Vpdfolume 8 Issue 2 CONTENTS


A History of the Hungarian Constitution: Law, Government and Political Culture in Central Europe. Edited by Ferenc Hörcher and Thomas Lorman. London: I.B. Tauris, 2018. 366 pp.

The enactment of the new Hungarian Basic Law has triggered a considerable amount of literature on the Hungarian constitution today and in the past. This volume belongs to the second category: it describes Hungarian constitutional history from a predominantly historical-political perspective, focusing mainly on the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Since the present Basic Law is to be interpreted in light of the “achievements of our historical constitution,” as it sets out in article R) section (3), constitutional history is not only l’art pour l’art, but has an at least potential impact on today’s constitutional practice. Unsurprisingly, most works on constitutional history are written by lawyers. This volume, however, is edited by a philosopher (Hörcher) and a historian (Lorman), and most of the authors are British or Hungarian historians.

The connection between today’s Basic Law and the development of Hungarian historical constitutionalism is made in the first chapter of the book. The subsequent eight chapters describe and analyze Hungary’s constitution from the late Middle Ages until 1946. Special attention is given to the reform debates in the eighteenth century and their influence on the Parliament of 1790/91, the early nineteenth century and the “revolutionary” laws of 1848, constitutional theory and practice after the Settlement of 1867, the interwar period, and the reestablishment of Hungarian constitutionalism in 1946, including the transition into the socialist constitution of 1949. After these descriptive and interpretative parts, the final two chapters look at the modern Basic Law and ask how a development of several centuries can or cannot be incorporated into present-day law, as well as whether it is desirable to do so at all.

The first two chapters show that the “constitution” did not start as such. Until the late eighteenth century, we only find a constant struggle for power between the crown on the one side and the nobility on the other. Alongside this continuous political dualism, the Tripartitum by István Werbőczy caused legal thinking to stagnate on a late medieval level so that no constitutional impulses could come from legal science. This changed when the late eighteenth century discovered “[ancient] constitution” ([ősi] alkotmány) as a term and an inter alia legal concept, retroactively construing a “historical constitution” for the country, mainly as a source of legitimacy for the ruling elites and their ancient privileges, such as the exemption from taxation, as well as for the Catholic church. Thus, the ancient constitution became an argument primarily designed to preserve and legitimize social and religious inequality. Even the 1848 laws did not bring about a radical change, as Hörcher’s analysis of that legislation and its “father,” Lajos Kossuth, explains.

A certain focus lies on the constitutional history of the time after the Compromise (1867–1919), which is justified because that epoch, alongside 1946, is the primary point of reference of the allusion to “our historical constitution” in today’s Basic Law. The Compromise era shows a failure of the democratic ideals of 1848 and the prevalence, in contrast, of late feudal structures defended by a nobility clinging to their antediluvian privileges. In defense of these privileges, the “ancient constitution” played an important role, because it was endowed with historical-national prestige, but as it was not laid down in a charter, it did not have a clearly defined content, and this allowed the governments of the day to say whatever they pleased (whatever best suited their needs in a given situation) about constitutional rules. This book also shows that Hungarian governments never failed to set aside a constitutional or statutory rule if they felt that it hampered their political ambitions. One prominent example of this is the Nationalities Act of 1868.

After 1920, Hungary pursued an insecure middle passage between the need to change (in part because of the state’s independence) and the desire to preserve the old constitutional system or at least the image of it, branded with the misleading term “legal continuity.” Here, it becomes clear how much the ideology of an “ancient constitution” can prevent necessary adaptation to new circumstances. On the other hand, the “Small Constitution” of 1946 is presented as a relatively successful effort to modernize the ancient constitution without abandoning entirely the tradition it represented. Balázs Fekete argues this case quite convincingly and thus persuasively proves the dominant view wrong according to which act 1946:I terminated historical constitutional continuity.

The last two chapters by Kálmán Pócza and Ferenc Hörcher try to determine the extent to which the historical processes described in the previous chapters can be used in the interpretation of the Basic Law of 2011. They approach the question from a politological point of view, thus circumventing the majority opinion of legal science according to which the Basic Law’s reference to “the achievements of our historical constitution” is at best symbolic. Pócza uses a theoretical approach, which does, as such, not give an immediate answer to the question, but it shows paths for further research which may make the historical constitution useful for today’s constitutional and legal purposes and requirements. Finally, Hörcher and Pócza ask whether incorporating ancient law into a modern constitution is useful and desirable. They assemble the pros and cons of the usefulness of such an enterprise and refer to future insights from the perspective of desirability.

The book contains several appendixes with the English translations of several crucial constitutional documents from 1222 until 2011. Some of these documents have now been published for the first time in English.

This book neither gives a comprehensive description of the “ancient constitution” nor does it analyze the “achievements of our historical constitution” from the point of view of modern constitutional law. It does serve, however, as a starting point for a predominantly politological analysis of what the “ancient constitution” can mean to a modern political-constitutional culture. As such, it is of interest not only to political scientists, but also to lawyers who get the opportunity to take a step back and look at an overall picture extending beyond the limitations of legal discourse. Finally, a reading public interested in the general political structures of Hungary will find a wealth of information in this volume.

Herbert Küpper
Institut für Ostrecht, Munich

The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century. By Liviu Pilat and Ovidiu Cristea. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, 48. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 337 pp.

Despite the abundance of literature on the crusades, The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century serves as an important monograph which will further an understanding of the complexity of the crusade movement in the late Middle Ages. With very few exceptions, the historiography tends to reflect a Western perspective on the crusade movement, centered on France, England, the Papacy, and the Italian merchant cities. Liviu Pilat and Ovidiu Cristea’s monograph, which has been published as part of the Brill series East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450, shifts focus to a less familiar crusade frontier, the Northern Black Sea region. Described by Gheorghe Bratianu as a “plaque tournante” of international commerce in the late Middle Ages, after 1204, the Black Sea area became an important crossroad in the Euro-Asian commercial system. Thereby, Latin Christendom expanded towards the east, but its interests clashed eventually with Ottoman expansion in the region. However, the struggle for hegemony was complex, and involved it Christian and Muslim powers alike who, despite their religious differences, at times built alliances in their struggles against factions within the two larger spheres. Thus, on many occasions, “Christians allied with Muslims against Christians, and Muslims allied with Christians against Muslims” (p.15).

The framework of Pilat and Cristea’s research highlights how Ottoman power and the Ottoman empire’s expansion collided with the Italian merchant cities and Hungary and Poland’s economic and strategic interests in the Black Sea region. The authors adopt a chronological approach from the Fourth Crusade (1204) to the 1503 general peace of Buda between Christendom and the sultan. The first two chapters of the book focus on the struggle for commercial supremacy and hegemony between the Porte and its commercial rivals in the area (Venice, Genoa, Hungary, and Poland). With a meticulous sense of detail, the authors describe the political and commercial realities which led to the advance of the Ottomans in Central Eastern Europe. Despite the crusade efforts and plans, from “1479 onwards the trade in the Black Sea was rigorously controlled by the Porte,” ending the role of the Black Sea “as a cornerstone of international trade in the Later Middle Ages” (p.63).

In the subsequent two chapters, the authors focus on the papal crusade policy in the Black Sea region in the fifteenth century and the change of the local ruler’s politics after the fall of Constantinople in 1453. There is also discussion of the religious aspects in the efforts of subsequent popes to use the “union of the Churches” as a sine qua non commitment of the Byzantine emperor to send military aid to the empire. Nonetheless neither the emperor nor the Patriarch of Constantinople had the authority to impose the union anywhere other than in the Byzantine empire. Therefore, the rejection of the Florentine Union had not only religious consequences in Central Eastern Europe, but also political particularities with permanent ramifications. Mehmed II’s conquest of the Byzantine capital created new political and economic realities to which the regional powers needed to adapt. Given the fact that both Hungary and Poland had major commercial interests in the area, the objective of the Holy See was to establish good relations between the two major players in Central Eastern Europe. Therefore, Pilat and Cristea argue that “good relations between these two Eastern polities were absolutely necessary for accomplishing the general crusade against the Ottomans” (p.134).

In the last two chapters, the authors examine the consolidation of Ottoman power in the Black Sea and the failed attempts to recover the two important strongholds in the region: Kilia and Akkerman. The expansion of the empire’s frontiers brought more challenges to the neighboring states: the strategic location of the two cities allowed raids in their territory. Pilat and Cristea argue that this conquest caused “restlessness, and the pope’s calling was received with much more interest” (p.223). Despite the strategic value of Kilia and Akkerman, the proposals for a reconquest of these two cities in a crusade-like campaign were pure fantasy. As the authors underline, the failure of this crusade policy was due to the “divergent political interests of the Christian states,” which “finally led to the consolidation of Ottoman domination in the northern Black Sea region” (p.230).

One important element that is constantly underlined by the authors is the relationship between crusading and local political power. The local rulers used the crusades to legitimize their political and commercial goals, and as the authors astutely emphasize, these ambitions conflicted with the crusading ideology. This conflict is reflected by the struggle to maintain a long-lasting political alliance, as every power had divergent interests and hegemony claims over the trade routes in the Black Sea. As Pilat and Cristea note, “before the Ottoman threat, the crusade represented a state of mind and an ideal, whose purpose was the recovery of the Holy Land, but at the same time the crusade was an extremely powerful political instrument in periods of crisis” (p.288). Through the examples of John Hunyadi, Mathias Corvinus, Stephen the Great, and John Olbracht, we are introduced to the crusade rhetoric of the fifteenth century. This was fueled by the need for Christian solidarity, the defense of the faith, and a growing fear inspired by the Turks. A different perspective from other theaters emerges: the complex relationship between the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. For the latter, a crusade was not the same enterprise as it was for the Catholics in the West. The Orthodox princes were not interested in the spiritual rewards offered by the popes. They considered the crusade “an expression of Christian solidarity” (p.292), and they only accepted the guidance of the pope to obtain financial support and military aid from the West.

Pilat and Cristea’s book is well researched, and they are versed in the history and the interactions in the northwestern Black Sea area. The use of secondary literature written in different languages (Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Italian, French, English) is impressive, as the large amount of documents and narrative sources used to shape this study. Though national historiographies tend to present the history of the later crusades in Central Eastern Europe in a contradictory (and sometimes quite biased) manner the authors have succeeded in untangling this massive corpus of secondary literature. With a rigorous insistence on maintaining a clear perspective and careful attention to fine detail, they guide their reader through the intertwined political, religious, and economic specter of Central Eastern Europe in the fifteenth century. Though the abundance of detail and information in the book may make it less appealing or less accessible to the larger reading public, The Ottoman Threat and Crusading on the Eastern Border of Christendom during the 15th Century constitutes an original contribution to our understanding of the crusades in the frontier zones, and it establishes certain guidelines which future scholars will not be able to ignore.

Cornel Bontea
University of Montreal

L’économie des couvents mendiants en Europe centrale: Bohême, Hongrie, Pologne, v. 1220–v. 1550. Edited by Marie-Madeleine de Cevins and Ludovic Viallet. Rennes, Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018. 447 pp.

The need for a new approach to the history of mendicant orders has increased in recent decades. This volume presents a new generation of historians interested in this field of research and active all across Central Europe. The selection of contributors is the result of the MARGEC – Marginalité, économie et christianisme. La vie materiélles des couvents mendiants en Europe centrale (v.1220–v.1550) project, developed between 2012 and 2016 under the supervision of French historian Marie-Madeleine de Cevins, who coordinated the volume together with Ludovic Viallet. At the core of their interest in mendicant orders lies the legacy of Jacques Le Goff, who was among the first to identify the presence of one or the other orders in the development of urban life in the Middle Ages. This approach has represented a way of seeing the mendicant orders as agents of change, rather than narrating their histories from within.

The volume was devised to contain four sections, each of which comprises thematic studies. Thus, the authors contributing to the first part, Entre stabilité et précarité: le défi de la pauvreté [Between stability and precarity: the challenge of poverty], marshal a series of examples showcasing the contradictions within various European mendicant convents, the dynamics of which indicated a shift from the ideal of poverty. The second section, Les Mendiants et la terre, ou le défi de la propriété [The mendicants and their landed estates, or the challenge of ownership], examines the mendicant establishments that went on to attain landed property outside their urban communities through donations or acquisition. The studies included in the third part, Autour des frères: soutiens matériels et flux immatériels [Around the friars: financial benefactors and flow of intangible assets], emphasize the nature of benefactors and strive to identify them, primarily on the basis of accounts of support granted for the development of mendicant convents. The last section, Les Mendiants dans l’économie du salut [The mendicants and the economy of salvation], closes the volume with a series of examples of the religious privileges awarded to the mendicants by the Holy See, namely the right to grant indulgences or to bury members of the lay community within the convents’ premises. The book also contains a name index, a place index, and a list of the contributing authors, thus making it easier for the reader to find passages which are more relevant to particular interests.

The studies in the first section examine some cases of convents “struggling” to keep in line with their respective rule or their ideal of poverty. The areas of mendicant presence chosen by the authors contributing to this section are the ones assumed by the volume’s coordinators, namely to a large extent from Central Europe, for instance the articles by Dominika Brudzy (“Poverty Put to the Test in both Dominican Friaries of Sandomierz up to the Sixteenth Century”), Rafał Kubicki (“The Economic Situation of Mendicants in Royal Prussia in the Fifteenth and First Half of the Sixteenth Century”), and Martin Ollé and Rudolf Procházka (“The Cloister in Early Franciscan Architecture in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia during the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries”). This part includes also two case studies on the mendicants’ history in medieval England and Ireland, as well as two other interconnected studies concerning the level of education and culture gained by the friars within the mendicant convents. Marie Charbonnel’s paper describes the development of libraries belonging to these convents in Central Europe, and Kerzy Kaliszuk considers the example of Poland in the Middle Ages.

The second section, Les Mendiants et la terre, ou le défi de la propriété, seems more homogenous from the spatial perspective, the areas of interest being more related to one another, whether the studies in question examine the case of mendicants’ landed estates in the Hungarian realm (Beatrix Fülöpp-Romhányi), in rural Bohemia (Petr Hlaváč), in Brno (Adrien Quéret-Podesta), or in Prague (Christian-Frederik Felskau). The papers focus on the ways in which landed estates were acquired. They also identify the benefactors, who were members of the nobility or the royal family. The section stands out with a study on the nature of donations given to mendicants in medieval Poland based on the example of the Poor Clares’ convent in Strzelin (Olga Miriam Przybyłowicz), this being the only paper dedicated to a mendicant women’s order.

The section chapter, Autour des frères: souteins matériels et flux immatériels, builds on the first two, bringing further information about the mendicants’ benefactors, including examples concerning the Franciscan convents in Silesia and Upper Lusatia in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries (Ludovic Viallet), the Franciscans in Bohemia in the early sixteenth century (Petr Hlaváček), and the donation-based economy of the Dominicans in Sieradz, Poland (Grzegorz Wierzchowski) and the Franciscans in Zadar, Croatia (Sanja Miljan, Suzana Miljan). For the region of Prussia, many donations to the mendicant orders were made by the Teutonic Order in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries (Piotr Oliński). The involvement of benefactors and patrons was visible even in the furnishing provided for the churches of the mendicant orders all over Central Europe (Marie Charbonnel).

The last section, Les Mendiants dans l’économie du salut, emphasizes or brings forth elements of the histories of some of the orders which led to conflictive relations with the regular clergy, mostly due to the privileges they received from the outset: the right to grant indulgences and to bury laymen within the premises of their convents. The examples included in this section of the volume reflect these particularities in the cases of Central Europe between 1225 and 1275 (Étienne Doublier) in general and, more narrowly, in the Hungarian realm in the late Middle Ages (Gergely Kiss) or in Český Krumlov in the Czech Republic of today (Adrian Quéret-Podesta). Beatrix Fülöpp-Romhányi’s study stands out. She emphasizes the importance of the interdisciplinary approach with examples of pertinent findings from the field of archaeology, which are combined with insights based on written sources. This section ends with another contribution by Stéphanie Vocanson-Manzi regarding the Franciscan involvement in the burials of laymen in fourteenth-century Lausanne.

From the very outset, the editors aimed to include a significant number of scholars in the development of the project and in the composition of this volume. In my view, one of their greatest achievement is encouraging and presenting a new generation of historians, young researchers, whose work is dedicated to the history of mendicant orders in Central Europe. The project and, more specifically, this book will do a great deal to suggest avenues for further inquiry to the next generation of historians.

Corina Hopârtean
Institute of Social Sciences and Humanities, Sibiu

Secular Power and Sacral Authority in Medieval East-Central Europe. Edited by Kosana Jovanović and Suzana Miljan. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2018. 186 pp.

The past decade has seen a significant number of works dedicated to Central Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages published in English. The volume under review here is another sign that the trend is being “institutionalized,” putting Central Eastern Europe more firmly on the map of Medieval Studies. The volume has its roots in the international conference Second Medieval Workshop, which was held at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Rijeka (Croatia) on October 10 and 11, 2014. The aim of the series of conferences is to provide young scholars with a forum in which to present their work. However, the volume also reveals a side which is usually left unmentioned, namely the work of more experienced scholars whose assistance is invaluable to young scholars. The Foreword by the editors is followed by János M. Bak’s paper (“Folklore of the Medieval Kings of Hungary: Preliminary Research Report”), which tries to address the question of what one can say about how the kings’ subjects responded to and were influenced by the royal symbolic communication. In order to answer this question, Bak turns to the memoria of rulers of Hungary–Croatia preserved in folklore. Likewise, the paper by Katalin Szende and Ivan Jurković (“Variations on Nobility in Central and South-Eastern Europe: An Introduction”) should be seen as another example of the support given by more experienced scholars. In this essay, the authors give an overview of eleven papers that follow, focusing on the social group which dominates most of the papers: the nobility. Judit Gál (“The Changes of Office of Ban of Slavonia after the Mongol Invasion in Hungary (1242–1267)”) looks at the changes in the royal policy regarding the bans of tocius Sclavonie in the period after the Mongol Invasion, especially in their connections to the towns of Split and Trogir, in whose internal (communal) developments the author finds the reason for the more focused attention given to them by Bela IV. Maja Cepetić Rogić (“The Reconstruction and Role of Roads in the Formation of a Medieval Cultural Landscape: The Example of Episcopal Estates of Dubrava, Ivanić and Čazma”) and Nikolina Antonić (“Late Medieval Village in Turopolje (Slavonia): The Example of Donja Lomnica”), rely both on written sources and, heavily, on archeological works in their inquiries. The former focuses on how the roads of Roman Antiquity influenced the road network in one part of Medieval Slavonia and, in turn, how these roads determined the sites and structures of settlements. The latter looks at the archeological remains at one site in Turopolje, which in the Middle Ages belonged to the group of castle warriors, and on the basis of this, sheds light on the material conditions of the lives of members of this group of conditional nobility. The same social group, also from Medieval Slavonia, is in the focus of the contribution by Éva B. Halász (“From Castle-Warrior to Nobleman: Case Study of a Family of Slavonian Lesser Nobility”), which looks at the castle warriors from Križevci through the prism of social mobility. Kristian Bertović (“Economic Development and Transformation of the Pauline Monasteries near Senj under the Frankapan Patronage”) looks at two Pauline Monasteries, Holy Savior in Ljubotina and St. Helen, and their relations, expressed mostly through nexus of land donations, with their social environment, the most significant elements of which were the citizens of Senj and the Frankopan magnate family. István Kádas (“The Society of the Noble Judges in Northeastern Hungary during the Reign of King Sigismund (1387–1437) presents a comparative study of a group within the nobility which held the office of noble judge in Abaúj, Gömör, and Sáros Counties. Kádas convincingly argues that we can speak of a well-defined group within the county nobility. However, the author shows significant differences in the social relations of the nobility, especially concerning familiaritas (either as vicecomites or in the service of the magnates), which he traces to the differences in the overall structure of the nobility in respective counties. These insights call into question the conclusions reached in some earlier studies, which tried to represent these differences as widely regional. Valentina Zovko (“Development of Ragusan Diplomatic Service in the First Half of the Fifteenth Century: Father and Son at the Court of Duke Sandalj Hranić”) traces changes in Ragusan diplomacy from a Medieval framework towards the development of proto-Modern practices, through the embassies of Marin de Gondula and his son Benedict to Duke Sandalj Hranić of Bosnia. She looks at the duration of their services, their expenses, their methods of persuasion, and the nature of their communication with Ragusan authorities. Silvie Vančurova (“Croatian Students at the University of Prague in the Fifteenth Century”) shows the receptions of the ideas of Jan Hus among Prague students from Croatia, or at least among those few who can be identified as such for certain, but she warns that there are no indications that these students managed to spread Hus’ ideas after returning to their homes more widely. Neven Isailović’s paper (“A Contribution to Medieval Croatian Diplomatics: Cyrillic Charters of Croatian Nobility from the Franciscan Monastery on Trsat in Rijeka”) traces the use of the Cyrillic script in Medieval Croatia and offers diplomatic analyses of several charters preserved in Rijeka. Tomislav Matić (“Peter of Crkvica, a Man Who Could Be Trusted: The Career of a Middle-Ranking Cleric and Diplomat in the Kingdom of Hungary in Mid-Fifteenth Century”) presents a case of a member of the lower nobility who, as a cleric, served John Hunyadi and John Vitez, and his role as a small cog in the wheel of high politics. Miloš Ivanović (“The Nobility of the Despotate of Serbia between Ottoman Empire and Hungary (1457–1459)”) looks at the political decision of the Serbian nobility clinched between two powers, the Ottomans and the Kingdom of Hungary–Croatia. He contextualizes their alliances. The papers collected here offer clear examples of the work of young authors with the skills necessary to pursue the science of history, well accomplished in dealing with sources and familiar with the relevant secondary literature. However, it is hard not to notice unevenness among the various articles, which can perhaps be seen as a reflection of different stages of their research. Some show ability to address larger issues (Kádas first and foremost, but also Zvoko and Ivanović), while some papers tend to be restricted to micro problems, and in these the main frame of the volume, Central Eastern Europe, and its various distinctive aspects, tend to disappear in the background. With more experience, these budding historians may overcome this minor shortcoming.

Antun Nekić
University of Zadar

Hit, hatalom, humanizmus: Bártfa reformációja és művelődése Leonhard Stöckel korában [Faith, power, and Humanism: The Reformation and culture in Bártfa/Bartfeld in the age of Leonhard Stöckel]. By Barnabás Guitman. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2017. 260 pp.

This book by Barnabás Guitman was published in 2017 as a revised and expanded version of his doctoral dissertation, which he defended in 2009 at Pázmány Péter Catholic University. In his preface, Guitman notes that there are very few works of secondary literature in Hungarian which offer detailed and penetrating presentations of the denominational shifts which took place in the course of the early Reformation in the cities of the Kingdom of Hungary and the very significant social changes which accompanied these shifts. Guitman’s book unquestionably addresses this lacuna in the scholarship. The preface offers an explanation of the relationships between the three key terms in the title. Guitman notes that the relationship between faith and power was much more a matter of stark contrast in the period in question than it was in the periods before the Reformation. Yet, as he also observes in connection with Humanism, the question of the early Reformation cannot be limited simply to denominational history. One must also place at least as much emphasis on aspects of cultural history. Guitman seeks to examine these aspects in a wider European context, and he does just this, deftly contextualizing the issues in question into tendencies in social and denominational history in Europe. One strength of his work which merits particular mention is his use, alongside sources on the Kingdom of Hungary, of German, Silesian, and Czech sources as well.

In the chapter which reflects on the sources and the works of secondary literature on which the book is based, Guitman offers a thorough survey of the relevant primary and secondary literature. He also explains its thematic and geographical organization. This presentation of the relevant groups of sources offers clear evidence of the rich array of works on which Guitman has based his research, and it also provides a useful survey for other scholars who are dealing with the period in question. I would add only that, perhaps as a continuation of this line of inquiry, Guitman hopefully will continue his work and expand on the source material on which he has drawn with the inclusion of documents from other significant institutions which preserve sources. At the same time, the survey of the Hungarian secondary literature on urban history, alas, is not exhaustive.

The presentation of the secondary literature on the Reformation culminates with an assessment of the theory of confessionalization associated with Heinz Schilling and Wolfgang Reinhard. Alongside this theory, Guitman also presents arguments which have called it into question in his discussion of the works and lectures by Heinreich Richard Schmidt, Péter Tusor, and Gábor Kármán. As far as the relevance of this theory to an examination of the early Reformation processes in Bártfa is concerned, according to the introduction, the reader will find an answer to this question in the last chapter. The theoretical system in the historiography and Guitman’s own research (and the conclusions drawn in both) are organically connected in the discussion of the theory of confessionalization, though the applicability of this theory to the early Reformation is a question of subjective selection.

Guitman briefly touches on how changes in confessional identity played a role in the emergence of conflicts in foreign relations at the time, and because of the dynamics of informal denominational networks, the influence of these informal networks extended beyond state borders.

After the summary of the theoretical background, we are given insights into religious life in Bártfa at the time, as well as the pious societies, relations between the city and the Church, and economic life. It is worth noting that, the title of the subchapter notwithstanding (“Characteristic features of the late Medieval city”), Guitman reflects primarily on early modern processes. Drawing on the theories of Hamm and Weber, Guitman provocatively interconnects questions concerning economics and mindset. The burghers’ fervent religiousness, expectations placed on the Church, and the urban community’s growing demand for independence (a Pan-European phenomenon) had a strong influence on relations between the city councils and the Church institutions found in the cities. Regrettably, in his discussion of this, Guitman uses the term hospital (“kórház”) when the term spital (“ispotály”) would have been more accurate.

With an examination of cultural developments in the city in the early sixteenth century, Guitman offers an engaging presentation of the activities of the Humanists who came to Bártfa through a discussion of the issue of schooling in the cities of upper Hungary. The detailed consideration of their work offers insights into the theme of the book more narrowly understood. The presentation of the relationship between Bártfa and Valentin Eck is organically connected to this. Guitman offers an important analysis which addresses a lacuna in the secondary literature, since many questions come up concerning Eck’s life and political career. We do not know all the details concerning why Eck ended up coming to the city, and Guitman himself only mentions the intercession of Elek Thurzó. It is quite certain, in any event, that Eck’s presence led to a stronger relationship between Krakow and Bártfa. For Guitman, the real significance of Eck’s work lies in the fact that the school in Bártfa developed into an outstanding representative of Humanist thought when Eck served as rector, and in doing so, it provided an excellent foundation for the later work of Leonhard Stöckel.

The next section of the book, which is a coherent whole from the perspective of its content, addresses the first period of the Reformation in Bártfa. Dividing his narrative into clear points, Guitman examines the relationships between the influences of the media (by which I mean the explosion of information at the time) and the personal networks among the Reformation thinkers and Humanists who were active in the region. He refers to the process of confessionalization mentioned in the introduction. This process can be said to have begun in a given area with the consolidation of a given tendency of the Reformation.

Drawing on the example of the Augustinians, Guitman offers a cross-section of the coexistence of the community (or communities) of monks and the city, as well as of their conflicts at the time of the proto-Reformation. He reaches back to one of the points of the earlier subchapter and shows how, as is commonly known among historians of the era, these conflicts stretched into the early Reformation, and in the case of many cities, they played a decisive role in the acceptance of the Reformation. Guitman emphasizes the earlier mentioned significance of the social network of the schoolmasters, preachers, and notaries who had some knowledge of Humanist teachings. In connection with the case of the Augustinians, he briefly sheds some light on the functionings of the power centers (such as the episcopal faculty) and the social forces (such as the Catholic nobility) lying outside the city, though the reader is given little more than some insights into their unsuccessful attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of the city in the early Reformation.

In his discussion of the reformers who were active in Bártfa, Guitman examines first and foremost the work of Wolfgang Schustel, the city chaplain. He draws on the extensive research of Zoltán Csepregi and raises precise questions concerning Schustel’s life and career. However, we are given no answer to the question of the relevance of the detailed discussion of Schustel’s family background to his work in Bártfa. The title of the subchapter, “Wolfgang Schustel, Bártfa’s first Reformation thinker?” suggests a certain ambivalence concerning the assessment of Schustel’s role and work. On the basis of the sources used by Guitman, there was palpable tension surrounding Schustel after 1527. Schustel’s conflict with parish priest Kristóf offers insights into numerous general phenomena which can be seen as important moments in the history of the cities at the time. The leaders of the city sided with Schustel and opposed the unaccommodating “master Kristóf.” King of Hungary, John Zápolya, who at the time exerted less and less influence in the region, tried to intercede on Kristóf’s behalf. Bártfa asked the magistrate of Kassa (today Košice, Slovakia) for advice on how to address the deadlock. Given the upheaval created by the civil war, it was essential for the city to remain aware of the latest developments in order to ensure its safety and security, so correspondence among many parties provided important information concerning events beyond the city.

Guitman, however, fails even in the remaining section of the chapter to identify the reason for the uncertainty suggested in the title of the subchapter. He notes that, at the turn of the 1520s and 1530s, Schustel urged reform in the teachings of the Church many times in his letters to the city council, and although Guitman does conclude (drawing again on Csepregi) that, in the end, Schustel did not succeed in having all of his suggestions adopted, the suggestions he made indicate that his ideas were clearly shaped by the spirit of the Reformation. Ultimately, Guitman identifies Schustel not as a “Reformer” (i.e. an unambiguous representative of the Reformation), but rather as a “preacher who represented the spirit of the Reformation.” At the end of the subchapter, Guitman again distances his discussion a bit from the urban community and quite astutely emphasizes that the causes of the conflicts between the burghers of Bártfa and the local Catholic institutions were not exclusively questions of religious reform or theological difference. Rather, relations between the different linguistic communities also played a role, as did political and economic interests.

After Schustel’s departure, in the search for a new preacher who would be acceptable for the city, the network among Humanists and preachers who were active representatives of the spirit of the Reformation played a decisive role, as Guitman touches on earlier in the book several times. The magistrate was not to be deterred in this effort, neither by the continuous interventions of Ferdinand’s military leaders in the region nor by the interventions of the ruler’s military leaders. In the end, with the mediation of the city of Besztercebánya (today Banská Bystrica, Slovakia), the position of preacher was taken by Michael Radaschin, who had studied in Wittenberg and who in all likelihood also knew Leonhard Stöckel. Radaschin was in Bártfa by 1544 at the latest, and he was active as the pastor there for 22 years. In their work together, Radaschin and Stöckel, who was the school rector, played a decisive role in the history of the city in the sixteenth century.

The Synod of 1546 in Eperjes (today Prešov, Slovakia) was a significant event in the course of which commitment to the Augsburg Confession and Melanchton’s Loci Communes was declared. Guitman persuasively argues that Stöckel was not among the authors of the 1559–1560 version of the Confessio Pentapolitana. With regards to the Confessio pentapolitana, the secondary literature in German (for instance Gottfried Seebaβ and Max Josef Suda) often notes merely that the authors drew on the Augsburg Confession. With acute critical acumen, Guitman quite rightly draws attention, in contrast, to the differences.

The chapter entitled “Theological debates and rivals,” begins with a lengthy presentation of the Prussian Reformation, which is only indirectly related to Guitman’s topic, more narrowly understood. The discussion of the work of Lauterwald in Eperjes, however, constitutes an integral part of the questions addressed in the book.

The chapter in which Guitman examines the writings of Leonhard Stöckel also begins with a lengthy discussion of antecedents. From the perspective of Stöckel’s work, considering the intellectual and theological influences to which he was exposed early on and his later relationships, the detailed presentation of relations in Breslau (today Wrocław, Poland) is entirely justified. As a kind of analogue to the situation in Bártfa, relations in Breslau offer insights into the ways in which the city, which had also embarked down the path of the Reformation, transformed its educational institutions. The mentality of Wittenberg had already exerted a strong influence on Stöckel, and in the early 1530s he also enrolled at a university considered one of the citadels of the Reformation.

In 1538, Stöckel returned to the city of his birth. The work he did as rector in Bártfa drew to a large extent on the experiences he had had during his years in school. The studies he pursued with Humanists like Valentin Eck, Leonhard Cox, and Johann Agricola (from his time in Eisleben) were a decisive part of these experiences. Stöckel was strongly influenced by Melanchton in his efforts to transform the relationship between the Church and the secular powers. With the consent and support of the Bártfa councilors, he put the school under the authority of the city, organized the incomes set aside for education, and separated them from the parochial sources. The school and its instructors, however, thus were more dependent on the city leaders than they had ever been before.

Guitman offers an excellent overview of everyday life in the Bártfa school by presenting the daily schedules of the students and teachers. He contends that, within a relatively short period of time, the school in Bártfa had become one of the most frequented institutions in the country. Both burgher families and families belonging to the nobility were eager to send their children to the school, and within a few years, the school had acquired an impressive reputation even beyond the borders of the country. Students came from Transylvania, Silesia, Poland, Moravia, Austria, and even Prussia and Russia. As a consequence of his dedicated organizational work, which won him wide renown, Stöckel was given the title Praeceptor Hungariae by his contemporaries.

In the next subchapter, Guitman shifts focus and examines Stöckel’s work in the school by analyzing his pedagogical writings. In the composition of his works, Stöckel followed very much in the path of Erasmus. His commentaries on the Gospels were not necessarily written with concrete pedagogical goals, though his books of sermons were definitely composed with teaching in mind. Not surprisingly, in his explanations of Scripture, he clearly supports Lutheran teachings. Guitman raises the important question of the consistent use of Latin. He suggests that Stöckel may have had two goals: first, given the universal nature of Latin as a language of the Church and of education, he wanted the teachings of Christ to reach the widest possible audience and, second, Stöckel was better able to make use of the rhetorical and aesthetic toolbox of Latin than he would have been of the vernacular languages. In connection with Stöckel’s work as a teacher, Guitman touches briefly on theatrical art in the school and also on two of the less well-known students who attended the institution, Jacob Heraclides and Georg Henisch.

In the last larger thematic unit of his book, Guitman offers a thorough overview of Stöckel’s writings in defense of the faith, writings in which the question of the danger posed by the Ottoman Empire is given considerable emphasis. Guitman provides a detailed discussion of the experiences of the cities of upper Hungary with the Turks, again touching on the more important aspects of the relationship between the central power and the cities (for instance communication and military questions). Stepping out of this system of relationships, he presents Luther’s views on the Ottomans as well. In connection with the image of the Ottomans in Stöckel’s writings, Guitman draws attention to the points at which the Bártfa rector’s views concerning the Turks do not overlap entirely with those of Luther. He praises Stöckel for remaining in Bártfa in the 1540s and 1550s, even though he would have been able to return to Breslau, which was safer. Guitman shows a gift for thorough source analysis in his discussion of the description of the martyrs of Libetbánya (today Ľubietová, Slovakia), descriptions attributed at the level of the base text to Stöckel. He also subjects the contentions made in the source to critical analysis.

In summary, Guitman has offered his reader a thematically lucid and coherent book in which he presents conclusions which are based on extensive knowledge and study of the secondary literature and archival sources, conclusions which in many cases bring to a close debate which have gone on for decades now or which convincingly dismiss fundamentally mistaken views. He uses the appropriate terminology, and his style is flowing and clear. The system according to which he has organized his references is also clear and easy to follow. He is consistent in his use of the basic principles of transcription and terminology presented in the introduction. The tables included in the appendices offer persuasive support for various parts of the main text. The second, third, fourth, and fifth tables in particular offer an excellent summary of the central themes of the book, more narrowly understood. Guitman essentially accomplishes the task he sets for himself in his introduction, according to which he seeks to put the issue of the Church and schooling in Bártfa into the larger European context. In the end, the central idea presented in the introduction could most certainly be continued, for with his book, Guitman has done a great deal to further a deeper knowledge and more nuanced understanding of the denominational and accompanying social changes which took place in the course of the early Reformation in the cities of the Kingdom of Hungary.

Attila Tózsa-Rigó
University of Miskolc

Untertanen des Sultans oder des Kaisers: Struktur und Organisationsformen der beider Wiener griechischen Gemeinden von den Anfängen im 18. Jahrhundert bis 1918. By Anna Ransmayr. Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2018. 764 pp.

Introduced to a wider, international academic public through the publication of Traian Stoianovich’s seminal article “The Conquering Balkan Orthodox Merchant” in 1960 in the Journal of Economic History, the immigration of Greek and other Orthodox merchants from the Ottoman Balkans into the Habsburg Empire during the eighteen and nineteenth centuries has been a field of interest for different historiographic traditions. First and foremost, it has been significant for histories of the modern Balkan nation states which in a retrospective and often arbitrary way have identified these states as migrant merchants’ homelands, and it has been particularly important for the Greek historiography, in which historical diaspora studies have a long tradition and are still a pool of vibrant scholarly production. On the host countries’ side, it was the Romanian and especially the Hungarian historiography that incorporated the history of the Greek merchant colonies into narratives of their Habsburg past. Historians such as Iván Hajnóczy, Endre Horváth, Ödön Füves, and Olga Cicanci have made significant contributions to the history of the Greek merchant diaspora in the Habsburg lands by bringing to light a rich corpus of archival material and generating wider interest in the subject, along with numerous publications. The topic found much less resonance among Austrian historians, despite the prominent position of Vienna in the network of the Greek merchant settlements in the Habsburg Empire and the significant presence of the Greek entrepreneurs in the economic life of the city throughout the nineteenth century. Paradoxically, as visible as the material imprints of this presence in the commercial heart of the old city are (“Griechenviertel,” Holy Trinity Church, Saint George Church), the Greeks are just as invisible from the historiographic narratives on the multireligious and multiethnic nineteenth-century Viennese bourgeoisie.

Anna Ransmayr’s monograph Untertanen des Sultans oder des Kaisers, an edited version of a dissertation defended in 2017 at the Institute for Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies of the University of Vienna, is the first comprehensive history of the Greeks in Vienna in German. Based on the existing scholarly production in Greek and the relevant contributions in German, Ransmayr moves the research further in two ways. She does so, first, by making use of sources from the archives of the two Greek communities in Vienna, to which there was no access before 2005–2007, and, second, she extends the time scope of the research to 1918, i.e. well beyond the conventional (in the relevant accounts) limit of the second half of the nineteenth century.

The book consists of six chapters (conclusions included) which could be grouped into two major thematic parts. The first examines the institutional history of the two Greek communities in Vienna, while the second deals with the demographic and social structure of the Viennese Greeks and their settlement patterns, as well as with issues of their identities, affiliations, and self-recognition. A voluminous section containing edited archival sources on the history of the two Greek communities is also included.

The book’s center of gravity lies in the first part, which constitutes the author’s key contribution to the history of the Greeks in Vienna. Although the use of new sources from the communal archives does not change the overall picture we have had so far, it nevertheless substantially complements our knowledge and supports older cases with new evidence. In this direction, Ransmayr’s contribution in challenging the essentialist perception of the communities as embodiments of a national character is particularly important, as she not only documents the older position, according to which the organization of the Orthodox immigrants in communities was imposed by the Habsburg authorities, but also shows clearly that both Greek communities themselves were specific Habsburg institutions.

However, the use of new sources has primarily enabled the author to write the institutional history of a small immigrant cluster, in which the reader can detect the major processes associated with the transition from empires to nation states in Southeast and Central Europe and their impacts on diasporic groups’ and imperial subjects’ loyalties and identities. Through a thorough examination of the sources, Ransmayr follows the institutional organization of the Greeks in Vienna from the foundation of the first Orthodox church and the granting of imperial privileges to the Saint George’s brotherhood of the Ottoman Greek Orthodox merchants of the city and the Holy Trinity’s community of the Habsburg naturalized Greek and Vlach Orthodox communities in 1776 and 1783 respectively, until their demise, which, not accidentally, coincides with the disintegration of the Habsburg Empire. The book offers a coherent account of the transition from an “imperial” pattern of community organization based on the criteria of common religion and allegiance to a sovereignty (Sultan, or Kaiser) to another, in which ethnic affiliation gains weight, without, however, calling imperial loyalty into question. Signs of this transition are to be observed as early as the first half of the eighteenth century, with the exclusion of the Serbs from the administration of the Saint George’s chapel, and intensified in the second half of the nineteenth century, when the creation of national states in the Balkans and the presence of other Orthodox populations in Vienna combined with the rapid decline of the Greeks in the city led to an increasing ethnicization of the identity discourse. But as the book shows, the ethnicization process of the communities was far from being linear and without tensions. In so far as it was not imposed from above, the existence of two Greek-Orthodox communities, one for the Ottoman and one for the Habsburg subjects, set its seal institutionally, too, on the differing economic and social orientations within the Greek diaspora. Instead of a linear course, the third chapter of the book describes how two imperial institutions, such as the Greek communities, tried to adapt to the new national realities and political loyalties in the places of origin and how the Habsburg authorities reacted to them.

