2017_1_Book Review

pdfVolume 6 Issue 1 CONTENTS


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

István Kádas

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

László Szabolcs Gulyás

University of Nyíregyháza


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


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

Eduard Mühle

University of Münster


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Péter Galambosi

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tamás Fedeles

University of Pécs


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Levente Seláf

Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catherine Szanto

École Normale Supérieure d’Architecture de Paris-La Villette


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tibor Martí

Hungarian Academy of Sciences


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Kożuchowski

Polish Academy of Sciences


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Borbála Zsuzsanna Török

University of Konstanz


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isa Blumi

Stockholm University


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adam Mestyan

Duke University


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


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

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

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

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

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

Uğur Ümit Üngör

Utrecht University


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ferenc Laczó

Maastricht University


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tamás Révész

University of Vienna


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aliaksandr Piahanau

Toulouse University


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Laurien Crump

Utrecht University


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bogdan C. Iacob

Hungarian Academy of Sciences



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