.10).
This book introduces new perspectives to our understanding of nationalism in Bosnia, which was, as Hajdarpašić persuasively argues, imported from neighboring countries. Given the wealth of primary sources on which Hajdarpašić draws, his inquiry goes into an amazing level of detail and offers an immense range of information. It will be particularly useful to students and scholars of history, political science, cultural anthropology, sociology, and linguistics.
Nationalizing Empires: Edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller. (Historical Studies in Eastern Europe and Eurasia) Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2015. vi+691 pp.
Did nations follow on the ruins of empires? When Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire came out in 1987, the answer seemed clear. Empire meant the culmination of capitalism’s global expansion, the apogee of European bourgeois liberalism, which acted out its conflicts and contradictions on the periphery before these conflicts and contradictions plunged the European continent into the extremes of two world wars. Even beyond this Marxist line of interpretation, the notion of empire, applied to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, implied colonies and their exploitation, to the extent that ambitious nation states such as Germany, itself an empire in name, felt the need to acquire distant colonies so as to underpin its self-proclaimed global status. Nationalism, on the contrary, was the most powerful challenge to empires, and in the long run it was victorious, at least from a late twentieth century perspective. The volume edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller, two eminent scholars of Germany’s and Russia’s modern history, sets out to challenge this dichotomy. It is not the first book to do so, but the scope of its argument is unprecedented. It is based on a number of insightful case studies, predictable ones on the British, French, Spanish, German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Empires, as well as surprising ones on Denmark and Venice. This mere list indicates that the conventional dichotomy of sea and land empires is also being quickly dissolved, with inspiring results.
The main argument of the book can be summed up as follows: in all of the cases under discussion, nation resonated with empire. The two corresponded with each other and were far from mutually exclusive. The imperial context shaped the formation of the core nation (or two core nations in the case of the Habsburg Monarchy) and gave them a lasting imprint. In many of the cases under consideration, the distinction itself between the core nation and its imperial territories cannot easily be drawn. Colonies differed from peripheral provinces only insofar as racial hierarchies were more distinctive in the former, and access to citizenship was graded—with massive consequences for the form of administration and the use of violence, one is tempted to add. All of the chapters focus on political imagination, the discourses of empire and nationalism, and the loyalties they inspired. Some of them equally focus on institutions and governance, and the mere fact that others do not follow suit raises the question whether, in a comparative perspective, this might be more than a matter of the predilections of the individual authors. The summarizing comments by Alfred J. Rieber on the role of the military and Jörn Leonhard on the crises of empire point in this direction, as does the concluding comment by Dominic Lieven.
Neil Evans spells out the agenda of the volume with regards to the British case. The British Empire, he argues, had a crucial impact on the integration of the British state, which had been formed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707. Had it not been for the common imperial enterprise, common experiences of identity and otherness, common imperial issues (such as the army or the debates on slavery), it would have been even more difficult to accommodate the distinctive regional consciousness of Scotland and Wales, let alone Ireland. Even the debates on women’s suffrage were affected by the imperial framework. Michael Broers discusses the imperial dimensions of Napoleonic rule in Europe, which provided a strong model of government for its successors. After 1830, nation and empire came close to merging in France, as Robert Aldrich argues, and Aldrich identifies “parallel dynamisms” (p.144) in the colonization and provincialization of the colonies, which were turned into outposts of Frenchness. Xosé-Manuel Núñez follows a similar line of argument in the Spanish case. He demonstrates that, in the nineteenth century, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were very much provinces of the liberal Spanish state, though excluded from the benefits of a liberal constitution (p.221). As was the case in Britain, governing an empire provided a strong incentive to mold the regions at home into one. Once the overseas possessions were lost, regionalism at home reemerged, with Catalan nationalism being a case in point.
Stefan Berger argues in a similar vein that German nation-building after 1871 was very much shaped by the common framework of colonialist discourse and even more so by imagining Eastern Europe as Germany’s colonial frontier. Intellectual and military elites intertwined notions of Heimat, nation, and empire, while the colonial imagination permeated school textbooks, science, and navalist dreams. The imperial imagination in many ways defined the national core. Yet Berger is careful not to overstretch the argument: mass domestic migration and overseas emigration to North America rather than to real or imagined colonies show that economic issues were more relevant to the integration of the new German nation.
Alexei Miller’s chapter on Russia makes it clear that the Romanov Empire was far from being an obstacle in the path of emerging Russian nationalism, as has often been argued. On the contrary, nationalist discourse was very much defined by the notion of an ongoing struggle on the Western periphery between Russianness and Polishness, and later in the nineteenth century by notions of a civilizing mission towards the East. Only the collapse of the Russian Empire, the loss of Poland and the unexpected establishment of a Byelorussian and a Ukrainian Soviet Republic deprived Russian nationalism of one of its major impulses. One wonders whether this argument, convincing as it might be for the 1920s, still holds in the light of current developments in the Ukraine and their Russian repercussions (and vice versa).
Andrea Komlosy interprets the dualist setup of the Habsburg Monarchy as two parallel attempts at Austrian and Hungarian nation-building, one being political and federalist, the other ethnic and centralist, and both ultimately doomed to failure. This might not be entirely novel, but it adds substantially to the overall picture. The chapter would have been even more convincing had it been based on more than comprehensive handbook syntheses and a rather selective use of path-breaking monographs that have reshaped our understanding of the Monarchy over the course of the last two decades. There is no mention of the works by Gary Cohen, Pieter Judson or Jeremy King, to name but a few. Everything Komlosy has to say on Hungary is based on László Kontler’s synthesis and Robert Nemes’ equally insightful monograph on Budapest. A thorough discussion of Daniel Unowsky’s work might have highlighted the lasting cohesive power of monarchical representation until the death of Francis Joseph. Finally, the omission of R. J. W. Evans’ seminal works on the making of the Early Modern Habsburg Monarchy results in a surprising failure on Komlosy’s part to consider baroque Catholicism and its legacy as a distinct and integrating cultural foundation for Austria-Hungary.