In sum, the book can be read as a case study both of the history of the Greek diaspora and the history of the religious and ethnic groups of the Habsburg monarchy. Greater theorization of the findings and a closer connection with the relevant historiographic debates in Greece, Austria, and Hungary would better serve the venture. In any case, it is an excellently documented book which fills a historiographical gap and is worth reading.

Vaso Seirinidou
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens 

Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest. By Pál Ács. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2019. 333 pp.

It is always a pleasure to see a good volume appear on the history and culture of Hungary in English. Fortunately, in recent years, we have more and more specialized English books on subjects which have always had broad appeal in Europe, including the Reformation and the Ottoman occupation. The Reformations in Hungary in the Age of the Ottoman Conquest offers selected essays on both of these major themes. It is the first English-language volume by the renowned historian of Hungarian literature and culture, Pál Ács, who is senior research fellow at the Institute for Literary Studies at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Curiously, Ács, who is originally a scholar of Hungarian literature, teaches presently as an honorary professor of history proper at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest).

Ács is a man of essays. He has written over 200 published scholarly articles, and several of his previous books are collected volumes of studies. He unquestionably has an original interest in a wide range of different themes and topics. With the curiosity of a humanist antiquarian, he searches for stimulating threads of the past, which lead him to exciting stories, figures, and historical problems. Consequently, it is not easy to find a single common narrative for the eighteen studies in the volume. As Ács notes in his introduction, it is impossible to grasp reality entirely, even less the “reality” of the past. However, if we can solidly support our views, organize our subject matter, and narrate it well, we may convince others of our way of comprehending “reality” as experienced by historical agents. Yet there is a major common ground to the author’s varied interests, and this is the question of how late Renaissance men (especially ethnic Hungarian intellectuals of the sixteenth century) reacted to two major challenges of their times: the Reformation (or the Reformations in the plural) and the Ottoman presence in divided Hungary. While the Reformation concerned the spiritual and intellectual life of Hungarians, the Ottoman presence influenced their essential experience of culture and otherness, as well as their security and prosperity. Alongside these two major themes, the Reformation (part two) and the Ottoman presence (part three), two shorter parts deal with the question of Erasmian humanism (part one) and seventeenth-century Catholic renewal (part four).

Part one, entitled “Erasmian Challenges,” offers a general introduction to Erasmus’s Hungarian influence and two case studies. It underlines the ways Erasmus paradoxically contributed to the advancement of the Hungarian language. In Ács’s analysis, Erasmus most importantly represented a new model of the independent learned man, especially the one who desired spiritual renewal but had ambivalent feelings about the Reformation. Erasmus taught them the philosophy of Christ, which was neither Catholic nor Lutheran but was purportedly based purely on the Bible, above all on the New Testament. If this new Christian philosophy was to reach the individual and teach him morality, it needed to be translated into the vernacular. This was realized by the first Bible translators, who wished to create a book, as János Sylvester, the Hungarian translator of the New Testament, put it, “in which the Savior Christ himself speaks in Hungarian.”

Benedek Komjáti, another translator, translated only Saint Paul’s letters. Appearing in 1533, his was the first Hungarian vernacular book. As Ács reveals (in chapter three), the translation was based on the edition and interpretation of Erasmus. It thus merits our attention for several reasons. One of these is the relationship between vernacularism and female readership (the patron of the work was the widow Katalin Frangepán), a relationship familiar from Western contexts but little studied by Hungarian scholars. Ács does not pursue this question either. For him, Komjáti’s translation matters both from the perspective of the new “print Hungarian,” that is, the problem of written Hungarian, and from the perspective of a new linguistic community defined by its language, which Komjáti’s book was about to create self-consciously. One of Komjáti’s questions was how Hungarians ought to react to the military and political disaster created by the Ottoman occupation. In Ács’s reading, one possible answer to this question was the book itself: Hungarians could find their way out of the political crisis through spiritual and subsequent cultural and literary renewal, following in the footsteps of Christ, as explained by Erasmus via the teachings of Saint Paul. Yet Komjáti also had a more specific answer, which related his work to the ideas of many sixteenth-century Protestants, namely that Hungarians could become God’s newly chosen people.

An aspect of this Jewish–Hungarian parallel is the subject of the complex and exciting study on the Protestant reception of a characteristically Catholic hagiographic story on the martyrdom of the Holy Maccabees in Hungary. This is the subject of chapter two, which emphasizes Erasmus’s influence on this reception history but which could also easily be placed in part two of the volume, entitled “Protestant Reformations in Cultural Contexts.”

Part two also has an introductory chapter, in which Ács argues that the Renaissance and the Reformations had similar intellectual goals, namely the recovery of a lost golden age. One of the theses of the chapter concerns the interrelatedness of the different denominational movements in the sixteenth century. Ács claims that distinct confessional cultures in Hungary only began to develop in the seventeenth century, when the initial goal of the different Reformations (Christian unity) was essentially abandoned.

Chapter seven deals with an early work by Mátyás Dévai entitled On the Sleeping of Saints. Dévai, who was a leading figure of ethnic Hungarian Lutheranism, studied in Wittenberg and compiled his work in 1531, shortly after his return to Hungary. This text was lost, but since Dévai discussed the question again six years later, we can reconstruct the original. The major context in which the article places Dévai’s work was the Protestant discussion of the fate of the human soul after death and before Doomsday. This was obviously a tricky question. One could gain much popularity by rejecting the notion of Purgatory as a human construction, but there were many pitfalls to avoid concerning Hell, resurrection, and the mortality/immortality of the soul. Oddly, Dévai was interested in the debate only to the extent that it gave support to arguments against the cult of the saints. If the saints’ souls were sleeping after their death, they could not be invoked by the living. For Dévai, this was also the case with the Virgin Mary, Hungary’s patron saint, and this constituted a radical, unpatriotic, and unpopular claim. The problem with Dévai’s theory of soul-sleeping was that it was dangerously close to the Anabaptist doctrine of the death of the soul. Consequently, Dévai modified his earlier theory and tempered its claims. Nonetheless, he continued to target the cult of the saints, which says much of the context of the early Reformation in Hungary, which involved violent attacks by the people against images of the saints.

Part three of the book (“The Changing Image of Ottoman Turks”) collects studies from Ács’s more recent and very fruitful research on the Ottomans. Some of the articles have already inspired further research, especially the ones that concern geographical areas where mixed and fluid identities were the order of the day. As a Hungarian researcher, Ács is in a privileged position to observe historical agents moving between Christian Europe and the Ottoman Empire, yet the way he composes his narratives on the basis of less familiar or hidden information sheds light on the most intuitive and creative aspects of his scholarship.

Chapter eleven puts the story of Alvise Gritti in context. Having grown up in Constantinople, Gritti was the illegitimate son of a doge of Venice. He had so much influence in Constantinople that even Sultan Suleyman followed his politics for a while. This chapter explains the less studied international and Ottoman dynamics which resulted first in Gritti’s sudden rise in Transylvania and then his eventual fall and brutal death in 1534.

The following three chapters all deal with Ottoman renegades with Hungarian contacts or origins. Chapter twelve calls attention to Ibrahim, the Ottoman brother-in-law of the humanist diplomat Andreas Dudith. It caused an enormous scandal when Dudith, as the bishop of Pécs, married a Polish noblewoman in 1567. The scandal would have been even greater if people had known that his new wife’s uncle was a renegade, one of the most powerful and dreaded dragomans of the age. There were now two members in the same family serving two inimical emperors. It is thanks to Ács’s research that we know about this unparalleled relationship, however scarce the information concerning their personal contacts may be (Ibrahim’s supposed financial help of Dudith’s family is not substantiated).

Chapter thirteen uncovers the origin and activity of an Austrian and a Hungarian renegade, Tarjumans Mahmud and Murad, who were apparently captured at the same time in or after the Battle of Mohács. They were both educated men, proficient in several languages, and authors of different works, Murad of a Muslim catechism, Mahmud of a historical work on Hungary (Tarih-I Ungarus), in which he might have relied on the assistance of Murad. As the article shows, these two dragomans knew each other well and kept in touch. Murad (who allegedly spoke Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Latin, Hungarian, and Croatian) also translated historical works, most famously an Ottoman chronicle into bad Latin for the use of the humanist Johann Löwenklau, the protagonist of a later chapter. Even more exciting is the involvement of these two dragomans in Christian religious disputes. It appears that the famous Antitrinitarian Adam Neuser, who converted to Islam in Constantinople, was hosted by Mahmud. It also appears that the same Mahmud, probably as much a latitudinarian as Neuser, openly supported the Unitarians against the Calvinists in a dispute in Transylvania, sentencing the Calvinist György Alvinczi to death with the excuse that he made derisory comments about the Quran.

Chapter fourteen is similarly suggestive on the history of Ottoman–Christian relations. It demonstrates the Hungarian origin and knowledge of the protagonist Sehsuvar Bey, one of the most dreaded and cruelest Ottoman soldiers of occupied Hungary. Sehsuvar did all he could in order to earn the trust of the Constantinople court fighting against Hungarians as a Hungarian renegade, still he remained repeatedly frustrated in his career hopes. His is the story of the overcompensation of the neophyte, a story which we know all too well from other historical contexts.

Equally fascinating is chapter fifteen on the humanist Johann Löwenklau, whose Greek and Byzantine interests developed by the end of the century into interests about the Ottomans. Once again, we learn here about the intriguing connection between religious heterodoxy and intellectual openness. The article explores Löwenklau’s Ottoman scholarship and places it in the contexts of a growing humanist interest in the East and an earlier Protestant interest in a religious mission to Ottoman areas. Ács argues that Löwenklau’s activity should be understood as the result of these two intersecting interests.

Chapter sixteen explores the Oriental travels of István Kakas, the wealthiest and at the same time one of the most erudite citizens of Cluj/Kolozsvár. How Kakas ended up as the leader of a diplomatic mission to the Persian Shah ‘Abbas I in 1602 is a question that places the whole expedition into an entirely unexpected context. We find out that the mission, starting from Rudolf II’s Prague, had much less to do with the military designs of the Habsburg Empire staying in war with the Ottomans since 1591 than with the plans of adventuring English traders eager to create new intercontinental networks and commercial routes.

Finally, part four, “The Catholic Reforming Movements in the Early 17th Century,” is rather sketchy compared to the previous ones, and the promise of the title is only partially fulfilled. On the one hand, we would need an introductory chapter here too; on the other, chapter seventeen, which is about a poem by one the most remarkable aristocrats of the period, Pál Esterházy, says more about Baroque secular Hungary than Catholic movements. In contrast, the last study on Péter Pázmány’s Catholicism is highly suggestive of new potential approaches towards Catholic Renewal. Pázmány’s historical interpretation appears to have provided new answers to real intellectual needs, answers that Protestant historical works failed to offer. While the enormous success of seventeenth-century Catholic Counter-Reformation is most commonly explained with reference to the efficiency of the Catholic Church and its power relations in the context of a Catholic empire, this chapter suggests that their success might also partly be explained with reference to their religious message. In a country fighting for its survival, the Protestant dogma of Predestination might not have been a strong motivating force and might have failed to correspond to the needs of a generation that struggled to find a way out of political crisis and liberate occupied Hungary.

The merits of the book are far greater than the very few points I have mentioned, sometimes with critical remarks. It offers a valuable contribution to historical knowledge about early modern Hungary’s culture, literature, and religion for non-Hungarian scholars interested in the region.

Gábor Almási
Eötvös Loránd University

De l’exotisme à la modernité: Un siècle de voyage français en Hongrie (1818–1910). By Catherine Horel. Montrouge: Éditions du Bourg, 2018. 225 pp.

Catherine Horel, an outstanding French historian whose research touches on the history of Central Europe from an array of perspectives, is rightly considered one of the finest international scholars of Hungarian history. She has published a great deal of articles based on her impressive research on topics including the Hungarian Holocaust and the history of Central Europe. Not long ago, she won acclaim for her scholarly biography of Miklós Horthy. In her most recent book, she offers an exhaustive presentation and penetrating analyses of the texts of French travel writers who journeyed to Hungary between 1818 and 1910. The antecedents to this topic in her work stretch back relatively far. In several earlier articles, Horel dealt with this subject, so her new book can be seen as a synthesis of the findings of a longer research endeavor.

In the introduction, which is comparatively long, Horel defines the theme and outlines her methods. The period in question could be called, just for the sake of simplicity, “the short nineteenth century,” which began with the travels of the famous French geologist François Sulpice Beudant to Hungary and came to a close with the first decade of the twentieth century which bore witness to the birth of the automobile which revolutionized travel (the visit to Hungary of a tourist by the name of Pierre Marge, who traveled by car, offers a symbolic end to the era). The period, which lasted essentially from the end of the Napoleonic wars until the outbreak of World War I, was remarkably varied from the perspective of both French and Hungarian history. It was an era of reforms and modern ideals, as well as the emergence of modern nationalisms, revolutions and freedom fights, and the various compromises with which these events often drew to a close. It was also a time in which, alongside the shared interest felt by the two nations in each other’s culture and plights, fundamental differences began to appear, as well as the distorting effects of false images. The authors of the travel accounts came from numerous layers of the intelligentsia of the era, including scholars, members of the nobility who were performing either military or diplomatic functions, conservative representatives of the Church, émigré aristocrats, and enlightened journalists. The quantity and, of course, the nature of the information they left for future generations were shaped by the variety of backgrounds from which they came. Travel at the time was still part of a lifestyle that was accessible only to the social elites, the aristocracy, the nobility, the upper middle classes, and the intelligentsia. In her monograph, Horel attempts to call attention to the distinctive features of the travel writings of the French authors who journeyed to and through Hungary by presenting the most characteristic texts in her body of source material.

In the first chapter of the book, Horel examines the stereotypes which were prevalent in the era (some of which persist to the present day). Alongside the romantic image of the blue Danube and the “Puszta,” she focuses on the cities, the dynamic development of which can be seen as one of the signs and symptoms of urbanization in Hungary at the time. In the second section of the book, Horel discusses another group of stereotypes, the elements of so-called Hungarian national character. Her discussion touches on ideas concerning the origins of the Hungarians and the cultural history of the idea of Hungarian hospitality, as well as religious and political questions. As a kind of counterpoint to the notions of Hungarian national character, Horel also presents the images given by the French travel writers of the national minorities and the larger religious and ethnic minorities living in Hungary, including the Croats, the Romanians, the Slovaks, the Germans, the Serbs, the Ruthenians, the Jews, and the Roma.

The protagonist of the second chapter is Budapest, the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary as of 1873 and a city which rivaled Vienna as a political and cultural center. As Horel has already published a very successful monograph on Budapest in French, it is hard to offer the French reader something new about the city, which was one of the most dynamically changing metropolises of Europe, so we are given more of a sample of the nineteenth-century French sources. Horel likes to let the sources speak for themselves, as they are. She uses copious citations, which she complements with insightful notes and useful explanations. In this central part of the book, we bear witness to the birth of the Budapest mythos, which is still very alive today for the average French tourist.

In the last chapter, Horel uses a structure which resembles a triptych to present the French mirror image of political relations in Hungary. In the first section, she discusses the great patriots (primarily Lajos Kossuth and Ferenc Deák) of the Reform Era and the Vormärz. The second section offers an examination of the problems of the 1848 Revolution and War of Independence from the perspective of France. Here, Horel draws attention to the failure of the approach and policies adopted by the Hungarian independence movement to the national minorities and also to social problems in Hungary at the time. Horel presents the era of the Austro–Hungarian Monarchy created by the Compromise of 1867 by examining shifting sentiment among the travel writers. On the one hand, Horel offers her reader glimpses of outbursts of sympathy for Hungarians in some of the narratives, but at the same time, in her summary of the geopolitical realities of the period leading up to the outbreak of World War I, she notes the failure of the attempts by France to pursue a pro-Hungary foreign policy. In the summary of the book, she continues this line of thinking, presenting the changes which are discernible in the images of Hungarians in the narratives of French travel writers over the course of this short nineteenth century. Among the major fateful shifts in these images was the fundamental transformation of the romantic notion of Hungary and the Hungarians and the change which took place as, when it came to reports on the peoples of Central Europe, the narratives of travelers and discoverers, which were largely literary in nature, were replaced towards the end of the era by the descriptions given by French geographers and Slavophile journalists and writers. An array of carefully selected illustrations and the detailed bibliography also make Horel’s book an enjoyable read.

This captivatingly written and persuasively argued work of scholarship has numerous merits, but there are perhaps a few minor shortcomings which also deserve mention. Horel’s use of the term “French” may be a bit confusing for the reader. In the case of most of the travel writers in her account, the term refers simply to France as country of origin, but in the case of the Swiss authors, it means “French speaking.” It might have been worth clarifying this minor ambiguity in the introduction. Also, though she makes very precise use of an exhaustive range of sources, one or two important sources are still missing from her account. It made have been worth including, for example, the travel narrative by Cyprien Polydore, a parish priest from Périgueux (Voyage en Allemagne, en Autriche-Hongrie et en Italie. [1888]) who traveled through the country by train and who offered a fascinating example of a travel narrative by a deeply religious pilgrim. It also would have been useful had Horel offered some reflection on works in the secondary literature on the subject written in the recent past by Hungarian scholars, for instance the works by historian and literary scholar Géza Szász, a member of the faculty at the University of Szeged.

Ferenc Tóth
Hungarian Academy of Sciences

Transnational Patriotism in the Mediterranean, 1800–1850: Stammering the Nation. By Konstantina Zanou. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018. 248 pp.

At a time when the Mediterranean Sea is in the focus of international audiences, especially because of flows of migrants from the global south towards Europe, it seems that the Mediterranean space has begun to meet with new interest in scientific research, as well. Numerous studies which in recent years have re-analyzed this area from the perspective of its history have focused primarily on the scope, frequency, and diversity of mutual transfers, exchanges, entanglements, and interactions along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The monograph by Kostantina Zanou, Assistant Professor of Italian at Columbia University and a historian specialized in the history of nineteenth-century Mediterranean, is part of this research. Zanou’s work, however, is not a general overview of the history of the Mediterranean. The main characters of her book are not the countries, empires, and nations still featured in much of the traditional historical narratives, but rather the life stories of people who lived amid (and some of them through) the historical changes that this region witnessed in the first half of the nineteenth century. This was the time when the Venetian Republic collapsed after a long period of almost complete domination in this part of the world. It was also the period in which the first germs of nationalism, an ideology which in only a few decades did away with century-old empires and gave rise to semi-nation-states in their stead, emerged on the horizon. The book does not focus on the entire Mediterranean space. The geographical analytical framework is the seven Ionian Islands in the southeastern corner of the Adriatic Sea, which were situated at the crossroads of the Venetian and Ottoman worlds and which during that time shifted sovereignties among the French, British, Russian, and Habsburg Empires. The changing geopolitical conditions are intertwined with multiple histories of individuals into a novel attempt to describe these complex processes from a point of view which combines microhistory with macrohistory. As she writes, Zanou is attempting “to look at the big picture through the small details” (p.2). Particularly the intellectuals, who became heralds of the nation and the national idea in the individual national movements (especially the Greek and Italian) are examined in a new light which reveals their other role: non-national or, rather, trans-national patriots whose perceptions of themselves different significantly from the perceptions posthumously imposed on them by nation builders. In their diasporic wanderings and experience as exiles, they represented a bridge between cultures and languages, marking a time and space not yet codified into national paradigms.

The introduction brilliantly presents the essential focus on Zanou’s inquiry and outlines the direction of the analysis, which then extends over four parts. These parts are based primarily on the personal profiles of intellectuals such as Ugo Foscolo, Andreas Kalvos, Dionysios Solomos, Mario Pieri, Andrea Papadopoulo Vretto, and Andrea Mustoxidi, which intertwine in the text with many other characters, ranging from noted politicians and prominent diplomats, such as Ioannis Kapodistrias, and influential scholars, like Adamantios Koraes, to perhaps less familiar names, such as Alexandros Vogorides, Christodoloulos Clonares, Spiridion Vlandi, and Spiridion Naranzi, mostly from the Ionian environment, who in different ways and on different levels left a mark on much broader regions.

The second part in particular, in which Zanou describes the strategic presence of Russia in the southern Adriatic and the role that Orthodox Christianity played in patching up the “plot gaps” in national ideology, is one of the main strengths of the book. By the eighteenth century, the Mediterranean had become part of the Russian political horizon. Even at the time of the Russo-Turkish war between 1768 and 1774, the Russian navy successfully countered the Turkish forces and further reinforced its presence and role in the period to follow. Despite the superiority of the British and the growing appetites of Italian irredentism and Austro-German expansionism in the Balkans, from the nineteenth century on, Russia was an important international force in shaping the Mediterranean environment. The study reveals the complexity and diversity of options and choices available to the protagonists of this book over a relatively short period of time in the wake of the collapse of la Serenissima and Napoleon’s ambitions for the eastern Mediterranean. By examining the choices made by the figures who are the protagonists of her narrative, Zanou leads the reader to an understanding of the Ionian version of patriotism. Although it mainly deals with the intertwining of Italian and Greek cultural and political milieus, the work is not (nor does it aspire to be) a study of Italian and Greek literary cooperation in the pre-national era. The personages represent paradigmatic figures compatible with a broader Mediterranean environment, standing alongside Niccolò Tommaseo, likely the best-known Kulturträger of mutual transnational dialogue along the Adriatic shores during the period in question. Based on assorted archives and personal legacies, as well as secondary literature in several languages, Zanou thus provides the reader with new perspectives on the issue of the Greek Revolution and its actors, philhellenism, European post-Enlightenment society, the concrete traps of post-imperial governance, different understandings of patria and patriotism, the intermingling of religion and nationalism, and the significance of linguistic diversity in Europe at the time.

The questions regarding how the disintegrating empires, changing sovereignties, emerging states, shifting loyalties, and imagined national communities were reflected in the writings of these southern Adriatic intellectuals evolve into fulcrums of European history. This becomes especially clear in the conclusion, which shows that nationalism in practice proved much more complex and problematic than nationalism as a set of theoretical concepts. In this context, the Ionian Islands were no exception. Rather, they could be seen more as a European paradigm of the changes that marked global developments. Thus, this book will be engaging not only for the ever more numerous enthusiasts who have taken an interest in the Adriatic region in recent years, but also for readers looking for a novel, fresh perspective on Europe and the Mediterranean during a crucial period of their histories.

Borut Klabjan
European University Institute

Wien 1918: Agonie der Kaiserstadt. By Edgar Haider. Vienna: Böhlau, 2018. 418 pp.

The hundred-year anniversary of the end of World War I has witnessed the publication of a number of studies in Austria and abroad that explore the nature of the 1918 regime change in Central Europe. In the vein of his previous portrait of the imperial capital at the start of the war (Wien 1914: Alltag am Rande des Abgrunds, [2013]), in his latest work, Edgard Haider chronicles life in Vienna four years later, in 1918. Other recent books might offer more detailed archival research on the collapse of the Empire viewed from its capital city, but Haider’s study provides a very enjoyable tour through the streets, cafés, parks, and palaces of Vienna. Based mostly on newspaper sources (as well as published diaries and memoirs), it gives an atmospheric account of the last year of the war and uncovers many distinctive aspects of urban life in wartime, such as traditional celebrations, burial customs, lighting, housecleaning, fashion, and rubbish collection.

While not organized strictly chronologically, the structure loosely follows the unfolding of the calendar year with its main festivals and seasons, starting with the celebration of New Year’s Eve and ending with preparations for Christmas. The first chapters provide some context on the international and internal situation of the monarchy and on the Habsburg dynasty. The core chapters of the book, however, deal with everyday life in wartime Vienna, detailing the impact of the conflict in various areas. The hunger crisis of the last years of the war plays a major role in this narrative, as dwindling food supplies shaped new behaviours and daily rhythms, from constant queuing to trips to the countryside and changes in eating habits. Haider relates episodes which can be seen as symptoms of the crisis: the disappearance of sausages as a snack and their replacement with corn on the cob or the shooting of a polar bear in a zoo by a man who considered them not worth feeding, as humans were starving. Haider also presents the health consequences of malnutrition for children and the difficult living conditions created by the shortage of housing. Other descriptions give a sense of the transformations in street life, as Haider paints overcrowded tramways, the fate of bourgeois buildings, missing door handles, and empty shop windows. The most interesting chapter focuses on the celebration and adaptation of regular rituals (carnival, lent, Easter, summer vacations, confirmations) in times of war and penury, contrasting them with pre-war customs. In the middle of the book, a form of excursus discusses the death of several key artists of the Viennese Modern Age, whose passing can be seen as a sign of the end of an era (for instance Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele, Otto Wagner, and Koloman Moser, all of whom died in 1918). This section, however, also includes artists such as Ferdinand Hodler and Peter Rosegger whose relationship to Vienna is more tenuous and feels more disconnected from the rest of the book. Finally, the volume comes to a close with two more general chapters depicting the end of the monarchy and the birth of the Austrian Republic. The political transformations are also embodied in the fabric of the city: the chaos of these few weeks is illustrated through the confusion at railway stations and the removal of imperial insignias.

The book, which has neither an introduction nor a conclusion, functions more as a series of well-chosen vignettes (without much transition from one to the next) than as a scholarly argument. Richly illustrated, it also includes many enjoyable newspaper excerpts, cited at length, which give a nice feel for contemporary humour and language. Some of them are particularly delightful, such as the feuilleton on the all-encompassing Ersatz products by Ludwig Hirschfeld (pp.127–130). The glossary of period and Viennese terms at the end of the book is in this respect a very useful addition to help the reader appreciate the original sources. The result is an impressionistic picture of Vienna in 1918, filtered through a slightly nostalgic lens and covering a wide range of topics related to the urban experience. It highlights the profound repercussions of the war for all of Vienna’s inhabitants regardless of class, as the events and aftermath of the war left hardly any corner of urban activity untouched. However, this work does not present many new elements on the collapse of Austria–Hungary for specialists in the field. The main political and military developments of the period are probably better covered elsewhere, as are the social and economic consequences of the war for Vienna’s population. Also, the specificities of the year 1918 as opposed to 1917 or 1919 (in terms of hunger levels, for example) do not appear as clearly as they should, given the focus on that particular year. Overall, Wien 1918 gives insights into the mood on Viennese streets one century ago with an eye for improbable and revealing details. It provides more atmosphere than analysis, but it nicely complements other works on the topic.

Claire Morelon
University of Padua

Vpdfolume 8 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Trust, Authority, and the Written Word in the Royal Towns of Medieval Hungary. By Katalin Szende. Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy 41. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018. 436 pp.

The use of the written word in urban environments has become a popular subject in Medieval Studies. The series “Utrecht Studies in Medieval Literacy” provides inter alia a considerable number of publications highlighting the importance of urban literacy. The monograph by Katalin Szende, an expert on urban history, constitutes another important contribution on this topic. In her introduction, Szende declares that the work will guide “its readers through the history of using the written word for pragmatic, mainly administrative purposes […] in the royal towns of medieval Hungary” (p.1). The main goal is to show the emergence of new forms of documentation in the broader framework of the relationship between expanding uses of the written word and the growth of trust in its efficiency. The relevance of this issue for the whole of East Central Europe and the chronological and the geographical scope of the book (the Late Medieval period, from the thirteenth century to the sixteenth; the Carpathian Basin) makes it a very welcome contribution to the scholarship on the region. The first chapter (pp.25–59) has an introductory character, providing the uninitiated reader with information on the urban network in medieval Hungary, the origins of the settlements, and the development of urban law. It also presents the corpus of sources (including their critical editions) and an outline of scholarly discussions on urban history. We approach the growth of written culture proper in the second chapter (pp.61–120). This examines the earliest documentation of Hungarian towns and the relationship between charters and local autonomy. The scope, formulary, and content of the thirteenth-century royal privileges for towns and of the first products of municipal chanceries are carefully examined and creatively interpreted. The comparative diplomatic analysis of these sources proves a very effective tool with which to analyze the main characteristics of the practice of issuing charters. The context of “trust in writing” leads Szende to pay attention to the symbolic and practical value of seals validating charters. Her meticulous analysis of the seals’ images and inscriptions is a significant contribution to urban sigillography. Addressing the validation charters leads inevitably to the subject of the ecclesiastical places of authentication and their role in the development of urban chanceries. In the third chapter (pp.121–201), two issues which are of fundamental importance to urban literacy are presented: first, civic notaries and their tasks, and, second, municipal books, which were a main instrument of municipal governance. In Szende’s opinion, the development of the use of town registers was stimulated by a technical change, namely the proliferation of paper as the main writing material in urban administrations. Szende is right to point out this connection. The relationship between the spread of paper and the growth of pragmatic literacy was also visible in contemporary Poland. The analysis of the municipal books necessarily touches on the issue of their typology. Szende points out that “the categorization of municipal books […] has been a long-standing challenge to scholarship” (p.148). She decided to distinguish “miscellaneous books” (the earliest registers, the content of which is mixed) and, then, as the differentiation of records progresses, “financial registers,” “court books and judicial administration,” and “municipal books for property administration.” This chapter also discusses testamentary practices in Hungarian towns, taking as an example Bratislava (Pozsony, Pressburg) and its well-known Book of Wills. The proliferation of uses to which the written word was put in urban environments is also illustrated by a discussion of practical literacy within guilds and by the attention given to town chronicles. The connection between language and literacy, analyzed in chapter four (pp.203–47), is the natural result of the coexistence of several (spoken and written) languages in the Carpathian Basin. This is studied by other historians today as well, although the broader comparative perspective of the linguistic plurality of medieval Europe is sometimes missing from the discussion. Szende offers interesting prospects for such a broad approach by indicating the various uses of Latin and the multiple vernaculars (German, Hungarian, Slovak, Italian, and others). Functional multilingualism can be detected in administration and justice, as well as in external relations, trade, and pastoral care. The coexistence of languages (and alphabets) arises again as an important problem in chapter five (pp.249–86). Having sketched the history of Jewish settlement in Hungary and the royal legislation concerning the status of Jews, Szende shows that participation of Jews in urban literacy was determined not only by their legal status, but also by trust in writing, which “was a major factor in facilitating and regulating Jewish-Christian relationships in everyday matters” (p.279). The last chapter of the book (pp.287–321) discusses yet another crucial issue in the study of urban literacy: the development of archives. Various modes of preservation of charters and municipal books are presented, taking as point of departure the practices of four towns: Sopron, Pressburg, Prešov, and Bardejov (Fig. 46.a-d). Szende convincingly demonstrates that the storage of records, e.g. the strategies of ordering and binding them, mirrored the organization of urban society. The publication includes pictures of documents and registers, as well as maps and six appendices which guide the foreign reader through the history of medieval Hungary, especially that of the towns. These appendices provide useful additional information, for instance a list of the oldest municipal books and the chronology of appearance in the sources of the earliest municipal notaries. Katalin Szende’s monograph proposes an interesting approach to the sources and to the subject of the development of urban literacy in general. The interaction between trust, authority, and the written word is at the core of the analysis. This determined the choice of problems and sources to be discussed. Thanks to this methodological approach, rooted in the contemporary study of literacy and communication, the book is much more than an overview of the proliferation and increasing importance of written records and the institutions which produced and kept them. It is a remarkable and inspiring study, informative and important for the comparative investigation of Medieval urban literacy.

Agnieszka Bartoszewicz
University of Warsaw

Confraternity, Mendicant Orders, and Salvation in the Middle Ages: The Contribution of the Hungarian Sources (c. 1270–c. 1530). By Marie-Madeleine de Cevins. Europa Sacra 23. Turnhout: Brepols, 2018. 365 pp.

Surprising as it may sound, there is a group of medieval sources in which Hungary is rich: the spiritual confraternity letters. Although such letters are not unknown in Hungarian scholarship, they were not dealt with comprehensively until Marie-Madeleine de Cevins published a monograph in Hungarian in 2015 with the title Koldulórendi konfraternitások a középkori Magyarországon (1270 k. – 1530 k.). The present volume is the English version of the abovementioned work. Like her earlier works, also this book is problem-oriented. The application of comparative methods making use of similar research in Western and Central European regions makes this monograph a fundamental reference work not only for those dealing with medieval religious history in the Carpathian Basin, but also for a much wider scholarly audience. The book also contains the edition of sixteen confraternity letters and various figures, maps, tables, and graphs, all of which provide essential support for the conclusions proposed in the body of the text. Chapter 1 is dedicated to the spiritual confraternities of the mendicant orders and a survey of the existing scholarship. Confraternity letters were first issued by the monastic orders in exchange for material benefits as early as the eighth century, and a new “mendicant compatible” form with a “hic et nunc” character started to develop in the second half of the thirteenth century. Mendicant spiritual confraternities, based on the idea that the friars had to “pay back” the debt by providing their benefactors with the spiritual goods they had to offer, were particularly popular in Central Europe, especially in the fifteenth century. De Cevins ventures suggestions as to why, compared to other regions of Europe, so many spiritual confraternity letters survived in medieval Hungary. The Hungarian documentary corpus is presented in Chapter 2. The 125 spiritual confraternity letters examined were issued between ca. 1270 and 1530 by the four mendicant orders present in medieval Hungary. The overwhelming majority of the letters come from the Franciscans, and the rest come from the Dominicans, the Augustinian Hermits, and the Carmelites. Chapter 3 investigates the success of mendicant spiritual confraternities in Hungary. De Cevins explicates the correlation between the development of the spiritual confraternities and the rise of the Observant movement, and she draws deductions regarding the geographic and social distribution of the members of the spiritual confraternity. In Chapter 4, de Cevins explores the benefits potentially enjoyed by the members of the spiritual confraternities of one (or more) mendicant order(s). They received a bouquet of spiritual benefits the size of which varied according to two types of spiritual confraternities: the “ordinary” and the “major,” which were available only to a privileged few. Moreover, the most generous benefactors could enjoy supplementary graces, such as burial within the walls of the friary, occasionally even in the habit of the order. In the heyday of the spiritual confraternities, as de Cevins points out, while mass admissions were not unusual elsewhere in Europe, it seems that in Hungary mass admissions were not practiced by the provincial superiors of the orders and lay confraternities did not join mendicant spiritual confraternities. The last two chapters are about the “uses” of spiritual confraternities from the point of view of the granters and the recipients, respectively. In most cases, the provincial superiors were the dispensers. In order to avoid being accused of commercializing salvation, they distributed the benefits of spiritual bonds rather moderately. In Chapter 5, de Cevins discusses the orders one by one, she seeks patterns or tendencies characteristic of them, and she also poses the intriguing question as to whether these letters reflect in any way the identity of the mendicant order by the authority of which they were issued. While in general it can be said that the bona spiritualia listed in the texts themselves tend to be more characteristic of the devotio moderna rather than of the spirituality of the individual orders, each of the four mendicant orders presents a slightly different view. De Cevins takes into account other features, such as figures on seals and occasionally other symbols. The earliest known Franciscan confraternity letters date back to the first half of the fourteenth century. John of Capistrano’s impact on the popularization of joining an Observant Franciscan spiritual confraternity cannot be underestimated in Central Europe. In line with this, we see that in Hungary, from the 1460s onwards, confraternity letters follow the archetypal formulary used by him. A noteworthy phenomenon highlighted by de Cevins is the great importance attributed to the autograph subscription of the dispenser, namely to John of Capistrano. The second largest group of the letters was issued by the Dominicans, who started to issue these documents as early as 1270, and by 1400, they had produced five other letters. The reform in the order brought moderation in the use of spiritual affiliation: the slow increase of the issue of the letters seems to have slowed down after 1500. Due to the number of extant sources, far fewer observations can be made in the case of the Augustinian Hermits and the Carmelites. What these documents reveal, however, is that in Hungary mendicant orders did not consider such confraternity letters an important instrument to promote their order or way of life, yet the letters had an authentic and performative nature, which may account for the care devoted by the families to their preservation. Chapter 6 is dedicated to the views of the affiliates on mendicant confraternities. A precious source in this respect is the well-known Dominican register of benefactors from Segesvár (now Sigişhoara, Romania) from the early sixteenth century. Of the 28 entries of donors, 6 were in spiritual brotherhood with the friars, all of them coming from the top of the social scale. The entries show that people tried to accumulate spiritual credits in several different ways, of which spiritual brotherhood was only one. The chapter concludes with three itineraries of spiritual associates known from the existing secondary literature, but this time, in order to estimate the importance of belonging to a spiritual family, the cases are presented from a different perspective: Benedict Himfi, Peter of Söpte, and Magdalen from Kolozsvár/Cluj. As a conclusion, it can be said that this book is a good example of how informative a group of sources which had an (almost) fixed structure for two and a half centuries can be when placed in the hands of a scholar whose experience in this field allows her to make the most of them, even if in some cases she can only make hypotheses which, however, can then be points of departure for further research.

Eszter Konrád
National Széchényi Library

The Árpáds and Their Wives: Queenship in Early Medieval Hungary 1000–1301. By Attila Zsoldos. Rome: Viella, 2019. 252 pp.

The book is an English translation of Attila Zsoldos’ 2005 work Az Árpádok és asszonyaik. Zsoldos is a member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences who works at the Institute of History of the Research Centre for the Humanities. A graduate of Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest (where he taught for a while), he has also served as the editor or a member of the editorial board for periodicals such as Turul, História, Századok, and The Hungarian Historical Review. Zsoldos himself is an expert in the field of medieval charters, and this work is primarily based on the history of charters of Hungarian queens and other relevant primary sources. In this book, Zsoldos examines the institution of queenship in Hungary during the three centuries of the rule of the Árpád House. He concludes that the office of the queen was a mirror of that of the king, but that it remained firmly under the king’s authority. While the queens may have had influence in other areas, ultimately the roles and prerogatives of the office were determined more by internal developments in the Hungarian administration than they were by the person of the queen herself. The Árpáds and Their Wives is divided into four chapters: the coronation, the estates of the queens, the queen’s court, and the power of the queen.

The book begins with a comprehensive look at the historiography on the subject, which is particularly helpful for people less familiar with the topic, as it offers them some understanding of the unforgiving nature of studying it. It also includes a summary of the main points from the works cited. The first body chapter, which focuses on the coronation of the queens, deals with the process of how one (legitimately) became a queen. In this case, only Gisela of Bavaria (the first queen of Hungary) and royal women from the thirteenth century are covered, but that is entirely due to the limits placed on the historian by the source materials which have survived. In spite of the dearth of the primary sources, this is a solid chapter which makes good use of the surviving materials.

The second chapter examines the land management of the queens. It is by far the meatiest chapter in the book, divided into three subsections on land management, employees, and finances. The first section of the second chapter is a detailed study on the lands owned and administered by the queen, which grew gradually from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries. The second section on the people of the queen is an example of institutional history at its finest. It traces the origins of staff members particular to the queens. The appendices in the back are very helpful. The third section of the second chapter details the revenues of the queen. The only surviving sources for this chapter are all from the thirteenth century, and it is here that Zsoldos forms the bulk of his argument that the queens were fundamentally under the power of the king, since from the perspective of their finances, they relied heavily on the king’s will and approval.

The third chapter on the queen and her court not only deals with the itinerant nature of Hungarian queens, but also with the various forms of their relationships with their staff members. In particular, one important point is that the people employed in the queen’s court often shared offices with the king’s court, leading to the conclusion that the queen’s court was dependent on that of the king.

The fourth chapter, which examines the powers of the queen, questions whether the office of the queen actually held any power in and of itself (as opposed to personal power from an individual’s charisma). Power in this chapter is confined exclusively to rule over personal territory, and the conclusion once again is that, while other royal women did exactly that, the queens did not. The strengths of this work are obvious. With only scraps of primary sources on which to base his conclusions, Zsoldos is able to use later charters to make plausible conjectures concerning elements of the office of the queen that would have existed earlier. This is particularly evident in the second chapter on the land management of the queens.

Appendices in the back are very helpful to readers unfamiliar with Hungarian history, as they provide not only a breakdown of biographical information on the queens in question, but also family trees showing genealogical relationships, a glossary of terms particular to medieval Hungary, lists of staff members working for the queen, and many maps as well. The translation is easily understood and faithful to the original.

