pdfVolume 6 Issue 4 CONTENTS


Genocide in the Carpathians: War, Social Breakdown, and Mass Violence, 1914–1945. By Raz Segal. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016. 211 pp.

Most of the characters of this drama were poor Ruthenians and Jews who survived through hard labor in remote villages isolated in the thick forests on the slopes of the mountains in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, a northeastern boundary region of the old Kingdom of Hungary at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Life against this backdrop may not have been idyllic, but there was a practice of peaceful coexistence in which ethnic, religious, and cultural diversity was viewed as natural and in which the lives of Jews and non-Jews were connected by a thousand threads in their everyday struggles. This is the picture Raz Segal draws at the beginning of his narrative, which is then followed by an account of how this world fell to pieces as it was caught in the maelstrom of global wars, changes of regime, and ethnic persecution and mass violence perpetrated as part of drives for nation and state building.

The threadwork of the social fabric of Subcarpathian Ruthenia began to unravel after World War I, when the region was transferred from Hungary to the new state of Czechoslovakia, the nationalizing policies of which (along with the national ideologies which were largely exported to the region) caused the local ethnic communities to feel for the first time that their collective interests were inherently in conflict. Carpathian Ruthenians and Jews, finally alienated from each other in the tempest of the new border changes and the next (the coming) world war, were faced simultaneously, but not side by side, with the oppressive measures and acts of the new Hungarian rulers, who launched an ethnic reengineering of the region in order to (re)integrate it as part of an ethno-national “Greater Hungary.” By the time the storm of war had subsided, the material and social world of the region lay in ruins. The greatest losses were suffered by the Jewish community, who were, first, in 1941, victims of mass massacres near the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi. Three years later, in the spring of 1944, following the German occupation of Hungary, nearly all of the surviving members of this Jewish community were deported to death camps and murdered.

What distinguishes Segal’s narrative from more traditional accounts of the Holocaust in Hungary is that he does not focus mostly or exclusively on the destruction of the Subcarpathian Jewry. Instead, he presents an integrated analysis of the multilayered ethnic discrimination and persecution that culminated during the period in which this region was under Hungary’s rule. To this end, he follows recent trends in Holocaust scholarship that shift the focus from German genocidal plans and practices to the Nazi-allied countries’ endeavors to build their own ethno-national states in accordance with and in the broader context of German ambitions. These policies were often most pronounced in the multiethnic wartime borderlands of these countries, where they formed a complex system of violence against all ethnic groups which were seen as obstacles to the creation of a society structured according to a strict ethnic hierarchy and were ultimately meant to be shaped into parts of an ethnically homogeneous state.

Though the body of secondary literature that deals, in one way or another, with the history of the multiethnic border regions that were a bone of contention between Hungary and its neighboring states is vast and rich, in Hungarian historiography, and especially in Hungarian(-related) Holocaust literature, the integrated approach used by Segal has few predecessors; from this viewpoint, Genocide in the Carpathians is clearly a pioneering work. Segal’s general effort to delineate the initiatives taken by the Hungarian state in the ethnic persecution and genocide against peoples living in its extended wartime territory is also praiseworthy. However, one of his foremost goals is based on a serious misperception. I am thinking of his effort to urge historians to rethink what he perceives as the established narrative about the Holocaust in Hungary, which, he claims, portrays the country as a mere collaborator in German genocidal politics. According to Segal, “Scholarship on the Holocaust in Hungary (…) ascribes mass violence in Hungary mostly to German influence and, after March 1944, German policies, while portraying pre-1944 mass atrocities as anomalies to a general atmosphere that provided Jews with safety, even as they faced stigmatization and a whole host of restrictions and discriminatory measures” (p.15).

It is a sad fact that the recognition of Hungary’s responsibility has been a neuralgic point in public discourses on the events of the Holocaust, and since the current right-wing Hungarian government’s official memory policy promotes a nationalistic and apologetic interpretation of the past, the problem has become even more acute in recent years. It is similarly disturbing that some figures in Hungarian public life who claim to be historians have aimed to reinforce these kinds of interpretations and omissions. This viewpoint, however, is simply not shared by established researchers on the Holocaust in Hungary, and it is indeed difficult to understand how Segal came to this conclusion, unless the explanation lies in his clearly limited use of the secondary literature in Hungarian or his misreading of works by Hungarian scholars, like László Karsai, Zoltán Vági, Gábor Kádár, and László Csősz, whose writings have been published in international languages.

In connection with the above, Segal’s other main goal is to integrate the extreme policies adopted against Jews and other ethnic minorities in Subcarpathian Rus and Hungary’s other multiethnic wartime borderlands into the whole of Hungary’s anti-Jewish policies and, more generally, the country’s ethnopolitics. While such an effort could yield seminal results, Segal’s overall narrative leaves one with the impression that he has not studied these issues in a comprehensive manner. Rather, he has examined them through the magnifying glass of events in Subcarpathian Rus; he effectively suggests that the mass atrocities which were committed in the border regions were generally and inherently characteristic of the nature of Hungary’s anti-Jewish policies as such. This interpretation leads to a conclusion which is as misleading as the portrayal of these extreme acts as anomalies that were somehow alien to Hungary’s general anti-Jewish policies.

Hungary’s Jewish (ethno-)policies were a complex and dynamic system of ideas and acts shaped by various and often conflicting domestic and foreign political, social, and economic interests, expectations, and goals. An examination of these policies cannot neglect the fact that they were by no means straightforward or evenly unfolding processes: they were pursued by different governments under changing circumstances. These policies were further influenced by the choices made by decision-makers and executors at various levels of administration and by the interplay between central decisions and local and regional initiatives. It is clear that the extreme atrocities committed in the border regions were integral elements of Hungary’s anti-Jewish policies, yet it is also clear that overall these kinds of measures were not dominant throughout Hungary before the spring of 1944 and, from the spring of 1942 until the spring of 1944 (i.e. under the administration of Miklós Kállay), they were atypical even in the border regions. No serious scholar claims that Hungary was a “safe haven” for Jews before the country’s occupation by Germany, but it is similarly indisputable that the situation was more stable for the majority of Jews in Hungary prior to 1944 than it was for Jews in many other places in Nazi-ruled Europe. Many of the Jewish inhabitants of the (re-)occupied territories believed that mass atrocities would not be committed by the Hungarian state: their tragic experiences soon showed just how mistaken they were. Still, in general, Jews in Trianon Hungary could with some justification continue to feel safer long into the war years. If Genocide in the Carpathians had more thoroughly exposed the structural and other factors that help explain this, it would have brought us much closer to an understanding of the mechanism of the Holocaust in Hungary.

The most remarkable parts of the book include those in which Segal analyzes the changes in ethnic relations between Carpathian Ruthenians and Jews. Disturbances arose first between the two World Wars in what until then had been a generally conflict-free coexistence. Over the course of the interwar years, ever more Carpathian Ruthenians began to strive for the development of a national-ethnic communal identity, while Jews also faced new dilemmas. Many Carpathian Ruthenians, who were developing a Ukranophile orientation and were increasingly frustrated by Prague’s refusal to grant the region the autonomy which had been promised, observed with a sense of betrayal that Jews seemed to switch loyalties from their Carpathian Ruthenian neighbors to the new Czechoslovak state. For many, Jews came to be seen as agents of the state’s “Czech-ification” efforts, who thus helped thwart the collective aspirations of the Carpathian Ruthenians. During the short existence of an independent Carpathian Ukraine between October 1938 and March 1939, Carpathian Ruthenians committed anti-Semitic atrocities. This was one of the key reasons why many Jews greeted the entry of the Hungarian Army into the region as the harbinger of their salvation (they were clinging, as it quickly turned out, to false hopes) and why they remained passive witnesses to the violence committed against Carpathian Ruthenians by the Hungarian troops. Although the Carpatho-Ruthenians in Subcarpathian Rus were themselves victims of discrimination, their limited agency was not the only, perhaps not even the main reason that the majority of them – although they shared a rather similar fate to the Jews – were unwilling to express solidarity or to cooperate with the latter against Hungarian oppression. Segal argues that it was rather anti-Jewish resentment growing out of the specific conjunctures of the two ethnic groups’ shared past during, first and foremost, the Czechoslovak era that eventually made most Carpathian Ruthenians choose to avert their gaze and prompted some of them to express malice towards Jews and even a willingness to collaborate when their Jewish neighbors faced the violence of the Hungarian state (esp. pp.45–50, 84–85, 104–08).

With these analyses, Segal contributes to a growing body of scholarship which urges us to look beyond the literal meaning of the word “bystanders” and its misleading implication of lack of engagement and action when trying to understand behaviors and motives of people who were neither victims nor perpetrators of mass violence. Instead, as Segal points out, only a close examination of the circumstances, contexts, and collective histories of the people involved furthers a nuanced understanding of why they acted in the ways they did, including in situations in which failing to act can and should be interpreted as an active choice (see also: pp.9–13).

Segal poses a similar challenge to the concept of anti-Semitism. As he observes, this catch-all term tends to obscure rather than illuminate why people turned against their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust (and at other times in history), especially because it is so commonly associated with hatred. Instead of accepting “anti-Semitism,” a term which tends to imply an abstract and timeless emotional-ideological position, as an explanation, Segal suggests the examination of specific motivations, attitudes, and patterns of behavior, including or even especially those in which hatred does not play a central role. Applying methodologies and findings from the study of emotions, he concludes that the term “resentment” is more fitting as a characterization of the sentiments of Carpathian Ruthenians towards Jews, a resentment which arose primarily as a response to the failure of the attempts of Carpathian Ruthenians to gain autonomy and the real or perceived roles played by Jews in this.

Segal’s suggestion may add to our understanding of the phenomenon, but it is not entirely convincing. He is undoubtedly right to point out that the concept of anti-Semitism should be applied to concrete social phenomena and processes in a nuanced way if we wish to grasp their true nature and the actual motivations behind them. Many scholars fail to do this, even if the simple and direct association of the term with hatred is perhaps not as widespread in historical scholarship as Segal suggests. While the term “bystanders” bears the connotations of passivity and indifference and thus ought to be used with reservations, the term anti-Semitism appears more neutral and does not come with clear-cut explanations of its meaning(s), much less its causes: thus, it may allow less simplistic scholarly elaborations. If we use “anti-Semitism” as a summary and descriptive term which covers various expressions of anti-Jewish sentiment and practice (emotions, attitudes, acts, and policies) and we do not use it as if it were self-explanatory, then we might arrive at a more multi-dimensional and multi-layered understanding of its nature than if we simply reject the term altogether, not least of all since in the scholarly debates, the term “anti-Semitism” is more widely known, used, and recognized.

I would also add that Segal ends up using the term “resentment” in much the same way in which he claims others use “anti-Semitism”: that is, as a general concept to explain motivations for effectively all sorts of anti-Jewish social practices and acts. In the end, we may get a more accurate portrayal of the dominant emotional-attitudinal position in the Carpatho-Ruthenian community, but all other presumably existing positions remain hidden.

Segal also fails to make a similar effort to clarify the attitudes of ethnic Hungarians towards Jews. Ironically, he seems largely satisfied to characterize these attitudes with the term “anti-Semitism” or even simply hatred. Does he really believe that the anti-Jewish sentiments of ethnic Hungarians, in contrast to those of Carpathian Ruthenians, were driven simply or primarily by hatred? If so, what are the historical-political-social reasons for this difference?

Presumably, however, he has neglected the whole issue. Indeed, one of the most unfortunate deficiencies of the book is that it fails to provide an analysis of social relations between ethnic Hungarians (or for that matter Czechs, or any ethnic group other than Carpathian Ruthenians) and Jews in Subcarpathian Rus.

The very limited amount of secondary literature on the role of “bystanders” in the Hungarian Holocaust has dealt almost exclusively with ethnic Hungarians, and so Segal’s study of Carpathian Ruthenians as “bystanders” is of unquestionable value. However, the reason he gives for limiting his inquiry to relations between Jews and Carpathian Ruthenians (that is, because they were the only two ethnic groups present throughout the region and that many settlements were inhabited solely by them) is problematic (p.137). In Hungarian-occupied Subcarpathian Rus, ethnic Hungarians constituted around 10 percent of the population, though in some larger towns their proportions were around 25-30 percent. Independently of their sheer numbers though, Hungarians composed the politically dominant ethnic group, and they enjoyed a privileged status as the main beneficiary of the state’s “re-Magyarizing” efforts and the associated discriminatory practices and policies against Jews, Carpathian Ruthenians and others. Thus, ethnic Hungarians could take the most advantage of the oppression of ethnic minorities, but also had the greatest ability to help the persecuted in some way. Moreover, Segal explains the attitudes of Carpathian Ruthenians towards Jews with reference to developments in interwar Czechoslovakia, but he ignores the fact that the communal history of Subcarpathia’s Hungarians as members of an ethnic minority in interwar Czechoslovakia could also have exerted a decisive influence on their social relations with Jews. These circumstances surely produced regionally-specific “bystander” attitudes and actions among ethnic Hungarians, which would merit further study. One of the author’s primary aims was allegedly to study the region in its multi-ethnic and multi-cultural entirety. He has failed, however, to do this and so the picture he drew of it remained two-dimensional.

In contrast, one of the book’s strengths lies in the sections focusing on the experiences and reactions of Subcarpathian Jews facing discrimination and violence (esp. pp.81–85, and 98–100). However, it would have been nice to have found a more systematic analysis here too, that goes beyond the Jewish participation in the small-scale communist resistance (p.84) and presents the various coping, survival, and resistance strategies adopted by Jews. Regardless of how “successful” these strategies were or how much opportunity there was to pursue them, a more detailed description of them would have provided a way to see the victims in a less passive position. Apart from this, Segal introduces his general conclusion in a convincing manner, and here his local examples are in harmony with phenomena described in the broader secondary literature: his finding is that most of the Jewish community was unable to grasp the reality of mass murder, deportations, and death camps, despite the warnings they had been given and the information they had received. Most of them were overwhelmed and paralyzed by the persecution and violence they had experienced, which resulted in internal and external crises, a denial of incomprehensible realities, and a tendency to grasp for false hopes instead of taking action. Additionally, active resistance and self-rescue could not become widespread, because most Jews who faced deportation belonged to the more vulnerable strata (women, children, and the elderly), since most of the men had been pressed into forced military labor. In the generally indifferent or even hostile social environment surrounding them, an environment which included both ethnic Hungarians and Carpathian Ruthenians, very few of them could have counted on effective help in any case. Chances to escape or hide were drastically reduced in the spring of 1944, when, with the advance of the Red Army, the Jews of Subcarpathian Rus were rushed into ghettos and deported before all the other Jewish communities in Hungary (pp.81–85, 98–101).

Last but not least, while Segal briefly deals with the issues of the theft and redistribution of Jewish property before and after the German occupation (pp.67–70, 96–98), he generally downplays the significance of the economic aspects of ethnic discrimination and persecution. In these policies, the interrelationships between economic, socio-political, and ethno-national factors composed such a coherent system that neglect of any of these factors, or emphasis on one of them at the expense of others, can only lead to misunderstanding. For example, Segal claims that the confiscation of Jewish lands “probably affected most Jews in the region in a rather minor way. The significance of this anti-Jewish legislation, however, lay in the political, not the economic, realm: like the change of street names, it attempted to realign space according to ethnonational criteria” (pp.69–70). The second part of this statement is indisputable. But it is not clear, in a country in which the issue of land distribution was one of the most acute problems, how the economic and social significance of such measures could be secondary, or how such a policy could have had only minor effects on the Jews of a region in which their percentage in agriculture was uniquely high. Segal dispenses with the issue of Carpathian Ruthenians as beneficiaries and profiteers of the theft of Jewish belongings with the simple claim that since Hungarian authorities did not intend to provide Carpathian Ruthenians with property seized from Jews, the Carpathian Ruthenians did not substantially benefit from the plunder of their Jewish neighbors (pp.109, 187–88). The fact that Carpathian Ruthenians did not get more or did not get much, however, does not mean they did not try to do so. As the earlier secondary literature shows (esp. by Kinga Frojimovics), non-Jews in Subcarpathian Rus, regardless of ethnicity, tried to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the Hungarian state; in certain places, most of the people who made requests for “Jewish land” were not ethnic Hungarians, but rather Carpathian Ruthenians.

Notwithstanding its occasional shortcomings and controversial claims, Raz Segal’s concise study offers an innovative and insightful summary of international, state-level, and regional policies, as well as some of the social interactions and ethnic conflicts in the history of the Subcarpathian region in the first half of the twentieth century. The book’s integrated analysis, which puts anti-Jewish persecution and genocide into their broader contexts of nation and state-building, ethnic re-engineering, and multilayered violence, will hopefully serve as inspiration for similar research efforts in Hungary and beyond.


Linda Margittai

University of Szeged

pdfVolume 5 Issue 2 CONTENTS


Zsigmond király Sienában [King Sigismund in Siena]. By Péter E. Kovács. Budapest: Corvina Kiadó, 2014. 308 pp.


With his 2008 book Hétköznapi élet Mátyás király korában [Everyday life in the time of King Mátyás], Péter E. Kovács won himself the title of the “new Antal Szerb,” a moniker on which he is clearly playing a bit in the book under review. This play is a two-sided coin. Szerb’s style, which was aimed at an audience of lay readers (I am thinking perhaps first and foremost of his A világirodalom története [The history of world literature], [1941]), was indeed more accessible to wide readership than most traditional scholarly literary histories. However, it did not win the admiration of most of the scholarly community precisely because of the subjectivity of Szerb’s assessments and the many humorous but misleading pronouncements, such as his whimsical remark, “Klió nem kilóra mér,” which might be translated into English as “Clio does not measure by the kilo.” Furthermore, E. Kovács also seems to aspire to don Szerb’s laurels as a belle-lettrist, an ambition palpable both in his style and his literary allusions, as I explain below.

The book examines the 288 days that King Sigismund of Luxemburg spent in Siena between July 1432 and April 1433. E. Kovács draws on a wide, almost unparalleled array of source materials and offers daring theories, and he always keeps historical authenticity (credibility) in the foreground, taking care to name his sources specifically and precisely. His sources include chronicles, such as the Chronicle of Eberhard Windecke (the so-called Bern chronicle) and the chronicle of Enguerrand de Monstrelet. Given the absence of archival resources, E. Kovács uses works of literature, such as the romance by Eneas Silvius Piccolomini (the letter Pope Pius II) and the poems of Antonio Beccadelli. At the same time, E. Kovács keeps repeating that his work is impossible, nonsensical (see, for instance, p.46) and that archival research of a historian is frequently as fictive as any novel. Perhaps the most striking example is when E. Kovács cites the opening speech given at a 2014 book fair by contemporary Hungarian novelist Gyögy Spiró (p.159).

The book consists of ten chapters which diverge considerably both in their length and worth. They do have at least one thing in common. Namely, they all present new information concerning the history of the mentality, culture, and literature of the time and place under discussion. The chapters contain a wealth of information concerning the details of Sigismund’s trip to Rome, though they do not always draw on the newest secondary literature (for instance some of the works of Ágnes Máté), which is surprising simply because E. Kovács emphasizes his sincere interest in the subject (p.13, 17–28). Just to cite two examples, one might think of the publication by A. Sottili of text from the account given by Johannes Roth (Pirckheimer Jahrbuch 15/16 [2000]) or A. T. Hack’s publication of text from a writing by an anonymous author on the participants in the journey (Zeitschrift für deutsches Altertum und deutsche Literatur Beiheft 7 [2007]). The best parts of the texts are the passages in which E. Kovács immerses himself in the era. His descriptions become very evocative and he does not digress or mention less pertinent associations, for instance in his description of the reception in Siena (pp.26–27, 58–60) or his presentation of the various accommodations (pp.63–72). It is certainly worth noting that the array of appendices (which meet high scholarly standards) is impressive and praiseworthy. It would also have been useful to have a proper index in order to make the work more easily accessible, though perhaps this would have made it too long.

Following a description of the arrival, the reader is given a glimpse into everyday life in Siena. How much did things cost? Who slept where, and on what? What did they eat? How did they pass the time? What did an average day consist of for a king? How much did the revels in Siena cost? E. Kovács offers answers to these and other questions. The book is indeed a micro-historical endeavor, and it includes shorter histories, for instance on Miklós Várdai or on Sigismund’s love life. Indeed, the latter is a recurring motif, and the longest chapter, the title of which is revealing (“Fruit-picking, Sailing, Horseback Riding”), is devoted to this topic. The question of love comes up not only with regards to Sigismund’s fidelity, but also in connection with the most famous love affair of this period. I am thinking of the main characters, Euryalus and Lucretia, of the Piccolomini’s famous 1444 romance, The Tale of Two Lovers. The epistolary novel is interesting to a Hungarian readership in part because one of Lucretia’s suitors is Hungarian. The romance was translated into Hungarian relatively early on by Pataki Névtelen (Anonymous Pataki). It continues to hold the attention of literary historians today, who wonder if perhaps it was translated by Hungarian poet Bálint Balassi. E. Kovács does not reach any conclusion with regards to this question, but he does try to identify the historical figures on whom the characters may have been based, drawing on documents that had not previously been used and also works of secondary literature, though not the most recent works of secondary literature (pp.150–51). Certainly literary historians will find a great many things of interest in this book, for which one can only be grateful. The other topic which comes up regularly is the financial circumstances of the various people in Siena, the conflicts that were caused by financial concerns, and the ways in which these conflicts were addressed. The reader learns, for example, that since the soldiers received only modest wages, they were not able to go to brothels often enough. The locals, however, nonetheless watched the successful courtships of the foreigners with envy. E. Kovács contends that the successes of the Hungarian soldiers with Italian women were repaid in the 1960s and 1970s, when Italian tourists in Hungary enjoyed great popularity among Hungarian women. E. Kovács often seems to be projecting phenomena from our era onto earlier eras, which perhaps gives a lay reader a perspective from which to interpret the events, but it is hardly an approach to be adopted by a serious historian, and indeed it is often a bit irritating. Just to mention a few examples, I do not think E. Kovács’s contention that we should regard the trumpeter of Sigismund’s day as the Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong of his era (p.112) helps the reader better understand the place and profession of the medieval trumpeter, must as I do not think E. Kovács’s mention of Victoria Beckham as a modern, apparently archetypal example helps the reader better understand the popularity of athletic and wealthy men among women (p.145). These examples, which are intended to serve as illustrative parallels, do little more than distract the reader. They also set an expiration date for E. Kovács’s narrative. What will the example of Victoria Beckham mean to a reader in 2050? Clearly very little. E. Kovács’s effort to compensate for the somewhat dry nature of the topic with humorous remarks and parallels is perhaps understandable, but in my view he uses this approach with mixed success. Certainly his primary role model was the aforementioned Hungarian novelist and literary historian Antal Szerb (p.6, 36, 85, 138). Szerb’s novel Utas és holdvilág (translated into English by Len Rix as Journey by Moonlight, [1937]) is set in Siena. The sentence “Cor tibi magis Siena pandit,” which is an inscription on the Porta Camollia in Siena, is also cited by Szerb. E. Kovács paraphrases it and uses this paraphrase as the title of a chapter: “Bursam tuam magis Sigismundus pandit.” This play on words is clever and pertinent, and it illustrates quite clearly how closely E. Kovács has focused on text in his (re)use of models. The switch (the substitution of financial concerns for matters of the heart) is just one example of the playful jibes that make the book a lively read. For the most part, E. Kovács identifies the figures on whose work he draws (Hungarian novelist and poet Dezső Kosztolányi or Hungarian novelist Géza Ottlik, for instance), but sometimes the reader is left to figure this out for him or herself.

It is worth saying a few words about the appearance of the book as well. It contains strikingly beautiful illustrations which are closely tied to its contents. Unfortunately, it also contains numerous typos and editing and typesetting flaws, which are distracting at best, for instance “Jannus” instead of “Janus” (p.119). The name Euryalus is spelled correctly once or twice, and there are numerous typesetting mistakes and mistakes with word hyphenation at the end of a line (see for instance pp.167–68). These mistakes clearly reflect poorly on the editor and the publisher, not the author.

In summary, the book’s very striking exterior immediately captures the reader’s interest, as does the title. Fundamentally, it fulfills one’s expectations, if one can avoid asking the question, “who was this book written for.” It is exciting and offers many new insights, presented in a distinctive and at times amusing style.

Emőke Rita Szilágyi

Imprinting Identities: Illustrated Latin-Language Histories of St. Stephen’s Kingdom (1488–1700). By Karolina Anna Mroziewicz. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2015. 314 pp.


As a researcher at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Karolina Anna Mroziewicz has studied the roles played by illustrated printed books in identity building processes in the Hungarian Kingdom. In the book under review, she examines the ways in which these works contributed to the emergence of an image repertoire that continues to exert an influence on the shape of Hungarian society today. The play on words in the title draws attention to the relationship between book printing and the formation of national identity.

The major sources on which Mroziewicz’s study is based were selected according to the following three criteria: they are narratives concerning historical events that took place in the kingdom of Saint Stephen, they contain a series of illustrations which builds up a visual narrative relevant to the content of the book, and they were written by Hungarians and for a Hungarian readership. Appropriate quotations from works by well-known and lesser known authors (for instance from the books Mroziewicz has consulted, from correspondence, from the Tripartitum by István Werbőczy, and even from a handwritten distich on the inner cover of Mausoleum) make each chapter highly readable.

In the first chapter following the introduction, Mroziewicz argues that the medieval past of the Hungarian Kingdom, primarily the Árpád Era, was of major importance in assertions concerning the continuity of Hungarian statehood and Christianity among the Hungarians. The main actors in these narratives were the Hun leaders, the holy kings of the Árpád House, and fearsome soldiers. The image of the Hungarians as the chosen nation led to the emergence of a discourse of national preeminence, which gave the Hungarian community coherence and a teleological sense of purpose.

Hungarian patron saints were used to support claims for the recognition of Hungarian interests within the sphere of Habsburg and Ottoman rule. These patron saints are the focus of the third chapter, as the pillars of the community of faith who became part of collective memory through political and religious rites. The roles of the Virgin Mary, Saint Stephen, Saint Emeric, and Saint Ladislaus in this process are discussed in detail. Mroziewicz examines how, from the early twelfth century onwards, images of the Virgin Mary (from the time of the reign of King Matthias, which is described as Patrona Hungariae) found their way first into historiographic works and then into the royal iconography. The roles of Saint Stephen and Saint Emeric are discussed together with mention of the Holy Crown, which through its alleged link to the holy king and patron of the kingdom gained exceptional prominence and popularity in Hungarian narratives of the Early Modern period.

Ladislaus I, as a knightly king, was the most often depicted patron saint in Hungary between the fourteenth and the late fifteenth century. According to the visual narratives, he not only overcame the Cumans, but also was believed to have guarded the kingdom after his death when it faced invasions of infidels. The result was a ritualization of social life, which was a crucial space for expressions and negotiation of communal identity. The cult of patron saints played an essential role in bringing a community together on different levels of political, social, and religious existence.

The fourth chapter, entitled “Rulers of Hungary,” examines the growing importance of the Holy Crown in visual and literary narratives. All the works under discussion show the history of Hungarian kingship with recurrent coronations of successive kings, each of whom wears the Holy Crown. The meaning of kingship was coded in the royal poses, gestures, and garb. Images of kings functioned as “ideograms,” standing for royal duties and prerogatives. They gave visual expression to the abstract notion of iustitia, defensio, the continuity of kingship, and a transcendental hierarchy.

The next chapter, which deals with the nobility and aristocracy, examines the historical circumstances of Hungarians of high birth and how these people were made to serve in the reproduction of the social hierarchy and the broadening of the political and cultural spectrum of the people depicted. In this chapter, Mroziewicz focuses on the links between likenesses of the nobility and aristocracy and the images that were drawn of them in legal treatises and other historical sources. After surveying the origins, strata, customs, and legal status of the nobility, she discusses the shared membership of its representatives in the corporate body of the Holy Crown.

Mroziewicz devotes a separate subchapter to the unprivileged role of Hungarian noble and aristocratic women (5.5.2.). In the materials she examines there are considerably fewer likenesses of noblewomen than there are of noblemen, and portraits of females always come after portraits of their husbands and fathers. In the literary sources eulogies accompanying their likenesses are generally conventional and do not provide any in-depth descriptions of the female figures depicted.

Among the nobility, a separate group of likenesses includes individual portraits of leading intellectuals, poets, writers, and well-educated figures of both noble origin and humanistic aspirations. These eminent men of letters constituted a narrow but renowned group among the nobility. Mroziewicz concludes that both printed and painted likenesses of members of the Hungarian nobility and aristocracy followed analogical visual patterns, which reproduced the male-orientated order of the society. Women fit into their worldview and lives as daughters, wives, and mothers, supporting and procreating the male line. The main function of the portraits Mroziewicz has studied was to reproduce the existing social hierarchy and, by doing so, to broaden the political and cultural resources of the well-off figures depicted. Noble and aristocratic likenesses recorded and passed on a set of collective memories about shared legal customs, a common tribal and Christian past, and, finally, heroic deeds in the wars against the Ottomans.

The last chapter is about the afterlife of illustrated books on Hungarian history. The impact of these books is studied on two levels. The first concerns direct responses to the texts and images recorded on the pages of the books themselves, while the second level involves the reception of the books in the historiographical, literary, and artistic traditions. The Chronica Hungarorum proved the most influential among the sources in question, and it has the most complex reception history, a history which in fact continues up to the present day. In the history of the reception of the Chronica Hungarorum, the textual and visual components of the book followed different paths. Only the facsimile edition of the chronicle, published in 1980, joined the visual and verbal layer of the book again.

In sum, illustrated books on history contributed to the formation of the visual and literary imagery of Hungarian mythology and the pantheon of saints, monarchs, and their subjects in both public and private spaces. They served as a treasure trove of motifs, which, in addition to the individual fortunes and misfortunes of the personalities depicted, also represented the whole community and stood for the fate of the emerging nation.

Imprinting Identities is richly illustrated, which is appropriate given its focus, and it brings the materials in question closer to the reader. However, some of the small, black and white reproductions (especially reproductions of paintings) do not contribute to the argument of the book, and the only color picture, which is on the front cover, is a rather modern representation of the illustrated histories.

All in all, Mroziewicz’s book is a successful attempt to further our understanding of the role of illustrated Latin-language histories of Hungary in the process of identity construction in the Early Modern period. The author studies the topic from the perspectives of art history, literary history, history, historiography, and book culture, and she adopts a multifocal and comprehensive approach in her synthesis.

Zsuzsanna Bakonyi


Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Tanulmányok a konstanzi zsinat 600. évfordulója alkalmából [Causa unionis, causa fidei, causa reformationis in capite et membris: Essays on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the Council of Constance]. Edited by Attila Bárány and László Pósán. Debrecen: Printart, 2014. 454 pp.


The Council of Constance was one of the decisive events in Europe in the Middle Ages, and it had a significant influence on the future of the continent. On November 5–7 2014, a major conference was held by the Institute of History of the University of Debrecen focusing on this event on the occasion of its 600th anniversary. The conference and the papers that were read were in part the fruit of work that has been underway at the University of Debrecen for years on the era of the reign of King Sigismund of Luxembourg. The organizers also sought to contribute to a German research project on the Council (“Das Konzilsjubiläum 2014–2018. 600 Jahre Konstanzer Konzil”). Editors Attila Bárány and László Pósán have organized the 31 essays in the book into four thematic groups. The first and longest (consisting of 11 essays) addresses political power relations in Europe at the time and the complex relationships in diplomacy and Church politics. The second section deals with the decisions that were made at the Council. In particular, the essays examine the consequences that these decisions had for the Kingdom of Hungary and the religious and Church processes that were underway within the Kingdom of Hungary. The third part consists of five essays on the political, social, and economic relationships in Hungary. It is followed by the second-longest and perhaps most colorful section, which deals with cultural trends and tendencies, including heraldry, Humanist literature, and pilgrimages to destinations beyond the borders of Hungary, but biographic and genealogic studies were also included in this part of the volume. The last section of the book contains essays on the military history of the era, more specifically two essays on the Hussite Wars and one on the struggles against the Ottoman Turks. It is quite clear on the basis of the topics addressed in the essays that the book covers many of the important aspects of the Council. The goal of the conference organizers was to draw as wide a range of scholars on the era of the Council as possible into the conference and the published collection of papers from the conference. Given the breadth of the book and limitations of space, I can only touch on a few of the essays in this review.

The history of the sixteenth general council was shaped to a large extent by the political constellation in Europe at the time. The essay by Attila Bárány focuses on the efforts of King Sigismund to bring an end to the Hundred Years’ War and the ways in which he attempted, ultimately unsuccessfully, to act as an intermediary first between the French leagues and then between England and France. Bárány examines the complex relationships between the Luxembourgs on the one hand and France, England, and Burgundy on the other, and he persuasively demonstrates that Sigismund always sought to remain neutral, though he also sought to ensure that Brabant and Luxembourg not end up under the control of Burgundy and that England not gain strength in the Netherlands.

The other major armed conflict at the time of the Council was taking place in the northeastern corner of Europe between the allied Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania on one side and the Order of the Teutonic Knights on the other. Pósán focuses on this struggle. After peace negotiations in Buda and the delegation led by Benedek Makrai in 1412–1413 failed to yield results, the issue was taken before the Council. The Order accused Ladislaus II and Witold, grand duke of Lithuania, of being Christians in appearance only, and they claimed to have a just cause for war. The Polish diplomats, of course, dismissed these contentions. They offered the Teutonic Knights first Podolia and then Cyprus, and they were prepared to submit to Sigismund’s decision. Ultimately, the issue was decided by the appointment of Pope Martin V, with which the Poles lost all of the privileges that Pope John XXIII had granted them. Ladislaus II and Witold both withdrew. According to Pósán, while the conflict remained unsettled, with the moral victory of Ladislaus II the debate came to a close in Constance.

Sigismund achieved a remarkable triumph in 1411, when he was chosen to serve as King of Germany. The essay by Márta Kondor examines the development of the imperial chancellery and the makeup of the royal council. Drawing on analyses of the chancellery notes, she concludes that the imperial chancellery began to become active in the middle of 1411. It may have functioned under the organization of Johannes Kirchen, though there may also have been a division of labor. Kirchen used the imperial seal to certify legal documents, while High Chancellor János Kanizsai (or his deputy), as secretary to the king, used a secret seal. With regards to the council, Kondor has determined that alongside the imperial council, there was also a Hungarian council, though the king summoned the members of the council only as a function of the importance of the issue at hand. He discussed problems of governance with a narrower “operative body.”

From the perspective of Hungary, one of the important decisions of the Council concerned the question of taxes on Church benefices. As of 1417, at least in principle no taxes had to be paid to the papal treasury on the appointment of people who had been suggested for office by the Hungarian king. In his essay, Tamás Fedeles examines the extent to which this matter of principle was also a matter of practice under Popes Martin V and Eugene IV. Fedeles examines an item-by-item summary of the taxes that were paid into the papal treasury and the treasury records and analyzes 58 promissory notes of Hungarian origin from the period in question. Thus, he has determined that the idea of more modest taxes on archbishops and tax exemptions allegedly offered by the pope remained on paper only (in this case mostly because the archbishop of Esztergom and for example the bishop of Zagreb promised to pay higher taxes to the papal court), and barely half of the sum that had been agreed upon actually was paid into the apostolic treasury (Camera Apostolica) from the whole clergy of Hungary. According to Fedeles, the explanation for this lies in the fact that, as the king of Hungary, Sigismund was better situated to enforce his will, in particular with regards to the upper layers of the clergy. The papacy was willing to overlook this because of the threats posed by the Hussites and, more importantly, the Ottomans.

Since Sigismund was in general far from Hungary during the Council, he had to ensure that he had suitable people in power to tend to the various issues that came up during his absence. Norbert C. Tóth examines the administrative tasks of the royal vicars in the period between 1413 and 1419. Drawing on chancellery notes, the “itinerary” of the great seal, and the queen’s charters, C. Tóth endeavors to determine as precisely as possible who the vicars were and what they did. The only two people that Sigismund made vicars were Miklós Garai and the aforementioned János Kanizsai, but both Garai and Kanizsai joined him in Western Europe, and this confused affairs. In the time period under discussion, four people served as lieutenant governors of the king. The first was Queen Barbara of Cilli (Sigismund’s wife), followed by Garai for the better part of 1414. There is evidence to suggest that Pál Özdögei Besenyő served as vicar between 1416 and 1417. He may have served in this position until Garai’s return to Hungary. While Kanizsai officially began to keep accounts as vicar in 1417, the king only returned to Hungary in 1419. Thus, in all likelihood, Garai tended to the tasks of the position following the archbishop’s death in 1418.

László Veszprémy examines King Sigismund’s responses to the Hussite wars, the outbreak of which was prompted by the decisions of the Council, to determine his aptitude as a military leader and diplomat. According to a view that has gained widespread currency in the secondary literature, Sigismund regarded the Hussitism as a pan-European problem and sought to put an end to it with military action. Taking into consideration the king’s troop movements and diplomatic endeavors, Veszprémy comes to the conclusion that Sigismund would have preferred to address the situation simply by weakening and dividing the opposition and then using diplomacy. After he was made king of Bohemia in 1419, it was obviously problematic for him to order the occupation of a region over which he had just been made ruler. Veszprémy examines the struggles between Sigismund and Žižka and concludes that the two sides were fighting two completely different wars. Sigismund did not want to destroy the Hussites with a rapid assault and devastating blows. Rather, as Eberhard Windecke, the chronicler of the king has also contended, he sought to use political strategies. Put simply, it was not the military conflict so much as the search for a political resolution that lasted almost two decades.

In his essay, János Véber examines the only surviving work by Miklós Barius, a speech addressed to Ladislaus V of Hungary. Véber also considers the various ways in which this speech was preserved over time. One copy was kept as part of a book of formulae, in the compilation of which Barius himself may have played a role. Gábor Kiss Farkas discusses a similar topic, namely the influence of Humanist epistolary books, by comparing the writings of Pier Paolo Vergerio, János Vitéz, Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini, and Johannes Tröster. The essay by Enikő Csukovits also bears thematic affinities with these two contributions. Csukovits draws attention to the function of the Council as a scholarly forum by examining the geographical works of Pierre d’Ailly and Guillaume Fillastre. The Council had easy access to texts that were indispensable to the works that they compiled. For instance, the work of Ptolemy spread across Europe again in large part due to the role of the Council as intermediary. Regrettably, because of the nature of the Hungarian sources, we do not really know how interesting the “book market,” which was remarkably broad in its scope, was to the Hungarians who took part in the Council.

Along with the flood of new ideas, new religious movements also came to Hungary in the period under discussion. In her contribution to the collection, Beatrix Romhányi argues persuasively that Franciscan religious ideas and practices arrived not from the south, as has been suggested in the secondary literature, but rather from the West. Pope Martin V, who supported the Franciscans, may have played a significant role in this. Romhányi compares the circumstances of the foundation of Franciscan monasteries and demonstrates that, in contrast with the fourteenth century, during the reign of King Sigismund the wishes of patrons were decisive factors in the process, as was the call for the monasteries to play representative functions.

The examples on which I have drawn within the framework of this brief review suffice to illustrate that the essays in this collection meet very high standards of scholarship and offer a great deal of new, important information and insights that will be of considerable interest to scholars on the Middle Ages. Perhaps one of the greatest merits of the book is that it clearly demonstrates the extent to which Hungary’s history was inseparable from the history of the rest of Europe at the time. The essays offer numerous examples of ways in which the Council and the events that took place at the time of the Council influenced events in Hungary. In other words, they offer ample testimony to the fact that the Kingdom of Hungary was an integral part of Europe. The essays offer excellent presentations of these complex interrelationships, actions, and reactions, and they will undoubtedly encourage further research on the subject.

Péter Haraszti Szabó


Expulsion and Diaspora Formation: Religious and Ethnic Identities in Flux from Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century. Edited by John Tolan. (Religion and Law in Medieval Christian and Muslim Societies 5) Brepols: Turnhout, 2015. 244 pp.


Without doubt, the question of why people go into exile and what exile means for their cultural identities is of remarkable and sad topicality in Europe and indeed all over the world. Present-day political debates concentrate first and foremost on the problem of how people who have suffered expulsion or have chosen exile for other reasons can integrate into a host society. In view of urgent needs and challenges, fundamental questions including the possible social, political, and economic causes of expulsion or flight, the meaning of exile experience for the identity of a given diasporic group, and the roles of certain aspects of culture in the construction of “new” or maintenance of “old” identities sometimes seem to recede into the background. Still, each of these questions is relevant if we are trying to understand both the realities and the narratives of expulsion and flight. The importance of this kind of broader approach to the doubtlessly challenging topic of exile is impressively demonstrated in the volume edited by John Tolan. The book takes a chronologically and geographically comparative perspective and consequently deals with “religious and ethnic identities in flux from Antiquity to the seventeenth century” (this is the subtitle of the book). It is comprised of eleven essays in English and French that were presented at a conference held at Central European University, Budapest in June 2013. The idea for the conference and the book arose from a promising three-sided cooperative effort among Tolan’s own project RELMIN (The Legal Status of Religious Minorities in the Euro-Mediterranean World; Université de Nantes) and a collaborative project on “Trans-European Diasporas: Migration, Minorities, and the Diasporic Experience in East Central Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean” (Heidelberg University and Central European University Budapest).

Accordingly, the articles present historical case studies of exile from different European and Mediterranean regions (Hungary, England, the Iberian Peninsula, Egypt, and Malta), chronologically ranging from Antiquity to Early Modern times. By combining these different examples, the editor has tried to shed light on the possible causes of expulsion, ways to integrate diasporic communities into their new societies, and meanings of memories of the country or culture of origin for the formation of group identities.

In the opening article on “Exile and Identity” (pp.9–29), Tolan deals with three examples of Jewish expulsion from French regions (France, Brittany, Gascogny, and Anjou) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. Tolan takes these case studies as a starting point to develop helpful general thoughts on the other two key aspects of the volume (modes of integration and modes of constructing group identities of medieval diasporas). He thereby convincingly prepares the way for the following articles, several of which also examine case studies of Jewish diaspora experience.

In her study on “The expulsion of Jews from Hungarian Towns on the Aftermath of the Battle of Mohács” (pp.51–83), Katalin Szende looks at three important Hungarian towns in the early sixteenth century: Sopron, Pressburg (today Bratislava), and Buda. Szende shows how the cases of expulsion that took place in the 1520s were closely connected both to the fatal experience of the devastating Hungarian loss at Mohács and urban economic structures that had essentially been developed in the fifteenth century. Three topographical figures and an appendix on the ways in which Jewish properties changed hands after the expulsion nicely complement the text.

Similarly, Robin Mundill analyzes different (political, economic, and social) explanations for “The Jewish Experience of Expulsion from England in 1290” (pp.85–101). Mundill’s concise contribution sheds light on the argumentative attempts of contemporaries to justify the expulsion of the English Jews and displays how demonized stereotypes of the “wicked Jews” entered the political and cultural discourse of medieval and Early Modern England.

In Patrick Sänger’s contribution (“Considerations on the Administrative Organization of the Jewish Military Colony in Leontopolis,” pp.171–194) the focus shifts from the immediate event of expulsion to the question of what became of expelled Jews in their new “host societies.” Sänger presents the remarkable case of the so-called politeuma, a military colony organization which was used by King Ptolemy VI to integrate Jewish refugees who had come to Egypt from Judaea in the second century BCE.

In the next essay, another example from Egypt becomes the focus of interest. In his study on “Jews in Alexandria in the Late Middle Ages through Venetian Eyes” (pp.195–216), Georg Christ demonstrates that group ascriptions such as “the Jews” do not always prove helpful or truly applicable terms. As the case of Jewish merchants in Alexandria suggests, “sub-categories” such as Jews from Venice or Latin vs. Oriental Jews appeared to be much more relevant for contemporaries than a common identity of the “Jewish diaspora.”

Though the question of Jewish experiences of expulsion and diaspora is also the focus of the articles by Nadezda Koryakina (“The Terms Golah and Galut in Medieval and Early Modern Jewish Responsa,” pp.104–16), Carsten L. Wilke (“Allegory and Mental Adaption to Exile Among Refugees of the Iberian Inquisition,” pp.117–34), Josep Xavier Muntané i Santiveri (“Une révision du terme ‘sefardi’ appliqué aux juifs de Catalogne,” pp.149–69) and Marianna D. Birnbaum (“Christopher Marlowe and the Jews of Malta,” pp.217–29), these contributions adopt a significantly different approach. They do not focus on particular historical events but rather address certain source types, social ascriptions, or contemporary ways of dealing with Diaspora experiences in writing and poetry. While Birnbaum thoroughly analyzes Christopher Marlowe’s drama “The Jew of Malta” against the historical background of the events described by Marlowe, Wilke examines literary forms of handling exile in Early Modern Spain (providing two of the analyzed texts in an appendix). Experiences of Spanish exile are also addressed by Koryakina, who discusses responsa literature of the late Middle Ages and traces mentionings of exile in them, as well as by Muntané who examines contemporary terms and descriptions of Jews in medieval Catalonia.

The three-step approach to “exile and diaspora formation” suggested by the editor is far from limited to examples from Jewish experience, as is demonstrated by two other case studies. In her article on “Cuman-Hungarian Relations in the Thirteenth Century” (pp.31–49), Kyra Lyublyanovics examines the social and economic diversity of Cuman migrants to Hungary. Lyublyanovics pays attention to political aspects of the Cuman migration (e.g. the relationships with Hungarian rulers and nobility), as well as religious, ethnic, and economic questions (e.g. the problems of conversion, language, customs, etc.). She manages to paint a complex picture of an ambivalent and diverse diasporic group while also indicating questions which remain unanswered and which could therefore be the subject of further research. With his contribution, Marcell Sebők turns our attention to the “Conviction and Expulsion of Hungarian Protestants” (pp.135–47) as decided by a tribunal in 1674. Sebők not only reconstructs the context of the trial, he also discusses the arguments quoted by the Catholic advocates of expulsion and the Protestant defendants. He convincingly shows how later writings and historical interpretations on both confessional sides were influenced by the conflicting experiences.

In her thoughtful conclusion, Susan Einbinder (pp.231–37) brings together the main issues that are addressed in the individual contributions and raises some new aspects (e.g. gender questions), which demonstrate the potential that the topic has for further research. Undoubtedly, Tolan’s volume provides helpful insights and new perspectives, and it certainly will encourage further study in the field.

Julia Burkhardt


Városfejlődés a középkori Máramarosban [Urban development in Medieval Maramureş]. By László Szabolcs Gulyás. (Erdélyi tudományos füzetek 280) Cluj: Transylvanian Museum Society, 2014. 151 pp.


The study of residences and major towns has been a focus of research for decades in Central European scholarship. However, free royal towns and residential cities represented only a very small proportion of the urban centers in medieval Central Europe. Most of the towns were limited in size and had few legal privileges compared to villages. The volume under review discusses the urban development of five (or rather six) towns that certainly belong to the latter category. The settlements in question lie in Maramureş/Máramaros, a geographical and ethno-cultural region in what was once the northeastern part of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary (it was a county in Hungary, and today the word also refers to a county in Romania consisting essentially of the southern half of the historical region). Four of the six towns discussed by László Szabolcs Gulyás lie in Ukraine, while the other two are found in Romania.

The book consists of nine chapters, including the short but important epilogue. The first chapter discusses the existing scholarship on the urban development of the Maramureş region. Apart from some important source publications, research carried out on salt mining in Maramureş and on the Early Modern history of the region, most of the works were written by local historians, and they vary strikingly in quality. The second chapter examines why five (Câmpulung la Tisa/Hosszúmező, Khust/Huszt, Sighetu Marmaţiei/Máramarossziget, Tiachiv/Técső, and Vyshkove/Visk) of the six towns in medieval Maramureş were frequently regarded as belonging to the same group. They were all in royal hands in the early fourteenth century and were all given privileges together in 1329. Gulyás demonstrates that the towns got their common privileges on the basis of the early privilege letter of the settlement of Vynohradiv, issued in 1262. It would have been helpful to have included the two charters on facing pages in order to allow the reader to compare the two documents more easily. The chapter draws attention to the limits of the 1329 privileges that the five towns received. The settlements hardly enjoyed any more freedoms than those usually granted to settlements of invited guests (hospes). However, the towns were in a favorable position than otherwise, because with only a few short exceptions the king was their landlord until modern times.

The whole region of Maramureş was not settled until quite late; the county was one of the last such administrative units to be created in the Kingdom of Hungary. People only began to settle in Maramureş in large numbers in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The fourth chapter is devoted to the study of the people who settled here. In the Middle Ages, the region was ethnically very diverse. It was inhabited by Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, and Romanians. The early bestowal of privileges reflects the granting of rights to the German settlers, but later the ethnic makeup of the towns shifted and they became more predominantly Hungarian speaking. Romanians and Ruthenians, though present in the county as of the fourteenth and the fifteenth centuries respectively, were present only in small numbers in the towns. They inhabited the surrounding villages, and mention of them in the primary sources is connected to economic exchange between the towns and the villages of the region.

As Gulyás demonstrates, the settlements received their privileges when salt extraction began in the region. This was certainly the most important motivation for the king to encourage people, in particular miners and administrators, to settle in Maramureş. The fifth chapter therefore deals with salt mining in the region. As the book discusses, not only were mines opened in the region, but the king also established the center of a salt mining chamber in Khust/Huszt. Gulyás analyzes almost all of the surviving written primary sources on the region up to the battle of Mohács (1526), and many of the salt chamber bailiffs (sókamaraispán) are mentioned in the book. Historians would have benefitted from an archontology on the administration in the region in the Middle Ages, which has yet to have been done. However, the chapter is a very important part of the book, as it clearly demonstrates how the extraction of a mining good was crucial in the urbanization process of a particular region.

In the sixth chapter, Gulyás looks at the legal life of the towns. He feels at home in this chapter, as in a number of his earlier works he analyzed literacy, the issue of charters, and sealing practices in market towns in medieval Hungary. He draws attention to the differences in the legal lives of the five towns with particular regard to their designation in charters. He also discusses the magistrates of the towns and their jurisdiction. The seventh chapter addresses the economic life of the towns. Given the lack of other sources, the professional makeup of the towns, i.e. the presence of craftsmen, is discussed on the basis of names appearing in legal documents. The presence of the kinds of craftsmen who according to Gulyás’ methodology were in the settlements (smiths, furriers, tailors or potters) is by no means proof of the urban characteristics of the settlements. The only characteristically urban feature was the relatively high number of learned people (literatus), but this can be easily explained by the need for literate people to manage the administration of salt mining. The penultimate chapter is seemingly a small digression from the main focus of the book, which is the study of the five aforementioned towns. It discusses the sixth urban settlement in the county, Ruske Pole. The settlement began to develop a century later than the other towns, and it was never granted the liberties that the other towns received. However, it lies in the geographic center of the region and thus may have served as a market center for regional trade. This is indicated by a market privilege from the early sixteenth century that provided as much as four annual fairs to the town. Of course, the extent to which this was implemented or the fairs themselves were successful remain open questions.

András Kubinyi, the late Hungarian urban historian, established a set of criteria (a point system) on the basis of which towns in the Hungarian Kingdom can be compared. His system allows for a more critical evaluation of the character of a town in the Middle Ages. Gulyás should have reevaluated Kubinyi’s assessment of the towns of Maramureş according to this system, since for instance in the case of Ruske Pole Kubinyi was not aware of the four annual fairs. Had he known about them, he would have given the settlement more points on his scale. Based on Kubinyi’s criteria, the settlements analyzed in Gulyás’s book were not much more than villages with some central functions. In their case, these functions were connected to mining and the administration necessary for mining. In the epilogue to his book, Gulyás also refers to this problem. He argues that urban privileges in themselves tell very little about the characteristics of a settlement in the Middle Ages. As he shows, none of the five or six towns became urbanized until the end of the Middle Ages, and the raise of these settlements may have only been due to the local presence of a natural resource, namely salt.

The book was published by the Transylvanian Museum Society, an important institution which publishes a book series in Hungarian on scholarship related to Transylvania (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek, or “Transylvanian Scientific Books”). The volume includes a useful map, indexes, and abstracts in English and Romanian. Each of these supplements is important, and they make the book easier to use. However, the omission of a list of the various names of the settlements, and in particular their present-day names, is a regrettable shortcoming.

András Vadas

Augsburg – Wien – München – Innsbruck: Die früheste Darstellung der Stephanskrone und die Entstehung der Exemplare des Ehrenspiegels des Hauses Österreich. Gelehrten- und Künstlerbeziehungen in Mitteleuropa in der zweiten Hälfte des 16. Jahrhunderts. By Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy. Budapest: Institut für Geschichte des Forschungszentrums für Humanwissenschaften der Ungarischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2015. 168 pp.


Enikő Buzási and Géza Pálffy, the authors of the book under review, have accomplished an ambitious project. The purpose of the two authors, both of whom are members of the “Holy Crown of Hungary research project,” was to find the oldest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary. This book is the first work to adopt an array of approaches from diverse disciplines, including history and art history, in order to identify the authentic and unique appearance of the Hungarian royal insignia. Another task undertaken by Buzási and Pálffy was to correct the often incorrectly formulated story about the Ehrenspiegel des Hauses Österreich. They made a comparison of existing copies of the Ehrenspiegel and tried to discern the similarities and differences among them. Finally, they also examined the mechanisms of humanist networks in the middle of the sixteenth century and the connections within these networks, which were strong despite the large geographical distances.

The publication is divided into 15 chapters. The first is an overview of the secondary literature on the history and the traditional images of the Holy Crown. The authors point out that the view according to which the Ehrenspiegel illustration of the crown is the oldest one is not correct. There must have been an earlier image. Luckily, in the collection of manuscripts and rare books of the Austrian National Library in Vienna, the researchers found a short letter by the Ehrenspiegel author, Clemens Jäger, in which Jäger claims to have used a written description or image. Presumably, this sketch or written description was made by copper engraver and Viennese court artist Hans Lautensack.

The following chapters explain the development of the Ehrenspiegel as a historical and propagandistic work and its role in the rise of the Habsburg dynasty. This impressive humanist publication was commissioned by the Augsburg merchant family Fugger in the middle of the sixteenth century. The route of the Ehrenspiegel from the Fugger library to the princely collection of the Bavarian dukes and, later, to the royal Bavarian collection, where it is held today in the Bavarian State Library in Munich, is also introduced.

The short and compact biography of Jäger, who was from Augsburg, is thoroughly discussed, with particular focus on his humanistic abilities and failures. An interesting perspective is offered by the story of the way in which the Habsburg dynasty acquired the Holy Crown under the reign of Emperor Ferdinand I.

Various explanations are provided concerning the different copies of the “Ehrenspiegel,” which were made in the second half of the sixteenth century, after the original version was authored in Munich. Today, these copies are held in the Austrian National Library in Vienna (signature Cod. 8614* and Cod. 8613.) and in the Saxon Regional and University Library in Dresden (signature Mscr.Dresd.L.2). The authors attempt to establish a logical chronology of the copies, identify their origins, and find the original version. In this case, the research group had to undertake field research, because the last person to devote research to this question was historian Franz Unterkircher, who was active in in the 1960s. Buzási and Pálffy examined the artistic production, the writing material, and the inks used in each version of Ehrenspiegel.

A further aim was to identify the artist or the circumstances under which the given versions were made. However, the attempts made by Buzási and Pálffy to do this proved unsuccessful. In the attempts to establish similarities and differences among the various versions, the authors were always careful to compare the same pages of each.

The twelfth chapter is dedicated to the question of the actual appearance of the Holy Crown of Hungary. Once again, Buzási and Pálffy adopted a comparative approach to all the “Ehrenspiegel” versions. Moreover, in addition to these very early images of the crown, the authors also added an image from the 1668 Spiegel […] der Ehren by Birken. This print is based on the Ehrenspiegel. It was made in honor of Emperor Leopold I. It was possible to demonstrate that the extended use of printing from the seventeenth century on resulted in an increase in the number of the illustrations of the Holy Crown of Hungary.