In a way, Komlosy’s argument concerning the multinational character of Austrian nation-building is linked to Howard Eissenstat’s chapter on the Ottoman Empire. Eissenstat sets out to demonstrate that Ottomanism, Islamism, and Turkism should not be seen as a successive series of distinct attempts to reform the Ottoman Empire. Ottomanism was rather a pragmatic set of shifting reformist ideas which turned more Muslim with the loss of the Balkan provinces. Empire and nation can be seen in the Turkish case as an ideational continuum, where the imperial idea was continually narrowed down to its national elements.
David Laven and Elsa Damien unfold the Venetian expansionist legacy to reveal Italian nationalism and, subsequently, Italian fascism. Thus, they add another facet to the amazing variety of ways in which empire was inscribed into national discourse. Uffe Østergård follows a different path in his chapter on the forgotten history of the multiethnic Danish state, which ruled large parts of the northern Atlantic before it lost Norway in 1818. With this loss, the previous balance of nations collapsed, and Enlightenment reform discourse spilled over into Danish–German national conflict. Aside from offering an inspiringly novel interpretation of Danish history, this chapter raises substantial questions concerning the entire volume. If Denmark is included, why not Sweden, about which, as Østergård argues, a very similar story could be told? Why not the Netherlands, Belgium or Portugal, one might add? Do not all European states in one way or another have an imperial history? What would the US-American experience add to the picture? Østergård quickly concedes that empire might be a misleading concept and that, in the case of Denmark, one should speak rather of a composite state.
This remark presents a substantial challenge to the entire volume. Empire, as depicted throughout all of the chapters, might indeed well be seen as a specific, or maybe even not so specific version of the Early Modern composite state that had been common throughout Europe for centuries, transferred by some onto a global scale. Seen in this way, empires, as much as nations, were legitimate heirs to the Early Modern state, its accumulation of power, and its changing aspirations for legitimacy. They were defined not so much by their multiethnic nature and even less by colonial possessions, but by their composite nature. Or, as Jean-Frédéric Schaub puts it at the end of his insightful comment, “[a]re we sure we can analytically distinguish national kingdoms from multinational empires?” (p.571). Anyone seeking an answer to questions of this sort will find a wealth of material in this significant volume.
Joachim von Puttkamer
Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon [The consequences of World War I in Hungary]. Edited by Béla Tomka. Budapest: Országgyűlés Hivatala, 2015. 344 pp.
The centenary of the outbreak of World War I has come and gone. In the United States, for historical reasons, interest in the event remained confined to professional historians and WWI enthusiasts. In Europe, where World War I cost more lives and left deeper wounds, the reading public and political elites remained preoccupied with the question of the origins of and responsibility for the conflict. Although the Dual Monarchy was a party to the outbreak of World War I and Hungary suffered some of the heaviest losses during the conflict, the question of the origins of the war and the military events is met with relatively limited interest in Hungary today. As one of the authors in the volume reviewed here, József Takáts, rightly notes, World War I has become history in Hungary; the civil war that followed it between 1918 and 1921, on the other hand, represents a past that refuses to be forgotten.
The book reviewed here, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon, edited by Béla Tomka, includes fourteen highly readable essays and bears testimony to the uninterrupted professional and public interest in the Hungarian civil war. The first essay, “World War I as a Historical Boundary,” by Béla Tomka examines the place of World War I in history. More specifically, Tomka questions the degree to which the military conflict can be considered a historical turning point. Tomka identifies the rapid increase in violence (in both qualitative and quantitative terms), mass mobilization, the birth of propaganda, the introduction of censorship, and technological inventions (such as poison gas, tanks and airplanes) as the most immediate consequences of the war. The war, he believes, marked the end of colonial expansion, increased state invention in the economy, destroyed the global market, undermined the stability of the global financial system, and paved the way to the rise of democracy and the welfare state. The impact of World War I, Tomka argues, could be felt even in the second half of the twentieth century: the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the proponents of forced assimilation after 1950 learned their trade from the criminals of World War I. In his related essay, “The World’s Great Catastrophe or Europe’s Tragedy,” János Gyurgyák highlights several paradoxes in the history of the conflict. The war, he argues, was meant to solve existing problems; yet in the end, it not only failed to address old concerns but also created new ones. Gyurgyák considers World War I primarily as a European conflict and tragedy rather than a world event and catastrophe; after all, the greatest loser of the war, he argues, was not “the world,” but the nations of Europe, with 1918 marking the end of European domination in world politics and commerce.
József Takáts’s contribution, “Diverging Uses of Language: Political Discourse in Hungary after World War I,” sheds new light on the changes in political language in the last phase and the immediate aftermath of the military conflict. Takáts identifies the major motifs of this new language as: the widespread use of military expressions, metaphors, and narratives; increasing appeals to hate, revenge, and the annihilation of the enemy, both domestic and foreign; more frequent appeals to religious sentiments and increased use of religious metaphors; and the spread of racist language and the popularity of biological images. These shifts, according to Takáts, were direct consequences of and responses to the war and the Treaty of Trianon. They were accompanied by the rise of a “political entrepreneurial class” and a new right-wing intellectual elite, which was also in part a consequence of the treaty. With the collapse of the multiethnic Hungary, the relatively open concept of the nation increasingly gave way to the more restrictive idea of the race. After 1919, the socialist Left was on the retreat, both politically and culturally. But the greatest problem was, according to Takáts, the weakening of the political middle. In the interwar period, words like democracy, human rights, individual freedom, moderation, and tolerance lost their appeal to the majority of the population. Gergely Bödők’s essay, “Political Violence after World War I: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Hungary and Central Europe” looks more closely at the rise of paramilitary movements and politics after 1918. The author attributes the rapid rise in political violence after the Great War in Europe primarily to the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the atrocities committed in the name of the new regime and its ideology. Yet, the counterrevolution was well underway before the establishment of the Communist regime in Hungary; the number of attacks on Jews also reached a new height in the summer and fall of 1918, months before the Communist takeover. The pogroms, armed robberies, and political executions, in my opinion, had more to do with the “retreat of the state” and scapegoating than with revenge or reaction to Communist crimes. As Bödők rightly shows, the agents of the Hungarian Red Terror, the Lenin Boys and the members of the Csernyi Detachment, were rough soldiers and working-class thugs motivated by anarchist ideas, greed, love of adventure, and sadism. Their White counterparts, the members of the officers’ companies, on the other hand, were moved by revenge, the officers’ sense of superiority over the civilian population, and antisemitism. Bödők’s article, moreover, emphasizes that the number of people executed for their participation in anti-Communist resistance was around 400, not 600, as previously believed, and Bödők also argues that fewer than 2 000 people fell victim to the White Terror in 1919 and 1920 (not 3 000 or 5 000, as many contemporaries and later historians have contended).