There is much to love about this work, though there are a few odd moments of cognitive dissonance. In the first place, the title is telling. This is not a work about queens, but rather about the mechanisms around the queens. They are both oddly central and missing in this approach. The dearth of sources has skewed certain sections to an almost exclusive focus on the last fifty years of the thirteenth century, though that is not Zsoldos’s fault. Since the original publication of his work in Hungarian, eighteen post-2005 titles have been added to the bibliography (seven of them by the author), though it’s a pity that some works, for instance Angol-magyar kapcsolatok a középkorban by Attila Bárány et al (2008), were not included. In the preface to the new translation of the book into English, Zsoldos decries globalization itself as one of the causes of the transformation of research into a bland, uniform miasma. This seems odd for a book trying to reach a wider audience. Then again, Zsoldos insists very firmly that it is a Hungarian book which has been made available in English translation, not an English book about Hungary. Zsoldos wishes for his research to be understood on its own terms. The purpose of this work is not to examine the personalities or private lives of the queens of the Árpád era in Hungary. As such, it is a brilliant book which presents complex, ingenious arguments out of scraps of data.

The scope of the work is impressive, and as an institutional history, it is an absolute must if one seeks to understand the complex nature of the power of the queen as a foreigner operating in a sophisticated bureaucracy stacked against her.

Christopher Mielke
Central European University

Die Hungarica Sammlung der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle: Herausgegeben von Brigitte Klosterberg und István Monok. Alte Drucke 1495–1800, Bd. I. A–O, Bd. II. P–Z. Bearbeitet von Attila Verók. Budapest: MTA Könyvtár és Információs Központ, 2017. pp. 1235.

The two-volume catalogue of old publications related to Hungary in Franckesche Stiftungen [The Historical Library of the Francke Foundations] in Halle is the final volume in a series of catalogues produced as a result of a two-decades-long research project. Exploring the pre-1800 hungaricas preserved in the institution (which grew out of the library of the orphanage founded in 1698 by August Hermann Francke) is an important endeavor, especially in light of the fact that, from the seventeenth century on, several Hungarians visited the library. The outcome of the joint project of Franckesche Stiftungen and National Széchényi Library, launched in 2000, is a series of publications: a collection of portraits edited by Brigitte Klosterberg and István Monok (Die Hungarica-Sammlung der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle. Teil 1, Porträts, 2003), a collection of maps (Die Hungarica Sammlung der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle: Historische Karten und Ansichten, 2009), and a catalogue of hungaricas to be found in the archive (Die Hungarica Sammlung der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle. Teil 2A–2B: Handschriften, 2015). The catalogue compiled by Attila Verók and published in 2017 undertook the exploration of a vast collection of old publications and prints from the period between 1495 and 1800 and also set out to complement the previous volumes. Thanks to Verók’s work, the now complete series enables specific research in the collection and provides an example for those planning to do similar explorations of hungaricas in other libraries abroad.

The volume is divided into three parts. In a brief preliminary study, the author introduces the history of the library and provides a more detailed account of the periods and figures that played a vital part in the growth of the resources. Verók discusses the previously published volumes of the series in detail, including their research findings, and demonstrates the cultural impact of Halle through a short case study on Transylvania. He then provides a brief introductory aid to using the catalogue: he classifies hungaricas into five major categories (1. written entirely or partly in Hungarian; 2. printed in the area of historical Hungary; 3. written by a Hungarian author and published in a foreign language or country; 4. related to Hungary or Hungarians; 5. originating from Hungary) and 15 sub-categories (1. written by a Hungarian author; 2. a dissertation/essay by a Hungarian author; 3. written in part by a Hungarian author; 4. includes a dedication related to Hungary; 5. is or contains a Hungarian work; 6. contains information about Hungary or a Hungarian person; 7. includes a portrait, map, or image related to Hungary; 8. was printed in Hungary; 9. was printed by a Hungarian printer; 10. includes a dissertation or essay by a person related to Hungary; 11. includes works by Hungarian persons; 12. written in Hungarian; 13. had a Hungarian possessor; 14. includes handwritten notes by a person writing in Hungarian/a Hungarian person, and related to Hungary; 15. a book review or critique of a book related to Hungary). These very classifications can be considered a novel approach in the research on so-called hungaricas.

The introductory study is followed by a catalogue with 3,194 entries, the system and structuring of which is logical and easy to follow: the author assigns an ID number to each hungarica, and indicates the press marks and, in the case of multi-volume works, the volume numbers as well. With some entries, in addition to providing basic data (author, title, place of printing, date of publication, size of publication), Verók also specifies the category and sub-category to which the given hungarica belongs. In the case of certain types of hungarica, he provides concrete page numbers and other information to aid researchers drawing on his research. One entry may belong to several categories, and in such cases, Verók lists each type in the catalogue. Finally, with certain entries Verók makes references to the catalogue of hungaricas preserved in Herzog August Bibliothek (HAB) in Wolfenbüttel and compiled by Katalin Németh S., as well as to the 1755 Bibliotheca Nationis Hungariae catalogue (BNH) of the university library in Halle.

The various indexes with which the book comes to a close make it relatively easy to use the catalogue. In addition to the indexes of names and geographical locations, the volume also provides a separate index of publishers and printers, as well as of places of publication and groups of hungaricas. In light of the fact that the library was founded in 1698 and its collection grew considerably owing to donations by nobles and burghers in the first half of the eighteenth century, it comes as no surprise that most (more than two thirds) of the old publications and prints preserved in the library are from the late seventeenth century and the eighteenth century. The material catalogued in Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle may be particularly useful for those interested in the history of science and education in the late early modern period.

The novel groups of hungaricas designated by Verók and, in particular, the dedications explored with the help of an autopsy method (as well as the notes on possessors) will further research in new directions, different from the classical analytical research on library collections prevalent in the study of the history of libraries. Among the old publications from the period between 1495 and 1800, for instance, there are 194 publications which were dedicated to a Hungarian person or a person related to Hungary. More than one third of dedications (more precisely, 70) are found in dissertations or essays written by a Hungarian author. Most of these writings discuss theological topics, and the dedications in them often name several people; interestingly, the same names show up in many writings published in Franeker, especially in the period between 1681 and 1689. A comparison of the two categories of hungaricas reveals relationships between students and teachers, as well as patrons. 153 of the old publications contain a note by a Hungarian possessor, and 100 of them were in the possession of Martin Schmeizel (1679–1747), who was born in Braşov and taught history at the University of Halle from 1731. In 27 publications we find the name of the poet Christian Günther (1695–1723) as possessor, while twelve publications were in the possession of Johannes Honterus (1693–1749) and one belonged to the Hungarian painter Ádám Mányoki (1673–1757). In each case, the catalogue specifies former possessors as well, helping us trace the movement of books from one library to another, and eventually to the collection of Franckesche Stiftungen in Halle. Furthermore, the catalogue consistently indicates when notes on or by possessors are more detailed, such as when there are handwritten notes containing dates which indicate the possessor; thus, Verók classifies these works into another category of hungaricas as well.

Thanks to the years of research and study which Attila Verók has put into this publication, the catalogue is thorough and well-structured, and the organizational system on which it is structured is comprehensible and transparent. The detailed indexes make the catalogue easy to use and help the reader find a certain hungarica quickly. Thanks to its clear structure, the volume will be an immensely useful resource for scholars in various disciplines who wish to examine the library collection of Franckesche Stiftungen, the cultural role of Halle, and its impact on Hungary in the late early modern period.

Dorottya Piroska B. Székely
Eötvös Loránd University

Matézis, mechanika, metafizika: A 18–19. századi matematika, fizika és csillagászat eredményeinek reprezentációja a filozófiában és az irodalomban [Mathesis, mechanics, metaphysics: The representation of findings in mathematics, physics, and astronomy in philosophy and literature in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries]. Edited by Dezső Gurka. Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó, 2016. 202 pp.

This collection of short essays edited by historian of science Dezső Gurka (Gál Ferenc College) seeks to bring together a range of scholars engaged with the different cultural aspects of eighteenth-century studies and to reflect on the ongoing reassessment of interdisciplinary research which has been underway in recent decades in the study of intellectual history, the history of philosophy, and the history of science. Building on the examples set by earlier volumes (Formációk és metamorfózisok [Formations and Metamorphoses], 2013; Egymásba tükröződő emberképek [Images of man reflecting one another], 2014]), the book was published as the newest addition to the series of the Gondolat Publishers on the history of science in Hungary, a series dedicated to the centenary of Károly Simonyi’s birth and his compelling work, A fizika kultúrtörténete (1978) [A cultural history of physics]. It offers glimpses in four (sometimes less coherent) chapters into recent studies on the eighteenth-century disciplinary framework of mathematics, physics, astronomy, philosophy, and literature.

As the subtitle and introduction promise, the volume concentrates on the complex relations and interplays among institutions and scientific conceptualizations, while it also has the ambitious aim of both presenting new findings and recontextualizing old ones, in particular in eighteenth-century physics and mathematics. In this respect, the references to the Kantian concepts concerning the pure natural sciences do not provide an interpretative framework for the studies on the history of physics and mathematics in Hungary, since Kantian concepts do not surface in them. This engagement of the collection raises general historiographical-methodological concerns which would have merited broader reflection in the introduction. First, is the Kantian conceptual framework relevant to the studies which were undertaken in Hungary on the history of physics and mathematics, given that the late eighteenth-century texts, with the exception of their critical attitude, put less emphasis on this framework? Second, is it sufficient to adapt the perspective of connectivity and transformation studies to the history of science if one seeks to exceed and reshape the limitations of traditional narratologies (be they national or Enlightened)? As far as the whole volume is concerned, despite the interconnectedness of the subjects and the diverging scope of the essays, these questions remain mostly unanswered.

In the first part (“Forces and Counterforces in Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy”), the studies focus on the interrelations between metaphysics and mathematical argumentation. Dániel Schmal’s study, which looks back on late seventeenth-century debates concerning the principles of Cartesian mechanics, captures a deep, structural similarity between the Leibnizian concepts of true (natural) philosophy and the contemporary visual representation of mathematical and ichnographical layouts. As Schmal argues, although the Leibnizian system made essential distinctions between metaphysics and mathematics, ichnographical layouts were intended, like Leibnizian philosophy, to represent the harmonic hierarchy of nature, in which geometrical-statical meaning was reconciliated with dynamic processes. Béla Mester’s essay throws a different light on the problem of hierarchy between metaphysics and mathematical reasoning. Mester investigates József Rozgonyi’s early popular philosophical work (Dubia de initiis transcendentalis idealismi Kantiani ad viros clarissimos Jacob et Reinhold, 1792) in the anti-Kantian atmosphere of the late eighteenth century. He reveals the underrated mathematical foundations of Rozgonyi’s epistemology, which is related to Thomas Reid’s common-sense philosophy. However, Mester remains unclear on exactly how Reid’s impact was exerted on Rozgonyi’s mathematical reasoning: whether through the lectures of the Dutch mathematician Hennert in Utrecht or through the approach he encountered in Oxford, which ascribed less significance to mathematics. The third essay brings into focus the social-cultural context of eighteenth-century intellectuals, and, building on the case of Transylvanian philosopher Pál Sipos, provides an overview of the most recurrent constitutive elements of his career. In his study, Péter Egyed, focusing on Sipos’ socialization (family background, education, peregrination, early career, publications, and social and intellectual network) seeks to invent the archetype of the university-trained Transylvanian intellectual, whose (philosophical and theological) education, intellectual capacity, and engagement with the dissemination of Enlightened knowledge enable him to serve both public and national interests. At this point, although Egyed’s conclusion can be understood as a revision of the anti-philosophical ethos of the Enlightenment intellectual, a comparative perspective and the extension of the scope of the research either to Austrian-Hungarian or to Protestant-Catholic contexts would be highly recommended in the future.

The essays in the second part (“Mathematicians at the Frontiers of Mathematics and Philosophy”) deal with the intersections of the Hungarian tradition of mathematics and philosophy, providing summaries of the state of the research. Vera Békés’s contribution to the history of philosophy adds critical remarks to the underrated textbook of the Hungarian professor of mathematics, András Dugonics, and pinpoints its intellectual potential for further reevaluation in relation to the work of Erich Kästner, the highly praised professor of mathematics at the University of Göttingen. The other two studies lay their emphasis on the prominent mathematician Farkas Bolyai. While Róbert Oláh-Gál uses compendia and private documents (correspondence, memoirs) to discuss Bolyai’s college instructors (János and Ádám Herepei, the older and the younger József Kováts and György Méhes), Péter Gábor Szabó offers additional remarks on Bolyai’s endeavor to establish Euclidean geometry and calls for further study of Bolyai’s undiscovered mathematical horizon.

In an intellectual and methodological sense, the next part (“The Scientific and Philosophical Reception of Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century Physics and Astronomy”), which brings together a wide array of topics, offers a scattered view of eighteenth-century inquiries in physics, philosophy, and astronomy. Dezső Gurka’s essay offers new evidence concerning the reception of Johann Andreas Segner’s theory of fluids and magnetism in Kant’s Pure Reason and Critique of Judgement. László Székely, assuming close continuity between the eighteenth-century perception of humanity and nineteenth-century materialism, seeks to explain the canonical work of Imre Madách (Az ember tragédiája [The tragedy of man], 1862) on the grounds of the Enlightenment perception of the circulation of cosmic matter, which served as a general framework for Madách’s tragedy. Similarly to the earlier ones, Katalin Martinás and Bálint Tremmel’s article also favors internalist explanations in the history of physics. It traces the emergence of to the theory of momentum, which was initially framed not as has been long assumed in Newtonian science, but in the Leibnizian analytical mechanics. In contrast to these three articles articles, László Kontler’s essay provides an externalist view on Maximilian Hell’s flexible, though unsuccessful career strategies. As Kontler argues, although Hell’s Catholic erudition had multiple contexts (his loyalty to the Habsburg Monarchy, engagement with the Catholic Enlightenment, Hungarus patriotism, the respublica litteraria, Jesuit erudition) during the period which reached its peak in 1770, it also had its limitations. Therefore, this type of cultural credit (Kontler does not use the word), expressed mainly through the multifold loyalties of the Catholic culture and the dominance of Latin, was losing its significance after the dissolution of the Jesuit Order. By the time of Hell’s astronomical tour in Hungary, this erudition was reduced to restoring the glory of the Catholic faith, while it failed to meet new challenges which culminated in the anti-Josephinian turn of the Hungarian nobility and support for refinement of the vernacular.

The last two articles in the final part (“The Correspondences of Eighteenth-Century and Nineteenth-Century Literature and Natural Sciences”) reflect on the interplay among popular knowledge, didactic poetry, and the interdisciplinary field of physico-theology. Imre Vörös’ contribution repeats the findings from his monograph (Természetszemlélet a felvilágosodás kori magyar irodalomban [The View of Nature in the Literature of the Hungarian Enlightenment], 1991), and shares an overview of the reception process of physico-theology in eighteenth-century Hungarian poetry, all the while concentrating on its transformation from the eclectic Cartesian viewpoint to the Newtonian. Poetry, as a main concern of scientific culture, remains in the focus of Piroska Balogh’s essay as well, which, through philological analyses, traces a less known contemporary literary tradition which, turning back to Antiquity, attributed the very sources of astronomical observation to the poet. In this respect, Balogh’s inquiry investigates the broad European astronomical context of the naming of a Hungarian journal, Uránia, and comes to the conclusion that the context of physico-theology, cosmological knowledge was still relevant for late eighteenth-century intellectuals, such as the university professors of aesthetics in Pest, György Alajos Szerdahely and his successor, Johann Ludwig Schedius.

All in all, the collection of essays constitutes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of eighteenth-century philosophy, physics, mathematics, astronomy, and literature, even if the short essays offer only a diverse picture of ongoing research projects, and some of them seem to repeat earlier findings. The editor’s decision to feature pictures, portrays, and engravings in the appendix is welcome, as it brings the problems presented in the essays closer to a non-specialist audience. However, the relationships between the visual and textual representations of the subjects in most cases does not exceed mere functionality. Moreover, some illustrations (especially the manuscripts) are barely legible. While reading the essays, one cannot fail to note misspellings and other mistakes (such as the Wikipedia citation on the page 74), which distract the reader. Hopefully, the next volume will be made available in English, too.

Tibor Bodnár-Király
Eötvös Loránd University

National Indifference and the History of Nationalism in Modern Europe. Edited by Maarten Van Ginderachter and Jon Fox. London: Routledge, 2019. 262 pp.

The present volume is based on a symposium held in Prague in 2016 dedicated to “national indifference,” a concept introduced by Tara Zahra in 2008. The reactions to Zahra’s program manifesto that I presented in a side note to the Hungarian translation (“Recepciótörténeti széljegyzet Tara Zahra tanulmányához” [A side note on the reception history of Tara Zahra’s essay], in Regio 25 [2017]) rightly criticize the notion for lacking much in the way of analytical rigor. It conflates stances best described as pragmatic or flexible with neutral and anti-nationalist postures and, from another angle, the not-yet-national with regional and multiple national loyalties. It also lumps together “hot ethnicity,” politically mobilized in the service of national causes, with a tacit acceptance of national categories, a distinction particularly relevant when no non-nationalist alternatives are on offer in the political and ideological fields. Even more disturbingly, it is stretched to include the bilingual for good measure. Deriving its appeal by pointing at cracks in the teleological pageant of nationalism triumphant of which historians have grown weary, it ultimately depends on radical nationalist discourse, which first used it as a heading to draw together all supposed ingroup members who failed to meet its expectations but did not quite qualify as traitors.

The contributions to the volume showcase this entire range of attitudes and forms of behavior that may have flown in the face of strict nationalist norms, from confession-based identities to subservience to the powers that be, opportunism, mimicry, perplexity and false perceptions, imperial nostalgia and deep-seated regionalism, Alsatian dual belongings, all the way down to a post-ethnic rejection of the national classification scheme official in the Soviet Union. Ironically, the author who most firmly voices his support for the notion of “national indifference,” Zachary Doleshal, explores a subject that escapes even its widely-cast net: corporate identity. In an otherwise excellent chapter, he describes how the Baťa company tried to avoid stirring nationalist tensions in the diverse places where it operated by fostering a self-declared cosmopolitan ethos among its workers, all the while remaining an icon of Czech industry. Multinational firms must have regularly encountered this challenge in times of heightened national sentiment, and Doleshal’s choice of topic seems serendipitous in this respect.

While most chapters focus on roadblocks to nationalization, Simone A. Bellezza and Marco Bresciani throw light on nationalist mobilization at work. Bresciani depicts a post-World War I Istria where the trauma of new state borders ushered in unprecedented nationalist turmoil. In his account of Western Upper Silesia’s tribulations from the 1921 plebiscite campaign to the marching in of Soviet troops, Brendan Karch emphasizes that responses to nationalist propaganda may have been purely instrumental, but locals certainly could not remain “indifferent” to choices that determined their fates. Most revealingly, Morgane Labbé approaches the famous case of the Polesian tutejsi (“people from here”) as one of observer’s paradox. The category was already in place at the time of the 1921 Polish census, but later the number of self-declared tutejsi increased with spectacular rapidity, from 39,000 that year to 700,000 in 1931, because of the statisticians who espoused the early Sanacja’s ideal of a multi-ethnic state and promoted the category as a negative gauge of people’s gradual engagement with Ukrainian or Belorussian identities.

Zahra warned that pinpointing “indifference” comes with methodological challenges, since archival sources typically reflect nationalist biases. Several authors make use of less conventional sources to surmount this problem. Filip Erdeljac and Gábor Egry draw on secret service files, Doleshal on internal reports on Baťa employees (workers at the company’s Zlín headquarters were kept under close surveillance), Anna Whittington on letters addressed to Soviet state authorities, and Belezza on the writings of Trentino POWs from World War I. Whittington’s three dozen Soviet letter writers from the 1960s and 1970s were anxious to get rid of the nationality labels ascribed to them, with which they could not identify or which they even experienced as an external stigma. Bellezza relies on a collection of ego-documents which is uniquely rewarding for the study of nationalization. Indeed, the collection has already been investigated from this point of view, contrary to Bellezza’s claim (Martin Lyons, Writing Culture of Ordinary People in Europe c. 1860–1920 [2012], 143–52 and the literature cited there). Diaries kept in the Kirsanov camp afford a day-by-day overview of how some Tyrolians adopted Italian identities amid the ordeals of POW life.

Its resolute anti-nationalist premises unmistakably contributed to the excitement with which “national indifference” was greeted by historians who need to contest national narratives. Erdeljac’s chapter in the book, with its exaggerated claims and desire to debunk, proves this point. Although ethnicity may well be a “fiction” invented by nationalists for Erdeljac, he presents interwar propaganda attempts to inspire nostalgia and loyalty for Hungary in the Slavic-speakers of Zagorje and Međimurje as a proof that the nationalism of Hungarian propagandists was frivolous or at least inconsistent. Apart from misconstruing Hungarian state nationalism, the underlying argument that true ethno-nationalists leave the ethnic other alone poses an absurd litmus test that no real-life specimen would pass.

Erdeljac is not alone in his quest for national indifference where one would least expect it, in the minds of nationalist activists. In Tom Verschaffel’s view, nineteenth-century champions of Flemish culture (he implicitly treats the early Flemish identity project as crypto-nationalist) failed to live up to their ideal when they dedicated only a minor part of their literary output to it. The same would hold for Belgian gallery owners who became acculturated to the Paris artistic milieu and artists who vented cynical opinions about politics in private.

Verschaffel’s overdrawn conclusions notwithstanding, such inquiries could serve as helpful reminders of the limitations inherent in nationalization projects, especially if they brought more precise concepts into play, such as contingency, situationality, cognitive dissonance, or cultural blind spots. The fact that whatever activists did besides their activism can be interpreted as “national indifference” itself shows the vagueness of this academic brand as a concept. As the present volume demonstrates, it can mark out the reverse side of ultimately successful nationalization as a field of research, but it does not provide an analytical tool. The chapters in the volume do not make a serious attempt to use it as such. Indeed, Egry, Karch, and Bresciani take issue with it.

Before Zahra, and perhaps unbeknownst to her, Max Weber had already made a cursory effort to theorize “national indifference,” distinguishing it from “emphatic negation” and calling attention to the fluid nature of national consciousness (Economy and Society: An Outline of Interpretive Sociology [1968], 924–25). Unlike Rogers Brubaker’s Ethnicity without Groups, cited prominently by Zahra, several authors of the volume lose sight of the latter point and apparently look for tireless militants taken right out of the nationalist textbook. At the other end of the scale, more than half of the book is made up of chapters (apart from the ones already cited, Alison Carrol’s on interwar Alsace and Egry’s on interwar Transylvania) that point forward to a fuller understanding of how we have become national, to the extent that we have. If Zahra’s original article created an inspiration for them, it deserves credit for that.

Ágoston Berecz
Central European University

Wirtschaftsnationalismus lokal: Interaktion und Abgrezung zwischen rumänischen und sächsischen Gewerbeorganisationen in den siebenbürgischen Zentren Hermannstadt und Kronstadt, 1868–1914. By Stéphanie Danneberg. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2018. 391 pp.

Stéphanie Danneberg’s doctoral thesis combines a new and ever more popular trend in the study of the historical forms of nationalism, a look at nationalism from below, with another one that was much more en vogue around the millennium, that of economic nationalism. The work promises to go beyond the discursive aspects of Romanian and Transylvanian Saxon (and partly Hungarian) nationalism as regards the economic unification of one’s own ethnic kin and analyze the meanings and functions of the slogan of self-organization and self-defense in the world of craftsmen and workers in the two largest cities of the former Königsboden, Hermannstadt/Sibiu/Nagyszeben and Kronstadt/Braşov/Brassó. Danneberg’s primary interest, however, is not the elites of these cities, but the pre-labor movement associations of craftsmen and workers which were often created by the elites but which were intended to integrate these social and professional groups into the urban society against the backdrop of the decline of traditional guilds and industries. She attempts to capture a complex set of relationships at the local level (interactions between various social groups and ethnicities) and the relationships among these people and their engagements with national elites. The basic thesis she seeks to verify is: “the more Hungarian nationalism was present in a locality, and the more aggressive it was, the stronger ethnic and political differences between Saxons and Romanians became in the form of a growing conflict perceived also in economic terms” (p.25). Danneberg outlines in seven chapters the theoretical framework of economic nationalism and the characteristics of the phenomenon in Transylvania, and she gives a quantitative assessment of the Saxon and Romanian craftsmen and industries, including the workers, and the activities of banks. She also analyses the membership and activity of a series of associations before 1914.

Danneberg situates her research within a very broad framework of political and economic transformation in Dualist Hungary. The peripheral position and general economic backwardness of Transylvania are the main features, as well as a state economic policy which was more liberal and less nationalist than state policies in other fields (most notably in the education). Nevertheless, Transylvania was surrounded by a stark rhetoric of Hungarian nationalism. Transylvanians, both Saxons and Romanians, faced the decline of the traditional forms of industry even before the lifting of the compulsory membership in guilds (in 1872). Thus, Hungarian nation-state building efforts coincided with an economic transformation which prompted a defensive rhetoric from those affected in opposition to the new, emerging factory-based forms of industrial production and its representatives. As this took place against the backdrop of an ethnicized social stratification and a network of associations which were more traditional than civic in their organization, the ground was fertile for the emergence of strong currents of economic nationalism.

But a closer look at the very institutions that were supposed to embody both the material and national plight of the affected strata reveals a more nuanced picture. Looking at how Gewerbevereine, Gesellenvereine and Arbeiterbildunsvereine operated, often in the face of a centralizing and Magyarizing state bureaucracy which wanted to include Gewerbevereine in the state administration, and also examining the prominent economic exhibitions held in both cities, Danneberg shows that the economic nationalisms in Hermannstadt and Kronstadt were hardly identical. Indeed, they were not even similar. In the latter, where industrialization and Magyarization made Hungarians the most numerous of the three ethnic groups by 1910, Saxon organizations, often managed by intellectuals and not craftsmen, excluded Romanians, and Romanian organizations excluded Saxons. Programs and events were realized separately, and discursive othering was pervasive. Hermannstadt’s associations gradually were taken over by craftsmen, and they came to include a Romanian membership which, from the perspective of its size, was not merely symbolic. These associations also carefully aimed to foster interactions at every possible occasion. The reason for this lay not only in the different ethnic realities (a more subdued Hungarian presence), but also in the social and economic conditions. Kronstadt was rapidly industrializing, and Hermannstadt’s local economy was dominated by craftsmen, and the city leaders devoted resources to preserve their positions, too. Finally, in both cities, a new social group of labor slipped away from traditional urban or denominational associations to form an emerging organized social democracy which was nationally indifferent.

The ultimate conclusion of the book is that the situationality and contextual nature of nationalism as a practice is discernible within economic nationalism too. This argument is a welcome addition to the study of bottom-up and everyday nationalism, and as such, it is convincing. However, given the broader framework and regarding some relatively significant nuances the work posits in terms of the different intensity of economic nationalism in the two cities, the book leaves a less favorable impression, mainly because of the complete neglect of the secondary literature in Hungarian. Danneberg fails to cite or make reference to Zoltán Gál’s analyses of the regional layers and networks of financial institutions, Gábor Sonkoly’s conceptualization of the hierarchy of Transylvanian urban centers, nor Gábor Egry’s monograph on the role of the Saxon financial institutions in nation building.

These works might have helped Danneberg refine the argument and avoid a rather simplistic use of structural factors in her explanation of economic nationalism. Gál’s and Sonkoly’s works show that neither Hermannstadt nor Kronstadt was an underdeveloped periphery. Rather, they both had central economic, social, and administrative role within Transylvania, and as such, these cities were important elements of the second tier of the urban network of the whole empire. Egry argues that Saxon banks were refinanced from outside the Monarchy, while Romanians relied almost exclusively on capital from Vienna and Budapest, a not insignificant difference if we consider the embeddedness of institutionalized economic nationalism. Furthermore, as Egry argues, Saxon banks were institutionally capable of erecting a new framework which encompassed most of the supposed members of the nation, while Romanian and Hungarian banks fell very short of this aim, and their charitable donations were mostly token activity which fell far short of providing adequate financing for a broad network of nationalist institutions. It is also Egry’s work that gives detailed examples of barefaced individual rent-seeking by leading Saxon personalities disguised as part of a “national development effort” (the Vinţu de Jos/Alvinc-Hermannstadt railway, the Hermannstadt hydroelectric plant, the Hermannstadt-Schässburg/Sighişoara/Segesvár railway) and examples of how the moderates within Kronstadt’s Saxon economic elite (on the board of the largest and oldest local savings bank) fended off the efforts of their nationalist peers to make exclusive economic nationalism, directed against local Romanians, the basic principle of the bank’s operations and tried to uphold an ideal community of all city burghers in the face of state-driven Magyarization. In light of these earlier works in the secondary literature, it seems more the coexistence of economic modernity and traditional activities that fueled attempts at economic nationalism, while the practice of economic nationalism was even more fragmented and situational than the book shows and claims.

Gábor Egry
Institute of Political History, Budapest

Metropolitan Belgrade: Culture and Class in Interwar Yugoslavia. By Jovana Babović. Pittsburgh, PA: Pittsburgh University Press, 2018. ix + 259 pp.

Jovana Babović’s Metropolitan Belgrade is an attempt to wrest a significant part of the cultural history of interwar of Yugoslavia out of the shadow of dominant political narratives. Babović instead wants to tell another story, one that took place simultaneously but separately from the better-known histories of authoritarianism, ethnic conflict, and national tension. The subject of the book is Belgrade’s cosmopolitan cultural life between the two world wars, as well as the story of the people who produced and consumed this culture. Babović’s key argument is that Belgrade’s emerging middle class (the author uses the term “self-actualizing middle class”) largely shunned domestic culture in favor of foreign and/or European culture. In this way, Belgrade’s middle-classes distanced themselves from the cultural and political projects of Yugoslav state-forming (a distancing that became more pronounced in the period of King Aleksandar’s “Yugoslavizing” dictatorship, from 1929 to 1934) and identified instead with perceived symbols of metropolitan Europe. This was also a means of creating a space between an emerging middle-class identity in Belgrade and working class or lower-lass social strata.

The book is divided into six chapters which offer amusing but also telling examples of this process of cultural identification and separation. The first chapter, “Entertainment and the Politics of Culture,” establishes the allure of foreign entertainment, presented to and by Belgrade’s middle classes as a “benchmark of European taste” (p.37). Chapter two examines the heady early days of Radio Belgrade, including its programming and likely listenership, and the manner in which the station addressed itself ostensibly to all of Yugoslavia, but practically to Belgrade alone (in its content and through its signal strength). There are further chapters on the professional associations of Yugoslav performers and working-class entertainers (a counter-example to the foreign cultural consumption preferred by most of Belgrade’s middle class) and on the development of Belgrade’s leisure district in the 1920s and the 1930s, with a particular focus on cinemas and theatres as perceived sites of moral transgression (it seems the feuilleton writers of Belgrade’s newspapers and magazines were particularly interested in the potential of these darkened rooms for extramarital affairs). Babović’s final two chapters highlight two important figures in the cultural life of interwar Belgrade: the visit of American-born French performer Josephine Baker, the “Black Venus” who performed in Belgrade and elsewhere during a tour at the end of the 1920s to much outrage but also fascination in Yugoslavia; and a chapter on Serbian strongman Dragoljub Aleksić, an entertainer who became popular in the dictatorship period by duplicating and, Babović argues, subverting the regime’s emphasis on physical discipline and culture, especially as embodied by the official “Sokol” gymnastic associations.

Babović’s succeeds in telling a complementary history of the interwar period, one that differs from the better-known political narrative of the period and one in which class affiliations take precedence over those of nationality and in which the authoritarianism of the dictatorship years does not seem to be all-encompassing. On the former, it could perhaps be argued that Belgrade as the state capital and Serbs as the “hegemonic” nation might simply not be cognizant of their position as primus inter pares in the interwar kingdom (an idea hinted at in the chapter on Radio Belgrade, in which the producers of radio programming are not always clear about the difference between an urban Belgrade listenership and a broader Yugoslav one). In her chapter on Josephine Baker, Babović shows the contrasting ways in which this entertainer’s performances were received in Zagreb (far less kindly, it turns out), and there is surely scope to draw out comparative or transcultural analysis of different urban centers in interwar Yugoslavia. This even offers a chance for further ethnic and national differentiation: how did Novi Sad, with its Habsburg history and its intercommunal traditions, differ from Belgrade? Here is a tale of two cities, two ostensibly Serbian metropoles that are on closer inspection quite different from each other. Babović’s book is a piquant and persuasive study which asks and answers many important questions.

There is a rich historiography on urban culture in Belgrade, one which covers the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and continues to deepen our understanding of the time and the place in a turbulent political environment. But it is to date available largely only in Serbian, as Babović’s citations attest (for example, the work of Dubravka Stojanović, or Radina Vučetić-Mladenović). This book is a rare example of an English-language treatment of certain themes and discussions which have already been the subject of nuanced discussion in the Serbian-language secondary literature, but it also advances these discussions with its innovative ideas about class and metropolitanism in interwar Belgrade. Perhaps the closest field in English-language is the fascinating literature on socialist consumption after 1945, pioneered by scholars such as Paulina Bren and Mary Neuberger, and it can only be hoped that authors will be inspired by Babović’s work to look more closely at the way culture was produced, exchanged, and consumed in interwar East Central and Southeastern Europe.

John Paul Newman
Maynooth University

Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance 1921−1931. By Nathan, Marcus. Cambridge, MA−London, England: Harvard University Press, 2018. 546 pp.

Interwar Austrian monetary history is a popular theme in current historiography. Many monographs have dealt with this issue in recent decades. One would assume that there is no reason for a new research endeavor in the field, but Nathan Marcus’s bulky volume refutes this assumption when it tells the well-known story from other perspectives. This book aims to present how postwar hyperinflation was overcome in Austria in 1922, the road to financial stabilization, and the events until 1931 by offering a complete reassessment of the role and activities of the League of Nations in the Austrian stabilization process.

The introductory chapter summarizes the political and economic history of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy from 1848 to 1908, unfortunately leaving out the war years, although this period had an enormous influence on postwar monetary and fiscal problems. Following this chapter, the book is divided into three larger blocks; their alliterating titles (Crisis, Control, and Collapse) indicate already the author’s conviction that the Austrian financial reconstruction was little more than a series of failures. Nathan Marcus does not examine the process from a narrow financial perspective. For him, the real failure was the political instability and growing anti-Semitism in Austria in the interwar years.

The first part of the book (Crisis) covers the period of hyperinflation from early 1921 to late 1922. The main focus is on how Austrians experienced and made sense of the upheavals brought about by the dramatic depreciation of the crown. Marcus uses many sources to answer this question; the economic debates of the era, the inflation-themed caricatures in the press, and the data concerning demographic behavior and tobacco consumption. Hyperinflation increased the pace of life and changed people’s perception of time. For most Austrians, rapid inflation was a traumatic experience; a process of impoverishment and decline. The deterioration of the crown’s value created fears of a chaotic and unstable future. Marcus proves this by analyzing caricatures published in the newspapers which reveal the anxieties and distress caused by inflation, the fears from the disintegration of the moral order, the breaking up of families, the loss of traditional values, and the end of a male-centered world.

The most intriguing part of the book deals with the financial reconstruction devised by the League of Nations. During the stabilization program, Austria had to balance its budget, establish a new independent central bank, and raise a foreign loan to finance reconstruction. The process was facilitated by the presence of the League of Nations General Commissioner, who controlled Austria’s fiscal policy and was authorized to withhold the revenues of the League of Nations loan borrowed by the Austrian government. A foreign adviser oversaw monetary policy at the Austrian National Bank.

The question of foreign control, which has received relatively little attention in the historiography until now, is the central issue of the book. Austrian historiography has negatively evaluated League control as an unwarranted subjugation of Austrian sovereignty to foreign interests which allegedly damaged the Austrian economy and led to unemployment, deflation, and economic crisis. Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance 1921−1931, in contrast, attributes positive effects to foreign financial control. This concept had been applied only to economically backward countries, such as Ottoman Turkey or Egypt. It was the first time a developed European state had to give up part of its sovereignty in order to get a foreign loan. In Austria, this provoked apprehensions and resentment about foreign influence. However, Marcus proves that in the case of Austria (and other financial reconstructions based on the Austrian model later on), the nature of foreign control was quite different. The League provided the impartiality necessary to make foreign control acceptable both to the foreign creditors and to Vienna by giving it an international character. International financial control through the League of Nations, unlike financial influence organized by foreign bankers or the Allied Powers, was acceptable precisely because it promised to be politically more neutral and respectful of national sensitivities.

In the 1920s, a new spirit of international cooperation emerged in the bodies of the League of Nations, the essence of which was to overcome national interests and social and economic conflicts. Officials at its Financial Secretariat and international experts in its Financial Committee contributed to the reconstruction of the global economy and fostered transnational and trans-governmental activities in conformity with the new League mentality.

Financial control over state revenues and monetary policy was necessary and unavoidable as it was the only way to restore confidence in Austria, and confidence was the most important prerequisite for raising a new foreign loan. According to Marcus, accusations of foreign financial dictatorship was entirely misplaced in the case of Austria. In fact, the control exercised by General Commissioner Zimmerman was quite limited, and he did not act as a representative of foreign financial interests. Instead, Zimmermann played a conciliatory role by trying to reach a compromise between Geneva, London and Vienna by explaining and defending Austrian fiscal and monetary policy abroad. He functioned as a scapegoat, allowing the Austrian government to blame foreign intervention for unpopular economic measures. Chancellor Seipel successfully resisted League demands if in his assessment they came at too high a political cost (e.g. reduction of budget expenditures, dismissal of state employees, or cuts in wages and pensions). The reforms prescribed in the Geneva Protocols establishing the principles of financial stabilization were undertaken with little enthusiasm; the most important measures were even sabotaged in Vienna. Chancellor Seipel and his Foreign Minister welcomed the League’s presence in Vienna, as it strengthened their political position vis-à-vis the parliamentary opposition.

Part 3 (Collapse) describes the post-stabilization period until 1931. After 1927, the political and economic situation became increasingly unstable in Austria, and this led to serious conflicts between the political right and the political left and thus increased the danger of civil war. According to the volume, this was the underlying cause of the recurring crises of the Austrian financial market, the most spectacular episode of which was the collapse of the Boden-Credit-Anstalt in 1929 and then of the biggest and most important Vienna bank, the Credit-Anstalt (CA) in May 1931. Marcus rejects the widely held belief that the CA failure triggered the financial crisis in Europe in the summer of 1931. The Austrian National Bank, with help from the Bank of England, foreign financiers, and the Bank for International Settlements, was able to contain the CA crisis by mid-June. It was only after the outbreak of the German crisis in mid-July when the banking panic and the run on the currency returned in Vienna. According to the argument, it was the unfolding crisis in Germany that brought the Great Depression to Europe. It is surprising that, in this section of the book, Marcus does not even mention the fact that League control was reintroduced in Austria in the autumn of 1931.

The book synthesizes a vast amount of secondary sources and draws extensively on the author’s primary research; the references take up 125 pages in the book. Unfortunately, there is a lot of repetition; the book would have profited from the work of a careful editor who had removed repeated ideas. Marcus also makes only minimal mention of the issue of reparation, although it was a decisive factor in the European financial reconstructions in the 1920s. Despite its shortcomings, Austrian Reconstruction and the Collapse of Global Finance 1921−1931 is a significant contribution to the field which can be recommended not only to the specialists on interwar political, economic, and financial history, but also to the wider readership and especially to students.


Ágnes Pogány
Corvinus University of Budapest

History and Belonging: Representations of the Past in Contemporary European Politics. Edited by Stefan Berger and Caner Tekin. New York, Berghahn Books, 2018. 214 pp.

History and Belonging offers an overview of the most pressing elements in contemporary European politics with a focus on memory politics and the creation of national narratives within the EU. It does so with issues occurring in the contemporary or historically Western and Eastern regions in mind. The first five chapters of the book offer insight into the creation of Europe as a cultural, historical concept from a typically Western European point of view. The last five explore the ways in which the Western European perspective has set challenges for non-Western self-conceptualizations across the continent.

While the first five chapters aim to analyze the ways in which a united Europe has become a homogenous, largely Western idea, the authors themselves sometimes fall into generalizations and do not fully question the meaning of the term “Western.” Despite this, these chapters give a wide overview of the several domains which participate in the production of knowledge and are engaged in the formulation of both the idea of European unity and national historical narratives. The case of the House of European History (Rosenberg) and the European Union National Institutes for Culture (Schneider) complements the overview of the historiography of European integration (Calligaro). The first three chapters explore the importance of institutions in the representation of a collective “European past” and, very importantly, highlight (as in Schneider) the reciprocally dependent relationship between places of representation (e.g. museums) and those of knowledge production (archives and academic liaisons). However, one sometimes might miss mention of the regional aspect and thus the questioning of such categories as “European” or “common history” through a brief look at East Central European patterns of past-representations before and after the transitions following the collapse of state socialism. The fourth chapter (Pingel) on the representation of Europe in curricula and textbooks offers the sometimes overlooked yet immensely important aspect of education in transcultural missions. Pingel explores a shift in the European idea which is seemingly in conflict with the national idea while nonetheless sensitive to the question of center and periphery, allowing the author to touch upon the fact that the European idea is construed in a world that is imagined to be peaceful. The conflict between the national and the supranational European idea is duly demonstrated in the fifth chapter by Wellings and Gifford. Dealing with national, colonial, continental images of the past in England, this chapter gives an engaging analysis of the history of English Euroscepticism and highlights the conflict between European integration and historical continuity with pre-existing national narratives. This chapter nicely presents the interconnected relationship between imperial thinking, nostalgia for an embellished image of national greatness, the cracks in historical continuity, and Euroscepticism. Thus, it may be useful for scholars from a great variety of fields.