As a point of criticism, it is worth noting that for some readers it may be unclear how the chapter about the discussion concerning the coat of arms of Sopron (Ödenburg) is connected to the research on the earliest image of the crown. Although the examination of this coat of arms is partly based on the study of heraldic emblemata appearing in the Ehrenspiegel and on two occasions Sopron was the site of Hungarian coronations later in the seventeenth century, this chapter is only loosely tied to the main topic of the book.

I find myself compelled to make a critical remark concerning the translation, which is an indisputable failure of the book. The language is uneasy and difficult to comprehend. Moreover, confusion is caused by the failure to differentiate between the so-called Fuggerchronik and the Ehrenspiegel in the beginning of the book.

However, apart from these shortcomings, Pálffy and Buzási attained their aims. They succeeded in identifying the origins of the earliest image of the Holy Crown of Hungary, which was made between April 1553 and November 1561, probably by Hans Lautensack, and was later used by Clemens Jäger for his Ehrenspiegel manuscript. The authors’ new approach clarifies the history of the extant Ehrenspiegel copies; one was made for Tyrolean governor Archduke Ferdinand II, while the other was made for his nephew, Archduke Maximilian III. For the first time in the secondary literature, all of the extant copies have been compared and similarities and differences have been specified, a process that is furthered by the impressive layout and graphic presentation, involving many images of reasonable size and quality.

In some cases, the authors guide the reader through the investigation as if they were actual detectives. In sum, we have a detailed and well-structured work with new findings on the history and art history of the Hungarian Holy Crown. We can only hope to see more publications like this one from the Lendület Holy Crown of Hungary research project.

Thomas Kuster


„Légy cseheknek pártfogója, magyaroknak szószóllója…:” Cseh–magyar jezsuita összefüggések a kezdetektől 1773-ig [“Be the patron of Czechs, and the advocate of Hungarians…:” Relationships between the Hungarian and Czech Jesuits from the beginnings until 1773]. By Eszter Kovács. (Művelődéstörténeti műhely, Monográfiák 2.) Budapest: PPKE–OSZK, 2015. 367 pp.


The recently published volume by Eszter Kovács deals with cultural relationships between Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits in the period between 1556 and 1773. Several papers have already been published on the relationships between Bohemia and Hungary in both countries. The Protestant contacts have been examined in depth by Richard Pražák. However, until now, none of the works has examined the relationships from the perspective of the Catholic Church, and especially not from the point of view of the activities of the Bohemian Jesuits. Eszter Kovács uses new resources in her examination of the endeavors of the Bohemian Jesuits in Vienna, Rome, Prague, and Brno. So far, these sources have been examined primarily by Czech historians, despite the fact that they have many bearings on Hungary, as Kovács has discovered. Still, no one has examined them from the perspective of Hungarian scholarship, so the sources may provide a foundation for further studies. In the cultural history of seventeenth-century and eighteenth- century Hungary, thanks to various mediators between Czechs and Hungarians, there were many signs of Czech influences on the nobility, aristocracy, clerical order, and peregrinates. Kovács chose to focus on the Society of Jesus in her examination of the nature of the connections between the Hungarian and Bohemian cultures within the order, the mediators between these two cultures, and the manners of the mediation. The first two parts of her complex and ambitious work are dedicated to these questions.

Kovács divides the period between 1556 and 1773 into two phases. The first phase covers the period up to 1623, when the Hungarian and Bohemian Jesuits belonged to the same Austrian province, while the second, between 1623 and 1773, corresponds to the era when the province of Bohemia was independent. In this period, the role of Jesuits in Hungarian residences had undergone a change, since Hungary was more than a simple missionary target, like it had been before, and the majority of Bohemian Jesuits had practical duties. (This idea needs more clarification, especially with regard to the opposition it raises.)

More and more Czech Jesuit teachers and scholars arrived to teach in Hungarian schools, which became popular among Bohemian students as well, especially the University of Nagyszombat (today Trnava, Slovakia). At the end of the seventeenth century, the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province supported fights against the Ottomans: each college paid a certain sum to support the cause, depending on its size, and the field missionaries served in the fighting armies.

In the third large chapter, Kovács summarizes her findings. She demonstrates Czech influences in hagiography, theater history, and the process of the propagation of Czech in Hungary. Because of its current role in Slovak national identity, she devotes a separate subsection in this chapter to the cult of Saints Cyril and Methodius. After the Slovak version of the hymn book by Benedek Szöllősi (Cantus Catholici, Pysně Katolické) had been published, Cyril and Methodius appeared regularly in Hungarian hagiographies. The myth of the Moravian Empire as part of the Carpathian Basin became interesting for Czech and Hungarian historians (for instance Sámuel Timon, György Szklenár, and Bohuslav Balbín) in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Since the cult was an artificially created one, with no roots either in Hungarian or Slovak culture, Kovács attempts to examine it as the myth of Saints Cyril and Methodius and not as part of national histories.

The most important points of the argumentation are summarised in each subchapter, making the text clear and easy to follow. At the end of the volume, there is a useful appendix containing several detailed tables of names, places of birth, locations of the monastic quarters, periods of activity, and functions of the Bohemian and Hungarian Jesuits. The first table, based on the Catalogi personarum et officiorum provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu. I. II. (ed. Ladislaus Lukács, Romae, [1978–1982]9, is concerned with Hungarian Jesuits who lived in Bohemia until 1623. The second table is based on the same catalogue and contains data on Bohemian Jesuits who lived in Hungary in the same period. The last table, which is based on the Catalogus generalis seu Nomenclator biographicus personarum Provinciae Austriae Societatis Jesu (1551–1773), [1987–1988]), deals with the Jesuits of the Bohemian Province living in Hungary between 1623 and 1773. The volume comes to a close with illustrations of prominent personalities, pictures of title pages, and several diagrams, which help one understand the data presented.

To raise a few points of criticism, a map of Jesuit activities in the contemporary Bohemian Province would have been very useful. One also could have considered providing an examination of Jesuits’ book lists from Jesuit residences in Hungary: what kinds of Czech books were found in Hungarian Jesuit convents, and vice versa. Furthermore, it would have been worthwhile to discuss the role of the Czech language in Hungary in more detail.

Despite these minor shortcomings, the volume is still a carefully designed, useful contribution containing important source material for the study of history, church history, cultural history, and several other disciplines, such as research on various kinds of networks and their roles. Its perspicuous style and exhaustive detail make the volume not only indispensable for scholars, but also enjoyable for lay readers.

Györgyi Nagy


Vísperas de sucesión: Europa y la Monarquía de Carlos II [On the eve of succession: Europe and the Monarchy of Charles II]. Edited by Bernardo J. García García and Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio Alvariño. Madrid: Fundación Carlos de Amberes, 2015. 395 pp.


In 2015, the tercentenary of the end of the War of Spanish Succession took place, commemorating the end of a momentous and far-reaching conflict both on an internal, Spanish level and on the international level, since its outcomes affected the future of the European powers and their respective areas of influence and colonies around the world. The main cause of the war is well-known: Charles II, the last Spanish monarch of the Habsburg dynasty, died childless and, thus, heirless.

On the occasion of the tercentenary of the war, scholarly works were published on the period and various academic events in various disciplines were organized. The commemoration of the outbreak of war, the X Jornadas Nacionales de Historia Militar (10th National Journeys of Military History), which was held in Sevilla in November 2000, was one such event. However, despite the importance of the political and strategical struggle for power, the War of Spanish Succession is not as well-known as other conflicts (e.g. the Peninsular War of 1807–1814). This statement is even more accurate concerning the hidden aspects, or petite histoire, of the war, which in the end offer important perspectives on the grande histoire. Without knowledge of the details of the anecdotal events, which in the end offer insights into behavior and attitudes and enrich our understanding of facts, we cannot hope to have a complete and accurate grasp of the causes of these pivotal events of history.

The volume under review attempts to fill this gap. The studies examine hidden processes of political decision-making. A war is waged not only on the battlefield, but also in offices, among administrators on different levels of power, and in the halls and antechambers of palaces. The studies shed light on the intrigues devised by decisive figures, who favored one cause or another and sought to implement measures that would eventually lead to armed clashes. This is the petite histoire, which ultimately leads to as more nuanced understanding of the great events and the motivations of the various parties to these events and helps us better understand the entire subject.

Two of the most outstanding representatives of this trend are Antonio Álvarez-Ossorio and Bernardo José García García, both of whom are corresponding members of the Spanish Royal Academy of History. They are scholars of Hispanic studies from a European perspective, and both have studied court society, life in the Habsburg court, and Habsburg policy. Both have authored a wide range of publications, which are significant landmarks in the secondary literature on Early Modern history dealing with what might best be characterized as the spirit of the people, foreign policy, and the nature of a nation in the broad sense. The book under review focuses on the era of the rule of the last Habsburg king of Spain and the years before the War of Succession. It represents a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the context and the motives underlying these events.

The book offers an interdisciplinary introduction to the years of international political unrest between the Austrian Habsburgs and the Bourbons, two great dynasties opposed by their sense of honor and their pursuit of hegemony. Published by the Carlos de Amberes Foundation, the volume contains essays which are the fruit of several international research projects undertaken in collaboration with sixteen renowned scholars from Spain and other countries, such as Luis Ribot, Alfredo Floristán, Sánchez Belén and Joaquim Albareda from Spain and Davide Maffi from Italy and Charles-Édouard Levillain from France. The publication opens perspectives on the years before the outbreak of the conflict. Several topics are discussed in the volume, many of them essentially untouched in the secondary literature, but certainly important to our understanding of the era. The discussions are based on comprehensive and detailed fieldwork in all cases and on analyses of a wealth of unpublished documents.

The volume, which is divided into three thematic blocks and written in a clear and concise style, provides thoughtful and exhaustive essays on various subjects. For instance, the discussions include an examination of the ways in which the agents and notables intermingled, e.g. Valenzuela, the Duke of York, and the Marquis of Harcourt, who contrived court intrigues in favor of the Bourbons. The articles also examine the ways in which the Habsburgs plotted in European capitals to acquire personal power. These analyses provide a new approach to the study of the figure of Charles II, who perhaps has been treated a bit unjustly by historians. The essays offer a richer grasp of the delicate political context, in which grandees did not always have the common good of the Monarchy in mind, as the essays by Christopher Storrs and Lucién Bély illustrate. While presenting the historic junctures in this period of the history of the Spanish Monarchy, Bernardo José García correctly highlights that the last decades of the reign of Charles II resulted in a more accurate and better documented vision.

In a broad sense, taking into account the influence of the powerful states and cities of Europe, such as Italy, Portugal, Buda, Vienna, London, and the ubiquitous France of Louis XIV, this book adds to efforts to rekindle and deepen research on the period and sheds light on its historical significance. The volume offers persuasive support for the argument that the situation in which Spain found itself was not as dire as is usually assumed, although it certainly did not wield as much power as it had in the sixteenth century. The negative factors that had already been identified at the time, such as instability and increasing political tensions, were exacerbated by Charles II’s personal weaknesses as a ruler (mental and physical frailty and his failure to father an heir). Attempts were made to deny or disguise these weaknesses. This book provides analyses of the events and people from both a Spanish and an international perspective. This is particularly evident, for example, in the discussion of art, which highlights its political and propagandistic uses.

In short, this book is noteworthy, as it constitutes a substantial contribution to the secondary literature on the last phase of Spanish Habsburgs, casting new light on this important moment in the emergence of modern Europe.

Evaristo C. Martínez-Radío Garrido


A Kalocsa-Bácsi Főegyházmegye 18. századi megújulása Patachich Gábor és Patachich Ádám érsekek idején (1733–1784) [The eighteenth-century revival of Kalocsa-Bács Archdiocese under Archbishops Gábor Patachich and Ádám Patachich]. By Tamás Tóth. Budapest–Kalocsa: METEM–Kalocsai Főegyházmegyei Levéltár, 2014. 494 pp.


In 2015, Tamás Tóth’s book was chosen as Publication of the Year by the Society of Hungarian Archivists. The volume deserves recognition for many reasons. It approaches the process of the eighteenth-century Catholic revival from new perspectives. The principal question of the work concerns the extent to which the reorganization of the archdiocese after the Ottoman era was possible in the spirit of the Council of Trent. The book itself is the product of extensive research based on Tóth’s Italian-language dissertation defended at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome in 2006 (Tóth’s dissertation was published as a book in Hungary in 2011). Over the past few years, Tóth has not only broadened the base of his sources, he has also added a layer of nuance to his thoughts on the topic. The thoroughness of the research is reflected in the rich appendix: the author and the publisher made an attempt to collect all the reproductions of materials, images, and written sources connected to the topic.

This volume fits well alongside research that has been undertaken over the past two decades on bishoprics in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Along with Tóth’s contributions to the subject, the recent scientific works published concerning the dioceses of Győr, Eger, Veszprém and Pécs offer a more nuanced and exhaustive overview of denominational history in Hungary. The efforts that were made by these dioceses to adopt various reforms varied significantly depending on the facilities at their disposal and their individual histories, and thus only this combination of macro-historical and micro-historical analyses can provide a foundation for a synthesis.

One of the merits of the work is that it is complexly synthetic: the argumentation is based on abundant secondary literature and numerous collections of sources. The primary archival sources are held in Kalocsa, Budapest, Vienna, Zagreb and Rome, where the author carried out his research. He successfully forged out of this plethora of information a harmonious unity. The ecclesiastical events and persons on which he focuses are organized into an elaborate system and are presented as part of a network of contacts. Thus, the work offers a more subtle and thorough understanding of the reasons behind certain events and decision-making mechanisms than was previously available in the literature. Tóth focuses on context, and he traces the trajectories of aims and decisions until they reached their eventual completion. Hungarian and international ecclesiastical scholars will both profit from his findings.

The volume focuses on the activity of Gábor Patachich (1733–1745) and his nephew Ádám Patachich (1776–1784), two of the archbishops of Kalocsa. Tóth offers a thorough narrative of the history of the eighteenth-century archdiocese through their biographies. Moreover, there is an even wider cross-section of the book. The author has managed to present the entire history of the Hungarian Catholic Church between 1526 and the 1780s in this book. One might logically expect an overview of the epoch. By providing this contextualization of the lives of the two archbishops, Tóth has presented a vivid historical process. This broad perspective was applied to the careers of both prelates and to the history of the diocese as well. The Patachiches had important bases and engaged in important activities before becoming archbishops of Kalocsa. The detailed presentation of their careers offers a major contribution to Hungarian church history.

During the Ottoman conquest, the archdiocese of Kalocsa fell almost into a condition of ruin with respect to its infrastructure and personnel. Thus, Gábor Patachich started his reconstruction work from something of a “tabula rasa” state. In addition to presenting the careers of the two archbishops, Tóth also examines how the archdiocese was renewed and developed according to the reforms of the Council of Trent. This perspective determines the structure and sequence of the chapters in the book: Tóth examines the two archbishops’ attitudes towards the seminary, the cathedral, the chapter, the archbishop’s residence and the parish organizations, and also the visitations and the ministry.

The Trent-type church regulation reforms can be clearly interpreted, from beginning to end. The full meaning of Patachich’s motto, “si nullus incipiat, nullus finiet,” becomes clear in the book: everything Gábor Patachich initiated with sacrifice and devotion came to be completed by his nephew. Tóth aims to explore the period between 1745 and 1776, but he emphasizes that his work on the careers of the archbishops should not be seen as an isolated inquiry on eighteenth-century church history.

This type of diocese history, which examines the history of a given diocese in a broader context, works well only if the writer establishes a clear structure. Tóth’s book does this. In the first chapter, he presents the medieval and Early Modern history of the Kalocsa Archdiocese on the basis of a wide array of sources. After a sophisticated introduction of antecedents, the reader learns about the renaissance of the Hungarian church, an era in which the initiatives of the two Patachich archbishops offer outstanding examples: the efforts of Gábor Patachich were based on the objectives and principles of the Council of Trent, and they reached their initial stages, while Ádám Patachich improved and completed them. A particularly interesting and important part of the book is dedicated to the political and administrative engagements of the archbishops in Kalocsa.

Tóth’s book will have a seminal role in eighteenth-century ecclesiastic research: it gathers all of the available information on the Archdiocese of Kalocsa in a single volume, and it provides new viewpoints, data, and sources that will help historians interpret the events discussed in a much more detailed context and as parts of logical processes.

Zoltán Gőzsy


Österreich und der Immerwährende Reichstag: Studien zur Klientelpolitik und Parteibildung (1745–1763) [Austria and the perpetual imperial diet: Studies on client politics and party formation.]. By Michael Rohrschneider. (Schriftenreihe der Historischen Kommission bei der Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 89.) Munich: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2014. 395 pp.


For the past few decades, German historians have been working on an ambitious though difficult enterprise: the “rediscovery” and “reevaluation” of the Holy Roman Empire and its institutions. In this process, the history of the perpetual imperial diet in Regensburg (1663–1806) has been a somewhat neglected topic, since its complexity and the abundance of sources produced during the diet may be a bit discouraging for a historian. However, as Michael Rohrschneider’s monograph illustrates, a careful choice of focus may help prevent one from getting lost in the labyrinth of primary sources on the perpetual imperial diet.

Currently a research fellow at the University of Cologne, Rohrschneider restricted the timeframe of his research to the period between 1745 and 1763, when the foundations of Austro–Prussian dualism were laid. The novelty of his monograph lies in his use of a methodology borrowed from network research and the history of communication and in the introduction of an imperial subject from an Austrian perspective. After a presentation of the frameworks of Austrian imperial policy, Rohrschneider analyses the spaces, target groups, intentions, and resources of this policy, thus reconstructing the clientele and “party”-building and “party”-managing strategies of the Viennese court. Finally, two case studies provide interesting insights into the mechanism of the Viennese client policy.

Concerning Viennese imperial policy, Rohrschneider refines several earlier historical clichés. First, although the growing importance of the hereditary lands in this period is undeniable, Austria did not aim to separate from the Empire. Its goal was to strengthen the Habsburg positions within the Empire and to prevent Prussia, the arch-fiend, from extending its political influence to smaller imperial estates. Nor was Emperor Francis I indifferent or entirely repressed by Maria Theresa and her advisors in imperial affairs. He regarded himself as the defender of the small estates, and he had strong opinions on imperial policy—differing on many occasions from the views of the Viennese ministers.

Due to the various titles held by Maria Theresa and Francis I, Austria was able to send four delegates to the imperial diet: a Principal Commissioner (a representative of the Emperor), a Deputy Commissioner, a delegate for the Bohemian Electorate, and another delegate for Austria. These people were “old-style diplomats” in the sense that their personal and social networks (family, friends, etc.) had played the crucial role in their appointments, while professional skills were, if not negligible, secondary. Though one of Vienna’s primary aims was the harmonization of the activity of all of the delegates, Rohrschneider clearly presents how difficult this was. Rivalry and overlapping competencies generated tensions among Austrian and imperial ministers, authorities, and the delegates in Regensburg themselves. After the appointment of Kaunitz as State Chancellor, the intention to outweigh the imperial organs in imperial matters became even more perceptible.

In the second major section of the book, the chapters focus on the establishment and management of the Austrian clientele and “party.” As Rohrschneider emphasizes, clientele and “party” were overlapping but not identical groups: Austria provided protection and support for her clients in return for their full cooperation at the diet, whereas members of the “party” followed the Austrian policy according to their own deliberations and interests. Although “party” meant a loose, fluctuating clique of supporters, the existence of an Austrian and a Prussian “party” in Regensburg (and an opposition) was undoubtedly reflected in contemporary diplomatic reports, which regularly referred to these groups as Parthey, Affectionates, Widrig-gesinnten, etc.

Rohrschneider identifies three major target groups of the Austrian clientele-building and “party”-building policy. The first consisted of the officials of the different imperial institutions (e. g. the high courts), who held their positions at the Emperor’s grace. The second included ministers and the direct advisors of the princes, and the third one consisted of the envoys delegated to the imperial diet (the most significant proponents and opponents among them are introduced in detail). The aim of integrating them into the Austrian “party” was twofold: first, to expand and affirm the existing client network, and, second, to attract Prussian clients to the Austrian clientele.

Rohrschneider convincingly describes the mechanism of Austrian client and “party” policy. Austrian delegates frequently organized informal meetings and private events in Regensburg, where the public activity of the Austrian “party” could be harmonized. The Viennese court spared no effort in their attempts to woo the absent imperial estates so that they would entrust their votes to an Austria-friendly delegate. From time to time, members of the pro-Austrian community were assured of Austria’s trust. Through the effective use of various types of media, they were provided reliable information concerning Austria’s plans and the happenings at the diet. In order to establish new and strengthen existing bonds, the imperial court helped its clients make advantageous marriages, gain admission to illustrious orders, and be elevated into the higher nobility. The Emperor could promote a favorable decision for his clients in legal matters or appoint them to high administrative, legal, ecclesiastical, and military positions. The close relationships were also reaffirmed by the exchange of various presents, which could even be regarded as a form of corruption that was absolutely customary and not illegal at the time.

The last two chapters, two case studies, are interesting not only because they show the Austrian client and “party” policy in operation, but also because they present the perspectives of the clients. The first one, in which Rohrschneider presents the introduction of Prince Thurn und Taxis into the College of Princes, exemplifies how the mighty patron, Austria, was able to support the personal ambitions of an important client. It also reveals the rivalry between the Principal and the Deputy Commissioners, demonstrating that the more influential client could break the carrier of the less influential one. The second case study presents the struggles of Anhalt, a small, Protestant principality neighboring Hohenzollern territories and, thus, traditionally a Prussian client, which was placed under pressure by Austria to join the anti-Prussian coalition at the beginning of the Seven Years’ War. Since Anhalt’s delegate in Regensburg, trying to maintain neutrality in the conflict, did not turn the Austrian approach down, Frederick II openly withdrew his support from Anhalt. As Vienna could only partly reduce the serious financial and political consequences of the Prussian punishment, once the war was over, Anhalt returned to the Prussian block. This episode persuasively illustrates that Austria consciously tried to expand its clientele and “party” at the expense of Prussia, and that in such cases the efficacy of Austrian patronage had its limits.

In summary, Rohrschneider’s monograph is a compelling read, which optimally combines descriptions of the comprehensive structures of Austria’s imperial client and “party” policy with in-depth analyses of the case studies. As the footnotes and the bibliography prove, Rohrschneider consulted a vast array of sources, but thanks to his well-chosen methodological approaches, he succeeded in presenting a well-structured and interesting analysis of a short but significant period of the perpetual imperial diet. The volume is an important contribution to the (re)evaluation of the diet, and it will assuredly serve as inspiration for further research.

Márta Vajnági

Exploring Transylvania: Geographies of Knowledge and Entangled Histories in a Multiethnic Province, 1790–1918. By Borbála Zsuzsanna Török. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2016. 286 pp.


In her book, Zsuzsanna Borbála Török undertakes to write a history of local knowledge production about Transylvania between 1790 and World War I in the academic field known as Landeskunde and to map out its institutional, social and political parameters, networks, sites, trajectories, and reception. The German concept of Landeskunde refers to any kind of research framed within a particular regional optic and carried out as part of an encyclopaedic description of the narrowly defined fatherland (Heimat). Growing out of the earlier notion of Statistik, it was meant to further the economic improvement of a given land and the patriotic education of its citizens. Depending on the German or Hungarian context, Török alternates between the original German term and its Hungarian equivalent, honismeret, but it is unclear whether she perceives any difference between the German and Hungarian uses. The extent to which the Transylvanian authors mentioned in her book themselves would have characterized their endeavors with such terms is similarly unclear, but doubt arises for example in the case of prehistoric and Roman archeologists.

Throughout the book, Török pays particular attention to two trends that unfolded in the long term: the replacement of polymath curiosity by scholarly specialization and the spatial concentration of knowledge production into national core areas. The former, she argues, galvanized Landeskunde research on Transylvania, rather than restraining it. The latter affected the Transylvanian Saxon and Magyar scholarly communities asymmetrically, due to a major transformation in the intellectual life of the province: the opening in 1872 of a Hungarian-language university in Kolozsvár/Cluj.

Two thirds of the book are dedicated to the parallel histories of the two most influential Transylvanian learned societies of the time, the Saxon Verein für siebenbürgische Landeskunde (Landeskundeverein) and the Magyar Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület. Török describes their organizational structure and their customary activities, she investigates the social and ethnic makeup of their memberships and conducts a content analysis of their journals in order to show the shifting patterns of their scholarly interests. She presents subsequent generations of members of the two societies through biographical vignettes about selected Magyar and Saxon scholars.

At its foundation in 1859, the membership of the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület consisted in large part of aristocratic dilettantes, something that changed radically after the society placed its facilities at the disposal of the new university. Thereafter, its ranks were filled by the university faculty, and regular subsidies from the Hungarian state became a major source of its funding. The Landeskundeverein, on the other hand, which had enjoyed the support of Vienna during the neo-absolutist period, took a critical stance towards the Hungarian regime, and it could mostly rely on donations from civil society and on the revenue from its publications. Throughout its existence, its active members mostly came from the Saxon Bildungsbürgertum.

Its strong linkages to the university made the Erdélyi Múzeum-Egyesület more professionalized and thematically more diverse than its Saxon counterpart. During the Dualist Era, it was gradually divided into various sections. In contrast, the Landeskundeverein was better connected across the borders and was regarded with great interest in German academic centers, while its scholarly output fluctuated between positivist standards and provincial amateurism.

Although she regularly mentions parallel or contrasting trends among Romanians, Török chose to limit her focus to the Saxon and the Magyar societies and not to include ASTRA (the Transylvanian Association for Romanian Literature and the Culture of the Romanian People) as her third main object of study. She justifies her choice with reference to ASTRA’s much wider range of activities and by its emphasis from the very outset on the nation rather than on the fatherland, which would make it less relevant for a history of Landeskunde. The first explanation is perhaps not terribly controversial, but attention given to works published by ASTRA or written by ASTRA functionaries that fit into the book’s broad definition of Landeskunde could have put into relief the common features of Saxon and Magyar Transylvanian regionalist scholarship.

Admittedly, the terms Landeskunde and honismeret had no counterpart in Romanian. However, a large segment of the original contributions to Transilvania, the association’s review, effortlessly fall into this category, especially in the later decades. Far from putting ASTRA at odds with the other two learned societies, the Romanian-centered perspective of these contributions in fact also harmonizes with the similarly inward-looking bias of contemporary Magyar and Saxon Landeskunde research. George Bariţ’s Părţi alese is certainly no less regional in scope then Georg Daniel Teutsch’s Sachsengeschichte, and Silvestru Moldovan’s cultural travelogues through Transylvania represent popularizing Landeskunde at its purest.

Török’s omission of ASTRA stands on even more tenuous grounds when she claims that its dedication “to the more modern concept of the ‘nation’” (p.3) was something singular. The assumptions behind this idea also represent the book’s weakest points.

Török advances the hypothesis that the European Republic of Letters, which had been held together by scholarly solidarity and by the common use of Latin, and which had crumbled with the advent of nationalisms and with increasing disciplinary fragmentation, may have had an afterlife on the European periphery, and notably in Transylvania. This hypothesis proves wrong early on, and Török fails to take notice of this. From the moment when she takes up the thread of the story, scholarly activity was already mostly carried out in the vernacular and was compartmentalized along ethno-national lines, both in its social networks and its research agendas. The division only deepened over time.

During the Josephine period, an ethnically mixed, enlightened vanguard rallying in masonic lodges perhaps held the promise of a supra-ethnic Landespatriotismus, but the embryonic academic society of György Aranka, the Magyar offshoot of this milieu, promoted a Transylvanianism steeped in Hungarian noble nationalism. During the first two-thirds of the nineteenth century, attendance of Protestant German universities and the need to use one another’s unpublished archives led to the formation of some bonds between Magyar and Saxon scholars, but both groups used their vernacular standards in their publications, and their ideological lines had irrevocably parted ways, with Saxons cherishing a cult of their community as an eastern outpost of civilization, first against the background of Austrian imperial patriotism and later turning to German nationalism. There was little overlap in membership between the two academic spheres.

Over the period under study, nationalism and regionalism did not so much stand in a relationship of contrast as mutually complement each other. The ideological horizons of the authors quoted usually range from regionally tinged nationalism to nationally tinged Transylvanian patriotism, and their ethno-national ideologies also left marks on their works of declared supra-ethnic, all-Transylvanian scopes. Therefore, a study engaged with the avatars of regional scholarship could have benefitted from a deeper analytical look at the ideological meanings underlying contemporary utterances in order to reconstruct genuinely implied or rhetorically framed combinations of Transylvanian patriotism and ethnic nationalisms. The book does not provide support for its claim that the European Republic of Letters had an afterlife in Transylvania in any non-trivial sense. Rather than the earlier European Republic of Letters, other multiethnic lands of contemporary Europe would have made more suitable objects for comparison, where civil society became segmented along ethno-national lines as the shackles on the freedom of association and press were lifted. The Bohemian Lands come to mind first.

With all the shortcomings that I have pointed out, the nuanced and lucid comparison of the histories of the Saxon and Hungarian societies is certainly an important merit of the book in its own right. Moreover, and quite conveniently for a time and area on which information is scarcely available in English, Török sprinkles her narrative with abundant background knowledge, which will make her book useful as a history of the Magyar and Saxon cultural elites of Transylvania in the period.

Ágoston Berecz


The Politics of Cultural Retreat: Imperial Bureaucracy in Austrian Galicia, 1772–1867. By Iryna Vushko. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015. 328 pp.


Following the First Partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1772, a region the size of today’s Czech Republic and populated by approximately 2.5 million inhabitants at the time became part of the Habsburg Empire, of which it remained a part until the end of World War I. Iryna Vushko examines the first hundred years of Austrian administration in Galicia. She argues that the imperial bureaucracy might have failed in its original aim to forge an imperial Germanophone culture out of the pre-existing political, social, and economic circumstances; in the long run, however, it created structures that allowed for the successful integration of this Crownland into the Habsburg Monarchy. Focusing on people rather than on institutions, she presents her argument in eight chronological and thematic chapters.

The first two chapters are dedicated to the early period of Austrian rule in the last decades of the eighteenth century. Habsburg Enlightened absolutism initially perceived Galicia as a tabula rasa which should be remodeled from scratch; very soon, however, this attitude gave way to a more pragmatic view. The former Polish administrators were dismissed, and Vienna dispatched Austrian bureaucrats to serve in the new Crownland; still, it never sent enough of them. Having at his disposal a mere dozen people in his central office in L’viv and not even as many as 2,000 bureaucrats in the entire province, the first governor, Johann Count Pergen, could hardly reshape the administration of such a huge crownland before the expiration of his two years in office. Before coming to Galicia, quite a number of bureaucrats had actually served in the Bohemian lands and where thus better qualified to administer a province where Polish, Ukrainian, and Yiddish were the most widely spoken languages. Still, many of the officials had ended up in Galicia because they did not qualify to be promoted elsewhere, especially people from the lower ranks. Vushko sensibly pays special attention to Galicia’s long-time governor Joseph Karl Brigido, who between 1780 and 1794 tried to reconcile the impetus of the Enlightenment with the interests of the Polish aristocracy, not least by insisting on a partial opening of the civil service to local nobles.

The third chapter deals with the Austrian bureaucracy during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, it contains numerous factual errors, which contribute to mistaken conclusions. Chapter four touches upon the Galician context of the Polish Uprising in 1830–31, in particular on Prince August von Lobkowitz, Galicia’s acting governor at that time. Sympathizing with the Polish case and overestimating his political agency, he stirred hopes that Austria might intervene on behalf of the insurgents. In the end, Lobkowitz could only provide a relatively friendly welcome to individual refugees after the suppression of the uprising.

Chapters five, six, and seven investigate the Austrian bureaucracy’s relationship with Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups—Poles, Ruthenians, and Jews. While Austrian rule, represented in its provincial government, rather quickly made arrangements with the local noble elites, it did not transfer direct power to them, but rather allowed them to participate in Austrian rule via its bureaucratic apparatus. The increasing contacts between Austrian officials and the local Polish elites prompted assimilation processes that have been more convincingly described by Isabel Röskau-Rydel (Niemiecko-austriackie rodziny urzędnicze w Galicji 1772–1918: Kariery zawodowe – środowisko – akulturacja i asymilacja [2011]).

Chapter six, which focuses on Galicia’s Ruthenians, is certainly the best chapter in the book. It draws more on Vushko’s current project on the variety of national identity choices that individuals made in the Habsburg Empire. She skillfully interweaves the biographies of Wacław Precliczek, a fictitious Habsburg official from Jan Lam’s novel Capowice High Society, and Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the son of Galicia’s very real long-term chief police officer between 1831 and 1848. Lam, himself a Galician novelist from a German-Polish family, draws the picture of a true Habsburg official being transferred from his native Bohemia to Galicia. Married to an anti-German Polish noble and struggling with the need to identify nationally, Precliczek eventually decides to marry his daughter off to a Ruthenian dignitary. The writer Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, on the other hand, is a person who existed in reality but invented for himself a Ruthenian identity in order to exoticize himself, while also underlining his Habsburg-ness at the same time. Vushko rightly claims that these developments were possible only because of Austria’s educational and ecclesiastical policies towards the Greek Catholic, i.e. Ruthenian population in the late eighteenth century. However, this issue is not linked to the book’s overall topic.

In chapter seven, Vushko convincingly suggests that the administration of the Jewish population should be understood as a twofold story. Whereas in the case of the Christians, the state immediately tried to get direct access to its subjects, in the case of the Jewry it relied on intermediary Jewish administrative structures in order to initiate the long-term transformation of Jewish inhabitants into Austrian subjects. She also stresses the enduring effects of Joseph II’s policy, which was based on the implementation of a German-Jewish schooling system supervised by the Enlightener Herz Homberg.

The last chapter deals with two important political events in Galicia, the Polish Uprising in 1846 and the Revolution of 1848. Most interesting in connection with the overall focus of the book is the question of the Austrian bureaucracy’s role during the 1846 upheaval, when Polish peasants, instead of joining the noble insurgents, turned their scythes against their lords. The historiographic assessment strongly varies, and many historians claim that the Austrian bureaucracy at least tolerated if not incited the outbreak of violence. Vushko underlines that there are no documents directly supporting this claim, but that one should refrain from perceiving the Austrian bureaucracy as a uniform institution. Even if the provincial administration would certainly not have approved of looting and the killing of about 1,000 nobles, some officials on the local level might well have been in no haste to contain the violence.

Perhaps the most important lesson to learn from Iryna Vushko’s book is that indeed one should not understand the Austrian bureaucracy as always having been consistent, and one should keep in mind that officials had some administrative discretion. The other key message of her monograph is that one must consider the long-term consequences, intended or not, of Habsburg administration for the political and social development of Galicia, even if many administrative measures proved unsuccessful in the beginning. According to the stylistic usages of American scholarly publications, Vushko repeats these messages time and time again.

Ultimately, I am quite troubled with the book’s title and the cultural arguments brought forward by the author. In fact, Vushko seems to be skeptical as well with regards to some of her contentions. While she draws a picture of a cultural struggle starting with the annexation of Galicia in 1772, she rightly does not conceive of Galicia’s ethno-confessional groups in an essentialist way. Her argument that Vienna wanted to install a uniform Germanophone but supra-national bureaucracy is on the money, but allowing educated Polish locals to enter the Austrian civil service was in no way a “cultural retreat.” On the contrary, it fits perfectly with the logic of an imperial bureaucracy, and there is absolutely nothing paradoxical about it. In the end, Vushko seems to disprove the argument herself when she shows that when the central state ceded power to Galician Poles in the aftermath of the Revolution of 1848, it transferred control to Polonophone imperial officials who were from inside and not from outside the system.

I also find it difficult to maintain that the Habsburg Empire intended its bureaucracy to be the spearhead of a future supra-national Germanophone culture and society. I do not discern a strong intention towards Germanization, for instance, in the province’s educational system, in which quite a number of Polish and Ukrainian elementary schools were set up and manuals published in these languages during the first decades of Habsburg rule. Agreeably, the sole exception are Galicia’s Jews, who indeed were urged to attend Enlightened German-Jewish schools. Vushko herself explicitly states that before 1848 the crucial identifiers were status and rank (and not ethnicity), and one should refrain from writing the history of Galicia as story of national conflict; yet, the dramaturgy of the book strongly follows this line.

All in all the reader is left with mixed feelings. For English-speaking scholars who are not able to read the rich German and Polish secondary literature on the Austrian and Galician bureaucracy, the monograph may well prove useful.

Börries Kuzmany


Military Culture and Popular Patriotism in Late Imperial Austria. By Laurence Cole. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014. 376 pp.


Laurence Cole is known for his expertise on the late Habsburg Monarchy and topics such as military culture, national identities and loyalties, and civil, military, and imperial relations. In his first monograph,“Für Gott, Kaiser und Vaterland:” Nationale Identität der deutschsprachigen Bevölkerung Tirols 1860–1914, which was published in 2000, he looks behind the curtain of national belonging as a stable category. Drawing on the writings of Rogers Brubaker, Cole describes nationality as a process in which several agents are involved. He focuses on the example of the German speakers in Tyrol, who became increasingly aware and were pushed to become increasingly aware of their Germaness. In Glanz-Gewalt-Gehorsam: Militär und Gesellschaft in der Habsburgermonarchie (1800 bis 1918), which was published in 2011 and edited by Cole, Christa Hämmerle, and Martin Scheutz, several authors present fresh insights into “new military history.” In other words, they deal not with operations, uniforms, and wars, but rather with different aspects of civil-military relations in the late Habsburg Monarchy and the Habsburg Army.

Cole’s recent book also adopts this approach. He focuses on a specific group of military Habsburg/Austrian actors. Veterans and their associations, although important in numbers as well as in their impact on commemoration, have hitherto been neglected in the historiography. It might be that veterans were not warriors enough to make military historians want to deal with them. On the other hand, to deal with veterans does require insight into the structure of the army, so perhaps the topic seemed overly “military” for cultural historians. Cole, however, offers an exciting combination of military and cultural history. He describes military actors as part of the local civil society, examining not simply how, as a consequence of compulsory conscription, male civilians became part of the army for a time, but also how veterans’ organizations (often together with the local garrisons) played roles in local cultural life. Cole deals mainly with peace-time veterans, who certainly differed from war-time veterans in their understandings of themselves. Most of the veterans Cole describes, especially in the later years, had never experienced a war (with the exception of the occupation of Bosnia-Hercegovina in 1878).

Many historians use the term “Habsburg” in the titles of their books or articles, in spite of the fact that often they deal exclusively with the Austrian half of the empire or with one nationality only. From the outset, Cole emphasizes that he is dealing with an assortment of regions within the empire. Most of them were circumscribed by “language borders,” in the sense of Pieter M. Judson’s 2006 book, Guardians of the Nation. These selected examples of multiethnic and multilingual regions are Tyrol/Trentino (populated mainly by German and Italian speakers), Istria/Trieste (populated mainly by Slovene, German, and Italian speakers), and Littoral (adding Croats). To focus on Austria makes sense, as veterans’ associations in Austria, given their spheres of action, often had to negotiate with local civil authorities as well as ministries. They therefore all acted within a comparable legal and administrative framework. Nevertheless, Cole describes the interactions between local military associations and civilians, and this feature of his book makes his inquiry a history from below, which often takes imperial responses into account.

One might ask whether the efforts of these veterans’ organizations to engage in local public life, what Cole calls “popular patriotism,” were solely expressions of imperial loyalty. Cole offers examples in support of his contention that the purpose and aim of these veterans’ societies reflected a diverse array of interests. On the one hand, these associations served social purposes, e.g. supporting invalid soldiers and their families. They often organized cultural festivities in order to collect money. But these festivities often served as means of self-representation, too.

Cole also focuses on the transnational nature of these veterans’ associations. Members came from all parts of the monarchy, all nationalities, and all social classes. Nevertheless, most of the influential figures were retired officers of the common army, who therefore brought their understanding of imperial loyalty and its forms of public expression into the daily work and duties of the associations. It would have been interesting to consider the extent to which these veterans’ organizations had conflicts with one another. I assume conflicts arose not only because of national or regional patriotic issues, but also because of a kind of outbidding, i.e. attempts to outdo one another in their expressions of patriotisms. The associations were competitors in the end, competing for financial support, but also public attention. Cole offers several examples demonstrating this. Veterans jealously monitored one another’s festivities, failures, and successes. Who got more media attention? Who was able to invite the better known public figures? With regards to the associations’ attempts to influence public perceptions, it mattered whether they had the support of a Habsburg archduke or archduchess or merely an “ordinary” retired general. Thus, Cole’s book also sheds light, through the lens of the cultural endeavors of veterans’ associations, on the ways in which members of the Habsburg family participated in public events, sometimes as imperial agents. This includes refusals by members of the Habsburg family to participate and the reasons underlying these refusals.

Since the publication of Nancy M. Wingfield’s 2007 Flag Wars and Stone Saints and Daniel Unowsky’s 2005 The Pomp and Politics of Patriotism, the community of historians has known a great deal more about the importance of everyday interactions in different parts of Austria when it came to public commemorations. One of the most prominent military-historic figures across all of the territories of the Monarchy was certainly Field Marshal Radetzky. Cole describes the role of the veterans in shaping perceptions of Radetzky and contributing to his emergence as a figure of such symbolic importance.

In addition to offering an outstanding analysis, Cole also draws attention to the organization of these associations, their activities, and their composition, meaning the professional, social, and cultural backgrounds of their members. Although mostly supranational, they were not unaffected by local nationalisms, to which they had to react. Cole offers an interesting insight concerning the ways in which former soldiers and officers dealt with language issues. Were depictions of Radetzky on memorial plaques described in other languages than in German? Which languages did veterans use when communicating internally and externally? Were public announcements always printed in all local languages, or just in German? Cole also breaks with the assumption that some nationalities were consistently loyal while others were consistently disloyal to the empire, emperor, and army.

Laurence Cole has published an important work on the relationship between different local communities, military veterans, and high administrative institutions in Vienna. The book is easy to read, though it remains analytical. Due to the structure of the chapters, it is highly suitable for use in teaching. Cole bases his study on an impressive range of archival sources, including central institutions in Vienna and numerous local archives. Here I may point to one shortcoming of the book: although I am aware of the fact that it is always a matter of available space, but it would have been good to include the original version of archival texts, and not to provide only English translations.

Military Culture and Popular Patriotism certainly fills a gap, not only in Habsburg historiography, but also in our understanding of the roles played by veterans during peacetime in a multiethnic, multilingual country.

Tamara Scheer

Apple of Discord: The “Hungarian Factor” in Austro–Serbian Relations, 1867–1881. By Ian D. Armour. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue University Press, 2014. 347 pp.

Ian D. Armour’s book is a perfect example of a work of diplomatic history that is “total” in its approach, by which I mean that it sets aims far more ambitious than those of traditional (and also quite numerous) analyses of bilateral relations, and it also surpasses these traditional studies in the scholarly standards it meets. Armour’s primary contention is that, after 1867, not only did new possibilities emerge for Hungarians to play roles in foreign policy, but opportunities also emerged for Hungarians to further their foreign interests, even though in principle the Compromise did not create any formal or institutional framework for this (formally, the Compromise only allowed for a single, “imperial” foreign policy). The foreign policy pursued by Hungarians often differed significantly from and even ran against the “imperial” ideas and interests, both in its goals and, even more frequently, in its means. One clear example of this was the appointment of the later common Foreign Minister and administrator of the Condominium of Bosnia and Hercegovina Benjamin Kállay to serve as consul in Belgrade in 1868, when at the same time Anton Prokesch-Osten, the ambassador in Istanbul, was a representative of the Austrian imperial idea. Another example would be the support given by Hungarians for Michael Obrenović, who had a Hungarian wife and estates in Hungary, and their opposition to the Karađorđević family, which was hardly beloved of the Hungarian nation because of the role it had played in 1848. For Austria, the Karađorđević family was emblematic of loyalty to the dynasty. In the background, the two Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Friedrich Beust and Gyula Andrássy, represented contradictory conceptions and ideologies. The former supported a foreign policy that focused on western Europe, while Andrássy promised a more active anti-Russian foreign policy in the Balkans. At the same time Andrássy and Kállay initially rejected the acquisition of Bosnia, in marked contrast with the aspirations of the Emperor, Beust and his circles. Andrássy opposed the idea of an essentially Southern Slav Balkan/Danubian Federation in the interests of protecting the Monarchy, and his opposition had an anti-Russian edge. At same time, he was apprehensive about the strengthening of the Slavic peoples within the Monarchy, which he feared might weaken the dualist structure of the state. For Kállay, the Danubian Confederation represented a counterweight to Habsburg rule (precisely these two reasons were behind his support for the idea of pledging Bosnia to Serbia—in other words, he was not influenced by a Romantic vision of Southern Slav brotherhood, but rather by political self-interest). While Kállay may have been the first Hungarian follower of John Stuart Mill, his notion of liberalism was nonetheless very distant from that of the Englishman. The notion of a Danubian confederation as a counterweight to Habsburg rule may perhaps have fit into this framework, but for instance the role that Kállay exerted in the Karađorđević trial (a role driven by political interests) was in stark contradiction with the principles of classical liberalism. Added to all this was the Croatian question and the problem of the relationship to Serbia and Hungary of the Serbs of Voivodina, who had become more important pieces on the political chess board, since the fate of Bosnia was of key importance from the perspective of winning—or losing—their trust.

Obviously, Armour’s “total” approach is rife with complexity and risk given the complicacy of the network of relationships. The divergent visions of Beust and Andrássy make an analysis of the relationships between Prussia and France indispensable. Indeed, an analysis of Hungarian–Croatian, Austrian–Croatian, and Serb–Croatian relations is similarly indispensable to a nuanced understanding of Hungary’s foreign policy ambitions. The prevailing domestic situation exerted a significant influence of Hungarian foreign policy, the essential goal of which was to ensure the viability of Dualism and dismantle the movements among the national minorities within the Empire. From this perspective, it was not at all obvious, for instance, that Andrássy, who was seen as liberal, would proffer Hungary’s support for the liberal-nationalist party in Voivodina and the Serbian nationalist party in Serbia. Indeed, it seemed far more likely that they would enjoy the support of the conservative groups (who favored a limited constitution and strong central power), for instance Milivoje Blaznavac, who served as Minister of Defense and later regent, or Prince Michael. However, this support only seemed likely, for the fault lines in Serbian politics appeared not only on the ideological plane, but also in foreign policy orientation, and these fault lines did not overlap. Not every liberal was also pro-Russian, and not every conservative was pro-Austrian. The elements of French ideology that influenced Serbian politicians could be favorable (the idea of the nation state) or unfavorable (liberalism, nationalism) from the perspective of Hungarian foreign policy.

These complex networks of relationships and inclinations in domestic and foreign policy must be analyzed both from the Hungarian and the Serbian perspective, and this creates further complications. The Serbian prince had to appease public opinion, which called for the liberation of the oppressed Slavic peoples, while also giving due consideration to the actual political constellation. It is hardly surprising that Armour has chosen 1867 as the starting point for his analysis, since with the defeat of the Austrian Empire at the Battle of Königgrätz a new European great power came into existence, namely Prussia, and Austria had to reassess its role and position in Europe, as well as its goals. The Habsburg Empire had effectively been pushed out of Western Europe, and the compromise with Hungary meant both a new Balkan orientation and a long-term rivalry with Russia (and Germany). Michael, Prince of Serbia had to choose between a Balkan Alliance the essential function of which was unclear (Kállay and his circle clearly would not have been pleased if the Alliance had been created in order to attack the Ottoman Empire or if it had acquired a defensive, anti-Habsburg edge) or having the support of a great power. The question was which was more likely to ensure Serbia’s territorial growth and domestic and foreign policy stability. Bosnia was the Apple of Discord, since Austria, Serbia, and Croatia all sought to claim it, and Andrássy’s original idea of promising it to Serbia (this offer may or may not have been sincere, as Armour discusses on pp. 121-155) sowed the seeds of discord between Austria, Croatia, and the Serbs of southern Hungary and Serbia. In Armour’s assessment, originally the Hungarians had not intended to use Bosnia to drive a wedge between Austria, Croatia, and Serbia, but had pursued a genuinely “positive” foreign policy in the Balkans (in the service of their aforementioned anti-Russian and in part anti-Austrian aims). Only looking back had they realized the potential uses of this “premature” promise. Of course the idea of giving Bosnia to Serbia also meant that the other parties would turn against Hungary, which is why the plan was later abandoned.

The approach Armour has adopted requires knowledge of several languages, as well as research in a number of different sites given the scattered nature of the sources. Furthermore, since the secondary literature on the subject is marked by a striking one-sidedness, Armour had to show remarkable critical sensitivity and subtlety in his use of the works of other scholars. His knowledge of languages (Hungarian, Serbian, and German) enables him to offer a thorough assessment at the beginning of his book of the secondary literature in these three languages. This in and of itself constitutes a significant strength of his study in comparison with the relatively one-sided works, which are more limited in their use of sources and, hence, their perspectives. Armour’s book is the first work in English in which the Serbian, Austrian, and Hungarian primary sources and secondary literature are given appropriate (and balanced) emphasis. (The bibliography itself is twenty pages long.) In addition, he also discussed his ideas in person with other scholars on the subject (for instance Imre Ress).

The only weakness of his book lies precisely in its comprehensiveness and the array of perspectives it adopts. While the manner in which he presents contrasting stances in the historiography and identifies contradictions which arise from the one-sidedness of the existing secondary literature, Armour’s own argumentation is not persuasive precisely because of this multiplicity of perspectives. It is often complex and circuitous, or it rests on assumptions (for instance, the contentions he makes concerning the hypothetical goal of Andrássy’s agreements concerning Bosnia in 1867/68, pp.19–55, 121–55). At the same time, the structure of the book is logical, balanced, and proportional. The individual chapters address clearly identified diplomatic problems, and consequently the shifts in foreign policy are similarly clear and accessible to analysis. The emphasis on the events of 1870–1871 is also understandable, since the great power constellation (the Franco–Prussian War) and the maneuverings of the small states and their search for allies are all presented, along with the situation of the Bosniaks (pp.155–259). Armour could have devoted a few more pages to the events of 1875–1878to discuss the ideas and aspirations of the Russians, the British, and the Austro–Hungarians (pp.259–83). Fundamentally, the reader gets the very clear impression that the foreign policy of the Hungarians was based not on any ideological principles, but rather on opportunistic attempts to further the interests of the moment. On the other hand, the appointment of Andrássy as Minister of Foreign Affairs constituted a sharp shift: the political visions and ideas which had been vying for prominence within the Monarchy gave way to a single, general bearing (perhaps a bit paradoxically, this general bearing later changed dramatically in comparison with the original logic, and several elements of Beust’s vision for the Balkans were adopted).

This book was clearly written for specialists, i.e. scholars of the diplomatic history of the Balkans. It will be particularly edifying for representatives of the arguably narrowly focused, (romantic) nationalist historiography of the region, which always seems to be struggling to compensate a bit for the perceived marginality of the region and its states.

Gábor Demeter

Whose Bosnia? Nationalism and Political Imagination in the Balkans, 1840–1914. By Edin Hajdarpašić. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2015. 271 pp.


Edin Hajdarpašić’s book is about nineteenth-century nation-building, a critical phenomenon both in European and Bosnian history. Through rigorous study of a plethora of archival records and primary sources (including newspapers and works of literature and art), it examines the emergence of the narratives that were critical to nation-building processes and the rise of nationalist movements primarily in Serbia, Montenegro, and Croatia, countries or regions whose political intellectual elites aimed to influence the loyalties of the peoples of Bosnia and, in doing so, gain control over its territory.

The author provides a clear theoretical framework for his study, drawing for instance on the work of Miroslav Hroch and Eugen Weber, who stress the roles of elites as well as masses, armies, schools, and administration in the transformation of ordinary people into members of a nation. He extends this theory to the mobilization of youth, the importance of money, the demonization of the “other,” violence and killings in the promotion of national awareness and pride and, eventually, liberalization (pp.109–111, 129–134, 141–153).

Hajdarpašić devotes the first part of his book to the awakening of Serb and Croat identity and the notion of Serb and Croat unity in order to free the region from the Ottoman yoke. He presents various actors (students, academics, politicians, and teachers), who began to gain prominence in the 1830s. His focus is Vuk Karadžić, an acknowledged Serb philologist for whom language, poetry and folklore were of utmost importance. Karadžić drew attention to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he claimed that the purest version of the language was spoken, a version that, in his view, should be used as the linguistic standard (p.23). While collecting folk tales from peasants, Karadžić gradually entered the political sphere, as he wrote about liberation from Ottoman oppression, joined the uprising, and published epics depicting the fight against the Turks as a political duty of Serb patriots. Still, the term “Turk” did not refer exclusively to the Ottomans. It was used as a term for all Muslims. Karadžić considered Bosnian Muslims as originally Serbs, because they spoke “his” language and not Turkish. He regarded them as people who would have to be converted “back” to the Orthodox Christian faith: “in due time, we will be joined by our brothers of the Turkish faith, our brothers by kin and by language—across Bosnia and Herzegovina—then we will be united like the Germans of the Catholic, Lutheran, and Calvinist denominations” (p.33). Thus, Bosnia and Herzegovina gradually became the center of the greater-Serbia ideology and the heartland of the community of Southern Slavs, which would later be named Yugoslavia. The Serb national movement was linked to the Illyrian movement, as Croats named it, which became known among intellectual circles even outside the borders of the region. In the second chapter, Hajdarpašić discusses a wide range of activists and writers who contributed to the proliferation of nationalist projects, marked by images of suffering, awakening, and liberation. Throughout the book, he examines stereotypes about Islam, Muslims, and Turks, as well as the living conditions of Ottoman subjects. These images of violence, oppression, agony, darkness, evil, impoverishment, and slavery had a political significance “from diplomacy to poetry, from newspaper offices to painting exhibitions—that had a lasting transnational resonance” (p.55). Furthermore, as Hajdarpašić shows, these sources link Christians and Christianity to liberty, light, and morality (p.57). Serb and Croat nation-buildings were founded on these premises (pp.55-89), and I would add that this remains true of the self-images and national narratives of these two countries and cultures today. However, Hajdarpašić fails to stress that the Serb and Croat nation-states were not simply the result of discontent within the Ottoman and later Austro-Hungarian Empires. They were also products of the general post-Enlightenment Spring of Nations all over Europe.

When Bosnia was handed over to Austria-Hungary in 1878, “new interpretations tried to soften the tone of the earlier literature.” Bosnian Muslims were treated as “rediscovered brothers,” a shift that was influenced by the fact that Austria-Hungary had a rather friendly policy towards the indigenous Bosnian Muslims on the one hand, while the Serbs needed the Muslims to expel the Habsburgs from Bosnia on the other (p.80). Hajdarpašić examines this in detail in chapter three.

Neighboring Serbia provided strong support for efforts to build a nation and a state through subversive activities in Bosnia, such as the Young Bosnia organization, of which Gavrilo Princip, who later shot Archduke Franz Ferdinand, was a member (p.108). In the fourth chapter, Hajdarpašić examines the importance of a passionate, politically conscious, and educated youth to the attainment of nationalist goals. The fifth and last part of the book presents the narrative as it found expression in various newspapers in Bosnia, and Hajdarpašić analyzes the roles of these articles in fostering patriotic sentiments, language, and identity.