Ignác Romsics’s essay, “The Great Powers and the Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy,” sheds light on the changing strategies and plans of the Entente powers and the United States during the war, dispelling several myths about the origins of the Treaty of Trianon. Romsics argues that the most determined enemy of Austria-Hungary, the power which sought its dismemberment from the start before 1917, was Russia, and had the Russian Empire ended up on the side of the victors, Hungary not only would have suffered the same or even heavier territorial losses, it would have ended up as a satellite state of its giant eastern neighbor. France, contrary to popular belief, did not seek to destroy the Monarchy and dismember Hungary from the start, but preferred a federalist solution. Britain and the United States occupied an intermediate position between France and Russia. The key events that changed the strategy of the Western powers were the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, and the economic and strategic cooperative agreements signed between the Dual Monarchy and Imperial Germany after the latter. Romsics persuasively argues that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk also opened the way first to Polish unification and, a few months later, to the creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The die was cast: the fate of the Monarchy, and within it Hungary, was sealed before the end of the war.
László Szarka’s essay “National Development, Minority Politics in the Multi-Ethnic States of Central Europe: The First Years of the Versailles System” puts the Hungarian tragedy in a regional and continental context to show that the treaties with Austria and Hungary had nothing to do with the lofty principles and values championed by the Western powers. The victors forbade the holding of referendums in contested provinces, and they rejected the idea of autonomy. The losers and the winners, of course, viewed the peace treaty very differently. Hungarians perceived Trianon as a criminal injustice and a form of punishment. The interwar Hungarian regimes wanted to annul rather than revise the treaty; blinded to reality, they continued to question the right of the neighboring states to exist. The Czech, Slovak, Yugoslav and Romanian elites, on the other hand, perceived the peace treaty with Hungary as a product of organic developments, a fulfillment of old aspirations, historical justice, and a guarantor of international recognition and respect.
Gábor Gyáni’s essay examines commemoration and mourning after four years of bloodshed. Gyáni argues that death also underwent a process of nationalization and democratization after the war. For the first time in history, monuments were built to memorialize and honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers, rather than military officers and political leaders. Gyáni questions earlier claims to the effect that the statues erected and monuments built to commemorate the war were overly political and served only irredentist goals. Built by a nation which lost the war, most such monuments served to ease the pain of private mourners. At the same time, they reminded viewers of past glories, expressed bitterness over recent events, demanded respect and justice for Hungary, and expressed the will of a defeated political community to survive and recover its former place in the company of civilized nations.
Further essays in the volume explore a variety of themes. Ferenc Pollmann’s chapter entitled “The Change in War-Making during World War I: Military Technology, Strategy and Propaganda” looks at the transformation of warfare between 1914 and 1918. Ferenc Erős’ essay, entitled “The War and Revolutions: A Socio-psychological Approach to Trauma and Violence,” discusses the fate of traumatized war veterans in Europe and Austria-Hungary and the professional debate over their treatment. György Szücs’s “‘The Great War’ and the ‘New Art’: the World War and its Consequences” examines the short-term impacts of the military conflict on art. Ágnes Pogány’s “The Long Shadow of the Great War: The Economic Consequences of World War I” investigates the economic causes of the military defeat and the short and long-term impact of the Great War on the European and world economy. Dezső Csejtei’s chapter, “The Word War as Civilization Phenomenon in the Works of Oswald Spengler and Thomas Mann,” examines the relevance of the works of these two authors to contemporary political debates. John Lukacs’s brief brooding essay entitled “The Hungarian Catastrophe: World War I” describes the Great War, its aftermath, and the Treaty of Trianon as the greatest tragedy in Hungarian history, the main consequences of which look to be irreversible. Zsombor Bódy’s chapter, “Demographic Developments, Lifestyle, and the Changes in the Position of Women in Hungary after World War I,” on the other hand, considers demographic developments and social trends in Hungary in the interwar period and reveals ways in which the Great War did not mark a radical break in the history of the country.
Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon is a rich collection, which reflects the current state of research on World War I and its aftermath and covers a wide range of topics, including issues of political, economic, social, and cultural history. The essays are the result of a successful collaborative effort among three generations of historians; it is also a multidisciplinary work, overstepping traditional boundaries of academic interest and specialization. Authored by experts, the essays are written in a style which makes the work accessible to a wide readership. While offering a representative sample of Hungarian scholarship on the war and its aftermath, the contributions also engage and debate with international scholarship in the field and raise important issues about the war that are relevant on the national and regional level. At the same time, as a whole, the volume suffers from a number of weaknesses, including the omission of an editor’s introduction. As a result, the chief purpose of the work is never made explicitly clear. No framework is provided that would tie the essays together, and no attempt is made to cross-reference themes among the contributions. There is, moreover, no consistency in formatting: individual chapters are of significantly different lengths, and the formatting of citations differs quite markedly. The majority of the essays summarize recent research based on secondary sources; four of them, however, are based on primary research. The title of the book refers to the consequences of the war in Hungary, yet several papers do not deal with events in Hungary at all, but consider the war from a general European perspective or discuss universal trends. As a whole, the secondary research is excellent; yet the majority of the works cited are in English and German. With one major exception, the essays do not make use of the secondary literature from the neighboring states of Hungary or from Russia or Italy. Even so, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon not only remains a useful addition to the scholarly literature, but is in fact ideally suited as a textbook for university courses and as a general reference book.