The next five chapters offer a stronger focus on Central and Eastern European cases in past-representation and contemporary politics. Đureinović’s chapter about the multitude of effects of historical revisionism on transnational memory culture in the post-Yugoslav space adds to this volume, among other things, through its special focus on the relativizing tendencies in the representation of both fascist and communist crimes. This argumentation is logically followed by a methodology-focused discussion of the memory of Stalinism and its international dimension (Weber). Đureinović and Weber’s argumentations put special emphasis on the temporality of the concept of victim and perpetrator, which allows both authors to analyze the myths of victimhood that served as a foundation for the Pan-European idea. These chapters are nicely complemented by an analysis of the Holocaust as transcultural memory and the vast differences in how forms of resistance are remembered across Europe (Müller). As an intriguing resemblance to Wellings and Gifford’s chapter on English Euroscepticism, Müller highlights the role of historiography in creating individual, national, and European narratives of the Holocaust, part of which is a dominantly nostalgic narrative in contemporary Israel towards the Habsburg Monarchy and fin-de-siècle Vienna. The last two chapters of the book revolve around Turkey and the responsibilities of the European Union in its accession (Levin and Tekin). The focus lies on the effects of cultural and historical othering, anti-muslim prejudice, and Europeanization. Levin argues that the popular idea that Turkey’s accession procedure ultimately failed due to its domestic conflicts is largely misleading and that historical European self-conceptualization also partook in the marginalization of Turkey through consistent othering. The last chapter, authored by Caner Tekin, is a nice complement to this. It convincingly demonstrates the conceptual conjunctions between the formulation of a stable “European identity” and the debates surrounding Turkey’s accession. Both chapters are useful in terms of methodology, as they reflect on how historiography is affected by conceptual debates.

History and Belonging might be an inherently useful volume which offers an overview of the questions which are frequently at the center of the debates surrounding the legitimacy of the European project. From EU institutions to curricula or parliamentary debates, the volume offers a wide range of topics and methodologies through which the European past, traditionally represented as homogenous and from a Western point of view, can be nuanced or even challenged. This book is special in the sense that it is a collection of works which respectively focus on questioning the contemporary European idea by deploying methods in conceptual, political, institutional history, as well as by drawing on literary and cultural studies. The issues of center and periphery, cultural and political othering, and religious and economic differences provide the core of the questions raised in the book. As stated in the introduction by editors Stefan Berger and Caner Tekin, the aim of this volume is to offer an introduction to how the European past is remembered in light of the European project and integration, which it does successfully. While this edited volume has a strong emphasis on historiography and memory politics, it will be valuable for readers from a wide range of social sciences.

Orsolya Anna Sudár
Central European University

Planning in Cold War Europe: Competition, Cooperation, Circulations (1950s–1970s). Edited by Michel Christian, Sandrine Kott, and Ondřej Matějka. Berlin–Boston: Walter de Gruyter GmbH, 2018. 375 pp.

This book represents a very welcome reminder of the importance of the concept of planning after World War II on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Economic planning was not just an obsession of communist parties, it was also deeply rooted in the strategies and policies of various Western countries. While understandings of this concept varied widely, it was a topic of great interest and debate among economists and policy makers. This observation offers a different view on what is today perceived as two radically opposed camps in the postwar period. While ideologically, politically, and military this was undoubtedly true, in the field of macro-economics and more specifically regarding the level of state intervention, the reality was more nuanced.

The book has 14 chapters structured in three parts. The first part, “Planning a New World after the War” is focused on the period immediately after World War II. Francine McKenzie argues that immediately after the war, the liberal trade order was perceived as the best long term option, but different countries in the Western world would progress towards that goal in different ways and at different speeds, taking into consideration domestic modernization, employment, and social welfare.

In the next chapter, Daniel Stinky presents the work of Gunnar Myrdal between 1947 and 1957 as the Executive Secretary of the United Nations’ newly founded Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). During his tenure at ECE, Myrdal continuously aimed, more or less successfully, to bridge the gap between the Western world and the Soviet bloc through economic cooperation.

The second part, “High Modernism Planning,” aims to demonstrate how planning was a dynamic and versatile concept, intensively used and discussed on both sides of the Iron Curtain. Isabelle Gouarné describes the intense dialogue between the French planners and their colleagues from the Soviet bloc. In the next chapter, Katja Naumann describes how two UNESCO organizations designed to support social sciences research cooperation acted as spaces of encounter, cooperation, and even competition across the Iron Curtain. This chapter demonstrates how scientific knowledge undoubtedly benefited from East-West cooperation.

In the next chapter, Sandrine Kott elucidates an important piece of the still unclear puzzle of the emergence of the new managerial class as a key actor in all the communist countries. This contribution describes in detail how management knowledge was transferred from the West in an institutionalized form strongly supported by the communist leadership in the 1960s.

Sari Autio-Sarasmo explores how scientific-technological cooperation (STC) between the Soviet Union and Finland were managed over almost four decades. The discussion of the means and specific details of this cooperation is very insightful and sheds light on behind-the-scenes technology transfer to the Soviet Union. The chapter ultimately concludes that the dissemination, implementation, and diffusion of the transferred knowledge into the Soviet industry was not terribly successful. Moreover, the way STCs were run during the Cold War (paying with raw materials and energy for technology imports) remains deeply rooted in Russia’s trade pattern today.

The following chapter looks into the origins of a debate organized by the World Council of Churches (WWC) among Christian theologians, Marxists from both sides of the Iron Curtain, and scholars from the Third World. The author uses the Czech case to show how the anti-religious social engineering supporters, initially chosen by the communist leaders for their commitment to the party’s objectives, progressively emancipated themselves and began to spread an independent and critical discourse, usually under the influence of forbidden literature and contact with Western scholars.

The next chapter examines one of the most important structures of the Soviet bloc, the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) and, more specifically, the Soviet Union’s attempt to integrate the communist economies into a centrally coordinated system. According to the author, the communist countries manipulated the negotiations in order to shift the balance of power within the Soviet bloc and to accomplish national economic and political objectives. While generally correct, the argument of this chapter could have been improved with the inclusion of two other facts in the discussion. First, the Soviet-led integration initiative came soon after a decade of blatant exploitation of its satellites’ economies and resources, so the local communist leaders’ preference for national sovereignty over a supranational initiative could have shaped their strategies to deal with integration plan. Second, the Romanian leaders used the so-called Valev plan to undermine the integration plan actively from its very beginning. The plan proposed the creation of a vast agrarian transnational area, including a large part of Romania, Bulgaria, and Ukraine. While perhaps economically rational, the Valev plan was ideologically and economically not sustainable for a less developed country such as Romania, where the Communist Party had to rely on extensive industrialization to pursue modernization and the creation of its political base, the working class.

The third part of the book is entitled “Alternatives to Planning.” It begins with a chapter on the Western perception of the self-management model developed in Yugoslavia as an alternative to the centralized planning system. The notion of self-managed planning had wide circulation and was quite popular in Western political and academic circles. As a path which was distinct from the Soviet model, it influenced debates and policy evolutions in the West. Even if its validation by the real economic performances was rather weak, it provided a useful theoretical concept, helping Western Europe to deal with its labor challenges.

The second chapter of this part focuses on the evolution and the role played by management theory in Czechoslovakia over the course of more than two decades. Vítězslav Sommer describes in detail how Czechoslovak management studies progressed and developed continuously since 1950s and was successfully adapted to the changing political circumstances. It is worth mentioning here that the Czechoslovak example is perhaps less relevant to other communist countries, considering the high level of industrialization and development of Czechoslovakia.

The next chapter brings into the discussion the role played in international cooperation, policy making, and planning processes by the ecosystems research starting in the early 1970s. The outbreak of the budworm became the trigger of a new approach on environmental management based on computerized modeling and systems analysis developed by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis.

The following chapter focuses on the rise and decline of the United Nations Conference for Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Founded in 1964, it aimed to redefine world trade relations by considering various regional groupings, but also different ideological and economic systems. Planning and regulation were two key concepts in UNCTAD’s attempt to create a common framework. However, the organization’s relevance declined rapidly in 1980s as a result of rising neoliberal economic conceptions.

The final chapter of the book is also related to the rise of the neoliberal order, describing a research project launched by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1975. The project aimed to investigate alternative patterns of development for the Western economies in the new globalized world. The author argues that the project was a key carrier of a proto-liberal worldview, which was actively diffused by OECD into the global environment in the following decades.

Overall, the book constitutes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the role played by the concept of planning at the global level and in the dialogue between the West and the Soviet bloc. It also offers a fresh perspective on the dynamics of this concept and the multiple ways central planning was discussed and applied in various countries. Some essential aspects of the communist managerial class rise and the complicated dynamics of the attempts to plan and regulate world trade are perhaps the two most important contributions of this book.

There are also a few disputable contentions and notions in the book. The idea that there is no strong opposition between market economy and a centrally planned one still demands further evidence. While it is correct that there is a wide range of possible economic systems between a dogmatic centrally controlled economy and an unregulated free market economy, it is the political system and the ideology behind it that defines the red line. It is also correct that various socialist countries experimented with various small changes, but allowing a larger space for maneuver to state enterprises in managing their plans and eventually allowing them to compete to a small extent does not qualify as market reform. On this question, the book does not sufficiently address the consistent criticism of the planned economy which emerged in early 1960s, especially in Hungary, including its impact on political decisions and the outcomes of various reform attempts. Furthermore, the book would have profited from deeper exploration of the impact of dogmatic central planning on the communist societies and how this impact influenced Western thinking on economic planning.

Voicu Ion Sucală
University of Exeter

Vpdfolume 8 Issue 4 CONTENTS


The Economy of Medieval Hungary. Edited by József Laszlovszky, Balázs Nagy, Péter Szabó, and András Vadas. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450–1450 49. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2018. 736 pp.

As the subtitle to the introduction to this book reveals, this volume is about history, sources, research, and methodology. The introduction, which is almost 40 pages long, was written by the four editors, and as it makes clear, this book is not a conventional economic history. It is a book which owes its creation to particular, country-specific conditions and a very unusual personal and institutional constellation. Books which are so well integrated and which, from the perspective of the contributions of which they consist, are so coordinated and interrelated (the various contributions often intertwine in an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary manner), do not just come into being. There’s a special story, a special will behind it. Well-received economic histories of the past, such as those by Henri Pirenne, Adriaan Verhulst, and Michael McCormick, were almost always written by individuals. Especially in the humanities, this is still common today, and the national funding of scholarly work often only makes individual research possible. However, a field such as economic history has to be examined today in an interdisciplinary manner. Only then can a work offer scholarly “added value.” The editors and authors of the book have taken on the comparatively more arduous approach of coming from different disciplines to work jointly. Such a path requires coordination, communication, and determination. It also requires a great deal of energy, otherwise failure is inevitable. But the project on which this book was based itself had solid foundations. The Hungarian National Scholarly Research Fund (OTKA) provided support for a project entitled “Medieval Hungarian Economic History in the Light of Archaeology and Material Culture,” the members of which were active from 2005 to 2008. The project leader, the late András Kubinyi (who passed away in 2007), was particular effective as a leader. He was a teacher and colleague of many of the people who contributed to this book. His energy and persuasiveness as a scholar has shaped an entire generation. His interdisciplinary approach was groundbreaking and probably made this book, like its Hungarian predecessor, possible. The conditions of such a joint venture were not necessarily favorable. The editors present the development of the discipline in individual stages since the seventeenth century, and they touch on caesuras such as 1918, differences in national histories, different languages spoken in the area under study, the scarcity of sources due to the Ottoman conquest, etc.

The book is divided into five major sections: Structures; Human–Nature Interactions in Production; Money, Incomes and Management; Spheres of Production; Trade Relations, and 25 persons contributed. The articles were cleverly chosen and the structure is logical. The concept works. Precise analyses are used to offer a broad overview of the subject, and contributions have important overlaps. The overall picture presented by the book touches on far more than economic history. The contributions offer insights into the history of economy, production, and material culture, and they make significant use of the disciplines of agricultural and environmental history, historical ecology, social history, constitutional history, historical demography, settlement history, migration history, and more.

The method adopted merits emphasis. For instance, it is notable that the author’s biographies (“Notes on Contributors”) are given at the beginning of the book, and not towards the end, as is customary. The contributors include historians, medievalists, economic historians, environmental historians, archeologists, archeo-zoologists, a numismatist, archivists, environmental scientists, and historical ecologists. They come not only from different disciplines, but also from different institutions, universities, academies, and archives. The significance of the Central European University in the creation of this work cannot be overestimated. One strength of the book is that the contributors are all specialists in their fields, but many of them work in an interdisciplinary manner. They have come together to form teams and have either already worked on an issue in an interdisciplinary manner or formed a team for the book project in order to combine their knowledge. The concept of integrating disciplinary contributions with interdisciplinary ones works. With this innovative approach, new standards have been set, not only nationally, but internationally. The work shows perspectives on how national research can be continued and how international networking can be achieved. The present volume makes it considerably easier for the reader to draw international comparisons, since it is now available in English. Many articles have already been published in English or German. Now, however, the Hungarian research has a completely different value, because it is not presented as part of (and contributes to) an overall picture. The book already offers some context by taking into consideration the international secondary literature, which is no longer as unbalanced as it used to be. Now the outstanding Hungarian research can also be used on a large scale by the international community. It is no exaggeration to say that comparable results have not yet been achieved at the “national” or country level. This is what makes the volume so important and valuable. Moreover, though it was written by specialists for specialists, it will still be of interest to a wider readership. The authors have managed to write articles which will be of interest to specialists, students, and beginners. The illustrations, which complement the text well, also contribute to the appeal of the book. In summary, the editors have compiled a showcase for Hungarian research on economic history understood in the broadest sense. The contributors raise insightful and interesting questions, and the book offers an overview of the secondary literature, the relevant methods, and the sources on the respective themes. Together with the rich illustrations, this makes the work a useful handbook which will be of interest to a wide audience.

Christoph Sonnlechner
Wiener Stadt- und Landesarchiv

Das Wiener Fürstentreffen von 1515: Beiträge zur Geschichte der Habsburgisch-Jagiellonischen Doppelvermählung. Edited by Bogusław Dybaś and István Tringli. Budapest: Research Centre for the Humanities, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, 2019. 479 pp.

The book under review is a collection of articles based on the presentations held at a conference entitled “The Congress of Vienna 1515: Middle Europe between Habsburgs and Jagiellons,” which was held in Vienna on April 15–17, 2015. The conference was organized as part of a cooperative effort among Austria, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Renowned experts from these countries participated in the conference, and this book is the product of their research and their presentations. It consists of 17 articles which touch in some way on the 1515 Congress of Vienna. The articles are coherent and strictly focus on the main topic of the book. It was thus possible to bring scholars from a range of backgrounds together and offer deep analyses of the questions at hand, many of which are not overly familiar in the secondary literature. I will not analyze all the articles separately, but rather will focus on the major problems discussed.

The main issue which was discussed is the political situation of this part of Europe, which was shaped by the competing political interests of the Habsburgs and the Jagiellons, which gave political meaning to the Congress and urgency to relations between the Papacy and Central Europe. The contributors to the book offer thorough descriptions and analyses of the standpoints of the countries that participated in that Congress. This furthers an understanding of the complicated situation in Europe at the time. Krzysztof Baczkowski, an outstanding Polish historian and an expert in Polish-Hungarians relations, challenges the negative assessment in Polish historiography of the consequences of the Congress for Poland in his article. According to Baczkowski, the Congress was a tremendous triumph of Polish diplomacy and the key to Polish stabilization in sixteenth century, which has been characterized in Polish historiography as a “golden age.” Pál Fodor and Géza Dávid analyze relations between Hungary and Turkey at the beginning of sixteenth century, and they identify three factors that were crucial to Hungary’s political situation: the idea of a fight against Turkey, which was, they claim, merely an empty slogan used to justify personal politics in each country; the changing standpoint of Poland and Venice after their defeats at the hands of Turkey at the end of fifteenth century, which prompted them to adopt much more conciliatory policies towards the Ottoman Empire; the standpoint of Turkey, which tried to make use of tensions among the Christian countries of Europe. Jacek Wijaczka examines the rivalry between the Habsburgs and Jagiellons and tries to determine why the Jagiellons were unable to hold onto power in Hungary and Bohemia. Janusz Smołucha describes the Papacy’s standpoint towards the Middle and Eastern Europe at the time of the Congress. Antonín Kalous examines the sources in Bohemia’s archives which are relevant in some way to the Congress. Manfred Holleger and István Tringli analyze the political plans of Maximilian Habsburg and Vladislaus II.

Alongside the articles focused on political issues, some of the contributions show how the Congress was seen by its participants. Tibor Neumann offers a list of the people who took part in the Congress. As it was a private event, only people who were trusted by the king were invited. This made it possible to reconstruct the positions of nobles at the king’s court. Neumann examines whether or not, during the reign of Vladislaus (who is characterized in the secondary literature in Hungary as having been a very weak king), one could speak about a king’s party or about people trusted by the king. According Neumann, one could. The article offers a lot of new, important information to our knowledge of the Congress, Vladislaus II, and his court.

Some of the contributions offer analyses of the 1515 Congress of Vienna from the perspectives of the elite of the host cities. In my opinion, this is an important standpoint from which to consider the events of the Congress, and the inclusion of this viewpoint enriches the collection. Judit Majorossy describes how the Congress was perceived by the elite of Pressburg (Pozsony in Hungarian, today Bratislava, Slovakia) and how it influenced their lives. She also presents information concerning the incomes and expenditures of the city in connection with the Congress. She concludes that the elite of Pressburg saw no significant difference between this Congress and other important events which took place in the town. Juraj Sedivy analyzes so-called memorium, forms of the commemoration and representation used by the town’s elites. Bence Péterfi looks at interrelationships between politics and diplomacy, and he offers a new point of view from which to consider the problem of real politics. He examines the rhetoric of the 1491 Treaty of Pressburg and explains how it was understood in reality. Political rhetoric and the reality turned out to be totally different.

Several contributors discuss the cultural transfer of the Congress and the dual-marriage which took place during this event (Piotr Tafiłowski, Christian Gastgeber, Ivan Gerat, and Elisabeth Klecker). Tafiłowski examines images of the Ottoman Turks in European literature at the time. Christian Gastgeber compares two reports from the meeting written by Johannes Cuspininan and Riccardo Bartolini, and Ivan Gerat compares how the events of the Congress were depicted in the woodcut made by Albrecht Dürer and the painting in St. Elisabeth cathedral in Košice. Elisabeth Klecker considers the importance of connections between the University of Vienna and the Congress, and she identifies two people who played important roles, Johannes Cuspinian and Joachim Vadian. Some of the contributors consider the consequences of the Congress. Orsolya Réthelyi, for instance, describes the court lives of Maria of Habsburg and Anna Jagiellon after the Congress and before their marriages.

In conclusion, this impressive collection of conference papers improves our knowledge of the Congress of Vienna. It brings unfamiliar and important problems to the fore and provides analyses which show the Congress of Vienna from different points of view: international politics, the perspective of the burghers of the host cities, the roles of the host cities, the cultural context of the Congress, and cultural transfers. According to the introduction, the aim of the collection was to provide thorough analyses of the circumstances of the Congress, the dynastic plans of the Habsburgs, and the political, social, and cultural contexts in the countries which participated. This goal has been admirably achieved.

Katarzyna Niemczyk
University of Silesia

Život u srednjovjekovnom Splitu: Svakodnevica obrtnika u 14. i 15. stoljeću [Life in Medieval Split: Everyday Life of Craftsmen in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Centuries]. By Tonija Andrić. Biblioteka Hrvatska povjesnica, Monografije i studije, III/79. Zagreb–Split: Croatian Institute of History, Department of History at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences in Split, 2018. 329 pp.

This volume constitutes a valuable contribution to the study of an urban social group which has essentially been neglected in recent scholarship on society in communities on the eastern Adriatic. While there has been a great deal of intense research on this region lately, historians have tended to focus more on the nobility and the wealthy citizenry, particularly merchants. The last monographs dealing especially with crafts and craftsmen as a social group were published in 1951 (Dragan Roller) and 1979 (Josip Lučić), and they both deal exclusively with Dubrovnik, while for other Dalmatian cities, one finds only subsections on crafts(men) in overall histories of the cities, e.g. for Zadar (Nada Klaić/Ivo Petricioli 1976) and Šibenik (Josip Kolanović 1995). The only recent exception, alongside Andrić’s book, has been several articles on the craftsmen of Rab by Meri Kunčić, and Kunčić is expected soon to synthesize her findings into a monograph. Some attention has also been given by art historians to specific artisans, such as painters (Emil Hilje), goldsmiths (Marijana Kovačević), stonemasons (Emil Hilje, Ana Plosnić Škarić) and sculptors (Igor Fisković), and in the last decade, several studies were written on apprentices as part of studies on youth (Tonija Andrić, Florence Sabine Fabijanec, Marija Karbić, Zoran Ladić). Therefore, this book, which is based primarily on an immense number of non-published notarial documents preserved in the State Archive of Zadar, marks a milestone in the social history of Dalmatian craftsmen. It also fills in a big gap in the social and economic history of late Medieval Split.

The time range covered is limited by the fact that, despite the relatively significant number of Medieval narrative sources (the most important of which is the thirteenth-century Chronicle of Thomas the Archdeacon), notarial documents in Split are only preserved from the 1340s, in contrast with Trogir, Dubrovnik, and Zadar. After presenting crucial information on urbanism in Medieval Split (pp.5–17), in which some more precise maps would have made a welcome addition, in the chapter on social structure (pp.19–83), Andrić presents existing historiographic projections on the demographic and ethnic composition of Split in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. She is inclined to use a cautious estimate of the population of Split at the turn of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries (somewhere between 4,000 and 5,000), which probably dropped to 3,500 at the beginning of the fifteenth century.

In her estimate of the ethnic composition of the population of the city which did not belong to the nobility, she accepts the method of using the origin of the surname as the basis for ethnic affiliation. According to this method, in the second half of the fourteenth century (1368–1369) and in the middle of the fifteenth (1443–1453), the great majority of the non-noble population was of Slavic origin (90.47 percent and 90.76 percent, respectively). This method, although not entirely reliable, is still better than taking only given names into account, only 51.72 percent of which were Slavic. If one considers only the craftsmen in the city, more than 80 percent were from Split or the surrounding district by origin (87.87 percent and 85.54 percent respectively).

In the fifteenth century, there were more artisan immigrants from other communes and from Italy, while the number of artisans from the hinterland was at the lowest, since the immigrants from the hinterland usually entered the circle of servants and non-qualified laborers. Andrić is prudent to note that the legal division between non-noble citizens (cives) and inhabitants (habitatores), which is often taken as the division between richer merchants and intellectuals (such as notaries, physicians, and teachers) on the one hand and members of the poorer artisan class on the other, did not apply to artisans, since part of the craftsman population belonged to the communal citizenry, for which one of the main conditions was possession of one’s own house. These people were mostly artisans whose trades were among the more artistic crafts (painters, stonemasons, and goldsmiths) or artisans who practiced crafts which required more advanced technology and higher investments, such as boat repairing, fabric-dyeing, and cloth-making. Along with traders, they could lead lives which in many ways resembled the lives of members of the nobility. For instance, they were not unlikely to have luxurious homes, elegant garb, and good food. As examples of one such artisan, Andrić examines the cases of aromatarius Lappus Zanobii and famous master stonecutter Juraj Dalmatinac (George of Mathew Dalmata). Their larger incomes made it easier for them to invest in land, which along with trade, would provide even better income. However, most artisans were habitatores, who lived solely off their physical labor, although they could also supplement this income by buying or renting a small piece of land. All artisans were involved in trade and sold the products they made, although only a minority could export their products.

In the chapter on economic activity (pp.85–149), Andrić takes into account all types of business activities in which artisans engaged, including business with land, houses, and other real estate, as well as activities in trade and seamanship. She analyzes all the artisans of Split, regardless of their social status as citizens or inhabitants, focusing on the economic aspects of their activities more broadly understood, instead of narrowly limiting her study to their crafts (the work they did with their own hands) as their main sources of income. Still, she rightfully pays more attention to the group of lesser artisans (usually in the status of habitatores), since they not only formed the majority in sheer numbers, but they have also been somewhat neglected in the secondary literature. Her discussion does not include activities like the aforementioned intellectual pursuits or millers and innkeepers (sometimes also treated as crafts in the historiography), nor for that matter does she include servants. She estimates that roughly one fourth of the population of the city were craftsmen (27.08 percent of roughly 3,500 inhabitants). If this number is added to the number of people who were engaged in service activities, sailors and small merchants, the total would come to more than half of the population. Craftsmen involved in leather production (45.14 percent) constituted the largest group of artisans, followed by craftsmen working in carpentry (16.57 percent), textile production (15.42 percent), and the more artistic crafts (10 percent). Andrić analyses each group of crafts, and she also considers the organization of confraternities and training of apprentices (151–202), skillfully combining quantitative analysis of data from various types of notarial sources (business and private documents) with examples from the lives and careers of particular artisans.

The most interesting part of the book is perhaps the part on the everyday lives of craftsmen (pp.203–74), which provides for us the first presentation in the secondary literature on housing, clothing, jewelry, alimentation, marriage, and the marital lives and positions of women (who often contributed a great deal to the income of a family). Most craftsmen lived in the new Medieval part of the city (outside of Diocletian’s palace, the so-called civitas vetus, but within the new Medieval walls), but not in the suburbs, which were populated predominantly by hired fieldworkers. According to data from wills, on average, only one child per family survived into adulthood, a figure which matches results found in the secondary literature on late Medieval towns in the region (Zdenka Janeković Römer, Katalin Szende, Marija Karbić). Altogether, this book breaks the long silence on the lives and labors of the numerically largest part of Dalmatian communal society. It will undoubtedly become a model for similar research on other cities.

Zrinka Nikolić Jakus
University of Zagreb

Erdélyi országgyűlések a 16–17. században [Transylvanian Assemblies in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries]. By Teréz Oborni. Budapest: Országház Kiadó, 2018. 424 pp.

Teréz Oborni’s work on the assemblies which were held during the period of the independent Transylvanian principality, published as the latest addition to the series on parliamentary history by Országház Publishers, provides a detailed summary of the findings of the secondary literature, along with maps and valuable source and textual illustrations, as well as contributions from her own archival research. Oborni has done a broadly conceived study of the history of the Transylvanian assemblies using methods and sources relevant to institutional, legal, and political history. She pays special attention to shifts in the complex relationships between the two great powers, the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire, which to a large extent determined the fate of the principality. According to her, the balance of power between the princes and the estates of Transylvania was subject to change in response to shifts in diplomatic relations between Transylvania and the two great powers.

In the first chapter, Oborni offers an overview of the distinctive conditions of constitutional law and social structure in Transylvania, which determined the state of affairs in the principality, situated in the eastern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, beginning with the end of the Middle Ages. She points out that the so-called “voivodes” (chief officers appointed by the Hungarian king) obtained power over the three Transylvanian estates, the so-called “natios” (the nobility, most of which was Hungarian, the Székelys, and the Saxons). The estates were united by their shared need to protect their privileges from the voivodes and the necessity of defending the region from the Turks, which became one of the foundation stones of the Transylvanian principality’s future. Oborni deals with the diplomatic aspirations of 1530–1540 in depth, which were aimed at reconstituting the country, which had been split into two and then three parts (after 1541) due to the so-called dual royal election, which took place after the Battle of Mohács (1526). These aspirations were doomed to failure owing to the political and military situation. The state which came into being on the soil of the historical Transylvania and the surrounding eastern Hungarian counties (the so-called Parts, or Partium), which could be seen as a sort of “Eastern Hungarian Kingdom,” arose under the governance of the son of John Szapolyai, Queen Izabella, and, mainly, the governor, György Fráter, the Bishop of Várad.

In the 1540s and 1550s, the Transylvanian parliaments played a vital role in the creation of the state and in passing legislation and writing the new constitution of the principality. During this process, the estates and Queen Isabella attempted, by and large successfully, to preserve the traditional Hungarian institutional structure. The constitutional legal status and the borders of Transylvania and Partium remained uncertain until the Treaty of Speyer, which was signed in 1571 by Maximillian II and John Sigismund Szapolyai, when John Sigismund assumed the title of “reigning prince of Transylvania and Parts of Hungary” and renounced the title of “elected king.”

The second chapter gives a chronological overview of the legislative work leading to the Treaty of Speyer and the creation of the necessary diplomatic preconditions. However, the Ottoman Empire, which had officially recognized the Transylvanian estates’ right to elect the prince without restriction (libera electio) in 1567, still treated Transylvania’s rulers as vassals of the Porte and always required negotiations regarding the person of the future prince beforehand. The Habsburg kings went on to consider the Transylvanian territory as an inseparable part of the Holy Crown of Hungary, and they referred to its leaders as voivodes, thus expressing its subordination to the Habsburg House.

In the third chapter, Oborni explains the problem of strong princely power as opposed to the weak estates, considering the period between the symbolic date of 1571 and 1690, the end of the independent Transylvanian Principality and the beginning of its the integration into the Habsburg Monarchy. She notes that the Transylvanian Principality could be considered a constitutional monarchy led by a prince, within the framework of which the orders possessed certain political rights in theory, though in practice they could not assert them sufficiently, especially during the princely elections or in times of political crisis.

The huge fiscal and familial landed properties and other fiscal incomes contributed to the overwhelming superiority of the power of the rulers. The unicameral Transylvanian parliament represented an undeveloped system, which was typical of the easternmost parts of the continent. The three natios sent their delegates to the diets, and some higher officials of the government, the members of the Princely Council and the High Court, certain bishops, and church vicars participated on invitation (they were the so-called regalists). The Catholic clergy, which lost its significance due to the Reformation, did not form an independent order in Transylvania, in contrast with developments in Hungary and Western Europe. The first list on the parliamentary presence of towns situated in the Székely Land and in the Hungarian counties dates back to 1658, but at that time, in contrast with the towns in Hungary, the Transylvanian towns did not join forces to protect their interests. The essentially horizontal division of the estates at the diet was shattered by the strengthening of the princely power in the government and legislative sphere through the so-called council order (tanácsi rend), consisting of the chief officers of the prince and the high-ranking members of the Princely Council. Though the latter could have evolved into an upper house following the bicameral system’s pattern of development, it was never institutionalized. Oborni refutes the widespread view in Romanian historiography according to which Romanians were deliberately excluded from the exercise of political rights. They did not form a separate order, as Romanians appeared in Transylvania sporadically and slowly, and they settled down only later and thus could not obtain the same privileges as Saxons or Székelys. Furthermore, the secular Romanian elite integrated into the Hungarian nobility, which was open both from a social and an ethnical point of view.

In the fourth chapter, Oborni states that the estates occasionally concluded or renewed the so-called unions to preserve Transylvanian unity and protect their privileges against the princes. In doing so, the three orders mutually guaranteed the preservation of one another’s prerogatives and privileges, and for the first time in 1588, they set the conditions on the basis of which the ruler was to be elected.

The fifth chapter offers an analysis of the day-to-day operation of the diet and its legislative work, even though no detailed minutes or verbatim records of the meetings were drawn up. A diet was convoked once or twice a year in peacetime and four or five times during moments of political crisis. The reigning prince’s role as legislator was far greater than that of the estates, who used these occasions to remedy local grievances, since, due to the lack of information and without authorization, they could not intervene in more serious political issues. Financial, military, and foreign affairs were almost entirely within the sovereign’s competence. The strongest trump card in the hands of the estates in Western and Central Europe was voting the tax in opposition to the interests of the ruler, however, the Transylvanian diet voted the different taxes obediently throughout the era with only a few exceptions.

Oborni’s new volume analyzes the institution of the Transylvanian assemblies from a multifold perspective, drawing on sources from political, diplomatic, and legal history. She dispels several misconceptions and offers more subtle understandings of particular aspects of this history with a source-based approach. She also draws on new findings in the secondary literature on Transylvanian social history, mostly prosopography, which, in the future, may open new paths for the study of the Transylvanian social history of politics.

János Nagy
Budapest City Archives

Házasság Budán: Családtörténetek a török kiűzése után újjászülető (fő)városból 1686–1726 [Marriage in Buda: Family Histories in the (Capital) City Reborn After the Expulsion of the Turks]. By Eleonóra Géra. Budapest: MTA BTK TTI, 2019. 291 pp.

The new monograph by Eleonóra Géra, which was published as part of the series of publications of the “Momentum” Family History Research Group, examines the structures of families in Buda at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Géra focuses on a period of several decades which were rife with conflict, crisis, and strife because of the series of military conflicts and economic and natural disasters (including the struggles to recapture the city from the Ottoman Turks, floods caused by the Danube River, epidemics of plague, and the general sense of uncertainty which followed the outbreak of the War of Independence led by Ferenc II Rákóczi). The community on which she focuses consisted of burghers (i.e. people with the rights of denizens of a free city) who for the most part were German-speaking, and she examines families formed through marriage, family networks, and the different and shifting family constructs which arose under these circumstances.

In the course of the various “turns” which were introduced into the historiography in the 1970s and 1980s (the social turn, the spatial turn, and the cultural turn), research which sought to reconstruct the prevailing forms of cohabitation in the early modern era (research which was structured around the study of patterns and models based on the operational terms “family,” “marriage,” and “household”) rewrote or at least modified the thesis statement of John Hajnal concerning family and household models (which was based on the West-East paradigm) and the ideas of Otto Brunner concerning the “large-household family” (grosse Haushaltsfamilie). But beginning in the 1990s, interpretations concerning the internal functioning of the family began to change significantly, in no small part because of the influence of approaches to the study of cultural history which dealt with the division of labor and emotional life within the early modern family. Eleonóra Géra’s book, which can be read as a study of the history of crisis, a social and women’s history, and a social-anthropological analysis, makes a substantial methodological contribution to the latter interpretative framework. In her reconstruction of the agents and mechanisms of the resilient strategies which structured the matrix created by the narrower family networks and the broader community of the city of Buda, she does not strive to arrive at or create a theory. Her method begins to become clear in the course of her narrative, which presents the shorter and longer stories that she reconstructed using an ensemble of empirical sources of various genres and styles and also of varying degrees, at the time they were created, of public access (the record books of city council meetings, council correspondence, juridical documents, last wills and testaments, inventories of bequests, etc.).

The first seven chapters of the book (which form a larger section) examine the various rituals forms of cohabitation based on marriage, including the selection of a potential spouse, engagement, and the planning and organization of the wedding and the wedding feast. This is followed by a discussion of motives for remarriage and the economic concerns and challenges. The presentation of the various forms of married life comes to a close with a discussion of cases of conflict which arose between husband and wife in the course of a marriage and often led to legal separation (situations such as domestic violence, adultery, or fornication). The second larger thematic section presents the circumstances and possible variations of widowhood. One finds descriptions of widows with small children of their own or with stepchildren, as well as widows who were members of the burgher class or guilds and who were capable of living independently. One also finds descriptions of the varying fates of children who had been orphaned and lived under the care of a stepparent or guardian or, in some cases, siblings who had reached the age of adulthood. There is a separate chapter on the various networks which unquestionably provided a form of physical and ethical protection. I am thinking of networks which were based on blood relations and the horizontal bond among siblings, brothers-in-law, and sisters-in-law and which to some degree could be said to have constituted the whole of the urban society. These networks also were shaped by a sense of belonging to a shared ethnic group, a shared confession, and a given part of the city. The third larger section of the book contains numerous and varied case studies of positive statements made (for the most part out of a sense of solidarity among women or Christian mercifulness) about individuals who found themselves in difficult circumstances through no fault of their own, such as maidens (young, unmarried women) left without any real protection or shelter in the tumultuous life of the city, single, poor widows, destitute orphans, and children who had been adopted based on a verbal agreement only. This section also addresses the fates of groups which, for various reasons, ended up on the periphery of city society (these stories are first and foremost the stories of women and children). We read diverse tales of the fates of children born outside any family constellation or from common law marriages, as well as stories of men who were in dysfunctional marriages and ended up in bigamous relationships, their abandoned wives, people who, because of flood, fire, or some other disaster, ended up destitute, the residents of the city hospital and almshouse, and the nameless souls who lived respectable lives as impoverished denizens of the city or as vagabonds who were looked on with suspicion.

Géra draws persuasive conclusions connected to the conceptual framework created first and foremost in the German scholarship on the history of the family (Familienforschung). The internal order that was established by the German-speaking families who settled in Buda in the time period under discussion in the book essentially followed the models which these families had brought with them. Thus, this order did not differ fundamentally from the models of order prevailing in the smaller and larger cities on the continent which belonged to German cultural influence. In the ideal marriage (around which the ideal family was structured), the spouses were bound by eheliche Liebe, or in other words, mutual respect, solidarity, and trust, which were interpreted as brotherly love in the Christian sense. This bond, which can be seen as an alliance based on common interest and which involved emotional ties on the spiritual level, made it possible for a married couple to preserve their wealth, maintain their families, and create some degree of continuity. This model of marriage is tied to the concept of the frommes Haus, which was seen as the greatest contentment to be found on this earth for the Christian man of the time. At the same time, in the life of the family, alongside relationships among blood relatives and relationships through marriage, the communal networks which created the tissue of society also played an important role. Anyone who was capable, over the course of his or her life, of maintaining his or her honor and reputation could count on receiving help, in the event of the death of a direct blood relative, from the network designated by the term Ehrengesellschaft. Géra convincingly draws a line between the constructions and models of marriage before the middle of the eighteenth century and the constructions and models of marriage which came to prevail after this. In other words, she identifies the process in the course of which the emotional bond known as eheliche Liebe transformed into the arguably milder hingebende Liebe, or “devoted love.” While in the period of crisis on which Géra focuses, the income earned by a head of household in the burger community through his primary employment was not, for various reasons, enough to maintain the family and it was necessary for husband, wife, children, and other relatives living with them to work as an ensemble, because of the influence of the ideological trends which began to emerge in the 1750s (Protestant pietism, the Enlightenment) the place and the roles of women and men within the family began to acquire significantly different meanings.

The book contains an appendix with a section of entries and notes in German and Latin from the records of the meetings of the city council, which both illustrate the different forms of cohabitation and give the source-centered historical narrative authority and credibility. With this attractively designed book, Eleonóra Géra has made a particularly substantial contribution to the secondary literature on the urban, social, and women’s history of Hungary in the early modern era. The stories she provides will add nuance from several perspectives to views and conclusions in the scholarship on the family, marriage, and women’s roles, and they will also give new impetus to consider interpreting and reinterpreting the relevant sources.

Lilla Krász
Eötvös Loránd University

Egy tudós hazafi Bécsben: Görög Demeter és könyvtára [A Learned Patriot in Vienna: Demeter Görög and His Library]. By Edina Zvara. Budapest: Országos Széchényi Könyvtár–Gondolat Kiadó, 2016. 506 pp.

Edina Zvara, an expert with almost unmatched knowledge of the holdings of the Esterházy library in Kismarton, the history of libraries, culture, and the sciences in Hungary in the Enlightenment in general, and the (early) modern library collections in the Carpathian Basin, has undertaken another ambitious enterprise to offer an overview and summary of the career of a prominent figure of the Hungarian Enlightenment. Zvara has created a narrative of the life and work of Demeter Görög (1760–1833), a figure whose contributions to literature and book culture in Hungary merit comparison with the contributions of Miklós Révai (1750–1807) and Ferenc Kazinczy (1759–1831). The biographical portrait she has provided of Görög, who is only rarely mentioned in the secondary literature, is based primarily on accounts of contemporaries and a methodologically consistent analysis of the items from Görög’s library found in Kismarton. With this focus on the career of a single prominent figure, Zvara has created a very colorful cultural history tableau, which offers us a portrait of an age and of cultural and scientific life in Hungary in the dynamic period at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth.