On the one hand, Hajdarpašić offers a thorough study of an impressive array of primary sources, and this makes the book a valuable piece of scholarship. On the other, he fails to consult (or at least fails to refer to) other relevant Bosnian authors, such as Safvet-beg Bašagić and Hamdija Kreševljaković, whose works would have given an additional perspective and complemented his narrative. Furthermore, the role of the Bosnian language and Bosniak identity is insufficiently elaborated in the Bosnian context. Hajdarpašić uses the term “Serbo-Croat” to refer to the common language of Bosnia. Interestingly, the Bosnian Franciscan Ivan Franjo Jukić, whom Hajdarpašić cites extensively, claims that Bosnia preserved its local Bosnian language (“bosanski”), despite the strong influence of Ottoman Turkish (Zemljopis i povijestnica Bosne, [1851], p.16). However, due to imported and growing Serbo-Croat nationalism, the Bosnian language gradually disappeared. Hajdarpašić shows that Bosniak (Bošnjak) at one point was an all-inclusive name for all of the inhabitants of the region, regardless of their religion. As the Ottoman millet system tended to identify its subjects on the basis of religious categories, Bosniak identity was not that relevant. Serb nationalists like Dositej Obradović and Ilija Garašanin, whose significance Hajdarpašić addresses from several perspectives, wrote about Catholic and Orthodox Bosniaks. However, as Hajdarpašić observes, in the time of the Serb and Croat nation-building movements, school teachers in particular were brought to Bosnia to teach future generations that they were not Orthodox or Catholic, but rather Serbs and Croats, respectively (p.111). Hence, the term Bosniak remained as a designation for the Bosnian Muslim population, for whom Islamic identity was more important than national identity. This made them seem like potential allies to all sides, as the author states: “both Habsburg officials and Serbian-Croatian nationalists came to perceive Bosnian Muslims as a pivotal political group whose yet-to-be-determined national allegiances could make or break their respective projects. Because Muslims appeared as (br)others in these competing national visions, struggles over their ambiguous patriotic potential were especially loaded in Bosnian politics” (p.178).

In the end, an answer to the question asked in the title, “whose Bosnia?” is given at the very beginning of the book: “It is important to remember that Serbian and Croatian movements were inseparably intertwined projects that developed shared repertoires, aims and practices, especially as they concerned Bosnia-Herzegovina. Leading South Slavic figures frequently depicted Bosnia as a space of Serbo-Croatian national convergence … at the same time, however, rival nationalist claims explicitly opposed each other, claiming Bosnia exclusively for one or the other side” (p.10).

This book introduces new perspectives to our understanding of nationalism in Bosnia, which was, as Hajdarpašić persuasively argues, imported from neighboring countries. Given the wealth of primary sources on which Hajdarpašić draws, his inquiry goes into an amazing level of detail and offers an immense range of information. It will be particularly useful to students and scholars of history, political science, cultural anthropology, sociology, and linguistics.

Dževada Šuško

Nationalizing Empires: Edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller. (Historical Studies in Eastern Europe and Eurasia) Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2015. vi+691 pp.


Did nations follow on the ruins of empires? When Eric Hobsbawm’s Age of Empire came out in 1987, the answer seemed clear. Empire meant the culmination of capitalism’s global expansion, the apogee of European bourgeois liberalism, which acted out its conflicts and contradictions on the periphery before these conflicts and contradictions plunged the European continent into the extremes of two world wars. Even beyond this Marxist line of interpretation, the notion of empire, applied to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, implied colonies and their exploitation, to the extent that ambitious nation states such as Germany, itself an empire in name, felt the need to acquire distant colonies so as to underpin its self-proclaimed global status. Nationalism, on the contrary, was the most powerful challenge to empires, and in the long run it was victorious, at least from a late twentieth century perspective. The volume edited by Stefan Berger and Alexei Miller, two eminent scholars of Germany’s and Russia’s modern history, sets out to challenge this dichotomy. It is not the first book to do so, but the scope of its argument is unprecedented. It is based on a number of insightful case studies, predictable ones on the British, French, Spanish, German, Habsburg, Russian, and Ottoman Empires, as well as surprising ones on Denmark and Venice. This mere list indicates that the conventional dichotomy of sea and land empires is also being quickly dissolved, with inspiring results.

The main argument of the book can be summed up as follows: in all of the cases under discussion, nation resonated with empire. The two corresponded with each other and were far from mutually exclusive. The imperial context shaped the formation of the core nation (or two core nations in the case of the Habsburg Monarchy) and gave them a lasting imprint. In many of the cases under consideration, the distinction itself between the core nation and its imperial territories cannot easily be drawn. Colonies differed from peripheral provinces only insofar as racial hierarchies were more distinctive in the former, and access to citizenship was graded—with massive consequences for the form of administration and the use of violence, one is tempted to add. All of the chapters focus on political imagination, the discourses of empire and nationalism, and the loyalties they inspired. Some of them equally focus on institutions and governance, and the mere fact that others do not follow suit raises the question whether, in a comparative perspective, this might be more than a matter of the predilections of the individual authors. The summarizing comments by Alfred J. Rieber on the role of the military and Jörn Leonhard on the crises of empire point in this direction, as does the concluding comment by Dominic Lieven.

Neil Evans spells out the agenda of the volume with regards to the British case. The British Empire, he argues, had a crucial impact on the integration of the British state, which had been formed by the union between England and Scotland in 1707. Had it not been for the common imperial enterprise, common experiences of identity and otherness, common imperial issues (such as the army or the debates on slavery), it would have been even more difficult to accommodate the distinctive regional consciousness of Scotland and Wales, let alone Ireland. Even the debates on women’s suffrage were affected by the imperial framework. Michael Broers discusses the imperial dimensions of Napoleonic rule in Europe, which provided a strong model of government for its successors. After 1830, nation and empire came close to merging in France, as Robert Aldrich argues, and Aldrich identifies “parallel dynamisms” (p.144) in the colonization and provincialization of the colonies, which were turned into outposts of Frenchness. Xosé-Manuel Núñez follows a similar line of argument in the Spanish case. He demonstrates that, in the nineteenth century, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines were very much provinces of the liberal Spanish state, though excluded from the benefits of a liberal constitution (p.221). As was the case in Britain, governing an empire provided a strong incentive to mold the regions at home into one. Once the overseas possessions were lost, regionalism at home reemerged, with Catalan nationalism being a case in point.

Stefan Berger argues in a similar vein that German nation-building after 1871 was very much shaped by the common framework of colonialist discourse and even more so by imagining Eastern Europe as Germany’s colonial frontier. Intellectual and military elites intertwined notions of Heimat, nation, and empire, while the colonial imagination permeated school textbooks, science, and navalist dreams. The imperial imagination in many ways defined the national core. Yet Berger is careful not to overstretch the argument: mass domestic migration and overseas emigration to North America rather than to real or imagined colonies show that economic issues were more relevant to the integration of the new German nation.

Alexei Miller’s chapter on Russia makes it clear that the Romanov Empire was far from being an obstacle in the path of emerging Russian nationalism, as has often been argued. On the contrary, nationalist discourse was very much defined by the notion of an ongoing struggle on the Western periphery between Russianness and Polishness, and later in the nineteenth century by notions of a civilizing mission towards the East. Only the collapse of the Russian Empire, the loss of Poland and the unexpected establishment of a Byelorussian and a Ukrainian Soviet Republic deprived Russian nationalism of one of its major impulses. One wonders whether this argument, convincing as it might be for the 1920s, still holds in the light of current developments in the Ukraine and their Russian repercussions (and vice versa).

Andrea Komlosy interprets the dualist setup of the Habsburg Monarchy as two parallel attempts at Austrian and Hungarian nation-building, one being political and federalist, the other ethnic and centralist, and both ultimately doomed to failure. This might not be entirely novel, but it adds substantially to the overall picture. The chapter would have been even more convincing had it been based on more than comprehensive handbook syntheses and a rather selective use of path-breaking monographs that have reshaped our understanding of the Monarchy over the course of the last two decades. There is no mention of the works by Gary Cohen, Pieter Judson or Jeremy King, to name but a few. Everything Komlosy has to say on Hungary is based on László Kontler’s synthesis and Robert Nemes’ equally insightful monograph on Budapest. A thorough discussion of Daniel Unowsky’s work might have highlighted the lasting cohesive power of monarchical representation until the death of Francis Joseph. Finally, the omission of R. J. W. Evans’ seminal works on the making of the Early Modern Habsburg Monarchy results in a surprising failure on Komlosy’s part to consider baroque Catholicism and its legacy as a distinct and integrating cultural foundation for Austria-Hungary.

In a way, Komlosy’s argument concerning the multinational character of Austrian nation-building is linked to Howard Eissenstat’s chapter on the Ottoman Empire. Eissenstat sets out to demonstrate that Ottomanism, Islamism, and Turkism should not be seen as a successive series of distinct attempts to reform the Ottoman Empire. Ottomanism was rather a pragmatic set of shifting reformist ideas which turned more Muslim with the loss of the Balkan provinces. Empire and nation can be seen in the Turkish case as an ideational continuum, where the imperial idea was continually narrowed down to its national elements.

David Laven and Elsa Damien unfold the Venetian expansionist legacy to reveal Italian nationalism and, subsequently, Italian fascism. Thus, they add another facet to the amazing variety of ways in which empire was inscribed into national discourse. Uffe Østergård follows a different path in his chapter on the forgotten history of the multiethnic Danish state, which ruled large parts of the northern Atlantic before it lost Norway in 1818. With this loss, the previous balance of nations collapsed, and Enlightenment reform discourse spilled over into Danish–German national conflict. Aside from offering an inspiringly novel interpretation of Danish history, this chapter raises substantial questions concerning the entire volume. If Denmark is included, why not Sweden, about which, as Østergård argues, a very similar story could be told? Why not the Netherlands, Belgium or Portugal, one might add? Do not all European states in one way or another have an imperial history? What would the US-American experience add to the picture? Østergård quickly concedes that empire might be a misleading concept and that, in the case of Denmark, one should speak rather of a composite state.

This remark presents a substantial challenge to the entire volume. Empire, as depicted throughout all of the chapters, might indeed well be seen as a specific, or maybe even not so specific version of the Early Modern composite state that had been common throughout Europe for centuries, transferred by some onto a global scale. Seen in this way, empires, as much as nations, were legitimate heirs to the Early Modern state, its accumulation of power, and its changing aspirations for legitimacy. They were defined not so much by their multiethnic nature and even less by colonial possessions, but by their composite nature. Or, as Jean-Frédéric Schaub puts it at the end of his insightful comment, “[a]re we sure we can analytically distinguish national kingdoms from multinational empires?” (p.571). Anyone seeking an answer to questions of this sort will find a wealth of material in this significant volume.

Joachim von Puttkamer

Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon [The consequences of World War I in Hungary]. Edited by Béla Tomka. Budapest: Országgyűlés Hivatala, 2015. 344 pp.


The centenary of the outbreak of World War I has come and gone. In the United States, for historical reasons, interest in the event remained confined to professional historians and WWI enthusiasts. In Europe, where World War I cost more lives and left deeper wounds, the reading public and political elites remained preoccupied with the question of the origins of and responsibility for the conflict. Although the Dual Monarchy was a party to the outbreak of World War I and Hungary suffered some of the heaviest losses during the conflict, the question of the origins of the war and the military events is met with relatively limited interest in Hungary today. As one of the authors in the volume reviewed here, József Takáts, rightly notes, World War I has become history in Hungary; the civil war that followed it between 1918 and 1921, on the other hand, represents a past that refuses to be forgotten.

The book reviewed here, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon, edited by Béla Tomka, includes fourteen highly readable essays and bears testimony to the uninterrupted professional and public interest in the Hungarian civil war. The first essay, “World War I as a Historical Boundary,” by Béla Tomka examines the place of World War I in history. More specifically, Tomka questions the degree to which the military conflict can be considered a historical turning point. Tomka identifies the rapid increase in violence (in both qualitative and quantitative terms), mass mobilization, the birth of propaganda, the introduction of censorship, and technological inventions (such as poison gas, tanks and airplanes) as the most immediate consequences of the war. The war, he believes, marked the end of colonial expansion, increased state invention in the economy, destroyed the global market, undermined the stability of the global financial system, and paved the way to the rise of democracy and the welfare state. The impact of World War I, Tomka argues, could be felt even in the second half of the twentieth century: the perpetrators of genocide and ethnic cleansing and the proponents of forced assimilation after 1950 learned their trade from the criminals of World War I. In his related essay, “The World’s Great Catastrophe or Europe’s Tragedy,” János Gyurgyák highlights several paradoxes in the history of the conflict. The war, he argues, was meant to solve existing problems; yet in the end, it not only failed to address old concerns but also created new ones. Gyurgyák considers World War I primarily as a European conflict and tragedy rather than a world event and catastrophe; after all, the greatest loser of the war, he argues, was not “the world,” but the nations of Europe, with 1918 marking the end of European domination in world politics and commerce.

József Takáts’s contribution, “Diverging Uses of Language: Political Discourse in Hungary after World War I,” sheds new light on the changes in political language in the last phase and the immediate aftermath of the military conflict. Takáts identifies the major motifs of this new language as: the widespread use of military expressions, metaphors, and narratives; increasing appeals to hate, revenge, and the annihilation of the enemy, both domestic and foreign; more frequent appeals to religious sentiments and increased use of religious metaphors; and the spread of racist language and the popularity of biological images. These shifts, according to Takáts, were direct consequences of and responses to the war and the Treaty of Trianon. They were accompanied by the rise of a “political entrepreneurial class” and a new right-wing intellectual elite, which was also in part a consequence of the treaty. With the collapse of the multiethnic Hungary, the relatively open concept of the nation increasingly gave way to the more restrictive idea of the race. After 1919, the socialist Left was on the retreat, both politically and culturally. But the greatest problem was, according to Takáts, the weakening of the political middle. In the interwar period, words like democracy, human rights, individual freedom, moderation, and tolerance lost their appeal to the majority of the population. Gergely Bödők’s essay, “Political Violence after World War I: Revolution and Counterrevolution in Hungary and Central Europe” looks more closely at the rise of paramilitary movements and politics after 1918. The author attributes the rapid rise in political violence after the Great War in Europe primarily to the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the atrocities committed in the name of the new regime and its ideology. Yet, the counterrevolution was well underway before the establishment of the Communist regime in Hungary; the number of attacks on Jews also reached a new height in the summer and fall of 1918, months before the Communist takeover. The pogroms, armed robberies, and political executions, in my opinion, had more to do with the “retreat of the state” and scapegoating than with revenge or reaction to Communist crimes. As Bödők rightly shows, the agents of the Hungarian Red Terror, the Lenin Boys and the members of the Csernyi Detachment, were rough soldiers and working-class thugs motivated by anarchist ideas, greed, love of adventure, and sadism. Their White counterparts, the members of the officers’ companies, on the other hand, were moved by revenge, the officers’ sense of superiority over the civilian population, and antisemitism. Bödők’s article, moreover, emphasizes that the number of people executed for their participation in anti-Communist resistance was around 400, not 600, as previously believed, and Bödők also argues that fewer than 2 000 people fell victim to the White Terror in 1919 and 1920 (not 3 000 or 5 000, as many contemporaries and later historians have contended).

Ignác Romsics’s essay, “The Great Powers and the Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy,” sheds light on the changing strategies and plans of the Entente powers and the United States during the war, dispelling several myths about the origins of the Treaty of Trianon. Romsics argues that the most determined enemy of Austria-Hungary, the power which sought its dismemberment from the start before 1917, was Russia, and had the Russian Empire ended up on the side of the victors, Hungary not only would have suffered the same or even heavier territorial losses, it would have ended up as a satellite state of its giant eastern neighbor. France, contrary to popular belief, did not seek to destroy the Monarchy and dismember Hungary from the start, but preferred a federalist solution. Britain and the United States occupied an intermediate position between France and Russia. The key events that changed the strategy of the Western powers were the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917, the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk in March 1918, and the economic and strategic cooperative agreements signed between the Dual Monarchy and Imperial Germany after the latter. Romsics persuasively argues that the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk also opened the way first to Polish unification and, a few months later, to the creation of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. The die was cast: the fate of the Monarchy, and within it Hungary, was sealed before the end of the war.

László Szarka’s essay “National Development, Minority Politics in the Multi-Ethnic States of Central Europe: The First Years of the Versailles System” puts the Hungarian tragedy in a regional and continental context to show that the treaties with Austria and Hungary had nothing to do with the lofty principles and values championed by the Western powers. The victors forbade the holding of referendums in contested provinces, and they rejected the idea of autonomy. The losers and the winners, of course, viewed the peace treaty very differently. Hungarians perceived Trianon as a criminal injustice and a form of punishment. The interwar Hungarian regimes wanted to annul rather than revise the treaty; blinded to reality, they continued to question the right of the neighboring states to exist. The Czech, Slovak, Yugoslav and Romanian elites, on the other hand, perceived the peace treaty with Hungary as a product of organic developments, a fulfillment of old aspirations, historical justice, and a guarantor of international recognition and respect.

Gábor Gyáni’s essay examines commemoration and mourning after four years of bloodshed. Gyáni argues that death also underwent a process of nationalization and democratization after the war. For the first time in history, monuments were built to memorialize and honor the sacrifices of fallen soldiers, rather than military officers and political leaders. Gyáni questions earlier claims to the effect that the statues erected and monuments built to commemorate the war were overly political and served only irredentist goals. Built by a nation which lost the war, most such monuments served to ease the pain of private mourners. At the same time, they reminded viewers of past glories, expressed bitterness over recent events, demanded respect and justice for Hungary, and expressed the will of a defeated political community to survive and recover its former place in the company of civilized nations.

Further essays in the volume explore a variety of themes. Ferenc Pollmann’s chapter entitled “The Change in War-Making during World War I: Military Technology, Strategy and Propaganda” looks at the transformation of warfare between 1914 and 1918. Ferenc Erős’ essay, entitled “The War and Revolutions: A Socio-psychological Approach to Trauma and Violence,” discusses the fate of traumatized war veterans in Europe and Austria-Hungary and the professional debate over their treatment. György Szücs’s “‘The Great War’ and the ‘New Art’: the World War and its Consequences” examines the short-term impacts of the military conflict on art. Ágnes Pogány’s “The Long Shadow of the Great War: The Economic Consequences of World War I” investigates the economic causes of the military defeat and the short and long-term impact of the Great War on the European and world economy. Dezső Csejtei’s chapter, “The Word War as Civilization Phenomenon in the Works of Oswald Spengler and Thomas Mann,” examines the relevance of the works of these two authors to contemporary political debates. John Lukacs’s brief brooding essay entitled “The Hungarian Catastrophe: World War I” describes the Great War, its aftermath, and the Treaty of Trianon as the greatest tragedy in Hungarian history, the main consequences of which look to be irreversible. Zsombor Bódy’s chapter, “Demographic Developments, Lifestyle, and the Changes in the Position of Women in Hungary after World War I,” on the other hand, considers demographic developments and social trends in Hungary in the interwar period and reveals ways in which the Great War did not mark a radical break in the history of the country.

Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon is a rich collection, which reflects the current state of research on World War I and its aftermath and covers a wide range of topics, including issues of political, economic, social, and cultural history. The essays are the result of a successful collaborative effort among three generations of historians; it is also a multidisciplinary work, overstepping traditional boundaries of academic interest and specialization. Authored by experts, the essays are written in a style which makes the work accessible to a wide readership. While offering a representative sample of Hungarian scholarship on the war and its aftermath, the contributions also engage and debate with international scholarship in the field and raise important issues about the war that are relevant on the national and regional level. At the same time, as a whole, the volume suffers from a number of weaknesses, including the omission of an editor’s introduction. As a result, the chief purpose of the work is never made explicitly clear. No framework is provided that would tie the essays together, and no attempt is made to cross-reference themes among the contributions. There is, moreover, no consistency in formatting: individual chapters are of significantly different lengths, and the formatting of citations differs quite markedly. The majority of the essays summarize recent research based on secondary sources; four of them, however, are based on primary research. The title of the book refers to the consequences of the war in Hungary, yet several papers do not deal with events in Hungary at all, but consider the war from a general European perspective or discuss universal trends. As a whole, the secondary research is excellent; yet the majority of the works cited are in English and German. With one major exception, the essays do not make use of the secondary literature from the neighboring states of Hungary or from Russia or Italy. Even so, Az első világháború következményei Magyarországon not only remains a useful addition to the scholarly literature, but is in fact ideally suited as a textbook for university courses and as a general reference book.

Béla Bodó

A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán: Történelem és emlékezet [The Holocaust in Hungary seventy years later: History and memory]. Edited by Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács. Budapest: Múlt és Jövő, 2015. 288 pp.


Hungarian scholarship on political history has a long record of evaluating historical processes or phenomena rather than describing and analyzing them. Most of the studies in the book A holokauszt Magyarországon hetven év múltán successfully break with this tradition.1 Even the studies dealing with peculiar chapters in the political history of the (Hungarian) Holocaust manage to avoid the aforementioned fruitless tradition of historical “evaluation.” This represents a remarkable achievement by the authors and editors, since the book was written, edited, and published at a time when one of the most politically heated discussions in Hungary’s history is underway on the country’s place, role, and even its very historical existence following the German occupation in 1944. In recent years, the Hungarian government has devoted significant energies and resources to the creation of all kinds of spectacular institutionalized means of commemoration, but these assertive gestures notwithstanding, the government’s memory politics has not fostered the emergence of a common memory (or communal memories) of the Holocaust. The incoherence of this policy is addressed by contributors to the book who deal with the topic of historical memory (András Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham).

The book contains materials from two conferences, one that was held in Budapest at the Central European University and one that was held in Washington DC, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the most devastating deportations of the Hungarian Holocaust. Such anniversaries are traditional occasions for commemorations and also for attempts to summarize contemporary trends and the findings of recent research, as well as attempts to arrive at new approaches to the topic. The book edited by András Kovács provides both, even if the scope is far from comprehensive. Despite the international context of the publication, the studies and the book focus very much on Hungary. The authors and the editor do not seem to have made an attempt to put the Hungarian Holocaust into a transnational context. The volume amounts to a purely Hungarian cross-section of Hungarian Holocaust studies. In other words, authors like Götz Aly, Tony Kushner, and other, Israeli, Slovak, and Romanian historians are ignored. In the introduction, the editor offers—perhaps not entirely intentionally—a defense of this nation-centered approach by stating that the volume is merely the latest in a serial of anniversary-related volumes which have been published on the topic in each of the last four decades.

The volume consists of four parts. Each part has a rather simple title: History; The Road to the Holocaust; The Holocaust in Hungary; Memory. The first part contains only one study, an article written by (co-)editor András Kovács entitled “Hungarian Intentionalism: New Trends in the Historiography of the Hungarian Holocaust.” Kovács’s overview does not quite fit alongside the other twelve studies in the volume, and not simply because he draws on the work of Aly. Although his study does not aim consciously to challenge contemporary Hungarian realities, along with the article at the end of the volume by Randolph Braham, the Nestor of Hungarian Holocaust studies, it gives an up-to-date context to the whole volume. In his historiographical overview, Kovács covers Götz Aly, Krisztián Ungváry, Christian Gerlach, and László Karsai, just to name the most important authors on the topic who were not included in the present volume. Kovács aims to analyze the exact context of Hungarian Holocaust studies and the studies in the book as well. The rather mainstream text of Kovács describes the post-modern context of the phenomenon called the Hungarian Holocaust without pursuing a critical, post-Marxian agenda.

But this is only a first impression. The studies by Mária M. Kovács, Gábor Gyáni, and Randolph L. Braham all prove how challenging a hypocritical state policy can be. Even the usually rather cautious Ignác Romsics, a leading political historian in Hungary, reflects on the current memory politics in his text on certain aspects of the Hungarian Holocaust’s prehistory, more specifically, official Hungarian anti-Semitism. In his essay, entitled “István Bethlen’s anti-Semitism and the Jewish Policy of the Horthy Era,” Romsics does not dispute Bethlen’s anti-Semitism. Romsics’s article makes clear, if perhaps unintentionally, that Bethlen was a committed anti-Semite taken by surprise by the events of 1944.

Mária M. Kovács’s study “The Numerus Clausus and the Jewish Laws” on the one hand refutes the deterministic interpretation of the Hungarian Holocaust, but on the other, in its description of the pre-history of the catastrophe, it underlines the Horthy regime’s innate anti-Semitism. Kovács situates the research she has done over the course of a decade concerning the pre-history of the Hungarian Holocaust in an international context. She offers examples from American history to prove that anti-Semitism was not a peripheral phenomenon between 1918 and 1941 in the United States either, and thus it was not a peculiarity of the East-Central European political systems in the interwar period.

Claudia K. Farkas offers an overview of the Jewish responses to the anti-Jewish legislation of the late 1930s, basically recycling arguments from the monograph she published in 2010. The interesting and in many ways valuable addenda she presents, however, are not necessarily representative of Hungarian Jewry, her claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Farkas’ notion of “the Jewry,” which essentially consists of the potential targets of the anti-Jewish politics of the Hungarian and German Nazis in 1944, appears too monochromatic in the years under scrutiny. This study clearly illustrates the difficulties of retrospectively employing concepts like “Jewryto discuss the years before 1944.

The last essay in the section “The Road to the Holocaust” was written by Gábor Kádár and Zoltán Vági, reputable experts on the Hungarian Holocaust. Their contribution, entitled “A Long Century: Anti-Semitic Violence in Hungary, 1848-1956,” touches upon a rather popular historiographical topic. While rehearsing exclusory violence as an insightful explanation for various embodiments of the anti-Jewish violence in Hungary, Kádár and Vági write on a kind of tradition that supposedly characterized each and every system and the fall of each and every system in modern Hungarian history. At the same time, they point to certain localities, for example Pozsony/Bratislava, Salgótarján, Kiskunfélegyháza, and Miskolc, where this tradition, in their assessment, was even more profound than elsewhere. While Vági and Kádár seem to have adopted the idea of exclusory violence from György Kövér’s epic Tiszaeszlár monograph, they themselves do not draw distinctions between the various forms of anti-Jewish violence (for instance, “cravaill,” pogrom, Hetze) in their long century. They arrive at the conclusion that each and every change of systems was followed, practically inevitably, by waves of anti-Semitic violence. For the authors, the 1956 “cravaills” thus seem to matter as much as the organized horrors of the post-Commune white terror in 1919.

The next section of the volume is entitled The Holocaust in Hungary. The first and longest study in this section is by László Csősz. It deals with the origins and international contexts of the labor service. In my view, Csősz’s article is the most problematic text in the volume. Though Csősz draws on a respectable set of primary and secondary sources, he mixes up voluntary and punitive labor services in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Germany. According to Csősz, labor service, whether voluntary or exclusionary (punitive), was not a unique institution. In his narrative, the labor service in Hungary turned into a tool of the Holocaust because of a change in the “foreign political climate.” Csősz is correct to state that the chances of survival in the spring and summer of 1944 were better for the Hungarian Jewish males in the units of the Hungarian labor service than for other Hungarian Jews, and he is also correct in his contention that some of the labor service corps cannot be labeled “moving scaffolds.” However, whether or not a given corps became a “moving scaffold” was not a matter of a change in the foreign political climate. Rather, it was a matter of what the editor of the volume would call intention. Though he places the Hungarian labor service in an international (Central and East European) context and draws on recent international research, Csősz also uncritically recycles familiar topoi in Hungarian political history. For example, he draws a causal connection between the overrepresentation of people who were born to Jewish parents in the Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919 and the fact that Jews were considered unreliable after the fall of the Commune. Anti-Semitic restrictions and the propaganda concerning ties between the Jewry and Bolshevism were part of the cultural backdrop of the interwar period in other countries in the region in which there was no experience of communism following World War I. The manner in which Csősz underlines and evaluates the importance of interwar Hungary’s foreign policy in its (anti-)Jewish policies very much resembles György Ránki’s pioneering publications on the subject from the late 1960s (analyzed in the volume by Gábor Gyáni). Ránki, himself a Holocaust survivor, looked hard for sources on and explanations of what he also called modern Hungary’s constrained political path. For Ránki and his generation, the question of intention seemed less relevant than it has come to appear in recent years.

Viktor Karády, the leading authority on the social history of the Hungarian Jews, outlines in his essay a rather ambitious attempt at a possible micro-social history of the Holocaust. Karády has chosen the Medical Chamber and a “proto-Nazi” association of medics to illustrate how political and professional feuds and competitions reshaped the social composition of a particular profession. The data he presents convincingly show that the Holocaust in Hungary did not take place outside Hungarian history. Tibor Péter Nagy’s intriguing though short outline entitled “The Sociological Contexts for Survival in Budapest” reaches the same conclusion. Nagy has managed to rehabilitate the class approach to the study of the Holocaust, and he practically (re)introduces it into Hungarian social history.

It is not difficult to discern why Nagy and Karády explicitly regard the Hungarian Holocaust as an integral part of Hungarian history. For those who are not familiar with the contemporary memory political debates in Hungary regarding the official evaluation of 1944/45, the last part of the volume may further an understanding of the context and the importance of their respective studies. There are hardly any modern books on the Holocaust today that do not also deal with memory. The volume under review contains four studies on the subject under the simple title Memory. In a short essay, Gábor Gyáni provides an informative overview of remembrance of the Hungarian Holocaust. He sets aside the outdated conviction according to which the Holocaust remained taboo in Hungary until 1989: although not widely present in the national mainstream, the Holocaust was certainly no taboo in Hungary in the last 40 or 50 years. Unfortunately, Gyáni does not deal with the memory of the Holocaust in the late 1940s. Admittedly, this is not his prime target, and the way in which he reconstructs the literature, historiography, and filmography of the 1970s is convincing enough. Holocaust memory in Hungary in the period between 1945 and 1989 underwent paradigm shifts. Hungary’s record with coming to terms with its recent past right after 1945 was not any worse than the records of other countries of Europe. During the Stalinist dictatorship, the subject really was taboo. Later, it became a confessional subject, i.e. a subject of importance to Jewish Hungarians, but in the late 1960s, at a time when writings by members of the Jewish community were being published with more regularity, the Holocaust gradually ceased to be a topic exclusively in and for the Jewish “confessional ghetto.” Gyáni devotes more attention to his critique of the Hungarian Holocaust historiography of the pre-1989 period than to more recent literature, even though he acknowledges the problems that still exist in the official and national reception of this most tragic epoch of Hungarian history.

In her study entitled “Global and Local Holocaust Memories” Mónika Kovács examines these issues. Her splendid and brave text explains the current volume’s possible relevance in Hungary. Kovács acquaints the reader with the historiographical and political context of recent Hungarian Holocaust studies and the memories of the Holocaust in Hungary. She demonstrates admirable erudition and both professional and moral clarity. While providing the reader with a convincing overview of the context of the book in question from the perspective of the politics of memory, she also places her topic in an international context. Although her text is clear, the picture of the situation is rather confusing, but this is clearly not her fault.

Andrea Pető contributes a rather brief piece on the Visual History Archive of the USC Shoah Foundation. As the author of a recent book on the people’s courts, she focuses on the memories of the latter in the digital collection of the VHA. Pető overvalues what she calls the psychic truths in history as opposed to “material truths.” She looks at the facial expressions of the victims and raises questions regarding the possible meanings of their glances. But in addition to their glances, the victims arguably left more relevant addenda to the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary. Pető quotes a very important slip: “Stars were pinned on us. Who did it? The arrow-cross people.” As a scholar of the Holocaust in Hungary, Pető undoubtedly knows that the yellow stars were not pinned on people by members of the Arrow Cross. But the personal recollection she cites is a representation of a rather general collective memory rooted in a curious accord between survivors and Kádár’s Hungary, a relevant issue that Pető’s study fails to address.

Randolph L. Braham’s text, “Hungary: A Campaign against the Historical Memory of the Holocaust,” supports the conclusions reached by Mónika Kovács. Braham is openly personal and polemical, but his contentions are thoroughly substantiated and largely convincing. The historical memory of the Hungarian Holocaust is practically unimaginable without the lifelong work of Braham, thus his pathos is more than understandable when describing the increasingly barefaced attempts by certain officials to reevaluate the period. This ongoing story is also an important part of the memory of the Holocaust in Hungary, and it is therefore important that Braham has addressed it with such passion.

Braham’s great passions are rather exceptional in the volume, even if some of the other texts also have an impassioned tone. Even 70 years later, the Holocaust is not yet a matter of purely scholarly and analytical, historiographical discourse. It remains a matter of heated discourses that are often prominent in the politics of memory in Hungary. Studies that reflect on these discourses can be regarded as the most relevant. To examine the Hungarian Holocaust as part of Hungarian history is the task of each generation of historians. As this volume shows, the history of the victims cannot be separated from Hungarian history. I can only hope that soon the history of the perpetrators will also be seen as an integral part of Hungarian history and the memory of the Hungarian Holocaust.

Tamás Kende


Mindszenty József (1892–1975) [József Mindszenty (1892–1975)]. By Margit Balogh. Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont, 2015. 1570 pp.


Cardinal and Archbishop of Esztergom József Mindszenty was unquestionably one of the emblematic figures of twentieth-century Hungarian history. His tragic personal fate seemed intricately intertwined with the events of Hungary’s history in the second half of the century. Beginning in the late 1980s, numerous scholarly essays began to be published on the various phases of his life by authors such as Gábor Adriányi, Margit Balogh, András Fejérdy, Jenő Gergely, György Gyarmati, István Mészáros, Ádám Mészáros, Viktor Attila Soós, Csaba Szabó, Árpád Tyekvicska, and Tibor Zinner, though this list is hardly complete. Thus, there is a vast body of secondary literature on his life and work, and the various episodes in his career are also familiar, from his imprisonment by the pro-Nazi Arrow Cross party, his imprisonment by the communist government, the few days of liberty he enjoyed during the 1956 revolution, the years he spent following the suppression of the revolution in the American embassy (in almost complete isolation from the outside world), and finally the period after 1971, when he was allowed to leave Hungary, though he was not allowed to serve in his role as a dignitary of the church.

The monographs and volumes of essays and studies (more than 100 of which have been published) offer a nuanced portrait of Mindszenty, as do the some 225 articles that have been published on his life and work. Nonetheless, a curious reader may still have wanted a comprehensive work that offered a broad panorama but also went into detail and provided new information.

It is quite clearly a far less daunting task merely to commit our expectations to paper than it is to write a 1,572-page, two-volume monograph with 3,742 footnotes. Margit Balogh wrote the most detailed biography of Mindszenty available in Hungarian, a book that was the fruit of 25 years of thorough research. In 2014, Balogh published a 500 page monograph on Mindszenty in German (Margit Balogh, Kardinal József Mindszenty. Ein Leben zwischen kommunistischer Diktatur und Kaltem Krieg [2014]), and in 2015 she published the book under review. In her biography, Balogh remains true to the ars poetica she has given in her introduction: “[I seek] to trace the life of József Mindszenty faithfully, adventurously, yet with thorough documentation, and in doing so to attempt to shed light on his personality, including his doubts and uncertainties” (p.21).

Every chapter of the book deals with an important moment or event in Mindszenty’s life. The chapters seek to interpret Mindszenty’s deeds and also to reconstruct his career on the basis of citations from primary sources, which are found on almost every page. The first chapter deals with Mindszenty’s childhood (his family name was Pehm, and he only took the name Mindszenty in 1942), his family background, and his studies. We learn of his time in the first stop on his journey, Felsőpaty, and then, as of 1917, Zalaegerszeg. In Zalaegerszeg, where he worked as a young instructor of theology, Mindszenty’s interest in potentially pursuing a role in public and even political life began to become clear. In 1919, because of his support for the return to Hungary of the Habsburg King Charles, he came into conflict with the authorities, and indeed he was even put under surveillance by the police. He fled and was arrested and interned. According to Balogh, Mindszenty’s experiences in this period of upheaval (which bore witness first to the Aster Revolution and then to the rise of a short-lived communist dictatorship) “were more than enough to engrave in him a strong antipathy to social democracy and communism, which in is mind were the same thing” (p.59).

The second chapter offers an overview of the years Mindszenty spent in Zalaegerszeg. The chapter is long (more than 250 pages), systematic, and thorough in its presentation of Mindszenty’s work as a parish priest, an organizer of Church life, and someone active in city society. It also addresses his efforts to exert influence in political life in support of the Habsburg king and therefore against the policy of the government, efforts which could be seen as harbingers of his fate after 1945. The third chapter presents the work Mindszenty did during the brief period he spent in Church government as the head of the diocese of Veszprém. Balogh is right to emphasize the importance of the fact that, as the Bishop of Veszprém, Mindszenty spoke out in the interests of the Jewish inhabitants of Hungary at a dangerous time, protesting the seizure of their belongings and properties and the transformation of the country into a theater of war. He was arrested by the Arrow Cross party for his views.

The fourth and fifth chapters, which together come to roughly 400 pages, present the pivotal three years between the end of the war in 1945 and the rise to almost complete power of the communist party in Hungary in 1948. During this time, as the Archbishop of Esztergom and thus the head of the Catholic Church in Hungary, Mindszenty tried to restore the place of the institutions and organizations of the Church, which like much of the country had been left in disarray by the war. He strove to defend the interests of the Catholic Church, the members of the priesthood, and practicing Catholics, and he also labored to sustain and nurture a sense of Christian spirituality in the face of influential tendencies towards secularization and attempts to separate the Church and the state. He often came into conflict with representatives of the state. The fiercest point of contention was the nationalization of the Church schools. Balogh persuasively argues that the real tragedy of Mindszenty’s fate lay in the fact that he simply failed to realize that his struggle to safeguard the interests of the Church and his faith, which was in part a struggle between Rome and Moscow, was doomed to fail, given that it was taking place in a country that had no support from the United States and had fallen into the Soviet sphere of influence. As an archbishop and cardinal, Mindszenty also wanted to be an active figure in public life, as he sought to give expression to his sense of responsibility for the fate of the Hungarian nation. He spoke out against the deportation of German and Hungarian speakers, the changes that were taking place in the form of the Hungarian state, the violation of the rights of the persecuted, and the ways in which the authorities flouted the law. The proclamations he made brought him into conflict time and time again with the communist party (which with the support of the Soviets was gradually seizing power), and they did not go unpunished.

The sixth and seventh chapters of the book examine the various stages of Mindszenty’s persecution by the regime, including his arrest, his sentencing, and his imprisonment. Balogh manages to present new information concerning this period of Mindszenty’s life, on which many others have written. She offers an evocative portrayal of the circumstances in which he lived after his arrest. János Kádár, who at the time served as Minister of Internal Affairs, used him as an example to discourage dissent, warning other bishops that the authorities had files on them as well and that they too might face Mindszenty’s fate if they were unwilling to work together with the regime. The main target of these efforts was Miklós Dudás, the Greek Catholic priest of Hajdúdorog, a city and also diocese in northeastern Hungary. The authorities sought to use Dudás’ ties to people in Carpathian Ruthenia (the region in the western part of Ukraine today) to corroborate accusations of spying against the Soviets and implicate Mindszenty. However, eventually they dropped the idea because they feared that the case against Dudás and Mindszenty might be taken over by the Soviets, who might well use a military court to issue a severe sentence and in doing so might create a martyr out of the cardinal. One of the similarly interesting aspects of the investigation against Mindszenty was that the state security authorities used a number of brutal means in an attempt to crush his will to resist. As Balogh has established with her research, the state did not use psychoactive (consciousness altering) drugs on prisoners (thus they did not use them on Mindszenty) in order to destroy them psychologically. In general, the means they used, for instance beatings, sleep deprivation, and continuous interrogation, were more than enough.

In the eighth chapter, Balogh presents the four days in late October and early November 1956 that Mindszenty spent as a free man. She examines the circumstances surrounding his release and the process of his integration into the political sphere, which had undergone sudden change. In a subchapter, Balogh addresses the famous speech Mindszenty held on Hungarian Radio on November 3, 1956. She includes the entire text of the speech in her book, and notes that the accusations that were made against Mindszenty on the basis of the contents of the speech (for instance, the call for the return of large estates to their former owners) were merely distorted assertions concerning a pivotal moment of history.

The ninth chapter deals with Mindszenty’s 15 years of forced internal exile (i.e. the 15 years he spent in the American embassy in Budapest following the suppression of the revolution). This section contains perhaps the most new information in comparison with Balogh’s 2002 book on Mindszenty. She presents Mindszenty’s life in the American embassy on the basis of research she has undertaken in recent years in numerous archives in the United States. Several collections of source materials with documents relevant to this period in Mindszenty’s life have already been published, but Balogh has provided the first coherent, historical narrative drawing on these sources. In this chapter, which is more than 200 pages, she not only examines the relationship between Mindszenty and the staff of the American embassy and the negotiations that took place between Hungary, the United States, and the Vatican, but also offers a portrait of the aging prelate’s everyday life in his place of forced domicile.

The tenth and last chapter of the book presents the events of the last four years of Mindszenty’s life, which he spent in exile. Balogh devotes a separate subchapter to the circumstances of his resignation and the publication of his memoirs. The monograph concludes with an appendix that is more than 150 pages long containing the primary sources and works of secondary literature on which Balogh has based her narrative, as well as the information concerning the illustrations and a very useful index of names and places.

The summary of the book that I have endeavored to provide here does not quite capture the (I am tempted to say inhuman) scale of the work that Balogh has done over the course of the past 25 years. Naturally, as is the case with any ambitious work of scholarship, one can find shortcomings in her monograph, which is based on materials found in 28 archives in Hungary and 20 archives outside of Hungary. Even if the reader were to fail to notice any of the lacunae, Balogh herself calls attention to at least one in the preface to the book: “today, only two important groups of archives with documents relevant to the Mindszenty case remain for the next generation of historians: the Vatican archives and the KGB archives” (p. 21). There are probably relevant sources in other collections as well, for instance—as Balogh herself notes—the Vienna archive of Franz König, which at the moment is not accessible to researchers. These shortcomings notwithstanding, the book constitutes a valuable complement to the existing secondary literature, rich with new information, and it presents the reader with the complex storehouse of information on József Mindszenty.

In summary, Balogh’s two-volume biography is a persuasive work of serious scholarship that will be of interest to historians, scholars of Church history, and any reader curious to know more about the life of this emblematic figure. It will be indispensable to anyone who wishes to pursue further research on the life and career of József Mindszenty.

Géza Vörös


Student Politics in Communist Poland: Generations of Consent and Dissent. By Tom Junes. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2015. 328 pp.


Tom Junes has written a thorough and compelling book on students, who have figured as an important and often underestimated collective actor in contemporary Polish history. Whereas the universities and its milieus played important, if far from dominant roles in numerous previous studies on communist Poland, the authors of these studies tended to focus on specific, isolated episodes of the past. The rebellious academic youth has usually been portrayed within a framework of a single generation and treated as part of broader social upheavals. Students’ protests were deemed an intrinsic component of the broader dissident movement and were purported to have had comparable aims, outlooks, and hopes.

Junes’ book is the first attempt to restore subjectivity to students’ politics and to depict subsequent cohorts of academic youth as independent players on the political scene. The author points to the unique features and significance of students as a social group, starting from the assumption that their youth, combined with their intellectual disposition, made students especially prone to be critical of their environment. He is fully aware, at the same time, that only a minority (a small minority) of the student body was engaged in politics and the activities of the dissident movement, while most of the youths remained largely indifferent or at least passive (apart from during times of crisis). Thus, the book is devoted mostly to the struggles, hopes, and illusions of student elites over the decades of communist rule in Poland.

The notion of generation underpins the narrative of the book. Junes rightly claims that specific mentalities attributable to communities of the same age affected the character of student political activities. Different beliefs, customs, and ideas acquired in the course of processes of socialization translated into different types of defiance (or conformity). “Student movements and student politics are susceptible to change as a result of changing political generations within the student body” (p.xxvi), he argues, discerning various “generational styles” that to some extent functioned as substitutes for ideologies and programs.

Notably, the book highlights the importance of the experiences of former generations for the political choices of students. Every youth rebellion was imbued with and in some cases directly driven by the memories of former upheavals: the protests of the late 1940s mimicked the pre-war political culture at the universities, the revolt of March 1968 drew on the legend of October 1956, and the independent student movement in 1981 in turn invoked the protests of March 1968. Junes uses the term “narrative of consciousness” to characterize what he thinks of as the essential trait of all of these generational cohorts of Polish students: the memory of the consecutive movements, conspiracies, and uprisings.

The book is organized chronologically. Twelve chapters divided into four parts tell the story of the student movement and cover the main episodes of the political history of communist Poland. The reader learns first about the students’ social and political activities in the early post-war period, the youth response to Stalinist terror, and the roles universities played in the Thaw and the revolt of October 1956. The second chapter is devoted to the period of so-called “small stabilization,” which abruptly ended in a nation-wide student rebellion in March 1968. Junes shows how the vast activity of academic discussion clubs, both formal and informal, in the 1960s would gradually shape youths’ attitudes and eventually lay the ground for the sudden and vehement outburst of the revolt.

Chapter three shows how the process described above repeated itself in the 1970s. Although the generations which would enroll at the universities after 1968 no longer had faith in socialism or even in the goodwill of the regime, they did not seem prone to any overt defiance either. It was thanks to the network of emerging youth discussion clubs and anti-authoritarian groups that the students’ milieu as a whole proved ready again for political engagement. As a consequence, the birth of Solidarity reverberated at the universities and led to the rise of the Independent Students’ Association, the largest non-regime youth organization since 1956.

In the 1980s, which are discussed in the last part of the book, the pattern determining student political activity changed significantly. Junes argues that after 1981 and the collapse of the first Solidarność, the majority of the Polish youth lost interest in politics. They were neither keen on pursuing careers in official organizations like the Socialist Union of Polish Students, nor on participating in conspiratorial activities. For people in their twenties, politics seemed both boring and false, whether practiced by the ruling communist party or the underground dissident movement. Youth became engaged in a more counter-cultural form of revolt. Their defiance and rage were articulated against the hypocrisies of their parents’ world. This chapter provides readers with a detailed description of Polish punk music bands, as well as the fledgling anarchist Movement for an Alternative Society. The students’ approach to the Roundtable negotiations of 1989 between the party and the underground Solidarity was influenced and even dictated by this distrust. The youth was rather wary of the ongoing political process and did not sympathize overtly with the Wałęsa team. Their reluctance and belated endorsement of Solidarity was in sharp contrast with the sheer enthusiasm showed by previous generations in 1956, 1968, or 1980.

Although the narrative of the book focuses on political processes, Junes shows sensitivity to the broader social context, nuances, and mechanisms underpinning student politics as well. The latter is perhaps the most valuable dimension of the book. The monograph provides readers with what is probably the most in-depth and accurate portrait of the Stalinist generation, focusing on those who came of age and were socialized in the early 1950s, when terror and indoctrination reached their peak. Junes calls it “the great leap forward generation,” alluding to the rapid construction of the socialist state. He rightly points out that the student milieu under high Stalinism was far from unified. Rather, it was composed of several mutually-related generational units. The fervent adherents of the system—communist true believers who wore red ties and were commonly viewed as the very personification of the period—constituted a visible and vocal minority among students, but a minority nonetheless.

Junes discerns that cohorts commencing university education between 1949 and 1956 were quite specific in terms of their social composition. Many young people from educated families and youths who had taken profoundly anticommunist stances did not even try to enroll in the universities, since they were aware that the admission process was determined by political considerations. On the other hand, those who were admitted came from groups and social strata, mostly peasants and workers, whose sons and daughters until then had remained outside of the higher education system. Junes observes that, “[t]hey adhered to a class of social advancement, profiting from the opportunities of upward social mobility provided by the regime. This nurtured a far-going inclination based on self-interest to slavishly conform and participate in the formalized rituals of the Stalinist regime. Joining the ZMP [Union of Polish Youth – the only official youth organization, overtly bent on indoctrination] was not an act of political conviction, for these youths it was a given, a normality that otherwise had dire consequences for their future. This conformist attitude, in turn, promoted an egalitarian outlook on life which was enhanced by the grim uniformity of the Stalinist reality” (p.31). Consequently, most of the youths socialized during the Stalinist period were exposed to a kind of schizophrenia. They did not internalize the ideas that they publicly endorsed, and privately they kept to their parents’ values and choices. This very split in the way in which they perceived the world not only determined the face of their milieu but also profoundly affected the social and political history of Poland. After all, this was the very generation whose representatives soon constituted the main bulk of the Communist elite.

Junes does not hesitate to offer grand interpretations, which doubtlessly enhance not only the scope but also the value of the book. However, some of his observations seem a bit oversimplified and unconvincing. He clearly sympathizes with Polish historians who claim that the 1968 revolt was a common uprising of students and workers. It was youthful age rather than the specific milieu, Junes maintains, which can be seen as a common denominator of the revolt. Young workers in some natural way sympathized with students, as both groups “[had] been socialized in the same reality” (p.113). I could not disagree more. I would venture the hypothesis that the worlds of students and the worlds of workers remained wholly apart: they had different hopes, dreams, cultural competences and, last but not least, widely different models of leisure activities. The history of the March revolt is to a great extent the history of great disappointment. Despite the nagging expectations and reiterated invitations, no factory joined the student strikes. Young workers may have rioted in the streets, but as a group they did not get involved in any form of organized protest. For these reasons, in my assessment it was not until the birth of Solidarity that the vast alliance between workers and the intelligentsia emerged.

Student Politics in Communist Poland remains a well-researched, readable, even snappy book. Junes draws on an abundance of primary sources, including archival documents, memoirs, journals, and interviews (the reader only wishes he had quoted from the latter more generously). The result is a detailed and in many ways brilliant panorama of Polish history, seen from a well-chosen angle: the lens of the experiences of different generations of students.

Piotr Osęka 


1 The contents of the volume overlap largely, though not completely, with the recently released English-language one Randolph L. Braham and András Kovács (eds.), The Holocaust in Hungary: Seventy Years Later (Budapest: CEU Press, 2016).

pdfVolume 5 Issue 2 CONTENTS


The Past as History: National Identity and Historical Consciousness in Modern Europe. By Stefan Berger, with Christoph Conrad. (Writing the Nation series). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 570 pp.


In 2003, a research program entitled Representations of the Past: The Writing of National Histories in 19th and 20th Century was launched by the European Science Foundation. The scholars in the program sought to explore the intellectual and cultural contexts in which national historical narratives emerged and the extent to which these narratives proved durable as cultural phenomena. Stefan Berger launched the project, and he had the support of Christoph Conrad and Guy P. Marchal in the international research that was done up until 2008. The goal of the program was the publication of a series of eight volumes, and these volumes were indeed published between 2008 and 2015. The book under review is the concluding volume of the series. The books, which altogether come to some 3,700 pages, contain the writings of almost 150 authors from more than 20 countries. Time and space do not allow me to present the results of the Representations of the Past project in its entirety. Berger and Conrad have written a work that provides a synthesis of the entire initiative and thus offers a glimpse into the project as a whole.

The book is divided into seven chapters offering a chronological presentation of the entire history of national historical narratives in Europe. In the introduction, the authors examine the concept of the historical construct of nation, touching on the roles that national histories have played in European Modernity. They do not, however, deal with theories of nationalism. In and of itself, this is not a problem, but it does contribute ultimately to the failure to clarify the precise meaning(s) of the term “national history,” which plays a key role in the train of thought of the entire book. A choice between the constructivist or the ethno-symbolic theories on nation and nationalism and the analytical perspective this would have given would have offered some compensation for this shortcoming. However, with regards to the concept of national history, we are informed only that its function was the creation and maintenance of the nation: “National history has [thus] been one of the main instruments with which to construct collective national identity. […] It is important in our discussions of collective national identity to remain aware of the political functionalisation of this idea in historical writing and beyond” (p.8). The writing of history itself is only the subject of the book to the extent that it contributed (or is seen as having contributed) to the historical process of the construction of national identity. It is thus hardly surprising that the authors see the European narratives of history in the Modern era as, without exception, “national.” One justifiably would have preferred a more subtle understanding of the writing of history that took its other uses and functions into account.

This narrowly focused definition defines the trajectory of Berger’s and Conrad’s inquiries, which in principle strive to offer an account of all of the European history writing in the 19th and 20th centuries. Thus, the conclusion of the story is hardly a surprise: “No reader of this volume will be able to escape the sense of the sheer power and longevity of national histories and their influence on national identity formation across Europe” (p.373). The authors know, of course, that national identity was not (and is not) the only form of group identity, but they contend that in Europe of the Modern era no other identity construction was able to displace or play a similar role to that of national identity. According to them, “what was striking everywhere was the extent to which national history subsumed other spatial and non-spatial forms of history writing” (p.365). Yet the fact that, as they concede, “[t]here never existed a ‘one size fits all’ national history in Europe” (p.371) might at least have prompted them to consider possible typologies of national identities (or histories). They dismiss this, however, with the contention that “the construction of such typologies [is] ultimately more burdensome than helpful, especially as they tend to reify the national units of comparison” (p.372). However, Berger and Conrad are endeavoring to show how general and transnational the phenomenon of national history writing was all over Europe.

While on the one hand I am sincerely impressed with the quite possibly unprecedented breadth and depth of the authors’ scholarship and their striking ability to compose a coherent synthesis on the basis of this scholarship, on the other hand I remain a bit skeptical about their operative definition of national history. Before touching on my reservations, however, I will present the essential narrative and its logic.

The notion of historical writing as a presentation of the history of the nation stretches back to the Middle Ages. Berger and Conrad use the term premodern to denote the “national” historical narratives that were prevalent during the time of the rule of dynasties and kings, and they use the term “protomodern” to denote the national narratives of the Enlightenment. In the Age of Enlightenment, the scope of historical inquiry broadened and became European and even global, but the holistic approach did not sever itself completely from the notion of the national past, and for the most part history and historians put the leading nations of Europe in the foreground of their inquiries and narratives. The Göttingen historians (Schlözer, Gatterrer) did a great deal to promote the spread of the English concept of universal history. At the same time, they also favored the perspectives of national history over the universal history approach.

The writings of Herder and the Romantic approach to history (which was influenced by Herder) lessened the tension between national and transnational history simply by making the concept of history more national. Thus, nothing really stood in the way of the triumph of the national paradigm. Berger and Conrad draw a distinction between the first half of the nineteenth century and the second half, which led up to World War I. At the prompting of the French Revolution at the end of the eighteenth century, national historiography, which was imbued with the ideas and ideals of Romanticism, passionately championed the permanence, authenticity, and homogeneity of the national past, and it used the metaphors of growth and development to describe the gradual emergence of characteristics that were allegedly intrinsic to the nation. The people or “Volk” were given a particularly prominent role in this vision, as the “Volk” was seen as the social actor of national history.

German Historicism gave history the prestige and status of a generally accepted discipline. This took place in the roughly half-century between 1850 and 1914. As most of the nations or peoples of Europe embarked down the path towards the capitalist development and political organization based on the concept of the nation state, politics and the academic writing of history entered into an enduring and increasingly close relationship with each other. The canon of methodologically rigorous history writing gained both widespread currency and institutional form all over Europe. Historians began to have some voice on issues concerning contemporary politics, and the canon of a given national history became complexly intertwined with the aspiration for national sovereignty. History acquired a new role and justification as a form of national scholarship, and thus a tradition took root which historians have had to confront ever since.

What should the post-nineteenth century era do with this intellectual heritage? The historiographical nationalism that rose to the fore in the interwar period can justifiably be seen as a kind of logical (if also lamentable) culmination (or devolution) of the national histories of the nineteenth century. World War I played a considerable role in the direction history as a discipline took, both during the war and in its wake. The borders that were drawn at the end of the war did a great deal to stir nationalist sentiments, both among the victors of the war and the losers. However, the immoderate and extremist regimes that ruled in the interwar period indisputably also bore responsibility. Even Bolshevik historians, who allegedly and even vociferously were internationalists, nonetheless were not exceptions in this regard.