A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán: Történelem és emlékezet [The Holocaust in Hungary seventy years later: History and memory]. Edited by Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács. Budapest: Múlt és Jövő, 2015. 288 pp.
Hungarian scholarship on political history has a long record of evaluating historical processes or phenomena rather than describing and analyzing them. Most of the studies in the book A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán successfully break with this tradition.1 Even the studies dealing with peculiar chapters in the political history of the (Hungarian) Holocaust manage to avoid the aforementioned fruitless tradition of historical “evaluation.” This represents a remarkable achievement by the authors and editors, since the book was written, edited, and published at a time when one of the most politically heated discussions in Hungary’s history is underway on the country’s place, role, and even its very historical existence following the German occupation in 1944. In recent years, the Hungarian government has devoted significant energies and resources to the creation of all kinds of spectacular institutionalized means of commemoration, but these assertive gestures notwithstanding, the government’s memory politics has not fostered the emergence of a common memory (or communal memories) of the Holocaust. The incoherence of this policy is addressed by contributors to the book who deal with the topic of historical memory (András Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham).
The book contains materials from two conferences, one that was held in Budapest at the Central European University and one that was held in Washington DC, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the most devastating deportations of the Hungarian Holocaust. Such anniversaries are traditional occasions for commemorations and also for attempts to summarize contemporary trends and the findings of recent research, as well as attempts to arrive at new approaches to the topic. The book edited by András Kovács provides both, even if the scope is far from comprehensive. Despite the international context of the publication, the studies and the book focus very much on Hungary. The authors and the editor do not seem to have made an attempt to put the Hungarian Holocaust into a transnational context. The volume amounts to a purely Hungarian cross-section of Hungarian Holocaust studies. In other words, authors like Götz Aly, Tony Kushner, and other, Israeli, Slovak, and Romanian historians are ignored. In the introduction, the editor offers—perhaps not entirely intentionally—a defense of this nation-centered approach by stating that the volume is merely the latest in a serial of anniversary-related volumes which have been published on the topic in each of the last four decades.
The volume consists of four parts. Each part has a rather simple title: History; The Road to the Holocaust; The Holocaust in Hungary; Memory. The first part contains only one study, an article written by (co-)editor András Kovács entitled “Hungarian Intentionalism: New Trends in the Historiography of the Hungarian Holocaust.” Kovács’s overview does not quite fit alongside the other twelve studies in the volume, and not simply because he draws on the work of Aly. Although his study does not aim consciously to challenge contemporary Hungarian realities, along with the article at the end of the volume by Randolph Braham, the Nestor of Hungarian Holocaust studies, it gives an up-to-date context to the whole volume. In his historiographical overview, Kovács covers Götz Aly, Krisztián Ungváry, Christian Gerlach, and László Karsai, just to name the most important authors on the topic who were not included in the present volume. Kovács aims to analyze the exact context of Hungarian Holocaust studies and the studies in the book as well. The rather mainstream text of Kovács describes the post-modern context of the phenomenon called the Hungarian Holocaust without pursuing a critical, post-Marxian agenda.
But this is only a first impression. The studies by Mária M. Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham all prove how challenging a hypocritical state policy can be. Even the usually rather cautious Ignác Romsics, a leading political historian in Hungary, reflects on the current memory politics in his text on certain aspects of the Hungarian Holocaust’s prehistory, more specifically, official Hungarian anti-Semitism. In his essay, entitled “István Bethlen’s anti-Semitism and the Jewish Policy of the Horthy Era,” Romsics does not dispute Bethlen’s anti-Semitism. Romsics’s article makes clear, if perhaps unintentionally, that Bethlen was a committed anti-Semite taken by surprise by the events of 1944.
Mária M. Kovács’s study “The Numerus Clausus and the Jewish Laws” on the one hand refutes the deterministic interpretation of the Hungarian Holocaust, but on the other, in its description of the pre-history of the catastrophe, it underlines the Horthy regime’s innate anti-Semitism. Kovács situates the research she has done over the course of a decade concerning the pre-history of the Hungarian Holocaust in an international context. She offers examples from American history to prove that anti-Semitism was not a peripheral phenomenon between 1918 and 1941 in the United States either, and thus it was not a peculiarity of the East-Central European political systems in the interwar period.
Claudia K. Farkas offers an overview of the Jewish responses to the anti-Jewish legislation of the late 1930s, basically recycling arguments from the monograph she published in 2010. The interesting and in many ways valuable addenda she presents, however, are not necessarily representative of Hungarian Jewry, her claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Farkas’ notion of “the Jewry,” which essentially consists of the potential targets of the anti-Jewish politics of the Hungarian and German Nazis in 1944, appears too monochromatic in the years under scrutiny. This study clearly illustrates the difficulties of retrospectively employing concepts like “Jewry” to discuss the years before 1944.
The last essay in the section “The Road to the Holocaust” was written by Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, reputable experts on the Hungarian Holocaust. Their contribution, entitled “A Long Century: Anti-Semitic Violence in Hungary, 1848-1956,” touches upon a rather popular historiographical topic. While rehearsing exclusory violence as an insightful explanation for various embodiments of the anti-Jewish violence in Hungary, Kádár and Vági write on a kind of tradition that supposedly characterized each and every system and the fall of each and every system in modern Hungarian history. At the same time, they point to certain localities, for example Pozsony/Bratislava, Salgótarján, Kiskunfélegyháza, and Miskolc, where this tradition, in their assessment, was even more profound than elsewhere. While Vági and Kádár seem to have adopted the idea of exclusory violence from György Kövér’s epic Tiszaeszlár monograph, they themselves do not draw distinctions between the various forms of anti-Jewish violence (for instance, “cravaill,” pogrom, Hetze) in their long century. They arrive at the conclusion that each and every change of systems was followed, practically inevitably, by waves of anti-Semitic violence. For the authors, the 1956 “cravaills” thus seem to matter as much as the organized horrors of the post-Commune white terror in 1919.