The first half of the book offers a nuanced picture of Görög’s life and personality. Zvara uses an array of carefully chosen citations from the writings of contemporaries and also several primary sources (some of which are new in the secondary literature), and of course she draws on the existing scholarship to present the different stages of Görög’s life (beginning with his birth in Hajdúdorog) and the various things he accomplished, as a patron of the arts and sciences, in each of these stages. Zvara offers a sketch of Görög’s life which touches on his very focused, deliberate, and thorough studies, his humility with regards to the sciences, and his admirable work as someone who labored to cultivate and further the arts and sciences. Coupled with his engaging, diplomatic personality, Görög seems almost to have been predestined to achieve the goals he set for himself. At the prompting of his patron András Bacsinszky (1732–1809), a Greek Catholic bishop in the city of Munkács (today Mukachevo, Ukraine), the young Görög became a part of the Kollonich family early on, where for many years (1787–1795) he was László’s tutor, and in the course of his travels through Europe, he became his devoted companion. In 1795, when the Hungarian Jacobin movement was suppressed, Görög was again given a flattering and prestigious opportunity. He became the tutor of Antal Pál (1786–1866), the son of Miklós Esterházy II (1765–1833), in Kismarton. After teaching for seven years, he was given an even more prestigious position. In 1802, he was given the office of head imperial educator in the Habsburg court in Vienna. First, he oversaw and guided the education of Archduke Joseph, and then he played a similar role in the rearing of heir to the throne Ferdinand and, later, Archduke Franz Karl, a role in which he remained until 1824. He was able, while moving in these circles in Vienna, to establish relationships with influential individuals, of which he was able to make good use for the rest of his life. He found talented patrons who provided support for his various organs of the press and also for poor but talented poets, and who also helped him coordinate (both financially and politically) the various initiatives he launched in support of culture and his homeland. He was thus able, together with some of his colleagues, to publish A Hadi és Más Nevezetes Történetek [War stories and other remarkable tales] from 1789 until 1791 and then its continuation, the Viennese Magyar Hírmondó [Hungarian Bulletin], from 1792 until 1803. He was able to have high-quality engravings made of the county maps used in Atlas Hungaricus and to plan other maps of the country and the world. This network also provided him vital assistance in the composition of an ampelographic work entitled Azon sokféle szőlőfajoknak lajstroma [A catalogue of the many kinds of grapes], which was published in Vienna in 1829, and he was able to collect varieties of grapes from all over the world and cultivate them on his estate in Grinzing.

In every era of history, the polymath as a figure would have been an impossibility without the support of repositories of knowledge. Demeter Görög had a library of several thousand books at his disposal, a significant share of which Zvara has managed to identify by using an inventory concerning additions from 1820 and the discoveries she made through her research to construct the holdings. The most detailed chapter of the book offers an analysis of the library holdings that Zvara was able to identify and a discussion of the importance of these works from the perspective of cultural history and the history of the sciences. We are given a good overview of Görög’s library, including its books and manuscripts. In connection with the books, Zvara also offers an interesting examination of thematic focuses, in the course of which she discusses the reconstructed book catalogue included in the appendix, several items from which she mentions in the main section of the book, thus making the dry bibliographical information more interesting to the reader by putting it in context. The first section comes to an end with an afterword, the sources cited and secondary literature, and a list of images.

The second half of the book consists of the documents listed in the appendix. Among the sources, which will be of great use to scholars interested in pursuing further research on the subject, one finds, for instance, Görög’s letter of nobility, his last will and testament, his death certificate, poems that were dedicated to him, an array of prose works (by authors such as Mihály Csokonai Vitéz, Dániel Berzsenyi, and the aforementioned Miklós Révai), contractual texts concerning his responsibilities as a tutor, and various letters and communications written to or by him. This is followed by a list of the items removed from the reconstructed book list of the “scholarly patriot,” the items which do not figure in the list but which Zvara has managed to identify, and other writings connected to printed matter which was published under Görög’s editorship. The detailed indexes (two kinds of person and place indexes, an index of bibliographical information, and index of book owners) make the book complete.

Edina Zvara’s book will be of particular interest to readers who seek further insight into the processes and mechanisms through which the arts and sciences were made to flourish in the Hungarian Enlightenment. A monograph which focuses with such admirable thoroughness on the career and life of a single individual, after all, offers far more than a mere discussion of his life’s work. It offers the reader a typical “biography” of the whole era. The engaging presentation of the complex and intertwining network of relationships which evolved among patrons of the arts and sciences gives us insights into the intricate cultural-political labyrinth of a moment in history when interest in culture and the sciences and, in particular, in Hungarian culture and the sciences in Hungary burgeoned. Zvara merits particular praise for having painted a tableau of Görög’s intellectual horizon and his pedagogical, journalistic, cartographical, viticultural, and other scientific and scholarly pursuits by using the items from this prominent polymath’s arsenal of knowledge (i.e. the individual works in his library) as the fundamental points of reference.

Attila Verók
Eszterházy Károly University

Landscapes of Disease: Malaria in Modern Greece. By Katerina Gardikas. Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2018. 348 pp.

In a time of ecological crisis, it is high time for historians to start writing histories that present how changes in the landscapes, social hierarchies, and state power cause and hasten or slow the spread of disease. It is similarly important to leave room in historical narratives for the needs and adaptation capacity of non-human species, even if these species are perceived as enemies of humans. Katerina Gardikas has the background knowledge to undertake such a venture alone. She has been active in medical history for decades, mostly publishing in Greek, but she has also published articles in English in the Journal of Contemporary History and in several collections of studies. She is a historian by training who has retired as associate professor in History and Archeology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, one of the largest universities of Europe.

The history of the effects of malaria on human beings and human society is a complex narrative of how humans, Plasmodia (a group of unicellular eukaryotes living as parasites), and various mosquito species have interacted. The statement, “it is safe to infer that that the association between frequencies of β-thalassemia and of malaria are non-random” (p.74) manifests and underlines the importance of the approach Gardikas has adopted. The statistical non-randomness that Gardikas has found means that the frequency of malaria is such a deep structure in the past of human populations in the territory of Greece that it impacted the genetic outlook of humans. Landscapes of Disease, thus, is a narrative that presents nature and culture as intertwined and inseparable.

The first chapter provides the backdrop for Gardikas’s approach, as it presents the state-of the-art and history of the research on the evolution and life cycle of the two types of Plasmodium that are most relevant and deadly in the Mediterranean region, vivax and falciparum.

The three chapters that follow focus on geographical differences, social and military history, and cultural history, respectively. In fact, all aspects are present in each part. The chapters are distinguished more by the writing strategies used in them.

The nearly book-long second chapter consists of seven case studies which describe different geographical patterns during the modern era. Gardikas partially borrows her understanding of landscape from another Greek historian, George Dertilis, though her definition is one that should be kept in mind: “landscapes are understood not merely in a physical sense but also as a ‘human-environmental interactive sphere, transforming over time’;” landscapes are shaped both conceptually and ecologically by the cultural interaction among humans and by evolutionary transformations that also involve other species, and constitute places upon which past events have been described, sometimes subtly, on the land.” (p.47) These cases are based on early twentieth-century surveys for which local medical doctors provided information. Gardikas included places that have been notorious for the relatively high incidence of malaria for millennia and that were also sites where land reclamation and drainage were extensive in modern times, along with a newly colonized hilly area and a town. Gardikas stresses that averages often mask high local incidence of malaria, and that even general rules, such as elevation, do not always mean that the malaria situation is easy to control. Alternation between drought and rainy weather also had different impacts, depending on vectors such as species present and wind. Her sensitivity to the importance of human ecological nuance comes to the fore as she explains how dry weather, which has traditionally been considered healthier than wet periods, becomes conducive to the spread of malaria once flocks of sheep create dust that brings vector mosquitoes to sites that otherwise would have been out of reach for them. In fact, Gardikas’s key finding is the omnipresence of instability and her observation that we need to do away with the blanket approach to malaria and its history.

The chapter on the impact of social aspects, such as urban-rural relations, the presence of a military, and the agrarian economy, is just as extensively researched as the one on topography. In this part, the descriptions which Gardikas cites on the extent and persistence of human suffering caused by malaria are striking. “Kardamitis counted about 200–300 Anopheles [mosquitos – the reviewer] on average in merely one corner in each of the newly constructed houses and estimated that each home contained more than 2,000 Anopheles... He then examined spleens and blood plates on his portable microscope and found mixed infections of all three types of malaria parasites in all fifty of the cases examined.” (p.154) The third chapter examines the contradictory situation in which, on the one hand, institutions and facets of the modern state in Greece provide far more information and opportunity for the study of local malaria patterns in a historical perspective, while on the other, the post-independence state failed to tackle malaria throughout the nineteenth century. This was partially due to the reliance on medicine instead of anti-mosquito measures. Dramatic political failures and warfare turned the ongoing crisis into disaster. This happened due to the presence of British and French armies during World War I and to an even larger extent in World War II. Yet the presence of medical personnel and the increased availability of medicine had a positive influence in certain localities. The late wartime and post-war efforts that the UNRRA relief agency initiated were important steps forward, even if this primarily meant the application of DDT.

The fourth chapter discusses the cultural history of medicine, including the distribution and administration of quinine in the nineteenth century. Gardikas asserts that “patients’ inclination to seek medical attention may be associated with the degree of medicalization and the social construction of their own physical condition and that of their children.” (p.273) She stresses that the cultural and social history of malaria in the nineteenth century malaria is inseparable from the history of the gradual shift from miasmatic to germ theory in medical science. Although Gardikas is interested in finding out if regular quinine intake reduced β-thalassemia or sickle-cell anemia, which are forms of genetic resistance to malaria, she could not reach a definitive answer to this question, though she is inclined to say that it did.

As far as shortcomings are concerned, the number of cases and examples overshadows the contours of arguments in the two longer chapters. The reader would feel less overwhelmed if subchapters were indicated in the table of contents. However, Landscapes of Disease is an important step towards an approach to the study of history that takes other species and the physical environment into account. Gardikas is as confident with factors influencing vector species and Plasmodia types as she is with localities, surveyors, and data sets. In the last chapter, for instance, the focus on the social and geographical distribution and global circulation of quinine, coupled with a clear understanding of the role of medical doctors and other actor-networks in the process, offers ample proof of her ability to bridge social history, the history of medicine, and the history of commodities. The book is a fine contribution to the History of Medicine series of CEU Press.

Róbert Balogh
Research Centre for the Humanities

A Contested Borderland: Competing Russian and Romanian Visions of Bessarabia in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century. By Andrei Cuşco. Budapest–New York: CEU Press, 2017. 327 pp.

Andrei Cuşco has broken new ground in international scholarship with his book on the prehistory of today’s Moldavia’s troubled identities, although he disclaims the role of pioneer. Moreover, he is attentive to multiple perspectives, from both the “hard” and “soft” sides of history, in accordance with Terry Martin’s synthetic approach to imperialism, which he cites as his guiding principle. Aside from the competing visions in the title, Chapters 1 and 5 in particular also give a glimpse into the national affinities—or rather, the lack thereof—among contemporary Bessarabians, and also into cultural initiatives on the ground and roads not taken. To my mind, this dual scope is one of the main assets of the book.

On the former, his major claim is about the asymmetry between the Russian and Romanian visions. Imperial and nation-state projects, Cuşco argues, had different ways of imagining and appropriating frontier regions. He also contends, however, and persuasively shows that both intellectual imaginaries drew massively from Western Orientalizing discourses. While apologists for Russian rule mobilized metaphors of the exotic, the pristine, and the backward when depicting Bessarabia, Romanian authors equipped themselves with Russophobic tropes of French (and, I should add, Polish) provenience. In another common element, both projects treated locals as mere props for their discursive construction of the Bessarabian space.

Regarding the intellectual horizons of said locals, Cuşco recurrently makes the connection between the low levels of ethnic mobilization as late as the eve of World War I and the virtual absence of a home-grown intelligentsia in the province. Ordinary Bessarabian peasants were more responsive to calls for loyalty to the czar than they were with calls for ethnic solidarity with Romania, all the more so, since they felt better-off economically than their peers on the other side of the Prut River.

If Cuşco falls short of his goal to write an “intellectual history of the Bessarabian problem,” that is because of the fragmented structure of the book. Instead of laying out a more or less even and continuous timeline, he directs his attention to a few key or typical episodes. He makes an exposition of his lines of inquiry and summarizes many of his findings in a first chapter which is succinct and commendable, except for a lengthy aside on the nationalism of Romantic poet Mihai Eminescu. Then he combines two loosely connected subjects in Chapter 2—the Bessarabian crisis of 1878 and the Russian administration of the Budjak region—to rush ahead to the year 1912 in Chapter 3.

Romanian reactions to the transfer of the three southern Bessarabian counties in exchange for northern Dobrudja, imposed on Romania at the Berlin Congress, as well as Mihai Kogălniceanu’s role in turning public opinion around on this question are given more detailed coverage here than in Constantin Iordachi’s Citizenship, Nation- and State-Building [2002] or Barbara Jelavich’s Russia and the Formation of the Romanian National State 1821–1878 [1984], which, however, would have merited mention in this context. The attention given to the perception of Dobrudja is justified here and does not distract from the analysis.

In the second half of Chapter 2, Cuşco interrogates the archives and brings to light protracted debates in the Russian imperial civil service over what he calls the Ismail anomaly, the curious fact that the three Southern Bessarabian counties were not fully incorporated into the Russian Empire, but were given special status and were governed by Russian bureaucrats under the Romanian legal code introduced before 1878. While some Russian officials slammed this unique status as a reckless example of bureaucratic sloppiness, others presented it as a sound and deliberate administrative experiment and a civilizing mission. As the polemics spanned over the four decades of Russian sovereignty, I would have been interested to see full justice done to this puzzling anomaly, with more space devoted to it.

In Chapter 3, Cuşco jumps to the 1912 Russian celebrations of the hundred-year anniversary of the conquest of the province, one in a series of imperial jubilees in the début de siècle, which operated with family metaphors in a bid to strengthen bonds of affection for the dynasty among peoples living on the empire’s peripheries. Cuşco offers an overview of the context and interprets the rhetoric of the celebrations, and he also points out that the centenary brought the grief over Bessarabia and the specter of unbridled Russian expansionism back into the forefront of Romanian public discourse.

Chapter 4 returns to the Romanian side by engaging with the writings of three intellectuals of Bessarabian birth who made careers in Romania: Bogdan Petriceicu Haşdeu, Constantin Stere, and Dimitrie C. Moruzi. Somewhat unexpectedly for a reader unfamiliar with contemporary stereotypes in Romania, all three had to struggle with a stigma on account of their “Russian” background. This chapter is rather digressive, in particular the twenty-two pages on Haşdeu’s thought, only the last three of which deal with his relationship to Russia and none with his stance on the Bessarabian question.

Covering the period between the 1905 revolution and Romania entering the war in 1916, Chapter 5 is again more balanced. Cuşco’s emphasis, however, clearly lies in the first years of the war, when, on the one hand, the mobilization and war propaganda submitted the Russian population to a rapid process of nationalization and, on the other, the question of Bessarabia became a significant argument in Romanian political debates about whether the country should join the war and, if so, on which side. While the first question has been the subject of intense research recently, the latter context is mostly familiar from Lucian Boia’s Germanofilii [2009], even though Cuşco concentrates on the opinions of Bessarabian-born intellectuals.

As a comprehensive history of the topic, on balance, the book is a mixed bag, which may work better as a collection of essays than as a monograph and leaves several decades unaddressed. At the same time, it contributes with precious insights to the recent literature on nationalizing empires and imperialist nation-states from the unique viewpoint of a borderland so far rather neglected in that respect. It is a compelling read both for students of nationality policies in the late Romanov Empire and of Romanian nationalism.

Ágoston Berecz
Central European University

Embers of Empire: Continuity and Rupture in the Habsburg Successor States after 1918. Edited by Paul Miller and Claire Morelon. New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2018. 366 pp.

The disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian Empire has been characterized in national historiographies as a sort of “zero hour” and total triumph for the newly emerged or enlarged nation states in Central Europe. This volume focuses, in contrast, on the question of what survived this great rupture. As Morelon underlines in her introduction, attention is given to the afterlife of the Empire and its successor states. Her considerations are based on Pieter Judson’s observation that “nation and empire were not binary opposites in the context of the Habsburg Monarchy, and […] the regime’s collapse in 1918 was due to the state’s transformation under the pressures of war conditions rather than any internal nationalist tensions.” The Empire’s institutions, thus, should be understood as institutions which functioned relatively efficiently and successfully up to their official end. The research in this volume is based on local case studies and the examination of different institutional “pillars” of the Empire. This perspective allows the book to go beyond the still dominant paradigms of the nationally biased narratives (without negating them) and also to take a step back from the “Habsburg Myth” in the spirit of Claudio Magris and what later generations made of his concept, occasionally tempted to blur “the line between analyzing the myth and actually sustaining it.” The editors obviously know about the current state of research (ghost borders, concepts of loyalty, history of institutions, etc.), but they do not waste too much time on questions of theory, as the central concepts of “transformation” and “transition” are neither defined nor even delimited from each other.

The first of four parts explores the grassroots level in order to examine “the transition in local contexts across the region” with a focus on processes of coping with contingency. Gábor Egry’s instructive chapter compares two former territories of the Hungarian crown: Slovakia and Transylvania, both regions with large ethnic and religious minorities. He bases his survey on the assumption that in the transformation process, local societies and individuals were confronted with a set of tasks which previously had been undertaken by the state. National demarcation became less important in such moments. Subsequently, Egry asks “how the different regions expressed themselves politically and socially in this early state-building period.” In order to arrive at possible answers to this question, one should consider whether “the region” isn’t rather the product of a “patchwork of local transitions” and therefore another constructed identity to be positioned, eventually, against the centralizing powers. Co-editor Claire Morelon’s study on interwar Prague shifts the focus from the periphery to the center. Morelon explores different approaches to the interpretation of regime change in the capital city of Czechoslovakia. She describes the difficult process of national self-discovery and self-organization, which led to “a very high level of distrust” of the new administration among the population. As a result, the disappointment, which rapidly followed the national triumph, provided a basis for the crises of the 1930s. Iryna Vushko presents the biography of the Polish-Austrian, Galician born politician Leon Biliński, who held the position of Minister of Finance in imperial Austria and in “New Poland.” As a member of an established expert elite, he was needed in the new national state in order to help form the new administration, while as a “Kakanian” he remained “suspect of national defiance,” especially for Polish nationalists, who accused him of favoring the Empire and never fully endorsing the Polish Republic. Marta Filipová presents a comparison of different major exhibitions before and after 1918 in Austria-Hungary and then Czechoslovakia in the period between 1873 and 1928. She finds it problematic that, before the fall of the Empire, Czechs, Romanians, Hungarians, Slovaks, and Moravians were predominantly depicted as peasants in contrast to the “more developed” Germans, depictions which implied different levels of civilization among the inhabitants of the Empire. While this form of inner colonialism seems to have been overcome after 1918, Filipová finds some parallels between the particular strategies of representing the state: e.g. the metaphor of “a bridge between the East and the West” was used at the Weltausstellung of 1873 in Vienna and at the Brünner Expo in 1928. Nevertheless, we need to question whether such strategies of both internal and external representation, which can perhaps be found at nearly every place at any time and which do not feature specific aspects of the concrete transformation process, should be researched in this volume.

The second part of the volume, dedicated to the Habsburg Army, is introduced by Richard Bassett’s “Reflections on the Legacy of the Imperial and Royal army in the successor states.” His essay provides a rough and eloquent though erratic biographical tour through the history of the Habsburg Army and its aftermath until the 1940s. More or less expedient forays lead from the seventeenth century to the present. Hardly a single German word is spelled correctly (for instance on a single page, page 129, one finds “Austrian Bundeswehr, in “grossen Stil,” and “Scharfes Befehl”). Irina Marin’s chapter on the “K. (u.) k. Officers of Romanian Nationality before and after the Great War” is, in contrast, source-based and analytically instructive. She states that loyalty was an important factor for Habsburg’s Romanian soldiers. There was no contradiction between national awareness and imperial allegiance. The Romanian officers went on to live these values after 1918, even within the new national setting of “Greater Romania.” John Paul Newman demonstrates the reverse side of such an attitude by dedicating his survey to the afterlife of the Austrian-Hungarian Army in Croatia. Many members of the army lost everything with the collapse of the Empire, and their identification with the new south Slavic state was weak. This generated tensions between a humiliated minority “culture of defeat,” which was “isolated, marginalized, but nevertheless present in the successor states,” and larger “cultures of victory.” The “defeated” regained their historical “meaning” with the emergence of the radical right: within the Ustaša movement, they experienced a “remobilization.”

The third part of the book is dedicated to further “pillars” of the Empire: Church, dynasty, and aristocracy. First, Michael Carter-Sinclair explores the role of the Catholic Church in the Austrian transformation process into a democratic republic. In this context, the connection with Rome as the heart of the Catholic world constitutes an interesting, unique layer of loyalty in the interwar setting. While the Catholic Church in Austria was pragmatic with regards to the new political circumstances and even participated personally in the politics of the republic, it changed its attitude in 1927 and displayed “its true antidemocratic colors by sanctifying the overthrow of the Austrian Republic.” The comparison with similar situations in other European states of the era helps situate the Austrian development in the international sphere. Nevertheless, a brief glance at other ideologically driven actors and institutions would have been useful to classify the Catholic Church as one important but by no means the only antidemocratic actor in the interwar period. In his chapter on “Central European Nobles during and after the First World War,” Konstantinos Raptis demonstrates, through the example of Count Harrach, that the upper nobility was able to cope with the decline of the Danube Monarchy much better than the members of the service gentry or the petty gentry. Together with the bourgeoisie, the latter experienced a massive social and economic decline. Christopher Brennan dedicates his contribution to the afterlife of the last emperor and king Karl I/IV. His death in exile in 1922 “elicited polarized and emotional reactions” not least because his person was easier to target than his “hollowed” predecessor Franz Joseph. The figure of Karl apparently became “everything to everyone”: “a sinner to anti-Habsburg Pan-Germans and the republican left […]; a saint for unshakable imperial loyalists and Catholics; and a cipher for those who saw him as a feeble and unimpressive figure of no consequence, barely worthy of a footnote in history.” Brennan makes some overly apodictic judgements, but he nonetheless shows convincingly how quickly a ruler can become obsolete, in contrast to his empire.

The last part of the volume, entitled “Processing the Empire’s Passing,” focuses on the culture of remembrance and the historiography. Christoph Mick contrasts two once important war monuments in Vienna: a rather pacifistic one at the Central Cemetery and the Heroes’ memorial at Heroes’ Square. Both were intended to give meaning to the enormous human losses in the war, and both were marginalized in the Austrian culture of remembrance, especially after World War II. Co-Editor Paul Miller presents the culture of memory around the heir to the throne, Franz Ferdinand, assassinated in 1914. Miller intends to offer a portrait of the archduke, rather than focusing on the thoroughly researched culture of remembrance surrounding Franz Ferdinand. This task is more complex than it seems at first, as becomes clear from the characterization Miller gives: “Franz Ferdinand was neither a foolish nor frivolous man. He was obstinate, insolent, arrogant, and abrupt. But if the Archduke knew one thing, it was that the Empire he would someday rule was in dire need of reform, and war would only endanger, if not undo, that eventually. This was not a small thing.” This is, unfortunately, a quite well-known thing, too, so the epistemological value of Miller’s enterprise remains low. Regrettably, he mixes the findings of his research with moralistic elements. The reader remains clueless about what to do with generalizations such as this one: “After all, if Austria could hardly avoid the fact that one of their own started World War II, they were far less ready to accept responsibility for the mythicized Monarchy’s role in the first.”

In his afterword, Pieter Judson reminds us of the still dominant ideal of nations and nation states especially after 1918. As this ambitious and, all in all, very successful volume shows, however, new approaches in the study of history will offer new perspectives on the intricate afterlife of the Habsburg Empire. With a view to the irreversibility of the events of 1918, it remains a question whether the largely neglected notion of “adaption” will lead us further than the (hitherto nevertheless very fruitful) binary concepts of “continuity and rupture.”

Florian Kührer-Wielach
Institute for German Culture and History of Southeastern Europe (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München)

Social Sciences in the Other Europe since 1945. Edited by Adela Hîncu and Victor Karady. Budapest: Pasts Inc.–Central University Press, 2018. 526 pp.

Offering an understanding of the periphery from within the periphery while avoiding the pitfalls of exceptionalism and provincialism, the ambitious collection of essays edited by Hîncu and Karady joines a growing tide of research that situates the histories of state socialist social sciences primarily in the framework of postwar modernization, rather than trying to explain its characteristics as the result of political captivity or attempting to deny this political captivity. The volume provides a kaleidoscope of disciplinary histories (mostly) under state socialism from the East Central and Southeastern European regions, revisiting epistemic continuities and discontinuities usually in a single national context, with the covert or explicit argument that epistemic changes were not necessarily closely related to changes in the political climate.

The editors had a broad pool of contributions to choose from. They drew on the proceedings of a conference (Social Sciences since 1945 in East and West: Continuities, Discontinuities, Institutionalization, and Internationalization) and a workshop (Cold War Epistemics Revisited: Resistance and Legitimation in the Social Science) which were held at the Central European University in Budapest and put together an impressive selection of geographically focused studies. The volume contains nineteen case studies, among which Hungary is significantly overrepresented, as more than third of the chapters deal with the Hungarian context. From among the countries of the region, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria are also present, and there is one chapter about the postwar social sciences in Portugal and one about the postwar social sciences in Estonia.

The introduction to the volume copes well with the daunting task of integrating the chronologically, methodologically, and disciplinarily divergent contexts into a single theoretical framework, although this also means that some of the contributions can now be read as ideal typical representatives of the theoretical framework, while others can be easily placed on a scale of applicability, with necessary outliers. The editorial effort to guide the readers with chronologically-thematically organized sections does not work very effectively for reasons of proportionality: the last part brought together several studies from late socialism and the post-transitional period, compared to the separate sections dedicated to a span of only a few years or a decade. While it is commendable that, true to its theoretical premises, post-transitional developments are also taken as processes emanating partly from global postwar conditions, the otherwise coherent line of the volume might have been better preserved with a final section dedicated to late socialism only.

The first section, entitled Misalignments: Modernization, Sovietization and De-Stalinization, has the most links to broader debates concerning chronologies and ruptures in regional histories, engaging with key concepts of local and regional postwar narratives. That said, perhaps the authors of the essays in this section had most opportunity to situate their topics in relation to well-established critical theoretical frameworks. Agata Zysiak’s Polish case study, which focuses largely on the involvement and agency of a single scholar, sociologist and rector Józef Chałasiński, sheds light on the concept of a state socialist university which was democratized from the perspective of access to higher education at the expense of scholarly autonomy, ultimately emphasizing the limited effect of Stalinization and the considerable decrease in educational inequality. Zoltán Ginelli reaches similar conclusions with regard to Stalinization within the context of the human geography of Hungary. Ginelli’s article, however, is even more explicit in pointing out interwar continuities, which themselves are the most persuasive evidence in support the deconstruction of the concept of Gleichschaltung, which is often equated with the Stalinization of certain disciplines in Hungarian secondary literature. He argues against pro-grand rupture accounts, which in his assessment are forms of political revisionism. The emergence of party history in Hungary is primarily discussed through archival sources, as Anna Birkás is one of the handful of Hungarian scholars who wishes to investigate their activities without immediately dismissing their entire knowledge production as propaganda. Zoltán Rostás’s careful distinction between different rehabilitation practices and their repercussions in Romanian sociology revolves around the legacy of a single person, Dimitrie Gusti, similarly to Zysiak’s argument. The last contributor in this section is Eva Laiferová, who proposes a more traditional periodization of Slovak sociology. Laiferová singles out Slovak sociology within the Czechoslovak context (the state was only federalized in 1969), which is a rather peculiar decision, a decision and which, unfortunately, she does not explain.

The second section is dedicated to the history of sociology in the long 1960s and 1970s. It contains the only thoroughly comparative (while also transnational) contribution, an article by Jarosław Kilias, who focuses on sociology in Poland and Czechoslovakia. Kilias paints a complex picture of Polish sociology, which for a time acted as the main mediator between scholars on either side of the Iron Curtain. Although Matthias Duller’s contribution gives the impression that he is also going to deliver a comparative account, the first parts of his study use the Austrian context as an argument to shift the focus from political intervention to disciplinary histories. His central figure is Rudi Supek, a towering figure of Yugoslav sociology, and Duller is up to the intellectually rewarding task of conceptualizing his case study against the backdrop of the activities of the Praxis school. Adela Hîncu’s chapter about Romanian sociology offers new insights into institutional dynamics, though it is primarily preoccupied with a nuanced depiction of the different pressures under which epistemic continuities and subversions took place. Bruno Monteiro analyzes developments in Portugal, complicating the arena of agencies with the local influence of the Catholic Church and the long shadow of a colonial legacy and adding another peripheral (and also the only non-state socialist) perspective to the volume.

The third section consists of contributions on the transnational flow of ideas in the 1980s, when most of the countries of the region (with the exception of Romania) were on the road of gradual (though not linear) liberalization. Both Eszter Berényi and László Gábor Szűcs approach matters of transnational knowledge exchange through materials published in disciplinary journals, which reveal a great deal about the discursive strategies used by Hungarian scholars when they dealt with Western literature. However, more discussion going beyond the larger, ideological framework and the language of critique and offering an assessment of the science or cultural policies would have been welcome. Jan Levchenko’s study on the Tartu semiotic school introduces a unique institutional setting which reminds the reader of the epistemic anxieties surrounding Marxist revisionism elsewhere in the bloc. The internationalization of the social sciences is an important theme for all the contributions in this section, though only Corina Doboş and Bogdan Iacob problematized these anxieties explicitly. Doboş concluded that the shared demographic concerns of the scholars of postindustrial societies helped bridge the East-West divide, addressing the viability of a more integrated postwar framework as opposed to a cemented division.

The last section features contributions pertaining to late socialist and post-transitional knowledge production. Ágnes Gagyi convincingly argues for the connectedness of Hungarian economic reformers to global processes, building her case study on the ideas and positioning of power groups that were first formulated in the Pénzügykutatási Intézet [Financial Research Institute]. Aliki Angelidou discusses the institutionalization of Bulgarian sociocultural anthropology, tracing long-standing rivalries between ethnography and folklore. Emese Cselényi’s analysis of publication strategies aptly demonstrates how the local geography of sciences (center-periphery relations within a given national context) remained resilient to the changing political climate. Zsuzsa Hanna Bíró’s investigation of the effects of French and German schools of thought in post-1989 Hungarian educational sociology points to the dominance of the latter, while admitting the moderate interest in theoretical issues among Hungarian scholars in general. Kinga Pétervári’s study attempts to offer a historicized account of the legitimacies of different agents who were involved in quite recent Hungarian law-making, sketching up a longue durée history of expert-bureaucrat rivalries.

The greatest virtue of Social Sciences in the Other Europe since 1945 lies in its disciplinary variety and its ability to provide clearly formulated theoretical insights in a field in which, admittedly, a lot of the groundwork needs to be done, mostly in the form of uncovering neglected epistemic legacies or in the reinterpretations of seemingly incoherent biographies. It is also important to emphasize that the contributions can be read against the canons of their respective national disciplinary communities. The anti-totalitarian zeal which they often evince situates them immediately in an ongoing domestic debate and the very memory of the investigated disciplines. This volume will be useful for scholars who are interested in state socialist knowledge production in the region and especially to historians of (social) sciences and intellectual historians.

Réka Krizmanics
Central European University/University of Leipzig

Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. By A. James McAdams. Princeton–Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2017. 564 pp.

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and over a century since the Bolshevik Revolution, the first question concerning James McAdams’ elaborate monograph Vanguard of the Revolution is whether there is a need of another “global history of communism.” Over the past decade several monographs and a series of collaborative “handbooks” dealing with the topic have appeared with leading academic publishing houses. For readers unfamiliar with the history of communism, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba and the Cold War, McAdams certainly provides a potentially good introduction to the topic. In this sense, the book seems to be geared towards a target audience of undergraduate and graduate students. Though a weighty volume, it is eminently readable and has a clear and engaging narrative arc spreading over its thirteen chapters.

As outlined in the introductory chapter, McAdams’ main objective is to tell a story of the communist party that was conceived for “revolution” but grew into a “global” institution only to meet its demise. In the twelve chapters that follow, the reader is presented with a lengthy reflection on some of the key events and developments in the history of communism through the double prism of the “communist party as an idea” and the “communist party as an organization.” Thus the second chapter discusses the evolution of the idea and concept of the communist party from the publication of Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto to the eve of the First World War. It is essentially a summary of the history of the First and Second Internationals with a geographic focus on Western Europe. The third chapter in effect turns to Russia, Lenin, and the Bolshevik Revolution and in doing so showcases the emergence of the “revolutionary party.”

In the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters the book discusses how the idea of the party was diffused internationally through the lens of the Communist International in the early 1920s and how it subsequently materialized in the Soviet Union under Stalin and in China under Mao respectively. The seventh and eighth chapters deal consecutively with the period of “high Stalinism” and the expansion of socialist bloc in eastern Europe, followed by destalinization and the Khrushchev period. The ninth chapter in turn focuses on Cuba and the rise of Fidel Castro as a charismatic leader expounding a “case-in-reverse” where the party was essentially created only after the revolution. The tenth chapter returns to China under the throes of Maoism until the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution and the rise of Deng Xiaoping. It builds upon the juxtaposition of the revolution as the work of radicals and the party as the haven of moderates.

Chapter eleven is perhaps the book’s most diversified when it comes to presented cases elaborates on what McAdams calls the “Brezhnev consensus” comprising of an era of reform, suppression, and stabilization of communist regimes from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Predictably, the twelfth chapter presents the story of communism’s demise in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union with the ensuing collapse of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union portrayed as “anticlimactic.” The final chapter ends with a brief discussion of some eastern European and Russian post-communist successor parties and the trajectory of the Chinese, Cuban, and North Korean regimes into the twenty-first century.

McAdams pitches the book and its arguments towards both general readers and scholars. However, for a historian of communism reading this monograph the question arises whether and to what extent McAdams really presents something qualitatively new. The cited literature hails from a fairly general and limited bibliography and where primary sources are referred to they are usually quite known documents and texts in English translation. Moreover, despite its promising title the reader does not really learn that much about the concept of the communist party (or rather parties). Instead of venturing into a historicized and sociological analysis of political organization, the book presents a rather superficial outline based on ideas formulated in selected texts authored by prominent communist activists and leaders such as Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, Lenin’s What Is to Be Done, Stalin’s Short Course, Mao’s Chinese Revolution and the Chinese Communist Party, or Castro’s History Will Absolve Me.

As a result, Vanguard of the Revolution reads more like a synthesis of Cold War-era scholarship on communism than a potentially new perspective on the history of communist parties around the globe. McAdams posits the communist party as the primary challenger to the “liberal-democratic” party in the twentieth century, extrapolating this antagonism into a threat against liberal democracy based ultimately upon some “vague prophecies” first formulated in the Communist Manifesto. A fair reading of Marx’ and Engels’ seminal text in its rightful historical context would however need to concede that it also addressed what are now seen as basic human rights’ issues and, in doing so, contained a blueprint for the now accepted setup of modern liberal democratic states at a time when Slavery still existed in the United States.

Admittedly, McAdams is not wrong that the text does not provide much details about what the “communist party” or “revolution”–two core concepts of the book–would entail. Thus, the book’s first chapters are perhaps rightfully concerned with a quest to retrace the historical crystallization of the revolutionary communist party as concept and practice. One therefore has to wait until the fifth chapter to encounter a discussion about the “functioning of the party.” Unfortunately, this is also the point of the book where McAdams misses an opportunity to provide a new perspective. Acknowledging the primacy of the Soviet state and the fact that following the Great Terror Stalin had basically destroyed the concept of the party, the McAdams also shies away from delving any deeper into the party as such. From that point onwards, barring two chapters on China and one on Cuba, the book turns towards the more standardized and perhaps even canonical Cold-War narrative of the history of communism in Europe. More so, this narrative seems to have been refreshed with what is en vogue in contemporary political science since in retelling the history of postwar communism McAdams contrasts Stalinism with populism, attributing the latter not only to the peasantist Mao, but to Khrushchev and Tito as well.

The book’s “global” perspective equally suffers from the fact that communist parties and movements are overshadowed in the narrative by the communist states and regimes. Soviet foreign policy is substituted for what was an international communist movement albeit an increasingly divided one. At most, a few “deviating” cases of communist regimes serve as an example of a (domestic) exception to the rule. The book does not venture into the postwar inter-party relations or the international communist and workers party conferences. The Global South seems for the most part absent. Where China or Cuba do feature, their role in the global communist movement is simply ignored. It is certainly regrettable that the book does not explore the idea of a revolutionary party in opposition to military regimes in Latin America or in a range of post-colonial settings from war-torn Vietnam to apartheid South Africa and how this compared to the Soviet bloc cases.

Although the reader is presented with the familiar facts about the rise of opposition to communism in the wake of the Helsinki process, reformist tendencies or schisms with the communist movement are rather glossed over. Neither are relations with the rich variety of socialist, Trotskyite or Maoist parties in the postwar era touched upon. The book’s narrative ultimately ends with the same old point of gravity that is the demise of communism in eastern Europe and the Soviet space. While these events indeed impacted the remaining communist parties and post-communist successor parties as they abandoned the very core ideas that had led to their birth in the twentieth century, it was hardly the end as such of parties that call themselves communist. Instead, McAdams’ narrative’s ending is a pivot to another warning about threats to liberal democracy based on the example of communism. While this is an understandable and perhaps even self-evident conclusion about the nature of authoritarianism and dictatorship, it would have been perhaps insightful to mention that there where communist parties operated within the framework of liberal democracies, these parties and their members were often at the forefront of struggles for more democracy and human rights. The latter was a missive ultimately outlined in Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto, and this provided the ideas that led millions of activists to join communist parties around the globe.

Tom Junes
European University Institute


Volume 9 Issue 1 CONTENTS


Antemurale Christianitatis: Zur Genese der Bollwerksrhetorik im östlichen Mitteleuropa an der Schwelle vom Mittelalter zur Frühen Neuzeit. By Paul Srodecki. Historische Studien 508. Husum: Matthiesen, 2015. 532 pp.

In 2013, when Paul Srodecki defended his dissertation (which bears the same title as the book published two years later) at the University of Giessen, even he probably did not realize how relevant the theme he had chosen for his work would come to be over the course of the next few years. And yet he may have had some guess. In the preface to the book, he puts the changes which the traditional images of Europe have undergone in context in connection with the expansion of the European Union in 2004. He notes that even in the first years of the new millennium, the governments in Central and Eastern Europe made frequent use of Late Medieval and early modern topoi, such as the concept of “bulwark of Europe and Christianity.”

In addition to the relevance of the subject of the book, it is also worth noting that Srodecki examines the evolution of the topos which figures in his title according to the tradition of the classical German schools of history, first and foremost in the Kingdom of Hungary and the Kingdom of Poland. His methodology shifts between an investigation from the perspective of the history of ideas and political science explanation patterns. Only rarely does one find arguments based on conceptual or discursive history. Following a thorough explanation of the corpus of sources under examination and his methodology, Srodecki offers eight chapters of varying lengths in which he presents the subject of his research and his findings.

Not surprisingly, he begins with a chapter on conceptual history in which he examines ideological tenets, one by one, and presents the terms he will discuss (antemurale, propugnaculum, murus, and scutum), which reflect traditional warlike rhetoric. In a discussion of the opposition, rivalry, and even conflict between East and West, one cannot avoid offering an overview of the Ancient and Medieval history of the asymmetrical counter-terms. Beginning with Gog and Magog from the Old Testament and concluding with the East–West schism in 1054, Srodecki presents the most important historical nodes, putting his investigation into this larger context. For the bulwark rhetoric (Bollwerksrhetorik) was already present in Antiquity (one need merely consider the citation taken from the Vulgate as a kind of slogan for the book), but it was used with varying intensity in different periods.

Though Srodecki draws particularly heavily on sources relevant to the Hungarian and the Polish Kingdoms, he nonetheless cannot avoid beginning with a discussion of the roles of the Teutonic Order, which he characterizes as a kind of a trailblazer in the spread of the revived trope of the bulwark. In the course of the Crusades, the Teutonic Order rose up as a defender of Christianity. Then, when Andrew II of Hungary had them settle in Burzenland in the course of the wars against the Cumans, they soon again characterized themselves, mutatis mutandis, as the defenders of Christianity, though they were fighting not to liberate the Holy Land, but rather against the pagan Cumans. Srodecki offers a brief presentation here of how this image became a familiar and widely used trope in the kingdoms on the eastern edges of the Western Christian world, first and foremost the Kingdoms of Poland and Hungary.