How did the writing of national histories evolve after World War II? According to Berger and Conrad, there were three successive waves of national histories. The first wave came in the first 15 or so years after the war, when in both halves of a newly divided Europe (divided by the Iron Curtain) efforts were made to restore the national historical consciousnesses and identities that had only recently been tearing one another to pieces. Not surprisingly, historians contributed to this process. In the 1960s, however, new winds began to blow. The social science school of history, which emerged in large part because of the influence of the many (primarily French) historians who published in the journal Annales, was hardly a convinced adherent of the national history paradigm. However, even this school did not dispense entirely with the concept of national history. This may have been due in part to the fact that, when the communist regimes in Central Europe began to fall and Europe was no longer divided by the Cold War (and indeed a bit before this), the concept of history began to become “re-nationalized” across Europe. True, this was not simply the reemergence of the familiar national historiographies. Rather, more reflective and far less apologetic master narratives told from national perspectives began to gain ground.

As they reach the end of their book, Berger and Conrad must address the following question: is there any chance that at some point in the near future the national historiographical paradigm will be displaced? Berger and Conrad are not terribly optimistic in this regard. Their pessimism stems from the conviction that the original function of the writing of history is the creation, cultivation, and maintenance of national identity. At the same time, however, they do not contest the notion that national identity is itself a historical construct, which could be replaced with another kind of communal identity in time. Furthermore, Berger and Conrad note, national identity is not created exclusively by the writing of national history, though most of the historians of our time continue to cling to a methodological nationalism, and very few would eagerly abandon it. And what other kind of (a territorial based) collective identity could replace national identity? And yet, as Berger and Conrad observe, “[n]ational identities have, after all, been based on essentialised understandings of ‘self’ and ‘other’. [… Their] aggressive and destructive potential is therefore high” (p.378).

This work is a remarkable scholarly achievement. The methodologically consistent examination of the fundamental concept and the empirical substantiation—which is unparalleled in its extensiveness—are deeply impressive. However, with respect to its genre, it does raise some questions concerning the coherence of the notion of a master narrative.

Even if we accept the postulate according to which the scholarly writing of history necessarily takes form as a historical narrative of a national past we still cannot shirk the task of identifying precisely what actually counts as national in a “national” history. According to the answer that Berger and Conrad have given to this question, what only counts is the specific function played by the national histories of a given nation in the creation and continuous strengthening of political (nation state) integration. This is true even when the historiography in question is not emphatically nationalist in its approach, since “the pervasiveness of national history guarantees the propping up of collective national identities and national master narratives” (p.376).

Is this explanation adequate justification for assigning the attributive “national” to all of the histories in Europe of the Modern era? I rather doubt it. If this is the case, then does a history that simply accepts the national borders (the borders of the nation state) as the concrete geographical coordinates of its inquiry and yet deliberately avoids proffering any master narrative of the country’s history still qualify as “national”? This is an important question, because it is more the latter that narrates the past of a people in the form of a national narrative in order to give expression to its alleged historical distinctiveness. I very much doubt that we can regard these two very different historiographical endeavors as similarly “national.”

History is a kind of empirical science, which given its very subject is closely tied to a given “national” site that is essential simply from the perspective of obtaining information (archives, libraries, and the knowledge of a locality). No historian can ever free herself from this “national” constraint entirely. The image of the past that is composed—a past that is necessarily observed, described, and analyzed within national frameworks—thus does not serve the issue of national identity in the same way, though it can never be indifferent to this issue. “Thematic nationalism” (Berger and Conrad do not use this term), which is what we are actually dealing with here, is the methodological path that the historian is compelled to take in order to give expression in historical narrative to a national and even sometimes a transnational vision. Then, when the epistemologically naïve Realist credo beloved of Historicism begins to lose its authority—and this is happening today—the ground also slips out from under national histories, which were founded on this epistemological conviction. When it begins to become clear that “[t]he capacity of the nation to frame time and space is not inherent; it is a historical variable” (Thomas Bender: Introduction: Historians, the Nation, and the Plenitude of Narratives. In: T. Bender, ed.: Rethinking American History in a Global Age. [2002], 11), the truths of national histories become relative. One finds numerous signs of the influence of this insight in the historiographies of all of the countries of Europe today.

It is regrettable that Berger and Conrad do not take this into account. In an ambitious overview such as theirs, there is always the danger that, given the pressure to incline towards some homogeneity in order to fashion a coherent and persuasive master narrative, differences between emphatically nationalist histories on the one hand and more narrowly national histories on the other will be blurred. Berger and Conrad fail to offer any closer interrogation of the plural nature of the premises and functions of national histories, and this makes their use of terminology reductionist.

Anyone who at least to some extent knows his or her national historiography from the “inside” also knows how very heterogeneous this historiography is, even from the perspective of its “national” contents. Hungarian historiography is also rife with such examples. The Geistesgeschichte that was dominant in the interwar period and its rival, ethno-history, both bore national messages, and yet each threw into question the validity of the other’s conception of “national.” The decisive difference between the two approaches lay in their divergent conceptions of the nation. To cite an additional example, the Marxist endeavors of the 1960s and 1970s to de-nationalize historiography also bore affinities with the similarly Marxist national canon of the national master narrative. In addition, the most prominent representative of both was Erik Molnár, a political and Marxist ideologue who, after 1956, for a time was the decisive figure of power in Hungarian historiography. Molnár launched the debate among historians in which he sought to replace the dominant notion of national history that found manifestation in the struggles for independence with the concept of class and class warfare. At the same time, he organized the composition of the first Marxist master narrative of national history.

The examples I have mentioned suffice to show that without any attempt to address concept history, the distinct function of the concept of the “national” and the concrete meaning of the term in the “national” historiography of a given era cannot be adequately analyzed.

The book includes an appendix (National Historians in Europe) with short biographies of 765 historians. The individuals in this appendix seem to have been included simply because they are mentioned by the authors at some point in the book. The principle on which the selection appears to have been made is incongruous with the title. Thus, the appendix includes people who are neither historians nor Europeans, as well as individuals whose inclusion is entirely unwarranted simply for professional reasons. The appendix also includes many people who are not “national historians” strictly speaking, though of course they are citizens of some country and members of some national community. The appendix is perhaps useful, but it hardly fulfills the role intended for it by the authors, as it sheds no light on the question of how one should understand the notion of national historiography and how to determine who the practitioners of this form of historical inquiry actually are.

The book by Berger and Conrad came into being thanks at least in part to the shared intellectual efforts of many historians. Thus, it offers a faithful mirror of the Writing the Nation research project. As a groundbreaking work of transnational historiography, it is a genuine pleasure to read, and it also provides persuasive proof of the symbiotic relationship between the writing of history and modern politics.

Gábor Gyáni

pdfVolume 5 Issue 1 CONTENTS


Das Preßburger Protocollum Testamentorum 1410 (1427)–1529, Vol. 1. 1410–1487. Edited by Judit Majorossy and Katalin Szende. (Fontes rerum Austriacarum, 3. Abteilung, Fontes iuris 21/1.) Vienna: Böhlau, 2010. 535 pp.
Das Preßburger Protocollum Testamentorum 1410 (1427)–1529, Vol. 2. 1487–1529. Edited by Judit Majorossy und Katalin Szende. (Fontes iuris, Geschichtsquelle zum österreichen Recht, 21/2.) Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 572 pp.

The use of late medieval testaments as sources in the study of legal issues, economy, culture and everyday life has been popular for some time now. In noble, ecclesiastical and urban settings, this type of source material offers a large pool of information on everyday life, economic and social ties, religious piety, understandings of the afterlife, provisional mechanisms, etc. In recent decades, a good number of collections of last wills originating from Bohemia and Moravia, Hungary, Austria and Dalmatia have been edited and analyzed. Apart from Hungary, intensive research has also been conducted in Bohemia and Moravia, where the last wills from the cities of Prague, Olomouc, Pilsen and Tabor were edited and analyzed. Well-preserved testament collections of Dalmatian cities such as Zadar, Split, Trogir and Dubrovnik are all frequently consulted by scholars. In Austria, the evaluation of late medieval wills has been intensified with the editions of the collections of Vienna, Wiener Neustadt and, recently, Korneuburg. In the 1980s, Gerhard Jaritz, member of the Institute of Medieval Material Culture in Krems and professor at the Central European University in Budapest, initiated the edition of the collection of legal instructions known as Wiener Stadtbücher, which also contain a large number of wills. This has been used as a reference for the current edition of the Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian, today Bratislava in Slovakia) Protocollum Testamentorum. In close cooperation with the Commission for Austrian Legal History (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna), four volumes have been published so far.

The manuscript kept in the Bratislava Municipal Archive is the first of a series of testament books kept by the city of Pressburg until 1872. In close cooperation with the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Archive, two prominent Hungarian urban historians, Katalin Szende and Judit Majorossy, prepared this two-volume edition of the first volume of the Pressburger Protocollum Testamentorum. A third volume, an extensive index, is in preparation. They fundamentally worked on the material in terms of formal auxiliary science. The editors prepared a full-text edition, in which all parts of the text were reproduced in full. A register at the beginning of each entry provides short information on the types of documents involved, the dates of their genesis, and the people involved. In addition to the recent editorial work, which has been underway for more than a decade, they also carried out extensive research on the history of Pressburg and its position in the changing social, political and economic environment. Pressburg became one of the Hungarian “free royal cities” at the beginning of the fifteenth century, as it gained more and more influence under the rule of King Sigismund. He preferred Pressburg to Buda, as it was located further upstream on the River Danube and closer to the Holy Roman Empire.

In the following I highlight some elements of the 844 wills preserved in the testament books and edited by Majorossy and Szende.Recorded my last will” – many burghers of Pressburg used this phrase in order to express their personal and independent will as testators. Declarations of will have survived in many European cities. This form of transmission is the result of the need to express and preserve the last will in a legally secured way. Municipal governance provides the basis for this. The competence of the civil community to assure independently the legal rights of its members is a particular feature of late medieval urban communities in the region. The recording and archiving of these legal documents in an accurate way was one of the most important priorities of a municipal administration.

From an economic point of view, an interesting element of the estates of Pressburg, frequently referred to in the wills was their vineyards. In the Danube region, vineyards were not only the most common form of land ownership for the townspeople, they also enjoyed a special legal status because of the labor-intensive cultivation that they involved. Thus, they became easily accessible capital, as we can see in the testaments, where wine is treated more like a substitute for money than a consumer product. The foreign relations of the merchants of Pressburg also had effects on individual dispositions: monetary and material debts are evidence not only of the usual practice of trade on commission, but also of regional and national business contacts: Vienna, Bruck an der Leitha, Enns or Nuremberg, Landshut and Cologne belonged to the regional trading area of the local merchants. A prominent example for the social range of monetary debts is preserved in a testament: the Austrian duke Albrecht VI (†1463), was indebted to a merchant of Pressburg. As an illustration of the usefulness of the testaments published in the volumes as sources that offer far more than mere insights into economic history let me refer to the testament of Liebhard Egkenfelder, town chronicler of Bratislava. Egkenfelder’s will contains a detailed inventory of his partly acquired, partly self-compiled library and his mobile and immoveable property, the intended use of which after his death he specifies.

Information on individuals and their economic, religious and social environments can rarely be gathered in such detail on the basis of other types of sources. Social relations have been activated but also deactivated – through the exchange of material and the negotiation and production of intangible resources, such as social prestige or access to social networks. The various forms of relationships that could exist between two burghers are clearly discernible in the various last wills. The executives of last wills themselves were chosen on purpose. The group affiliations and other social connections are all very well reflected in testaments. Even the nomination of a trustee is an expression of the significance of the relationship to that person. Sometimes wills gave people opportunities to give expression to existing relationships or even fashion new ones.

The edited testaments of Pressburg offer perfect ways to get information about heredity practices, as well as the forms in which religious and social affiliations found manifestation over a long period. They also offer insights into the cultural processes and practices of an ever-changing urban community.

Elisabeth Gruber


Sopron. Edited by Ferenc Jankó, József Kücsán, and Katalin Szende with contributions by Dávid Ferenc, Károly Goda, and Melinda Kiss. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 1.) Sopron: Győr-Moson-Sopron Megye Soproni Levéltára, 2010. 87 pp.
Sátoraljaújhely. Edited by István Tringli. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 2.) Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 2011. 81 pp.
Szeged. Edited by László Blazovich et al. (Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns, 3.) Szeged: Csongrád Megyei Honismereti Egyesület, 2014. 155 pp.

With the publication of these three fascicles (text and maps), Hungary has joined the European Historic Towns Atlas project. As is outlined in the introduction to the first volume, this project was set up by the International Commission for the History of Towns in the aftermath of World War II with the aim of encouraging comparative studies of European towns that would be based on large-scale (cadastral) maps. The principal map for each town was to be the same in scale, 1:2,500. There are now eighteen countries involved in this project, and atlases of more than 500 towns have been produced so far.

The Hungarian Atlas of Historic Towns started in 2004 under the auspices of the late András Kubinyi, a prominent urban historian. It was continued by Katalin Szende, who took responsibility for the Hungarian project. Towns were selected in order to represent different settlement types and different geographical locations. A very important asset of these three fascicles is that all the explanatory texts and keys to the maps (unfortunately not the topographical gazetteers) have been translated into English, opening up a brave new world about which English speakers knew very little previously.

The cadastral surveys of the second half of the nineteenth century served as the basis for the 1:2,500 maps showing the preindustrial topography of the three towns in question. The original names were kept. In the case of Sopron, the names of public buildings are in German, but in the case of the other two towns, the names of the buildings are in Hungarian. It would be very helpful if an English translation of the functions of public buildings could be provided as part of the key. The surroundings of the three towns under discussion are shown on selected sheets of the 1st and 2nd Military Surveys, rescaled to 1:50,000. A reproduction of an early twentieth-century plot-level survey, at a scale of 1:50,000, and large-scale aerial photographs show the modern expansion of the towns. In fact, the Hungarian Atlas provides more original research for the transformations of towns in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries than other European atlases, which were designed in their time not to go beyond 1900. The International Commission formulated their recommendation that the atlases should continue into the twentieth century only at their meeting in Prague in 2012.

In the three Hungarian volumes the cadastral and related maps constitute Series A, which is obligatory for each fascicle. Series B compliments these maps with cartographic representations of recent research on the morphology and social topography of the towns in question. Series C contains reproductions of early maps and prospects depicting topographically relevant features. Like the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, the Hungarian Atlas includes a thematically arranged topographical gazetteer. This is a most welcome addition, as the historical data compiled in the gazetteer greatly facilitates comparative work. In one important methodological aspect the Hungarian atlas differs from its European counterparts: there is no comprehensive growth-map. Instead, there are a series of growth-maps arranged side by side on one sheet. No doubt this method allows for greater accuracy in the representations of the individual growth-phases. Perhaps a composite growth-map at a greater level of abstraction might be added to the individual ones in the future in order to help the reader.

As a scholar of urban history working at the far western end of Europe, I found reading the above three volumes a demanding but very worthwhile venture. The challenge when looking at the three Hungarian volumes (and this is true of the European Historic Towns Atlas project as a whole) is that you look at primary source material. When you study the principal maps of the three towns, you are struck by the differences. Sopron is surrounded by a massive wall (inherited from antiquity), while the other two towns have no town walls at all. In Sopron the individual house plots are built side to side. In other words, houses are contiguous, while in Sátoraljaújhely and Szeged gable-sided houses cover only part of the plot. In all three towns irregular market places appear to be an open space associated with the earliest church. They are not comparable with the rectangular market places that we know from medieval town foundations in the area east of the Elbe, modern Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic.

Sopron originated as a trading post on the former Roman Amber Road. On the basis of archival sources and topographical and archaeological evidence, Szende shows that the early layout of the town in plots occurred simultaneously with the arrival of the Franciscans. In other European countries Franciscan friaries were only set up once the towns were well established. I believe that this very early division of the town into plots is not found in any of the other European atlases. The archaeologists made a particularly significant contribution to the Sopron Atlas with reconstructions of the former Roman town and the eleventh to mid-thirteenth-century ispán castle (the castle of the royal representative). The transformation from the ispán’s castle to the royal town in the mid-thirteenth century coincided with the arrival of the Order of the Knights Hospitallers, who were settled in Sopron by Béla IV in 1247. There are parallels in other countries: the Hospitallers arrived in Kells (Ireland) at the time of the foundation of the town by an Anglo-Norman lord.

Sátoraljaújhely was planned as part of the effort to rebuild the kingdom of Hungary after the Mongol Invasion. Its charter dates to 1261 and is detailed, portraying an advanced civil society with more rights for the citizens than citizens appear to have enjoyed later in the landlord period of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the Middle Ages, the town was home to a parish church, Saint Emeric, a Pauline Monastery dedicated to Saint Giles, and the Saint Stephen’s Augustinian Friary. The history of the town between 1526 and 1711 was strongly influenced by the nearby presence of the Ottomans. The Ottomans never entered the town, but the Crimean Tatars did in 1566, and they burned down 86 percent of the houses and took denizens of the town as slaves. After the town was no longer in royal ownership, it became part of the estates of various aristocratic or noble families over time, including the Pálóczi, Perényi, Dobós, and Rákóczi families, who demanded services and taxes from the citizens.

A special characteristic of Sátoraljaújhely is the formation of districts which segregated areas of the town according to the ruling landlords. The aristocratic Perényi family was Lutheran, and the Újhely church became Lutheran until 1567, when the inhabitants took up Calvinist doctrines. In 1554, the Augustinian friary was dissolved and the lord integrated the street in which the friars had owned property into his domain. The Pauline monastery survived until the end of the sixteenth century and only reappeared as part of the Catholic Restoration of the 1640s. By the end of the seventeenth century, the population was divided among three religious traditions: Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics, and Calvinists. In 1789, the Calvinists built a new church. By the end of the nineteenth century, Judaism had become the fourth major religious denomination. In 1940, there were 4,960 Jewish residents in Sátoraljaújhely. Tragically, by 1949 only 360 remained.

The maps showing the surroundings of Szeged, adapted from the 2nd Military Survey, provide a lively picture of the Tisza River, with all its meandering bends, that flooded parts of the town whenever the waters rose. Szeged was occupied by the Ottomans. Its fascicle contains a fascinating thematic map showing the social topography of Szeged in the sixteenth century on the basis of two tax registers, one from 1522 and the other from 1548, i.e. before and shortly after the Ottoman occupation. The map shows that in the suburb east of the castle (the so-called Palánk), judges, scribes and master craftsmen resided. North of the castle we find farmers, flock owners, and vineyard owners. The reader will wonder where the merchants were. My Hungarian colleagues tell me that local merchants were subsumed into the categories of flock-owners and vineyard-owners, because cattle, sheep, and wine were the main export articles both before and during the Ottoman period. Merchants specializing in other goods (spices, textiles, etc.) were usually not local residents, but rather people who traveled through the town.

The map also shows important buildings, including churches. It is interesting to learn how long into the period of Ottoman occupation churches survived. Only the Franciscan friary in the so-called Alsóváros part of the town remained and provided pastoral care to the surviving Catholic population. Otherwise, all the other Catholic churches were turned into mosques. The Ottoman occupation lasted from 1543 to 1686, but no buildings from that period have been preserved. In Szeged Sokollu Mustafa’s palace was situated in the marketplace in a building that most probably had been there prior to the Ottoman occupation. One wonders if it is still standing. It would be helpful if the atlas also gave indications of the dates at which buildings were demolished, redesigned, or put to other uses.

The presentation of the history of the three towns is done chronologically. Therefore, Szeged is discussed as a royal town between 1247 and 1543. The thematic map showing medieval churches and associated settlements vividly portrays the churches as focal points, which were surrounded by the houses of the wealthiest families. During the period specified in the next heading, “16th to 18th centuries: the late medieval city and Ottoman rule,” the town stagnated and became a military assembly point. According to an Ottoman tax register, in 1548 there were 1,203 heads of household in the city, 300 fewer than in the census of 1522. The Ottomans converted the Saint Demetrius Church into a mosque and built a minaret next to it. One interesting aspect of the period is that many churches fell into ruins, but cemeteries survived. The same observation applies to Ireland after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the sixteenth century. Under the Ottomans, the town was divided into different quarters along ethnic lines. From 1554 to 1560, the Turks expelled the entire Christian population from the central town-quarter, which was called Palánk. The wealthier among them abandoned the city. This process is reminiscent of what happened in former Roman towns along the Rhine when the Roman Empire collapsed in the fifth century.

The suggestions is made that in the post-Ottoman period there was no consolidated bourgeoisie in Szeged. Bad floods and epidemics were responsible for the fact that the number of inhabited plots fell by 50 percent by the middle of the eighteenth century. In the latter part of that century, life began to improve in Szeged due to an economic revival. After 1711, Szeged again became the nationwide center for salt storage. In the context of the Counter-Reformation, prominent buildings were built in the baroque style. The nineteenth century was a time of modernization, which bore witness to the construction of new squares, new public buildings in a neo-classical style, and improved infrastructure. The reconstruction of the town that followed the disastrous floods of 1879 turned Szeged into a modern city with a circular layout of roads reminiscent of Frankfurt am Main, where boulevards follow the line of a former medieval wall, as shown in the Szeged Atlas in order to further comparison.

These three fascicles are a tremendous achievement. While there is an editorial board, there is as of yet no host institute. The editors had to rely on sponsorship from archives and museums. Without the tenacity of the senior joint editor, Katalin Szende, that would hardly have been possible. The lack of a permanent hosting institute and an executive officer has deprived the Hungarian series in some instances of a unified approach. For example, the introduction to the Sopron volume contains an outline of the role of the Commission as founder of the series and a discussion of the importance of cadastral maps and the military survey for the production of the core maps. It would be helpful for readers of later fascicles if this information were repeated. Why is it that only the Sopron volume includes a CD with a PDF version of the publication? This situation will most likely improve in the near future, as a full-time researcher and coordinator has been appointed, who will streamline the project and iron out any inconsistencies. As of 2016, the Institute of History of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences has been hosting the project.

Judging from the bibliography, a large amount of research had been done in Sopron and Szeged before the work of compiling the atlas was undertaken, while in Sátoraljaújhely a lot of research had to be undertaken by the author himself. The bibliography for Sopron consists of 340 entries very few of which have been published in Latin (medieval sources), German, or English, and works by archaeologists like János Gömöri in Sopron or medieval historians who work in a pan-European context, like Mozdzioch, Piekalski or Szende. If one takes into consideration the fact that a vast amount of research has been incorporated into the atlases and thereby made available, along with primary source material in the form of maps, illustrations, taxation records and fieldwork, then we begin to appreciate just how important these atlases are for researchers in Hungary but also for urban historians from other parts of Europe and beyond. We owe a debt of gratitude to our colleagues who took on this meticulous work. On some occasions, the authors of these volumes point towards comparative urban studies and tempt the reader to think of more comparisons with other towns that are part of the European Historic Towns Atlas project.

These three beautifully produced volumes open the door to Hungarian urban history. They are essential for defining the typology of Hungarian towns, and they will facilitate comparative urban studies on a European scale. Furthermore, they will enable scholars and instructors to teach the history of Hungarian towns on a much wider scale than has previously been possible.

Anngret Simms


Egy székely két élete: Kövendi Székely Jakab pályafutása [Two lives of a Székely: The career of Jakab Székely of Kövend]. By Bence Péterfi. (Sziluett. Korszerű történelmi életrajzok.) Pécs: Kronosz, 2014. 165 pp.

Hungarian medievalists are to some extent exceptionally lucky. I know of hardly any country where the surviving medieval documentary evidence can be more easily accessed than in Hungary. Thanks to the digitalization projects undertaken by the Hungarian National Archives, more than one hundred-thousand legal documents can be accessed online with ease. This database provides a sufficient foundation for research on virtually any aspect of the history of the Hungarian Middle Ages. However, there are a number of topics for which the scholar is compelled to consult further archives. One of these topics is the study of someone who was involved in the political life of more than one country or court, such as Jakab Székely of Kövend, the focus of a new book by Bence Péterfi.

The book is a biography of a medieval self-made man who hailed from Transylvania. The Székely (Szekler) family of Kövend (present-day Plăieşti in Romania) may not have belonged to the richest class of the Székely society, the primores, but by the time Jakab Székely died in 1504 he had become a frequent visitor at the imperial court of Maximilian and owner of a number of major estate complexes, both in the Hungarian Kingdom and the Holy Roman Empire. His career was extraordinary, even in the Middle Ages. The book explores the ways in which a nobleman in the second half of the fifteenth century was able to achieve such a position.

Jakab Székely was born around 1445–1450, but we hardly have any information about him before 1472, when he and his family were given a number of estates in the Székely Lands and also in other areas of Transylvania. But it is more telling that from the mid-1470s Jakab Székely was frequently to be found in the entourage of King Matthias I. Székely was among the numerous delegates who went to Naples in 1476 to accompany the future wife of Matthias, Beatrice of Aragon, to Hungary. In addition to the roles he played at the court, it was his military service that allowed him to rise rapidly in the social hierarchy. During the war against Frederick III in the 1480s, he was one of the most important leaders of the Hungarian army, as indicated by the fact that he became the captain of two of the most important captures, the wealthy trading centers of Ptuj and Radkersburg for more than a decade. From the mid-1480s, he served as chief commandant of the Hungarian army in Steiermarkt, while István Szapolyai, later palatine of Hungary (and father of János Szapolyai, future king of Hungary), served the same position for Austria. Székely’s positions suggest that he was in command of a considerable proportion of the means spent on the war against the Habsburg territories. During these years, he acquired even more estates. His growing importance is clearly illustrated by the fact that he had enough power to marry a woman from a baronial family, the Szécsi family, which was thanks to his efforts in negotiating the settlement of a dispute between the family, Miklós Szécsi, and King Matthias I.

After the death of Matthias in 1490, the political situation in Hungary became increasingly complex. There were a number of claimants to the Hungarian throne (Beatrice, John Corvin, the natural son of the late Matthias, Maximilian, the son of Frederick III and king of the Romans at the time, as well as two members of the Jagiełło family, Władysław II, king of Bohemia and John I Albert, later king of Poland). In this period, it was difficult for a landlord to navigate successfully between the claimants, but as Péterfi demonstrates, by turning to the Habsburgs as early as July 1490, Székely managed to do so. In this period, however, he had to hand over some of his castles to Frederick, but he was able, in the meantime, to put his hands on others. The civil war, which lasted for more than a year, came to an end with the treaty concluded at Pressburg between Frederick, Maximilian and Vladislaus II in 1491. According to the treaty, Székely, along with others who had managed to occupy castles, had to hand them over to their lawful lords. This treaty has been familiar to scholars for some time now, but Péterfi is the first historian to draw attention, both in recent publications and in this book, to the fact that some of the treaty’s conditions were never implemented. In consequence, along with a number of other families, the Székelys became permanent landlords in two realms, the Holy Roman Empire and the Hungarian Kingdom. After the treaty was concluded, he never changed political sides again. He remained loyal to the Habsburgs, which turned out to be a rather prudent decision, as in the long run he not only managed to keep most of his properties in Hungary but also was able to leave a number of castles and their furnishings to his heirs in the territory of the Empire. Péterfi shows that Székely’s incomes from his possessions in Steiermarkt may have been more significant, but even taking into account only his income from lands in the Hungarian Kingdom, by the end of the fifteenth century he had emerged as one of the major landlords. Because of his loyalty to the Habsburgs, he was generously rewarded both materially and symbolically in the Empire. The author shows that Székely’s seal-usage as well as his title as knight banneret (Bannerher) were both signs of his strong position in Frederick’s and later in Maximilian’s court. Péterfi discusses Székely’s military and diplomatic missions in the second half of the 1490s, which increasingly were against Italy and France, rather than the Hungarian Kingdom. The monograph does not conclude with the death of Jakab Székely in 1504. Rather, it also includes a summary of the history of the family from the execution of Székely’s lost last will and testament to the extinction of the male line of the family in 1643.

The book offers a thorough analysis of the surviving narrative sources (Bonfini, Unrest, Tubero etc.) that concern the political events of the 1480s and 1490s, combined with other documentary – mostly archival – evidence from Hungarian and Austrian archives. The biography is more than a mere presentation of an undeniably splendid career. It is a well-chosen example of the ways in which a talented member of the lesser nobility in the second half of the fifteenth century could rise to become a member of the higher classes of society. The secondary literature on the history of the period contains examples of a few people who had similar careers, both laymen and members of the clergy, but we nonetheless know very little about the strategies that were used in order to achieve these successes. It is also a well-chosen example because of the insights it offers into the ways in which a nobleman with estates in two realms (“amphibious nobility,” as the author calls it) could prosper. Finally, it provides a concise overview of the political history of the period around the death of King Matthias, in particular with regards to the events that took place at the border region between the Habsburg territories and Hungary.

The work was published in a new series launched by a lesser known publisher, Kronosz, which aims at presenting grey eminences of Hungarian history to a wider audience. It is of course not the reviewer’s task to question the legitimacy of the publication of Jakab Székely’s biography in this series, but it reasonable to wonder about the extent to which the book will reach the intended readership. Because of the decision by the publisher to attempt to reach a wide audience, the book includes only a few endnotes and a rather limited bibliography. On the one hand the attempt to demonstrate to the wider public that the study of medieval Hungary is more than the study of kings and political history is of course to be welcomed. However, perhaps the most self-evident and possibly the most eager readership, historians of the Middle Ages, will have to grapple with difficulties when using the book, since much of the valuable information, which is the result of extensive archival work on the part of the author, is hard to track down.

András Vadas


Towns and Cities of the Croatian Middle Ages: Authority and Property. Edited by Irena Benyovsky Latin and Zrinka Pešorda Vardić. Zagreb: Hrvatski institut za povijest–Croatian Institute of History, 2014. 534 pp.

This volume, which is the product of an international conference entitled Towns and Cities of the Croatian Middle Ages: Authority and Property (Zagreb, November 2010), consists of 22 studies dealing with topics ranging from Late Antiquity to the beginning of the Early Modern Period. Geographically, the studies focus on the Eastern Adriatic and Central Europe. This volume attempts to answer questions regarding the relationships between urban authorities and the urban space by analyzing cities which are underrepresented in modern historiography. The articles are not organized in chronological order, but rather in thematic groups, with an introduction that outlines the theoretical background of the volume.

The first group of articles deals with the question of public and private property in the cities and the surrounding areas, drawing mainly on the example of Istria (pp.35–114). The studies in this group analyze the transition that cities underwent between the fifth and the tenth centuries by highlighting the process of ruralization of urban centers and its long-term consequences. In this period, the privileged elites began to associate themselves with the municipality, blurring the borders between public and private. The cities underwent significant expansions, amassing greater areas of arable land, and this led to new territorial organization of the municipality. The expansion of ownership also affected the relationship between the authorities, members of the nobility, and the Church.

The studies in the second group observe the development of urban centers and their relationships with the local nobilities (pp.115–271). As addressed by these authors, the lack of written sources does not indicate a lack of developed urban centers in the Early Middle Ages, and the use of archaeology can cover the gap left by the scarcity of written sources. Most of these studies draw attention to the connections between kindred groups and cities and the effects that kindred control had on urban development. The studies in this section consider the administrative and economic developments of cities, analyze the trade networks established between the oligarchs and the cities, and compare the development of the urban centers with the models of premodern cities promoted in the works of Max Weber and Fernand Braudel. The conclusion is reached that urban centers tended to develop as a means of protecting and controlling trade.

The third group of studies examines the status of urban elites and the mechanisms with which the elites increased their lands and their influence over the city and its districts (pp.273–437). The nobility in medieval Dalmatian and Italian cities had a privileged position in building towers but also greater obligations in the organization of the defense of the city. While the property in the hands of the nobility of Dubrovnik was constantly expanding through the appropriation of new city quarters, the growth of the property and influence of the confraternities led to attempts by the city authorities to introduce regulations. The articles in this group make particular use of notary and judicial sources, as well as material remains. This enabled authors to study the fate of the lands in Venetian Dalmatia that were originally owned by key members of the nobility of Trogir (Ana Plosnić Škarić), as well as to observe fluctuations in the real estate market and its functions in the late medieval community of Split (Tonija Andrić). The last article moves away from the coastal towns and introduces prosopography in the research concerning the owners of luxurious palaces in Gradec (Zagreb) in the fifteenth century.

The fourth group deals with the rights of marginal groups, namely women and foreigners (pp.439–68). The work of Marija Karbić looks at the right of women to own and sell property. Karbić examines the ways in which women could become citizens (cives) in the medieval urban centers of Gradec and Varaždin. The second chapter, by Ante Birin, examines city statutes from the late Middle Ages and analyzes the decisions that regulated the position of foreigners (forenses) and their ownership of town properties.

The fifth group examines the legal regulations and procedures concerning the ownership and management of property in medieval Dalmatia (pp.469–508), mainly by focusing on urban laws and how they regulated daily life in the city. These laws dealt with a number of issues, including business transactions, regulations of testaments, pledging, forcible taking of property, thefts, and fines. The last work in this group, by Nella Lonza, compares the work of the legal institution of Dubrovnik with its statute in order to uncover differences between “common” and “heavy” burglaries.

The last article in the volume did not fit in any other group. Trpimir Vedriš (pp.509–34) analyzes symbolic ownership based on the theories of capital by Pierre Bourdieu. Vedriš moves away from the definition of property as an actual material thing and observes the role of the translatio of the relic of Saint Chrysogonus to Zadar and the social memory attached to the relocation. By comparing the translatio with several donation charters, Vedriš detects the existence of “social knowledge,” and he comes to the conclusion that the population of Zadar viewed the preservation of the memory of the burial of the saint as an important way of building communal identity.

Beyond the variety of topics it contains, this collection’s most novel contribution is the application of recent or less frequently used theories and approaches in medieval scholarship. Despite the variety of topics addressed in the volume, there are some absences, such as articles dealing with the relationship between the Church and urban ownership. This is a key issue, since in many of the Dalmatian and Istrian communes discussed in the articles the Church had considerable land holdings, both in the enclosed areas of the cities and in the hinterlands. However, this shortcoming does not detract from the generally positive qualities of the book or its scholarly importance. The volume as a whole is a valuable contribution to the study of urban history, presenting, in English, the latest developments in research concerning the medieval lands of present-day Croatia and the surrounding areas.

Mišo Petrović


Customary Law in Hungary: Courts, Texts, and the Tripartitum. By Martyn Rady. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 266 pp.

In nineteenth-century Hungary, the history of Hungarian law was often compared with the history of English law. The contention was made that in both places local tradition maintained its primacy. Roman law was not slavishly adopted, and both countries had strong parliamentary traditions. After all, the observation was made, the Magna Carta and the Golden Bull, the foundations of English and Hungarian constitutional law respectively, both dated to the same era, 1215 in the case of the Magna Carta and 1222 in the case of the Golden Bull. In the twentieth century, German historian Fritz Kern, one of the founders of the comparative study of the history of constitutional law, drew a parallel between the history of the Hungarian and the English parliaments in his typology of European parliaments. Today, we speak of this question from different perspectives. The phrase “adoption of Roman law” became another one of the many outdated historical concepts that proliferated at the turn of the century. Hungarian law in the late Middle Ages and Jus commune were so intertwined that it is both pointless and impossible to speak of an opposition between them. The Magna Carta had no influence whatsoever on the Golden Bull. Today, we know significantly more concerning the mechanisms of European parliaments than was known one-hundred years ago. That we are unable, our increasingly detailed stock of learning notwithstanding, to compose the kinds of broad statements that were made at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth is another question entirely. Today, no one would expect a British historian to provide a comparative study of the history of English and Hungarian law. So we are left with synthesis. The book by Martyn Rady, the first study of Hungarian customary law in English, is just that.

Rady offers a focused examination of Hungarian customary law. The so-called Tripartitum, the first summary of Hungarian customary law, is at the center of his inquiry. The Tripartitum was written by István Werbőczy, one of the magistrates in the royal court of justice and a man who later had an influential career as a politician. He completed the Tripartitum in 1514, and three years later he submitted it to a printing press. The Tripartitum is not technically a book of statutes for two reasons. First, it is not a summary of previously existing laws, but rather a collection of the norms of customary law at the time. Second, it never actually became law. It was simply a legal work that had been compiled by a private individual for practical use. Rady is one of the most highly esteemed scholars on medieval history in Hungary and Central Europe. He has innumerable publications, including a book on Buda in the Middle Ages and the medieval Hungarian nobility. This book, which is in no small part the fruit of earlier research and publications, was conceived when Rady participated in the translation and publication of laws from the Jagiellonian era and the Tripartitum for a series entitled The Laws of Hungary.

Until the twentieth century, legal tradition in Hungary was dominated by customary law. Rady’s book certainly does not stop at 1514, when Werbőczy wrote the Tripartitum. He examines the history of Hungarian law until 1959, when the first code of Hungarian civil law was proclaimed. In his assessment, it was not until 1959 that the rule of consuetudo in Hungary came to an end. As a characteristic example, he refers to the publication of the Tripartitum in 1897 (as part of the celebrations marking the millennial anniversary of the arrival of the Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin in 896), in which the editors used bold typeface to set off sections that they regarded as prevailing law (as was done at the time when any Hungarian book of laws was published). In the case of the Tripartitum, some 70 pages of the text, i.e. more than one-third, were regarded as statutes in force (the document was 160 pages, not including the 25-page Prologue). According to Rady, however, this practice was little more than an “empty fiction.” Rady reflects on the contentions that were made in the nineteenth century concerning the similarities between the English and the Hungarian constitutions. In his view, this was a “spurious parallel” (p.240). As this ascertainment exemplifies, Rady’s conclusions are simple. When he finds something too artificial, he does not adopt even a century-and-a-half old concept like H.S. Maine’s widely used concept of “fiction.”

The organization of the book is logical. The historical introduction and a section in which Rady clarifies what he means by customary law are followed by a presentation of the Tripartitum. This is followed by a presentation of the sources of common law: charters, legislation, and a description of the courts. There is a separate chapter on the intricate interconnections between the nobility and the king, as well as a separate chapter on crimes and a presentation of medieval rules of procedure. These chapters are followed by sections dealing with the Early Modern Era and the Modern Era, including the political and institutional changes in the new era, processes of codification that took place after Tripartitum, and a presentation of jurisdictions in the eighteenth century. The book concludes with a chapter entitled “Custom and Law in the Modern Period.”

Rady’s assessment of customary law is founded on the most up-to-date literature on legal history. He does not content himself with the repetition of an opposition between law and custom, an opposition used even by Werbőczy himself. On the contrary, he provides a very precise, understandable presentation of the complex relationship between written law and customary law (p.8).

Rady’s task was not made much easier by Hungarian historians. Following the socialist reorganization of the sciences, the study of the history of governments and systems of government continued to thrive, but the study of the history of law faltered. The sections of Rady’s book that address topics that other historians have already examined are the most thorough and convincing. Like the vast majority of Hungarian legal historians and historians, Rady attributes considerable significance to a few of the tracts from the Tripartitum. However, apart from the preface and the sections that are of political and social significance, he only writes in detail on the titles, which concerned the rules of inheritance. Rady provides a short and clear description of the courts of the royal presence (p.51), as well as a convincing section on processes of codification after the Tripartitum (chapter 10), in which he presents the essence of the Early Modern works. There is no description, however, of the royal court system in the period between 1541 and 1691. This is not a mere matter of chance. To this day Hungarian historians have failed to address the subject adequately. In 1541, Hungary was divided into three parts: the middle swath of the country was occupied by the Ottomans, Transylvania became an independent principality, and a slender strip in the west and the north remained under the rule of the Habsburgs as the Hungarian kings. In this part of the country the old court system remained in place, though by the time the country was liberated of Ottoman rule in 1691 the courts had undergone major transformation.

Rady’s book, however, is by no means a simple abridgment or collage of the existing secondary literature. He raises new questions and examines the conclusions of the works he consults, comparing them with the primary sources. He uses both published and archival sources. His description of the relationships between witch trials and public prosecution represents a very important contribution to the history of criminal law in the Early Modern Era (p.119). He also makes the accurate observation that the contention according to which the barons blocked the passage of the Tripartitum into law because it did not recognize the superiority of the rights they enjoyed over the rights of the lesser nobility is unpersuasive (p.18). This contention is as widespread as it is unconvincing.

Rady writes in a clear, comprehensible style. He avoids complicated modern legal terminology and words that are fashionable in some of the tendencies in the writing of legal history, even though they often obscure the point of an inquiry. There are some small mistakes, but they do not undermine the essence of the book. For instance, the Magyars and the Onogurs were not two peoples who melted together. Rather, the two terms were used to denote the same people (p.1).

Customary Law in Hungary is far more than a new monograph on the history of old Hungarian law. Rady’s use of sources is original and does not get lost in the details. He adheres consistently to his initial goal: how and why did customary law remain the decisive thread of Hungarian law until the twentieth century? By adopting this approach, he sets a high standard for those who seek to follow in his footsteps. Any attempt to characterize old Hungarian law without consulting this book would be quite unthinkable.


István Tringli

Geschichte schreiben im osmanischen Südosteuropa: Eine Kulturgeschichte orthodoxer Historiographie des 16. und 17. Jahrhunderts. By Konrad Petrovszky. (Balkanologische Veröffentlichungen: Geschichte, Gesellschaft und Kultur in Südosteuropa, 60.) Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2014. 272 pp.

It was the fate of the pre-modern states that were inhabited by numerous peoples to be presented by the national histories of the successor states, which later came into existence in competition with one another and were based on notions of a unified linguistic and cultural space, in a fragmentary manner. This is as true of the Habsburg Monarchy as it is of the Ottoman Empire. In the case of the Ottoman Empire, an additional consideration is the simple fact that the historiography on the realm, which first began to be written in the Renaissance, has been studied with greater duration and depth than the practice of writing history in the Ottoman-Orthodox cultural and communication space itself. We know very little about the multilingual Orthodox chronicles, annals, and other historical texts of the Early Modern Era in southeastern Europe. This is where the monograph (originally submitted to the Faculty of Philosophy at Humboldt University as a doctoral dissertation) by Konrad Petrovszky comes in. Petrovszky is not concerned with providing a conventional narrative of the Orthodox Christian historiography in southeastern Europe under Ottoman rule, nor does he offer an assessment of the historiographical texts, which for the most part were written in Greek, Church Slavonic, and Romanian. He is far more interested in the shifting relationships between these texts and social constellations, as indeed the subtitle of his book suggests. He seeks to further a deeper understanding of “the social and communicational preconditions of the writing of history” and provide “a dense contextualization of historiographical practices” (p.12).

Petrovszky takes the multilingual nature of southeastern Europe and the accompanying diversity of its traditions of writing, which inevitably hinder any attempt to offer an integral study of the historical texts of the Ottoman Empire that embraces the multiplicity of languages, as a challenge. He is quite at home in the languages that are used in the primary sources (Greek, Bulgarian, Serbian, and Romanian), whether printed or handwritten texts, much as he is at home in the many languages of the relevant secondary literature. He offers persuasive arguments in support of his choice of sources, and the spatial and temporal frameworks of his inquiry also seem reasonable. This is particularly true of his decision to ignore the writing of history in Transylvania and Veneto, where the forms and practices adopted by historians differed strikingly from the practices used in the neighboring territories.

The ambitious goals that Petrovszky has set for his treatise and, therefore, his own praxis as a scholar, become clear in the dense introduction, which is rich with ideas and provides an exemplary presentation of the subject of the inquiry. The book, a well-informed inquiry, is eloquent and persuasive from the first page to the last. One has little difficulty following his argument, thanks in large part to the clear and balanced structure. The introductory chapter on trends and tendencies in social and cultural developments in Ottoman southeastern Europe between 1500 and 1700, in which Petrovszky offers a sketch of the interrelationships among political, administrative, cultural, social, and religious processes of exchange, is followed by a chapter that focuses on the Orthodox historiography. He is concerned with the circulation of knowledge in the Early Modern Era: education and the relevant backdrop and paths, the safeguarding and dissemination of knowledge, and finally the role of book printing. Petrovszky then presents “the craft of history writing between the spoken, written, and printed word.” He is concerned with the specific circumstances of the transmission of individual texts, phenomena such as the limited written culture of southeastern Europe, evidence of a shifting understanding of writing, and the gradual rise of the vernacular in the seventeenth century. While the first half of the monograph is focused on the constraints and preconditions of historiographical practice, the two chapters that follow bring questions of content, discourse, and models of history to the fore. For instance, Petrovszky discusses the meaning of the Byzantine tradition for the Orthodox Christian writing of history, and he presents various narrative models and distinctive regional characteristics.

The conclusions of this inquiry, which is persuasive both in its methods and erudition and in its ideas and argumentation, are manifold. Petrovszky convincingly demonstrates that “the Orthodox written culture of southeastern Europe remained throughout the period in question closely tied to the religious sphere or at least under its strong influence. […] In the area in which the south-Slavic languages prevailed, the writer, the place of writing, and the place of printing remained more strongly bound to the field of the Church than they did in other Orthodox regions and language areas” (p.229). In addition to presenting this finding, which he supports with numerous examples, Petrovszky offers insights into the relationships between political context, social diversification, educational migration, the transfer of knowledge, and Orthodox concepts of history and the writing of history. The same is true of his observations concerning content. Thus, for instance he determines that Islamic history writing is given no reception whatsoever in the texts that are in the center of his inquiry. It is quite clear “that the existence of a large space in which intercommunication was possible, such as the space that was undoubtedly created by the space of Ottoman rule, did not always mean permeability and actual exchange” (p.232). This inquiry, which far surpasses the standards set by other treatises submitted to complete academic requirements for historians in Germany, constitutes a significant contribution to other, quite varied disciplines in the humanities. This is true not only for the departments and institutes that deal with the culture and history of southeastern Europe, but also for scholars who are interested in the early modern intellectual history in Central and Western Europe.

Joachim Bahlcke


A gyulafehérvári hiteleshely levélkeresői (1556–1690) [The requisitors of the Gyulafehérvár place of authentication (1556–1690)]. By Emőke Gálfi. (Erdélyi Tudományos Füzetek, 283.) Kolozsvár: Erdélyi Múzeum Egyesület, 2015. 235 pp.

In the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Era, there was a network of institutions in Hungary known as the “loca credibilia,” which were chapters or convents that served as places of authentication. The functions of these places of authentication included serving the role of notary public. In recent years, historians have begun to realize that the documents that were produced by these places of authentication, which have traditionally been used as sources in the study of diplomatic and institutional history, are also indispensable in the study of the history of Early Modern society. In the decades following the defeat of the Hungarian army at the hands of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the development of the institution began to take a different turn in Transylvania than in the Kingdom of Hungary, where it continued to function. In 1556, the places of authentication in Transylvania became secular, and the tasks relating to the maintenance of records were taken over by secular scribes, so-called requisitors, who begin to be mentioned in the sources in 1559.

The goal of Emőke Gálfi’s monograph is to examine the lives and careers of the officials of the place of authentication of the chapter of Gyulafehérvár (today Alba Iulia in Romania) and the history of the institution, from its secularization in 1556 to the end of the principality, from the perspectives of governmental and social history. Gálfi has divided the monograph into three longer chapters. In the first, she presents the evolution of the office of the requisitor and, in this context, the secularization of the Transylvanian chapter (one of the consequences of the Reformation) and the functions and roles of the first requisitors. In the second chapter, she examines the social strata of the intelligentsia represented by the requisitors. She begins with the process according to which they were appointed and the tasks with which they were entrusted (which were the traditional tasks of the archivist) and then provides subchapters on their incomes and estates. As the reader learns from these subchapters, on the basis of their estates and the number of serfs belonging to their estates, most of them were members of the medium-sized estate-owning nobility. It is worth noting that roughly half of them were not originally from Transylvania. Rather, their families had fled to Transylvania from regions of the country that had fallen under threat from the Ottoman Turks. Regarding their social backgrounds, eleven of them had come from urban settings or market towns. Four of them belonged to the middle nobility. One of them was a serf and two were Székelys. The rest either were members of the lesser nobility or of an indeterminate background. However, by the end of their lives, thanks to the roles they had played in these offices, all of them were able to achieve noble rank. Sources indicate that at least fifteen of them had had thorough schooling. From the perspective of their denominational makeup (they were Unitarians and Calvinists), it is quite clear that almost exclusively people belonging to Protestant churches were regarded as suitable for this important position. Indeed this factor determined to a large extent the network of their relationships. They were closely tied to the Calvinist elites. They also seem to have adopted very deliberate strategies with regards to marriage. They strove to improve their circumstances by marrying women who either were of equal social position and wealth or of higher social position and wealth. The 32 wives on whom information is available of 22 requisitors (the difference is due to some of the man having had more than one wife) were mostly of noble origins. Only men from more humble social backgrounds chose wives from among the burghers.

The third chapter, which examines the documents and data concerning the requisitors, is the most expansive. Gálfi offers a detailed presentation of the social backgrounds, educations, careers, and material and familial relationships of 38 requisitors in chronological order on the basis of thorough knowledge of the primary sources and secondary literature. The appendix is an important complement to this chapter. It contains in extenso supplements concerning the requisitors, including certificates, correspondence, last wills and testaments, letters regarding the division of properties, inventories of assets, etc.

Gálfi’s monograph addresses what has remained something of a blank spot in Hungarian historiography. The publication of the book is important from at least two perspectives for scholars. First, the history of the institution itself, the loca credibilia, has hardly been a subject of much interest among historians. Her book may well serve to draw attention to its significance in the larger context of institutional history. Second, it is admirable for the thoroughness and nuance with which it examines the functions and social composition of the Transylvanian requisitors, who represented an institution essentially unfamiliar in Hungary. Thus, Gálfi has enriched the field with a monograph that addresses an important subject and constitutes a significant contribution to our knowledge of the period in question. It may well prompt further inquiries into the history of the roles of loca credibilia in the Early Modern Era.

Irén Bilkei


Török szövetség – Habsburg kiegyezés: A Bocskai-felkelés történetéhez [Ottoman alliance – Habsburg compromise: On the history of the Bocskai uprising]. By Sándor Papp. Budapest: Károli Gáspár Református Egyetem–L’Harmattan, 2014. 398 pp.

The anti-Habsburg movement led by István Bocskai, which took place between 1604 and 1606, has always been given a place of prominent importance in Hungarian historiography. There are several reasons for this. As the first piece of legislation concerning the religious freedoms of the Hungarian estates was the result of the peace treaty that was signed at the end of this uprising, Bocskai was quite obviously seen as a hero of the Reformation by the Protestant historiography of the nineteenth century. This denominational perspective—canonized at the International Monument to the Reformation in Geneva, where Bocskai’s statue is the only one representing the region—was paired with another political message very popular in nineteenth-century historiography, namely that Hungary’s repeated attempts to achieve independence represented one of the most important threads in its history. As this uprising was the first occasion on which the Hungarian estates had taken weapons in hand to defend their liberties against their legitimate king, Rudolph of the Habsburg House, Bocskai was an obvious choice for a national hero, who represented not only religious freedoms but also the struggle for independence. After 1945, the uprising became canonized as a “szabadságharc,” an ambiguous term that can refer to a fight for (political or religious) liberties (which the uprising beyond any doubt was), but also has the connotations of a struggle for national independence, especially since it is used to refer to the Revolution of 1848.

It was the latter connotation and everything that it entails in respect to narratives of long-term historical developments that prompted a revisionist interpretation ten years ago, on the occasion of the publications of a massive quantity of writings produced for the anniversary of the uprising. One of the most important arguments presented by historian Géza Pálffy in his critique of interpretations of the Bocskai uprising as a fight for independence was that its leader, István Bocskai, was, in the course of the events, not only elected prince of Transylvania, a tributary state of the Ottoman Empire, but also enjoyed the sultan’s military support. Thus, he had no chance of emerging from the fight as a ruler of a Hungary independent of the two neighboring empires. One of the most important reference points used by Pálffy was the early studies by Sándor Papp on the Ottoman contacts of the Bocskai uprising, which brought forth many novel results and has now grown into a monograph, a dissertation that secured its author the title of Doctor of the Academy of Sciences.

Having acknowledged the ideologically heavily loaded character of his field of research, Papp promises to make a thorough reconstruction of the chronology and causal connections between the various moves of different actors in this complex game of politics and war based on the broadest possible selection of primary sources. This is a promise he fulfills to the letter. He draws on his philological skills in Ottoman Turkish paleography to provide documents to enrich his reader’s understanding of the Ottoman perspective on an unprecedented scale and also dedicates longer sections to the meticulous study of sources long familiar and long misunderstood. With his keen aptitude for detail, Papp at times risks jeopardizing the coherence of his inquiry because of his meticulous focus on the close study of primary sources. Some sections have little to do with the main topic of the book, such as the painstaking reconstruction and critique of the sources related to the alleged poisoning of Bocskai in 1606 (which Papp ultimately finds unlikely ever to have taken place). It may have been prudent to have published such sections as separate articles. In most instances, however, Papp’s method yields important insights into the questions he posed as the most important focus of his research.

The Bocskai uprising took place in the very last phase of the Long Turkish War at the turn of the seventeenth century (or the Fifteen Years War, as it is known in Hungarian historiography), a fact that has been acknowledged by all authors writing about this historical event, though no one has taken it as seriously as Papp has. He begins his narrative several years before the uprising, and he provides an account of the various attempts at peacemaking between Habsburgs and Ottomans, a prehistory of Bocskai’s campaign. It is thus immediately apparent why the Hungarian uprising was met with such a hearty welcome from the Ottoman side and why the grand vizier found it important to issue in the name of the sultan an inauguration document for Bocskai as king of Hungary only some months after his initial successes. A rare collection of correspondence between Bocskai and the Ottoman dignitaries and also among the sultan’s office-holders involved in the Hungarian campaign enable Papp to trace the steps in the process of coordination between the parties. This material shows that the details of military cooperation were continuously discussed, and Grand Vizier Lala Mehmed expected a great deal from Bocskai’s activities. It is also clear that the Ottomans tried to keep Bocskai and his Hungarian supporters interested in not concluding a final settlement with the representatives of the king of Hungary until there was a chance to reach an agreement on the questions debated at the Ottoman–Habsburg peace negotiations that led eventually to the Treaty of Zsitvatorok.

One of the most important focal points of Papp’s narrative is the personal meeting between Grand Vizier Lala Mehmed and István Bocskai (who by that time had been elected prince of Transylvania and Hungary) at Rákosmező on the November 11, 1605. On this occasion, Bocskai was given a crown by the Ottoman dignitary. Apart from clarifying the origins of this crown (and identifying it as a Byzantine jewel, which had been renovated in Constantinople for the occasion), Papp also provides convincing arguments against one of the widely familiar myths concerning the Ottoman relationship to the Bocskai uprising. On the basis of the apologetic contemporary description of Johannes Bocatius, Hungarian historiography for centuries has claimed that Bocskai accepted the crown only as a jewel, not as royal insignia, and that he did not seek to challenge the right of Rudolph, the legitimate ruler, to the Hungarian throne. A close reading of Bocatius’ narrative has persuaded Papp that such an insult would not have been possible at an audience staged by the second most important person in the Ottoman Empire for a prince who had been in subordinate position towards the sultan. Recently discovered Ottoman and Hungarian sources also support this conclusion.

All in all, the thorough source analysis, paired with an interest in the wider political context, make Papp’s monograph a valuable contribution not only to a more realistic understanding of Hungarian history, but also to a more nuanced grasp of the history of the Ottoman Empire and its relationships to its tributaries.

Gábor Kármán


Bécs vonzásában: Az agrárpiacosodás feltételrendszere Moson vármegyében a 19. század első felében [In the pull of Vienna: The preconditions of the development of the agrarian market in Moson County in the first half of the nineteenth century]. By Gergely Krisztián Horváth. Budapest: Balassi, 2013. 695 pp.

Gergely Krisztián Horváth’s new monograph is a masterpiece of Hungarian economic and social history, both of which are undergoing a refreshing revival. It offers a thorough picture of the economic processes of the protoindustrial period, the various effects they had on society, and the responses (which showed varying degrees of flexibility) that were given to the challenges that arose, all of which led to a gradual loosening of the hierarchical feudal social order in the region before 1848. In order to present the economic processes that were taking place in the first half of the nineteenth century and loosening the existing social structure, Horváth chose to examine Moson County, which lies in the western corner of Hungary, at the gateway of Vienna.

