Environments of War
Gábor Demeter and András Vadas
Special Editors of the Thematic Issue
József Laszlovszky, Stephen Pow, Beatrix F. Romhányi, László Ferenczi, Zsolt Pinke
Contextualizing the Mongol Invasion, of Hungary in 1241–42: Short- and Long-Term Perspectives 419
AbstractThe Mongol invasion in 1241–42 was a major disruption in the Kingdom of Hungary’s history that brought serious changes to many facets of its political, demographic, and military development. It became a long-lasting element of collective memory that influenced modern historical discourse. Nonetheless, questions remain about the level and distribution of destruction and population loss, the role that environmental factors played in the invasion, the reasons for the Mongol withdrawal, and how this episode can be used for interpreting later thirteenth and fourteenth-century phenomena. The present article aims to discuss these four issues, employing a combined analysis of the wide-ranging textual material and the newer archaeological and settlement data in their regional context. We contend that new data supports the idea that destruction was unevenly distributed and concentrated in the Great Hungarian Plain. Furthermore, we express skepticism that environmental and climatic factors played the decisive role in the Mongol withdrawal in 1242, while we acknowledge the evidence that long-term climate change had substantial effects on Hungary’s settlement patterns and economy as early as the mid-thirteenth century. We conclude that a nuanced multi-causal explanation for the Mongol withdrawal is necessary, taking greater consideration of local resistance and the military failures of the Mongol army than has previously been represented in international literature. Lastly, we uphold a viewpoint that the Mongol invasion brought many catalysts to Hungary’s rapid development in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.
Heike Krause and Christoph Sonnlechner
Landscape and Fortification of Vienna after the Ottoman Siege of 1529 451
AbstractThis contribution focuses on two issues: first, the land- and waterscape of Vienna in light of modernizations to its fortification; second, the challenges faced in fortifying the city during a period now known as the Little Ice Age. The Ottoman siege of Vienna in 1529 showed that new technology in warfare combined with certain topographic features represented a danger to the town. In reaction to the lasting Ottoman threat, Vienna was fortified with bastions, curtain walls, and a broad moat. The fortifications were surrounded by the glacis, which was cleared of buildings. The emperor’s military advisers and Italian fortress architects planned and created an artificial landscape oriented towards military needs. Rivers running through this area, such as the Wienfluss and the Ottakringer Bach, posed strategic problems and had to be dealt with. The Danube floodplain to the northeast of the city was an especially difficult environment to control. Solutions for the waterscape, but also for the hilly terrain in the west had to be found. The city’s Danube front was included in the fortifications. This construction took place during a severe phase of the Little Ice Age when heavy rainfall caused frequent inundation and ice jams. High water, unstable sediments, and the erosion of foundations forced planners and builders to find solutions adapted to this special environment. Highlighting these aspects of environment and war in sixteenth-century Vienna is the aim of the paper.
András Vadas and Péter Szabó
Not Seeing the Forest for the Trees? Ottoman-Hungarian Wars and Forest Resources 477
AbstractThe present paper analyzes the relationship of the Ottoman wars to the loss of forests in the Carpathian Basin. An important thesis of twentieth-century scholarship was that the Ottomans were to be blamed for the crash of the so-called “traditional” landscape of the lowlands of the Carpathian Basin. The paper argues that this view needs serious reconsideration, especially in light of research into two interconnected aspects found in a Hungarian region, Transdanubia, that is the focus of the paper. First, we estimate the amount of woodland before and after the Ottoman occupation. Second, we quantify the role military fortifications may have played in wood consumption (and therefore potentially in deforestation). We focus on the central parts of the Transdanubian region. The counties to be examined in more detail (Vas, Veszprém, and Zala) were among those most significantly impacted by the continuous wars in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This area arguably could be indicative of processes in other lowlands and hilly areas in the Carpathian Basin, though bearing in mind that forest regeneration may have been fundamentally different in the territories of lowlands, hilly areas, and mountain ranges.
Jan Philipp Bothe
How to “Ravage” a Country: Destruction, Conservation, and Assessment of Natural Environments in Early Modern Military Thought 510
AbstractThis article examines the practice of “ravaging” the countryside as a part of Early Modern military thought. It analyses the arguments for destroying or conserving cultivated natural environments and how they were integrated into the emerging theoretical framework on war in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I argue that depriving the enemy of local natural resources by consuming or destroying them was an extreme form of exercising control over an area which was used to exert control over both the supplies for an enemy army and the use of land by the local population. To legitimize this practice, specific arguments were used: destruction was meant to “shorten” a war, and gradually use of this tactic was confined to the home country and defense against enemy invasions. In addition, it was important which resources were targeted: while the destruction of forage and harvests was seen as a form of short-term damage, cutting down trees counted as a form of lasting damage that was undesirable. Some authors of works on military strategy started to argue that devastating the land in the enemy’s country was unpractical, and that (forced) contributions from locals were far more useful. Thus, while authors of works on military strategy did make arguments against “scorched earth” warfare and the “ravaging” of the countryside, they did so purely out of practical considerations which rested on notions of utility, rather than out of any humanitarian considerations.