In the use of the bulwark rhetoric (as in the case of uses of other asymmetrical counter-terms), sometimes the same parties who regard and interpret themselves as the embodiments of the allegory disagree among themselves and begin to differ, and a very chaotic warlike situation comes about, particularly on the level of rhetoric. It is, after all, simple to say that a Christian group that forms the bulwark of Christianity is good and the pagan enemy is evil. However, as soon as two groups each of which considers itself the bulwark of Christianity come into conflict with each other, the question inevitably will arise as to which of them is the authentic bulwark of the one true faith. Srodecki discusses this interesting question in the chapter in which he presents the long battles between the Teutonic Order and the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and in particular between the Order and the Kingdom of Poland up until the first third of the fifteenth century.

Then begins the section of the monograph that really constitutes its spine. The few pages concerning Humanist topoi, the (anti-)Turcicas, and the image of Humanist Europe offers the backdrop for the chapters on the rhetoric in Hungary and Poland concerning the two kingdoms as the bulwarks of Christianity. Srodecki attributes considerable importance in the spread of this topos to Humanist orations and in particular to the work of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who, following the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and then his selection as pope, was ever more impassioned in his efforts to urge common action against the Turks in the name of Christianity and Christian Europe. In the first of the two longest chapters in the book, Srodecki offers an overview of the history in Hungary of the period associated with the rulers of the Hunyadi family from the perspective of the evolution of the trope of a defensive bulwark. While John Hunyadi rose as the “scourge of the Turks” athleta Christi, his son Matthias waged campaigns over the course of his rule not only against the pagan Turks but also against heretics, in other words, the Hussites, or at least Srodecki puts the battles he fought for the Czech crown (i.e. the crown of another Christian people) into this narrative. Srodecki notes the importance of the roles played by Matthias’s court chroniclers (Ransano, Bonfini) in interweaving the political legitimacy of the ruling house and the rhetoric of a defensive bastion into their historical narratives and thereby furthering the acceptance of both in the wider circles. By the end of the chapter, Srodecki has completely separated the crusade fought in the realm of rhetoric and the actual crusades fought on the battlefield, and at this point, it again becomes difficult for the reader to disregard the actual political bearings and implications. The longest and most thoroughly thought-through chapter of the monograph addresses the spread of the antemurale concept in the Europe of the Jagiellonian dynasty. As he did in his discussions of the rulers of the Hunyadi family, here too, Srodecki presents the history of the use of the term alongside the histories of the dynasties and the dynastic battles. The narrative of the history of the two dynasties and the kingdom culminates in the Battle of Mohács. With the fall of the kingdoms, the notion of a defensive bulwark also begins to crumble and fall out of use.

In harmony with the concept of translatio imperii, there were heirs to this rhetorical tradition and enemies of these heirs, but these were relatively small outbursts which flared up in isolated pockets compared to earlier cases. Of them, it is worth mentioning perhaps the denominational conflicts which broke out in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Srodecki makes only brief reference to later use of the concept, and quite rightly. He does not undertake in this monograph to examine the defensive bulwark rhetoric in the modern era. What he has undertaken he has admirably achieved, namely to offer an overview and a readable narrative of the history of the topos he has chosen in the Late Middle Ages and the early modern era.

Emőke Rita Szilágyi
Research Centre for the Humanities

Az indigenák [The indigenae]. Edited by István M. Szijártó. Budapest: ELTE Eötvös Kiadó, 2017. 235 pp.

The volume is based on a conference held on September 19, 2014 at Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest by a group of scholars focusing on the social history of early modern and modern Hungary. The conference dealt with a particular group of the society of estates between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. As the laconic title of the book probably sounds unfamiliar and even enigmatic to most readers, it is worth beginning with a definition. In short, the traditional legal institution of indigenatus served as a form of ennoblement through which someone of foreign origin was incorporated into the Hungarian political nation (natio Hungarica). Originally, naturalization was a royal prerogative, but during a diet, it required the consent of the Hungarian estates as well. Between the legislative sessions, the king was eligible to decide with the collaboration of his Hungarian counsellors. Although the bestowal of the title was an established practice, it was not always used. Foreigners could be settled in the country and naturalized “tacitly,” without the solemn procedure, though this did not mean that they could enjoy noble liberties and privileges.

As István M. Szijártó, the editor of the volume emphasizes, while indigenatus as a legal category is unambiguous, from the viewpoint of social history it appears as a more complex and intriguing phenomenon. As Szijártó points out, the question of who could be considered an indigena was determined not by legal status, but by the political contexts and interests. Consequently, the real starting point for historical research must be the inconsistent practices of the period, i.e. when and why somebody was labelled an indigena, as well as the attitude of the rest of the Hungarian estates towards these individuals. The use of this label clearly served as a form of social and political discrimination until the middle (or rather the end) of the nineteenth century.

As Szijártó writes in his introduction, “far more myths have circulated in Hungarian historiography about the indigenae than actual research endeavors dealing with them.” Fortunately, most of the studies in the volume are founded on genuine archival research, which compensates for the field having fallen into neglect for a long time. Furthermore, though the articles were written by an array of graduate students, early career researchers and experienced scholars, they set an evenly high standard, and some of the younger authors make essential contributions to the field. The time scope of the collection is rather broad, as the first study deals with the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and the last two with the post-Compromise (1867) years. However, the focal point of the volume is the era of the “constitutionalism of the estates” (as pointed out by Szijártó), i.e. from the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth. It is not surprising that this question was particularly important in the period of the social, economic, and political ascent of the wealthy gentry (bene possessionati) and the long-lasting political practice of dualism between the king and the estates.

In the first article of the volume, Tatjana Guszarova discusses the process of indigenatio solemnis, the official and solemn naturalization of foreigners at the diets during the reign of the first Habsburg kings. Guszarova presents this act as a means with which the Habsburgs cemented their political position in the kingdom. Article LXXVII of 1550 specified the rules of indigenatio solemnis, establishing the conditions of the process for a long time. By offering an overview of the naturalizations which occurred in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, Guszarova demonstrates that the efforts of the Habsburgs in this field proved successful, since they managed to increase the number of Hungarian nobles of foreign origin.

András Forgó investigates a subgroup of indigenae, the members of the prelates and the middle-ranking members of the clergy who were naturalized, with emphasis on the superiors of the monastic orders. Forgó emphasizes that many monastic superiors arrived in the country after the Ottomans had been driven out, and they had been sent to reorganize the monastic centers. However, the Hungarian estates were distrustful towards them and accused them of using the monastic institutions merely for personal gain. Consequently, in the eighteenth century, it became customary for the monastic superiors to make efforts to attain naturalization. Forgó concludes that by obtaining indigenatus, the monastic orders could take the wind out of the sails of the Hungarian estates, even if the operation of the monastic communities remained in foreign hands, headed by an abbot or a provost of foreign origin.

To my mind, the subsequent three studies written by historians who are in the earlier phases of their careers are the most thorough and even trailblazing contributions to the volume. Tamás Szemethy examines the ways in which people managed to become part of the Hungarian aristocracy. There were essentially two means of entering this group: the bestowal of a title by the king (the people who belonged to this category were the so-called “new aristocrats”) and naturalization. Szemethy’s study compares these two subgroups with regard to their number and occupations (soldiers, officials, and clergymen) between 1720 and 1799. He points out the problems of clarifying the separation of the two subgroups and the terminology regarding them. Szemethy’s investigations are based primarily on the Corpus Juris and the Hungarian Royal Books (Libri Regii), though he points out that these sources are not sufficient in and of themselves as the foundations for a proper analysis. By examining the relevant legal sources, one could offer a plain definition of the process of naturalization, but the actual legal practice appears to have been more complex. Szemethy shows that, in addition to the formal process, it was possible to obtain indigenatus in an alternative way. According to Béla Kempelen and Zoltán Fallenbüchl, in the periods between the sessions of the diet, following a proposal by the king, the incorporation of a foreigner had to be announced in a county assembly and reported to the Archbishop of Esztergom, and a diploma had to be issued by the Royal Chancery (Cancellaria Regis). Szemethy emphasizes that while it is possible to define the group of “new aristocrats” legally, in the case of the indigenae, the legal approach should be replaced or at least complemented with social historical analysis.

In comparison to the other contributions to the volume, the approach adopted by Zsolt Kökényesi is an exception. Kökényesi examines the other side of the coin, the ceremony of Erbhuldigung, the solemn pledge of fidelity in Lower Austria in the first half of the eighteenth century. This ceremony was significant, because it was a public act made by an archduke ascending to the throne. The ceremonies meant the formal handover of the Lower Austrian estates, and they were spectacular events. Due to their significance, descriptions of the proceedings and detailed lists of participants were published. After an enumeration of the participants, Kökényesi examines the presence of Hungarians. A Hungarian aristocrat could take part in the Erbhuldigung either as an Inkolat (one who was incorporated into the Lower Austrian estates) or as a foreign guest of the festive banquet. Kökényesi’s study concludes that most of the Hungarian participants in the ceremonies were magnates who maintained good relations in Austria and who wanted to be integrated personally into the upper elite of the Habsburg Monarchy. Thus, their participation in these events can be considered part of a conscious strategy.

In his case study on the 1751 diet, János Nagy looks at the political aspects of naturalization. He analyzes a unique and promising group of archival sources: the requests for indigenatus and the documents produced by the commission of the diet investigating the process. Nagy points out that that the indigenae were self-supporting actors who had legitimate social claims. Consequently, he deals with their role in the debates in the diet, their image in prevailing public opinion, and also how they argued in their requests addressed to the diet. Nagy shows that the strategies they used when they were trying to convince the Hungarian estates differed slightly from the strategies they used in their requests addressed to the king. The requests addressed to the estates applied four basic modes of argumentation: note military merits, note service to the common good, enumerate Hungarian ancestors and relatives, and refer to possession of lands in the kingdom. Nagy contends that, in the context of the diets, labeling somebody an indigena was essentially political.

In the next chapter, Adrienn Szilágyi deals with the indigena-families of Békés County in the first half of the nineteenth century, approaching the question from the standpoint of local society. In Békés County (today in southwestern Hungary), following the expulsion of the Turks, Johann Georg Freiherr von Harruckern acquired two-thirds of the lands as a royal donation. He played a crucial role in local politics, and after his death in 1742, his son Franz followed in his father’s footsteps. However, when the son died in 1775, the male line of the family died with him, and the heirs divided the lands into five parts. Consequently, in the following decades a few naturalized families were able to establish connections in the county. Szilágyi points out two characteristic strategies used by the naturalized magnate families in this specific county: some families were absent and remained affiliated with the imperial center, while others integrated into the life of the county as active agents in local political and economic life.

Béla Pálmány draws attention in his study to the wave of naturalizations during the diets of the Reform Era. He emphasizes that during most wartime diets at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth century, no naturalizations occurred, but after the Napoleonic wars, many foreigners obtained status as indigenatus. The French Wars and the 13-year break in legislation impacted the number of naturalizations. Pálmány shows that the merits of those involved in the wars were stressed upon naturalization (traditional military merits, office-bearing in the service of the court and country, and as a new element, appeals to various activities undertaken as civilians). During the diets of 1839–40 and 1843–44, the legal-constitutional aspects of indigenatus were also disputed, and with the April Laws of 1848, the significance of the issue decreased remarkably.

Although with the vanishing of the old political system of the estates, the political significance of indigenatus was weakening, the question was still on the agenda because of the personal legislative right of the members of the House of Magnates. The last two studies focus on this period. Veronika Tóth-Barbalics investigates the indigenae of the House of Magnates between 1865 and 1918. The House of Magnates was reformed in 1885, resulting in considerable changes in the composition of the chamber. With Article VII of 1885, membership was now bound to a tax census of 3,000 forints per year and to the constraint of opting, meaning that naturalized magnates had to make a statement confirming that they practiced the right to legislate exclusively in the Hungarian Parliament. The study complements the investigations of Károly Vörös, demonstrating that of the indigena-families which dropped out of the House of Magnates, only a small number found their way back into a legislative body.

Finally, the study of Dániel Ballabás discusses the same period, but from a more comprehensive and problem-oriented viewpoint. His study deals the Corpus Juris as an authentic source on the process of naturalization, claiming that between 1542 and 1840, 594 people obtained indigenatus in total. After delineating the heritage of the previous period, the study investigates the relationship between the indigenae and the changes to the citizenship law in the second half of the nineteenth century. Ballabás also studies the question of membership in the House of Magnates, citing some peculiar arguments against indigenae. As had been the case in the Reform Era, the opposition presented the archetypical indigena as an absent foreigner, unable to support national interests.

All in all, the findings of the studies complement those of earlier studies and refute some long-lasting political and historical myths. The volume provides deeper insights into the field through thorough study of primary sources. It enriches first and foremost our knowledge of the social history of the upper elites of the Kingdom of Hungary, though the praiseworthy presence of both social and political viewpoints notwithstanding, the approach of quantitative social history dominates, while the “interpretive” attitude focusing on the political discourses and legal practices of the age remains in the background.

Ágoston Nagy
National University of Public Service

The Grand Strategy of the Habsburg Empire. By A. Wess Mitchell. Princeton: University Press, 2018. xiv + 403 pp.

This is an ambitious, bright, fluent book. It represents an interdisciplinary challenge for historians. It brings the methodology of strategic studies to bear on the Austrian state as it had grown to great-power status by the early eighteenth century, emerging from the carapace of the Holy Roman Empire and negotiating the extinction of the Spanish line of its ruling family.

“All Great Powers need a grand strategy to survive,” we are told (p.304). So, what was the secret of the Habsburgs’ success in the century and a half after 1700? Mitchell begins with the geographical determinants of their realms: an exposed situation in the center of the continent, but with mountain ranges providing protection and river systems securing internal lines of communication. Mitchell makes repeated references to these factors, although neither Frederick of Prussia nor Napoleon was much hindered by orographic obstacles, while the waterways, even those within the Danube’s hydrological network, were grievously underexploited for a long time. Mitchell stresses how well Austrian governments came to understand their terrain thanks to the unrivalled quality of their cartography (a pity his own maps are so crude, illegible, and generally feeble). Essentially, Austria, as a satiated land power surrounded by threats, adopted defensive military postures. It did not risk its main body of troops unless absolutely necessary. That is also the message of a recent book by Richard Bassett entitled For God and Kaiser, in which Bassett makes the same argument in a more facile and anecdotal way. Mitchell points to the Habsburgs’ successful “sequencing,” as he calls it, of time and space. They needed, on the one hand, barriers and buffers: fortified redoubts in their own border areas or, better still, beyond them, but in friendly hands; and client states, earlier especially in southern German and northern Italian territories, later also in the western Balkans. On the other hand, they needed alliances. In the 22 wars fought by Austria during this period, it almost always (19 times) stood on the side which had more allies.

That involved a balancing act, directed first against France, with support from the German lands, Great Britain, and elsewhere; then the construction of a coalition against Frederician Prussia; then decades of struggle with shifting power groups to resist France again in its revolutionary and Napoleonic mode. For a century from the 1750s, the Habsburgs’ chief alliance was with Russia, but that would prove costliest in the long run. The (for Mitchell willful) alienation of Russia during the Crimean war began the rapid erosion of Austria as a great power, combined as it was with a loss of buffers, a new offensive mentality in the high command, and a neglect of earlier operational prowess (by the 1860s, Habsburg troops in Germany were reduced to using Baedeker guides to find their routes). Emperor Francis Joseph, revered by some as the conserver of the Monarchy, rightly appears here, in a strong final chapter, as its foremost gravedigger.

The broad international backing, or at least neutrality, that Austria long enjoyed has often been attributed to recognition of it as a “European necessity.” Mitchell resists this notion, especially for the eighteenth century. He emphasizes Austria’s agency and the influence on its decision-making of a stream of local military theorists, from Montecuccoli to Archduke Charles and Radetzky. Predictably, Mitchell’s appreciation of Habsburg foreign policy culminates in a rosy presentation of the Vienna settlement and the age of Metternich. He shows (in the footsteps of Henry Kissinger and Paul Schroeder) how a pax Austriaca was secured by the fruitful deployment of international alliances, puissances intermédiaires, and localized low-cost interventions. At this point we may, however, begin to wonder how complete or even accurate this analysis is. What of Metternich’s woeful mishandling of the domestic affairs of the Monarchy? Did not that count towards the strategic reckoning? Yes, but only on the credit side of the ledger: “The greatest geopolitical success of the Metternich system came in 1848” (p.251). In other words, Austria was particularly effective at fighting its own, largely unarmed people. “General Windischgrätz put down the Prague uprising” (p.252): all in a day’s work, no doubt, for an accomplished Austrian strategist. And we are told how well some fortresses held out against the revolution at home (no mention of the fact that others, in the hands of the Hungarian rebels, held out even longer).

Mitchell’s lack of interest in actual governance goes with some carelessness about detail. He uses the doubtful term “Erblände” throughout for the hereditary lands. He names the wrong Schwarzenberg in 1813 (it was Karl, not Felix). Forms like “Clam-Martinez” and “Menningen” (Memmingen), “Württemburg,” “Witelsbach,” and “Freiburg on the Danube” arouse unease. And even in the grand geostrategic scheme of things, Mackinder’s forename was Halford, not “Harold.” Thus, Mitchell cannot be trusted for a full picture of the determinants of Habsburg decline in the nineteenth century. But that is not what strategic studies are about. Rather we may see his contribution as heuristic. It suggests that in the last phase, we can usefully distinguish two Habsburg empires. One was the popular and progressive construction subscribed to by many people of the Monarchy and much rehabilitated in recent scholarship (notably the American school around Pieter Judson). The other was the strategic Austria, the machine for making foreign policy. The people’s empire was aspirational and emergent; the dynastic empire was real and degenerative. From the 1860s onward, the latter’s crisis undermined the former. Revealingly, the Austria-Hungary decades form no part of Mitchell’s story, since from his perspective, the Monarchy by then was already a spent force.

Robert J. W. Evans
University of Oxford

“Engesztelhetetlen gyűlölet”: Válás Budapesten (1850–1914) [“Implacable hatred”: Divorce in Budapest, 1850–1914]. By Sándor Nagy. Budapest: Budapest City Archives; HAS–Momentum Family History Research Group, 2018. 503 pp.

Sándor Nagy, a senior archivist at the Budapest City Archives, summarized the results of his nearly two decades of research in this volume, which is impressive in many ways. Although the question of divorce, prohibitions against divorce, and licensing of divorce under certain conditions has already been actively studied by contemporaries, a comprehensive analysis of the topic has not yet been written. Sándor Nagy’s work fills this gap. Although most of the concrete examples offered in the book are drawn from urban contexts, the volume offers the reader much more. In the first two parts, which come to about 250 pages, Nagy meticulously explores the evolution of divorce in Hungary, including the perceived or real differences between cities and rural settlements. From confession to confession, he examines the room for maneuver that couples who wished to terminate their marriages had, the interaction between social attitudes to divorce, and the evolution of the legal environment. The reader can also follow the process of the secularization of divorce and the consequences of this process. In addition to examining opinions concerning divorce prevailing in Hungary at the time, Nagy also presents and evaluates earlier findings on the topic in an international context or refutes stereotypes that have become widespread in the secondary literature. For example, he explains in detail why statistics show many more divorced women than men in Budapest. He also throws into question the view according to which the degree of urbanization and modernization is directly proportional to the number of divorces. In some cities in Hungary, such as Kolozsvár (Cluj), which was considered more of a mid-city, couples were more likely to divorce than in Budapest or the much more populous Paris. The stereotype that women benefited from the introduction of civic divorce and it helped them to assert their interests is also questioned. Nagy draws attention to the methodological and computational flaws in the data compiled by contemporary statisticians, which confirmed the preconceived notion that the introduction of civil divorce would bring about an increase in the number of cases. The number of divorces, reconstructed by Nagy, on the basis of court sources, does not prove this. Rather, the number of divorces in Budapest declined significantly in 1896, followed later by a steady but slower increase compared to the number of divorces in towns in rural parts of the country.

In the earlier secondary literature, the question of divorce was primarily discussed by historical demographers, but the sources and methods they employed dealt only with a few aspects. By contrast, the court files that Nagy focuses on and also the other related sources (private letters, recollections etc.) he uses, adopting methods from the field of legal history which so far have been neglected, offer a completely new picture. For example, there is a compelling larger chapter on “alternative solutions” (the “ante-room” of divorce), in which Nagy writes about abandonment and concubinage, paradoxically, on the basis of the subsequent court files. Furthermore, in similar detail, he explains how one could become a legitimate or illegitimate child.

Several chapters touch on gender differences, not in general, but usually in terms of social affiliation. One of the reasons for this is that women’s work, the property rights in marriage, and the financial security of women (and their children) played a crucial role in the initiation and continuation of the procedure. Nagy’s investigation of the fates of people involved does not end with the divorce. He tries to follow the parties and determine what happened to them after the divorce, including how they declared their family and social status, whether they remarried, re-divorced, and whether their prosperity was influenced by the dissolution of their unhappy marriage. Particular attention should be paid to the chapter “Relations and Networks,” in which Nagy gives concrete examples of how divorces could “spread” with the assistance of relatives, neighbors and lawyer acquaintances in a particular community.

Nagy deals with the sources with exemplary objectivity, and in the introduction, he notes that the expression “implacable hatred” in the title is a contemporary legal term. Parties needed simply to use this term in order to terminate a marriage relatively quickly without greater complications. Accordingly, we learn less about bedroom secrets and the real-life emotional conflicts of the litigant spouses and instead come to know how the lawyers “trained” their clients, what consensual divorce meant, and what happened to someone who was not trained or who did not listen to good advice.

It is evident from the monograph that it is from the pen of a very knowledgeable, recognized expert on the sources held in various archives, who is familiar with the relevant literature and who has given the subject lengthy reflection and reassessed prevailing ideas on the history of divorce in the period discussed.

Eleonóra Géra
Eötvös Loránd University

Everyday Nationalism in Hungary 1789–1867. By Alexander Maxwell. Berlin–Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2019. 262 pp.

For a few decades, we have been witnessing a reassessment of the workings and the importance of nationalism in Habsburg Central Europe. Innovative scholars rethink the weight of national identity in studies based on solid empirical research and thorough theoretical considerations. The voluminous 2016 book by Pieter M. Judson (The Habsburg Empire: A New History) can be regarded as a summary of these new findings. However, this thought-provoking book does not pay much attention to the Hungarian Kingdom. Hungarian critics of the work have pointed out that the case of Hungary does not fit into many of the tendencies that Judson demonstrates. Furthermore, one has the feeling that in this major work, which provides an impressive critical analysis of national identity and indifference in Cisleithania, Hungary is presented as an “oasis” of the national idea, where it was able to flourish in a way that nationalists from Cisleithania could only dream of. Fortunately, in the past few years, some works have been published which treat Hungary in a way that is worthy of the abovementioned historiographical trend. These works focus not only on Hungarian (Magyar) nationalism, but also on the different minorities in the country and their responses to the challenges posed by an increasingly powerful Magyar nationalism. One thinks, for instance, of the remarkable book by Alexander Maxwell, which is one of the most recent in this trend.

The purpose of the book is to examine the beginnings of nationalism as a lived experience in the Hungarian Kingdom between 1789 and 1867. The work focuses on certain aspects of nationalism that the secondary literature has tended to ignore, namely the nationalization of banal objects and practices of ordinary people, such as national drinks or national marriage customs. The book can be divided into three main parts. The first (chapters 1 and 2) presents a thorough study of terminological and theoretical aspects. The second part (chapters 3 to 7) provides an analysis of the aforementioned nationalization of everyday phenomena. Finally, in the conclusion, Maxwell evaluates his findings from the point of view of nationalism theories, though some discussion of this question is found in every chapter.

Although, as already stated, the book’s main focus is on the nationalization of everyday life, the first two chapters, which offer a consideration of terminological problems, are just as significant and original as the subsequent ones. In the first chapter, Maxwell analyses the word “Hungarian.” He points out that this kind of analysis is essential to any book dealing with the nationalism(s) in the Kingdom of Hungary, though it is worth noting that many substantial works published in Hungary and abroad fail to offer any rigorous discussion of such a fundamental term and use the word as if its meaning were self-evident. This is a grave mistake, in particular given that the term featured prominently in national rhetoric. Maxwell shows how the distinction between Hungarian (signifying all inhabitants of the Kingdom) and Magyar (meaning exclusively the linguistic community) was developed among the non-Magyar communities. This distinction signified a more tolerant approach, as it listed Slovaks, for example, and Magyars as equal inhabitants of their common country, Hungary. No surprise that Magyar nationalists were harshly against this differentiation. Concerning Maxwell’s own usage of the words, knowing that a perfect solution does not exist, he uses the term “Magyar” in cases in which there was a conflict between Magyar nationalists and the other communities. This solution seems to be more adequate than that of Judson, who only declared briefly and bluntly that the distinction between “Hungarian” and “Magyar” made “little intellectual sense” to him, and so he deliberately avoided using the terms “Magyar” and “Magyarization.”

The notion of “nation” is very similar to that of “Hungarian” in the sense that it was an eminent element of nationalist rhetoric, yet several scholarly works use the term as if its meaning were self-evident. First, Maxwell presents the complicated history of how Magyar and “minority” (another highly problematic term) intellectuals defined the notion of “nation” and “nationality” up to the 1868 Nationalities Law. One might regret, however, that he fails to offer a similar analysis of the so-called “Hungarus consciousness,” which is considered in the secondary literature as a widespread form of collective identity that transcended ethnicity and based self-definition on loyalty to Hungary as a territorial unit. Second, Maxwell also examines the applicability of the definitions of nation offered by different nationalism-theorists. Maxwell’s method is highly recommended: instead of using the definition of one particular theorist and superposing it to the nineteenth century, he proposes an empirical research strategy which consists of analyzing the notion as a rhetorical device, putting emphasis on how historical actors themselves interpreted and used the notion of “nation.” This strategy fits into a trend which is gaining prevalence today, as scholars choose an empirical method instead of being absorbed by the overwhelming array of nationalism theories.

With the third chapter, Maxwell arrives to the main object of his work. Chapters three and four proceed from a Marxist inspired base-superstructure model to explain the phenomena of national tobacco and national wine. Maxwell also presents the limits of this model by showing that although economic interest played a key part in advertising these items as “national goods,” the items themselves became cultural phenomena and started a life of their own. To describe this transformation, Maxwell uses the notion of “banal nationalism,” which he takes from the works of Michael Billig, and he adapts this notion to the Hungarian Kingdom. Maxwell also presents the different prejudices concerning the other nationalities’ preferred types of alcohol. The fifth and sixth chapters present elements of everyday nationalism that have gender implications. Maxwell points out that the cult of the “national moustache” meant the exclusion not only of other nationalities but also women. The chapter on national marriages presents how Magyar intellectuals urged their compatriots to choose Magyar women and disapproved of cross-national marriages. Using Carole Pateman’s terminology, Maxwell shows how the rhetoric of national endogamy presented women as collective possessions of the national brotherhood. Though Pateman’s work does not explicitly deal with nationalism, Maxwell considers it useful, as in his view, other gender works do not address nationalism as such, but only its effects on women. The seventh chapter examines national clothing, a topic which is mostly approached from the sociological and gender point of view, neglecting its implications for nationalism. Maxwell, using first and foremost the theory of Grant McCracken, who treats clothing as a sort of language, analyses the spread of díszmagyar (Hungarian national festival clothing for men) and the reaction of the nationalities (mainly Croats) to this trend.

In the conclusion, Maxwell considers what lessons can be drawn from the Hungarian case for nationalism theorists. For we are facing an overwhelming number of nationalism theories which need empirical testing. Maxwell is especially hostile to Anthony D. Smith’s approach, showing that not only is Smith poorly informed about Hungarian history, but his ideas are not even fit to grasp the complexity of the Hungarian case. And he does not limit himself to Smith, but calls into question the notions put forward by all the scholars (Anderson, Hobsbawm, and Gellner among others) who consider nationalism as something which emerged from gradual social transformation. Instead, the history of everyday nationalism turns us to Rogers Brubaker, who has argued that one should see nationness as an event, something that suddenly crystallizes rather than develops. Furthermore, Brubaker’s theory also emphasizes the agency of patriots and the question of reception, an approach which proves more fruitful than the suggestions posed by his predecessors’. Maxwell concludes that Brubaker’s ideas prove the most suitable in dealing with nationalism in an empirical study. It is worth noting that it was also Brubaker’s ideas that helped the notion of “national indifference” gain traction in the secondary literature as a useful concept.

One might argue that, in view of its main sources, Maxwell’s book is more about the idea of everyday nationalism in the first half of the nineteenth century than everyday nationalism itself. However, this would be a rather idealistic and even naïve criticism which would reveal a certain inexperience in dealing with the very few available reliable historical sources, which is a burden every historian seeking to study the reception of nationalist ideas in the period faces. Maxwell’s approach offers a solution which is naturally not perfect, but remains one of the best available: the study of national commodities and nationalized practices may be able to bridge “the intellectual history of national ideas and the data available to social historians.”

Imre Tarafás
Eötvös Loránd University

Magyarok a bécsi hivatalnokvilágban: A közös külügyminisztérium magyar tisztviselői 1867–1914 [Hungarians in the Viennese bureaucracy: Hungarian officers in the joint Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 1867–1914]. By Éva Somogyi. Budapest: MTA BTK TTI, 2017. 268 pp.

At first glance a collective biography of Hungarian officers in the ranks of the (in)famous Viennese bureaucracy, the book by Éva Somogyi offers far more than that, namely an empirical investigation of the very functioning of dualist Austria-Hungary. This insight is all the more appreciated, since recent literature concerning Cisleithanian integration and imperial (rather than national) identity would fill libraries, but the roles played by Hungarians in operating the dualist state are rarely investigated. However, the way they conceived their duty as civil servants in the Joint Ministry of Foreign Affairs sheds light on a peculiar kind of imperial loyalty and state patriotism which is often analyzed in connection with their Austrian colleagues but which is implicitly regarded as quasi non-existent in the more nation-state-like Hungarian part of the dual Monarchy. By meticulously uncovering the daily work done by officers to maintain the empire and ensure it prospered, the book makes up for this shortcoming on the one hand and draws a precise picture of how the establishment of the state (which is almost impossible to define from the perspective of its political essence) functioned in practice on the other.

After a short but comprehensive overview of the Viennese administration, Somogyi offers an investigation of the Joint Ministry of Foreign Affairs and then uses this as a foundation for a discussion of the aforementioned aspects. The Ministry was the most specific institution of the dualist state. As the prevailing minister was also president of the Joint Cabinet Council, it was something like a common government of the Gesamtstaat, though needless to say it was not acknowledged as such. This was the institution within the framework of which the multiple interests of the multiethnic empire were reconciled and a livable compromise was found between the two parts of the Monarchy. Members of the staff of this institution who had Hungarian citizenship formed a circle which took part in the exercise of executive political power. As a result, their numbers, roles, careers, visions of Vienna and the Empire, and their national, imperial, and other loyalties and social positions are not only interesting from a mere prosopographical point of view but also help us understand how everyday efforts and dialogues filled out the terms of the Settlement, which at times were vague, with practical content.

Following a presentation of the imperial institutional structure and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs within in detail, Somogyi offers another chapter on the backdrop to her story, a chapter which brilliantly depicts the milieu of late-nineteenth-century Vienna, or more precisely what Vienna meant to Hungarians who were engaged in the civil service. Some kind of genius loci existed in the Ballhausplatz, a tradition institutionally cultivated, characterized mainly by an unconditional loyalty to the emperor and a class-identity of gentlemen in his service. Though imperial state patriotism is a commonly used term in Habsburg historiography, it is new to read about a disciplined corps which behaved in lines with its values.

In the fifth chapter, Somogyi provides a thorough presentation of her protagonists. At this point, the monograph truly benefits from the uniquely rich personal files of the Foreign Service, preserved in the Viennese Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv. Based on these sources and other personal sources, such as diaries, letters, family documents, etc., Somogyi reconstructs the walk of life of nearly a hundred bureaucrats. Given Somogyi’s precision and consistency in her use of analytic categories, this work could also be used as a handbook or a database, and it will be exceptionally useful for future research endeavors. Somogyi has also documented the constantly increasing number of Hungarians in the Foreign Service until the reach of parity (in dualist Austria-Hungary, this meant a proportion of 30% Transleithanian officers). This growth was an answer to the need for Hungarian speakers, which was a consequence of the structural and constitutional reforms of the Settlement and also a tool with which the Ausgleich was made more attractive to the Hungarian public. From a methodological point of view, the number of cases allows Somogyi both to draw statistical conclusions and to make her story charmingly personal. While the bureaucrats considered impartiality and detachment virtues, in Somogyi’s book, they take on the personalities of social climbers, misunderstood lovers, conflicted patriots, or spoilt dandies.

Beginning with the next chapter, the text shifts from political, structural, and ideological questions to strictly social-historical analyses. From generation to generation, a detailed picture is offered of the bureaucrats’ family backgrounds, educations, and lifestyles. We see that although this corps never really lost its aristocratic nature, it became more and more professional as expertise became an increasingly important qualification if someone sought to hold such a position, and at the same time it began to enjoy a prestige comparable to that of the diplomatic body. As family background became less important in career advancement than professional achievements, the seemingly unchanged circle of aristocrats underwent significant changes in attitude. As a result, if the Foreign Service did not turn into a civil institution, it became nonetheless professional and modernized in many ways. This sophisticated social-historical conclusion is one of the many in this book. They all remind us that neither social transformation nor modernization is a simple category in historiographical analysis. Both are the sum of processes of varying rapidity and rhythm.

The next chapter, which deals with the marital practices and constraints of Foreign Service officers, puts the Austro-Hungarian conditions in an international context. Contrary to most of the other European powers, the dualist state did not forbid officers from taking a foreigner as a spouse, as the main Ballhausplatz-tradition was explicitly loyalty to the emperor and not to national interests.

This unconditional loyalty to the dynasty and the ability to represent the Gesamtstaat abroad, regardless of a given bureaucrat’s other ties, was assured by professional education and common culture. Somogyi’s examination of the specific education in which officials in the foreign service had taken part is rich with findings. Indeed, her discussion suggests that national indifference survived not simply in blind spots where national activists exerted little influence. Rather, it was at least in part one element of a deliberately cultivated outlook and political program. It is useful to keep in mind that Hungarians were also part of this project.

Whether this project was successful is the main question of the next chapter and the book in general. To avoid simplistic answers, Somogyi sketches several personal variations and strategies to overcome loyalty conflicts. Reconciling different identities was not always a perplexing challenge. Many of the officers thought that strengthening the Hungarians’ position in the existing institutions was more effective than waging dubious symbolic struggles for more autonomy. The problem was not always as urgent for the different generations of bureaucrats either. Approaching World War I, however, we have to ask the question: was imperial identity a sustainable self-definition in the middle of national conflicts. Was this special elite a narrow and isolated group, or did they represent competent leadership over a multiethnic society? Could the state patriotism of this group have been a viable model for a wider public, or did this elite constitute an exception? Do we have to face the fact that the creation of an imperial identity was a failure, or do we have to seek the reasons for the Monarchy’s dissolution elsewhere? Do multiple identities work in times of crisis, or do they become prioritized and force everyone to choose? One could certainly have read more about these questions, even knowing that it is probably impossible to answer them. Somogyi does not enter into speculation. She remarks simply that she could not find any officer who would not have clarified that his first and most important duty was protecting Austria-Hungary’s integrity during World War I.

Éva Somogyi’s book investigates the most intriguing questions of current Habsburg studies based on micro-level examinations of exciting archival material. Her familiarity with both the institutional structure of the Empire and a number of personal details allows her dynamically to change scopes whenever needed, resulting in a monograph that is both precise and highly entertaining.

As a German translation is in the making, one can hope for a worthy international reception.

Veronika Eszik
Research Centre for the Humanities

Traumatársadalom: Az emlékezetpolitika történeti-szociológiai kritikája [The society of trauma: The historical-sociological critique of memory politics]. By Máté Zombory. Budapest: Kijárat, 2019. 248 pp.

Máté Zombory’s new book consists of an introduction and six chapters, most of which were originally published in different fora between 2012 and 2016 and have been partially revised since. The diverse studies included here share an agenda of dissecting problematic aspects of memory politics while reflecting on the larger political-moral transformation behind the growing impact of memory politics. Ultimately, the book aims to describe and critique what Zombory calls “our dominant moral economy” based on representations of victimhood, which he labels “the society of trauma” (p.38).

The volume as a whole offers testament to Zombory’s theoretical and interdisciplinary proclivities and his wide-ranging erudition, especially when it comes to the secondary literature published in English and French. While the individual studies offer numerous critical insights, they unfortunately also contain some rather misleading assertions and a number of unfounded generalizations.

Partially drawing on Samuel Moyn’s recent reinterpretation of human rights history, Zombory argues that it is on the ruins of future-oriented political experiments promising collective liberation that a new politics of moral sentiments directed at the remembrance and reduction of physical and psychological suffering could develop. As Western societies have transitioned from party-based representative democracies to media-based “populist democracies” since the 1970s, their attention has increasingly shifted to the suffering of innocent and passive victims. As Zombory perceptively notes in this context, the remembrance of the Holocaust may not have been truly globalized, but the moral imperative to recognize victims practically has (p.39).

Combined with the ever more frequent use of concepts suggesting sameness across time, such as memory, identity, and recognition, this new attention to victims, Zombory maintains, has resulted in an increasingly fierce competition for the public recognition of specific victim groups. Drawing on the writings of American sociologist Thorstein Veblen in particular, the original theorist of status competitions which know no upper limit, Zombory presents memory politics as the conspicuous and decontextualized representation of suffering where the public visibility of the sufferings of one’s group amounts to a form of prestige. The result of this is a hierarchical society of trauma, which is a sort of inverted society of the spectacle (Guy Debord).

The volume thereby articulates a more general criticism of reconciliation efforts in so-called “post-conflict societies.” The author maintains that, despite popular assertions to the contrary, conflicts over remembrance cannot be resolved within the “paradigm of recognition”: he points out that, unlike what propagators of reconciliation such as (perhaps most prominently) Aleida Assmann wish to make us believe, conflicts over remembrance are not merely epistemological, but are ultimately of a social nature. Zombory also adds, in a rather one-sided fashion which overlooks the possibility of mutual recognition, that there is something “inherently narcissistic” in the desire for recognition.

The introduction covers previous criticisms which began to be directed at “victim competition” in the 1990s. The first half of the volume (chapters one to three) addresses issues in the history of Holocaust remembrance and aims to dissect the key moral principles that acts of Holocaust remembrance tend to propagate. In the first of these chapters, Zombory covers mainstream approaches to, debates about, and critiques of the turn to remembrance and the rise of transnational discussions of the Holocaust in particular. The subsequent chapter focuses on an even larger and more general issue, the globalization of remembrance. It aims to describe norms, witnesses, and the representation of victims in transnational spaces of remembrance. As in the introduction, these two chapters summarize key arguments of established Western scholars without sufficiently clarifying the author’s contribution (beyond a sharp sociological critique).

If these early chapters essentially amounted to perceptive literature reviews addressed at a Hungarian audience, the third chapter adds an original case study regarding Shoshana Felman’s interpretation of the Eichmann trial and, more specifically, Yehiel De-Nur’s dramatic contribution to it in order to explore how one of its major propagators has applied her theory of cultural trauma. By offering a nuanced reading of Yehiel De-Nur’s (pen name Ka-Tsetnik 135633) various statements over time, Zombory convincingly shows how a dehumanizing depiction of actors may result from the forceful reduction of past subject experiences to the traumatic and current behavior to mere acts of repetition.

The second half of the volume in turn explores the entry of new actors into transnational spaces of memory politics in Europe and the ways in which these authors have adapted what Zombory calls the “moral paradigm” in Holocaust remembrance. Chapter Four reflects on the shared rules of memory competition to argue that, under the unequal conditions of EU enlargement, the political legitimacy of “accession countries” could be increased if they were able to assume the position of victim and present their history as a Leidensgeschichte. Zombory shows, very much in accordance with Jelena Subotić’s new book Yellow Star, Red Star, that the new nationalistic remembrance of communism in Eastern Europe was modelled on practices of Holocaust remembrance and claimed an additional layer of suffering as a regional specificity.

What Zombory unfortunately does not discuss here is that the critical impetus behind European Holocaust remembrance—which, contrary to what he appears to suggest, has not only been about the remembrance of innocent and passive victims, but has also constituted a profound grappling with patterns of exclusion and mass violence in modern society—could be largely lost in such new anti-communist attempts at renationalization made across Eastern Europe. Despite his own critical agenda, Zombory appears to take for granted the absence of such a critical impetus behind current memory cultures.

