Gabriella Erdélyi Special Editor of the Thematic Issue
Table of Contents
The Evolution of the Language of the Reformation in Hungary (1522–1526)
AbstractThe spatial framework of this study is the strip of towns lying in the region that used to be known as Upper Hungary (today Slovakia), communities that in the sixteenth century had German speaking minorities. At the time in question, there were numerous events and historical texts in which one can discern the use of a new ecclesiastical language. These sources are given voice with the help of philological methods, for instance intertextual analysis. A letter written by Bartholomeus Francfordinus Pannonius in 1522 constitutes the first example of church language reform in Hungary, though his words exemplify more the linguistic tendencies of Humanism than of the Reformation. A letter written by Mary of Habsburg in 1523 demonstrates the queen’s interest in and understanding of religious reformation, but also her desire to maintain her distance as sovereign. According to the views revealed during the inquest against alleged heretics in Sopron in 1524, traditional Franciscan criticism of the Church had intermingled with ideas deriving from Lutheran thought. At the time of the mining town revolt (1525), miners used (for instance) Saint Paul’s apostolic greeting (Romans 1:7) as a sign of difference and usually included them in the introductory section of letters to their comrades. As the sources make evident, the apostolic greeting served as a form of identification within the Evangelical Movement. These textual analyses illustrate the significant impact of the Reformation in Hungary in the period before the Battle of Mohács (1526).
Lay Agency in Religious Change: the Role of Communities and Landlords in Reform and Reformation
AbstractIn this essay I seek to illuminate “from below” the process of growing lay agency in matters of religion within the frame of a case study. Although the expansion of lay control over church affairs is usually considered an urban phenomenon, I focus on the Hungarian countryside, on how peasants living in villages and towns under feudal authority participated in late medieval reform and sixteenth-century reformations. I contend that the late medieval observant reform of the mendicant friary of the market-town of Körmend was initiated by laymen, and the process of reform itself took place primarily in the interplay of the social and religious needs of the community and landlord. In order to assess on a more general level the role of lay participation in church affairs, I test my findings against village parish religion. I investigate negotiations between peasant communities and landlords over issues related to the election of the local parish incumbent, as well his livelihood and the maintenance of the parish church. I conclude that the high level of lay participation and investments in matters of local religion made it possible for Luther to speak about communal rights and transform locally diverse practices into a universal Christian norm.
Holbein’s “Dead Christ” in Basel and the Radical Reformation
AbstractMy intention in this essay is to examine Hans Holbein’s painting Dead Christ (1521–1522) from a new point of view. Earlier interpretations of the painting which approached it from various perspectives, ranging from late medieval piety and the Renaissance to the Reformation and early modern “modernism,” have proven unsatisfying. I suggest, as an immediate context for the interpretation of the message of the painting, the so-called “Radical Reformation,” the views of which were closely linked to the notions of Erasmus advocating the spiritual reformation of humankind. I argue that both Erasmus and his portrait painter Holbein belonged to the same intellectual group and the painter sought to emphasize the real death and true Resurrection of Christ as a human being. By doing so with great artistic force, he got close to the central message of the radical Reformation, namely the denial of the divinity of Christ and the recognition of his human nature. Consequently, Dead Christ also captures the central tenets of the spiritualism of the Radical Reformation.
Tolerant Country – Misunderstood Laws. Interpreting Sixteenth-Century Transylvanian Legislation Concerning Religion
AbstractIn this essay, I offer a new interpretation of the religious laws that were passed in Transylvania between 1568 and 1571. I conclude that the interpretations that have been ventured so far in the secondary literature have failed to provide a concrete analysis of the relationships between different confessions, either because of national prejudice or because of general ignorance of prevailing conditions at the time. As a consequence, a view has gained acceptance in several comprehensive works according to which, by recognizing the four confessions in Transylvania, lawmakers sought to ensure the survival of the newly emerged principality. I offer a thorough study of the texts of the laws in support of my contention that this is not the case. The laws include no specific list of the four confessions. The first such list dates from 1595, the year after which the laws make mention of the Orthodox religion of the Romanian speaking population as a tolerated religion. As my analysis clearly demonstrates, up until the end of the century the most important goal of the laws was the continuous assertion of the Protestant identity of the Principality, and paradoxically this did not even change in 1571, when the Roman Catholic István Báthory came to the Transylvanian throne. Until the middle of the 1570s this Protestant identity was essentially undivided due to the unparalleled slowness (in comparison with the rest of Europe) of the spread of confessionalism. It is worth noting that until the early 1570s the prince and those closest to him saw the restoration of Protestant unity in Europe as the mission of Transylvanian Protestantism, and this meant attempting to spread Protestantism among the Orthodox communities of the country. At the same time, the estates in Transylvania, a principality that saw itself as fundamentally Protestant, sought to ensure the preservation of conditions necessary for the survival of the religious lives of the dwindling number of Catholics.