The book is structured around a gradual approach to its subject. The introduction, in which Horváth raises the fundamental questions of his study, acquaints the reader with the conclusions in the available secondary literature and clarifies the theoretical framework of the inquiry. This is followed by a presentation of the structural characteristics of the region. Here, Horváth adopts a gradual approach, beginning on the regional level (the relationship between Vienna and Moson County at the beginning of the industrial revolution in Austria, which led to deindustrialization as a complementary process) and then examining local circumstances (the social structures of the villages). This is followed by a description of the system of natural and geographical preconditions of the development of an agricultural marketplace and a discussion of the ways in which this was influenced by anthropogenic factors. The archducal estate of Moson County and the county itself are presented separately as independent agents with diverging interests, as are the social factors (from work done in the service of a landlord to schooling) that shaped peasant farming and determined the surplus quantity that could be sent to market. This is followed by other factors that influenced trade, including border and customs policy and conflicts involving transportation. Finally, Horváth provides a quantitative analysis of exports, including their composition and the roles they played in the provision of supplies for Vienna and the living conditions of the peasantry. The book follows a logical structure in which the various elements build clearly on one another, while at the same time the many case studies and comparisons offer an array of information.

Horváth adopts primarily an analytical approach. The best example of this is perhaps the chapter in which he examines the relationships between demographic, social, denominational, and ethnic differences (how did religious affiliation affect family size and economic influence, and was it a decisive factor in the success of adaptation strategies) and the extent of the influence of this on economic development (was there a connection between the size and production capacity of a plot of land and the social or ethnic background of its owner). The map appendix, which illustrates natural and social-economic processes and regional differences in these processes, helps orient the reader.

Horváth’s decision to focus on Moson County proved fortuitous. Influences arriving from the West and the interregional division of labor (industrial goods for agricultural goods) hit this region first in Hungary. Thus, the effects they had can be examined directly. Because of the geography of the land and the potentials this created for transportation, the region profited from the situation. The production and social indicators of the county, which were comparatively favorable on the national level, were as much consequences as they were preconditions of this process. According to Horváth, of the favorable conditions one of the most significant was the ratio of livestock to serfs, which was remarkably high in comparison with the rest of the country, as well as the literacy rate and the ethnic makeup (it was the only county in Hungary with a German-speaking majority, and thus there were no real obstacles to communication with Austria). The presence of the archducal estate in Mosonmagyaróvár was also a favorable circumstance: the concentration of capital helped solve problems that were in principle the responsibility of the county, but the administration was unable to address them because of lack of will and lack of sources. Individuals were no better able to solve these kinds of issues, since at the time, i.e. in the early days of the emergence of a burgher middle class, they did not have the necessary financial resources or the forums for self-organization. Large estates played a significant role in the development of higher education, the modernization of farming, the spread of industrial and agricultural innovation, and protective measures against floods, which threatened people’s livelihoods and sustenance. Thus, the dynamic development of the region was not due so much to its natural and geographical features as it was to the economic and social structures that emerged relatively early here in comparison with other parts of the country.

It is worth asking why the region, which lay near to an industrial center, was not itself able to embark on the path towards industrialization (Horváth examines this in the chapter entitled “Protoindustrialization contra the Agrarian Market”). According to classical interpretations, the explanation for this lies in the relative prosperity enjoyed in the field of agriculture, which was a consequence of the division of labor that had emerged. It led to a decline in small industry in the region that served the industrial center because of competition with the manufacturing industry. However, the turn for the better in “terms of trade” and the growth in agricultural exports (according to theory, this in general leads naturally to deindustrialization, since it is more profitable to invest in agriculture) created an accumulation of capital that could have been invested in industry (instead of this, the consumption of imported industrial goods was on the rise). The explanation for why this did not take place lies in the absence of social structure as an institutional background and the hindering effects this had. In Horváth’s assessment, the fact that Moson County often was more rigid than a given estate, village, or social stratum in its responses to the challenges that arose (the problems of drainage and the regulation of waterways to protect the marshlands of Hanság from flooding and create more arable land or the economic problems concerning customs duties on the internal Austrian-Hungarian border) was a clear sign of the disintegration of the traditional frameworks. In contrast with the county administration, the estates, villages, and social strata found back doors in the system, gradually cracking its frameworks at the beginning of the nineteenth century.

The book is a work of both economic history and social history. It relies on a number of methodologies, including microhistorical analysis, cliometric methods used in quantitative economic history, and an array of methods used in sociology, as well as agrarian history and ethnographic observations. This is complemented with a critical analysis of the writings of Anton Wittmann and Andreas Grailich, two proponents of modernization. Their work makes it possible to determine the labor productivity among peasants and compare it with productivity in other territories. The book is pioneering from the perspective of methodology as well, and not simply because of its statistical approach (Horváth examines the proportions of Hungarian exports, Viennese imports, and production on the county level, each of which places a different aspect of the complex interrelations in the foreground), but also because of the conclusions the author draws. Thus, it will be of interest and use to historians, specialists in agriculture, geographers, and economists. The importance of geography is always at the fore, as natural problems were clearly often in the background of social phenomena. The book even contains theories and arguments that draw on the natural sciences (for instance, arguments concerning plans for the regulation of the Hanság marshlands). Thus, it will also be informative and interesting to geographers and specialists in water engineering, and it provides insights into economic interests that exerted an influence on regulation plans and projects. We are even given a kind of archetype miniature of the debate concerning the regulation of the Tisza River and the social groups and organizations that took part in this debate, each of which had diverging interests. The importance of geographical considerations is palpable even in the discussion of principles of economics. As far as Horváth is concerned, the administrative borders of Moson County were not congruent with the actual borders of the economic spheres of the county or even individual settlements. He takes the regrettably rare and all the more admirable step of considering not how the different institutions were supposed to function according to the law (whether we are speaking of an institution of agricultural education, an assessment of taxes, the closing of a border, the issuing of a passport, the manner in which a plot of land was used, etc.), but actually how these institutions did function. This enables him to assess the disintegration and transformation of the nobleman’s county and hierarchical feudal society.

Given the breadth and depth of his inquiry, Horváth had to familiarize himself with an array of written sources. He seems to have consulted almost every available archival source, from notices of loss to requests for remittal of tax debts to schematics on schooling. His ability to organize the data he uncovered in the course of his research is eloquent testimony to his knowledge of theoretical questions and his practical gift as a writer. His descriptions offer a clear grasp of the ways in which the systems functioned, and the book will be an indispensable crutch for scholars pursuing research on local or regional history. Horváth has used every assessment of taxes and source of information in order to compile as much data as possible, and anyone who has ever attempted to compare data from different eras and based on different units of measurement in order to create a coherent kind of database knows what a daunting task this is, full of snares. One of his strengths is his ability to use soft variables alongside hard variables in order to draw subtle conclusions, and he does a good job alternating dense and focused description with looser narrative. His holistic approach allows him to flirt with the idea of writing a “total” history.

Horváth also provides a critical analysis of the existing secondary literature, including the comparatively few works on Moson County and works that examine the region in general. He reflects on some of the traditional views found in Austrian and Hungarian works on economic history, sometimes adopting a contrary standpoint and throwing into question the plausibility of the contentions that have been made. Both the reliability of scales, measurement units, and theories about the significance of the double customs border in the development of Hungary are discussed. Someone seeking to provide an assessment of another county or region according to a similar set of perspectives must confront the fact that the phenomena described in this book are not necessarily of general applicability. Thus, the most important virtue of the work is not that it can serve as a general handbook (of collected methods), but rather that it demonstrates persuasively that it is possible to reconstruct, in addition to the basic functional mechanisms of power and administration, the economic substance of regulations and units of measurement and thus to further an understanding, alongside sources of conflict, of social capacities to assert interests. Furthermore, Horváth offers on the micro-level a sketch of the successes of the various strategies of economic (dairy farming, grain production, transportation, viticulture, providing provender) and social adaptation (breaking the law, tax evasion, education) and compares these strategies.

Gábor Demeter


Pánszlávok a kastélyban: Justh József és a szlovák nyelvű magyar nemesség elfeledett története [Pan-Slavs in the manor house: József Justh and the forgotten history of the Slovak-speaking Hungarian nobility]. By József Demmel. Bratislava: Kalligram, 2014. 284 pp.

Social history and the history of mentalities, which began to become increasingly popular subjects of study in East Central Europe after the fall of communism, are unquestionably among the most dynamic areas of the field of history today. As far as national and political identity of noble families is concerned, it has been a subject of interest in writings on Hungarian history since the Middle Ages. Half of the Hungarian noble families lived in the northern region of pre-World War I Hungary (what today is Slovakia), where the population was primarily Slovak-speaking. They enjoyed privileges, they were also obliged to fight in defense of the country, but none of this meant that they had to speak Hungarian. Until 1844, the language of state in Hungary was Latin, and much of the written culture of the region in question was in German or Czech. The nobility of the territory regarded itself as part of the Hungarian nation politically and socially, but ethnically it identified with the Slavic nation (broadly understood). With the rise of the modern concept of linguistic nation and nation state in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the non-Hungarian-speaking nobility was expected to accept ethnic Hungarians as the ruling nation. This demand did not encounter major resistance, and gave rise to a prevalent optimism at the time and even in later assessments of the period. Research projects and initiatives that were launched in the 1970s confirmed this view. These inquiries asserted the claim that one finds, in the mentality of the era, a mass tendency towards spontaneous assimilation, thus presenting the reader with an image of the country as a kind of melting pot. The repeal of feudal privileges in 1848 did not slow the process. Thus, an 1878 pamphlet, for instance, read “ambitious Slovaks raise their boys to be Hungarian gentlemen. In their minds, the word ‘Slovak’ and the word ‘gentleman’ are mutually exclusive” (Béla Grünwald, A felvidék: Politikai tanulmány [1878], 29).

In contrast, the nationalist Slovak elite of the nineteenth century, which was active in parallel or, more precisely, in opposition to the Hungarian elite, condemned these noble families for their “betrayal”, though these families were expected to take their place at the vanguard of the fight for Slovak equality. Pamphlets and speeches emphasized that, in earlier centuries, the Slovak nobility had played a leading role in the protection of the borders and rights of the country and Slovak had been used in public and Church affairs. According to this elite, these nobles could only be members of the Slovak nation, which was of the same status as the Magyar nation.

To this day, the question of dual Slovak-Hungarian identity has not been the subject of any serious research projects. József Demmel’s new work breaks from the ideological and normative approach. In the introductory chapter Demmel offers a persuasive presentation of the ways in which a dual identity functioned by drawing on the examples of specific individuals. An aristocrat in the second half of the nineteenth century on the one hand resolutely opposed the Slovak national movement, while on the other he felt himself as Slovak in the company of Hungarians and wrote fine poetry in Slovak in the solitude of his manor house. At the middle of the century, relatives of Lajos Kossuth living in Turóc (Turiec) County wrote much of their correspondence and discussed the economic affairs of the family for the most part in Slovak, in spite of the fact that Kossuth himself, as perhaps the most recognized figure of Hungarian politics, was always a staunch opponent of the Slovak national movement. According to Demmel, this was all quite natural, given the linguistic environment in which the child of a noble family grew up in the region. Family members spoke German and Slovak, the larger community spoke almost exclusively Slovak, and the children only began to use Hungarian (and Latin) in school. Thus, these people did not choose dual identities, but rather inherited these identities as part of the legacy of the multilingual communities in which they lived. They regarded themselves as part of the noble Hungarian nation (the Natio Hungarica), but in many of the most important spheres of their lives they used Slovak (and in writing for a long time Czech) as the dominant language. Demmel, however, does not simply content himself with his observation concerning this nuance. He analyzes the trends in local politics in Turóc County (the population of which was entirely Slovak-speaking) by putting the county in the larger context of the party struggles and conflicts of the 1830s and 1840s, showing persuasively that the national struggle between the liberals and the conservatives provided a background for the local struggles between the leading families of Turóc County and their political supporters. The family of the person whom Demmel has chosen as the focus of his inquiry, József Justh, had been locked in a struggle for centuries with another influential family of the area for the leading role in the community. In the 1840s, Justh’s faction supported the policies and goals of the liberal parties, which meant opposition to the use of Slovak and Latin in public life and support for the use of Hungarian. Thus, he had support on the national level, while the conservatives, who were being pushed from local positions of influence, began to support the Slovak national movement in its struggle against efforts to make Hungarian the language of public affairs. These leading figures of this movement, however, proved too liberal for their inclinations, and they soon distanced themselves from them. It is one of the ironies of history that the debate between the two camps took place for the most part in the columns of the newspaper of the Slovak national movement, as this was the forum in which the two sides were best able to express their views.

Gradually, József Justh became a leading figure of liberal politics in Hungary on the national level. In 1847, he became a delegate of the national assembly, and during the 1848 revolution he was made commissioner of Turóc County and the leader of a neighboring county. He was charged with the task of keeping a watchful eye on the Slovak national movement and harassing its leaders. As the military constellation began to shift, he was taken prisoner by the pro-Habsburg Slovak troops that occupied Turóc County. However, his political inclinations and responsibilities notwithstanding, he maintained his ties to the Slovak community. In the 1840s, he defended one of the leaders of the Slovak national movement, Jozef Miloslav Hurban, who was accused in a Church affair of anti-Hungarian activity, and though in 1849 he himself was Hurban’s prisoner, the two men maintained respect for each other throughout their lives. After the Revolution, Justh maintained his friendship with Ľudovít Štúr, the leader of the Slovak nationalism (whom Justh had been supposed to apprehend in 1848), and in the 1850s he supported (though unsuccessfully) Štúr’s plan to create an institutional framework for secondary schooling in Slovak. His sons were educated for years at a time by people who openly supported the Slovak nationalist movement (as indeed the title of the book, Pan-Slavs in the manor house indicates). The zenith in his political career came in 1861, when a memorandum demanding local autonomy was accepted at the national assembly of the Slovak nation. Justh took part in the drafting of this document and even agreed to serve as a member of the delegation that was to be sent to the national assembly in Budapest. What might have prompted him to take part, quite openly, in the struggle for equal recognition for the Slovak nation? As Demmel suggests, Justh had had a chance to experience, during the Revolution, the power of the Slovak national movement. He had born witness as the leaders of the movement had managed to mobilize all of Turóc County in support of their aims. The statements they made in the 1850s and 1860s convinced him that the Hungarians regarded the non-Hungarian peoples of the country as equal partners (in this he was mistaken). However, the attacks that were leveled against the Memorandum made plain to him the fact that the Hungarian leaders continued to espouse and labor in support of a notion of a single, unified Hungarian nation and Hungarian state. He immediately did an about-face (he withdrew from the delegation) and from then on distanced himself from the political aspirations of the Slovak community. He remained an influential representative of liberal Hungarian politics. He continued to serve as the delegate of Turóc County. In 1869, he was elected to serve as president of the governing liberal party under Ferenc Deák, and he was celebrated by his contemporaries as a staunch opponent of “Pan-Slavism,” i.e. the Slovak national movement. In the course of the election campaigns, he did indeed come into conflict with candidates who represented the aims of the Slovak national movement. He used corrupt tactics to ensure victory in these skirmishes (which was perfectly common at the time), but in the background, “as a kind of silent Slovak” (to use Demmel’s characterization), he supported Slovak institutions (the savings bank, printing press, comprehensive school, casino, and Matica slovenská, the society for public education).

Justh’s political and personal life fell to pieces in the mid-1870s. As Demmel shows, he was unable to represent effectively in Turóc County the aims of Hungarian nationalist circles, at least not to the satisfaction of these circles, who saw him as someone all too willing to reach compromises with local Slovak groups. He had lost many of his supporters and his financial resources had dwindled, and he and his remaining group were regarded as an obstacle to the termination of the Slovak comprehensive schools and Matica slovenská.

Demmel rejects the notion of archetypes and resolutely remains within the theoretical framework of micro-historical analysis, focusing on individual cases as individual cases, rather than as examples. Nonetheless, his selection of a prominent figure of history seems to have been a perfect choice as an illustration of his thesis. Justh’s career and life show the major turning points in the politics and ethnic relations of the nineteenth century and, more narrowly, the process of Magyarization, which was by no means an unbroken, uncontested development.

Barna Ábrahám


In Search of the Budapest Secession: The Artist Proletariat and Modernism’s Rise in the Hungarian Art Market, 1800–1914. By Jeffrey Taylor. Saint Helena, CA: Helena History Press, 2014. 260 pp.

Jeffrey Taylor’s book covers the emergence of the modern art market in Hungary, locating the evolution of Hungarian artists’ groups, organizations, and exhibition venues from the early nineteenth century to World War I within the international developments of the era. Taylor interprets the fin-de-siècle, one of the richest periods of Hungarian art, from a hitherto underexplored angle, placing the intricate mechanisms of the art market in the focus of his investigations. Protagonists like the Nagybánya group or The Eight and major modern artists like József Rippl-Rónai or Lajos Tihanyi thus appear in an unusual light, portrayed not only as pioneering artists but also as conscious actors in the art trade and inventors of groundbreaking (self-)marketing strategies.

The author is currently assistant professor of arts management and entrepreneurship at Purchase College, State University of New York, and for a long time has been an active participant in the art business himself. Thanks to his practical expertise, Taylor knows the art market from the inside and from the outside: he is intimately familiar with the mechanisms of the art trade in a way in which very few academic art historians are. The great strengths of Taylor’s book stem from the author’s multi-faceted knowledge: his hands-on experience on the one hand, and his academic erudition on the other.

The book’s introductory chapter outlines the emergence of European art markets and points to the dispersion of models, originating in France and the Netherlands but adopted also by the European peripheries in the course of the nineteenth century. During the process of what Taylor calls market pluralization, the intermediaries of art (exhibition venues and organizations) would multiply, beginning with breakaway movements which challenged the monopoly of dominant national organizations and continuing with an ever-increasing number of private galleries and splinter organizations, which created rival forums for the art trade. After outlining the pan-European models, Taylor briefly marks out the position of Hungarian art organizations within the international trends, indicating (at this point, only in an introductory manner) the similarities and differences between the core countries of Europe and a peripheral state like Hungary.

The question raised by Taylor in the introduction as one of his chief problems involves the dating and identification of the Secession in Budapest: his question concerns which particular group or movement can be characterized as equivalent to the well-known Secessions of Central Europe, i.e. the Vienna Secession, the Munich Secession, or the Berlin Secession. But “Secession” as a term is not used by Taylor exclusively to designate movements and organizations which have gone down in art history by that name. He interprets Secession as a movement which shatters the market monopoly of a formerly hegemonic organization and therefore has key importance in the development of modern art markets. By tracing the evolution of nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century art organizations in Hungary, he sets out to devote his book to the quest for the Hungarian Secession.

Chapters 1 and 2 deal with the evolution of the art market in nineteenth-century Hungary. Chapter 2 presents the emergence of a major national art organization, the National Hungarian Society of Arts (Országos Magyar Képzőművészeti Társulat), and analyzes the role its exhibitions, modeled on the Paris Salons of the period, played in a period in which the art market in Hungary was just in the making.

Chapter 3 discusses the history of the National Salon, a second large art organization in Hungary founded in 1894, which was the first significant formation to challenge the former monopoly of the National Hungarian Society of Arts. At the beginning of the chapter, Taylor formulates an excellent reading of what Nemzeti Szalon was all about, interpreting the new institution from the point of view of market logic and competition within the profession, rather than explaining its emergence by aesthetic differences. In his introduction of the pre-World-War-I history of the National Salon, Taylor offers excellent close readings of the conflicts, struggles and rivalries within the Hungarian art world. In this chapter, Taylor also examines the problem of the artist proletariat, going deep into the roots of the issue. According to Taylor’s thesis, the emergence of the free art market and the late-nineteenth-century proliferation of exhibition opportunities gave rise to an artist proletariat, steadily increasing in numbers as the nineteenth century drew to a close; out of that mass, only a narrow elite (which Taylor terms “the labor aristocracy of established artists”) was able to make a living off the arts as a profession.

In Chapter 4, Taylor traces the evolution of private galleries in Hungary, following the process of specialization from the mixed profiles of early dealers to the specialized art galleries of the early twentieth century. Taylor introduces the five par excellence modern art galleries that operated in Budapest in the early 1900s, and he introduces the reader to their business models. By presenting a number of their exhibitions, Taylor shows the importance of the roles played by new galleries in shaping the new canon; analyzing their activities, Taylor also identifies various new types of exhibitions, such as “solo-type shows” or traveling exhibitions accompanied locally by social events, emphasizing, very aptly, the marketing strategies at work behind the staging of the shows.

Taylor’s main question in the book is what one should identify in Hungary as the equivalent of European Secessions; which institution or splinter group bears the closest resemblance to the well-known European models of the era.

Taylor’s preoccupation with capturing the Hungarian Secession, however, may have diverted his attention away from other equally important achievements of his own work. Is the main issue really which group or institution we should call secession? The story Taylor tells is actually more exciting: he interprets the relatively well-known history of turn-of-the-century Hungarian art from an unconventional and highly original point of view. Taylor’s close examination of various interest groups and their behind-the-scene struggles provides the reader with hitherto undiscovered perspectives, offering a richer understanding of the special logic of art as an economic field.

Power struggles within the art world are interpreted in Taylor’s book not as competing aesthetics and credos of “schools,” but as acts of competition for better sales opportunities. Taylor’s highly ingenious interpretations throw the milestone exhibitions of the period, steadily fixed in the hagiographies of Hungarian artists and described hundreds of times by the creators of the modern canon, into an entirely new light. The reader will understand that the rise of certain groups, such as the Nagybánya painters, depended at least as much on their successful strategies of protest and marketing as on their artistic novelty, especially compared to unsuccessful group formations in the same period.

Having acknowledged the unquestionable merits of the book, I would make a few critical observations as well. One of the major shortcomings of the book is already apparent in the introductory chapter, and it runs through the entire volume. One assumes, and the reviewers quoted on the back cover of the book also assume, that Taylor’s potential audience will consist of readers from all around the world, ranging from non-Hungarian art historians to art collectors, people who are not experts in fin-de-siècle Hungarian art but wish to acquaint themselves better with it. The critical observer, however, cannot avoid the impression that Taylor in fact did not really clarify to himself who his book’s target audience would be. The issue here is not one of content but one of communication. Taylor seems implicitly to suppose that his readers will be familiar with the artistic movements and institutions he discusses in the book; even the introduction is written in this spirit. Taylor makes insider references to movements, groups, and institutions without sufficiently introducing them to his readers. Hungarian names of groups and venues, as a rule, are only translated into English at their first occurrence, but then are used in their original Hungarian forms throughout the book. Hungarian is an esoteric language to most foreign readers, and one cannot presuppose any degree of familiarity with the meanings of Hungarian words (unlike in the case of French, Italian, Spanish, or German texts). To most native English readers, Nemzeti Szalon (National Salon) and (a more striking example) Magyar Képzőművészeti Társulat (Hungarian Society of Fine Arts) will appear undecipherable at best and intimidating at worst. The frequent use of such Hungarian names, although of course understandable from the point of view of accuracy, makes reading comprehension difficult for non-Hungarian readers and unnecessarily burdens Taylor’s otherwise excellent and very readable style. It may have been more prudent to use the English versions of the names of the various art groups and venues throughout the book, with the Hungarian originals given at the first occurrence.

The second problem is that Taylor does not sufficiently introduce the milieu about which he intends to write. Again, the implicit assumption seems to be that the reader will know all the basics about the Hungarian art world of the fin de siècle and he or she will not need any orientation. That assumption is most probably wrong, unless the author’s intention was to address his book to the professional circle of Hungarian art historians; otherwise, a thorough introduction to the circumstances of the art world in Hungary, including its structures, groups, and institutions, would have been not only beneficial but a must at the beginning of the book.

Maybe as a consequence of the book’s general strategy, the broader context (e. g. society and politics) is not discussed at all. One would of course not expect the author to paint a broad canvas of turn-of-the-century Hungary, but Taylor should have included at least some examination of the interactions between art, society, and the political sphere. An understanding of societal forces is strikingly absent from Taylor’s main arguments. “The expanding stream of young men and women throwing themselves into the profession of artist” (p.xi), and, hence, producing the artist proletariat, according to Taylor’s thesis, is a phenomenon that requires much more complex explanation that is not limited to market mechanisms and exhibition facilities: much of the explanation should deal with conditions that lie outside the world of art, e. g. with the growing social prestige of art as a profession at the end of the nineteenth century.

Other factors may be directly related to art but external to Hungary. Near Munich, one of the undisputed art centers of the region until the end of the nineteenth century and a city with its own academy of fine arts, was an art market far superior to Budapest because of the presence of foreign customers; Munich offered very attractive sales opportunities and probably motivated several talented young Hungarians to embark on a career as an artist in the last decades of the nineteenth century.

As far as the embeddedness of the art market is concerned, contextualization is not among the virtues of In Search of the Budapest Secession. New Cultural History and New Art History do not seem to have influenced Taylor’s approach very much, although his highly ingenious, market-oriented focus clearly sets him apart from conventional art histories as well. In general, he scarcely deals with the other side of the art market, namely customers and the public at large, unless in the abstract as part of the demand side of the art trade. Neither are the contemporary habits of exhibition attendance (as an element of emerging bourgeois lifestyles) discussed in depth, nor is the social prestige of membership in partially lay art societies analyzed.

Apart from these shortcomings, however, the book offers a refreshingly new reading of the Hungarian fin-de-siècle. I can heartily identify with Taylor’s pragmatic approach, and I fully appreciate Taylor’s insights as well as his erudition. The body of primary sources on which he draws is truly impressive, as is his synthesis of the secondary literature. In Search for the Budapest Secession will be indispensable reading for anyone interested in the birth of modern art in Hungary and a good introduction to the evolution of market models in nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Western art.

Erika Szívós


Anti-modernism: Radical Revisions of Collective Identity. Edited by Diana Mishkova, Marius Turda, and Balázs Trencsényi. (Discourses of collective identity in Central and Southeast Europe (1770–1945): Texts and Commentaries, 4.) Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2014. 452 pp.

Although nationalism and collective identities remain highly debated topics throughout Central and Eastern Europe, collective endeavors focused on generating complex working tools for research on these two subjects are surprisingly rare. Thus, the current volume, edited by historians Diana Mishkova, Marius Turda and Balázs Trencsényi and consisting of contributions from more than a dozen scholars, is a significant addition, which provides a wide range of primary sources never before presented on this scale to an English-reading audience.

This is the fourth and final installment of a praiseworthy scholarly undertaking that lasted more than a decade and published its first volume in 2006, which focused on the late Enlightenment and the emergence of the modern “national idea.” It is a treasure trove of primary sources, which are meant to enhance readers’ understandings of the period between 1880 and 1945, an age of regenerative projects and rebellious explorations of alternative paths to modernity, which has been appropriately labeled an “age of anxiety.”

The volume is divided into five thematically designed chapters dealing with salient issues, such as integral nationalism, the crisis of the European conscience, the search for a national ontology, conservative redefinitions of tradition and modernity, and the anti-modernist revolution. Each chapter contains relevant primary sources pertaining to the aforementioned topics, with excerpts from the works of influential intellectuals, politicians and other public figures. The chapters also include useful biographical and contextual information. This format does a great deal to foster and facilitate a nuanced understanding of the issues at stake.

The texts were carefully selected and include some of the main public voices from the anti-modernist camp that were relevant in Central and Southeast Europe in the first half of the twentieth century. Even if the national(ist) landscape of this region was fragmented by claims of authenticity and uniqueness, by reading these texts side by side one can discern certain common traits concerning the preference for a collectivist-organicist national model, as well as a critical attitude towards fin-de-siécle liberalism, which was regarded by many as the source of all evils.

The introductory chapter by Sorin Antohi and Balázs Trencsényi convincingly explains the structure of the volume and the relevance of the chosen themes, while also highlighting the theoretical approach to the hitherto less-explored issue of anti-Modernism. Defining anti-modernism as “(a) the negative double of modernism and (b) the critique of modernism within modernism, not outside of or separated from it,” the authors emphasize that it differs from its double because it displays a string of characteristics such as negativism, authoritarianism, the cult of violence, cultural pessimism and biopolitical exclusion (p.3). The way in which anti-modernism is defined is useful because it helps the reader grasp it from the inside out, thus ensuring a higher explanatory power with respect to the success it garnered in various social quarters in the first half of the twentieth century.

For most of the protagonists of this collection of texts, the Great War was the end of all illusions. New alternatives were to be explored in order to arrive at solutions to the perceived existential crisis of modernity and its politics. The first chapter acquaints the reader with some of the early anti-modernist and nationalist discourses that emerged in various conservative circles across the region. Some of the relevant figures presented in this chapter include Georg von Schönerer and his Pan-Germanism and Josef Tiso, the leader of the Slovak People’s Party and a voice for the Slovak autonomist movement, which was authoritarian in its political goals. Among these early anti-Modernist discourses one also encounters the writings of Dezső Szabó. Szabó, a Hungarian nationalist writer, emphasized ethnocentric politics and the abandonment of Hungarian ambitions in the region in favor of a mission to organize the nations of Eastern Europe and the Balkans into a union and to proclaim “to these young nations the message of the new democracy and a new culture revived through their peasants” (p.114). In his case, the influence of Charles Maurras was significant, given that the ideas of the French ideologue were also present in other countries from the region, such as Romania.

The post-World War I pursuit for alternatives to the perceived crisis of European conscience is illustrated in the second chapter by texts such as Spiritual Itinerary, written by Romanian intellectual Mircea Eliade. This was Eliade’s intellectual program for the young interwar Romanian generation, which he regarded as “the most blessed generation, the most promising of all that have existed in this country.” Eliade argues in support of the primacy of the spirit (p.131). He saw the present as an unprecedented window of opportunity for his generation, with no immediate national goals to fulfill, free to experiment and determined to create products of universal value in the cultural realm. However, one cannot help noticing that Eliade’s itinerary, which seemed apolitical at the time, gathered around it a generation that in the 1930s would be partially seduced by the growing appeal of the extreme right. Hungarian writer Mihály Babits reaffirmed the universalist tenets of nationalism and pleaded against the racialized, totalitarian way of thinking that gained traction in the 1930s: “My calling is to safeguard my people’s purest moral traditions and not to allow the spirit of justice to become obsolete. To keep awake the smarting anxiety of the conscience amidst notions of humanity, the honor of the spirit and freedom. These are the real sacraments of the nation” (p.155).

There were also public figures in the region who offered diverse solutions in order to bypass the state of crisis by promoting the reshaping of the “national being” of their respective nations. Ion Dragoumis showcased the vision of a new civilization for Greece, the Hellenic Civilization, a synthesis of what the East and the West have to offer and also a construction different from the past Macedonian and Byzantine models. Nikolaj Velimirović promised the Serbs a more privileged place in Heaven, a Great Celestial Serbia that would come about as a result of the people’s sufferings and faith (p.225).

The fourth chapter provides several examples of how conservative discourses were adapted throughout the region in the troubled interwar context. Gyula Szekfű espoused an anti-liberal conservative critique. He lamented the failure of the process that was meant to assure that the Hungarians would be able to preserve and extend their supremacy through the peaceful means of their higher spiritual and material culture” (p.254). Karel Kramář developed a neo-Slavic discourse from a conservative perspective, with a declared non-aggressive stance and justified as a means to protect the Czech nation against the perceived threats of Germanism and Magyarism (p.286).

A revolution with an anti-Modernist ideological core fascinated politicians and thinkers throughout the region, and examples of this kind of thinking can be found in the final chapter of the volume. One of the most relevant examples is that of Ioannis Metaxas who, under fascist influence, promoted ideas such as national regeneration, organic nationalism, the nation as a homogenous organism, and the rejection of foreign influence, all while emphasizing the importance of the Hellenic tradition. The text selected for the current volume eloquently illustrates the characteristics of the regime he imposed in August 1936: “A people now unified, not divided into parties and factions, a people constituting a whole, a solid body and a single will, having at its head the King, as the carrier of the national will [...] a Leader who belongs to the whole of the Nation and who deals with its needs as a unified whole, a Leader who is supported by the undivided and absolute trust of the people” (p.353). This new regime was labeled “the Third Hellenic civilization” in an attempt to match Metaxas’ ambitions.

Anti-modernism: Radical Revisions of Collective Identity, as well as the entire four-volume enterprise, is an invaluable tool for those who want to do comparative work on the region but do not know where to start. The relevant and diverse selection of primary sources leaves the reader craving for longer excerpts (which in all likelihood were kept short simply because of space constraints). The book certainly paves the way for future, similar projects by setting such a high standard. The potential audience for this volume goes beyond the academic realm. It would be ideal for undergraduate and graduate classes on comparative modern European history. It can be read to great avail by anyone interested in the evolution of Central and Eastern Europe between the 1880s and 1945 and the shaping of collective identities in this region, which involved processes that continue to have historical consequences to the present day.

Valentin Săndulescu


Holy Legionary Youth: Fascist Activism in Interwar Romania. By Roland Clark. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2015. 288 pp.

Holy Legionary Youth by Roland Clark is an outstanding piece of scholarship on the Romanian fascist movement known as the Iron Guard. Following in the footsteps of reputed researchers such as Armin Heinen, Bela Vago, and Radu Ioanid, Clark joins the younger generation’s chorus of new voices in the study of Romanian Fascism led by Constantin Iordachi, Oliver Jens Schmitt, and Valentin Săndulescu. Distancing himself from the “palingenetic” twist introduced by Roger Griffin or George L. Mosse’s cultural turn, Clark’s book boldly concentrates on the social underpinnings of the Romanian fascist movement and the collective dynamics of different professional groups (painters, priests, writers, intellectuals) listed in the Iron Guard’s rank-and-file. Working from the perspective of the history of the everyday life (Alltagsgeschichte), Clark seeks to show “fascism as an everyday practice” and to consider “how legionaries performed fascism and how being fascist marked legionaries socially” (p.6). In his depiction of the “illiberal subjectivities,” Clark also investigates “the emotional energy they [the legionaries] invested in political activism and the extent to which they allowed legionary discipline to shape daily routines” (p.6) in order to clarify the social extent of legionary activism and the sheer obsession of legionaries with almost ascetical discipline. Bridging gaps in conflicting historiographical approaches and relying on a sophisticated theoretical underpinning ranging from the historiography of Fascism to systematic and liturgical Orthodox theology, Clark’s book offers the reader a subtle yet comprehensive narrative account of what it meant to be a member of the Iron Guard in interwar Romania.

One of the strong points of the book is the overwhelming and indeed unmatched amount of archival research undertaken by the author in Romanian archives, both central (Arhivele Nationale Istorice Centrale, Arhiva Consiliului National pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securitatii) and regional, as well as in the generous archival funds held by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the National Archives in Washington D.C. Together with these valuable archival documents, the large collection of interwar publications (newspapers, books, propaganda leaflets, etc.), oral history accounts, and a large array of memoirs penned by former legionaries masterfully convey a complex and broad picture of the Iron Guard’s everyday life from bottom to top and the fascist, anti-Semitic developments from the early 1920s up to the early 1950s in Romania.

The book’s structure is well balanced and the chapters provide both a clear-cut analytical framework and empirical analysis of the archival sources, the contemporary press, and the secondary literature. Among the most original chapters are “Youthful Justice” (pp.28–62), “Elections, Violence and Discipline” (pp.95–121), and “Salvation and Sacrifice” (pp.184–215). The first two discuss the early stages of the ultranationalist young generation’s anti-Semitic build up from early 1920s up to the early 1930s and the social construction of its appeal to the masses. The third focuses on “clerical activism” (pp.190–193) and describes the biographies of a few legionary clergymen and their ties to the movement. Addressing the question of why Orthodox clergymen and theologians got embroiled in the violent, xenophobic turn beginning in the early 1920s, the author emphatically states that, “because of the political leanings of their professors, theology students were at the forefront of anti-Semitic agitations” (p.190). Nevertheless, one question arises concerning the 1930s fascist activism of the Orthodox clergy: apart from the infectious influence of charismatic university and seminary professors, such as Grigore Cristescu (1895–1961), Nichifor Crainic (1889–1972), and Dumitru Iliescu-Palanca (1903–1963), what other explanations are there for the fact that the Orthodox priests and theologians mentioned by Clark publically supported the Iron Guard? Was it for the socio-cultural reasons that appealed to all the Orthodox clergymen, or were there local and individual dynamics? Also, following the argument presented in the theoretical framework envisaged by the author in the introduction, one is prompted to ask what sort of social practices these clergymen engaged in when performing as fascists, in addition to familiar case-studies of public funerals of legionary martyrs, religious commemorations of the dead (parastase), and the blessing of crosses erected by the legionaries. Did they behave as regular fascists or did they act differently from other legionary professional groups because of their constant self-awareness of their clerical vocation?

When writing about the logic of self-sacrifice in the context of the funeral of Ion Moţa and Vasile Marin (Iron Guard leaders killed in the Spanish Civil War in 1937), the author makes a compelling argument concerning the complex relationship between legionary martyrdom and Orthodox rituals: “Legionaries not only stated that church and nation were identical communities that were represented most perfectly by their movement; they enacted these relationships by using Orthodox funerary rituals to commemorate legionaries as national heroes. Legionary nationalism did not replace religious communities with national communities. Through ritual commemorations it reinforced the Orthodox Church as national, and the nation as Orthodox” (p.210). Although these ideas, which involved a symbolic overlap of the nation and the Church, were actually present in the Transylvanian context in the nineteenth century, Clark makes a valuable and original remark related to the symbiotic relationship between legionary and religious nationalism in interwar Romania. As noted by the author, in their search for public legitimization and as a means of augmenting their mass-appeal, the legionaries engaged in rituals that were shared with the Orthodox clergy, even when these public ceremonies were funerals and commemorations for the dead. This bolstered the social relevance of the Orthodox Church for both the members of the Legionary movement and the wider public. The legionaries behaved in this way towards the Orthodox clergymen in order to recall and to reemphasize the importance of so-called organic (what might in other contexts be referred to as native) tradition, the popular religiosity of the Romanian people, and the constant referral to religious rituals and Orthodox symbols in the social memory of the Romanian nation, an initiative favoring the Iron Guard’s utopian dreams of totalitarian political power.

Clark’s assumption that the nineteenth-century Orthodox Church from the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia supported the spread of nationalist movements (p.12) finds little support in the secondary literature on the subject. A more vigorous effort on Clark’s part in his discussion of the alleged precursors of the fascist movement in Romania would perhaps have been necessary in order to present some of his claims more persuasively. Some of his contentions remain unsupported and hypothetical. For the scholar of European Fascism, the absence of a historiographical essay in the introduction is a regrettable shortcoming. Although the author offers insights on the secondary literature on Fascism by shifting his attention towards the works of Roger Griffin, George L. Mosse, Michael Mann, and others, he fails to provide the reader with an analytical assessment of the secondary literature, both foreign and Romanian, on the Iron Guard. He does not make clear how his inquiry builds upon previous research and monographs or how, in its search for originality, the present work relates critically to previous undertakings in the field.

A relevant contribution to the field of fascist studies, Holy Legionary Youth opens new research avenues for students of European Fascism and Eastern European history. Highly interdisciplinary, analytically comprehensive, and informed by a prodigious array of both primary sources and secondary literature, Clark’s book is a much-awaited reading for researchers, university professors, and students alike. It will serve as a useful teaching tool for undergraduate and graduate classes on the interwar history of Eastern Europe, the genesis of interwar anti-Semitism, and everyday life under totalitarian regimes.

Ionuţ Biliuţa


Siebenbürger ohne Siebenbürger? Zentralstaatliche Integration und politischer Regionalismus nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg. By Florian Kührer-Wielach. Munich: De Gruyter, 2014. 419 pp.

Writing in 1991 at the end of his career, the Romanian historian David Prodan waded into the resurgent ‘militant history writing’ on Transylvania. In Transylvania and again Transylvania, Prodan dismissed Hungarian national histories of Transylvania as ‘unscientific’ emotional stories. His own study, firmly encamped on the Romanian side, by contrast, purported to tell a dispassionate history of the region. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Transylvania was a hot topic again. A growing nationalist mood among Hungarians and Romanians culminated in violent clashes in Târgu Mureş in March, which left six dead, hundreds injured, and blinded the poet András Sütő in one eye. Academic disputes, generally ‘so bitter because the stakes are so small’ (as Kissinger famously put it), this time actually mattered.

Florian Kührer-Wielach intervenes in a long-standing debate about Transylvania and Transylvanian identity which has long been dogged by competing nationalist master narratives. In his book Siebenbürgen ohne Siebenbürger? Zentralstaatliche Integration und politischer Regionalismus nach dem Ersten Weltkrieg, Kührer-Wielach examines, often in meticulous detail, the complex web of interwar integration, regionalism, and competing identity politics. His book focuses on Transylvanian Romanians and in so doing tells a different story to those told through the Hungarian or German lens: instead of a narrative of decline, Kührer-Wielach’s book tracks a group in the ascendancy.

Kührer-Wielach opens with an impressive historiographical and methodological section (pp.16–45), situating his work within a cutting edge paradigm of identity studies, Transfergeschichte, regionalism and spatial history. His review of a range of scholarship places his work in a broader framework in an attempt to ‘deprovincialise’ Transylvanian history, though there are some gaps in the bibliography and in practice the focus of the book remains largely regional. He then introduces his readership to a complex history of Romanians in Transylvania, their relationship to the Habsburg Empire/Hungary, their connections to Romanians from Wallachia and Moldova as well as differences to other Romanian minorities, such as in the Banat or Bessarabia. The book explains the historical context, beginning in the late seventeenth century, and builds up to the dissolution of the Habsburg Empire and subsequent inclusion of Transylvania into the Greater Romanian state of the interwar period.

Kührer-Wielach treats us to an institutional and political history of the integration of Transylvania into Greater Romania. It is striking that the main clashes of opinion documented in this study are not between Romanians and Hungarians, but between Romanians themselves. As Kührer-Wielach points out, the integration of Transylvania in the interwar period was perceived by many Transylvanian Romanians as setting back Transylvania to a ‘Wallachian’ level (p.15). Indeed, despite the initial euphoria, Romanians collided on a number of issues. The school system was a particularly divisive issue (pp.139–56). Much of what was enacted from Bucharest in Transylvania had been designed to reverse the Magyarization processes of the previous regime. In that sense, the book details the conventional story of Hungarian-Romanian battles for Transylvanian education. Yet the efforts to centralize and harmonize Greater Romanian schooling also became evident in other ways. Politicians in the Regat were concerned that years of Hungarian control had ‘de-nationalized’ Romanian children (p.140). Combatting such developments demanded lateral solutions. Some politicians even suggested school exchanges between secondary schools in the Old Kingdom and Transylvania, particularly in hotspots such as the Szekler land (p.141). Disagreements also occurred between advocates for the nationalization of schools and the defenders of religious schools. Clerics and religious teachers resisted centralization due to their profound difference on the role of the church in education (p.146). One commentator believed that church schools had been crucial for the ‘racial struggle’ in the Habsburg period, but had lost their raison d’être in unified Romania (p.146). Some educational problems were, however, more mundane: Transylvania faced a shortage of qualified teachers, which central government sought to redress as a matter of urgency (pp.154–56).

Religion played a crucial role in the battle for Transylvania in the interwar period. Romanians who were not Orthodox bore the brunt of central government’s attempts to create a unitary nation-state. Talked up as being the ‘most important institution of Romanians in Transylvania’ (p.160), the Orthodox church assumed a role that was at odds with other established religious institutions in the region: the Greek Catholics, the Catholics, and of course the reformed churches. The Greek Catholic confession was a particular thorn in the side of the more assertive centralizers due to this religion’s secondary allegiance towards Rome (pp.163–70). The interwar period witnessed a full-blown ‘confessional war’ in which politics and religion mingled to create a toxic mix. Likewise, Transylvania also faced a messy ‘war of monuments’ after unification with Romania (pp.180–87). As Maria Bucur’s 2009 study of memory in interwar Romania highlighted in great detail, this was not always a straightforward affair. Instead, local grievances often dictated memory battles, and Kührer-Wielach backs this up in his brief section on monuments and memory.

All these battles conducted in different arenas pointed to one central issue, which Kührer-Wielach addresses in the book’s second substantial section: the identity of Transylvania in a post-imperial setting. Romanian politicians in Transylvania still retained a transnational character formed during their studies and stays in Vienna, Budapest, and elsewhere in the Habsburg Empire (pp.265–67). Even after unification, Romanian Transylvanian thinkers and politicians insisted on their Transylvanian difference. They were more ‘western’, they insisted, and tended to ‘orientalize’ their Wallachian and Moldovan counterparts (p.275). The Old Kingdom was viewed as ‘oriental’ and ‘Venetian’ (p.278). This stance, Kührer-Wielach demonstrates, contributed towards a strengthening of a regional Transylvanian identity, which in turn provoked Romanians from the Regat to paint a disrespectful picture of Transylvanians: they were ‘less smart’, ‘lazy’, and ‘ill-tempted’ (p.276). This was far removed from a picture of Greater Romanian unity. To counter this factionalism, a new wave of Romanian scholarship sought to place Transylvania at the heart of the Romanian master narrative. Transylvania formed the final nexus of symmetry for Romania (p.286). Historical and ethnographic arguments were deployed more aggressively to prove continuity to the Daco-Roman period (p.287). Burebista’s Dacian Empire in the first century BC corresponded, helpfully, with the borders of the Greater Romania. Yet as Kührer-Wielach asserts in the rest of the book, these efforts to integrate Transylvania continued to sit at odds with the strong remnants of regional forces. Transylvania retained its position as a contested borderland, torn between federalism, regionalism, and nationalism.

It is interesting to place this book in a broader historiography on Translyvania which is still largely divided. On the one hand, since the large scale emigration of Romanian Germans from Romania (mainly from Transylvania and the Banat), German scholarship on Transylvania especially among these émigrés, has burgeoned. A once insular and self-referential group of Romanian German émigrés writing in a Cold War anti-communist milieu has since turned into an active and inclusive environment with numerous groups, conferences, and publications. From Studium Transylvanicum – an academic network aimed at younger audience of scholars and members of the general public – to institutes such as the Institute of German Culture and History of Southeast Europe in Munich (where Kührer-Wielach is based), there has been an impressive amount of activity around the issue of Transylvania. At the same time, there has been a distinct Hungarian and Romanian vein of scholarly interest in Transylvania. Romanian publications on Romania and Transylvania in particular have been in dialogue with the aforementioned German interest in all things Transylvanian. This is, in part, due to a movement within Romanian scholarship away from the polemics of the late Cold War. Scholars such as Lucian Boia, Sorin Mitu and others have introduced a far more critical edge to Romanian scholarship by unpacking the very discourses that confine national historiography as a tool of politics. In so doing, there has been a vibrant interchange between Romanian and German language writing on Transylvania in the last two decades.

Yet there is a further field of a lively and growing scholarship on Transylvania in the ‘Anglo-American’ sphere. Transylvania has featured in a recent spate of publications on post-Habsburg regional contests and developments. Holly Case’s Between States: The Transylvanian Question and the European Idea during World War II (Stanford, 2009) is a major highlight of the new Anglo-American historiography on Transylvania. The work of Maria Bucur, Roland Clark, Tahra Zara and others has all dealt in some form with questions of identity and politics in the Habsburg Lands in the first half of the twentieth century, and Transylvania and Romania have either featured as a central component (Bucur, Clark) or as a comparative element within that body of scholarship. Yet these two scholarly worlds – the ‘German’ and the ‘Anglo-American’ – have rarely been brought into fruitful dialogue. Despite excellent and thoughtful publications on both sides, the lack of interaction is striking, and despite its many merits and obvious value the book under review has also missed the opportunity to bridge the gap.

James Koranyi


Mapping Jewish Loyalties in Interwar Slovakia. By Rebekah Klein-Pejšová. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015. 194 pp.

Rebekah Klein-Pejšová offers readers perhaps the first attempt at a comprehensive view of the development of Jewish identities in connection with declarations of political allegiance to the interwar Czechoslovak Republic in 1918–1938. Although the title of the book suggests that the author focuses primarily on the region of Slovakia, in fact the book deals with a broad spectrum of socio-political, historical, and demographic factors which influenced the Jewish communities not only in the interwar period, but also during the last decades before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

The book consists of five chapters. In the introduction, the author provides the necessary historical, demographic, and other kinds of statistics related to the history of the region and the status of the Jewish population within the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This information provides an understanding of the initial state of the community and its future prospects in the newly formed state of Czechoslovakia. The author focuses on the concept of the Jewish nationality as a category created by the state in an effort to resolve national issues, issues which involved not only Jewish citizens but also large German-speaking and Hungarian-speaking minorities. This hypothesis is analyzed in detail and further supported in the following chapters.

The chapter “From Hungary to Czechoslovakia” contains more or less familiar historical facts. Particularly interesting are the different approaches of the Austrian and Hungarian parts of the monarchy to the Jewish war refugees from neighboring countries who were seeking protection first in these two lands and later within the borders of Czechoslovakia. This chapter in the history of East European Jewry influenced the formation of Jewish identities in the successor states. In each chapter the author examines the fate of the Jews in Slovakia by introducing partial stories of individuals.

The chapter entitled “Nationality is an Internal Conviction” examines the period in which the Jewish community was integrated into the Czechoslovak state and a search was underway for the “right path” regarding the territory of Slovakia and its majority population, which took place alongside similar efforts to shape Jewish and Czechoslovak identities. The author has mapped opinion movements and expert discussions led by prominent people, including sociologists, statisticians, and demographers, about the definition of nationality for the census in 1919 and 1921. She demonstrates how important the question of nationality was (not only) in the Jewish population in Czechoslovakia from the perspective of the international negotiations at the Paris Conference. She explains the international position of Czechoslovakia, the insecurity among the citizenry of the new country which was due in large part to the dramatic political changes, and the instability of the political border with Hungary. Under many pressures, including pressures from Hungary, not only Jews had to decide on their ethnicity and nationality, questions that were of vital importance to their civil and political futures in the new state. Klein-Pejšová analyzes the elections in 1920 and the formation of Jewish political parties and public spaces in which Jews could pursue national politics. She supports her findings with an in-depth analysis and interpretation of statistics, accompanied by clear tables.

The chapter “Contested Loyalty” solves a specific problem faced by the Neolog community in Slovakia, which was from a historical point of view close to the Hungarian Neolog movement and Hungarian culture. The author cites several examples to demonstrate the process of drawing attention and sentiment away from the Budapest Neolog center and the gradual reorientation to the geopolitical changes in Europe, which contributed to the creation of a new collective self-understanding among members of the Jewish community as “Slovak Jews.” Klein-Pejšová addresses several aspects of the issue, including the pressure exerted by the Czechoslovak state and politicians not to use the Hungarian language, various manifestations of loyalty (including the enforcement of loyalty), and the arguments of representatives of civil and political life from within the community to its members about their civil orientation in Czechoslovakia. Klein-Pejšová also includes into her analyses the pressures that were put by Hungarian irredentist policies on the Neologs in Slovakia, which, according to her, ultimately proved counterproductive.

In the chapter “Between the Nationalities” Klein-Pejšová focuses on the pressures that were put on Jews who had already found “the right path” to Czechoslovakia by Hungary and Germany in the 1930s. She draws attention to the important fact that the existence of a political construct of “Jewish nationality” at the same time limited the linguistic and cultural rights of the Hungarian and German minorities, which were tied to the proportion of a given minority (at least 20 percent) in an electoral district. This problem is also reflected in the 1930 census, in which Jewish nationality was again used as a category regardless of mother tongue. The chapter focuses on discussions throughout the political and national spectrum and also abroad, concluding with an analysis of the Slovak autonomy policies against Jews. Klein-Pejšová analyzes the reasons why these policies were rejected by the majority society, beginning with the exclusive pro-Christian policy of the Slovak autonomist movement. At the same time, the book explains why Jews were important from the perspective of the territorial integrity of Czechoslovakia and also why Slovak autonomists failed to win widespread support within Jewish communities.

Klein-Pejšová refutes the frequently mentioned stereotype according to which Jews were Hungarians (or people who had been “Magyarized”), which is often found in the Slovak literature. She presents the ways in and means with which the Jewish communities of Slovakia negotiated their identities and their relationships to the Czechoslovak Republic in the interwar period, as well as the differing opinions and attitudes with respect to these identities and the consequences of “belonging” and not “belonging.” Klein-Pejšová argues persuasively in support of the conclusion that the Jewish communities living in Slovakia were loyal to the Czechoslovak Republic.

Klein-Pejšová has worked with an array of archival and statistical material and secondary sources, which she analyzes and interprets with precision. She has made substantial contributions to Judaic studies in Slovakia. In particular, I appreciate her efforts to put the topics in the broad international context of the interwar period, which is unfortunately a rare undertaking in Slovak historiography. At the same time, the work could have offered deeper insight into the situation of the Slovak Jewry. For instance, the sometimes tense relationships between the Orthodox, the Neolog and the “status quo ante” communities could have been discussed in more details. The reader gets the impression that the Neolog community was predominant in Slovakia, whereas in fact, the Orthodox were superior in number. The work also lacks the context of works by other scholars, e.g. Peter Salner, who has studied Jewish identity and community transformations in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Robert Büchler, one of the editors of the four-volume Encyclopedia of Jewish Communities, Slovakia (2009–2014), and Hugo Gold, one of the editors of a compilation of the archival materials on Bratislava’s Jewish community from the 1930s. Had she taken such precautions, Klein-Pejšová would have avoided including some inaccurate and incomplete data.

In conclusion, Rebekah Klein-Pejšová’s monograph is a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of the Jews in Slovakia during the interwar period, a history that has only barely begun to be told. It provides an essential starting point for more detailed analyses of Jewish identities, loyalties, and life strategies on the regional and local level. I believe that in a short time a Slovak translation will be available, and it will perhaps contribute to the gradual elimination of deep-rooted stereotypes regarding this community.

Ivica Bumová


Priest, Politician, Collaborator: Jozef Tiso and the Making of Fascist Slovakia. By James Malice Ward. Ithaca: Cornell University Press 2013. 362 pp.

The life and work of Jozef Tiso, the leading politician of the Hlinkova slovenská ľudová strana (Hlinka’s Slovak People’s Party, HSĽS) during the First Czechoslovak Republic and the president of the Slovak Republic between 1939 and 1945, have not previously been made the subject of systematic inquiry. Apart from books with an “apologetic” intention (Milan S. Ďurica, Jozef Tiso, 1887 – 1947: Životopisný profil [2006]), until now only conference proceedings from 1992 (Valerián Bystrický, ed., Pokus o politický a osobný profil Jozefa Tisu) and the biographical essay of the Slovak historian Ivan Kamenec (Tragédia politika, kňaza a človeka: Dr. Jozef Tiso, 1887 – 1947 [1998 and 2013]) were available. In light of this, James Malice Ward’s dissertation from 2008 at Stanford University marked a real breakthrough in the research on the life and personality of Jozef Tiso, especially with respect to its broad focus and inclusion of new sources.

Ward’s book on Tiso is shorter than his doctoral dissertation, but the structure, basic thesis, and conclusions remain unchanged. The volume is divided into eight chronological chapters, which deal with Tiso’s activity during the Hungarian era before 1918, his entry into politics and his successful career in the First Czechoslovak Republic, his controversial rise to the position as head of the wartime Slovak state, and his fall, political trial, and execution for treason after World War II. The closing remarks are devoted to the emergence and continuance of Tiso’s cult and attempts that have been made to offer critical interpretations of this cult.

James Ward reconstructs the formation of Tiso’s Weltanschauung in the context of Political Catholicism or, more precisely, the Christian socialism with which he became familiar during his studies at the prestigious Pazmáneum College in Vienna. Ward examines the beginnings of Tiso’s pastoral activity and the important moment of the Great War, which Tiso experienced as military chaplain on the Eastern Front in Galicia. As it did for so many others, for Tiso this experience foreshadowed the brutalization of politics in interwar Europe.