The next section of the volume is entitled The Holocaust in Hungary. The first and longest study in this section is by László Csősz. It deals with the origins and international contexts of the labor service. In my view, Csősz’s article is the most problematic text in the volume. Though Csősz draws on a respectable set of primary and secondary sources, he mixes up voluntary and punitive labor services in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Germany. According to Csősz, labor service, whether voluntary or exclusionary (punitive), was not a unique institution. In his narrative, the labor service in Hungary turned into a tool of the Holocaust because of a change in the “foreign political climate.” Csősz is correct to state that the chances of survival in the spring and summer of 1944 were better for the Hungarian Jewish males in the units of the Hungarian labor service than for other Hungarian Jews, and he is also correct in his contention that some of the labor service corps cannot be labeled “moving scaffolds.” However, whether or not a given corps became a “moving scaffold” was not a matter of a change in the foreign political climate. Rather, it was a matter of what the editor of the volume would call intention. Though he places the Hungarian labor service in an international (Central and East European) context and draws on recent international research, Csősz also uncritically recycles familiar topoi in Hungarian political history. For example, he draws a causal connection between the overrepresentation of people who were born to Jewish parents in the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 and the fact that Jews were considered unreliable after the fall of the Commune. Anti-Semitic restrictions and the propaganda concerning ties between the Jewry and Bolshevism were part of the cultural backdrop of the interwar period in other countries in the region in which there was no experience of communism following World War I. The manner in which Csősz underlines and evaluates the importance of interwar Hungary’s foreign policy in its (anti-)Jewish policies very much resembles György Ránki’s pioneering publications on the subject from the late 1960s (analyzed in the volume by Gábor Gyáni). Ránki, himself a Holocaust survivor, looked hard for sources on and explanations of what he also called modern Hungary’s constrained political path. For Ránki and his generation, the question of intention seemed less relevant than it has come to appear in recent years.
Viktor Karády, the leading authority on the social history of the Hungarian Jews, outlines in his essay a rather ambitious attempt at a possible micro-social history of the Holocaust. Karády has chosen the Medical Chamber and a “proto-Nazi” association of medics to illustrate how political and professional feuds and competitions reshaped the social composition of a particular profession. The data he presents convincingly show that the Holocaust in Hungary did not take place outside Hungarian history. Tibor Péter Nagy’s intriguing though short outline entitled “The Sociological Contexts for Survival in Budapest” reaches the same conclusion. Nagy has managed to rehabilitate the class approach to the study of the Holocaust, and he practically (re)introduces it into Hungarian social history.
It is not difficult to discern why Nagy and Karády explicitly regard the Hungarian Holocaust as an integral part of Hungarian history. For those who are not familiar with the contemporary memory political debates in Hungary regarding the official evaluation of 1944/45, the last part of the volume may further an understanding of the context and the importance of their respective studies. There are hardly any modern books on the Holocaust today that do not also deal with memory. The volume under review contains four studies on the subject under the simple title Memory. In a short essay, Gábor Gyáni provides an informative overview of remembrance of the Hungarian Holocaust. He sets aside the outdated conviction according to which the Holocaust remained taboo in Hungary until 1989: although not widely present in the national mainstream, the Holocaust was certainly no taboo in Hungary in the last 40 or 50 years. Unfortunately, Gyáni does not deal with the memory of the Holocaust in the late 1940s. Admittedly, this is not his prime target, and the way in which he reconstructs the literature, historiography, and filmography of the 1970s is convincing enough. Holocaust memory in Hungary in the period between 1945 and 1989 underwent paradigm shifts. Hungary’s record with coming to terms with its recent past right after 1945 was not any worse than the records of other countries of Europe. During the Stalinist dictatorship, the subject really was taboo. Later, it became a confessional subject, i.e. a subject of importance to Jewish Hungarians, but in the late 1960s, at a time when writings by members of the Jewish community were being published with more regularity, the Holocaust gradually ceased to be a topic exclusively in and for the Jewish “confessional ghetto.” Gyáni devotes more attention to his critique of the Hungarian Holocaust historiography of the pre-1989 period than to more recent literature, even though he acknowledges the problems that still exist in the official and national reception of this most tragic epoch of Hungarian history.
In her study entitled “Global and Local Holocaust Memories” Mónika Kovács examines these issues. Her splendid and brave text explains the current volume’s possible relevance in Hungary. Kovács acquaints the reader with the historiographical and political context of recent Hungarian Holocaust studies and the memories of the Holocaust in Hungary. She demonstrates admirable erudition and both professional and moral clarity. While providing the reader with a convincing overview of the context of the book in question from the perspective of the politics of memory, she also places her topic in an international context. Although her text is clear, the picture of the situation is rather confusing, but this is clearly not her fault.
Andrea Pető contributes a rather brief piece on the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation. As the author of a recent book on the people’s courts, she focuses on the memories of the latter in the digital collection of the VHA. Pető overvalues what she calls the psychic truths in history as opposed to “material truths.” She looks at the facial expressions of the victims and raises questions regarding the possible meanings of their glances. But in addition to their glances, the victims arguably left more relevant addenda to the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary. Pető quotes a very important slip: “Stars were pinned on us. Who did it? The arrow-cross people.” As a scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, Pető undoubtedly knows that the yellow stars were not pinned on people by members of the Arrow Cross. But the personal recollection she cites is a representation of a rather general collective memory rooted in a curious accord between survivors and Kádár’s Hungary, a relevant issue that Pető’s study fails to address.
Randolph L. Braham’s text, “Hungary: A Campaign against the Historical Memory of the Holocaust,” supports the conclusions reached by Mónika Kovács. Braham is openly personal and polemical, but his contentions are thoroughly substantiated and largely convincing. The historical memory of the Hungarian Holocaust is practically unimaginable without the lifelong work of Braham, thus his pathos is more than understandable when describing the increasingly barefaced attempts by certain officials to reevaluate the period. This ongoing story is also an important part of the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary, and it is therefore important that Braham has addressed it with such passion.