“The women do not want to go to church.” Church Discipline and the Control of the Public Practice of Religion in the Calvinist Diocese of Küküllő in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
AbstractThe Calvinist model of Church discipline introduced a considerably more intensive and elaborate system of enforcing moral rules and controlling social behavior than the one that had formerly prevailed. Its religious, cultural, and social role and the regional variants have remained subjects of debate to this day. In this essay, I examine a form of this institutional system that is unique from many perspectives, using as my sources the seventeenth and eighteenth-century visitation records and diocesan court documents from the Hungarian Reform Diocese of Küküllő (the name of which is taken from Küküllő River, in Romanian the Târnava River). In the first half of the essay I offer an overview of the peculiarities of the Transylvanian church organisation and the institutional system of church discipline, addressing in particular the question of the extent to which these institutions differed from or resembled Western European models. In the second half of the essay I survey the guiding role of the Church and the relationship between norms and actual practice as seen through the study of efforts to supervise and enforce religious conformity. By analyzing seventeenth and eighteenth- century documents pertaining to the control and sanction of participation in public Church rituals, I seek to provide a nuanced image of the religious practices of the era and further an understanding of how Church surveillance was asserted in the everyday lives of members of local communities.
Narrative Literature and the Reformation: Focal Points of an Interdisciplinary Discussion of the Scholarship
AbstractThe roots of the current discussion of the scholarship on narrative literature and the Reformation stretch back into the last third of the twentieth century. This discussion has been ongoing in several disciplines, often working independently of one another and to some extent on different levels of inquiry, and sometimes with only minimal exchange of findings and conclusions. These studies are significant first and foremost because the operative terms themselves denote a field of inquiry in which one can trace processes of the history of science that are not sufficiently understood, processes the further mapping of which can lead to a better understanding of events in literary history and the history of ideas in the early modern era. The goal of my survey here is to examine the conceptual formation of the relevant terms and shed light on their development within the history of science. I also identify some lacunae in the scholarship and formulate several hypotheses. I have concentrated in my inquiry on German speaking areas, with some consideration of the situation in Hungary.
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A zászlós bárány nyomában. A magyar kálvinizmus 17. századi világa [Following the Flag-bearing Lamb. Hungarian Calvinism in the Seventeenth Century]. Speculum Historiae Debreceniense 6.
By Dávid Csorba. Reviewed by Zsombor Tóth
Magánélet a régi Magyarországon [Private Life in Old Hungary]. Magyar történelmi emlékek: Értekezések 2. By Katalin Péter. Reviewed by Gábor Kármán
Identitás és kultúra a török hódoltság korában [Identity and Culture in the Age of Ottoman Rule in Hungary].
Edited by Pál Ács and Júlia Székely. Reviewed by Gábor Kiss Farkas
A művelt arisztokrata: A magyarországi főnemesség olvasmányai a XVI–XVII. században [The Erudite Aristocrat: The Reading Materials of the Hungarian Aristocracy in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries].
By István Monok. Reviewed by András Koltai
Egyház és közösség a kora újkorban: A küküllői református egyházmegye 17–18. századi iratainak tükrében. [Church and Community in the Early Modern Era: the Calvinist Diocese of Küküllő as Reflected in its Records from the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries] Néprajzi Tanulmányok.
By Réka Kiss. Reviewed by Dávid Csorba
Notes on Contributors