The chapters on Tiso’s role during the “revolutionary” events of 1918 and 1919 are essential with regard to Ward’s thesis. Ward investigates Tiso’s metamorphosis from a rather apolitical loyal Hungarian citizen to a Slovak nationalist who made an important contribution in a local context to the establishment of the new Czechoslovak state. Still, the downside of this development was political radicalization and the search for an “enemy”: it was the first time that Tiso used aggressive anti-Semitism to rally against “Jewish Magyarones” and “Judeobolshevists.”

In view of such a political inauguration, it is confusing to note that Tiso became the most important figure of the moderate HSĽS faction in the 1920s. Ward explores Tiso’s strategy according to his Catholic philosophy as a desire for compromise between spiritual and secular power. This offers some explanation as to why Tiso remained a moderate as long as the political circumstances required moderation, whereas during “revolutionary” times the very same desire led him to adopt more radical positions. According to Ward, it was the same Catholic dilemma that prompted Tiso to refrain from exploiting anti-Semitism in the 1930s. Tiso’s reputation was tarnished immediately after the so-called Munich Agreement in 1938, when the European powers legalized Hitler’s annexations at the expense of Czechoslovak integrity. As a consequence, the autonomy of Slovakia was proclaimed, and Tiso became the chairman of the Slovak autonomous government, which was dominated by the HSĽS. Tiso’s radicalization was again accompanied by anti-Semitism. He bore responsibility for the deportation of thousands of “unwelcomed Jews” to the new Slovak-Hungarian borderland in revenge for alleged Jewish support for the First Vienna Award, which made southern Slovak territories with largely Magyar-speaking inhabitants part of Hungary.

In March 1939 Czechoslovakia was finally destroyed and a new Slovak State was established. Tiso was elected Head of State later that year. His presidency, especially his responsibility for the so-called “solution of the Jewish question,” remains a matter of controversy. The HSĽS regime deprived tens of thousands of Jewish citizens of their basic rights, expropriated them, and in 1942 deported a large majority of them to German-occupied Poland, where almost all of them were murdered.

After 1938, Tiso increasingly turned away from the principles of so-called natural law and moderate nationalism. As Head of State, he subordinated Slovak and Christian socialist interests to German and National Socialist interests. He would eventually silence his radical opponents within the HSĽS by taking over their arguments. Especially concerning the “Jewish question,” he was sometimes the driving force behind their activities. This was true last but not least regarding the Hlinka Guard, the paramilitary group within the HSĽS. Tiso and his office submitted proposals for “solutions to the Jewish question,” and Tiso sometimes made concessions to members of the Hlinka Guard.

No less controversial were Tiso’s actions after the so-called Salzburg negotiations in the summer of 1940, which strengthened the radical faction within the HSĽS, led by Prime Minister Vojtech Tuka and Interior Minister Alexander Mach. Tiso never distanced himself from the building of so-called Slovak National Socialism, and he used it for his own benefit or at least made efforts to reconcile it with his own ideology of Christian socialism. Contrary to the nostalgic clichés of the “prosperous Slovak State,” neither a large-scale housing and electrification project nor land reform measures were implemented. In this case too, the social question was overshadowed by the “Jewish question.” In particular, Tiso defended and even promoted “Aryanization,” in accordance with his old argument about the necessity of building a “Slovak middle class,” in effect succumbing to the temptation of rampant corruption.

Beginning in the autumn of 1941, Tiso became more and more radical. Despite criticism from the Vatican, he was unable or not even willing to distance himself from the racist principles of the so-called “Jewish Code,” which summarized the Slovak anti-Jewish acts. On the contrary, after the return from the Eastern front in October 1941, he rediscovered the slogan of “Judeobolshevism.” In January of 1942, Tiso called for the adoption of more “effective measures” against the already completely disenfranchised and deprived Slovak Jews, several weeks after the conclusion of the agreement with the Nazi Germany regarding the deportation of Slovak Jews. Tiso thus agreed with the deportations, even before he (ex post) confirmed them by signing the constitutional law of May 1942. It makes no difference that Tiso simultaneously sanctioned exemptions from the Jewish Code, which applied mostly to converts, Christians by birth, and economically “irreplaceable” and “assimilated” Jews. It was no coincidence that Tiso shortly afterwards declared himself Vodca (Leader), who was “always right.”

Nevertheless, as of mid-1944 Tiso began losing control over his state, and after the outbreak of the Slovak National Uprising he completely subordinated himself to his Nazi protector. The end of Nazi rule in Europe thus also marked the end of Tiso’s career and life. The new Czechoslovak rulers sentenced him to death and executed him, and in doing so contributed to the inauguration of his cult as a “national martyr.” In the last chapter of his book, Ward describes how after 1989 Slovak emigrants tried to revive Tiso’s cult in Slovakia.

In his biography, Ward charts new territories both in Slovak history and in the historiography of Slovakia. He pays particular attention to the intellectual influences which fueled Tiso’s ideology. He does not content himself with vague and controversial categories such as “authoritarian conservatism” or “clero-fascism.” However, terms such as “modernization” and “revolution,” which Ward uses to describe Tiso’s radicalization in 1918–1919 and 1938, respectively, are no less problematic. One would expect a more precise conceptualization of these key terms. References to a distinguished scholar of Fascism, Roger Griffin, suggest that Ward inclines towards Griffin’s interpretation of Fascism as a variant of “Modernism.” However, this should be more closely linked to the understanding of historical figures in the “age of Fascism” (cf. Roger Griffin, “Political Modernism and the Cultural Production of ‘Personalities of the Right’ in Inter-War Europe,” in The Shadow of Hitler: Personalities of the Right in Central and Eastern Europe, ed. by Rebecca Haynes [2011]).

Notwithstanding these objections, James Malice Ward has written a book for which both the Slovak public and historians have been waiting for decades. Hopefully it will soon be published in Slovak translation.

Miloslav Szabó


Jewish Resistance to “Romanianization”, 1940–44. By Stefan Cristian Ionescu. Palgrave Studies in the History of Genocide. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. 267 pp.

Although he is treading on well-worn paths in Holocaust and genocide studies, in his book Stefan Cristian Ionescu offers several new insights into a topic which might be regarded as having already been made the subject of exhaustive study. Not only does the work provide a coherent and comprehensive overview of the manner in which the Romanianization process unfolded during the years of World War II, which is in itself a new enterprise (so far, no other expert has attempted to provide such a thorough overview of the facts), it also offers the reader a clear picture of the historical (political, social, and economic) background from which these development emerged.

Divided into eight chapters and a conclusion, Ionescu’s book reveals the author’s thorough familiarity with both older and more recent specialized literature. His readings are impressive and cover a variety of perspectives and sources from several countries. For instance, the chapter focused on the fate of Bucharest’s Jews in 1940–44, which opens the volume (“Introduction: World War II Bucharest and its Jews”), gives the reader a balanced overview of the main historical events of the time and interpretations of these events by the most important scholars in the field (Jean Ancel, Dennis Deletant, Armin Heinen, Carol Iancu, Mihai Chioveanu, Radu Ioanid, etc.). It also provides an interesting comparison with previous nationalization policies of the Romanian state, which constitutes a new and welcome contribution to the subject. The introduction additionally bases its interrogation of the process of Romanianization on local theoretical grounds, showing that this process had deep and strong Romanian intellectual roots and was not an import or imitation of another model (which does not mean, however, that the Romanianization process was not well part of larger trends at the time, as Ionescu rightly mentions). Ionescu clearly underlines the goals and targets of this process, and he does not neglect mention of the Roma as one of the targets. Furthermore, the use of carefully selected and verified interviews, letters, diaries, memoirs, and court rulings as research sources alongside the usual statistics, archival documents, and materials from the press is an original and innovative approach in tackling the wartime condition of the Jews of Bucharest, especially since their situation was quite different from that of their coreligionists in the rest of the country, with its three component parts (the former Principalities of Wallachia, Moldova, and Transylvania), as Ionescu indeed reveals by adopting a comparative perspective.

Ionescu’s thorough effort to trace the roots and evolution of the Romanian anti-Jewish legislation and analyze this legislation in relation to similar laws passed in the neighboring and allied countries, in particular Germany (Chapter 2, “Romanianization Legislation: Concepts, (Mis)interpretations and Conflicts”), constitutes another contribution to the field, especially in regard to “the burden and ambiguity of ethnicity during the Antonescu regime: the problematic concepts of ethnic Romanian, Jew and German” and the “state institutions’ complaints against the formalities of Romanianization legislation and the misinterpretations of these laws by courts and public agencies.” Neither of these topics has been given much attention by other experts in the recent past. Similarly useful and welcome is Ionescu’s original review of two particular cases of exemptions from Romanianization and their respective outcomes: that of the foreign Jews (with all the implications and subsequent, sometimes beneficial complications that the notion entailed) and that of the Jews who converted to (various types of) Christianity.

Ionescu analyzes another rather neglected aspect of the process in the third chapter, “The Romanianization Bureaucracy.” This gives him an opportunity not only to describe the structure and roles of the bureaucracy, but also to document what is considered “common knowledge” but has not really been addressed in detail, i.e. the fact that the enterprise, the Romanianization of the bureaucracy, was doomed to fail from its inception due to the ways in which Romanians sabotaged it from the inside through nepotism, intentional and unintentional poor management, and bribery, to which the author adds as his own contribution a new and persuasive argument: the lack of consistent state policy.

In its turn, in addition to giving a thorough review of the various categories of people and organizations that benefited, directly or indirectly, from the process, whether in cash (bribery) or in kind (real estate), and as a result of more or less determined (at times even aggressive) competitive pursuit, the chapter on “The Beneficiaries of Romanianization” allows Ionescu to originally ponder a number of intellectuals’ sometimes shocking lack of understanding of the psychological implications of their participation in theft, such as Camil Petrescu, who built his literary career on a (Jewish) Hillel scholarship (1914–19), or Alice Voinescu, who was otherwise very sympathetic to Jewish plight.

Another interesting contribution to the field is Ionescu’s insight into “Romanianization versus Germanization” (chapter 5), which brings to the forefront the subject—which has been largely overlooked—of local and foreign German competition for Romanian Jewish properties and the negative reactions it prompted both among the state officials and the general public. Ionescu thus analyzes the reactions of the Germans to the different treatments to which they were subjected by the Romanian authorities: the properties of the Germans who left Romania to join the Waffen SS were Romanianized, while Germans who remained in Romania were allowed to preserve their assets, to the dissatisfaction of the majority; however, no German, whether local or foreign, was permitted to obtain any benefit from the properties confiscated from the Jews, much to their dissatisfaction.

In regard to “Deportation and Robbery: The Roma Targets of Romanianization” (chapter 6), relying on published and unpublished documentation made available by Romanian and foreign experts, Ionescu draws some interesting conclusions of his own, not without merit. He sketches a series of new social and racial nuances in the interpretation of the reasons behind the deportation process, and he rightly underlines the differences between Jewish and Roma victimhood, both in the eyes of the authorities and in the eyes of the majority population.

By and large, “Jewish Legal Resistance to Romanianization” (chapter 7) is a valuable account of the struggle to fight the state with its own means. Drawing heavily on recently discovered archival documents and the existing secondary literature, Ionescu manages to come up with a clear picture of the chaos ruling the wartime Romanian legal system, which complicated the Romanianization process and allowed a number of Jews to outwit it, thus giving a new dimension to the analysis, which so far has dealt more with the Jewish initiatives and acts and less with their results.

Finally, based almost exclusively on recently discovered archival material and diaries, “Sabotaging the Process of Romanianization” (chapter 8) proposes an entirely new approach to the subject from a rare perspective. This chapter constitutes Ionescu’s main personal academic contribution to the historiography of World War II Romania. This is undoubtedly the book’s strongest point.

All in all, the variety of sources, innovative approaches, and original insights make the volume a significant contribution to the historiography of the Romanian Holocaust. Its only downside is that while it is called Jewish Resistance to Romanianization, 1940–44, only two of its eight chapters deal with Jewish resistance. The rest are devoted to the various aspects of the Romanianization process itself. This is not to say that the six chapters dealing with the process were not necessary or should have been shorter. On the contrary, the book should perhaps have been longer and also should have included more discussion of other forms of resistance among Jews (educational, cultural, spiritual, etc.), which Ionescu mentions but does not dwell upon. However, this does not make the book any less important as a very useful tool for both researchers and students in the field of Holocaust studies.

Felicia Waldman


Magyar megszálló csapatok a Szovjetunióban, 1941–1944: Esemény – elbeszélés – utóélet [Hungarian occupation forces in the Soviet Union, 1941–1944: Event, narrative, afterlife]. By Krisztián Ungváry. Budapest: Osiris, 2015. 468 pp.

In most accounts of the Second World War, the role attributed to the Hungarian Army is often reduced to that of cannon fodder for the Wehrmacht, due above all to the military disaster at the Don River in early 1943. It is much less widely known that Hungarian units were also deployed as occupying forces in the Soviet Union, where they were charged with the task of controlling territories about twice the size of their home country. In Hungary itself, in the 70 years that passed since the war, there has been no scholarly discourse and very little awareness of the role of these units. So what were their tasks, how did they adapt to the situation, and to what extent were they responsible for war crimes or even genocide? In his well-researched book, Krisztián Ungváry addresses these questions.

Ungváry’s book begins with a description of the Germans’ occupation policies after their attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. Despite some general—and extremely drastic—ideas laid down in the Generalplan Ost, the Germans were far from prepared for a prolonged war on the territory of the Soviet Union. As a consequence, they were constantly improvising, and hardly ever gained full control of the territories they occupied. Often villages would not be visited by a single representative of the occupiers for months. Moreover, there were constant internal conflicts concerning how to deal with the local population: while the political leadership in Berlin, above all Himmler’s Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), was issuing orders to suppress the local population by all means and was pushing for the murder of Jews, Roma, prisoners of war, and hospital patients, some senior officers of the Wehrmacht were trying to maintain viable relations with the local population, if only out of self-interest.

The second chapter is dedicated to the origins and the structure of the partisan war in the USSR. Ungváry’s description closely follows recent German studies, notably those of Christian Gerlach and Bogdan Musial, who have shown how the Soviet partisan movement, while largely ineffective from a military point of view, was a constant menace to the local population, fueling the spiral of terror wherever they were active.

It is in this context that Hungarian forces, about 40,000 troops in total, were deployed as auxiliary forces of the Germans. They were subordinate to the Wehrmacht’s command, but communication between the two armies was not always smooth. In some instances, Hungarians pursued different policies towards the locals, for example by protecting ethnic Poles from Ukrainian nationalists. Often, the relationships with the inhabitants varied according to the ethnicity of the soldiers in Hungarian uniform: in many cases, the army deployed large numbers soldiers belonging to ethnic minorities who hardly spoke the language of their superiors but were able to communicate with the locals.

There were two main zones of Hungarian deployment, and they were fundamentally different from each other: the western zone in western and central Ukraine remained largely quiet throughout the war, while the eastern zone in eastern Ukraine, reaching into Belarus and Russia, was right at the center of the partisan war.

Large segments of the book are dedicated to detailed accounts of military operations against supposed partisans. They are based mainly on the reports of the Hungarian units, sometimes juxtaposed with the German data. Ungváry urges the reader to be cautious with the numbers: while data about losses on the side of the organ providing the data tend to be credible, data concerning losses allegedly inflicted on the enemy are not only often inaccurate, in many cases the term “enemy losses” is simply a euphemism for the murder of civilians during an operation.

Another long and persuasively documented section is dedicated to the complicity of Hungarian troops in the Holocaust. Beginning with the end of the summer of 1941, the Einsatzgruppen and several other specialized units systematically murdered the Jewish population in the Soviet Union. As Ungváry shows, Hungarian troops were very often involved in the process, particularly in the western zone. The evidence suggests that in most cases their task was to drive the victims to the shooting pits or to stand guard during the murders. Occasionally, Hungarians were also among the gunmen. Quoting private correspondence from the lowest to the highest ranks, Ungváry proves that as early as 1941, there was general knowledge of the murder of the Jews not only in the army ranks, but also in the political leadership, up to Horthy himself. More shockingly, the mass murder of Jews seems to have been regarded as normal by most of the men involved. During the last year of the war, news was spreading in the opposite direction too. In other words, Hungarian soldiers were well aware of the deportation of Hungarian Jews in 1944. Asked about their motivation to carry on, many soldiers expressed their hope that they would receive chunks of confiscated Jewish property upon returning home.

In conclusion, Ungváry states that the conduct of the Hungarian occupying forces varied greatly according to the situation on the ground, especially with regards to the intensity of partisan warfare. He maintains that—except for their obvious involvement in the murder of the Jews, which took place predominantly in the western zone—there can be no talk of a genocide against the local population committed by the Hungarian occupying forces. Still, the overall behavior of the troops was appalling, especially in the eastern zone. Ungváry argues that while there was plenty of room for individual decision-making, the overall record of the Hungarian army often tends to be even worse than that of the Wehrmacht: “Poor equipment, insufficient training, minority complexes leading to overcompensation, and the irresponsibility resulting from the ‘guest role’ all had a radicalizing effect on the behavior of the Hungarian officers and soldiers” (p.436).

The last chapter of the book deals with the judicial afterlife. That the authorities in the post-war era were neither able to uncover nor interested in uncovering the truth in a systematic manner is not unexpected. However, the fact that after 1990 Hungarian courts in several cases rehabilitated officers who had been convicted of war crimes without even bothering to cite the evidence is somewhat depressing.

Unfortunately, the book does have its weaknesses. For instance, there is no map showing the entire theater of operations. Photographs are often placed in an inexplicable context. This is particularly true of the rather misleading cover picture of a Ukrainian woman greeting friendly Hungarian officers with flowers. Ungváry also tends to overemphasize the importance of discipline inside the Wehrmacht, while not devoting enough attention to other German and auxiliary units which spread unprecedented terror on the ground. These preconceptions concerning supposed German perfectionism are especially irritating when it comes to the detailed descriptions of mass shootings. The same authors that Ungváry quotes do not fail to point out that this type of mass murder was brutal, bloody and chaotic, but Ungváry chooses to ignore that.

Still, this is an important and indeed groundbreaking book. The lively public debates and the unusually large number of copies sold show that there is a genuine need in Hungarian society to come to terms with these widely unknown chapters of its past. Ungváry’s book is a major step forward and will hopefully inspire other researchers to uncover more on the everyday reality of life and death behind the front lines.

Ádám Kerpel-Fronius


A jelenkori magyar társadalom [Contemporary Hungarian society]. By Tibor Valuch. Budapest: Osiris, 2015. 300 pp.

The “change of regime” and “post-socialism”1 have been catchwords which have produced a voluminous literature since the collapse of “actually existing” socialism both internationally and nationally in the Eastern and Central European regions. The capitalist modernization project received ideological support from transition theory, which dominated the discourse on transformation in the first few years after 1989–1991. Since the adoption of Western institutions ranked high on the political agenda in the East-Central European countries, the main focus of the literature was political science and other “timely” issues, such as privatization and economic restructuring. Social history lagged behind, in spite of the fact that, as the events of the 1990s showed, the prognosis of transitology—according to which the newly established democracies would soon catch up with the consumption levels of the advanced Western countries—was not accurate.

In Hungary, this consensus changed in the second half of the first decade of the new millennium, when well-known sociologists published a number of studies in which they contended that the new societies had taken forms that differed from the prognoses (or illusions) of the dissident intellectuals who actively participated in the change of regime. These differences became manifest in the field of social policy as analyzed by Zsuzsa Ferge, the appearance of a new Hungarian underclass as shown by János Ladányi, and the whole work of the left-wing sociologist Erzsébet Szalai, who envisaged a society closer to the Latin American type, characterized by large social and economic inequalities, than to the often idealized Western model.

One important merit of Tibor Valuch’s book is that it is the first synthesis which provides a remarkably balanced picture of contemporary Hungarian society both for academics and the wider audience. Valuch has consulted an impressive amount of secondary literature. Moreover, he systematizes a very diverse array of materials from two perspectives, that of a sociologist and that of a historian, because he is a leading expert of post-World War II social history of Hungary. Given the fact that the post-socialist era serves as a battlefield for various competing ideologies and paradigms, his discussion of the interpretations of the change of regime and the diverse secondary literature on which he bases his inquiry merits unambiguous praise. In the secondary literature coming out of Hungary, critical theories, especially those which share affinities with Marxism, often fall victim to a conspiracy of silence. Valuch’s book, in contrast, will be enjoyable and revealing reading to anyone who prefers facts to historical myths and political ideologies.

Hungary’s situation was unique in the Eastern Bloc because, as Valuch writes, the late Kádár-regime, in its essence, was a period in which concessions and greater freedoms were granted to all segments of the population in order to preserve political rule. Dissent had no real social basis and the extension and spread of the second economy in itself hindered active participation in the work of the opposition” (p.26). Disappointment with the change of regime and the building of a new, capitalist society reinforced hopes for a distinctive “third way,” neither socialist nor liberal, in Hungary. It was in this social context that the introduction of the so-called autocratic meta-democracy took place in 2010 (p.20), and its consolidation continues today. It is perhaps worth noting that the so-called third way is an important political metaphor in the rhetoric of the far-right wing party Jobbik.

The volume gives a similarly objective and detailed but not exhaustive overview of the physical and mental map of contemporary Hungary from the perspectives of demography, regional economics, the ethnic makeup of the regions, social stratification, political activity, national consciousness, social policy, and various forms of deviance. The structure of the book is logical. The individual chapters provide answers whether we are examining specific, focused questions or are interested in larger trends, which provide daily fodder for the public media. One such issue is low birth rates in contemporary Hungary. The birth rate was decreasing in the socialist period, but it was in 1998 that it first fell below 100,000 births a year, and it has remained below this level ever since. There are many explanations for this decline in the number of births: interrogation of gender roles just as traditional gender roles are largely reinforced by mainstream politicians, an increase in the number of single people, emigration to the West (one should not forget that it is typically young people of childbearing age who leave the country), and the impoverishment of large segments of the population. The unstable job situation (flexible employment, public work, informal work, etc.) can be also a frequent cause of childlessness. It is worth mentioning here that Stefano Bottoni, who investigated the post-1944 history of Eastern Europe, considered the emigration of members of the younger generations as one of the most important challenges that the East Central European societies and governments would have to face and to which they have to find a political answer (Stefano Bottoni, A várva várt Nyugat: Kelet-Európa története 1944-től napjainkig [2014]).

The second, similarly neuralgic point is the large inequality that characterizes Hungarian regions. The underclass is concentrated in small settlements, where the lack of job opportunities leads to other inequalities. These inequalities include the lack of quality educational opportunities, the lack of health care, the lack of public transport, and the failure of the majority society to encourage or allow the populations of these settlements to integrate. Thus, whole regions lag behind and/or lose contact with the Hungary of the twenty-first century. The main characteristic of the underclass is precisely this cumulative deprivation, and as a result, the opportunities for the generations growing up in these settlements have also been cumulatively deteriorating. New poverty does not mean that there is not enough clothing for the needy, but rather that there is no chance for upward social mobility. The children of the poor (and the majority of the Roma population is poor) are effectively segregated in ghettoized settlements, in part due to ineffective social and educational policy, which, indeed, is so ineffective in addressing social inequalities that one is tempted to think that it is meant to preserve rather than challenge the status quo.

The chapters on social stratification and the transformation of the elite are especially illuminating in part because Valuch examines the ways in which Hungarian society differs from the Western ideal. Without going into detail concerning the inequalities that existed under state socialism, one can safely state that the new capitalist society in Hungary has produced much greater inequalities. As Zsuzsa Ferge concludes, post-1989 Hungarian social policy could not counterbalance these negative trends effectively. Furthermore, in certain cases it reinforced existing inequalities because it primarily favored the middle class (Zsuzsa Ferge, Vágányok és vakvágányok a társadalompolitikában [2012]). I have only one critical comment regarding these chapters: the issue of integration into the job market would have merited more emphasis, since membership in the middle class today presupposes a job and job security. It is important to remember that the specific and distinctive aspect of social change in Eastern Europe is precisely the fact that, while in Western Europe we can still speak of a large middle class (in spite of the crisis of 2008), in Eastern Europe neither wages nor employment security developed in a way that would have led to the emergence of a middle class of a similar position and size. We can also add, on the basis of the research of Erzsébet Szalai, that the national elite is divided: the interests of the so-called national middle class often differ from the aspirations of the international elite, which is linked to global capital. The book would have greatly benefitted from a more analytical discussion of the reasons behind the manifest differences between contemporary Hungarian society and the Western model as envisaged by the liberals of the post-socialist era. This critical observations, however, does not influence my general opinion that the book is highly worth reading for anyone who seeks to understand post-socialist Hungarian society based on objective indicators.

In order to understand the post-socialist social milieu, it is essential to have a deep and less ideologically biased knowledge of state socialism, which remains a challenging task both for historians and sociologists. The “conspiracy of silence,” by which I am referring to the aspiration to exclude the socialist era from Hungarian history or present it as a regime which was simply thrust upon the country, is little more than a gross repetition of the academic policy of the Rákosi regime, which sought to equate the whole Horthy era with Fascism. Valuch’s book shows that it is possible to include competing narratives in a book on national history while also fostering real academic debate about the meaning and content of state socialism and the change of regime.

Eszter Bartha

1 To be sure, some authors already speak of post-postsocialism.

pdfVolume 4 Issue 4 CONTENTS


On the Road: The History and Archaeology of Medieval Communication Networks in East-Central Europe. By Magdolna Szilágyi. Budapest: Archaeolingua, 2014. 250 pp.


There is very little secondary literature in Hungarian historiography on the subject of the history of roads, or Altstrassenforschung. A few works by József Holub (1917), Endre Tóth (1970/2008), and in particular Lajos Glaser (1930/33) are indeed the only bits of scholarship on the topic in Hungary. This makes the stimulating and innovative inquiry under review here even more important and, indeed, pioneering.

Szilágyi’s study of the history of roads and routes of travel in East Central Europe is based on archival research. She examines an immense quantity of written sources and engages in additional selective fieldwork. With regards to the Hungarian secondary literature, her work represents the first profound and comprehensive study in the field of the historical and archaeological study of medieval road systems, their different functions, and the hidden remnants of tracks in the landscapes. This extract of a dissertation, Árpád Period Communication Networks: Road Systems in Western Transdanubia (defended at Central European University, Budapest, 2012), is a pioneering work in the study of East Central Europe that constitutes a significant contribution to the growing body of scholarly literature on the study of old roads in the European context.

The selected area of study is within Vas County in Western Transdanubia. However, given the approach and geographical framework of the inquiry, in which Szilágyi raises several general research questions, it constitutes much more than a mere case study of a given area. The regional focus in this case—and this is essential—helps establish the precise limits of the investigation, which is not merely a traditional historical-geographical reconstruction of the topography of a regional road network based on maps and fieldwork. The period in focus is the Árpád Era, i.e. the period from 1001 to 1301.

In her monograph, Szilágyi uses written sources and map collections held in the Hungarian National Archives, the National Széchényi Library, the Archaeological Archives of the Savaria Museum and the Archive of Vas County, as well as a considerable number of printed sources. Selected field observations complement the traditional sources, and Szilágyi offers penetrating evaluations of recent findings of archaeological investigations, not going beyond the limits of individual excavations as such. She is thoroughly familiar with the necessary complementary analytical methods, which she uses in her reconstruction of medieval road systems on the basis of the historical terminology, archaeological evidence, historical and topographical documentation, and personal identification of features in the field.

A 44 page-long bibliography demonstrates wide-ranging insight into recent regional research in Hungary. It includes translations of the Hungarian titles into English, which is very useful in a work intended for an international readership. The many footnotes (566 in total), which primarily provide citations of the wide spectrum of hodonyms (names of streets or roads) in their original contexts, indicate that the inquiry is predominantly a historical–etymological study based on written sources. The written sources, which are indispensable in the study of medieval roads in Hungary, consist primarily of documents—in particular regarding perambulations—drawn up for legal purposes (property boundaries). Related sketches and maps come up later. Most of the terms are in Latin, which is hardly surprising given the subject and the period of history in question, though there are some in German and Hungarian. More recent road maps (from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries) were used to locate medieval tracks. The maps of the Cadastral survey that was carried out in the nineteenth century were of special importance in identifying toponyms (field names), which were often related to old roads in their function as boundaries.

After a brief but concise presentation of the historiography and the sources, the main problems discussed in the related chapters are: the possible constancy of Roman roads in the medieval road system (Chapter 2) and the terminology of medieval roads (hodonyms), hierarchies within the road network, legal differentiations (rights, obligations), functional aspects, modes of travel and transportation, topography, road construction (especially urban archaeology) and river crossings (fords, bridges) (Chapter 3). Within the context of the European scholarship on medieval roads, this investigation adopts a distinctive approach, creating a framework of eight “categories” (relevant characteristics), which are treated in individual subchapters. These chapters, which are grouped under the headline “Terminology and characterization of medieval roads,” form the main section of the study. They inspire further individual and comparative studies in each field and in other regions.

One of the specific and, in research on the former Roman provinces, essential research questions concerns the influence (continuity) of the Roman road network on the development of a new and different settlement pattern and related road networks in medieval times. This question is often a subject of debate. The medieval documents—specifically the ones from or pertaining to Western Transdanubia—mention “ötteveny” or “kövesút,” terms which refer to the wide strips of gravel that remained from ancient Roman road constructions. Roman alignments survived in urban street patterns (especially in Savaria, where the city of Szombathely stands today, and to some extent Scarbantia, today the city of Sopron). However, due to later transformations of settlement locations, many sections of Roman roads fell into disuse and decay. The remnants of the ramparts were even avoided and alternative medieval routes evolved.

A comprehensive chapter is devoted to a functional differentiation of the medieval road network based on considerations related to production, transport and travel, drawing primarily on analyses of documented terms. Certainly, most of the tracks did not serve one specific function, but this approach opens up a broader view on the economic history of traffic and communication based in part on the complexity of the road network. It is important to note that the focus of the study is thus not only main routes of long-distance travel and transport, but also the connections between places of production and consumption (regional transport systems), including for instance salt roads, wine roads, market roads, livestock roads, drift roads, mill roads, etc., and also between private and public demands (for instance, pilgrims routes, military roads, and church roads).

The subchapter on salt roads ( in the section on functional aspects is particularly interesting. The terms referring to these roads point to a well-organized transport system in the hands of the king from sites of production (mines in Transylvania) to centers of trade (Szeged, Szalacs) and from these centers to a regional distribution network. Here “sajtosút” (road of the salt carriers) is mentioned as a specific term that was in use in Transylvania. Salt roads have been a distinct field of research in Germany and Austria for quite some time now. The long-distance cattle drove roads constituted another specific network connected with distinctive infrastructure. The monograph thus touches on an additional field of research by incorporating discussion of the relevant sources.

This historical-archaeological study, which adopts an ambitious and theoretically nuanced approach and aspires to offer more than a mere reconstruction of a regional historic road network, opens up new directions in the investigation of medieval and Early Modern road systems for travel and transport in East Central Europe, drawing on the long-standing and also recent intensive research activities in this field, especially in Switzerland, Austria and Germany. Szilágyi’s challenging and substantial study, in which she adopts a historical and philological approach, is a welcome contribution to the various initiatives concerning the study of the history and development of communication, travel and transport networks in a European context. This noteworthy book should stimulate further investigations in Hungary and East Central Europe.

Dietrich Denecke


A pozsonyi prépost és a káptalan viszálya (1421–1425). A szentszéki bíráskodás Magyarországon – a pozsonyi káptalan szervezete és működése a XV. század elején [Conflict between the Provost and the Chapter of Pressburg (1421–1425). Jurisdiction of the Holy See in Hungary – Organization and Operation of the Pressburg Chapter in the Early Fifteenth Century]. By Norbert C. Tóth, Bálint Lakatos, and Gábor Mikó. (Subsidia ad Historiam medii aevi Hungariae inquirendam 3.) Budapest: MTA TKI, 2014. 464 pp.


One of the increasingly prominent topics of research in recent Hungarian medieval historiography is ecclesiastical history and, more precisely, the investigation of the middle class in the medieval clergy, i.e. members and the operation of chapters. In 1971, Elemér Mályusz issued his fundamental monograph (composed mainly in the 1930s) on Hungarian ecclesiastical society before the battle of Mohács. In the monograph he drew attention to the fact that the middle and lower layers of the medieval Hungarian clergy had not been examined. Only a decade later, József Köblös, embarking down the path blazed by Mályusz, published the first archontology of four chapters (Buda, Székesfehérvár, Győr and Pressburg). Some years later, he published a comparative sociographic analysis of the prebendaries in these four institutions. Inspired by these works, over the course of the last fifteen years several researchers have made significant contributions to the study of this topic. (Cf. Tamás Fedeles, “Die ungarische Dom- und Kollegiatkapitel und ihre Mitglieder im Mittelalter. Forschungsstand, Aufgaben, Initiativen,” in Kapituly v zemích koruny české a v uhrách ve středověku [The Chapters in the Czech and Hungarian Kingdoms in the Middle Ages], ed. Václav Ledvinka and Jiři Pešek. Documenta Pragensia Supplementa II [2011], 161–96.)

Tóth, Lakatos, and Mikó’s book is itself based on a charter and its copies from January 1425, which the three authors came across as the following twelfth part of the Zsigmondkori Oklevéltár was being compiled. (Norbert C. Tóth and Bálint Lakatos, Zsigmondkori oklevéltár [Sigismundian Cartulary], vol 12 (1425) [2013].) A thorough examination revealed that there are altogether fifteen (!) copies of the charter, which all together contain a composite legal procedure between the chapter of Pressburg (Hungarian Pozsony, today Bratislava) and its provost, László Sóvári Sós. The research group, having finished the aforementioned volume of the sourcebook, managed to examine the legal case in detail, which resulted in this book.

The work of the three medievalists consists of four separate units. The first part includes six separate studies that mostly concern the functioning of the courts of the Holy See in the Middle Ages, the structure of the chapter of Pressburg, and a detailed analysis of the court case between the provost and the chapter. The second main part provides data on three members of the collegiate chapter of Pressburg who were important with regard to the court case, followed by a prosopographic database and survey of the estates of the chapter. The third main part contains the Latin documents that are connected to the legal case, regardless of whether they are later transcriptions or full-text publications of authentic originals. The edited documents are complemented by an explanation of some legal terms and short summaries of the individual documents. The fourth part is the obligatory detailed index of place and personal names discussed in the book.

By tackling the exhausting textual and genealogical problems of the charter, the authors ended up raising questions, the answers to which demanded separate analyses. The first study covers the historiography of Hungarian ecclesiastical jurisdiction and presents the operation of the Esztergom Holy See during the vicariate of Vicedomini Máté (Matheus de Vicedomini de Placentia) and his delegate substitutes. The authors conclude that the legal actions of the Esztergom Holy See, compared to the practice of European and other Hungarian Holy Sees, consisted mostly of affairs concerning marriage and inheritance, whereas cases in which members of the clergy formed both parties are less in number but were more significant. The second study is a penetrating examination of the personal relationships within the chapter itself. As discussed by the authors, the collegiate chapter of Pressburg lacked both the lector and cantor, and consisted of 14 members. It was the custos and the provost who determined the life of the chapter, and royal nomination dominated the selection and promotion of members within the body. The following chapter is an overview of the course and sections of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. In addition to a valuable overview of the existing literature (both Hungarian and in other languages), it provides new data concerning legal terms in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary. The analysis of sessional data led to the conclusion that, apart from major feast days (i.e. Christmas and Easter) and the period around the harvest, ecclesiastical jurisdiction and the operation of the Holy Sees was continuous, as was true in the case of secular courts.

The fourth paper investigates the suit of the chapter against its own provost concerning the prebendaries’ action and the provost’s counter-action, commissioning the case to delegated judges in Pressburg, the investigation and judiciary stage in the city, and the provost’s appeal to King Sigismund himself, who ordered György Pálóci, archbishop of Esztergom, to review the case. The chapter as a body accused Sóvári with altogether 34 different articles, including liturgical defaults, offences against the prebendaries and economic misdeeds. The provost was compelled to compensate the chapter financially (306 florins and the cost of the proceedings), but the most humiliating detail for him was that he was obliged to make apologies to the body. As a result of Sóvári’s appeal, one fee was waived, deadlines for liquidation were disburdened, and the obligation that he apologize was abrogated.

The fifth and sixth studies deal with the rights and obligations of the chapter. The right to the quarter or, in some villages, to the whole tithe (which, according to the suit, had been violated by the provost) was financially crucial to the prebendaries, as three-fourths of their whole income might have originated from ecclesiastical earnings, and manorial income was only the remaining one-fourth.

Among the expenditures of the church, an unmarked tax is analyzed in the last study, namely the 63rd article of the acts issued by King Sigismund in 1397. This stipulated that every ecclesiastical figure should spend half of his income for military purposes. The paper comes to the conclusion that the middle class members of the clergy actually paid this tax, though less than the prescribed half, whereas prelates supplied their banderia, mounted forces. Calculations suggest that middle class members of the clergy contributed with an annual 11,000 florins to national military expenditures, and prelates did so with more than 60,000 florins, which meant a significant portion of the royal budget for defense.

In summary, the book provides a complex approach towards both the history of the Pressburg chapter in a relatively narrow scope and an overview of medieval ecclesiastical legal proceedings in Hungary at the same time. It calls attention to the fact that records of legal cases (even if copies) might contain significant data concerning ecclesiastical bodies and the individuals they involved, and charters of this kind should be analyzed with similarly thorough methods. (For a similar case between the Veszprém chapter and its provost, Pál Emődi, see the recent Monumenta Ecclesiae Vesprimiensis 1437–1464, edited by Gábor Dreska and Balázs Karlinszky and published in 2014 by the Veszprém Diocese.) The book provides a summary of its findings in German and Slovak, as well as a detailed bibliography, which will be useful to further investigations of the topic.

Balázs Karlinszky


Cities and their Spaces. Concepts and their Use in Europe. Edited by Michel Pauly and Martin Scheutz. Cologne–Weimar–Vienna: Böhlau, 2014. 324 pp.


Urban settlement has always had a strong and complex spatial dimension. According to some definitions, one of the main distinctive criteria between towns and villages is precisely the more sophisticated topography of the former. Every town or city develops its unique structure and built form, which undergoes changes over time, providing ample food for thought for many branches of historical research. One might think that the spatial turn in history writing, which has been acknowledged now for a long time, would have been particularly welcome among urban historians. Indeed, as noted in the introduction to the present volume (which was written by its two editors), the localization of various features in urban space has always been on the agenda of scholars of a city’s past. The identification of particular buildings or neighborhoods and the ties they had to families or social groups have been familiar themes in praises of towns, city chronicles, and academic works alike. From the perspective of methodology, however, urban history can strongly benefit from the sociologically and theoretically inspired new wave of modern and post-modern spatial studies, which are presented in the volume in Keith Lilley’s essay on “Conceptualizing the City.” After having been engaged for centuries with the questions of “who, what and where,” urban historians have now been prompted by these new impulses to engage more systematically with the issue of “how?” and—no less important—“why?”.

The book reviewed here does a great service by extending the scope of up-to-date spatial inquiries, or at least providing good raw material for them, concerning cities in regions that are often neglected in this context or studied within the boundaries of national paradigms (and languages). The reason for this greater openness is that the present collection of 19 articles (14 in English, 4 in German, and an introduction in both—one gratefully acknowledges the efforts of the editors to have the articles translated) is based on two conferences of the International Commission for the History of Towns (ICHT) organized in Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Prague, both of which welcomed a good number of local speakers and participants. These two cities at the same time are home to institutions that have been active in editing and publishing the Historic Towns Atlas series of their respective countries. Knowledge of primary sources and recent research on the spatial development of a good number of towns is therefore readily available.

It follows logically from these premises that the great flagship enterprise of the ICHT, the towns’ atlases, are utilized as reference works in many of the articles here. Ferdinand Opll, the editor-in-chief of the already completed Austrian atlas series, shows new ways of using the toponyms on the maps and in the topographical gazetteers (mainly in the Irish atlas series) for comparative research. Regarding the example of the names of gates and suburbs that lay beyond them, he offers a typology of naming patterns as reflections of spatial thinking and awareness of the hinterland and its main contact points. His study demonstrates that it is well worth pursuing comparisons in the cases of other kinds of urban toponyms on a European scale.

The four studies connected to the territory of modern-day Romania also draw on many examples from towns that have been included in the atlas series. Paul Niedermaier, the initiator of the Romanian atlas project and author of multiple volumes on urban development in Transylvania, follows his own hypothetical-deductive method, suggesting previous phases of development by studying the plot-patterns on cadastral maps. While one may express some skepticism concerning the accuracy of the reconstructions and their dating, the processes of the “genesis of closed spaces” and market infill that he describes with reference to the example of Sebeş (Szászsebes, Mühlbach), Sibiu, Sighişoara (Segesvár, Schäßburg) and other settlements have parallels in many towns of Europe. His disciple, Maria Crîngaci Ţiplic, examines the relationship between trade privileges and the evolution of urban space in the same three towns. It is indeed worthwhile looking at these two phenomena in parallel, but it is difficult to distinguish cause and effect, especially knowing that the pace at which the kings “followed up” on the development of commercial contacts with administrative measures depended a great deal on royal policy. It is also important to distinguish which kinds of privileges actually had local impact. Liberation from paying customs at faraway places could have at best indirect consequences, whereas, for instance, staple right resulting in increased need for storage could indeed influence the structure of the merchants’ houses and the use of public space, as has also been demonstrated in the case of Hanseatic towns.

Urban development in the principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia is discussed in the articles by Laurenţiu Rădvan, the author of a comprehensive monograph on the subject, and Dan Dumitru Iacob. Rădvan’s well-balanced analysis follows long-term processes in the shaping of streets and plot structure and the roles of monasteries between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. He clearly distinguishes between the first period, when the influx of German and Hungarian settlers via Poland and Transylvania brought along a “systematic topographical outline of inhabited space,” whereas from the sixteenth century onwards colonists arriving from the Balkans and the Levant spread other models of organizing space, such as the wide areas of bazaars and the encroachment of orthodox monasteries, which in the long run contributed to reductions in urban autonomy. Iacob’s study takes up the story from this point and describes the modernization of the markets of Iaşi in the nineteenth century. He considers commercial streets and zones both in the center and the suburbs and explains how the carefully crafted projects of creating civic or parade squares were carried out by local authorities.

Similar sets of questions concerning the centers and central marketplaces are taken up by Roman Czaja in his discussion of cities in the territory of modern-day Poland, taking Elbląg (Elbing) as the central example. Czaja observes a strong conservative tendency in retaining the medieval main square as a commercial and community center and even keeping the fortifications intact. It was partly due to major town fires or to the unavoidable need for modernization in the nineteenth century that the medieval inner city lost its exclusive role as the most important urban space, although it still retained its role as a platform for public rituals and a social meeting place. The phenomenon of incremental growth is demonstrated by the maps of Görlitz, Auma (in Thuringia), Bruneck (in Tirol) and Ljubljana in Karlheinz Blaschke’s contribution. The German historian has dedicated the work of a lifetime and several monographs to plot the churches dedicated to St. Nicholas and the adjoining merchants’ settlements as catalysts of “spontaneous development” of urban spatial structure.

Abandoning the order of the volume, I complete my look at the range of contributions on Central Europe with two studies on medieval and Early Modern Bohemia. Martin Musílek’s investigation of property transactions in the Old Town of Prague in a relatively short period between 1351 and 1367 seems to imply a micro-historical approach, but as the author points out, these seventeen years capture an important moment of transformation of the urban elite from an old stock of merchants to a new, more craftsmen-dominated group of house-owners and council members. One may wonder if the Black Death of 1347–49 had any impact on this shift, although there is no reference to this in the article. However, the similarity of this process to the changes in Buda’s leading elite a few decades later makes it seem likely that such a change would have taken place in any case. In Robert Šimůnek’s study on towns as “theatres” of sacral representation Prague plays rather a supporting role, while the center stage is taken by Český Krumlov, from where an exceptionally detailed fourteenth-century description of the local Corpus Christi procession has survived. The author explains the importance of such an exercise in the visualization of social hierarchies and also touches on some of the changes at the turn of the fifteenth century.

On the western periphery of Europe, Ireland has set a new trend in topographical research with its high quality town atlases, which include detailed and informative gazetteers. This series is the basis for the articles by Anngret Simms and Howard B. Clarke, two of the great movers and shakers of the atlas project on a European scale. Simms provides a masterly example of the comparative use of three atlases, those of Tuam, Armagh and Limerick, highlighting the impact of the Reformation on the uses of urban space. She points out that due to the political circumstances, i.e. the close association of Reformation and colonization in Ireland, resisting the new movement and reestablishing the Catholic Church in particular quarters of the towns in question can be considered a form of ethnic survival. Her study can be instructive for scholars investigating the topographical impact of the dissolution of monasteries in any other part of Europe, too. Clarke’s insightful analysis of the hinterlands of medieval Dublin offers an overview of the main directions of contacts and their changes over time in five periods from the eighth century to 1500. His study also points out the importance of assembling the evidence from the broadest possible spectrum of sources for periods when no administrative records are available, from place-names to church dedications or the distribution of church prebends or special types of pottery produced in Dublin.

Remaining with the topic of hinterlands, Jean-Pierre Poussou discusses this issue in the case of the four largest French port cities, Bordeaux, Nantes, Rouen/Le Havre and Marseille. He examines whether there was a relationship of dominance or relative interdependence between the big ports that were (with the exception of Marseille) by estuaries of rivers 50-120 kilometers away from the open sea, the smaller outer harbors and the settlements along the same rivers or beyond, on the mainland. He also examines the change caused by the increasing volume of colonial trade, especially with the West Indies in the eighteenth century, which reinforced “the primacy of the large ports.” Hinterlands are also the subject of inquiry in Caroline Le Mao’s contribution on the provisioning of French maritime arsenals with the most essential raw materials, particularly wood, in the late seventeenth century. Although these large military-industrial complexes were established and run not by towns but by the absolutist state, according to Le Mao, “a town and its arsenal were inextricably linked,” thus their well-researched system of transport infrastructure has relevance for the civilian aspects of urban life as well. The fourth article concerning hinterlands, by Máximo Diago Hernando, offers a broad overview of the territorial politics of Spanish towns from the eleventh to the nineteenth centuries. His concept of hinterland is more legal than economic, unlike the two French contributions presented above. He shows that towns in the kingdoms of Léon-Castile and Aragon received by royal decree large territories to control in order to foster the colonization of areas reconquered from Muslim rule. Later, the controlled estates were often reduced due to the crown’s actions to donate or sell some villages, while the towns, especially in Aragon, managed to purchase more land for their lordships. In any case, strong royal supervision remained the defining factor.

Rosemary Sweet’s analysis stands out because of her decision to focus on the “conceptualization and cultural production of historic urban space rather than its purely physical manifestation,” connecting closely to the postmodern agenda outlined by Keith Lilley’s introductory essay. She eloquently demonstrates how, through the combined effect of a growing body of knowledge on the architectural heritage of cities and towns and the increasing modernization in a time of rapid urban change (“uncovering Roman sewers while digging their own”), views and value judgments on urban space have changed. Her examples refer to Rome and Britain, but similar inquiries can and should be profitably extended to other parts of the continent, including the Kingdom of Hungary in the nineteenth century.

Finally, two articles discuss urban space in modern and post-modern times. Lars Nilsson describes processes in Stockholm between 1860 and 2010 to show changes in the town planning strategies in certain neighborhoods of the inner and the outer city. Two of the most instructive questions raised here are the recovery and restructuring of the Inner City in the face of deindustrialization and the impact of spatial transformations on social inequalities and segregation. Peter Clark traces the emergence and typology of green spaces in cities, from promenades and parks to recreation grounds, allotment gardens and private gardens. His focus, however, is more social than spatial, looking for agents of change and the interest groups benefitting from them.

The essays in this volume, which were written by prominent urban historians from all over Europe, clearly demonstrate that the study of cities and their spaces is rewarding. As Anngret Simms emphasizes, cities and settlements “reflect historical processes” and long-term changes over time. She adds that “large-scale topographical maps … communicate cultural meaning and as such, we should learn how to read these maps as the expression of cultural shifts.” The validity of her statement goes beyond Irish towns and should be a helpful reminder to all readers, and some of the authors too. Many of the articles use maps skillfully to demonstrate their point, while others unfortunately are not supported with visual materials, although their authors definitely used them in their research. Another minor shortcoming is the lack of mention of historic place names and the failure to provide a proper gazetteer of these names, especially in the case of Transylvania. In sum, the main value of the book lies, in addition to the practical information in contains, in the relevant and thought-provoking questions that may be, mutatis mutandis, posed across regions and over time, questions that will increase our understanding not only of urban space, but also of those who created, inhabited and perceived them.

Katalin Szende


Dzsámik és mecsetek a hódolt Magyarországon [Mosques in the Territories of Hungary under Ottoman Occupation]. By Balázs Sudár. (Magyar Történelmi Emlékek. Adattárak.) Budapest: MTA Bölcsészettudományi Kutatóközpont Történettudományi Intézet, 2014. 650 pp.


The Ottoman occupation of Hungary, which lasted roughly a century and a half, fundamentally changed the fates of the peoples living in the Carpathian Basin. Yet soon after the expulsion of the Ottoman forces from the region, very few traces of their presence remained. Within a short period of time, the majority of the works of Islamic architecture had been partly dismantled or rebuilt to serve other functions. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why romantic historians in the nineteenth century, distanced from the period of occupation by two centuries, wrote ever more positively about the era. The question of the balance of salutary and regrettable consequences of the Ottoman occupation remains a subject of debate today. Thus, one of the tasks for historians was to determine the extent to which the Ottomans came to inhabit the occupied territories of the Hungarian kingdom and the extent to which they transformed the settlements to better fit their culture and lifestyles. Balázs Sudár has undertaken this task. He has gathered all of the data on the mosques that were built in the Carpathian Basin and published them in this thick book.

The book, which was published by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, is divided into three long chapters. The first part is essentially a preliminary study in which the author summarizes the relevant data and information already known to the community of scholars and presents the sources. At the beginning of the chapter, which has been further divided into ten subchapters, he provides a detailed presentation of the Islamic and Christian written sources and image sources, including archeological findings. This is followed by a brief history of the scholarship and a short though all the more important explanation of the terminology, which contains precise definitions of the terms “occupation” and “Turk.” Sudár then offers a summary of Islam belief and practice on the basis of the current Turkish and international secondary literature. This summary is important in part because, lamentably, to this day European publics still have little more than a superficial knowledge of Islam and the role it plays in the lives of Muslims.

The chapter dealing with the number of places of worship for Muslims in the territory under occupation is an important part of the book. As Sudár notes, in the 1660s, when Evliya Çelebi was writing his famous travelogue, there were roughly 400 places of prayer in the parts of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman rule. If one considers the size of the Balkan peninsula, this might seem a comparatively small number. If we recall that at the beginning of the sixteenth century, there were roughly 9,000 Christian edifices in the Carpathian Basin, 400 seems trifling. There were minarets only in some 50 cities, and they were lost in the surrounding forests of Hungarian villages. This shows that the influence of Islamic culture was limited at most. The Hungarian population was not responsive to the new faith. However, if we closely follow the process of the construction of mosques, we see that over the course of the seventeenth century the occupying forces came to settle in the lands more and more, and thus in the long run there was a perfectly good chance that the areas of Hungary that had fallen under Ottoman occupation might have shared the same fate as Bosnia or Albania.

The last subchapter of the introductory essay deals with the people who founded the places of prayer and the people who maintained them, as well as the distinctive features of the buildings themselves. The reader gains a thorough understanding of the construction and functions of the mosques and the roles they played during the period of occupation.

The reference section comprises the longest part of the book, consisting of some 450 pages with information about the individual mosques. The text, which has been arranged in alphabetical order on the basis of the names of the settlements, contains everything we can know about the various edifices. Alongside citations from the sources, one also finds a chronology, biographies of the people who founded the mosques, and a list of the works available in the existing secondary literature. One of the great strengths of the book is the inclusion of a wide array of relevant images and visual sources. For instance, one finds many prints, maps, and archeological ground-plans that help one understand details of the text. Thus, the book contains a great deal of new information for local historians, so hopefully knowledge of these kinds of details will soon reach the wider reading public. The book also contains innumerable interesting tidbits, for instance mention of the distinctive windows and two mihrabs of the Suleiman mosque in Szigetvár, no similar versions of which have yet been found anywhere in the Balkan peninsula.

With this work of scholarship, Balázs Sudár has done a great deal to fill a lacuna in the secondary literature on the subject of the traces of Ottoman religious culture in the territories that were once under occupation, and his book contains a wealth of information that will be of interest both to Hungarian historians of the era and people curious about Islamic culture and local history. Given the value of this book, it would be important to have it translated into English well and as soon as possible, since it would constitute an indispensable resource for the international community of scholars with an interest in Ottoman history.

Szabolcs Varga


A Divided Hungary in Europe: Exchanges, Networks and Representations, 1541–1699. Vol. 1–3. Edited by Gábor Almási, Szymon Brzezinski, Ildikó Horn, Kees Teszelszky, and Áron Zarnóczki. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014. 738 pp.


This three-volume publication is the product of a four-year research program entitled “Hungary in early modern Europe,” which was headed by the late Ágnes R. Várkonyi. The purpose of this Hungarian Scientific Research Fund-funded program was to study Hungary’s presence and place in Europe and its role on the “European stage” in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The 29 case studies arranged in three volumes put the cultural, religious, intellectual and political relationships between Hungary and the rest of Europe in focus. They examine questions of cultural transfer and exchange, thus seeking to situate Hungary in the European context. They are the result of an international cooperative endeavor. Although most of the contributors are prominent Hungarian historians, one also finds Slovak, Polish, American, Croatian and Dutch scholars among them.

The first volume (Study Tours and Intellectual-Religious Relationships) investigates how cultural exchange between Hungary and Europe affected intellectual life in Hungary. The essays in this volume deal with two major subjects, academic study tours and intellectual-religious exchange. For instance, Gizella Keserű examines the study tours of Unitarians from Transylvania. András Péter Szabó investigates those of the Lutherans from Upper-Hungary to Prussia. Gábor Almási compares the peregrination tours of Hungarian students with the study tours of students from other East-Central European countries. Ildikó Horn investigates the peregrination of the Transylvanian elite, providing an explanation for the decline of such ventures in the seventeenth century. In regard to intellectual-religious relationships, three studies examine international Catholic intellectual life and scientific exchange. Farkas Gábor Kiss studies the possibilities and severe limitations of the exchange of scientific knowledge between Hungary and the rest of Europe based on the case of Athanasius Kircher. Ildikó Sz. Kristóf examines descriptions of peoples and lands of other continents in the calendars published by the University of Nagyszombat (Trnava). Another Jesuit, Martinus Cseles, and his discovery of the account of Brother Julianus are the subject of an essay by Paul Shore. Two other essays approach the question of cultural transfer from a different perspective. István Monok compares the publishing activity of three major cities (Paris, Basel, Venice) from the point of view of books on Hungary and Hungarians, and Péter Király studies the role of foreign musicians in Hungary.

The intention of the second volume (Diplomacy, Information Flow and Cultural Exchange) is to investigate the history of cultural transfer in the areas of international relations and diplomacy. For instance, Dóra Kerekes studies the interpreters, an important group of cultural mediators in seventeenth-century Istanbul. A topic closely related to the exchange of culture and knowledge is the research on information flows in politics, which is the subject of several of the essays. These chapters study the details concerning information gathering networks, both the networks of the Transylvanian Principality as a whole (Gábor Kármán) and those of individuals (e. g. Ferenc Nádasdy by Noémi Viskolcz). The crucial role of the individual actors in these information-gathering and diplomatic networks is emphasized. Mónika F. Molnár examines the activities of a famous “information agent” and scientist, Luigi Marsigli, and his activities at the Habsburg-Ottoman borderline. The Transylvanian István Kakas and the broadly international contexts of his mission to Persia are investigated by Pál Ács, and the Hungarian contexts of the assassination of Antonio Rincón and Cesare Fergoso are studied by Megan Williams. Péter Tusor examines the unexpected appointment of Péter Pázmány to the position of Archbishop of Esztergom and the responses and repercussions in Vienna and Rome.