Braham’s great passions are rather exceptional in the volume, even if some of the other texts also have an impassioned tone. Even 70 years later, the Holocaust is not yet a matter of purely scholarly and analytical, historiographical discourse. It remains a matter of heated discourses that are often prominent in the politics of memory in Hungary. Studies that reflect on these discourses can be regarded as the most relevant. To examine the Hungarian Holocaust as part of Hungarian history is the task of each generation of historians. As this volume shows, the history of the victims cannot be separated from Hungarian history. I can only hope that soon the history of the perpetrators will also be seen as an integral part of Hungarian history and the memory of the Hungarian Holocaust.
Mindszenty József (1892–1975) [József Mindszenty (1892–1975)]. By Margit Balogh. Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, 2015. 1570 pp.
Cardinal and Archbishop of Esztergom József Mindszenty was unquestionably one of the emblematic figures of twentieth-century Hungarian history. His tragic personal fate seemed intricately intertwined with the events of Hungary’s history in the second half of the century. Beginning in the late 1980s, numerous scholarly essays began to be published on the various phases of his life by authors such as Gábor Adriányi, Margit Balogh, András Fejérdy, Jenő Gergely, György Gyarmati, István Mészáros, Ádám Mészáros, Viktor Attila Soós, Csaba Szabó, Árpád Tyekvicska, and Tibor Zinner, though this list is hardly complete. Thus, there is a vast body of secondary literature on his life and work, and the various episodes in his career are also familiar, from his imprisonment by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, his imprisonment by the communist government, the few days of liberty he enjoyed during the 1956 revolution, the years he spent following the suppression of the revolution in the American embassy (in almost complete isolation from the outside world), and finally the period after 1971, when he was allowed to leave Hungary, though he was not allowed to serve in his role as a dignitary of the church.
The monographs and volumes of essays and studies (more than 100 of which have been published) offer a nuanced portrait of Mindszenty, as do the some 225 articles that have been published on his life and work. Nonetheless, a curious reader may still have wanted a comprehensive work that offered a broad panorama but also went into detail and provided new information.
It is quite clearly a far less daunting task merely to commit our expectations to paper than it is to write a 1,572-page, two-volume monograph with 3,742 footnotes. Margit Balogh wrote the most detailed biography of Mindszenty available in Hungarian, a book that was the fruit of 25 years of thorough research. In 2014, Balogh published a 500 page monograph on Mindszenty in German (Margit Balogh, Kardinal József Mindszenty. Ein Leben zwischen kommunistischer Diktatur und Kaltem Krieg ), and in 2015 she published the book under review. In her biography, Balogh remains true to the ars poetica she has given in her introduction: “[I seek] to trace the life of József Mindszenty faithfully, adventurously, yet with thorough documentation, and in doing so to attempt to shed light on his personality, including his doubts and uncertainties” (p.21).
Every chapter of the book deals with an important moment or event in Mindszenty’s life. The chapters seek to interpret Mindszenty’s deeds and also to reconstruct his career on the basis of citations from primary sources, which are found on almost every page. The first chapter deals with Mindszenty’s childhood (his family name was Pehm, and he only took the name Mindszenty in 1942), his family background, and his studies. We learn of his time in the first stop on his journey, Felsőpaty, and then, as of 1917, Zalaegerszeg. In Zalaegerszeg, where he worked as a young instructor of theology, Mindszenty’s interest in potentially pursuing a role in public and even political life began to become clear. In 1919, because of his support for the return to Hungary of the Habsburg King Charles, he came into conflict with the authorities, and indeed he was even put under surveillance by the police. He fled and was arrested and interned. According to Balogh, Mindszenty’s experiences in this period of upheaval (which bore witness first to the Aster Revolution and then to the rise of a short-lived communist dictatorship) “were more than enough to engrave in him a strong antipathy to social democracy and communism, which in is mind were the same thing” (p.59).
The second chapter offers an overview of the years Mindszenty spent in Zalaegerszeg. The chapter is long (more than 250 pages), systematic, and thorough in its presentation of Mindszenty’s work as a parish priest, an organizer of Church life, and someone active in city society. It also addresses his efforts to exert influence in political life in support of the Habsburg king and therefore against the policy of the government, efforts which could be seen as harbingers of his fate after 1945. The third chapter presents the work Mindszenty did during the brief period he spent in Church government as the head of the diocese of Veszprém. Balogh is right to emphasize the importance of the fact that, as the Bishop of Veszprém, Mindszenty spoke out in the interests of the Jewish inhabitants of Hungary at a dangerous time, protesting the seizure of their belongings and properties and the transformation of the country into a theater of war. He was arrested by the Arrow Cross party for his views.
The fourth and fifth chapters, which together come to roughly 400 pages, present the pivotal three years between the end of the war in 1945 and the rise to almost complete power of the communist party in Hungary in 1948. During this time, as the Archbishop of Esztergom and thus the head of the Catholic Church in Hungary, Mindszenty tried to restore the place of the institutions and organizations of the Church, which like much of the country had been left in disarray by the war. He strove to defend the interests of the Catholic Church, the members of the priesthood, and practicing Catholics, and he also labored to sustain and nurture a sense of Christian spirituality in the face of influential tendencies towards secularization and attempts to separate the Church and the state. He often came into conflict with representatives of the state. The fiercest point of contention was the nationalization of the Church schools. Balogh persuasively argues that the real tragedy of Mindszenty’s fate lay in the fact that he simply failed to realize that his struggle to safeguard the interests of the Church and his faith, which was in part a struggle between Rome and Moscow, was doomed to fail, given that it was taking place in a country that had no support from the United States and had fallen into the Soviet sphere of influence. As an archbishop and cardinal, Mindszenty also wanted to be an active figure in public life, as he sought to give expression to his sense of responsibility for the fate of the Hungarian nation. He spoke out against the deportation of German and Hungarian speakers, the changes that were taking place in the form of the Hungarian state, the violation of the rights of the persecuted, and the ways in which the authorities flouted the law. The proclamations he made brought him into conflict time and time again with the communist party (which with the support of the Soviets was gradually seizing power), and they did not go unpunished.