The last two chapters of the volume offer Hungarian case studies. Alongside chapter three, chapter five offers Zombory’s most detailed and convincing engagement with a specific discussion and debate regarding the recent past. Zombory aims to show that the House of Terror may have been repeatedly and fiercely criticized in Hungary, but both mainstream propagators and critics of this complex, confusing, even confounding initiative drew on shared moral notions. He explains through relevant examples that agreement with the House’s basic intention to commemorate the victims of communism and focus exclusively on the violently repressive nature of past regimes ultimately made it impossible for liberally-minded professional historians to meaningfully contest the conservative-anticommunist reinterpretation of history that the House powerfully displayed. Moreover, the chapter insightfully shows how the House’s creators and representatives cleverly used the process of Europeanization and even the unclear nature of their own project to defend themselves against various accusations and further their radically conservative goals in memory politics. Chapter six in turn draws on some of Zombory’s oral history interviews to discuss how discursive frames and counterstrategies regarding the German past have developed with regard to the German minority in Hungary since 1945.

There is much to admire about Máté Zombory’s critical insights and much to reflect on when it comes to his rather bold theses. He is correct to point out that participation in historical debates has increasingly come to depend on self-identification with victims and that, concurrently, possibilities to question the (over)abundance of political-moral efforts centered around the recognition of victimhood have diminished. He is also right to critique how the oft-declared “duty to remember” has at times yielded reductive-mythical images of the past. Indeed, the moralizing insistence on remembrance may have made complex and properly contextual historical discussions more difficult. These worrisome tendencies call for the kind of courageous scholarly intervention which Zombory’s polemical volume offers.

There is, however, also much to disagree with in these pages. The book repeatedly asserts that memory political interactions revolve around grievances, mutual accusations of non-recognition, and shaming through inequality, though it offers no empirical documentation in support of this claim. Zombory seems to assume, rather unusually and in fact contrary to mounting evidence, that the broader political culture around memory politics is by default non-democratic and political-moral agency aimed at the recognition of victims cannot possibly contribute to the cause of social justice. Rather tellingly, the volume presents an unduly homogenized image of Holocaust remembrance without discussing the highly varied and always contested Holocaust lessons various people have drawn (and which Michael Marrus, among others, has recently studied).

Last but not least, the book’s rather categorical assessment, according to which recent trends to prioritize victim narratives have fueled a solipsistic and narcissistic form of politics, obfuscates the key distinction between the recently emerged and highly specific realm of memory politics and politics as such. Ultimately, Traumatársadalom, insightful and inspiring though many of its claims and arguments indubitably are, aims to explain more than a better focused and more adequately documented exploration of memory political contests would have allowed.

Ferenc Laczó
Maastricht University

Making Ethnicity in Southern Bessarabia: Tracing the Histories of an Ambiguous Concept in a Contested Land. By Simon Schlegel. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2019. 276 pp.

Simon Schlegel’s Making Ethnicity in Southern Bessarabia poses a series of interrelated questions about the growth of ethnic boundaries and the rising importance of ethnicity in southern Bessarabia over the last two centuries. The region has proven a well-suited ethno-geographical laboratory or “nook” for researching how individuals and communities can “belong” to an ethnic minority (or majority). The book is structured chronologically, albeit with several theoretical or thematic interludes, offering a survey of state policies and actors that ruled Bessarabia beginning in early nineteenth-century Tsarist Russia and ending with the Maidan protest movement in early twenty-first-century Ukraine. The first part describes how ethnic categories superseded religious categories in the tsarist state’s synoptic view of its inhabitants. A chapter on Romanian Bessarabia during the interwar period and World War II showcases important new primary sources on the inscription of ethno-national identities through state-mandated but locally issued identity certificates. The following chapter, intended as a “theoretical insertion” or “interruption,” appraises diverging concepts of ethnicity and the ascription of identities and borders so as to better contextualize the previous chapters and set up the next. The book also covers the forty-seven years of Soviet rule in Bessarabia, showing how the shifting concept of ethnicity and language use became preconditions for social mobility; it then details the years since Ukrainian independence, which have been marked by the recurrence of ethnic rhetoric, entrepreneurs, and associations within a system of political clientelism. Schlegel concludes with two more theoretical chapters that function as a kind of coda, meditating on the ways that religion, memory, narrative, and folklore serve as “techniques” or “tools” to delimit ethnic groups and maintain ethnic boundaries. The book highlights the congruence of ethnic boundaries with fluid social boundaries created by local and regional politics, including corruption, clientelism, mismanagement, and economic hardship. Schlegel argues convincingly that putative ethnic differences or boundaries, as well as language barriers and disputes over history, are frequently epifocal to internecine conflicts.

Methodologically, the book is perhaps most at home in the genre of historical anthropology, “in which the readers start out with a tour through local history and then, as the account moves closer to the present find gradually more ethnographic insight, until they find themselves reading an ethnography” (p.31). Drawing on Fredrik Barth, James C. Scott, and the usual suspects in the literature on nationalism and ethnicity, with a passing nod to the Italian microhistorians, Schlegel weaves his social-anthropological case study into a much broader historical examination about the ways present-day ethnic boundaries and understandings of ethnicity are firmly, if not inextricably, rooted in the past. But the book is ever mindful that history, society, and identity oscillate through time and space, in a multiplicity of contexts, continually informing one another.

Most of Schlegel’s fieldwork and archival research was undertaken in the Odessa oblast, not far from the city-municipality of Izmail in southwestern Ukraine, from mid 2012 through 2013. Although the four villages selected for interviews were chosen for their collective ethnic diversity (Ukrainian, Moldovan or Romanian, Gagauz, and Bulgarian), all interviews were conducted in Russian. The archival research was also based solely on the Izmail State Archive. The book contains a handful of maps and images, the latter of which date from the author’s fieldwork in the area. Considering the book’s sweeping chronological scope and historical treatment of four successive regimes, the two-page index of subjects and names is inadequate. And while generally well written—Schlegel is dutiful in his role as a narrator of his own story—the book could have benefited from additional copyediting for punctuation. But these are minor imperfections in a worthy contribution to the scholarship on the region. That the author completed this in under three hundred pages is no small feat.

Self-reflective and both microhistorical and macrohistorical in scope, Making Ethnicity in Southern Bessarabia focuses not so much on ethnic boundaries as actual dividing lines or demarcations but rather on the actors and motivations that create ethnic boundaries. Moreover, it spotlights the techniques used to maintain these boundaries across space and time, from one regime to the next. While historians of the Soviet Union, Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania might gloss over some (if not much) of Schlegel’s wider historical narratives on various states and regimes, they should find fruitful analyses of these topics in the embedded anthropological framing of competing ethnicizing and territorializing paradigms. Experts on Russia and Ukraine might also find rich comparative material in the chapter on Romanian rule, as might scholars on Romania in the chapters on Russian, Soviet, and Ukrainian rule, which comprise the bulk of the story. Likewise, anthropologists and social scientists researching this area will benefit from the book’s insistence on situating niche fieldwork and locales in the longue durée. The author’s social-anthropological approach to a historical subject therefore improves what would otherwise be a typical if also peripheral history, while the sweeping historical framework broadens the relevance of what would otherwise be a typical if also peripheral anthropological case study. In this respect, it brings to mind the pathbreaking books by Katherine Verdery and Kate Brown. Schlegel’s contribution is an adroit scholarly treatment of ethnicity and ethnic boundaries in the social, political, and historical palimpsest that is Southern Bessarabia.

R. Chris Davies
Lone Star College, Kingwood

Hungarian Religion, Romanian Blood: A Minority’s Struggle for National Belonging, 1920–1945. By R. Chris Davies. Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2018. Xxvii + 249 pp.

Using the example of the Csángós, a Catholic group in Moldova, eastern Romania, whose origins and nationality are subject to debate, R. Chris Davies contributes to the historical literature on the sociological phenomenon of ethnicity. Following the path set out by Pieter Judson, Tara Zahra, and Jim Bjork (among others), he analyzes the struggle of national activism to define a group’s nationality and align it with either of the two rival nations. However, he cautiously mainly sidesteps the issue of how individuals really reacted to these attempts and concentrates less on the recently contested notion of national indifference. Instead, he deliberately focuses on the discourses and their sources, situated in the context of a radical change of nationalisms in interwar East and Central Europe. Thus, he presents a story triangulated, with Hungarian, Romanian nationalist, and Romanian Catholic intellectuals, whose efforts were instrumental to the fate of the group.

Davies’ main claim is that the idea of the Romanian origins and subsequent Magyarization of the Csángós, which is today the cornerstone of Romanian arguments in the debate over their national belonging, was canonized not by anti-Hungarian Romanian intellectuals but by Catholic priests among the Csángós themselves (Iosif Petru Pal, Dumitru Martinaş etc.), who feared that if they could not shed the stigma of Hungarian-ness in Ion Antonescus’s violently ethnocratic Romania, the fate of the Csángós would be deportation. In this effort, they found help and support from ultranationalist Romanian intellectuals who promoted a new, biologized definition of Romanian-ness (most importantly the serologist Petre Râmneanţu), and to make this new claim credible, they were ready to align themselves with extreme Romanian nationalism and even sometimes to join the Iron Guard. Thus, through their unholy alliance with materialist scientific practices (like blood group analyses) and mystical political Orthodoxy, which were both at odds with their Catholic faith, these clergymen, were helped by the turn of the tide in World War II. The resulting willingness of the Antonescu regime to present a less ugly face to the Allies changed the stance of the government, which earlier had deprived the Csángós of their citizenship. The regime fended off Hungarian efforts to achieve a population exchange, which would have meant moving the Csángós to enlarged Hungary in exchange for Romanian speakers from the territory of Hungary after the Second Vienna Awards.

To make this admittedly somewhat narrow story more relevant to the secondary literature on nationalism, Davies offers extensive contextualization, including intellectual and political developments in Hungary and Romania. After an overview of the most important concepts and theories, he provides an outline of the political and intellectual conflicts caused in interwar Romania by the efforts of a group of Orthodox intellectuals and politicians to define Romanian-ness as essentially equal to the Orthodox Christian Church. This effort certainly would have affected Catholics and, among them, the Csángós negatively. Nevertheless, as Davies argues, the late 1930s bore witness to a radical break with earlier conceptualizations of Romanian-ness, not least due to the introduction of what was thought to be cutting-edge science (eugenics, blood group analysis, etc.) to the toolkit of definitions concerning individual membership in a nation. Finally, the state endeavored to assign an unambiguous nationality to all of its citizens (and eventually depriving them of citizenship), as it wanted to purge the national body of anything considered (or defined as) alien and reinvigorate it from the source of the alleged authentic ethnic group.

In the meantime, many Hungarian intellectuals tried to cope with the losses of Trianon with a new concept of the nation which promised rebirth and reinvigoration on the basis of the peasantry, the allegedly purest layer of the national stock. Efforts to salvage the Csángós first aimed to prevent their linguistic assimilation and later to return them to the “homeland,” as was done with Székelys from Bukovina. This was part of a larger effort to redefine the people of Hungary in terms of ethnicity. Thus, the conflicting efforts came to a head regarding the Csángós during World War II and resulted in wider acceptance of their Romanian origins by Romanian academia.

Although sometimes the story seems to be a bit narrowly focused, it is highly readable, and it offers an excellent example of the ways in which national activists of all stripes competed for people whom they wanted to put on their account books. The broad contextualization helps to understand how all these efforts were situated within the contemporary milieu and trends, and the focus on Romanian Catholics and the Catholic Church instead of the Hungarian state or clergy actors is welcome, as it adds more than just nuance to the debate. But the characterization of the changes in nationalism at the end of the 1930s seems to gloss over significant affinities between trends in nationalism before and around that time, and it also obscures how policies and ideas were rooted in earlier contexts. Just to give one example, most of the Hungarian policies towards the Csángós were not based on a reconceptualization of the nation, but rather had roots which lay in undertakings of the late nineteenth century, which were later abandoned as inopportune in the context of the friendly relations between Romania and the Triple Alliance. Thus, more traditional ideas of the nation could often be surprisingly easily reconciled with the novel and more radical ones, as they bore affinities and this reconciliation also helped foster political alliances.

Finally, Davies claims that the Csángós are an example of how small groups which seemingly divide can connect and unite states which have been brought into perpetual dialogue over their fates (p.164). While this constitutes a provocative claim which I also find appealing, I do not find much substantiation for it in the case of the Csángós. The Csángós were a minor, almost negligible concern for both states and especially for Hungary for most of the 20 years of the interwar period, and during World War II, there were larger issues at stake and forces in play in bilateral Hungarian-Romanian relations which helped the two states avoid armed conflict. These forces could have helped averting the clash only until Romania switched sides and war with Hungary followed, irrespective of the fate of the Csángós was. This does not diminish the value of this book, which will be of interest to anyone, laymen included, interested in nationalism, obscure people, and the history of Romania and Hungary in the twentieth century.

Gábor Egry
Institute of Political History

The Feminist Challenge to the Socialist State in Yugoslavia. By Zsófia Lóránd. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2018. 270 pp.

Zsófia Lóránd’s The Feminist Challenge to the Socialist State in Yugoslavia is an intellectual history of feminist thought, artistic practice, and activism in Yugoslavia from the early 1970s to 1991. Published in 2018 in Palgrave Macmillan’s series “Genders and Sexualities in History,” it speaks to multiple scholarly audiences. To those interested in the global history of second wave feminism and its relationship to the state and the political left, it offers a challenging view from the semi-periphery. To those interested in the postwar history of political thought, it presents a compelling case for the intellectual prowess and versatility of feminist thought in state socialist Europe. And for those interested in the history of former Yugoslavia, it reconstructs in rich detail the biographies, works, and institutional connections of the members of new Yugoslav feminism, a group critical of the unfulfilled promises of the Yugoslav state in terms of women’s equality.

Several main theoretical and historiographical claims run through Lóránd’s account of the development of feminist thought and practice in Yugoslavia beginning in the early 1970s. First, drawing on the theoretical tradition of intellectual history and especially the insights of the Cambridge School, Michael Freeden, and Lucy Delap, Lóránd analyzes feminism as an ideology. The focus is on concepts, ideas, meanings, and the struggles around them and with other ideologies, most notably Marxism. To Sara Ruddick’s definition of feminism as an acknowledgement that gender divisions are socially constructed, detrimental to women, and should be changed, Lóránd adds emphasis on woman’s agency (p.18), which is at the core of the most recent debates on women’s organizing and feminism under state socialism.

Second, feminism is defined not as dissidence, but as “a critical discourse and a form of dissent” (p.9). Yugoslav feminists worked within the state to challenge one of its core claims, specifically the achievement of equality for women. This positioning distinguished them both from the state’s political mainstream (including the official women’s organizations) and from the Central European dissidents working against or outside the state, publishing in samizdat, or facing direct oppression.

Third, Lóránd works within a multilayered comparative framework which places new Yugoslav feminism in dialogue with the “second wave feminism” of the West but also with other oppositional discourses under state socialism. Most promisingly, her work lays out the conceptual and methodological framework for an intellectual history of feminism and women’s rights discourses in East Central Europe under state socialism. This project has already brought together numerous researchers from the region over several workshops and will result in a collection of source texts translated into English for the first time.

The Feminist Challenge is organized thematically and chronologically along mediums of critical expression, from the academia to art and literature to popular mass media to activism. Based on published materials, archival sources, and interviews, the chapters balance historical detail, analysis, and participants’ accounts of their experiences. There are inevitable overlaps and frequent cross-references among the chapters, but overall the book structure corresponds to the development of new Yugoslav feminism itself over the course of two decades.

The chapter on feminism in the social sciences and humanities introduces the arguments of (mostly) women working in the academia, who reflected on contemporary feminist ideas in the United States and Western Europe and engaged critically with the mainstream class-based approach to the “women’s question” under state socialism. Drawing on critical Marxism and French post-structuralism, their work resulted in conceptual innovation, most notably the integration of gender and sexism as key terms of the new feminist language they were developing, first in private around kitchen tables and then in public discourse.

In literature and art, feminist discussion revolved around the topics of creativity, motherhood, and the body. Lóránd introduces the concept of “writing of sisterhood” as different from écriture feminine, a major source of theoretical inspiration for feminist literature in Yugoslavia. This “technique of sympathetically reflecting on the lives and fates of other women through one own’s story” (p.107) is identified in works by Irna Vrkljan, Slavenka Drakulić, and Dubravka Ugrešić, among others. Lóránd also grapples successfully with the issue of female artists’ refusal to identify with feminism while nevertheless engaging with deeply feminist issues, as most famously was the case of Marina Abramović.

The chapter on feminism in the popular mass media unpacks the contradictions of publishing feminist texts in popular publications which offered a wide readership but at the same time encouraged self-censorship. The most striking example is that of the debate on pornography carried out in and around Start, a magazine published as a local version of Playboy. Yet another place where the tension between medium and content is apparent is women’s magazines and TV shows, where important feminist issues were brought up in a tamed language and appeared alongside patriarchal views of women’s roles. Genres like advice columns, for example, nevertheless opened up space to discuss private issues publicly, most notably sexuality and domestic violence.

It was precisely around the issues of sexuality and violence that feminist groups were reorganized in the 1980s. The chapter on feminist activism follows the discussions around women’s health and violence against women, the know-how gathered by plugging in to global networks, and eventually the establishing of SOS helplines first in Zagreb and then in Belgrade. “Through the discourse about VaW [violence against women],” argues Lóránd, “the place of feminism was explicitly rethought in a human rights framework,” opening a new era in which “women’s political participation and role in democracies were the focal point” (p.208). Not long thereafter, the landscape of feminist thought and activism was radically reshuffled by ethno-nationalism, war, and the breakdown of Yugoslavia, which is where the timeline of the book ends.

Zsófia Lóránd writes with clarity, nuance, and feminist commitment, and with this book, she offers a fundamentally important work of scholarship which persuasively argues that feminist thought needs to be recovered not just for the sake of historical justice, but also because it reshapes the very view of history that we currently have. The Feminist Challenge must also be praised for its many illustrations, which further ensure that the representatives of new Yugoslav feminism, their works, and their activities, which have been so masterfully presented in this book, are seen, in all meanings of the word.

Adela Hincu
Ilia State University, Tbilisi

Enyhülés és emancipáció [Détente and emancipation]. By Csaba Békés. Budapest: Osiris, MTA TK, 2019. 397 pp.

Csaba Békés’s new book offers a detailed analysis of Hungarian foreign policy in the Cold War, from 1945 until the collapse of the communist regime in 1989. It primarily aims to present a synthesis of Békés’s ideas and arguments that were put forward in his extensive scholarship of the past few decades, but it also introduces new claims on the basis of new source material. Given its ambition to provide a synthesis, the book’s emphasis remains on advancing broad arguments in relation to Hungary’s entanglement with the Cold War, systematically supported by empirical evidence. The manuscript follows a chronological structure and it presents an in-depth discussion of the key events in the history of Hungary’s international relations, starting with the Sovietization of the country after World War II and ending with the gradual collapse of the Kádár regime in the late 1980s. The individual chapters offer invaluable contributions to our understanding of the international dimensions of Hungarian historical events (such as the 1956 uprising and the events of 1989 in Hungary) and the role Hungary played in the shaping of international developments, most importantly the Prague Spring of 1968, the Helsinki Accords of 1975, and the process of détente, in general.

The most laudable aspect of the book is that it brings together—in a coherent narrative—the most important and most original claims and theoretical reflections which Békés has constructed over the years concerning the Cold War and Hungary’s involvement in it. The two keywords that link the various arguments are the concepts that make up the title of the book: détente and emancipation. In the book, Békés proposes a new interpretation of one of the central notions of postwar international history and argues in support of the need for a new periodization of the Cold War. According to the central argument in the book, the process of détente started soon after Stalin’s death in 1953, and it remained the key paradigm that fundamentally shaped international relations until the collapse of the Soviet Union. This proposition breaks with the traditional view in historiography, according to which the emergence of détente was tied to the second wave of de-Stalinization in the early 1960s, and it also refutes interpretations that consider détente to have ended in the late 1970s as a result of international tensions following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In critiquing views that break up the history of the Cold War into multiple phases, Békés claims that the Cold War could be divided into two main episodes. The period between 1945 and 1953 was characterized by blatant antagonism and irrational decision-making, whereas the epoch starting with 1953 (“the second Cold War”) was fundamentally shaped by détente and a more rational and pragmatic approach to international relations. While Békés does not diminish the significance of international crises—such as the Cuban missile crisis or the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan—he argues that a tacit acknowledgement of the necessity of cooperation after 1953 prevailed over incentives to escalate conflicts further through military means. Interpreting events from this perspective, Békés claims that conflicts within the Soviet bloc never risked subverting the international status quo, and while they provoked tensions, those should be defined as “quasi-conflicts,” as they did not result in the radical reconfiguration of the modus operandi between the two superpowers. The book suggests that there were very few actual conflicts between the Soviet Union and the United States that had the potential to undermine the dominant paradigm of international relations: détente. It is argued, for example, that the antagonism provoked by the Afghanistan conflict merely put détente in a “standby mode.” In other words, the war did not lead to the total abandonment of the policy.

According to Békés, one of the main reasons behind the gradual (and constant) relaxation of tensions was the idea of “active foreign policy” advocated by the post-Stalin leadership in the Soviet Union. The notion triggered the transformation of the relationship between Moscow and the countries of the Soviet bloc, resulting in the slow but steady “emancipation” of the individual countries in the sphere of foreign policy. Khrushchev’s Soviet Union needed allies on the international scene rather more than it needed satellites, and this provoked the gradual decentralization of foreign policy on the peripheries of the Soviet empire. Békés argues that the main forum for negotiations, debates, and conflicts in Sovietized Eastern Europe was the Warsaw Pact. In contrast to traditional perceptions of the military alliance as a tool of Soviet supremacy and control in the region, Békés demonstrates that the organization actually contributed to the emancipation of the various countries and led to the formation of temporary, “virtual” coalitions in the bloc which pursued their own interests, independently of Moscow.

Emancipation and détente are the key themes through which developments in Hungarian foreign policy are interpreted in the period from 1945 to 1989. The book provides detailed and engaging analyses of key events and developments in the postwar era, with emphasis on late socialism in Kádár’s Hungary. The discussion revolves around the topic of agency in “the happiest barrack” and the gradual expansion of Hungary’s room for maneuver and political leeway as a member of the Soviet bloc. Békés convincingly supports his overall thesis with an incredibly diverse range of sources, and he demonstrates that the Kádár regime often took—occasionally remarkably bold—initiatives in the international arena and came to occupy the position of an intermediary in East-West relations in the 1970s and 1980s. Hungary’s mediating role in the Soviet bloc is explored in a chapter on Kádár’s diplomatic efforts to provide a political solution to the Prague Spring in 1968, while the significant growth of Hungary’s international reputation in the late socialist period is analyzed most vividly in the chapter on the country’s contribution to negotiations culminating in the signing of the Helsinki Accords in 1975.

The book relies on a rich pool of source material to support its innovative and unconventional claims. The discussion is informed by a plethora of secondary sources, published mostly in Hungarian and in English, and evidence supporting Békés’s claims mostly comes from published as well as unpublished primary sources in multiple languages, including English, Hungarian, German, and Russian. Békés has also consulted an impressive array of archival sources, including collections in Hungary, the United States, and the United Kingdom, which contain material relevant to foreign policy and national security.

The extensive discussion of Hungary’s possibilities and constraints in international relations creates a solid foundation for Békés to advance an argument in relation to the multi-faceted (or multi-polar) nature of the late Cold War. Instead of offering a polarized analysis focusing on the theme of antagonism between the socialist East and the capitalist West, Békés claims that Hungarian foreign policy was dependent on three factors. Moscow’s role in shaping developments was inevitable throughout the period, but the book also argues that Hungary became increasingly dependent on access to Western markets and technology in the late socialist period. This dependence led to the adjustment of economic and political priorities and turned Hungary into one of the most ardent advocates of détente. At the same time, international dynamics within the Soviet bloc—conflicting agendas and “virtual coalitions”—imposed significant constraints on, but also provided new opportunities for Hungarian foreign policy.

While the book’s main emphasis is on the emancipation of Hungarian foreign policy after Stalin’s death, the notion of agency remains remarkably absent from the discussion of Stalinism and the Sovietization of Hungary after World War II. Indeed, the concept of Sovietization is not discussed in detail in the book and there is little attempt in the narrative to engage with the term at a more abstract level in light of recent historiography. The meaning of the term, which is remarkably vague in the first place, changed significantly over the course of the twentieth century, and it meant different things at different times. Although Békés proposes a simple typology of Sovietization (quasi-Sovietization and pre-Sovietization), the book does not reflect on alternative typologies suggested by other scholars or on the notion of “self-Sovietization,” which assigns a certain degree of agency to local actors in the implementation of the Soviet model in the countries of the bloc. The somewhat teleological perception of Sovietization in the book could have been refined in conversation with recent works on the subject (most recently, Norman Naimark’s Stalin and the Fate of Europe), which highlight the importance of local politics and local actors in the immediate postwar years. Despite the slight under-assessment of the concept of Sovietization, the book remains an engaging read which offers a number of original contributions to the study of Hungarian foreign policy and, indeed, the history of the Cold War. This is a book that will remain an important point of reference in the future and should find a prominent place in university survey courses on the subject of postwar Hungarian and (East) European history, the history of the Cold War, or more specific courses on the history of the Kádár regime and the history of Hungarian foreign policy.

Balázs Apor
Trinity College Dublin


Volume 9 Issue 2 CONTENTS



Ottoman Law of War and Peace: The Ottoman Empire and its Tributaries from the North of the Danube. By Viorel Panaite. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2019. xxiii+470 pp.


The first edition was a disaster. Diacritical marks were wrongly placed, the numbering of endnotes went so awry that it was almost impossible to couple the statements with their references, and the text badly needed proper editing. Nevertheless, we were using it since it was the only serious attempt available in English to define the status of the tributary states of the Ottoman Empire, and it offered many important insights into the ideological vocabulary used by the sultans in their communication with the outside world, not to mention the logic that shaped their thinking. Now, with the second edition, the content has finally found adequate form.

Viorel Panaite wrote his book for a Romanian public, and this was fortunate from some perspectives for the English version and unfortunate from others. Sometimes the non-Romanian reader wonders why some questions which seem commonplace to anyone familiar with the international secondary literature have to be discussed in detail and (the reader must remind himself that sometimes he also cannot avoid entering debates with his national historiography when writing for broader audiences) or why the Romanian version of specific terms in Ottoman political thought also has to be provided (some of the sources Panaite used were written in Romanian, which explains this detail). Nevertheless, the fact that the work was written for a non-Ottomanist public makes it a very thorough and clear introduction into how research on the Ottoman law of war and peace should be done. The book is also a useful handbook on the sources available on Ottoman political language.

The question Panaite aims to answer is not primarily concerned with an assessment of the Ottoman system of making politics in the international scene or, more specifically, creating and maintaining the tributary status from the present perspective of long-term “development of the nation” (which generations before him saw as their task). Rather, he wants to understand the attitude of the sultans on their own terms. His chapters offer a meticulous analysis of documents by focusing on their terminology, contrasting the notions found in the religious sources of Islamic thought and legal treatises with ideas found in the sultans’ correspondence, and identifying the logic according to which the Ottoman state explained the legitimacy of its deeds. Thus, the image presented here is built on an admirable array of sources representing the various facets of the Ottoman way of understanding international power relations and the empire’s place within them. At the same time, with his keen interest in the question of tributary states, Panaite also gives a voice to them and listens to how the tributary states reacted to the ideology of the the Ottoman state. This double perspective makes his survey even more intriguing.

The structure of the book by and large follows that of the first edition, but much has happened in the research concerning the Ottoman Empire and its tributaries in the more than twenty years since its first publication in 1997, so the second edition offers more not only in its form, but also in its content. The material used in the second edition highly exceeds the number of sources used for the previous version. Consequently, thanks in part to additional documentation, Panaite’s theses become even more convincing, especially when it comes to controversies in Romanian historiography. For instance, Panaite offers a detailed discussion concerning the establishment of the two voivodates’ tributary status and a lengthier explanation of why they should be seen as part of the empire. These debates offer an intriguing read and important lessons even for the readers who are not familiar with the works Panaite refutes. Panaite has written an excellent survey about Ottoman legal thought concerning war and peace, with particular emphasis on the status of the tributary principalities, even more specifically of Moldavia and Wallachia.

The question is whether Panaite’s results can also be extrapolated to other Ottoman tributaries. In the chapter that promises a chronological survey of the process by which the tributary states submitted and accepted their status as tributary states, Panaite gives accounts of a number of events in other states and territories, discussing the various Greek and Balkan principalities, the Khanate of Crimea, Ragusa, and Transylvania. Later short-lived attempts to establish tributary states, such as the case of Cossack Ukraine, appear in other chapters in footnotes, while some territories, such as the Upper Hungarian Principality (or in its Turkish name, Middle Hungary) of Imre Thököly are given no attention at all. This is less of a problem, since the book does not promise a comprehensive analysis (although the last example is definitely north of the Danube, thus it is implied by the title). Throughout the book, Ragusa remains the most often cited example. Documents related to the city state are mentioned frequently as contrastive material or illustration for general statements concerning the use of legal terminology. For such a bulky volume, it would perhaps have been too much to ask for even more, although Ragusa could have been a useful case to show how local interpretations could diverge from the Ottoman perspective concerning their status. The examples Panaite cites from the Moldavian and Wallachian cases are less suitable to show the potential of research on the double-faced self-representation of the Ottoman tributaries in two different international societies, both of which they claimed loyalty to.

In any case, the Ottoman attitude towards the tributaries was based on the same assumptions everywhere, and thus the legal vocabulary that Panaite examines in his analyses of the sources related to any of these specific territories enriches our knowledge and validates his point, even if the dissimilarities between the positions occupied by the specific states, mirrored by political practice, are left in the shadows, as he only addresses the terminology of the official documents. When it comes to the discussion of specific territories, however, we reach a weak point in Panaite’s reconstruction. The most frustrating aspect of this for me, with my background in the research on Transylvania, is how little Panaite seems to know or, perhaps, care about this territory and its history. There have been long-running controversies in the Hungarian and Romanian secondary literature on Transylvania, plagued with mutual accusations of nationalist bias, but I can assure my reader that my objection here has nothing to do with this. Panaite fails to take into consideration some of the important findings from the Hungarian historiography, but he also does this with some of the relevant conclusions found in the Romanian secondary literature on Transylvania. Throughout the book, he mostly quotes the same five or six documents from the Transylvanian material, and although Sándor Papp’s bulky collection of Transylvanian inauguration documents from the sixteenth century was published after the first edition of Panaite’s monograph, it is remarkable that no single document is ever cited from it in the revised version. Whereas, as noted above, Panaite made liberal use of the sources of local origin related to Moldavia and Wallachia, in the case of Transylvania, he seems to have ignored both the Hungarian and the Latin sources (more accessible to a Romanian scholar). While he devotes considerable attention to Moldavia and Wallachia, it is hard to escape the impression that Panaite was simply less interested in Transylvania, a state with social, political, and cultural structures very different from the other two.

To mention but a few problematic cases, there might be points at which one could argue with Papp’s conclusions in the abovementioned source publication (and various later papers), but to state that, after Süleyman I’s rule, the princes were appointed only with sultanic berats (pp.268–69) is to show disregard for the facts and extrapolate from the Moldavian and Wallachian cases. In the last two decades, a number of Hungarian and German historians have repeatedly pointed out at various conferences and in publications that in the first period of the Transylvanian principality, the members of the Szapolyai/Zápolya family saw themselves and were treated by the Ottomans as kings of Hungary and not as princes of Transylvania, a fact that is altogether disregarded in this survey (cf. pp.125–27). Cristina Feneşan’s very thorough account of the changes in the sum of the Transylvanian tribute in the seventeenth century also seems to have escaped Viorel Panaite’s attention, thus he claims that after István Báthory’s rule, the sum remained the same until the principality was incorporated into the Habsburg Empire in 1699 (p.300). Of course, everyone has blind spots, and one cannot explore every minor segment of a question with equal thoroughness. The problem is that Viorel Panaite claims that his book is about the three states, and he suggests in more than half of the cases that his statements are valid for each of the three, while in most instances, his analysis focuses on Moldavia and Wallachia.

This is sad, especially because the monograph will serve as a handbook for students of the Ottoman Empire’s tributary states, a function otherwise well deserved. The analyses Panaite offers on the Ottoman chancellery’s vocabulary and legitimation techniques, the role of customs in the Empire’s political system, the framework of the tributaries’ legal status (including the privileges they enjoyed and the obligations they had to fulfil), and the turning points in the tributary status of Moldavia and Wallachia are new and convincing, and they will certainly provide a springboard for further in-depth research. I can only hope that readers will concentrate on these chapters and look for information concerning Transylvanian history elsewhere. If so, this monograph will be of great benefit for historians of southeastern Europe and the Ottoman Empire.

Gábor Kármán
Research Centre for the Humanities

Tábori sebesültellátás Magyarországon a XVI–XVIII. században
[Care for the wounded in the field in Hungary in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries]. By Katalin Mária Kincses. Budapest: Gondolat Kiadó, 2019. 180 pp.


Katalin Kincses’ book offers a narrative of the history of care for the wounded in the field in Hungary in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries and situates this narrative in the larger context of European history. As she notes in her introduction, her work moves on the borders of several areas of the scholarly endeavor, including medical history, military history, cultural history, and the history of the sciences. This is one of the reasons why the subject has not been given the attention it merits in the earlier secondary literature. Kincses endeavors to address this oversight. In her monograph, using an array of interdisciplinary tools, she presents the history of medical care in the field in Hungary in the early modern era.

The book begins with a short historiographical introduction and then presents relevant antecedents from the Middle Ages (for instance the surgeons’ guilds, which provided training, the appearance of surgeons in the army beginning in the thirteenth century, the development of field hospitals at the end of the fifteenth century, and the transformation of the hospitals that were run by the religious orders into secular hospitals in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries). Kincses then turns to a discussion of the advancements that were made in military technology in the early modern era, or in other words, the military revolution and its consequences and innovations in the military sciences, which were influenced in no small part by developments in the natural sciences and which, beginning in the seventeenth century, led to the foundation of military engineering schools and educational institutions which ensured higher levels of theoretical knowledge.

In the next longer chapter, Kincses presents developments in the medical sciences in the early modern era in part through a discussion of the endeavors of the major figures of the time (Paracelsus, Hans von Gersdorff, Ambroise Paré) and in part through a discussion of some of the major books (for instance, Hieronymus Bock’s Kreuterbuch). She also calls attention to the importance of practical experience in the flourishing of surgery, in particular in Italy (names like Giovanni de Vigo and Bartolomeo Maggi come to mind). I cannot help but note that, given his importance, Hieronymus Brunschwig should have been discussed in the main text and not simply in a footnote.

By the sixteenth century, surgery had become the leading branch of the medical sciences because of the experiences doctors gathered with armies in the field and the many technical innovations. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, internal medicine had usurped its place, in part because it put theoretical questions in the foreground and in part because it built on clear knowledge of the anatomy. Kincses attempts to reconstruct the practices of surgery in Hungary during the era of the wars with the Ottoman Empire in part on the basis of monographs on surgery (which, regrettably, have survived in only a woefully incomplete and fragmented form). All over Europe, surgeons who worked for armies at the time could only perform their jobs if they were specifically entrusted and commissioned to do so. Thus, there were hardly enough of them to address the needs of a massive army.

The next chapter presents the history of care for the wounded in Hungary in the period of the Ottoman occupation by drawing on several specific examples, such as the siege of Eger in 1552, the camp hospitals of the Fifteen Years’ War, and their plans. Kincses devotes particular attention to Miklós Zrínyi’s plans for care for the wounded in the field, which are found in his writings on military strategy and the science of war. Kincses notes that Zrínyi was well acquainted with and made use of the contemporary European literature on military science, and thus he was very much aware of the issue of providing medical care for the wounded in the field.

In the next section, Kincses presents shifts in both organizational structures and attitudes which took place in the second half of the seventeenth century. She draws, in this discussion, on the writings of figures like Raimondo Montecuccoli and Luigi Ferdinando Marsigli. Surgeons, doctors, and pharmacists became indispensable parts of the army, as indicated by the fact that the Habsburg Army had physicians with the status of camp surgeon, and for the first time on the level of the regiment with the artillery. During the siege of Buda in 1686, a camp hospital was established on the Margaret Island, which also indicates the increasing importance of military health care.

During Rákóczi’s War of Independence, the 1705 letters patent on the development of regular regiments and the 1707 Regulamentum universale were of tremendous importance from the perspective of military health care. Simon Forgách, Rákóczi’s general, drew on the ideas of Zrínyi and the practices in the Habsburg army and had surgeons among his regiments. These surgeons were paid members of the military personnel, and this constituted an important innovation.

The last longer section of the book focuses on the reforms introduced by Joseph II and the Josephinian Military Academy of Surgery in Vienna. Kincses also touches on the Josephinum’s wax figures, its collection of books, and the commemorative medals found in collections in Hungary which have some attachment to the Josephinum. In my assessment, in comparison with the earlier chapters, this chapter lacks an adequate presentation of the medical sciences at the time and the training and education provided for doctors and surgeons. Given the importance of the larger European context, it would have been worth mentioning the Prussian parallel, for instance alongside the Collegium medico-chirurgicum, the Pépinière in Berlin, which was a kind of “partner institution” of the Josephinum.

The amount of printed sources and the secondary literature on which Kincses has drawn in her research is impressive, but one still notes with some frustration that, in the case of the Hungarian secondary literature on medical history, some of the most recent publications went unused, even though they would have been relevant to the discussion. Kincses would have done well to have included the writings of Enikő Rüsz-Fogarasi, for instance, who has published on the history of hospitals in the Middle Ages and the early modern era, not to mention Zoltán Péter Bagi’s essays on military health care during the Fifteen Years’ War and the plan for a camp hospital and Péter Balázs’s volumes on the eighteenth-century legal health regulations, which were valid for the entire empire. The works of András Oross on military history at the turn of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries also would have merited mention. Although Kincses draws on archival sources several times, additional archival research and the use of publications based on archival sources might have added a degree of nuance to her discussion. The medical history of the siege of Eger in 1552, for example, is familiar to us not only from Tinódi’s narrative. Archivist István Sugár wrote an exhaustive study of the barber-surgeons of the siege, and he studied the different types of wounds (and thus also the roles of firearms) on the basis of a 1553 application for aid for the wounded.

All in all, Katalin Kincses’ monograph draws attention to a subject which so far has received little attention in the secondary literature on medical and military history. Her work may well form the foundation for further research on the topic. The chapters offer new insights into the changes which took place in the conditions of the army, developments in medicine in the early modern era, and the continuous interaction of the two in medical care for the military in the field.

Katalin Simon
Budapest City Archives

Styrian Witches in European Perspectives: Ethnographic Fieldwork.
By Mirjam Mencej. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017. 454 pp.


It may seem self-evident that the study of witchcraft is one of the most eminent fields in which various interdisciplinary endeavors have intermingled in both historical and contemporary contexts. This has been particularly true since the 1970s, a decade that bore witness to the anthropological turn in the discipline of history, in which witchcraft studies played a significant role, and extended the methodological toolkit and framework of historical studies and brought the individual agents of history (people) to the forefront. This shift explains in no small part why Peter Burke could famously state in 1993 that “witchcraft has moved from the periphery of historical attention to a place near the center.” From this point onwards, history has had even stronger connection to anthropology, which it should maintain, since modern anthropology can investigate existing analogue structures, modified by time, which can be relevant to historical investigations. Therefore, the works of anthropologists who are exploring the contemporary and present continuations of witchcraft are indispensable to any subtle understanding of the constantly reoccurring personal roles and social tensions brought to the fore by witchcraft, which in varying forms has persisted over time.

The work of Mirjam Mencej is an excellent example of this melting pot of social sciences (social history, cultural and social anthropology, ethnography, etc.). Although her work is rooted in many fields, the applied methodology is mainly anthropological and ethnographical (semi-structured personal interviews), with the extensive use of both historical and contemporary parallels from the available secondary literature (pp.23–33). This conforms well to her focus on the continuation of witchcraft and its contemporary and transformed forms and manifestations. Her study sheds light on the present status of a post-Yugoslavian hinterland while also emphasizing many local social aspects of the traditions of witchcraft. Thus, the work can be regarded as a reference point for historical investigations as well, since it suggests that traditional forms of witchcraft still endure in this region.