The third volume (The Making and Uses of the Image of Hungary and Transylvania) deals with the image of Hungary and the Hungarians in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the various local uses to which it was put in the political communication across Europe. Two essays focus on the Holy Roman Empire. Nóra G. Etényi studies the news pamphlets and publications on the military and political developments in Hungary which appeared in the Empire in the second half of the seventeenth century. Orsolya Lénárt analyzes changes in the image of Hungary based on Eberhard Werner Happel’s novel. Two studies deal with the Low Countries as well (the essays by Kees Teszelszky and Orsolya Réthelyi). Another two essays examine the images of Hungary in Early Modern Croatian (Iva Kurelac) and Moldavian and Wallachian (Klára Jakó) historiography. Tamás Kruppa and Szymon Brzezinski investigate the perception of Hungary and Hungarians and related topoi in Italy and in Poland-Lithuania.

The authors of the volumes focus on the questions of cultural transfer and exchange and by this approach they seek to place Hungary in a European context. They approach the aspects of diplomacy and politics too in terms of cultural exchange, and consider the image of Hungary as a product of this exchange of knowledge and information as well. Besides they concentrate on the intellectual and diplomatic networks and the important role individual historical actors played in these networks. These approaches have already gained significant international attention (cf. primarily the fundamental work Cultural Exchange in Early Modern Europe, vols. 1–4, ed. R. Muchembled and W. Monter) but have just recently started to be applied in Hungarian scholarship on the country’s period under Ottoman rule.

The importance of the publication therefore lies not simply in the fact that the authors used a wide array and large quantity of new sources, thanks to their extensive archival research (the essays are based on archival sources from more than 25 cities across Europe), but primarily in the use of these new research methods and approaches. The research areas and themes represented here (such as church history and the history of communication) likewise constitute topics and fields that have undergone considerable development over the course of the past few decades in Hungarian historiography. Thus, these volumes seek to give insights into current Hungarian historical scholarship as well.

The references and footnotes are thorough and shed light on the most recent historiography of Early Modern Hungary, and they were composed with an international readership in mind. All of the essays in this compelling three-volume publication provide ample material for the study of the connections of Hungarian elite circles to the contemporary European cultural trends in the Early Modern period. Much as the Hungarians of the period in question kept up with trends at the time, the authors of these essays have remained abreast of international scholarly trends and tendencies today, and indeed they have “provided us with a state-of the art knowledge of early modern Hungary” (Vol. 1, p.ix).

Krisztina Péter



Pálos missziók Magyarországon a 17–18. században [The Pauline Order’s Missions in Hungary in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries]. By †Ferenc Galla. Edited by István Fazekas. (Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae – Classis 1, vol. 11.) Budapest–Rome: MTA-PPKE ‘Lendület’ Egyháztörténeti Kutatócsoport–Gondolat, 2015. 536 pp.


Ferenc Galla (1888–1977), a Catholic priest and historian and at one time a professor of church history (Royal Hungarian Péter Pázmány University of Budapest, Faculty of Theology), was one of the greatest researchers of sources on the Early Modern history of the Hungarian Catholic Church in Rome, mainly in the Archives of the Sacred Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Sacra Congregatio de Propaganda Fide). As he spent almost the last three decades of his long life living under a communist regime in Hungary, he was not allowed to publish much of the data he had collected. He spent these decades of forced silence supplementing the Roman material with sources from the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of the Hungarian Treasury and the Hungarian Chancellery). He wrote several important monographs and essays on these sources, which remained unpublished at the time, but which are now held in the National Archives of Hungary (Archives of Families, Corporations and Institutions), together with his huge bequest of manuscripts. These manuscripts were discovered by the narrow community of professional historians in the early 1990s, and they have since served as sources of inspiration for various scholars, but were still waiting to be published.

For more than 10 years now, the series Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae has published monographs, essays, source materials, repertories and bibliographies concerning Hungarian historical research in the Vatican. Thus, Galla’s legacy found the perfect caretaker in its editorial committee, which is under the leadership of Péter Tusor. The volume under review is the third one published as part of the series, following Ferences misszionáriusok Magyarországon: a Királyságban és Erdélyben a 17–18. században [Franciscan Missionaries in Hungary: In the Kingdom and in Transylvania in the 17th and 18th Centuries], which was issued in 2005 (Classis 1, vol. 2), and Pápai kinevezések, megbízások és felhatalmazások Erdély, a Magyar Királyság és a Hódoltság területére (1550–1711) [Pontifical Provisions, Faculties and Commissions in Transylvania, Habsburg and Ottoman Hungary (1550–1771)], which was published in 2010 (Classis 2, vol. 3). The editing and redacting of the present text, as in the case of the aforementioned volume issued in 2005, was done by István Fazekas and is ample testimony to his competence and attentiveness.

The volume consists of three parts, which are arranged chronologically. The first deals with the history of the Pauline Order from its general reform in the 1630s to the late 1670s. The chapter is structured around the biography of János Vanoviczy (c. 1612–1678), Pauline missionary and head of the apostolic prefecture maintained by the order, but this part also deals with the monasteries that had been in continuous operation since the Middle Ages, as well as the ones that were founded in the period under discussion. Focus, however, is on the beginning of the evangelistic activities of the Paulines and the establishment of the apostolic prefecture in 1667. The second part is dedicated to the development of Pauline missions during the wartime period of 1671–1711, namely the anti-Habsburg uprisings, Kuruc Wars, the Great Turkish War and Ferenc Rákóczi II’s war of liberation. This chapter, however, uses a regional division. After an introductory section on the Pauline missions of the era in general and the old and new monasteries (again), it contains four sections concerning four different territories affected by the missions of the order, namely Szepes (Spiš) and Árva (Orava) Counties, Transdanubia and the regions recaptured from the Ottoman Empire (in this case, only the Diocese of Pécs, the city of Nagyvárad (Oradea)and Transylvania). Finally, the third part, which is considerably shorter than the previous two, summarizes the characteristics of the Pauline missions in the eighteenth century and evaluates the work of the order in this area. The last seventy pages of the volume consist of a list of sources and a bibliography, a particularly extensive index of people and places, and a detailed English abstract (some 10 pages long) including a map of the Pauline missions in the seventeenth century.

Although the published manuscript represents the most complete surviving version of the monograph, it is still an unfinished variant, as the work was probably never totally finalized by Galla. Thus there are significant differences between the three parts of the volume. First, as already mentioned, the third part is only one-third as long as the first two. Second, only the annotations of the first part survived or were made up by the author. Accordingly, there were differences in the editorial work on the text. The first part needed only the revision of the originally ponderous style of the author to make it more flowing and the division of the enormously long notes into shorter ones. However, the annotations in the first part still remain long, and as every single note relates to several paragraphs, sometimes even pages, they contain many repetitions of the main text when specifying the exact topic to which they pertain. In the other two parts, the annotations were compiled by the editor, partially on the basis of the original notes of the author from a former version of the manuscript. Fazekas also cited recent historical literature in order to refresh the study, which is more than half a century old.

As is the case in other works by Galla, his positivist method of accumulating data is often supplemented by explanations of the histories of families and places, general national and church history, and biographies of individuals, mainly members of the Pauline Order and Hungarian aristocrats. More importantly, he summarizes certain sections in general terms either before or after the given details, and in these sections he has ventured several ascertainments that have not been discredited since. These are the features that make Galla’s recently published volume really notable, not to mention his treatment of a huge amount of data, so far unknown, from Rome as well as from Budapest, the importance of which can hardly be overestimated.

Dániel Siptár


Conflicting Values of Inquiry. Ideologies of Epistemology in Early Modern Europe. Edited by Tamás Demeter, Kathryn Murphy, and Claus Zittel. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2015. 410 pp.


The fact that a collection of essays that will in all likelihood find its place on library shelves reserved for philosophical studies is being reviewed in a historical journal by a sociologist should be taken as a good sign. The editorial intention, beyond doubt, was to deliver a bouquet of studies primarily philosophical in their subject matter and to show that, in addition to a revisionist approach to primarily classical chapters in the history of philosophy, a wider, social scientific questioning and treatment of their subjects can also yield essays interesting and relevant for a broad interdisciplinary academic readership.

The volume, however, seeks to achieve further goals, or, if you will, even higher purposes. As Tamás Demeter, one of the editors, highlights in his introductory essay (“Values, Norms and Ideologies in Early Modern Inquiry”), studies aimed at exposing underlying political, religious or ideological commitments in scientific debates have been in vogue since Shapin and Schaffer came out with Leviathan and the Air-Pump in 1985 (Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer, Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life [1985]), and while such aspirations have not yet become part of the mainstream, they are familiar enough now to venture beyond or away from the territories that they have uncovered. Hence, “the present volume suggests that with an awareness of this context, it is now worth turning back to questions of the epistemic content itself” (p.2).

In the first essay, which also serves as an introduction to or an overview of the aspirations of the articles that follow, Peter Dear, a renowned historian of science, gives a short account and evaluation of Leviathan and the Air-Pump, the milestone work that this volume now goes beyond, at least if the contributors have met their aim. “Going beyond,” Professor Dear assures his reader, does not mean turning against, and his overview serves to avoid throwing out “the baby with the bathwater when attempting to elaborate other sorts of accounts” (p.11). The so-called Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, or SSK exemplified by the Leviathan and the Air-Pump called for an account of scientific ideas in terms of the acts and actions that they facilitate (p.12), a kind of a contextual analysis that rejects the internal logic of the history of science, refutes the notion that scientific knowledge can be accounted for solely on the basis of prior forms of scientific knowledge, and argues that these systems of knowledge are not purely built upon and consequences of one another. This contextual analysis, also known as the “Strong Program,” advocates an elaboration (explanation or understanding) of all scientific knowledge, whether held to be true or false by contemporaries or present-day representatives of the field, with reference to the historical, political, ideological etc. context within which they are expressed. As Peter Dear puts it, it calls for an interpretation of knowledge-production in terms of an understanding of the stakes that scientific discourses and debates carried for the participants. This approach, as he points out, equates the answers yielded by “instrumental” questions with “understanding.” It is precisely here that the present volume most sharply diverges from the SSK program, for it draws a categorical distinction between the two. Dear considers this a “fundamental incommensurability” between the questions posed by an intellectualist history of science and philosophy and those addressed by SSK.

That there is such a sharp difference or even incommensurability between the emphasis on the instrumental use of ideas and, as is the aim of this volume, their account with reference to “values” (understood in a broad sense) is not entirely clear. Neither Peter Dear nor the other authors seem entirely convinced, in their presentation of their arguments, that this is the case. The distance, however, that Conflicting Values manages to put between the SSK and its own endeavor is less significant than the vast and up-to-date knowledge and the novel questions and interpretations that the authors of the volume offer in their supposedly “post-SSK” scholarly essays on early modern European science.

As is evident from many features of the book (from the perspective of form the similar structure and length of the chapters and from the perspective of content the effort to revise traditional readings of well-known episodes of the history of science and philosophy), the editors had a clear vision which they managed to sustain. The authors, says Tamás Demeter, were asked not to write traditional chapters in the history of philosophy but instead “to explore how certain non-epistemic values had been turned into epistemic ones, how they had an effect on epistemic content, and eventually how they became ideologies of knowledge” (p.2) In fact, as indicated in a short acknowledgment, the collection was based on two preceding workshops in the course of which the ideas were discussed at length and common grounds were established. Hence, this volume, authored by a rather impressive group of historians and philosophers of science, succeeds in avoiding the trap into which many such collections fall. Rather than merely presenting some writings that are at best interesting in themselves, this book grows into an organic whole the parts of which not only function together but also enhance one another.

The unifying idea behind the essays puts the volume at a crossroads of history, philosophy and sociology: “the volume as a whole drives towards the study of those values, norms, and standards that unify knowledge-making practices, which otherwise, from the perspective of different disciplinary canons, may easily seem to be entirely disjointed” (pp.8–9). This junction has been marked by certain territorial battles. As John Henry, himself a highly acclaimed associate of the Edinburgh School of Sociology of Scientific Knowledge, contends in his essay (“Testimony and Empiricism: John Sergeant, John Locke, and the Social History of Truth”), while philosophers in the modern tradition have been “blind to social epistemology until very recently” (p.121), the sociology of knowledge entered territory hitherto occupied by philosophy and history, and so, as an even more recent development, sociologically inclined interpretations are more abound in philosophy, suggesting an attempt to recover lost ground. However, the volume shows—and this is one of its greatest merits—that peaceful learning and inter(trans)disciplinary cooperation can flourish in the place of conflict, bringing a deeper understanding of how philosophical and scientific knowledge has been (and is being) produced. For as John Henry contends, “the fact is, our epistemologies, our theories as to what counts as knowledge, and therefore our ideas about what is true, as much as those developed in the early modern period, depend upon our social and political starting points; and if they change, they do so because those broader circumstances have also changed” (p.121).

The general topic of the essays, as is marked in the subtitle of the volume, is Early Modern European philosophy and science. The subject matter of the chapters ranges from very well-known figures of the history of philosophy (such as Kant or Hume) to less familiar characters, such as the controversial Catholic thinker John Sergeant or the hydraulic engineer Giovan Battista Aleotti. Nonetheless, the choice of the topic is not the innovative aspect of the studies. Whether they concern well-known or forgotten chapters in the history of European thought, they all aspire to frame their subject in a novel way, and they all propose new interpretations of their topics.

Thus, in the first thematic block (“Devices and Epistemic Values”) we learn about the important but rarely acknowledged role that sixteenth-century engineers, through the processes of codification of their practical knowledge, played in the emergence of theoretical knowledge and empiricism as a scientific practice (Matteo Valleriani). Or, as an example of reclaiming and reinterpreting classic topics, Dániel Schmal’s essay examines the famous metaphor of the camera obscura. Schmal argues against the traditional view, claiming that the simile does not suggest a concept of the enclosed nature of the mind but can more plausibly be interpreted as illuminating an active mind, a cognitive machinery that comes into contact with reality through rather complex processes.

The second part of the book focuses on a topic now fashionable in science studies: the epistemic status of testimony. John Henry gives a reevaluation of John Sergeant’s thought. As far as testimony is concerned, Henry claims that it is a crucial feature of Catholicism, which is at the core of Sergeant’s thinking, and that it is purely based on testimonial and consensual (communal) knowledge, whereas in Protestantism, knowledge is based more on the individual mind. This difference, argues Henry, necessarily led Sergeant to an epistemology also inherently different from that of Locke, and it inevitably deemed Sergeant to obscurity. In the next chapter, Falk Wunderlich closely scrutinizes Hume’s theory on the testimonial evidence of miracles. Since Hume rejected the possibility of miracles, this starting point led him to a more refined notion of the epistemic status of testimonies than is generally held, argues Wunderlich.

The third thematic block of the volume revolves around the role religious embeddedness at times plays in scientific inquiry. Giora Hon questions the widespread notion that it was Copernicus whose work marked the transformation of science, and attributes such significance instead to Kepler’s Astronomia nova. Her core argument is that Kepler’s natural philosophy is essentially theological, and it is the theological context of his work that should be acknowledged in order to reconcile the conflicting views in historiography that prevented him from being elevated to the status of the astronomer who revolutionized science. Tamás Demeter’s chapter invites us to look at Hume again. He shows how Hume regarded natural theology, a theologically guided inspection of natural phenomena and the dominant scientific approach at the time (and up until the second half of the nineteenth century, one might add), as something akin to superstition. As Demeter points out, the notion that, as an organized body of knowledge, religion needed to be judged by the same epistemological standards as other bodies of knowledge (such as natural and moral philosophy) contributed to the emergence of a secular ideology of natural inquiry. The next chapter ventures far afield from the British Isles, to eighteenth century Hungary. János Tanács examines the history of mathematics. As is a common denominator in the volume, he challenges a widely held notion in the history of science. He claims that the so-called Problem of Parallels—and Bolyai’s revolutionary problem-solving, which marked the emergence of non-Euclidian mathematics—was not simply motivated by Kant’s ideas (as has been discussed in detail), but was also deeply influenced by the Protestant intellectual milieu. His essay explores the “confessional embeddedness” of this mathematical question in late eighteenth-century Hungary.

The next thematic unit consists of two essays that analyze cases of strategic communication in situations of conflict or controversy. Gábor Áron Zemplén describes how Newton’s “strategic maneuvering,” found in passages on rainbow colors, helped him circumvent objections and accumulate social credit for his new theory, which conflicted with contemporary geometrical optics. Thus, the reader can learn how, even in the case of a seemingly “pure” scientific argument, strategic communication and rhetoric played a role not to be ignored or underestimated. Zemplén’s conclusion describes Newton as more of a great rhetor than a rigorous scientist of physical phenomena: “[i]n theology, Newton believed that God revealed the truth through prophecies, ‘to try men, and convert the best’. And that is exactly what his first article tried, and, with time, achieved” (pp.242–43). In the second essay of the block, Axel Gelfert takes a look at Hobbes’s natural philosophy (his writings on science and geometry), seeking again to expose a strategy, a kind of a hidden agenda, behind the scholarly thoughts. In this case, the conclusion is not all that surprising, since, according to Gelfert, it is Hobbes’s attempt to contribute to peace and provide ways of managing conflicts and disagreement (which poisoned his society and caused him considerable concern) that lies underneath his scientific argument.

Following the essays on scientific devices, testimony, religious context and strategic communication, two writings are paired in a block on the “science of man.” Thomas Sturm explores attempts to develop theories of the mind based on Newton’s methods of analysis and synthesis and concludes that none of them were “good enough” (i.e. they were overshadowed by Newton’s optics) to grow into an early form of psychology. Eric Schliesser’s essay takes us back to Hume, providing a thorough analysis of three passages from various texts to reconstruct distinct intellectual traditions (and the differences between them) to which Hume claimed to belong at various times in his career. These intellectual traditions also framed a system of sciences and placed the “science of man” within it.

The last thematic unit (“Ethics in Epistemology”), with its moral philosophical focus, contains what could perhaps be considered the most “traditional” studies in the book. And yet, even in these three writings, a clearly discernible aspiration to untangle underlying values or personal agenda and to demonstrate how such factors are thickly woven into the threads of philosophical and scientific thinking leads to arguments no less novel or provocative than the ones presented in the previous chapters.

Sorana Corneanu’s approach to Francis Bacon’s concept of the charitable, beneficial character of legitimate knowledge is historical par excellence. She traces the historical context of the concept of charity in order to arrive at a nuanced interpretation of Bacon’s notion of the benefits of knowledge. She shows how Bacon’s concept was embedded in different traditions but at the same time new in some aspects of his understanding. Not surprisingly, Corneanu’s interpretation also serves to refute the nineteenth-century utilitarian reading of Bacon that still exerts an influence on receptions of his writings today.

Even Spinoza is not spared thorough scrutiny that unveils his personal attachments to certain ideals which, apparently, gave way to some logical flaws and a whole conceptual edifice constructed from top to bottom. Ruth Lorand looks at Spinoza’s theories of the ideal life and shows that, despite the seemingly strict logical structure of Spinoza’s argument, the conclusion (the description of the “free man” and the valuable life) preceded the theorizing. According to Lorand, Spinoza basically molded his metaphysics with the final conclusion already in mind. However, Spinoza is not the only great emblem of ethical thinking whose prejudices are challenged: in her conclusion, in line with Hume (and Max Weber), Lorand intimates (without, however, providing any further support) that Spinoza can be taken as a paradigm for the inevitable problems encountered in the course of any attempt to base metaphysics on values, for “the effort to validate a normative theory is self-defeating” (p.368).

From the point of view of disciplinary boundaries and boxing, the last philosophical study of the collection is perhaps the least ambiguous. Catherine Wilson paints a portrait of Kant that is considerably less flattering than the usual accounts, revealing the significant extent to which his epistemological interests were subservient to his normative ones, as he sought to reject the views of his contemporaries. In other words, he is exposed to have had a “deeply personal and not altogether appealing agenda” (p.405).

As is probably obvious from this short overview, the book offers essays that cover a wide range of topics from the volume’s main thematic realm. Some are more philosophical in their focus or emphasis, others perhaps more sociological or historical in their considerations or methodology, but each one of them presents strong and thought-provoking arguments in support of novel (sometimes even provocative) interpretations of familiar topics. They shed new light on fairly well-known themes and figures while, in accordance with the editorial conception, persuasively arguing in support of the conclusion that, in order to understand ourselves better, it is worth looking at how issues of personal, religious and political preferences and similar factors affect or are inherent parts of the ways in which we construct theories. These scholarly essays demonstrate the main theme of the volume and illuminate ways in which non-epistemic values not only play a role in the process of the construction of great scientific theories, but themselves become epistemic values, assumptions about what counts as “true” and what does not: ideologies of knowledge. Put blatantly, whether we approach the question of knowledge as historians, philosophers or sociologists (or other representatives of the sciences), it would be prudent to keep in mind that we are (only) human.

Eszter Pál


Császárválasztás 1745 [Imperial Election of 1745]. By Márta Vajnági. Budapest: ELTE BTK Középkori és Kora Újkori Egyetemes Történeti Tanszék, 2014. 186 pp.


Márta Vajnági’s monograph, Császárválasztás 1745, investigates the circumstances of the propaganda war that received more publicity than any other in the history of the Holy Roman Empire. After the death of Emperor Charles VI, the War of Austrian Succession was fought not only on the battlefields, but also with pamphlets and an array of press products in the political publicity. In 1745, after the death of the Bavarian Emperor, given the military and political situation, the Habsburgs seemed to have a good chance at a run for the throne of the “king of kings.”

The book is the paperback edition of Vajnági’s doctoral dissertation, which she defended in 2011. Primarily, Vajnági follows the approach used in works on the history of propaganda and in the study of diplomacy and representation. She does not merely examine the context of the imperial election on the basis of available archival sources (Elias Fromm, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I., ein Beitrag zur deutschen Reichsgeschichte des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts [1883]; Josef Posch, Die Kaiserwahl Franz I. 1745 [1949]), but rather offers a comparative analysis of the pamphlets that were published in large numbers during a period marked by upheavals in press technology. The main subject of the volume is the ways in which the campaign for the election of the emperor in 1745 appeared in the contemporary political media and political sphere.

Beginning in the 1990s, the problems of propaganda and the public sphere in the Early Modern era began to be given more and more attention in Hungarian and international historical scholarship. The history of the Holy Roman Empire, in which there were extensive reading networks and numerous active presses, has proven a particularly engaging field for research. For instance, Francis Stephen of Lorraine, whom the eighteenth-century historiography left in the shadow of Maria Theresa, emerges as a very exciting figure. Although Hans Leo Mikoletzky wrote articles about Francis I in the 1960s and called attention to his indisputable role in and talent for addressing economic issues, Renate Zedinger’s monograph, published in 2008, was the first and so far the only comprehensive contribution to the scientific biography of Francis I that attempted to assemble a less fragmentary picture of the Emperor. (Hans Leo Mikoletzky, “Franz Stefan von Lothringen als Wirtschaftspolitiker,“ Mittelungen des Österreichischen Staatsarchivs 13 (1961): 231–57; Renate Zedinger, Franz Stephan von Lothringen (1708–1765). Monarch, Manager, Mäzen [2008].) One finds a similar example in the Hungarian scholarship dealing with Francis of Lorraine, who tends to be mentioned only with reference to his Hungarian governorship (1732–1741). (Bernadett Bakács, “Franz Stephan von Lothringen als Ungarns Statthalter 1732–1741,“ Jahrbuch für österreichische Kulturgeschichte 10 (1984): 27–36.) From this point of view, the importance of the Vajnági’s monograph can hardly be thrown into question.

Vajnági discusses the historiographical antecedents and the sources, and she defines the applied conceptual categories very precisely. She then offers an introduction to the extensive diplomatic context of the imperial pre-election, the very sensitive and constantly shifting systems of alliances and the military and fiscal background of the hostile powers. It is also important to observe that the author not only analyzes the so-called Reichspublizistik sources, but also takes into account the Dresden and Hanoverian diplomatic records of the well-known diary writer, Johann Joseph Fürst von Khevenhüller (1706–1776), who served as Grand Marshal (Obersthofmarschall) and, from 1745, Grand Chamberlain (Oberstkämmerer).

In the middle parts of the book, Vajnági examines both the German and the French arguments of the pro-Habsburg and anti-Habsburg pamphlets and considers the tractates of 1745 from a comparative approach. Hence, the reader is given clear insights into the debates in which the two sides used anonymous publicists to underpin their own political legitimation and power representation. These analyses exemplify the richness of contemporary political culture in their complexity regarding interpretations of the most prominent historical and legal arguments, which were often used in supportive propaganda materials and in attacks. On the one hand, the three hundred-year imperial continuity of the Habsburg dynasty seemed to guarantee the permanent security and sway of the empire. On the other, the long rule of the Habsburgs provided obvious arguments against development and in favor of suppressing the orders of the Empire. The topoi, rhetorical formulas and ideas that were used for the defense of Francis of Lorrain (such the depiction of Maria Theresa as a German heroine who embodied all the virtues of her Habsburg ancestors) were completely accommodated to the image-building policy of the Habsburg(-Lorraine) dynasty in the eighteenth century. The conclusions of the chapter will be useful for other fields of research, such as interpretations of funeral speeches, imperial laudations, and different sorts of gala speeches and poems.

In the final thematic part of the book, the ceremonies of the imperial election come to the fore. Vajnági not only describes the coronation, but also examines the historical-legal traditions and regulations. In these chapters, she admittedly tries to adapt the approach to the study of rituals and representations initiated by Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger to her subject, and she discerns symbolical meanings behind the spectacular ceremonies. (Barbara Stollberg-Rilinger, Des Kaisers alte Kleider. Verfassungsgeschichte und Symbolsprache des Alten Reiches [2008].) In Vajnági’s interpretations of the ritual acts, the reader recognizes not only the ceremonial Ordo, but also the participants and the insignia of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, which represented symbolic unity in an age of internal warfare and disintegration.

In conclusion, the well-edited monograph presents a clear, perspicuous, but also complex picture of the imperial election of 1745, the working mechanisms of the Holy Roman Empire, and the diplomatic, political and ritual historical dimensions. Although the book was written in Hungarian, Vajnági has also published more articles in English in which she presents her conclusions. (Márta Vajnági, “Britain-Hanover and the Imperial Election of 1745,” Hungarian Journal of English and American studies 14, no. 1 (2008): 1, 51–64; Márta Vajnági, ”The Habsburgs and the Impeial Crown in the Eighteenth Century,” Das Achtzehnte Jahrhundert und Österreich 26 (2012): 92–102.) The appendix includes two highly important German and French pamphlets, which exemplify the predominant attitudes of the debates. The book will prove interesting and valuable for scholars who have an interest in the German political and media culture of the eighteenth century.

Zsolt Kökényesi


The Charmed Circle. Joseph II and the “Five Princesses,” 1765–1790. By Rebecca Gates-Coon. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2015. 380 pp.


For a decade, research on the Imperial and Royal Residenz has called for a new understanding of the circle of the five princesses that dominated aristocratic social life during the coregency and reign of Joseph II (1765–1790). So far, studies on Vienna have systematically referred to the seminal work of Adam Wolf (Fürstin Eleonore Liechtenstein, 1745–1812 nach Briefen und Memoiren ihrer Zeit [1875]), which examines the correspondence of Eleonore Ötting, princess of Liechtenstein. Wolf’s insights remain profound and valuable today, and the challenge of outdoing his penetrating analyses is both daunting and alluring. Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to aim to do just this. She ventures the contention according to which the société played a significant role in the reforms implemented by Joseph II. It was, she suggests, a kind of Imperial shadow cabinet that generated confusion between the court and the government.

After the first chapter, which provides the information necessary to understand the close ties between the families (Hohenzollern-Hechingen, Sternberg, Öttingen-Spielberg, Clary, Kinsky, Lichtenstein, and Kaunitz), Gate-Coon examines the five Dames in the context of the history of European aristocracy, which she defines as a “social class,” regardless of the differences in national status and economic, social, political and cultural circumstances across the continent and even within Austria. However, the debate on the domestication of the nobility, which is based on a discussion of Norbert Elias’s paradigm of societé de cour, is limited to two paragraphs, in spite of the fact that it represents one of the most complex and thoroughly studied trends in European history of the eighteenth century. Gates-Coon’s position is clear. She sticks to the Austrian historiographical mainstream and pays little if any attention to the counter-models recently developed by Jeroen Duindam and Éric Hassler, which she regards as little more than samples of academic erudition. The latter’s work (La Cour de Vienne, 1680–1740: service de l’empereur et stratégies spatiales de l’élite nobiliaire dans la monarchie des Habsbourg [2013]) actually provides a very accurate analysis of Viennese aristocratic society between 1680 and 1740, which was not organized around the Emperor or the Imperial family at all. Thus, the “société des cinq princesses” would have constituted a new form of socialization for the members of the Imperial family, an insight that Rebecca Gates-Coon seems to have missed. However, she does provide a narrative of the social activities and distractions of the Viennese court over the course of the second half of the eighteenth century, drawing heavily on primary sources, which is one of the great strengths of the book.

Chapters 3, 4 and 5 examine the circle itself. The society was established during the coregency (1765–1780), when the Emperor was associated with the government of the Austrian Lands. Gates-Coon contextualizes the rise of the circle in the milieu of the profound and sometimes controversial reforms of the monarchy. She also emphasizes the organization of the circle and the central position hold by Eleonore Liechtenstein, writing that “the Emperor’s friendships with the other four Dames developed naturally in the course of his association with Eleonore Lichtenstein” (p.127). However, Gates-Coon’s decision to base her inquiry almost exclusively on Eleonore Liechtenstein’s correspondence indicates a bias that is never questioned.

Gates-Coon emphasizes the influence of the princesses on the Emperor. To understand this influence, it would have been interesting to compare it with the one of the other circles with which Joseph II socialized, for instance the one of Count Windischgraetz. Philipp Cobenzl’s Memoiren gives valuable information concerning this circle (briefly mentioned on p.35), which brought together men and women of less important aristocratic rank to discuss the sciences, philosophy and politics. Cobenzl clearly acknowledged that this société functioned until women lived, and he felt that women were the vital element of this sociability. Cobenzl also helps his reader grasp a fact that Derek Beales has already noted, namely that Joseph II acceded to the circle of the five princesses through the mediation of Cobenzl and the Windischgraetz society. While the Grand Chamberlain Rosenberg was an active member of the five princesses’ circle, the people that Joseph promoted politically were the men of the Windischgraetz’s entourage.

In fact, the circle of the five princesses had more influence on the court than it did on the government, an important detail that Gates-Coon seems to acknowledge when she writes, “she [Eleonore] would prefer, she said, that he (Joseph II) have less regard (bontés) for her and greater consideration for her husband Charles” (p.120). Joseph was clearly aware of this, saying “please be just, I beg you, to the emperor, who can do nothing about the constitution of his Empire, and to Joseph, who can do nothing about the fact that he is emperor” (p.140). Other contemporary sources, like Count Fekete de Galántha’s Esquisse d’un tableau mouvant de Vienne in 1787, which Rebecca Gates-Coon fails to mention, throw into question the notion that such a coterie could have exerted any significant political influence. As a radical Josephinist, Fekete hardly censured this aristocratic society or its habits, which Rebecca Gates-Coon very precisely describes. Finally, it would have been interesting to look at this société as a conservative group of interests, superficially concerned about their position at court and how reforms and wars would affect their incomes, more than as a sign of a fashionable female Austrian Aufklärung, a fact that the book, its initial claim to the contrary, ultimately acknowledges.

David Do Paço


“A Sanguine Bunch.“ Regional Identification in Habsburg Bukovina 1774–1919. By Jeroen van Drunen. (Pegasus Oost-Europese Studies 24.) Amsterdam: Uitgeverij Pegasus, 2015. 653 pp.


The mythos of Bukovina as an allegedly successful regional “realization” of the Habsburg vision of the supranational state seemed interesting enough to contemporaries before 1914 to be the subject of feuilletons, reports, and similar kinds of publications. After 1918 and in particular during the Cold War, another facet of the mythos was added that owed its existence to a romanticization of the past (with a look back on the fate of Europe since) and that affectionately cultivated an image of the vanished world of Bukovina as an Austrian crownland and at the same time a charmed “Europe in miniature.” With the disintegration of the Eastern Bloc, people set out in search of this fabled crownland in memoirs, travelogues, and collected impressions of places. Admittedly, the not infrequently miserable everyday realities of the region (which is now divided between Romania and Ukraine) brought observers back to their senses or, quite the opposite, prompted them to sink deep into the mythos of the past. From the outset, nationalist perspectives on the history of Bukovina represent an opposing standpoint. The focus from the national perspective is always on one’s “own.” The other “foreign nations” existed only on the margin, as a kind of foil. Van Drunen pays particular attention to this in his introductory overview of the secondary literature. Even when, at first glance, this introduction seems a bit inconsistent, it contains a decisive benefit in comparison with other works on Bukovina. Beginning with newer monographs on the history of Bukovina (after 1918) and covering historical narratives (before 1918), including contemporary descriptions of the late eighteenth century that in this context may well have been better used as sources, van Drunen covers a long arc to strongly nationalistic (German, Romanian, and Ukrainian/Soviet) studies. He discusses detailed individual, central works (such as writings by Ion Nistor, Rudolf Wagner, Vasyl Botushanskij) and their selective perspectives, which to a large extent in turn influenced the (national) secondary literature on this one-time Austrian crownland since World War II and particularly since the fall of communism in Central Europe. On the whole, it is up to the more recent literature on Bukovina (and in particular the work under review) to take the whole question and subject it to critical scrutiny and not simply to address selected moments and events.

In his dissertation, which he submitted to the University of Amsterdam, van Drunen offers a persuasive investigation of the subtleties of the question of the identity of Bukovina: “The central question remains to which extent a regional identification was experienced and debated during the crownland’s existance” (p.4). In the discussion, which is divided into four blocks (I - Introduction and theoretical framework; II – Bukovinians; III – Elements of Regional Identification; IV – Summary and Conclusion), van Drunen attempts to cast light on the complex situation from various perspectives. He emphasizes from the outset the meaning of the multiple identities of a space (region) and its population, which in the pre-Modern era was largely organized around agriculture and therefore had a settlement structure in which the cities resembled islands. In his discussion of the secondary literature, van Drunen finds fault with the widespread reliance of historians on sources the origins of which lie in one of the given national discourses and/or were predominantly urban in nature and therefore have only limited relevance in a discussion of the majority of the people, who lived in rural settlements (one finds pertinent remarks on this on pages 43, 113, and 161). Even in the varied development of nationally active elites there were people with distinctive and sometimes ambivalent backgrounds (for instance Silvestru Morariu Andrievici, p.168). A clear categorization is therefore often only possible with regards to a concrete occasion. Even the national parties—and this is one of the important conclusions of the inquiry—saw themselves as essentially Austrian. The functioning constitutional state gave them the necessary form and sphere for their activity (p.394). The current search for structures of identity among the rural population—and van Drunen must concede this point—can therefore only be carried out in an indirect manner, and it remains, whether we like it or not, focused or even restricted to the urban elites (p.180).

Van Drunen draws attention in his inquiry to numerous salient elements of the foundations of regional identities, which also opens the door to the themes he has chosen. Here lies one of the great merits of the monograph for the scholarship on Bukovina and, naturally, the history of the Habsburg Monarchy. The central institutions include the diet and the university (Part III), but also the Church (characterized as “the quintessential Bukovinian institution” (p.581), which van Drunen analyses in another context (Part II). There is another institution that van Drunen also could have made use of from this perspective as a meaningful source with a wide scope: the Bukovina (German-language) press. Recently, many important studies have been published that place particular emphasis on this aspect (for instance Ion Lihaciu, Czernowitz 1848–1918. Das kulturelle Leben einer Provinzmetropole [2012]; Corbea-Hoişie et al., Prolegomene la un dictionar al presei de limba germana din Bucovina istorica (1848–1940) [2012]; Zeitungsstadt Czernowitz: Studien zur Geschichte der deutschsprachigen Presse der Bukowina (1848–1940) [2014]). First and foremost, the Czernowitzer Allgemeine Zeitung, which was edited and published by Philipp Menczel, provided a public forum which was consistently as aware as it was critical of the supranational idea of the Austrian state and therefore became a primary basis for regional (if predominantly urban) identity creation (p.612). Van Drunen has a critical view of the oft-mentioned National Compromise of 1910. The significance of the Compromise is often interpreted retrospectively, though actually it really gave rise to a kind of adjacent existence at the time, and much less a shared existence or coexistence (p.371). Nonetheless, one should note that in comparison with the other crownlands of Cisleithania this attempt alone and the agreement that was reached (even if there was never really enough time to begin to implement this agreement before the outbreak of war in 1914) were both signs of a certain awareness of identity, based on the will (which found manifestation in the agreement itself) at least to search for a way of getting along with one another. Thus, here two of the analytical levels of the study overlap. It is quite correct that the Compromise was not an expression of a kind of tolerance that was widespread throughout the region, but rather more an idea cherished by the urban (primarily the Czernowitz) elites. Tolerance among the rural people of Bukovina was based, in contrast, on a pre-modern form of loyalty and a sense of belonging (the embodiment of which was the Kaiser), and not on any kind of reaction founded on anti-national sentiment. The elites, in contrast, were navigating stormy seas of national feeling. For them and for the Austrian administration, the Compromise was a momentous achievement, an affirmation of the lowest common denominator that could be reached at the time. It was a formidable step, in spite of everything, even if it only managed to take the wind out of the sails of the increasingly radical nationalist demands for a short period of time (p.372).

Van Drunen examines in minute detail various examples of efforts that were intended to foster a sense of identity or at least could be seen as having had this as their goal, but he presents them in all of their contemporary ambivalence. In doing so, he identifies the danger that each of these institutions could at the same time become a platform for intolerant nationalism. Ironically, the shared feature of the national movements lay in the fact they were among the phenomena that essentially had been imported and were largely based in urban communities. They were therefore often dependent on diametrically opposed figures who were characterized as foreigners or aliens (see pp.232, 603). At least—and van Duren puts considerable emphasis on this in his inquiry—national aspirations came from the rural (majority) population, even if the elites targeted these groups and also drew on them for their efforts to assert their legitimacy.

Finally, the Austrian administration saw, in cautious maneuvering between the parties and their largely nonpartisan conduct, one of their most important tasks (p.599). The reader might perhaps have the—incorrect—impression, while reading the monograph, of a failure that was foreseeable from the outset. Yet Bukovina society functioned until 1914, in spite of the pervasive quarrels, and it portrayed itself positively, without of course meaning, in saying this, to intone a hymn to the mythos I mentioned at the beginning of this review. If one were looking to find fault with van Drunen’s superb contribution to the secondary literature, I would mention his failure to discuss a fundamental facet that must always be taken into consideration in an assessment of Bukovina: namely the context, i.e. the relationship of the crownland at the time to the rest of the Habsburg Monarchy, but also to its international neighbors, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Romania. Not that mention of this would have cast any less critical light on the direly flawed political attempts (such as the diet, the liberal alliance, or the National Compromise), as van Drunen quite accurately observes, but rather because a flavor of reality at the time allows us to see the distinctive features of this crownland and the (missed) chances it had in an entirely different light. The social, political, and economic problems are discernible in other peripheral areas of the empire. Van Drunen demonstrates in his presentation the complexity of this crownland by the example of the question of identity. And yet Bukovina itself was not so unusual. Rather, it was the context in which it existed that was unusual.

Kurt Scharr


Die Donauschwaben 1868–1948. Ihre Rolle im rumänischen und serbischen Banat [The Danube Swabians: Their Role in the Romanian and Serbian Banat]. By Mariana Hausleitner. (Schriftenreihe des Instituts für donauschwäbische Geschichte und Landeskunde, Band 18 – Quellen und Forschungen, Band 2.) Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2014. 417 pp.


Mariana Hausleitner’s monograph on Danube Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian Banat between 1868 and 1948 is a well-written and balanced study that aims to explain the reasons behind the different treatment of Swabians in the two countries at the end and in the immediate aftermath of World War II. In Yugoslavia, a process of ethnic cleansing took place that involved mass killings and expulsions, whereas in Romania anti-German provisions included expropriations and deportation for forced labor to the Soviet Union. The latter measures were nevertheless smaller in scope in comparison with what happened to Germans in Yugoslavia.

Hausleitner’s comparative approach is welcome, considering that academic research on German “expellees” tends to be country-focused. Furthermore, Die Donauschwaben also has the merit of presenting and comparing the developments related to Banat Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia in a wider context. It emphasizes, for example, the links between what happened to Swabians and what happened to other ethnic groups in the two countries.

The study is divided into seven chapters. The first one presents the rationale underlying the comparative approach. The point of departure is the question “why so many Danube Swabians in the Yugoslav part of the Banat were killed after 1944 and why the survivors were expelled” (p.9, my translation - C.C.). This question grew into a comparative investigation of the reasons for the differing fates of Swabians in Romania and Yugoslavia. The second chapter explores the pre-1918 history of the Swabians of the region in its broader multi-ethnic context. Thus, it sets the stage for the core of Hausleitner’s research, which unfolds in the following four chapters. The third chapter gives particular attention to the workers’ movement in Banat and its stance on the minority issues in the interwar period. The fourth one looks at the “nationally-oriented” Danube Swabians in the two countries and their relationships with their neighbors. The fifth chapter analyzes the period 1938–1944 in the Romanian and Serbian Banat, marked by National Socialist radicalization. The sixth chapter examines the anti-German measures in the two countries in the aftermath of World War II. Finally, the seventh and last chapter sums up the similarities and differences between the historical developments related to Swabians in the Romanian and Serbian parts of the Banat.

Hausleitner’s answer to the question as to why the treatment of Swabians was so different in the two parts of the Banat at the end of World War II is the conclusion of a rich and complex line of argumentation. One of the main points she raises has to do with the significantly different experiences of the war and of Swabian participation in the war in the two countries. Romania was, until August 23, 1944, an ally of Hitler’s Germany, whereas Serbia was placed under military occupation by the Nazis. Swabians were in effect directly involved in the administration and plundering of the communities of Western Banat. The gruesome deeds of the SS division Prinz Eugen (which targeted both partisans and civilians), the population resettlements, and the property confiscations, all of them processes in which a significant number of Swabians played important roles, contributed to the growth of anti-German feeling, which may offer some explanation for the massacres that took place at the end of the war. In the Romanian Banat, Swabians became a privileged ethnic group, enjoying the open support of Nazi Germany. Nevertheless, this led to different developments, as Romanian authorities also aimed to put a cap on these privileges. For example, they directly and successfully opposed attempts of Swabians to get hold of confiscated Jewish property, in order to prevent Romanian Germans from acquiring too much power.

Furthermore, there was some opposition to National Socialism in Eastern Banat, albeit frail, from within the German community. It came on the one hand from conservative Catholic circles and on the other from organized left-wing workers in industrial centers, such as Reşiţa (Reschitz). There was no such opposition in Western Banat. Thus, at the end of the war, as Hausleitner shows, there were still voices who could claim to speak on behalf of Germans in Romania, which was not the case in Yugoslavia. This observation leads me to another great merit of Hausleitner’s study, namely the attention she devotes to the left-wing movement in Banat. She shows, for example, how before 1918, in a context in which bourgeois Swabians were prone to adopt Hungarian culture and learn and use Hungarian, Social Democrats and workers’ associations promoted the German language and German culture in their milieus, but without embracing nationalism. In this context, it is worth noting that the German-language left-wing tradition in Eastern Banat is usually ignored in Swabian historiography, as it does not tie in well with the conservative, völkisch, right-wing outlook of the latter. Consequently, Hausleitner’s final observations on the postwar West German career of former Swabian National-Socialists, who bore significant responsibility for the tragic fate of the community, are also relevant. Hausleitner shows how the West German associations that purported to represent Swabians from Romania or from Yugoslavia were from the very start heavily influenced by the presence of former Nazis who managed to stylize themselves as protectors of the community.

Die Donauschwaben is undoubtedly a study valuable in both its empirical and methodological dimensions. Yet in addition to pointing out small factual errors which do not change in any way the overall value of the author’s arguments (e.g. Ante Pavelić died in Madrid, not in Argentina, as footnote 63 on page 305 suggests), I would also raise a point of more substantial criticism. Hausleitner depends to a large extent on archival sources in Romania, whereas her discussions of the Yugoslav case are based mainly on secondary sources. It is true that the existing scholarship on Western Banat is richer than the scholarship on Eastern Banat, and Hausleitner emphasizes this very early in the book (p.10). Nevertheless, this difference between the use of primary and secondary sources in the two cases gives at times the impression that the arguments on Eastern Banat are better grounded than the ones on Western Banat. However, this is perhaps merely a semi-important asymmetry in an otherwise solid piece of scholarship.

Cristian Cercel


Enemies for a Day: Antisemitism and Anti-Jewish Violence in Lithuania under the Tsars. By Darius Staliūnas. Budapest: CEU Press, 2015. 284 pp.


It is by now a commonplace in the secondary literature that before 1905, at least, no pogroms occurred in the “Northwest provinces” of the Russian Empire (today’s Lithuania and Belarus), but only in the southwest (Ukraine) and Polish gubernii. John D. Klier’s magisterial Russians, Jews, and the Pogroms of 1881–1882, to name just one important work, argues along these lines. Darius Staliūnas does not directly contradict this thesis. He also concludes that the “Storms in the South” did not significantly spill into neighboring provinces to the north. His purpose in the book is a more subtle one: to show how anti-Jewish sentiment, based on religious, social, and economic factors, developed and led to clashes between Jews and Christians in the decades before World War I. This book is a significant contribution to our understanding of the region’s history, Jewish history, and the dynamics of interethnic tension and violence.

Staliūnas focuses geographically on the “Lithuanian” provinces of the Russian Empire, i.e. Vilnius (Vil’na), Kaunas (Kovno), and Suvalki provinces and chronologically on the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, i.e. the period after the 1881 pogroms. His title suggests a loose (though entirely appropriate) understanding of “anti-Jewish violence”: most of the incidents he investigates involved a rise in tension and violence, followed by an ebbing of antagonisms within a few days. At the same time, Staliūnas provides us with an excellent picture of the background to this violence: the general mistrust that existed between Jews and their Christian neighbors, the prevalence of the belief that Jews (at least some Jews) used Christian blood for certain ceremonies, and a frequent conviction among Christian peasants that a certain, limited amount of violence toward Jews was sanctioned by the authorities. This careful and sophisticated examination of the background of anti-Jewish violence is, to my mind, every bit as important as the well-researched “case studies” of pogroms.

The first trigger of anti-Jewish violence that Staliūnas considers is the blood libel. A number of case studies (the earliest from 1801) from the archives are examined and a general pattern is established: a child disappears, Jews arouse suspicion by (for example) not allowing peasants to enter a house or tavern, a mob attacks Jewish residents and businesses, the violence is over in a few hours. Interestingly, in some of these cases, when appealing to the Russian authorities local Jews used anti-Polish (and anti-Catholic) tropes prevalent among Russian officialdom, especially from the 1860s. Not all accusations of ritual murder, however, led to violence. The author concludes that the Russian authorities’ general antipathy to the Jews and their unwillingness (or inability) to respond swiftly and effectively to anti-Jewish violence reinforced the peasant belief that this violence was simply a way of “achieving justice” by punishing (alleged) Jewish malefactors.

Staliūnas devotes an interesting chapter to the crucial years 1881 and 1882, concluding that while major pogroms did not take place in the Lithuanian provinces, tensions did exist, and certain Lithuanian-language flyers and songs from those years can be interpreted as calling for violence against Jews. Still, other texts specifically called on Lithuanians to refrain from violence, and, a few small squabbles aside, major incidents were avoided.

Violence against Jews gained steadily in frequency and intensity after the turn of the century. The Kishinev pogrom (1903) is probably the best known of these episodes, but the Białystok pogrom three years later was much more devastating. As Staliūnas documents, significant violence against Jews occurred in the Lithuanian provinces already in 1900. The author explains these attacks as the outcome of “insulted religious feelings” among Lithuanian Catholics. It should be noted that in the Lithuanian incidents, unlike in Kishinev and Białystok, violence rarely escalated to murder and the most significant consequence was property damage. Still, the background of “righteous indignation” against Jewish lack of respect for Christian dogmas and rituals cannot be dismissed when investigating later, more violent pogrom waves during the 1905 Revolution and World War I (especially 1915). The book concludes with a comparative analysis of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian and neighboring Belarusian provinces.

Enemies for a Day significantly deepens our knowledge of the dynamics of anti-Jewish violence in the Lithuanian provinces before 1914. In this way, this book makes a valuable contribution to our knowledge of the roots of Lithuanian antisemitism. Enemies for a Day is recommended for anyone interested in the history of Jews in Eastern Europe and the study of ethnic relations and violence.

Theodore R. Weeks



Les guerres balkaniques (1912–1913): Conflits, enjeux, mémoires. Edited by Catherine Horel. (Enjeux internationaux 31.) Bruxelles–Bern–Berlin–Oxford: P.I.E. Peter Lang, 2014. 348 pp.


This volume, edited by Catherine Horel and containing essays in English and French, is the second book in part of a larger international project. The first volume, also edited by Horel and published in 2011, deals with the reception and the consequences of the annexation of Bosnia-Herzegovina by the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy in 1908 (Catherine Horel, ed., 1908, l’annexion de la Bosnie-Herzégovine, cent ans après [2011]). Obviously, any scholar dealing with the Balkan Peninsula would have great expectations regarding a book that contains essays by a group of internationally renowned experts on the history of the area, particularly, focuses on the Balkan wars of 1912/13, which shook the very foundations of the peninsula, even if it is clear from the outset that an assortment of essays addressing a wide array of themes will never be entirely cohesive. At the same time, the volume includes essays by several authorities on the subject, offering readers samplings and insights into the latest theoretical findings and approaches. However, one should not expect the articles, which discuss the various questions from different angles and according to frequently contradictory national or global narratives, to offer a more nuanced understanding of the conflict or the authors to reflect on one another’s contentions, nor does any dialogue or conversation emerge regarding the conflict, which can be regarded as the direct precursor to World War I (at least in the sense that it clearly demonstrated that the concert of Great Powers was no longer an effective assurance against instability). The volume provides insights into individual issues, but the bulk of the essays either seem to lack the knowledge required to address these questions in depth or, conversely, address overly specialized or specific problems as the subjects of their inquiry. Not even the leading scholars attempt to synthesize the existing scholarship on the subject, let alone provide a comprehensive interpretation of the conflict within the framework of recent theoretical developments, since the volume is first and foremost a collection of case studies. The essays are not only uneven, they are also often one-sided (the conflict is approached almost exclusively from the point of view of the Entente countries and their allies). They do not offer a nuanced overview of the conflict.

The articles have been divided into three thematic groups. The essays in the first section provide a historical analysis of the conflicts. In this group, both in terms of its subject matter and its approach, the most remarkable study is Dimitar Tasić’s interpretation of the role and the social basis of the irregular armed forces on the basis of a comparative analysis of the acts and functions of various paramilitary groups. Tasić argues that the irregular armed forces were by and large heterogeneous regarding their aims and methods, as well as the nationalities of their members and the social backgrounds and origins of their leaders. For instance, many of the soldiers serving under Major Vojislav Tankosić, who was in charge of the Prokuplje Operating Base, were Bosnian Muslims and Albanians, who—although they were fighting to further Serbian aims—were primarily occupied with taking revenge for personal grievances (which were not necessarily of a nationalistic nature). The detachments under the command of Major Branko Vukosavjlević were disciplined, orderly and tolerant, and they followed the orders issued by the higher levels of command.

One of the most outstanding essays is Patrick Louvier’s thought-provoking study on the slow decline that can be observed in the number of the Cretan Muslim inhabitants in the period beginning with the Greco–Turkish War of 1897 (the autonomous Cretan State was established in 1898) and ending in 1913. Louvier’s analysis breaks away from the long-established approach, according to which most of the Turkish people in Crete were town-dwellers, and it offers an examination of the percentage of immigrants and renegades among them. Using several primary sources and consular reports, Louvier also attempts to reconstruct the change in the number of inhabitants during the years.

An insightful essay by Emanuele Constantini deals with the Jewish community of Thessaloniki. More specifically, it provides an analysis of the diplomatic negotiations conducted by the members of this community on the city’s status. Their primary concern was continuity in the commerce of the city. As Constantini’s study shows, the Jewish community not only had large-scale representation in Thessaloniki (with members from diverse social groups, such as factory workers and industrialists), it also used connections with the Jewry of the Great Powers and various international organizations to exert an influence on policy makers.

Bernard Lory analyses the historiographical reception of the Albanian and Macedo-Bulgarian insurrection of 1913 and provides an attempt to reconstruct the events of the rebellion as well. Lory relies primarily on Bulgarian secondary literature in his study, making use also of the memoirs of Hristo Matov, one of the leaders. However, he does not use excerpts from the diary of one of Matov’s rivals, Petar Chaulev, which has also been published. Thus, significant holes remain in his reconstruction of the internal structure of the insurrection.

An essay by Vojislav Pavlović adds little to our understanding of the conflicts, as it provides barely more than an overview of the ideas of the Serbian national historiography in French. Much better is the study by Traian Sandu on the Romanian stance regarding the political situation in the Balkans. His inquiry is impartial and free of political overtones concerning the versatility of the Romanian aspirations and the principles on which they rested. Similarly, Gabriel Leanca’s essay on the Romanian acquisition of Southern Dobruja and the French-Russian alliance is a highly useful work that draws on sources in Romanian, Bulgarian and French.

The second half of the volume deals with the various ways in which other countries intervened in the conflict, but most of the essays offer little more than overviews. The essay by Fabrice Jesné and Mathieu Jestin, which offers an analysis of the roles played by the Great Power consuls during the war, give the collection a refreshing dash of color. It addresses the acts and functions of the consuls with due consideration of their humanitarian, diplomatic, and economic interests. Nadine Akhund’s essay on the scholarly and political work of the Carnegie Commission, which was established in the wake of the war with the task of inquiring into its causes, is similarly useful. Akhund provides a detailed account of the goals of the people who organized the commission, the manner in which the people who participated in the writing of the report were selected (the leader of the commission asked personal acquaintances and confidantes to serve, most of whom, however, arranged to have someone else represent them), their networks of relationships, and their attitudes towards one another. Of the six people who put together the report, two never even made it to the actual site of the conflict, or rather left the group early. The sentimental attachments of Pavel Miliukov, an expert on Macedonia, and Englishman Henry Brailsford to the Bulgarian national cause are palpable in the report (which was also published as a book). Miliukov and Brailsford knew each other well, and given their biases, the report, on which they exerted a significant influence, can hardly be considered objective. But it was the first account prepared by civilians of the costs of the war and the atrocities that had been committed. Odile Moreau analyses the accounts of the fighting by Stephane Lauzanne, a reporter for the French newspaper Matin. The essay is significant in part because there were relatively few Western journalists active on the Turkish side, and it provides a systematic analysis of the chaotic political situation in the Ottoman Empire. It is thoroughly footnoted and draws on recently published Turkish sources on the war.

The third section contains studies of reports, memoirs, and historiographical analyses dealing with the conflict. The essay by Daniel Cain merits particular mention. A main street is rarely named after a journalist. James Bourchier, at one point a reporter for the Times, earned this distinction, as a busy street in Sofia bears his name. Bourchier worked hard to build up the Balkan League and eventually came to serve as a self-appointed diplomat. As an Irishman, he was perhaps particularly sensitive to the plights of “oppressed peoples.” Claudiu Topor examined the role of national rhetoric in the Romanian press during the Second Balkan War, an interesting question in the case of a war in which Romania could hardly appeal to the ethnic principle.