Peacetime Changes to the Landscape in Eighteenth-Century Transylvania: Attempts to Regulate the Mureş River and to Eliminate Its Meanders in the Josephine Period 541
AbstractThe article focuses on the attempts of Habsburg authorities in eighteenth-century Transylvania to regulate the Mureş River and eliminate its meanders in order to improve salt and timber transport to Hungary and the Banat region. These attempts ultimately led to changes in the landscape of the province by reshaping riverbanks and removing their vegetation. These changes were prompted by the need to change the type of transport vessel as a result of the timber crisis. To this end, specialists from Upper Austria were brought to build the new softwood vessels that were cheaper and corresponded with the characteristics of the Mureş River. The engineer Mathias Fischer was appointed project leader. He also initiated and planned cleaning operations on the river. The article also presents the work methods and machines employed during these operations and discusses the failed operation to eliminate the meander at Ciugud. In addition, the efforts of the Transylvanian Gubernium and Salt Office led to the accelerated development of towns such as Alba Iulia and Topliţa.
Daniel Marc Segesser
“Fighting Where Nature Joins Forces with the Enemy:” Nature, Living Conditions, and their Representation in the War in the Alps 1915–1918 568
AbstractFirst World War propaganda, but also popular movies like Luis Trenker’s Berge in Flammen, for a long time presented the image of the war in alpine territory as a place, where solitary heroes fought a war in a magnificent natural scenery that was so different from the carnage of the western front. Based on recent research that has shown that the latter was not true, the following contribution focuses on the perception and representation of nature and natural phenomena in contemporary publications, diaries, and letters from Austria, Italy, and Switzerland. It analyzes the relationship between soldiers from many countries on the one hand, and nature as well as natural phenomena such as avalanches, fog, or rain on the other. The contribution discusses the reactions of officers and soldiers to nature and the respective natural phenomena and offers new insights on everyday living conditions of officers and soldiers in a landscape with harsh conditions that had never before been a battlefield for such a prolonged period of time.
Was There a Socialist Type of Anthropocene During the Cold War? Science, Economy, and the History of the Poplar Species in Hungary, 1945–1975 594
AbstractThe paper argues that exploring the content and sites of transnational entanglements is a more adequate way to study the relationship between the Cold War and the Great Acceleration phase of Anthropocene than looking at the so-called East vs. West in isolation. By focusing on how scientific ideas, economic concepts, industrial projects, and data production emerged and intertwined in the case of activities related to poplar trees in Hungary, it becomes clear that anthropogenic landscape change during the state socialist period was embedded into the global circulation of ideas about forests, materials and ecology. The paper also points out that forestry is a relevant area of knowledge for studying the reasons behind anthropogenic change leading to the Anthropocene because of continuities it provides across World Wars and regions, and because the profession engages with biological knowledge production, business interests, political demands regarding long-term economic growth, and notions of ecological crisis in its everyday practice.
Full Text (HTML) and Full Text (PDF)
The Habsburg Monarchy 1815–1918. By Steven Beller. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 315 pp. 625
Full Text (HTML) and Full Text (PDF)
Legenda vetus, Acta processus canonizationis et Miracula sanctae Margaritae de Hungaria: The Oldest legend, Acts of canonization process, and miracles of Saint Margaret of Hungary. Edited by Ildikó Csepregi, Gábor Klaniczay, and Bence Péterfi. Translated by Ildikó Csepregi, Clifford Flanigan, and Louis Perraud. Central European Medieval Texts 8. Budapest – New York: Central European University Press, 2018. 633
Mulieres suadentes – Persuasive Women. Female Royal Saints in Medieval East Central Europe and Eastern Europe. By Martin Homza. Translated by Martina Fedorová et al. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, vol. 42. Leiden: Brill, 2017. 260 pp. 636
Late Medieval Papal Legation: Between the Councils and the Reformation. By Antonín Kalous. Viella History, Art and Humanities Collection 3. Rome: Viella, 2017. 255 pp. 639
Water, Towns and People: Polish Lands against a European Background until the Mid-16th Century. By Urszula Sowina. Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2016. 529 pp. 642
L’Europe des Lumières/Europa der Aufklärung. Oeuvres choisies de Éva H. Balázs/ Ausgewählte Schriften von Éva H. Balázs. Edited by Lilla Krász and Tibor Frank. Budapest: Académie Hongroise des Sciences – Corvina, 2015. 424 pp. 645
Russia and Courtly Europe: Ritual and Diplomatic Culture, 1648–1725. By Jan Hennings. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016. 297 pp. 648
Die literarische Zensur in Österreich von 1751 bis 1848. By Norbert Bachleitner, with contributions by Daniel Syrovy, Petr Píša, and Michael Wögerbauer. Literaturgeschichte in Studien und Quellen, Bd. 28.
Vienna, Cologne, and Weimar: Böhlau Verlag, 2017. 528 pp. 651
Das global vernetzte Dorf: Eine Migrationsgeschichte. By Matthias Kaltenbrunner. Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 2017. 598 pp. 654
“Europa ist zu eng geworden:” Kolonialpropaganda in Österreich-Ungarn 1885 bis 1918. By Simon Loidl. Vienna: Promedia, 2017. 232 pp. 657
Der Poststalinismus: Ideologie und Utopie einer Epoche. By Pavel Kolář. Cologne: Böhlau, 2016. 370 pp. 660
The Invisible Shining: The Cult of Mátyás Rákosi in Stalinist Hungary, 1945–1956. By Balázs Apor. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2017. 415 pp. 663
Hungarian Women’s Activism in the Wake of the First World War: From Rights to Revanche. By Judith Szapor. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2018. 224 pp. 666
Notes on Contributors