The sixth and seventh chapters of the book examine the various stages of Mindszenty’s persecution by the regime, including his arrest, his sentencing, and his imprisonment. Balogh manages to present new information concerning this period of Mindszenty’s life, on which many others have written. She offers an evocative portrayal of the circumstances in which he lived after his arrest. János Kádár, who at the time served as Minister of Internal Affairs, used him as an example to discourage dissent, warning other bishops that the authorities had files on them as well and that they too might face Mindszenty’s fate if they were unwilling to work together with the regime. The main target of these efforts was Miklós Dudás, the Greek Catholic priest of Hajdúdorog, a city and also diocese in northeastern Hungary. The authorities sought to use Dudás’ ties to people in Carpathian Ruthenia (the region in the western part of Ukraine today) to corroborate accusations of spying against the Soviets and implicate Mindszenty. However, eventually they dropped the idea because they feared that the case against Dudás and Mindszenty might be taken over by the Soviets, who might well use a military court to issue a severe sentence and in doing so might create a martyr out of the cardinal. One of the similarly interesting aspects of the investigation against Mindszenty was that the state security authorities used a number of brutal means in an attempt to crush his will to resist. As Balogh has established with her research, the state did not use psychoactive (consciousness altering) drugs on prisoners (thus they did not use them on Mindszenty) in order to destroy them psychologically. In general, the means they used, for instance beatings, sleep deprivation, and continuous interrogation, were more than enough.
In the eighth chapter, Balogh presents the four days in late October and early November 1956 that Mindszenty spent as a free man. She examines the circumstances surrounding his release and the process of his integration into the political sphere, which had undergone sudden change. In a subchapter, Balogh addresses the famous speech Mindszenty held on Hungarian Radio on November 3, 1956. She includes the entire text of the speech in her book, and notes that the accusations that were made against Mindszenty on the basis of the contents of the speech (for instance, the call for the return of large estates to their former owners) were merely distorted assertions concerning a pivotal moment of history.
The ninth chapter deals with Mindszenty’s 15 years of forced internal exile (i.e. the 15 years he spent in the American embassy in Budapest following the suppression of the revolution). This section contains perhaps the most new information in comparison with Balogh’s 2002 book on Mindszenty. She presents Mindszenty’s life in the American embassy on the basis of research she has undertaken in recent years in numerous archives in the United States. Several collections of source materials with documents relevant to this period in Mindszenty’s life have already been published, but Balogh has provided the first coherent, historical narrative drawing on these sources. In this chapter, which is more than 200 pages, she not only examines the relationship between Mindszenty and the staff of the American embassy and the negotiations that took place between Hungary, the United States, and the Vatican, but also offers a portrait of the aging prelate’s everyday life in his place of forced domicile.
The tenth and last chapter of the book presents the events of the last four years of Mindszenty’s life, which he spent in exile. Balogh devotes a separate subchapter to the circumstances of his resignation and the publication of his memoirs. The monograph concludes with an appendix that is more than 150 pages long containing the primary sources and works of secondary literature on which Balogh has based her narrative, as well as the information concerning the illustrations and a very useful index of names and places.
The summary of the book that I have endeavored to provide here does not quite capture the (I am tempted to say inhuman) scale of the work that Balogh has done over the course of the past 25 years. Naturally, as is the case with any ambitious work of scholarship, one can find shortcomings in her monograph, which is based on materials found in 28 archives in Hungary and 20 archives outside of Hungary. Even if the reader were to fail to notice any of the lacunae, Balogh herself calls attention to at least one in the preface to the book: “today, only two important groups of archives with documents relevant to the Mindszenty case remain for the next generation of historians: the Vatican archives and the KGB archives” (p. 21). There are probably relevant sources in other collections as well, for instance—as Balogh herself notes—the Vienna archive of Franz König, which at the moment is not accessible to researchers. These shortcomings notwithstanding, the book constitutes a valuable complement to the existing secondary literature, rich with new information, and it presents the reader with the complex storehouse of information on József Mindszenty.
In summary, Balogh’s two-volume biography is a persuasive work of serious scholarship that will be of interest to historians, scholars of Church history, and any reader curious to know more about the life of this emblematic figure. It will be indispensable to anyone who wishes to pursue further research on the life and career of József Mindszenty.
Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations of Consent and Dissent. By Tom Junes. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. 328 pp.
Tom Junes has written a thorough and compelling book on students, who have figured as an important and often underestimated collective actor in contemporary Polish history. Whereas the universities and its milieus played important, if far from dominant roles in numerous previous studies on communist Poland, the authors of these studies tended to focus on specific, isolated episodes of the past. The rebellious academic youth has usually been portrayed within a framework of a single generation and treated as part of broader social upheavals. Students’ protests were deemed an intrinsic component of the broader dissident movement and were purported to have had comparable aims, outlooks, and hopes.
Junes’ book is the first attempt to restore subjectivity to students’ politics and to depict subsequent cohorts of academic youth as independent players on the political scene. The author points to the unique features and significance of students as a social group, starting from the assumption that their youth, combined with their intellectual disposition, made students especially prone to be critical of their environment. He is fully aware, at the same time, that only a minority (a small minority) of the student body was engaged in politics and the activities of the dissident movement, while most of the youths remained largely indifferent or at least passive (apart from during times of crisis). Thus, the book is devoted mostly to the struggles, hopes, and illusions of student elites over the decades of communist rule in Poland.
The notion of generation underpins the narrative of the book. Junes rightly claims that specific mentalities attributable to communities of the same age affected the character of student political activities. Different beliefs, customs, and ideas acquired in the course of processes of socialization translated into different types of defiance (or conformity). “Student movements and student politics are susceptible to change as a result of changing political generations within the student body” (p.xxvi), he argues, discerning various “generational styles” that to some extent functioned as substitutes for ideologies and programs.