In contrast with some earlier volumes, this collection contains no contributions by nationalist historians representing extremist views, and this is one of its indisputable merits. It is surprising, however, that one finds hardly any Austrian, Hungarian, or Russian authors among the contributors (not to mention the works cited), in spite of the fact that these countries were dramatically affected by the events (Anglo-Saxon authors are only found in the footnotes). As the volume contains essays based on presentations of a conference held in Paris, it is perhaps not surprising that most of the authors are French or Italian, but fortunately representatives of smaller states have also been included. The international network of French historiography is quite palpable. One can sense an attempt to maintain a safe distance from the events (Bulgarian politics are analyzed by a Romanian contributor, the Albanian-Macedonian uprising of 1913 is examined by a French author). While the essays may well have been carefully selected and make use of recent secondary literature (one can reconstruct, on the basis of the works cited, the network of relationships), one notices a kind of circular process of citation, which itself demonstrates how a scholarly community can be constructed. One also notes that Romanian historiography remains well-connected on the international scene. The volume is perhaps interesting reading for specialists familiar with the wide-ranging historiography on the conflicts. The dozen or so well-conceived and thoroughly documented essays offer some compensation for the dozen or so weak essays, the generally uneven standards, and the regrettable typos.

Gábor Demeter


A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja 1914–1918 [The Last War of Old Hungary 1914–1918]. By Tibor Hajdu and Ferenc Pollmann. Budapest: Osiris, 2014. 416 pp.


This volume, authored by two doyens of Hungarian military historiography, fits well into the series of publications aiming to meet public demand on Hungarian history during the Great War. In contrast with earlier attempts, this book aspires to provide a complex and holistic summary of Hungary’s role in World War I. It is divided into six main chapters, out of which the first presents the international and domestic preludes to the war, followed by a balanced analysis in five consecutive sections of every year of the war. In these chronological chapters, the authors focus mostly on the political and military aspects of the Hungarian participation, but they occasionally also discuss the economic consequences of the conflict and the cultural history of the era.

The first part examines the international context leading up to the war with consideration of the main political aims of the great powers. The authors contend that the war was not inevitable, but the unwise behavior of the European political and military elite, together with rising nationalism in Eastern Europe, led to the outbreak of conflict. Although—in accordance with trends in contemporary scholarship—the book emphasizes the responsibility of actors other than Germany during the July crises, it unfortunately fails to engage with the most current “Sleepwalkers” debates (Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 [2013]).

The second chapter focuses on the problematic nature of mobilization and the strategic dilemmas of the Austro-Hungarian military leadership in the summer of 1914. It discusses the first military encounters, particularly the background and the conduct of the ill-fated Potoriek offensives on the Serbian front, and explains why the Austro-Hungarian mobilization plans failed to function during the first month of the war.

The third part not only focuses on the political and military developments of 1915 (including the successful Gorlice-Tarnów offensive), but also provides insights into other aspects of the new industrial warfare. The authors analyze the economic consequences of the war for Hungarian agriculture and industry, explaining these phenomena in an imperial framework. They also present the ways in which the most important technological developments, for example the use of gas weapons, made an impact on warfare both on the Western and Eastern Fronts.

Alongside the operational history of 1916, the fourth chapter gives an overview of the experiences of civilians and the changing mood on the home front during the war. Here Hajdu and Pollmann discuss both the intellectual responses and the popular reactions to the conflict, using mostly already published first-hand accounts.

In the chapter on 1917, the focus shifts to diplomatic history. The authors attempt to make a contribution to the long-lasting debate on how the Hungarian elite could have avoided the great territorial losses of the country after the war. Besides presenting the operational history of this year, the authors also argue that the vast majority of Hungarian politicians were too blind to assess the consequences of an alliance with Germany that had become too close, and this led to the very weak position of Hungary after the inevitable defeat in 1918.

In the final part the authors analyze the last desperate attempts of the military and political leadership to change the course of war. They discuss Emperor Charles’ relationship with the civil-military leadership of the empire and they also present how wishful thinking and strategic miscalculations led to the disastrous offensives on the Piave River. In this chapter the authors are generally very critical of the last vague efforts of the Austro-Hungarian political elite to negotiate peace and transform the Empire into a federal state.

A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is undoubtedly a well-written analysis of Hungary’s participation in the Great War. It provides in many respects a far better overview than similar books published earlier in Hungary. The authors manage to write a focused national history, which also demonstrates the Hungarian developments in a wider geographical context. For example, Hajdu and Pollmann present the military and diplomatic history within an imperial framework and provide good insights into the personal relationships between the leading actors of Budapest and Vienna. The volume also discusses briefly the most important military and political developments outside the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, demonstrating their effects on the Habsburg Empire. Furthermore, the book is very well structured and the arguments are clearly formulated, so it successfully achieves a balance between the demands of the academic audience and the wider readership. However, in some cases it would have been preferable to have included more references for the academic audience.

In spite of the fact that A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is a balanced summary of Hungary’s participation in the Great War, it also reflects the main problems of the current Hungarian military history scholarship. Over the course of the past few decades, World War I has been a relatively neglected topic in Hungary, and the vast majority of studies have restricted their focus to the operational and political history of the conflict. Consequently, the book’s chapters in which these issues are discussed provide far better and more cutting-edge analyses then the chapters on the social, economic and cultural aspects of the war.

Contrary to the case of operational history, in these fields Hajdu and Pollmann can only rely on a handful of up-to-date studies. It is therefore not surprising that the authors were not able to present any complex analyses of such significant issues, like the memory of the conflict or the transformation of gender roles between 1914 and 1918. The absence of these two topics from the volume is acute, because they are probably the most widely discussed problems in the international scholarship of the past several decades.

No doubt Hajdu and Pollmann, who were both keen on using modern methodology in their earlier works, made a huge effort to involve some other fields (fields which in Hungary have not been given adequate attention) in their investigation. For example, they write relatively extensively about the brutalizing effects of the war, particularly with regards to such technological developments as gas warfare. Unfortunately, mostly due to the outdated secondary literature, they are not able to engage with the ongoing international debate and present the long-term consequences of the war on domestic and political violence in Hungary. Similarly, the absence of up-to-date studies prevent the authors from providing a cutting-edge analysis of the economic and social aspects of the conflict.

In spite of these problems, A régi Magyarország utolsó háborúja is probably the best and most complex summary of Hungary’s participation in World War I so far. It draws on many findings in the current historiography, especially in the chapters discussing the operational history of the conflict. Unfortunately, due to the lack of basic research, it does not live up to the same standards in the fields of social, economic and cultural history. Hajdu and Pollmann’s book, with all its pros and cons, reflects well the present stand of Hungarian scholarship on World War I.

Tamás Révész


KL. A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. By Nikolaus Wachsmann. London: Little, Brown, 2015. 880 pp.


Synthesizing the main findings of a vast corpus of secondary sources and drawing extensively on the author’s own primary research as well, Nikolaus Wachsmann’s KL aspires to offer nothing less than the first comprehensive and integrative history charting the development of the Nazi concentration camps. The book’s integrated approach to the altogether twenty-seven main camps and their over 1,100 satellite camps combines a macro analysis of Nazi terror with micro studies of individual actions and responses. It compares conditions and developments between and within individual camps while also putting them into their wider political and cultural contexts.

The author repeatedly emphasizes that “the KL acted much like seismographs, closely attuned to the general aims and ambitions of the regime’s rulers” (p.626). Accordingly, his KL explores the various incarnations of these flexible instruments of lawless repression over time. The book exemplifies the changing functions of the concentration camps, for instance by discussing how, between 1933 and 1945, Dachau was variously meant to serve as a “bulwark of the Nazi revolution, model camp, SS training ground, slave labor reservoir, human experimentation site, mass extermination ground, and center of a satellite camp network” (p.593).

In accordance with its key agenda of thorough historicization, the over 800 meticulously researched pages of KL (the notes alone fill some 158) proceed in a largely chronological fashion. They trace the non-linear escalation of “terror” in excruciating detail. While Wachsmann highlights that “periods of rising terror” in the camps could be followed by moments of relatively greater “moderation,” such as in the mid-1930s and even in 1943 (p.188), he also explains that absorbing change and adapting without losing its core mission proved to be one of the most terrifying features of the institution (p.192). Alongside its key agenda of historicization, another central ambition of the book is to show how a singular focus on the SS’s attempt to demonstrate its absolute power oversimplifies SS policy, which was in fact also guided by considerations of a more ideological, economic, or simply pragmatic nature (p.158).

The first three chapters of the book chart the origins, formation and expansion of the KL system between 1933 and 1939. Here, Wachsmann shows that the primacy of political terror set the Nazis on the road to absolute rule already in 1933, when up to 200,000 political prisoners were detained. However, there were neither detailed blueprints, nor a coordinated national network of Nazi camps at the time. The many hundreds of new sites could hardly have been more varied. By the mid-1930s, it even seemed likely that the KL system, which held some 3,800 inmates at a time when regular prisons in Nazi Germany held well over 100,000, would simply wither away.

As we know, precisely the opposite happened. The camps expanded, even as domestic political opposition diminished, and by 1937/38, measures related to them were centralized and escalated. Potentially boundless camps, such as Sachsenhausen, Buchenwald, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, and Ravensbrück were opened, characterized by “a uniform administrative structure, a common architectural ideal, a professional corps of SS men, and a systematic brand of terror” (p.134). As Wachsmann shows, they emerged as “firm fixtures of the Third Reich, outside the law, funded by the state and controlled by a new agency,” the Inspectorate for Concentration Camps (p.134). The main function of these camps soon shifted from browbeating political opponents to terrorizing social outsiders. The twenty months prior to the outbreak of World War II then brought the first huge rise in the death rate, as 2,268 people lost their lives inside the camps (p.169).

Subsequent chapters on the early years of World War II examine wider developments of the camp system as well as daily life in individual camps to thereby explore the descent of the camps into sites of mass death and executions. Arguing that the lethal turn of the KL system had begun as early as between 1939 and 1941 (p.191), the author shows that many key features of the wartime camps, such as “bigger compounds, new camps outside the German heartland, masses of foreign prisoners, lethal living conditions, murderous everyday violence, and planned executions” emerged early on (p.238). By the fall of 1941, the Nazi war of extermination also entered the KL: “with the killing of infirm inmates with poison gas still in full swing, the Camp SS embarked on an even more radical program”, the murder of “tens of thousands of Soviet POWs” (p.242). As Wachsmann rightly highlights, this was “a cataclysmic moment dwarfing all previous killing campaigns” (p.262). By this time, the concentration camps had developed a dual function. As KL asserts, the systematic murder of exhausted, weak, and ill prisoners had become one of their permanent features, and “many structural elements” of the Holocaust had emerged inside the camps before the SS crossed the threshold to genocide in 1942 (p.287-8).

KL focuses on the experience of altogether around 2.3 million registered inmates who were dragged into concentration camps between 1933 and 1945 and of whom over 1.7 million lost their lives. The story it tells thus only partially overlaps with that of the Holocaust. At the same time, the book fully acknowledges that systematic mass killing turned into genocide as the Holocaust entered the KL in 1942. It in fact traces in detail how the Auschwitz-Birkenau complex, a focal point for SS economic ambitions and a center of the Nazi Final Solution, was transformed into the largest and most lethal camp by far and became the central location of the Holocaust by 1943. On the other hand, while pointing to institutional and organizational connections between the KL system and the three Globocnik death camps, Wachsmann discusses the latter sites only briefly. (The Globocnik death camps admittedly did not function as concentration camps. As Wachsmann puts it, in them, terror was compressed to its very essence.) However, KL does highlight that 1942 was also the year in which a shift in power between legal and SS terror could be observed as, for the first time, camps held more inmates than German prisons.

The KL prisoner population grew exceptionally rapidly the following year, shooting up from an estimated 115,000 to around 315,000 by the end of 1943 (p.414-5). Over the course of the year, the SS started to press more and more prisoners into the war economy. By the autumn of 1943, a veritable scramble for KL prisoners started, which also meant that the Camp SS could exert less control over them (p.453). Even if concentration camps were admittedly never turned into significant hubs for the German war economy and their main “product” remained the misery and death of their prisoners, Wachsmann argues that their “dramatic descent into squalor and death, which had begun with the outbreak of war in autumn 1939” was thereby “temporarily arrested and reversed”(p.427).

One of the last chapters of the monograph is devoted to the spread of slave labor and satellite camps, whereas others analyze prisoner communities and the final phase of violence. 1944 meant “the climax of the Holocaust in Auschwitz,” when, upon the arrival of Hungarian Jews, “the largest extermination program the KL system had ever seen” was implemented (p.458-9). At the same time, Wachsmann diagnoses a partial erosion of the importance of ideology as a determining factor in 1944, as economic pressures started to dilute the full impact of Nazi racial policy (p.474). Even if there were very clear limits to flexibility, the new policy meant a U-turn in the deployment of Jews, implying a mass influx of Jewish prisoners far into the territory of Nazi Germany. The rapid rise of satellite camps also led to the recruitment of tens of thousands of new guards, among them elderly soldiers, women, and even non-Germans. However, terror continued even as the SS presence diminished. Frighteningly, the everyday operation of the KL apparently did not require a vast army of political soldiers (p.471).

Regarding the inmates, more generally, KL suggests perseverance, solidarity, and defiance as key perspectives from which to analyze their behavior (p.499). Wachsmann explains that the KL provided the most barren grounds for the growth of defiance, and those aiming to violently oppose their tormentors faced terrible dilemmas (p.527). While he emphasizes that inmates retained a sense of right and wrong within the warped world of the camps, he essentially argues that for the most part, theirs was a tale of degradation and despair with few heroic and uplifting moments.

Last but not least, KL dissects how the climax and collapse of Nazi concentration camps went hand in hand. As we learn, at both chronological ends of the Third Reich, the camps were characterized by a high degree of improvisation: in 1933, the KL system had not yet formed and by 1944, it was already starting to fray (p.465). However, as camps increasingly turned into disaster zones, the final months of the KL system proved to be among the most lethal. In early 1945, there was a record of 714,211 registered KL prisoners in all (by comparison, 80,000 men and women were locked up in 1942). When the war ended a mere four months later, an estimated forty percent of them had already died.

KL is likely to remain the definitive overview of its subject for many years to come. However, as is the case with any book aspiring to be comprehensive, some of KL’s emphases may also be debatable. Gender-related issues and questions of memory and remembrance receive rather brief treatment, while the biographical analysis of perpetrators might have been extended too. In terms of the main interpretative thrust of the book, Wachsmann depicts the Nazi concentration camps as a highly distinctive system of domination and contextualizes them almost exclusively within a national framework. Instead of expanding on their comparative and transnational dimensions, KL argues that the sources of their inspiration were German disciplinary discourses and practices rather than foreign precedents and that their manner of transformation made Nazi camps significantly distinct from other “totalitarian camps,” notably the Gulag. Such somewhat debatable choices and contentions aside, KL offers meticulous scholarship and a largely convincing interpretation of how murderous orders from the top and local initiatives from below radicalized each other and ultimately plunged the KL into a maelstrom of destruction.

Ferenc Laczó


The Nation Should Come First. Marxism and Historiography in East Central Europe. By Maciej Górny. Translated by Antoni Górny. Editorial assistance Aaron Law. (Warsaw studies in contemporary history 1.) Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2013. 302 pp.


For a long time, the scholarship of historians who were working behind the Iron Curtain during the Communist period was mostly regarded by the “international” (i.e. predominantly the “Western”) community of scholars as part of propaganda efforts and was not taken seriously. In the few cases when it was given due consideration, for instance the works of the internationally renowned Hungarian historians György Ránki, Iván T. Berend, and Péter Hanák, the explanation for this lay in the fact that they had at some point abandoned the gray-suited army of those who falsified and manipulated history behind the Iron Curtain and joined the bright, colorful, “free” world of Western scholarship. So why should the small field of the history of historiography care about this group of pseudo-historians (in the eyes of the West), who did not even speak the right languages, and this not only in the literal sense (since they published their writings in Polish, Hungarian, Czech or Russian instead of English, French or German), but also in the sense of a language that consists of different assumptions and concepts, taken mostly from Marxism-Leninism? But in the 1990s, a few German and other Western historians began to become interested in the historiography of East-Central Europe for two essential reasons: because it concerned seemingly foreign countries, more foreign than their own pasts, and because it was part of the culture of State Socialism, a new field that suited the necessities of post-totalitarian perspectives, which had begun to take an interest in how the world of ideas, attitudes, understandings of Communism worked. And they found, of course, exactly what they were looking for: historians who represented the inner logic of the communist party state.

Now, two decades later, we are well beyond these earlier misunderstandings of the historiography of East Central Europe. The Nation Should Come First is one of the best introductions to this new knowledge. Maciej Górny’s book is the English translation of a text that was first published in Polish (2007) and then in German (2011). Górny’s main thesis is that historical writing in Poland, Czechoslovakia, and even East Germany in the first two decades of State Socialism was marked by strong continuities with pre-war traditions, or, to put it negatively, the influence of Marxism-Leninism and the “manipulation” of historical scholarship by the Communist party and by ideologically “brain-washed” historians had a much weaker impact than is often assumed. In other words: the nation was supposed to “come first” in most history books, not the party. Maciej Górny presents his argument in five chapters.

The first chapter introduces the main questions and debates in the field. The history of historiography is treated as “a broad panorama of concepts and events shaping an image of the past” (p.23). This is, to some extent, an affirmation of the project of the cultural history of historiography of the 1990s, especially regarding the GDR, but, and this is emphasized by the author, the perspective of “postmodernist” Diskursgeschichte has often neglected the study of the content of historiography by almost completely focusing on institutions, forms and styles of discourse and ultimately arriving at the conclusion that historical professionalization was somehow distorted to the east of the Elbe River (p.19). This is a critique of studies by Martin Sabrow and others, though Górny does not include Siegfried Lokatis’ study (which was published within the same Potsdam school), which explicitly shows how the form and content of the history of the German labor movement was shaped by historians embedded in a dense web of institutions of the SED. (Siegfried Lokatis, Der rote Faden. Kommunistische Parteigeschichte und Zensur unter Walter Ulbricht [2003].) Admittedly, this concerns the most political and most controlled part of GDR historiography, but Geschichte der deutschen Arbeiterbewegung (eight volumes of which were published before 1966) was not just one history book among others. It represented a model for the whole area of modern history.

In contrast to the “postmodernist” school, Górny tries to look at institutional and political dimensions, but also at “interconnections between historiography and historical tradition, the imaginings of the national past, the history of ideas and collective memory, and finally, historical myths” (p.24). Chapter 2 examines the institutional changes and continuities and the “creation of early postwar narrations” in the four cases (East German, Czech, Slovak and Polish historiography). He acknowledges that there were numerous personal changes and discontinuities after 1945, although less so in Poland and Czechoslovakia, where universities managed to keep more of their independence than in East Germany (p.39). Similarly, the production of new, Marxist national textbooks of history was less successful in Poland and Czechoslovakia than in Germany, and thus the conclusions of Lokatis’ work cannot be extended to other East Central European countries.

Chapter III, the central part of the book, describes how historians were searching for “progressive” traditions that could be used in the context of the new national historical narratives and how they mostly had little choice but to return to earlier established themes, topics, and heroes already cherished by nationally minded historians of earlier periods. Here, Górny convincingly shows how national narratives, especially in Poland and Czechoslovakia, celebrated their comebacks garbed in new “Marxist-Leninist” language, but with little actual change regarding content and interpretation. In the 1950s, the older historiographical traditions came under attack from “progressive” historians, but their defenders profited from the problem of providing a clear definition of “progressiveness” (p.250). In the end, the fierce debates concerning which traditions were more “progressive” than others only revealed the central dilemmas of Stalinist Soviet-style centralized historiography, which was marked by an attempt to limit the multiplicity of interpretations, which is precisely what keeps the work of historians from becoming dead letters completely detached from reality. The last chapter provides a brief comparison of the four historiographies with other Communist cases (Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria).

Árpád von Klimó


Otthon és haza. Tanulmányok a romániai magyarság történetéből [Homeland and Home: Essays on the History of the Hungarians of Romania]. By Nándor Bárdi. Csíkszereda: Pro Print, 2013. 607 pp.


Nándor Bárdi’s Otthon és haza is a summary of more than two decades of intense research on the history of Hungarian minorities. Nevertheless, the book is not a synthesis in which the author adopts one of the two typical approaches to this issue, narrating it either as a story of tragedy, decline and heroism or as a sober, rational and resigned account of inevitable loss. Its nine chapters, each of which would qualify as a separate book on the basis of its richness, take different perspectives on the question of how a minority community was constructed out of a group of people separated from Hungary and attached to Romania. Bárdi understands the term “construction” in a very practical way. In the various chapters of the book, he analyzes the means and mechanisms of establishing the institutions of a(n imagined) community and seeks to further an understanding of how different actors from Budapest, Kolozsvár (today Cluj in Romania) and Bucharest gained or lost agency mainly at one another’s expense. As one might expect, the vision of such a newly emerging community was hardly stable, and this created another field of contestation between the actors, namely contestation over different representations of the minority Hungarians.

The chapters give a detailed analysis of the transition that took place at the end of World War I in the remote city of Székelyudvarhey (today Odorheiu Secuiesc in Romania), a community which was almost entirely Hungarian-speaking. In the wake of the war, revolutionary passions were fading away as the struggle against the Romanianization of the administration became more prominent and intense. The zig-zagging of Hungarian politicians in the first few years of the existence of Greater Romania would have been impossible had they not been able to find allies, for they were compelled to navigate between the expectations of Budapest that they would preserve the loyalty of Hungarians to the Hungarian state and the necessities of finding a place in the Romanian political system. Bárdi discusses in detail the methods with which they secured a level of autonomy vis-à-vis Budapest while also maintaining the unity of a fragile party. Bárdi also shows how and why the members of the first minority generation abandoned the idea of the equality of nationalities based on a vision of organic nations living side by side in harmonious internal unity. They sought instead to establish Hungarian supremacy and regional devolution in Northern Transylvania between 1940–1944 in order to avoid the supposed mistakes of liberal Hungary, which allegedly had led to the dismemberment of the country after World War I.

Two further chapters introduce the reader to the complex and secretive world of pseudo-civic and governmental organizations in Budapest, which channeled funds and information between Romania and Hungary after 1920. These organizations also aimed to control Hungarians abroad to the point of devising social research and identity building projects. The two closing chapters in turn set out a typology of minority political strategies on the basis of their relationship with Hungary and Romania. Bárdi discusses the sequence of generations and their visons of the community, which were formed under the impact of extraordinarily different circumstances following the fall of dualist Hungary and the creation of Greater Romania, including the communist takeover and its consequences.

The author focuses on the ways in which this community was built in the minds and designed on the desks of government bureaucrats, experts, old fashioned noble politicians, young visionaries and calculating political technicians in a fervent search for stability and authentic social organization that was meant to solidify a group thought otherwise to be doomed. In its effort to dissect various relevant trends, the book lacks an overarching argument apart from a modest proposal to complement Brubaker’s famous triadic nexus model with a fourth field of international organizations and international law. This additional dimension is meant to reinterpret the relationship between mutual expectations, fulfilment or non-fulfilment and permanent adaptation. The various perspectives are also bound together by the author’s emphasis on underlying processes of differentiation. Such differentiation was the gradual result of the involuntary and forced separation of Hungarians from Hungary who found a new balance in an altered, more distant relationship with their kin-state, even acquiring a sense of moral superiority over inhabitants of the “motherland,” who, according to some narratives, were (and are) in need of a kind of “national salvation” originating from the Hungarians of the minority community.

Bárdi is unquestionably in his element when he is setting out the details of the politics and policies, the connections between personalities, institutions, the past relationships and present animosities and how the actors used one another while they were attempting to create something called the “Hungarian minority of Romania.” He can account for the last penny spent on Hungarian-language theater brochures, and he describes how these sums were requested, authorized, disbursed and taken to Romania, a process involving plenty of maneuvering on the part of almost everyone concerned. Albeit seemingly insignificant, such minutiae convey details of politics and its mechanisms would never have been discovered in the traditional sources on political history. This abundance of detail helps one deconstruct the typical narratives and makes palpable the concept of “minority construction.” One should note the inflexibility of Bárdi’s model of three distinct elites, which neither allows for a realignment of forces nor can it take into account regional level actors from the majority. It is, however, eminently capable of revealing how fragile the very construct of the Hungarians of Romania as a community and its representations as a unitary group were. This construct remained limited, despite the best efforts of all kinds of social actors, to a dwindling set of institutions, the nationally educated middle-class, and the larger part of the peasantry. The invention of this new society in fact implied a strange existence between two nation states. This conclusion inevitably raises another question: how best to study such a limited and fragile—from a certain perspective almost non-existent—subject?

Gábor Egry


Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989–1992. By James Krapfl. Ithaca–London: Cornell University Press, 2013. 292 pp.


The historical phenomenon of the 1989 revolutions in East-Central Europe is a prominent topic of historiographical research in the field of contemporary history and Slavic studies. (See Padraic Kenney, A Carnival of Revolution: Central Europe 1989 [2003].) Regarding the Czech and Slovak part of the story, an impressive array of books and articles has been published over the course of the past two decades. However, this literature was published mostly in Czech and Slovak and was concerned with rather particular issues, such as regional aspects of the Velvet Revolution or the memory of prominent actors of 1989. (See Milan Otáhal and Miroslav Vaněk, Sto studentských revolucí: studenti v období pádu komunismu - životopisná vyprávění [1999]; Pavel Marek, Prostějovská „sametová revoluce“: příspěvek k počátkům demokratizace české společnosti v letech 1989–1990 [2009]; Ivana Koutská, Vojtěch Ripka, and Pavel Žáček, eds., Občanské fórum, den první: vznik OF v dokumentech a fotografiích [2009].) Apart from the monumental monograph Labyrintem revoluce (Through the Labyrinth of Revolution, a political history of the Velvet Revolution written by Czech historian Jiří Suk, there has been no attempt to publish a comprehensive or at least empirically and intellectually more ambitious history of 1989 in Czechoslovakia. (Jiří Suk, Labyrintem revoluce: aktéři, zápletky a křižovatky jedné politické krize: (odlistopadu 1989 do června 1990) [2003].)

In 2009, Canadian historian James Krapfl published a Slovak version of the book under review. (James Krapfl, Revolúcia s ľudskoutvárou: politika, kultúra a spoločenstvo v Československupo 17. novembri 1989 [2009].) It was a significant development to have, in the year of the 20th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, a fresh and pioneering account of the events of 1989 in Czechoslovakia finally be made available for readers in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The English edition of this book is thus a kind of culmination of Krapfl’s research project, which was launched already in the late 1990s. Its publication was preceded by the publication of several case studies. (James Krapfl, “Revolution and Revolt against Revolution: Czechoslovakia 1989,” in Revolution and Resistance in Eastern Europe: Challenges to Communist Rule, ed. Kevin McDermott and Matthew Stibbe [2006], 175–94; James Krapfl, Poetický základ politiky: Dějiny významu roku 1989, in Kapitoly z dějin české demokracie poroce 1989, ed. Adéla Gjuričová and Michal Kopeček [2008], 134–57.) The Slovak edition of the book was praised as a path-breaking historiographical account of 1989, as Krapfl’s book was the first historical narrative of the Velvet Revolution that aimed to analyze the events “from below” and with respect for both the Czech and Slovak cultural and political contexts.

The narrative of Revolution with a Human Face is based on an extraordinarily impressive source base. The author pursued extensive research in more than forty Czech and Slovak archives and gathered a unique collection of historical documents. The majority of the archival materials used by Krapfl were produced by local activists and revolutionary enthusiasts. Rather than reading numerous official statements produced by Prague and Bratislava revolutionary elites, Krapfl analyzed declarations, posters, leaflets, bulletins, articles and complaints which were formulated in numerous regional hubs of the revolution. These sources enabled him to write a cultural history of the Velvet Revolution that focuses on the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Whereas the majority of available histories are concerned primarily with the agenda of the highest metropolitan representatives of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence, Krapfl lets the rank and file of revolutionary movements speak, who have been portrayed by the vast majority of historians as well as by the post-socialist political and media elites as an anonymous mass rally in the streets and squares of Czechoslovak cities. In this book, these local protesters and activists are finally portrayed as genuine historical actors aiming to push their political agendas based on their specific sets of revolutionary ideals and values.

The first part of the book analyzes narratives of the Velvet Revolution. Krapfl distinguishes between four discourses of revolution: revolution as romance, revolution as comedy, revolution as tragedy and revolution as satire. These four narratives are in fact major interpretations around which the controversy about 1989 was structured since the very first days of the Velvet Revolution. This shows how this revolution was understood by its actors and how its outcomes were evaluated by the Czechoslovak revolutionary community. Although there was an ongoing conflict of interpretations, the fact that all four competing narratives characterized the events of late 1989 and early 1990 as a revolution makes the debate concerning whether 1989 was a revolution, a regime change, or something else seem quite pointless. According to Krapfl, in Czechoslovakia 1989 amounted to a revolution because it was understood as a revolution by those actively involved in the events.

The most important and intellectually most exciting part of the book consists of the chapters analyzing the constitution of the revolutionary community and portraying a specific set of values characterized by the author as the “ideals of November.” Krapfl carefully describes collective symbolic practices and public acts, such as happenings, which helped create the new sense of community. His aim is to analyze the ways in which the revolution was experienced by its actors and how the “system of signs and symbols enabled citizens to communicate with one another in new ways and to make sense of the world in ways that had scarcely been imaginable before” (p.70). Thanks to the sophisticated study of numerous texts produced by revolutionary activists, Krapfl managed to define essential values and ideals of the Velvet Revolution. He is able to reconstruct the mental horizon of 1989 in Czechoslovakia in a coherent and convincing way. The book mentions the following crucial ideas and values shared by the members of the revolutionary community: nonviolence, self-organization, democracy, fairness, socialism and humanness. Among other important ideals of the revolution were liberty, human rights, informality, criticism of corruption and emphasis on dialogue. Such “revolutionary idealism” was driven by emphasis on the necessity of overcoming the failed state socialist system, which had produced various inequalities and was corrupt, alienated from the citizenry, excessively centralized, highly bureaucratic and essentially anti-human.

Krapfl’s account of the “ideals of November” is explicit polemics with thinkers like Jürgen Habermas or François Furet, who claimed that the 1989 revolutions did not invent any new or substantial ideas and were essentially backward-looking revolutions of regional importance with rather modest ambitions to restore liberal democracy in East-Central Europe. Krapfl argues convincingly that such interpretations are fundamentally mistaken and flawed by a lack of insight into the original thought that was characteristic of 1989. The originality and novelty of the 1989 revolutions lay in the centrality of ideals of humanness, respect for human dignity and nonviolence. According to Krapfl, the conviction shared by members of the revolutionary community that non-violence and humanness were driving forces of their revolution and more important than any conventional political ideology was a fundamental contribution of the 1989 revolutions to the long tradition of European democratic politics and political thought.

However, the aim of the book is not to create an idealized picture of the “revolution with a human face.” Krapfl also describes the conflicts that arose with the emergence of new power relations and hierarchies after November 1989. The inner dynamics of revolution gave birth not only to an insistence on and assertion of the aforementioned humanist ideals and values, but also to more controversial aspects of public debates, such as regionalism and nationalism. Of significant importance was also the conflict between the centralist aspirations of revolutionary elites and local activists aiming to preserve certain levels of political autonomy. Krapfl collected plenty of evidence showing that local activists were increasingly upset and frustrated by the fact that the metropolitan leaders of the revolution ignored their complaints and appeals. There was a growing suspicion on their part that leaders of the Civic Forum aimed to slow-down the revolution or even bring it to a standstill. This conflict between the pragmatism of new political leaders, who aimed to consolidate power and begin to govern the country, and local enthusiasts and activists, who called for more far-reaching changes, was, according to Krapfl, a chief source of political controversies in the early 1990s. The pressure from below led to the gradual dissolution of the Civic Forum and Public against Violence and the subsequent formation of new powerful political parties, such as the Civic Democratic Party in the Czech Lands and the Movement for a Democratic Slovakia. These political subjects arranged the dissolution of Czechoslovakia and played a pivotal role in the further development of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the 1990s.

Ironically, the initial struggle of local activists for direct democracy and a general deepening of revolutionary transformations led in the longer perspective to the establishment of two post-socialist national regimes whose functioning was in many respects in sharp contrast with abovementioned “ideals of November.” In the course of the 1990s, it was increasingly evident that the “ideals of November” had not been incorporated into the political culture and political economy of post-socialism. Krapfl’s book thus not only offers an insightful, balanced and highly innovative history of the Velvet Revolution. His analysis of the revolutionary community, its ideals and its internal contradictions also opens new perspectives for reflection on the developments in East Central Europe in the last 25 years. It is worth posing the question to what extent the recent rise of populism and distrust in politics in the region has been influenced by the fact that the “ideals of November” were not further developed or at least adopted by the majority of citizens or the post-socialist political elites. Revolution with a Human Face could thus also serve as the starting point for further critical examination of the developments from the “revolutionary idealism” of the 1989 to recent popular disenchantment with post-socialist democracy.

Vítězslav Sommer

pdfVolume 4 Issue 4 CONTENTS


Felvilágosult vallás és modern katasztrófa között: magyar zsidó gondolkodás a Horthy-korban [Between Enlightened Religion and Modern Catastrophe: Hungarian Jewish Thinking in the Horthy Era]. By Ferenc Laczó. Budapest: Osiris, 2014. 299 pp.


What is a (Neolog) Jew? Ferenc Laczó’s monograph, adapted from his PhD thesis, is an attempt to answer this apparently simple but actually highly complex question. His approach is idiosyncratic in several respects. Firstly, as the author notes several times, the shadow of the Holocaust lurks behind the entire investigation, although he does not subject thoughts expressed prior to 1944 to the teleological reading that genocide was their inevitable outcome, but traces a more complex causality. He asks how much contemporaries knew of Auschwitz, whether they were aware of its significance and, if so, how they behaved and reacted. It is this aspect of Hungarian Jewish thinking between the wars that comes in for his analysis. He also shows that the historians, literary historians, etc. who have treated this period have mainly been interested in – to use the words of Isaac Deutscher – “non-Jewish Jews,” people whose work was very important from the individual point of view, but whose activities do not and cannot characterize the official Jewish forums, associations, weekly and monthly periodicals, cultural journals, etc.

The author has focused his research on the question of what it meant to be Jewish for the authors of the yearbook of the Hungarian Jewish Literary Society (Izraelita Magyar Irodalmi Társulat, IMIT; yearbook revived in 1929 and survived until 1943), the journal Libanon (1936–1943) and the yearbook Ararát (1939–1944). While keeping the Neolog aspect in view, the author consistently maintains that this was not some kind of homogeneous discourse, but involved highly diverse values, organizing principles and goals, making it extremely difficult to reconstruct what was Jewish and what it meant to be a Jew in this period. A lucid expression of this dilemma is Béla Zsolt’s novel Kilenc koffer [Nine Suitcases], about the diversity and even moral divergence of people crammed together into the ghetto of Nagyvárad (now Oradea, Romania) and legally regarded as all of a kind. “Then there emerged a different kind of finickiness: the progressive, European-looking Jews did not want the payot-wearers to mix with them. There were murmurs of, ‘There’s always trouble with that lot.’” 1

The moral imperatives of the Holocaust have caused us ex post facto to regard the Jews of the time as homogeneous, but the historical reality was different. It was not simply a matter of denominational divisions (Orthodox, Neolog, and status quo ante) and the distancing arising from the associated externals, but the very meaning – in a society that was becoming “modern” – of the Jewish religion and the culture intimately bonded to it. This is the implicit social-theory message of Laczó’s book. Although eleven chapters are devoted to analysing the discourse of the yearbooks and journals, it is not, in terms of its approach, a work of media history. The distinction arises from the thematic rather than descriptive nature of the analysis. The thematic criteria have been chosen to bring the academic discourse on Hungarian Jewish thinking into line with international studies. This is an essential condition for the critical treatment of international academic work on Hungarian Jews and the adaptation of the associated methodology, concepts and comparative approach. The author consciously distances himself from the metaphors and half-truths that abound in the Hungarian public discourse and journalism; he requires a discourse that looks at the Hungarian Jewish past from the outside. Significantly, a large proportion of the 69 footnotes in the introductory historiographical chapter are foreign-language references.

The first chapter takes as its context the creation of Jewish religious institutions and examines attempts to harmonize thinking based on religious tradition with the modern professional academic ideal that had been emerging since the nineteenth century. Following Michael Brenner, Laczó demonstrates the dual character of the Wissenschaft des Judentums, an endeavour that transcended national borders and national problems, although it was also propagated in the Hungarian language. It both promoted the emancipation of the Jews among non-Jewish majority society and pushed for internal reform and modernization of Jewish communities. One of the most important stations in attempts to harmonize the Jewish religion and modern academia was the foundation of the Budapest Rabbinical School in 1877 and the opposition it provoked among Orthodox Jews. Of similar significance was the setting up of IMIT in 1894. IMIT adopted a broad profile which embraced the translation of the Jewish religious, literary and historical tradition into Hungarian and support for the Jewish Museum. It published yearbooks regularly from 1895 onwards. The process was interrupted at the end of World War I, but IMIT relaunched the series in the period under study, so that IMIT yearbooks appeared between 1929 and 1943. The reason for mentioning this set of sources at such length is that they form much of the base for Laczó’s book, and he analyses them in chapters 1–7.

Chapter two examines the Neolog movement and the issues of fitting religion into modern society and conveying to the non-Jewish majority the “essence of Jewishness” in a secular framework – other than through history, music and the arts. Particularly interesting is the ambivalent assessment of the role of Moses Mendelssohn, in which Ármin Kecskeméti went as far as to state that re-evaluating and appreciating culture at the expense of religion was upsetting what he saw as a traditional balance. He did value Mendelssohn, however, for having the two-pronged objectives of bringing culture to the Jewish community and bringing Jewishness into “cultural Jewishness,” which meant convincing the increasingly irreligious Jews of the central role of tradition in faith. Laczó considers as a unique feature of the Neolog movement the discussions in the IMIT yearbooks surrounding how Jewishness relates to morality, and truth to mentality.

One of the most absorbing intellectual exchanges concerning the Neolog interrelationship between “religious Jew” and “polgár” [member of the mainstream middle class] was the issue of incompatibility. The debate surrounded how Jews who tried to take their places in secular life but wanted social assimilation without acculturation could identify themselves in modern Hungarian society. Since this involved a dual identity arising from equal love of homeland and religion, the key question is how to define or discover the essence of Jewish self-consciousness (from which, logically, a constitutive element of identity arises). Here Laczó distinguishes seven types, differing from each other only in nuance. The first four are: denominational identity; joint or mixed Hungarian-Jewish (assimilating but remaining) identity; the subtly different progressive, “forward looking” identity that upholds retention of Jewishness; and the idea of the “Jewish people,” whose members are also Hungarian Jews. The author admits that these are subtle distinctions, difficult to formalize, and are all characterized by a wish for consensus and harmonization.

Chapter four deals with a discourse that always offers a legitimating force to minorities, the question of “contribution.” What did the Jews contribute to Hungarian scholarship, culture, economy and everything else that, in its time, was regarded and appreciated as an accomplishment? Laczó takes a critical approach to this question, perceiving that its underlying assumption of a need for self-justification affords it the status of an apologia. In addition, it creates the false impression of being a kind of group-forming force, while actually regarding the minority to be an integral, inseparable part of majority society (or to be no more than formally distinct). Chapter five discusses the Hungarian Jews’ connections to Erec, which was centrally concerned at the time with the question of political Zionism. About twenty years ago, Gábor Schweitzer convincingly demonstrated why Hungarian Jews, some of whose most prominent figures had dressed up in the Hungarian ceremonial military and civil attire during the Millennium celebrations, people like Berthold Weiss, Sándor Deutsch of Hatvan, Lajos Krausz of Megyer and Zsigmond Kornfeld, had no need for political Zionism.2 The causes, or rather stereotypes, mentioned right at the beginning include being “unpatriotic” or “irreligious.” These concerns were clearly in direct opposition to what we have seen were the aspirations of the Neologs. Indeed, through all the disputes and confrontations among the three divisions of Hungarian Jewish society (Neolog, Orthodox and status quo ante), aversion to Zionism almost uniquely constituted a common thread. Nonetheless, the author’s analysis of the IMIT yearbooks has convinced him that despite the paucity of writing on the themes of Zionism and Erec in general, certainly compared with the attention paid to Hungarian Jewish identity, Zionist voices were still present in the Neolog milieu between the world wars, as were reports about Palestine, and these unavoidably contained talk of the Jewish people.

While the preceding chapters partly attempt to adapt the problems inherited from the nineteenth century to the new context within the territory of post-Trianon Hungary, chapters 6–10 concentrate on reactions to the steadily worsening situation and attempt to characterize them. The central concept here is crisis. What did contemporaries know about the discrimination of the time and the passage of laws that scorned basic legal principles, and how did they perceive these developments? Did any kind of crisis consciousness emerge in response? From his analysis of the IMIT yearbooks, Laczó concludes that until the passage of the First Jewish Law in 1938, the Neolog discourse predominantly followed what Bourdieu and Boltanski called a “compliance strategy”, and reproduced the prevailing political discourse almost without criticism.3

Despite the rising volume of critical voices in the IMIT yearbooks following the Nazi takeover of 1933 and – even more so – after the passage of the Jewish Law of 1938, and despite the pronouncement of “end of the liberal era” and the emergence of crisis consciousness in response to European (German) and Hungarian events, the internally-constructed identity policies, however sophisticated, lost ground. As Laczó points out, reports by Fülöp Grünvald made clear at least a year before the deportations started exactly what was meant by the Endlösung, and “when the crime of the century was being committed, (…) Hungary’s Jewish intellectuals could have been the force to shake the slumbering conscience of people living within the Axis Powers” (p.172), but the published revelations remained a cry in the wilderness. Amid the internal constructions and debates over identity, the authors of the IMIT yearbooks seem to have overlooked the change in the external political – and increasingly the legal – context of their debates, so that the self-understanding of the (Neolog) Jews and their positioning among Hungarian citizens were no longer the issue. In this changed discourse, the definition of “Jew” came from outside the communities, because the closed ideological system, by virtue of its closedness, was uncompromisingly defining the political language in which the world was to be conceived.

The unbinding of the analysis unbinds from its sources – the IMIT yearbooks and the periodicals Libanon and Ararát – presumably aims to fulfil the objective promised in the subtitle of discussing general and thus not exclusively Neolog “Hungarian Jewish thinking”. In fact, to dispense with the interpretative adjective “Neolog” would imply an objective for the book which is almost unattainable, because even the other periodicals coming out during that period, Egyenlőség, Múlt és Jövő, and even Századunk (carrying on the spirit of Huszadik Század) kept this issue on the agenda. The left-wing journals Szocializmus and Korunk also addressed this problem, and the list goes on. The contents of the bibliography make clear that Laczó is aware of this, and so the critic is somewhat at a loss to understand why the subtitle, which usually narrows down the subject, remains so wide (even if it does not bear the definite article). Since the book sketches out the background and context of each journal, its virtue would have been to place the analyses in a conceptual field and not talk about “the” Jews in the interwar period. If he was bent on broadening the base of his sources, he could have extended his discussion to the Jewish Museum, which he does mention several times (e.g. p.46); its role and function at that time is being steadily revealed through the research of Zsuzsanna Toronyi.4

One not entirely fortunately formulated sentence and a slightly imprecise subtitle should not distract us from the many virtues of this short monograph. By integrating the problem into international historiographical and methodological developments and providing minute analysis of hitherto largely neglected sources, Felvilágosult vallás és modern katasztrófa között does great service to the better understanding of the history of ideas among the Jewish community of the time.

Zsolt K. Horváth

1 Béla Zsolt, Kilenc koffer [Nine Suitcases] (Budapest: Magvető, 1980), 58, 59, 60. The expression “progressive” meant what we now call the Neolog movement. Zsolt was born into such a family in Komárom in 1895.

2 Gábor Schweitzer, “Miért nem kellett Herzl a magyar zsidóknak? A politikai cionizmus kezdetei és a magyarországi zsidó közvélemény” [Why did the Hungarian Jews Have No Time for Herzl? The Beginnings of Political Zionism and Public Opinion among Hungarian Jews], Budapesti Negyed, 2 (1994): 42–55.

3 Pierre Bourdieu and Luc Boltanski, “La production de l’idéologie dominante,” Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 2–3 (1976): 3–74.

4 See Zsuzsanna Toronyi, “A magyar zsidó múzeum épületéről” [On the Building of the Hungarian Jewish Museum], in Kép–keret. Az identitás konstrukciói [Picture-Frame. Constructions of Identity], ed. Gantner B. Eszter et al. (Budapest: Nyitott Könyvműhely 2010), 269–80, and Zsuzsanna Toronyi, “Egy budapesti kert történetei” [Stories of a Budapest Garden], Korall, 41 (2010): 97–112.

pdfVolume 7 Issue 1 CONTENTS


A szovjet tényező: Szovjet tanácsadók Magyarországon [The Soviet factor: Soviet advisors in Hungary]. By Magdolna Baráth. Budapest: Gondolat, 2017. 254 pp.

Why did Ernő Gerő mention Gierichev in his March 11, 1953 letter to the Soviet ambassador on the manufacturing of artillery percussion caps? The solution to this mystery (or the lack thereof) exemplifies the difficulties that Magdolna Baráth faced while writing this book, which fills a lacuna in the secondary literature. The literature on Soviet advisors raises novel questions about the fall of communism. Before the change of regimes, very little was accessible apart from the rather stereotypical information on the anecdotal presence of Soviet citizens working in national security and armed bodies (which is the subject of the “Room of Soviet Advisors” in the so-called House of Terror museum in Budapest, which opened its doors to the public in 2002). Since the archives were partially or completely opened after 1989, the examination of this complex phenomenon could begin with the following core questions: what professional connections were made, and how did these connections change over time between the Soviet Union and the countries in its sphere of influence, or, in Baráth’s terminology, the “satellite countries”? The advisors and the experts under scrutiny in this inquiry doubtlessly played key roles in this process.

One of the key virtues of the volume is that it places terminological issues in a wider historical context. It shows that different kinds of experts and advisors arrived between 1945–48, 1948–53, and 1953–56 and then again from 1956 into the 1960s and beyond. The first group of advisors worked for the police forces and the counter-intelligence services. The next groups consisted of Soviet experts active in all walks of life, who as industrial spies, integrated commissars, experts, or intermediaries contributed to the Sovietization of the country in various ways. What kinds of answers emerge from the analysis of this process?

First, these experts were needed in part because the previous elite had been compromised, had emigrated for political reasons, had been sidelined, or, worse, had been imprisoned. A great merit of Baráth’s volume is that it provides the exact number of Soviet citizens active in Hungary, including details concerning who worked where and in what positions, and it thereby dispels the myth that Soviet advisors arrived in throngs to Hungary. In effect, their numbers were in the double-digits only. Though they were miniscule in number, however, their influence was exponentially large. This is why Baráth’s findings will have a stimulating effect on further research concerning Hungarian intellectual collaboration.

For the second problem which prompted the installment of Soviet experts, there is a particular expression in Russian: comchvanstvo, or “communist arrogance,” which derives from the so-called Chekist attitude. At the beginning of the 1920s, the Soviet Union had to face the fact that despite its hopes (or what the Soviets considered an objective historical inevitability), in all likelihood no other countries would choose the true path of communism for several decades, and thus the country would remain solitary in a hostile environment. The response of the party leadership was the construction of a strong and controlling state apparatus, and the total mobilization of all human and material resources in the interest of economic and social development. The Soviet Union could implement this process only by assuming the self-assured commitment of those on the right side of history. This self-assurance, which grew with their victory in World War II, engendered the Bolshevik professional-revolutionary, who had already been acculturated in the atmosphere of political repression, whose theoretical knowledge was grounded in the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, but who also possessed practical, applicable expertise.

This type of “homo sovieticus” appeared in Hungary with stunning salaries. They earned 4,000-7,000 forints per month when the average income was 200-300 forints, and they were given apartments, had access to specialized stores to meet their needs and wants, and received reimbursements and other benefits, such as free fishing licenses. However, these privileges were not guaranteed for everyone, nor were they guaranteed at all times. The process of issuance was a long and tedious bureaucratic ordeal, which, fortunately for the historian, produced a wealth of sources. Baráth’s volume allows the reader to trace clearly how, until 1953 (the year of Stalin’s death), the number of Soviet advisors and experts grew continuously, as did the number of privileges they were accorded.

During the 1956 Revolution, all of these “experts,” with the exception of those working for the state security forces, were evacuated by plane to Soviet army barracks. After this event, less money was spent on the operating costs of Soviet advisors. At the same time, they were commanded to take seriously the instructions they had been given after 1953: not to interfere with the inner affairs of the country or of their workplaces, which led to a direct decrease in their political and professional influence.

During the 1960s, i.e. the glorious era of Soviet technical advancement, when for a short time it seemed that the Soviets would emerge superior from the technological competition with the Americans, scientific and technological exchange flourished. However, by the 1970s, Soviet self-confidence was undermined by more frequent interactions with consumer societies of the West, the actual winner of the technological competition. From this time on, the Soviet Union’s participation in world trade was more or less limited to the selling of raw materials. This is how the concept of the “Soviet professional” changed over time: first, it signified a highly powerful agent backed by the world-leading knowhow of the Soviet secret services; later, it meant a well-paid foreign expert of percussion cap production; and finally, the so-called expert was little more than a door-to-door agent of ridiculously outdated technology, tolerated only for ideological reasons. At the same time, the secret service cooperation, which had begun in 1944 and had continued to develop throughout the period in question remained effective.

The question of whether there was a master plan for the Sovietization of Eastern European countries or whether it took place as a reaction to the Marshall Plan is the subject of long-standing debate in the literature. This book, which offers a study of the similarities and differences between the functions and acts of the Soviet advisors in the various countries of the Eastern Bloc (i.e. within a comparative Eastern European framework), shows that during the advancement of the Red Army into Eastern Europe, the Soviets used the method of obtaining a system of influence, which had already proven effective in Mongolia, – while after 1944 they reacted in an ad hoc manner to the challenges they had to confront. These ad hoc reactions in turn led to chaos and the need for micro-management, as illustrated by Gerő’s personal intervention in percussion cap production.

Another issue that should be analyzed concerning the functions of Soviet advisors and professionals in Hungary concerns the kinds of changes introduced into the Hungarian professional world by the presence of Soviet advisors, who only rarely enjoyed the appreciation of their Hungarian colleagues, for instance in the case of Russian foreign language assistants or in areas of expertise in which Hungarians were less advanced, such as the nuclear industry. It was clear that the Soviets saw their work in Hungary as a well-paid assignment, and they not only tried to mobilize every possible financial resource, but they were also unwilling to return to the Soviet Union. In addition, since Soviet citizens had a direct link to their Embassy, they could remove Hungarian professionals who did not support their work or raised objections to their presence. Furthermore, much as Gerő directly interfered with percussion cap production, the most insignificant affairs, such as the issuance of a fishing license, were also taken care of at the highest levels (to the great delight of the historian). Today, historians are grateful that even these kinds of cases were dealt with at the highest levels, since they produced sources which offer insights into the power relations and intrigues of the era.

As Baráth shows, the presence of Soviet professionals had a significant effect on the workplace. On the one hand, these experts, who were provided generous funding from the Hungarian government budget, represented an external human resource; on the other, by employing Soviets, one could score political points and build a support network. The volume outlines some very interesting strategies deployed by Hungarian leaders to maximize their gains from the presence of Soviet advisors, while they at the same time tried to minimize the damage caused by the Soviets’ lack of expertise, which at times was glaring. For instance, the University of Physical Education requested an expert for the Department of Sport’s History, where the assigned “expert” would be least likely to cause a disturbance; the professors at ELTE (who had already ridden out many political storms) artfully managed to avoid a situation in which Soviets who had just received their degree were at once appointed to serve as university professors in Budapest (these same Hungarian university professors were often willing to host staff to help in Russian language instruction). Both the party apparatus and professionals utilized the Soviet advisors in their power struggles. Rákosi once quite spectacularly expressed his concern for the “ailing health” of Gábor Péter in front of Soviet advisors, thus undermining his rival. Comparable scenes of subtle resistance took place on lower levels too, where the advisors were not provided with the right materials, information was held back from them, or what was done was the exact opposite of what had been advised. The presence of Soviet advisors in Hungary thus had an immense effect on how politics and ideologies intermingled with knowledge, as well as on everyday patterns of behavior.

Baráth has performed an enormous task: she has examined every Hungarian archive and every accessible Russian archive and collection of documents for data on Soviet advisors and professionals. It is laudable that she expresses her gratitude in a collegial manner to all those who helped her in this lengthy process. However, the abundance of sources also represents the greatest unresolved issue of the book. Baráth accurately introduces all the information at her disposal, and she marks with precision incidences in which she could not trace the follow up history of an official document or in which there was no more data in a given archive concerning the issue at hand (for instance, we may never know who Gierichev, the master of percussion cap production, was, why he came to Hungary, what his professional background was, or what happened to him afterwards). Still, the reader at times feels inundated with specific details found in the sources and presented without contextualization. Furthermore, Baráth appears to take the same position regarding the reliability of her sources. Memoirs, such as the memoirs of Béla Király, are to be approached with serious source criticism, because Király, like so many other memoir-authors, tuned his account of his own former stances to real or perceived expectations at the time of writing. Memoirs clearly cannot be used or cited as if they had the same status and value as a consular report, for instance. At the same time, memoirs, along with interviews (for instance), can shed light on issues on which there are no other accessible sources. Furthermore, they offer examples of the wide array of reactions people in contact with the Soviets had.

A central question concerns how to evaluate the role of Soviet advisors and the economic policies they introduced to Hungary. In the 1920s, heavy industry was forcedly developed in the Soviet Union with sources stolen from agriculture, a process which Trotskyist economist Yevgeni Preobrazhenski (1886–1937) described as “primitive socialist accumulation.” In her summary, Baráth approvingly quotes György Gyarmati, who refers to the post-1945 era in Hungary as “the dictatorship of modernization”. Indeed, it was primarily Hungarian agriculture that suffered from the enforcement of Soviet methods alien to the climate and soil of the country, like the growing of cotton and rubber root, or the irrigation systems. The Soviet-style development of heavy industry was against economic rationality and even common sense, and it served as a tool with which the regime built Soviet political control. From the outset, the system was doomed to slow economic growth, and the system of direct administrative control was incapable of spurring growth and at the same time maintaining quality.”; furthermore, the economy was endangered by the country’s large military expenditures. According to Martin Malia, this system was an “ideocracy,” led by ideology instead of rational planning in order to achieve utopian goals. The advisors, experts, and correspondents played their own roles in the attempted realization of this utopia, building, as the documents show, a ”new traditionalism” in Hungary, instead of modernity. The great role played by personal connections (one recalls the relationship between Gerő and Gierichev), the camarilla-style politics, the pervasiveness of reporting, the hierarchical system, and the clientelism all acted against modernization (understood as impersonal, effective, specialized, and functional knowledge) and suited well the neo-baroque world of Horthyism that continued to flourish despite the political cleansings and all the apparent changes.

The development of the Soviet sphere of interest long remained a story focused on a small party of secret service experts. Magdolna Baráth’s research broadens the scope of and adds further nuances to this narrative. This splendidly written volume, which rests on the thorough study of primary sources, together with accurate annotations, shows that the process was indeed part of international history, and that despite all of the difficulties encountered while researching (such as the inaccessibility of Russian archives), it is a human story too. Perhaps someday we may even learn who Gierichev was.


Andrea Pető

Central European University