Notably, the book highlights the importance of the experiences of former generations for the political choices of students. Every youth rebellion was imbued with and in some cases directly driven by the memories of former upheavals: the protests of the late 1940s mimicked the pre-war political culture at the universities, the revolt of March 1968 drew on the legend of October 1956, and the independent student movement in 1981 in turn invoked the protests of March 1968. Junes uses the term “narrative of consciousness” to characterize what he thinks of as the essential trait of all of these generational cohorts of Polish students: the memory of the consecutive movements, conspiracies, and uprisings.
The book is organized chronologically. Twelve chapters divided into four parts tell the story of the student movement and cover the main episodes of the political history of communist Poland. The reader learns first about the students’ social and political activities in the early post-war period, the youth response to Stalinist terror, and the roles universities played in the Thaw and the revolt of October 1956. The second chapter is devoted to the period of so-called “small stabilization,” which abruptly ended in a nation-wide student rebellion in March 1968. Junes shows how the vast activity of academic discussion clubs, both formal and informal, in the 1960s would gradually shape youths’ attitudes and eventually lay the ground for the sudden and vehement outburst of the revolt.
Chapter three shows how the process described above repeated itself in the 1970s. Although the generations which would enroll at the universities after 1968 no longer had faith in socialism or even in the goodwill of the regime, they did not seem prone to any overt defiance either. It was thanks to the network of emerging youth discussion clubs and anti-authoritarian groups that the students’ milieu as a whole proved ready again for political engagement. As a consequence, the birth of Solidarity reverberated at the universities and led to the rise of the Independent Students’ Association, the largest non-regime youth organization since 1956.
In the 1980s, which are discussed in the last part of the book, the pattern determining student political activity changed significantly. Junes argues that after 1981 and the collapse of the first Solidarność, the majority of the Polish youth lost interest in politics. They were neither keen on pursuing careers in official organizations like the Socialist Union of Polish Students, nor on participating in conspiratorial activities. For people in their twenties, politics seemed both boring and false, whether practiced by the ruling communist party or the underground dissident movement. Youth became engaged in a more counter-cultural form of revolt. Their defiance and rage were articulated against the hypocrisies of their parents’ world. This chapter provides readers with a detailed description of Polish punk music bands, as well as the fledgling anarchist Movement for an Alternative Society. The students’ approach to the Roundtable negotiations of 1989 between the party and the underground Solidarity was influenced and even dictated by this distrust. The youth was rather wary of the ongoing political process and did not sympathize overtly with the Wałęsa team. Their reluctance and belated endorsement of Solidarity was in sharp contrast with the sheer enthusiasm showed by previous generations in 1956, 1968, or 1980.
Although the narrative of the book focuses on political processes, Junes shows sensitivity to the broader social context, nuances, and mechanisms underpinning student politics as well. The latter is perhaps the most valuable dimension of the book. The monograph provides readers with what is probably the most in-depth and accurate portrait of the Stalinist generation, focusing on those who came of age and were socialized in the early 1950s, when terror and indoctrination reached their peak. Junes calls it “the great leap forward generation,” alluding to the rapid construction of the socialist state. He rightly points out that the student milieu under high Stalinism was far from unified. Rather, it was composed of several mutually-related generational units. The fervent adherents of the system—communist true believers who wore red ties and were commonly viewed as the very personification of the period—constituted a visible and vocal minority among students, but a minority nonetheless.
Junes discerns that cohorts commencing university education between 1949 and 1956 were quite specific in terms of their social composition. Many young people from educated families and youths who had taken profoundly anticommunist stances did not even try to enroll in the universities, since they were aware that the admission process was determined by political considerations. On the other hand, those who were admitted came from groups and social strata, mostly peasants and workers, whose sons and daughters until then had remained outside of the higher education system. Junes observes that, “[t]hey adhered to a class of social advancement, profiting from the opportunities of upward social mobility provided by the regime. This nurtured a far-going inclination based on self-interest to slavishly conform and participate in the formalized rituals of the Stalinist regime. Joining the ZMP [Union of Polish Youth – the only official youth organization, overtly bent on indoctrination] was not an act of political conviction, for these youths it was a given, a normality that otherwise had dire consequences for their future. This conformist attitude, in turn, promoted an egalitarian outlook on life which was enhanced by the grim uniformity of the Stalinist reality” (p.31). Consequently, most of the youths socialized during the Stalinist period were exposed to a kind of schizophrenia. They did not internalize the ideas that they publicly endorsed, and privately they kept to their parents’ values and choices. This very split in the way in which they perceived the world not only determined the face of their milieu but also profoundly affected the social and political history of Poland. After all, this was the very generation whose representatives soon constituted the main bulk of the Communist elite.
Junes does not hesitate to offer grand interpretations, which doubtlessly enhance not only the scope but also the value of the book. However, some of his observations seem a bit oversimplified and unconvincing. He clearly sympathizes with Polish historians who claim that the 1968 revolt was a common uprising of students and workers. It was youthful age rather than the specific milieu, Junes maintains, which can be seen as a common denominator of the revolt. Young workers in some natural way sympathized with students, as both groups “[had] been socialized in the same reality” (p.113). I could not disagree more. I would venture the hypothesis that the worlds of students and the worlds of workers remained wholly apart: they had different hopes, dreams, cultural competences and, last but not least, widely different models of leisure activities. The history of the March revolt is to a great extent the history of great disappointment. Despite the nagging expectations and reiterated invitations, no factory joined the student strikes. Young workers may have rioted in the streets, but as a group they did not get involved in any form of organized protest. For these reasons, in my assessment it was not until the birth of Solidarity that the vast alliance between workers and the intelligentsia emerged.
Student Politics in Communist Poland remains a well-researched, readable, even snappy book. Junes draws on an abundance of primary sources, including archival documents, memoirs, journals, and interviews (the reader only wishes he had quoted from the latter more generously). The result is a detailed and in many ways brilliant panorama of Polish history, seen from a well-chosen angle: the lens of the experiences of different generations of students.
1 The contents of the volume overlap largely, though not completely, with the recently released English-language one Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács (eds.), The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later (Budapest: CEU Press, 2016).