One of the most important virtues of Mencej’s monograph is the combination of the empirical and theoretical approaches towards the study of witchcraft. As an overall remark, the reader is grateful for the frequent citations from the sources and interviews, which are so abundant that the quoted texts can be seen as an incorporated source edition, which is fortunate because of the language barriers. However, because of the colloquiality of the cited texts, they are rather hard to follow in some cases, though they nonetheless persuasively suggest that, for those people who are in the focus, witchcraft is an everyday narrative and explanatory system.

Mencej’s study is based on semi-structured interviews with direct informants recorded in 2000–2001 and 2013–2015 by a number of participants (the main researcher, university students, etc.) in a collective research study. The fieldwork was conducted in the undeveloped rural region of Styria in northeastern Slovenia, a remote area with a decreasing population, limited economic opportunities, and major problems concerning the accessibility of general public infrastructure (for example, public transportation) and essential services (education, healthcare). It is a highly self-sufficient, close-knit agricultural society which was only recently (and partly) reached by the processes associated with modernization. Because of this, the study had to grapple with the general problems faced in contemporary witchcraft studies (the high age of the people interviewed, the relatively fast transformation of the outer cultural milieu, etc.). However, since many interviews (260) were done and a relatively dense body of material was available from many settlements, Mencej’s study addressed these problems.

As a starting point, Mencej describes a standard type of historical witchcraft with the general features (shapeshifting witches, inflicting maleficium on different levels etc.) characteristic of the Habsburg territories and a relatively late decriminalization process in the middle of the eighteenth century. She examines the major discourses on local witchcraft (witchcraft, Christian, rational, new age). Although this may seem self-evident, these narrative explanations intermingle. One should note that the role of the devil in cases of witchcraft in this region is surprisingly uninfluential, and the matters of witchcraft are essentially interpersonal and less communal. Furthermore, as Mencej’s discussion of these discourses reveals, one of the most significant issues concerns the belief in witchcraft itself. Mencej points out that even the most skeptical people may commit acts the meanings of which seem to be shaped by the narratives on witchcraft, though all the while they deny their beliefs (for example, by stating that the act of hiding an egg on someone else’s property to counteract malicious acts against fertility of animals is not witchcraft, but when it is committed not as a response to a malicious act, it is witchcraft).

As a general statement and main idea, Mencej states that witchcraft is of social origin and she claims that it should be discussed as such. So, within this framework the notion of bewitchment is an explanatory strategy for misfortune and malfunctioning social interactions. Mencej differentiates between three classes or types of witches and builds her book around them. Her first and main category is the “neighborhood witch,” to whom she attributes the cases of “normal” bewitchment between people who are acquainted with each other. Her second category is the “village witch,” who is accused of having committed acts of witchcraft or is acknowledged as a witch by the whole or a major part of the community. She notes that the people interviewed usually used these individuals as scapegoats who allegedly had caused harm to the whole village (for example, weather problems) and usually had distinctive physical signs (such as a limp, ugly features, eyebrows grown together, etc.), a bad family reputation, and a lower social and economic status. They were also believed to own magical objects (for example, magical books). As a third category, Mencej describes the “night witches,” which was the least “personalized” category. The so-called night witches seem to more resemble figures from folk beliefs who cause people supernatural problems and often lose their way (for example, they walk around in familiar places or cannot find their way out of the bushes).

In the most intriguing sections of her work, Mencej introduces the smallest locality and narrowest kinship aspects of witchcraft (neighborhood witches) and dwells on its complex connections to everyday life. In doing so, she defines the most common forms of local conflict situations and their connections to economic interactions, family ties, and marital problems. She also considers the common objects or targets of witchcraft from the perspectives of their economic importance in the household (for example, crops and livestock, especially cows) and their vulnerability due to poor living conditions (for example, the health of children). Offering a colorful tableau of various acts of bewitchment, Mencej enumerates the magical practices and modes of malicious acts, separating them by the acts of maleficum (touching, looking, speaking, and other magical practices) and their other manners (for example, acts of speech such as praising or threatening). Her discussion of these practices and the beliefs concerning them offers insights into the social ambient of the communities and the manifold ways in which witchcraft narratives are constructed and the various functions they serve, which are neatly emphasized in the book.

Many of these acts are embedded in a historical context (see, for example, the discussion of the evil-eye: pp.142–48.) or are shown to have various parallels (for example, magical milking, etc.). All in all, the most captivating elements of the presentation of these local beliefs and practices are the explanations of the functions, roles, and physical and psychological effects of witchcraft. Mencej describes many problems, for example, whether the acts allegedly committed are mere elements of the narratives constructed by the accusers or victims and exist only on the level of discourses. She points out that even the physically possible and explainable practices can be perceived and presented as supernatural. For example gathering dew or moisture with a sheet of linen can be seen as an act which causes damage to crops, though in the biological sense it really can do harm when it is done in the right time. Furthermore, even simple crimes committed out of envy (such as poisoning animals) can be described within the context of the witchcraft discourse, even if there are rational explanations. Like the witches are generally accused to turn into toads as shapeshifters and approaching houses and barns, and cause harm on many levels. But it is true that the phlegm of toads or salamanders can cause different conditions in animals and humans. However, Mencej also points out that it is possible that some of the practices are actually happening or could have happened, since some of the acts are even confessed or admitted, especially in case of counter acts (for example, killing the toad-witches and put them on the end of the forks near to borders), or generally perceived less harmful acts (for example, someone claim the she has an evil-eye). Mencej also includes an interesting discussion of mental disorders and psychosomatic diseases, which can be understood as responses to or repercussions of imagined bewitchments (for example, because of the severe depression of one family member, the general conditions of a household can worsen), and she explains how the consequences of diseases can fall back onto the actual accuser. And this is connected to accusations which are continuously being raised, since the alleged signs of bewitchment, acts committed in response to a perceived act of witchcraft, and even the ritual burning of evidence are constantly alternating between victims, accusers, witches, and their helpers, the “unwitchers,” and sometimes these acts create physical evidence.

Mencej astutely observes that any attempt to capture, in a scholarly monograph, the entirety of witchcraft in a region is a complicated undertaking: it is rather difficult to write synthetically of the various aspects of witchcraft. She claims that the common idea behind these social acts is the notion of “othering,” the belief that the deeds and persons perceived as malicious should be of another nature, and that this other nature differentiates these individuals from the majority and can explain all problems which arise in a community. The difficulty of this task notwithstanding, Mencej’s efforts to describe this composite system of beliefs and acts in one comprehensive work have been fruitful. Its complexity makes her book original, since she has not only written a book about witchcraft in a region of Slovenia but has also managed to provide a thick description of everyday life which offers a good example to scholars of other regions.

Gergely Brandl
University of Szeged

The Habsburg Civil Service and Beyond: Bureaucracy and Civil Servants from the Vormärz to the Inter-War Years. Edited by Franz Adlgasser and Fredrik Lindström. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2019. 300 pp.


The historiography on the Habsburg Monarchy has undergone significant shifts in recent decades, including a reevaluation of the role nationalism played in society and a revision of the economic, social, and political disintegration of the empire prior to the Great War. The Habsburg Civil Service and Beyond, the result of a workshop organized in 2015 in Vienna, contributes to an understanding of these shifts and proposes new perspectives on the history of the civil service. The empirical case studies in the volume, assembled in a more or less chronological order, reflect on two key issues identified in the two introductory chapters (by Fredrik Lindström and Gary B. Cohen). One goal is to overcome “the dominance of nation-state centred historiography in East-Central Europe,” which undermines “the foundation for a proper Habsburg historiography” (p.25). The problem of methodological nationalism is that national and nationalist historiography builds on an analytical category—the nation—that does not spring from scientific concerns but rather from ideological and political influence. Furthermore, the focus on the institutional framework of the Habsburg conglomerate state (multilayered both horizontally and vertically) allows the contributors to the volume to concentrate on the relationship between state and society. Three points stand out in this regard: governmental structures seem to have been more dynamic and adaptable than previously thought, there was a growing popular demand for new services on the part of the state, and the relationship between governmental authority and the citizenry fundamentally changed due to increasingly variegated civil society, political parties, and interest groups.

Many of the case studies adopt a social history perspective and describe recruitment patterns and professionalization tendencies in the civil service as well as the social origin, social status, and prestige of the bureaucrats themselves. The common rationale is to provide “biographical and collective biographical research on individuals and groups of civil servants,” which is missing from the works of pioneers such as Waltraud Heindl and Karl Megner (p.7). The micro-level analysis of civil servants outlines considerable cultural and social commonalities in both parts of the Habsburg Monarchy in a manner that helps establish the Habsburg perspective beyond the currently dominant national frameworks. For instance, in terms of the connection between educational qualification, title of nobility, and career perspectives, legally trained civil servants (Konzeptsbeamter) in Moravia and Silesia (the chapter by Andrea Pokludová) produced patterns similar to the patterns which prevailed in the high civil service corps of the Hungarian ministries (the chapter by Julia Bavouzet). Accordingly, noble or aristocratic origin represented a valuable asset at the beginning of one’s career, but the influence of social origin faded in senior positions, and work performance mattered more in career advancement. The relative importance of family background, family ties, and networks also made possible the survival of the pre-1848 elite in the era of the Dualist Monarchy, as Judit Pál points out in the case of Transylvania. The list of attributes attached to the impending nomination of a lord-lieutenant in Arad sums up the qualities associated with civil servants: “practical knowledge of public administration, excellent personal abilities, distinguished family and social ties, independent financial status, complete trustworthiness in politics and good sense in leading and handling public life” (p.162). Social expectations, nonetheless, put an often unbearable financial burden on the rank and file in the civil service (appropriate housing, clothing, keeping a servant, and so forth) and could create a financial barrier to entry into the profession, much as in the case of independent judges in the Austrian administration.

There were considerable non-bureaucratic actors at play in the evolution of the civil service on the micro-level. One, of course, was politics. For instance, the Young Czech party regularly tried to intervene to ensure favorable decisions concerning the president and higher officials of the supreme court in Bohemia. According to Martin Klečacký, the financial difficulties faced by lower level judges made them seek help wherever possible, and political parties welcomed these demands. Because of the rather vague promotion procedures, “judges became, more or less voluntarily, the hostages of political parties, their deputies, and ministers” (p.127). Non-state experts also interfered with the administrative apparatus, as Peter Becker observes. The complex interdependence among the government, the provinces, political parties, interest groups, and the populace made the administration seek expert opinions from non-state actors in a bid to fill gaps in the state’s knowledge of itself. The debate on who the “lay persons” were according to civil servants reveals a great deal about the functioning of the state administration itself: the problem with technical experts was their assumed permeation of subjectivity in decision making and the perception that they lacked a sense of responsibility. This view rested on the notion of a strong link between objectivity and non-partisanship, each of which were reserved solely for legally trained bureaucrats. Becker’s conclusion is relevant for the whole volume: “The growing interdependence of social, economic and state stakeholders was a consequence of technological changes, the complexity of supply systems, the expansion of participation in the educational sector and the overall challenge of balancing a plethora of competing interests in the provision of public good.” (p.256). Although civil servants pledged to be non-partisan and neutral bureaucrats, they remained part of the social and political networks.

The only shortcoming of The Habsburg Civil Service and Beyond is that it fails to provide a comprehensive account of developments in the Habsburg Monarchy. Some of the case studies are firmly embedded in their own national historiography and provide glimpses into the history of the civil service in a given region. Thus, the individual contributions together form a mere comparative history of state bureaucracy, an inapt approach given the theoretical standards set in the introductory chapter by Lindström. Still, the volume is a welcome contribution to Habsburg historiography. It provides a fresh look into the scholarship on the civil service in Austria-Hungary and successfully sets the agenda for further research.

Mátyás Erdélyi
French Research Center in Humanities and Social Sciences, Prague
Research Center for the Humanities

 Az uradalom elvesztése: Nemesi családok a 19. századi Békés megyében [The loss of the estate: Noble families in Békés County in the nineteenth century]. By Adrienn Szilágyi. Budapest: Hungarian Academy of Sciences Research Center for the Humanities, Institute of History, 2018. 380 pp.


With this monograph, which draws heavily on basic research, Adrienn Szilágyi offers several insights and conclusions which represent an important step forward in the social history of county elites in Hungary. She uses an array of methodologies and approaches in her quest to determine where the nobility of the county in the southeastern corner of today’s Hungary was recruited from and how a conglomerate of large estates in the hands of a single family functioned, in particular with regard to the needs of individual family members for credit. A question also relevant to the recruitment of the nobility concerns the kinds of marriage strategies that were typically used by the county nobility.

The volume opens with a three-pillar historiographical introduction which summarizes the main findings and insights (mostly from the scholarship bearing on Hungary) in the history of the nobility, the history of the institution of the noble estate, and historical demography, primarily of relevance to Hungary. The chapter entitled “A Study of the Certified Nobility in Békés County” begins on page 39. It is the first chapter which is not essentially introductory in its function. Szilágyi draws on sources from 1730 and, in particular, the period after 1790 to determine where the nobles who came to the county (357 people) heralded from. The second longer chapter, “The Estates and Large Estate Owners of Békés County,” explains the genesis of Harruckern’s “empire,” which covered five sixths of the county. Szilágyi shows how the endeavors of the Harruckern family and the workings of the county were intricately intertwined and how this remained the case in the first half of the nineteenth century. From the point of view of the social history of the local elite, the distinction of being a member of a noble family of non-Hungarian origin was important. While the group of so-called “integrated” nobles took part in the life of the county (in particular the Wenckheim and Bolza families), the so-called absentee nobles resided in Vienna and profited off the incomes of their estates, but otherwise had few ties to the county (Trauttmansdorff).

In the third thematic section, entitled “Private Administration in Public Administration,” Szilágyi presents the family networks and careers of the heirs. She offers two analyses which are important from the perspective of social history. She analyses the family gatherings of the Harruckern heirs in the period between 1776 and 1853. This is the first analysis in the secondary literature of the system used by the family to make decisions and, essentially, function, a system which was in use for decades. As the estates and sometimes residences were in Békés County, it seems perfectly likely that the sites where negotiations were held were also in Békés County, but as of 1808, the family archive was held in Pest, as “governance from a distance hampers effective administration” (p.127). The chapter also examines how the shared elements of the estates were administrated and how their incomes were used. In the interests of cutting costs on the estates, they used officers who were paid out of common funds (two fiscal officers, one treasurer, one archivist, one surveyor, and two liveried attendants). The incomes from the commonly owned livestock went into the family coffer, and these monies could be used by the members of the family as capital available as credit, or in other words, as a kind of family bank. Thus, the members of the family were able to avoid usurers, and though they paid six percent on their loans, at the family gatherings, no one actually paid strict attention to the payment of interest or installments, so most of the money actually simply went “missing” (p.162).

One of the other interesting findings presented in the book concerns the estate structure of the county. The resettlement and revitalization of Békés County in the eighteenth century was essentially connected to one large landowning family, the Harruckern family, and this had far-reaching consequences even in the first half of the nineteenth century. Instead of a real, complexly layered aristocratic society, in the case of Békés County, we find one large client-building estate that exerted a strong influence on the county administration. The personnel and staff of the Harruckern estate and the staff of the county administration were intricately intertwined. In the subchapter entitled “Leases, or Emolument Lands,” Szilágyi offers a series of examples showing how members of the county administration could lease land from heirs as a kind of salary supplement, though these lands could be taken back at any time. As a result, there was widespread cronyism and nepotism, which, the sources suggest, may have been common knowledge, and other county members looked down on these office bearers because they were beholden to the Harruckern family.

In the fourth chapter, Szilágyi continues her discussion of this program. She presents the legal background of the sale of property in the late feudal system and then offers a history of a specific instance of indebtedness followed by sale. In the case she presents, the Stockhammer family of Moravia encumbered their estates in Békés County with all their debts. The Harruckern heirs protested against this, but in vain. They had no money to purchase the debts, and the new legal order, which was often based on insider interests and which was considered stronger, triumphed over the old feudal order. As one consequence of this process, Móric Wodianer, a banker from Pest, came to the county as a new large-estate owner. But as an analysis of the circle of the smaller estate owners who purchased from the estates shows, these owners of smaller estates, as the followers of the families that were heirs to the Harruckerns, appeared at the family gatherings as estate attorneys, fiscal officers, and sometimes even creditors so that, as soon as the opportunity arose, they would be able to use their monopolies on information and buy themselves into the Stockhammer estates. From then on, they took part in these family gatherings, as the gains made by (for instance) Tamás Csepcsányi, Zsigmond Omaszta, Antal Szombathelyi, József Beliczay, János Hellebrandt, and Kajetán Simay illustrate.

In the last three chapters of the monograph, Szilágyi again uses more complex social history methods. While in the earlier sections of the book one of the strengths of her discussion is the thorough scrutiny to which she subjects of a body of sources which either had not previously been made the subject of study or which is simply difficult to gain access to, here her work merits praise for the manner in which she uses an array of very different kinds of sources. In the chapter entitled “The Estate Owners and Estate Relations of Békés County” she makes the prudent decision to draw on sources from the period after 1850, including for instance the 1895 statistics concerning agriculture. By doing so, she stretches the chronological range of her inquiry by another century and offers the reader a detailed portrait of the estate-owning elites of the county. In 1893, the order of the estate owners on the basis of the sizes of their estates, from largest to smallest, was the following: Wenckheim, Wodianer, Károlyi, Blanckenstein, and Almásy: “By the end of the century, essentially only the heirs to the Harruckern estate and the noble families with ties to this estate remained as large estate owners” (p.229).

In the next chapter, entitled “The Multi-positional Local Noble Elite in the County,” Szilágyi offers an analysis from four perspectives: 1) county and estate positions on the basis of cash incomes, 2) social status as reflected by forms of address, 3) the sizes of estates, and 4) the incomes of the estates. She divides the county elite into four different groups. In harmony with the conclusions she has proposed so far in her discussion, here too she confirms that the county nobility was strikingly small from the point of view of its numbers, but the new individuals who were rising to the top were increasingly dominant.

In the last chapter, which is particularly exciting, Szilágyi examines “Marital Relations of the County Lower Nobility between 1790 and 1848.” Her demographic and social history analysis persuasively refutes several conclusions which have become clichés in the secondary literature. While the earlier secondary literature suggested that there was very little exogamy in the feudal order, Szilágyi shows that in the case of Békés County, this was not the case. She examines 588 marriages, two thirds of which were held between 1830 and 1848. The marriages were usually held on site and “between nobles and non-nobles” (p.225). She summarizes her conclusion strikingly, according to which, in Békés County, “feudal exogamy and local endogamy” were common. Even in the case of the marriages among the elite in the county, only roughly half of these members of the elite had married into in the “network of relatives” (p.259).

The analyses offered by Szilágyi are consistently accompanied by useful summaries. The book also contains 29 charts, two illustrations, three maps, and a large illustration of the relationships of the family networks to the estates.

Krisztián Horváth Gergely
Research Center for the Humanities

 Deszkafalak és potyavacsorák: Választói magatartás Pesten a Tisza Kálmán-korszakban [Plank walls and freebee dinners: Voter behavior
in Pest in the era of Kálmán Tisza]. By Péter Gerhard. Budapest: Korall, 2019. 371 pp.


How do social circumstances or social background influence the choices people make when they vote? In his recent book, historian Péter Gerhard focuses on this question and other issues involving voting habits and trends. As one of the most relevant fields within political science and political sociology, clearly these concerns have not escaped the attention of scholars, but Gerhard raises these questions in the context of a period in the history of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy when only a small percentage (6–7 percent) of the population could vote, and those who voted did so in open elections. According to the prevailing image of elections in the Dualist Era among laymen (an image which is based in no small part on depictions of the elections in works of contemporary literature), the process involved manipulation and corruption. Among historians, however, over the course of recent decades, numerous new perspectives have been taken into consideration, and a much more nuanced understanding of this image has emerged. Gerhard has contributed to this with his research, in which he has focused on Budapest and the elections to the national assembly in three of the voting districts of Budapest (Belváros, Terézváros, and Ferencváros-Kőbánya) in 1878, 1881, and 1884.

Gerhard’s investigation, which draws heavily on the theoretical literature in political sociology and political science, seeks first and foremost to draw a map of the social status of voters and the party preferences of the various social groups and their attitudes towards the prevailing social relations. He also examines the roles of the people and authorities who represented (local) power.

One of the most strikingly innovative features of the monograph is the groups of sources on which the examination draws and the systematic way in which Gerhard compares them. The foundation of the discussion is a database which is built on three kinds of documents (voter registries, election records, and voting lists). Clearly, these sources made it possible for Gerhard to provide a quantitative analysis. He does not content himself merely with these sources, however, as a structural analysis will not capture individual decisions which, in the case of voting trends, necessarily add shades of nuance to the general image that emerges on the basis of statistics. Gerhard recognizes this methodological problem and complements his analysis with two case studies in which he draws on ego-documents (diaries, letters) and articles from the press at the time.

Gerhard essentially approaches the questions he raises from two methodological perspectives. First, drawing in part on tendencies in the sociological study of elections, he follows a tendency which began to emerge prominently in historical research in England in the 1960s, which used quantitative analyses to examine voting habits from the point of view of the social circumstances of the individual groups of voters. Second, he borrows from the trend in the historiography which takes into consideration the various “turns” and their relevance to the study of elections. These works tended to focus on the cultural turn and usually examined the symbols and the language used in political campaigns. In his discussion of the campaigns, Gerhard also uses the methodology inspired by the spatial turn.

The title of the book (“plank walls and freebee dinners”) indicates one of Gerhard’s basic premises, namely that campaigns had a decisive effect on voter behavior, as did efforts to mobilize voters and techniques used by those in power to exert influence. This idea also finds expression in the structure of the book. After having familiarized his reader with the theoretical framework of his investigation, Gerhard offers two chapters (the second and third) in which he provides a detailed picture of the legal and social context.

The fourth chapter offers narrative portraits of the individuals who ran as candidates in the elections in question, the distinctive aspects of the campaigns, and the events which took place on election day. Gerhard analyzes the campaigns and the efforts to mobilize voters from the perspective of uses of space. How did the authorities and the various groups of voters try to influence and monitor space? What roles did public and private spaces play in the course of the election campaigns? Gerhard comes to the conclusion that, with the exception of some events organized by the opposition, the events of the campaigns were limited largely to semi-public and private spaces. The “street,” as it were, was not as important as a political space at the time. The explanation for the limitation of events to semi-public and private spaces lies in the fact that this allowed the representatives of power to maintain control over the events surrounding the elections, which included opportunities to give voice to political opinion. However, public spaces still played two important roles in the campaigns and elections. They provided sites for candidates to make symbolically important public appearances and they also served as places where mass support found expression, for instance in flags, posters, and processions.

In his discussion of these questions, Gerhard considers the issue of maintaining order on the day of the election, a task in which the police, the military, and even men chosen by the individual parties took part. In order to ensure that the elections could take place smoothly and confrontations and fights could be avoided (and non-voters could be kept distant), one of the most important tasks was simply keeping the different voting camps separate (with the construction of plank walls or barriers). In the course of the elections on which Gerhard focuses in his investigation (with the exception of one), there were no incidents of violence. This was thanks to the professional conduct of the authorities and the parties, which worked together with them.

Additional campaign elements were used, alongside the other factors which influenced the outcomes of the elections. The local representatives of the parties (so-called “honoráciorok,” or “honoraries”) were responsible for the coordination of these efforts. These honoraries contributed to the campaign and the election process in several ways, ranging from the selection of the individual candidates (through the organization of the campaign) to participation in the electoral committees. Though the nuanced techniques used in political campaigns began to be emerge around the turn of the century, the people behind these efforts already had a wide range of tools to mobilize voters. They organized dinners, for instance, which were intended to sway voters in part by offering them food and drink.

The analysis of voter behavior in the fifth chapter is, in light of all this, understandable, as are the two case studies in the sixth chapter. Gehard examines the groups of voters from several perspectives (for instance profession, place of residence, and age), and he uncovers interconnections between the ways in which people voted and their social status.

With this examination, the book brings us closer to an understanding of the kinds of considerations which influence the ways in which people vote, a question which is of concern to many people today. More specifically, are people more swayed by what one might term “rational” considerations, or are they influenced by “emotional” factors? Are they swayed by social or political pressures, or do they sometimes seek simply to conform to the social circles within which they move? Since the elections were open, the last two questions can be discussed, as the analysis of the votes cast by office holders illustrates. Gerhard also offers insights into the ritual nature of the elections and their distinctive choreography, which made the whole process a kind of community event. According to Gerhard, those who refrained from voting both rejected this ritual and refused to allow their political views to become a matter of public knowledge. Given this, one cannot help but find particularly interesting his conclusion that the least active people in this process were office holders of high status and members of the political and scientific elites.

The virtues of the Gerhard’s inquiry notwithstanding, one cannot help but note a significant shortcoming. In a discussion of voter behavior, it would have been essential to have noted that the frameworks within which information concerning politics and political parties was communicated differed dramatically from the frameworks in the rest of the country, and these frameworks exerted an important influence on perceptions of both political issues and the individual parties.

Péter Gerhard’s book constitutes a major contribution to our understanding of the political culture of the time by offering a rigorous look at the behavior of a segment of voters in the capital city during the Dualist Era. Furthermore, the book is interesting and enjoyable in no small part because of the excellent pictures, maps, and tables found in the appendix.

Réka Matolcsi
Eötvös Loránd University

 Men under Fire: Motivation, Morale and Masculinity among Czech Soldiers in the Great War, 1914–1918. By Jiří Hutečka.
Oxford–New York: Berghahn, 2019. 288 pp.


Jiří Hutečka’s new volume contributes to the recent trend in the historiography of investigating the history of World War I from the perspective of the common man. He positions his work into a rather major gap in the historiography. It examines the combat experience of Habsburg soldiers from a gender perspective. Unfortunately, military history studies published in of about East Central Europe has focused for the most part on operational maneuvers and has neglected the war of the “common soldier.” Only a handful of pioneering studies have focused on the gender aspects of the conflict, and these studies almost exclusively discussed the role of women in the conflict. In the historiography of the war from the perspective of the Habsburg forces, as Hutečka rightly remarks, “gender identities fall silent when the firing starts.”

The main aim of this volume is to fill this gap and challenge the traditional oversimplified explanations of the behavior of Habsburg soldiers. It seeks to overcome the dual framework which interprets their actions in the duality of imperial loyalty and national identity. The volume analyzes, instead, how the Czech soldiers’ gender identity influenced their attitudes, behavior, feelings, and morale during the war. To investigate this field, Hutečka uses published and unpublished memoirs, diaries, and letters, many of them have been only available in small, regional collections.

The book is divided into six major chapters. The first, entitled “Tournament of Manliness,” discusses the mobilization of Austro-Hungarian soldiers in the Bohemian lands. The book provides a new explanation of the generally positive reaction of Czech recruits to the call of the Habsburg authorities in July 1914. It argues that people enlisted voluntarily in massive numbers because serving in the military was an integral part of the contemporary perception of masculinity. Fulfilling one’s military duty could cement or even enhance a man’s status in society, while remaining on the sidelines could endanger his position in the male hierarchy. Hutečka argues, for example, that industrial workers who stayed at home were losers in this tournament of manliness, while young student volunteers could achieve “full” adulthood earlier than in peacetime.

The second chapter, “Compromises of Manliness,” discusses the experiences of common soldiers after they had entered military service. It argues that new recruits constantly had to reconcile their everyday experiences with their pre-war perceptions of their masculinity. Due to the nature of military service, these men constantly lost control over their lives, thus losing one of the most important characteristics of their understanding of masculinity. The soldiers’ eating habits, lodgings, and everyday routines were all determined by their superiors. Meanwhile, on the home front, women took over many “male” roles, thus endangering the soldiers’ positions in society.

The third chapter, entitled “Transformation of Manliness,” examined the responses of the soldiers to these challenges. Hutečka argues that comradeship developed among the soldiers. This could also be interpreted as a means of resolving this conflict between hegemonic masculinity and the realities of war.

In the following section, “Degradation of Manliness,” the book discusses how the different practices of the Austro-Hungarian army led to the deterioration of the soldiers’ morale. It claims that oppressive practices used within the military hierarchy offended the Czech soldiers’ notions of their masculinity more than it did their national identity. For example, corporal punishment and the distrust of Czech recruits threatened the masculine identities of these soldiers. This was especially disturbing, because the elite of the Czech lands perceived the Czechs as the most civilized people of the empire, a nation whose members should not be disciplined with barbaric means. Similarly, their warrior self-image was deeply offended by constant accusations of cowardice and treason.

The fifth chapter, “Venue of Masculinity,” investigates how soldiers’ masculinity was challenged on the home front. It highlights, for example, the ways in which economic problems at home also profoundly affected the masculine identity of the soldiers on the fronts. Men stationed far from their homes were not able to fulfill their primarily male role as providers for their families. They could not oversee their households, and as they were absent, they could not monitor their wives fidelity. Thus, their fundamental male role as father and husband conflicted with their identities as masculine warriors.

The last chapter discusses the combat experiences of the Czech soldiers on the frontline. It argues that soldiers did not universally embrace the concept of “glorious combat,” but many of them perceived their first encounter with the enemy, “the baptism of fire,” as a test of manliness. However, after four years of intense fighting, most of them rejected the masculine ideals of the propaganda. The most striking examples of this phenomenon were the large numbers of self-inflicted wounds. At the end of the war, soldiers were willing to hurt their own bodies (which were important symbols of their masculinity) to escape the hardships of war. Hutečka argues that this act helped them to regain some measure of control over their destinies.

Hutečka concludes that the war which was wages in 1914–1918 was one “immense collective disappointment and shock” for the fighting men. At the beginning of the war, the enlisted soldiers were told that they would attain or retain their hegemonic masculinity status. In reality, the conflict profoundly undermined their position in society. This was true of all the Habsburg soldiers, but certain aspects (accusations of treason, being stationed far from home, etc.) effected the Czech soldiers particularly harshly. Thus, these people were lost by the Habsburg authorities not only as Czechs, but also as men.

Men under Fire is a well-written, thoughtful, and refreshing analysis. It applies a pioneering method and provides interesting and thought-provoking insights into the Habsburg soldiers’ experiences during the war. The findings of the book are convincing and open new fields for further investigation.

There are a few minor points, however, with which one might take issue. First, the book aims to overcome the nationalist approach of the historiography, but it is only partly successful in this effort. While his book convincingly provides alternative explanations of the behavior of soldiers, it still mostly analyses their actions within a national framework. Thus Men under Fire does not tell us a universal story about the Habsburg soldiers but rather explains why and how Czech soldiers were different (or not different) from soldiers belonging to other ethnic groups of the empire.

Second, Hutečka had to confront the problems caused by the lack of adequate primary sources. Due to lower levels of literacy, fewer ego-documents (especially diaries and letters) were produced by the Habsburg soldiers than their British or German comrades. Moreover, as Hutečka observes, these documents have never been systematically collected. Consequently, the book, like most studies on the region, often has to rely on post-1918 recollections. Hutečka tries to use these sources carefully, but sometimes he had to base his interpretation on these admittedly unreliable texts.

Despite these minor points, Jiří Hutečka’s recent volume is a very valuable and inspirational contribution to contemporary scholarship. His book is a must-read for historians interested in World War I in East Central Europe and scholars examining gender roles in armed conflicts.

Tamás Révész
Research Centre for Humanities

 The Fortress: The Great Siege of Przemyśl. By Alexander Watson. Allen Lane, 2019. 333 pp.+index.


Last year saw the publication of a book by the British historian Alexander Watson, well known as an author of many academic articles and monographs on World War 1. This time, Watson has decided to write about the Siege of Przemyśl in 1914–1915. This topic has long merited discussion in a major academic publication. Watson has used a wide range of sources, analyzing materials and books in many languages, including German, Polish, Hungarian, Russian, and Ukrainian. Without a doubt, his use of books and documents in this array of languages has allowed him to present the whole context of the history of the fortress during World War I, including the challenges faced by its residents (civilians, its defenders and later liberators), the importance of the site to the army of the Central Powers, the goals and methods of the invaders (the Russian army), and the ways in which both sides used Przemyśl in their war propaganda.

The book is divided into seven chapters. The introduction shows that the town had long been a fortress with military functions and a place where “the East met the West.” Watson presents the background of the construction of the fortifications on that site; he discusses how the economic situation influenced the ultimate decision to build a fortress in Przemyśl. He also tries to situate these considerations in the larger context, taking geopolitics into account. He argues that the pact of three emperors in 1873 posed a question about the necessity of the fortress. Still, at the end of the nineteenth century, Przemyśl as a fortified defense gate became very important again. Watson claims that the fortification of the town proved very expensive, but the stronghold still did not offer solid protection for the empire, because after 1906, all funds were allocated to reinforce the Austrian-Italian border. In the introduction, Watson provides information on how the militarization of Przemyśl was a factor in developing the town. He also reminds the reader of the specific multicultural nature of the community, which was home to many Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews.

Chapter one is entitled “Broken Army.” This title perfectly describes the actual conditions of the Austrian army. After having suffered defeats to the Russian army, units were forced to withdraw westwards, leaving the garrison of the fortress under siege to its own devices. Drawing on Austrian sources, Watson describes the campaign, putting it in its tactical and military context, based on decisions made by the highest-ranking officials.

Chapter two is entitled “The Heroes,” and the article and noun are deliberately put in quotation marks in the actual table of contents, suggesting some measure of irony. The notion of heroism analyzed in Watson’s discussion seems ambiguous at best. Watson presents the backgrounds of the garrisons’ soldiers, showing differences among the members, and he provides a good portrait of the multi-ethnicity and multilingualism of the Habsburg army. The question seems to be the extent to which the soldiers’ behavior could indeed be characterized heroic, especially with regard to their treatment of civilians. Watson gives examples of how civilians were treated, in particular those of Ruthenian origin. He cites numerous examples of people being arrested, interned, and even executed in accordance with verdicts reached by court martials.

Chapter three, “Storm,” describes the actual “storm” that was to hit soon, namely the first siege of the Przemyśl Fortress. Watson begins with the perspective of Russian units, focusing on the tactics of Russian commanders. As an experienced narrator of soldiers’ perceptions of war, Watson also takes the vantage point of the other side, i.e. of the garrison facing the “storm.” He analyzes their wartime experiences, and he does not spare the reader graphic descriptions of what the soldiers faced, physically and mentally, and how they reacted to the unfolding events. He finishes the chapter with a discussion of how the battle shaped a heroic image of the Austrian army. The victory of the fortress garrison played a significant role in the propaganda, and it was widely used to boost the morale of the soldiers.

In chapter four, “Barrier,” Watson shows how the fortress was not only a military barrier to the advancement westwards of the Russian army, but served above all as an impediment to influences, ideas, and systems from the Russian Empire. The confrontation between the civilizations of the East and West was very clear here, as Watson shows through the attitudes of the Russian army soldiers towards the people in occupied Galicia: the Jews, who had often been harmed by czarist Russia, but also the Ruthenians, whose Ukrainian identities the Russians sought to erase entirely through a process of Russification.

In chapter five, entitled “Isolation,” Watson narrates the second siege of the fortress. This time, the title refers to the literal isolation in which Przemyśl found itself, both the garrison and the civilians. As a result, the front line moved westward, Przemyśl became “an island” among Russian occupying forces. Watson describes the equipment and provision in the fortress and the wartime routine of the civilians and the military. He offers an interesting study of the functioning of an isolated fortress, where there were shortages of everything. Meanwhile, in some respects, Przemyśl was even more bustling than before 1914. Entertainment was provided in the railway station, and prostitution flourished in the fortress.

Chapter six, “Starvation,” starts with a so-called Przemyśl joke about the difference between Troy and Przemyśl, where in the case of the former the soldiers were inside the horse and in the case of the latter, it was the other way round. This seemingly trivial comparison was actually a brutal truth about supplies in Przemyśl during the war. In the fortress, almost everyone was starving. The title thus conveys not only the literal meaning of suffering from lack of food; it is a symbol of the utter exhaustion of the whole crew and civilian residents, which was accompanied by brutal and inhumane scenes of war executions.

Chapter seven, “Armageddon,” describes the last efforts of the physically and mentally broken garrison of the fortress, which had no choice but to surrender. They started to destroy the fortifications from the inside so that no structures would remain that could be used by the enemy. Certain unanswered questions come up in the reader’s mind about how the civilians were expected to react. Were they expected to be happy to see the end of the apocalyptic siege and starvation? Or would they fear the Russian occupation? It would have been interesting to have seen some discussion of these question on the basis of the available primary sources, especially personal documents from Przemyśl.

Watson’s study of the siege and surrender of the Przemyśl Fortress during World War I ends with an epilogue entitled “Into the Dark,” in which he includes reactions to the fall of Przemyśl in the press and how the fall of the fortress was used in the propaganda on both sides of the conflict. What happened to the garrison and the civilian residents of the besieged Przemyśl? Both went “into the dark.” The soldiers were to be sent into exile in the farthest corners of czar’s Russia, where they would experience humiliation and the fate of prisoners of war. Civilians often faced a darker fate, including repressive measures already tested on the Ukrainians from occupied Eastern Galicia and attempts to Russianize them, while Jewish people were to be driven away. After the successful military operation at Gorlice–Tarnów, another chapter started for the town, and its residents faced subsequent wartime problems until 1918. In the epilogue, Watson skims over the history of the town during the German invasion of 1939, when Przemyśl was hit by another historical cataclysm.

Generally speaking, Alexander Watson’s book is a valuable study of the fate of the Przemyśl Fortress during World War I, offering insights into the roles of different actors in war, including defenders, invaders, and civilians. What seems to be lacking is a more extensive discussion of the work of medical and pastoral services in Przemyśl. After all, the fortress forces suffered both in flesh and in spirit. However, this observation is by no means intended as a substantial criticism of the author, who has done a very good job. The book will draw attention to this important historical event among English-reading audiences, and it also constitutes an important academic monograph. The biggest problem for non-Polish readers of the volume perhaps will merely be the proper pronunciation of the fortress’ name.

Kamil Ruszała
Jagiellonian University

 Tiltott kapcsolat: A magyar–lengyel ellenzéki együttműködés
1976–1989 [A forbidden relationship: Oppositional cooperation between Hungarians and Poles, 1976–1989]. By Miklós Mitrovits. Budapest: Jaffa, 2020. 304 pp.


The new book by Miklós Mitrovits, a historian with several volumes to his credit whose research until now has focused primarily on Poland in the postwar period and on Polish-Hungarian relations, explores unauthorized forms of cooperation between the oppositional forces in the two countries in the decade and a half leading up to 1989. Drawing on a wide range of documentary evidence, contemporaneous samizdat publications, and thirteen original interviews with key participants, A Forbidden Relationship covers different shades of political and cultural opposition in Hungary to propose a convincing if not entirely original thesis: the opposition in Poland had a significant impact on the formation and development of dissident and oppositional thought and practice in Kádár’s Hungary, especially around the time of the “Solidarity crisis” in 1980–81.

Mitrovits studies political-ideological connections that went beyond the idea of a “traditional friendship” between the two peoples. He is primarily interested in the reception and impact of Polish developments in Hungary, especially among leading (male) members of the democratic, human rights-based opposition (Gábor Demszky, János Kis, Ferenc Kőszeg, Bálint Magyar, and others) as well as autonomous thinkers and writers (such as Sándor Csoóri and László Nagy), several of whom (Grácia Kerényi, Csaba Gy. Kiss, István Kovács) were also professionally into Polish Studies. In other words, Mitrovits employs a rather well-rehearsed concept of dissent and opposition and focuses primarily on actors who have already been canonized as leading participants in such initiatives. At the same time, Mitrovits’ book also addresses the question of mutuality, transmitting the admittedly more modest resonances Hungarian trends had in Poland.

The nine chapters of the book evince an equal interest in experiences abroad and their reception “at home,” political inspirations and technical learning, repressive measures and intellectual solidarity, adaptation attempts and societal differences between the two countries. They draw on meticulous original research and cover a host of relevant subjects, without however developing a clear and precise analytical language to distinguish different types and levels of impact and reception.

Mitrovits combines an essentially chronological treatment with thematic intermezzos to explore the beginnings of a relationship in the mid- to late 1970s; the “Solidarity crisis” and its reception by and impact on the formation of a new type of Hungarian opposition; changes in these connections brought about by the implementation of martial law in Poland; the reactions of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and Hungarian society (which admittedly slightly exceeds the scope of his core subject); the presence of the Hungarian opposition and the continued remembrance of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in Poland; discourses around the Central European idea; university students and especially their peace activism; and Polish-Hungarian connections on the eve of regime changes in 1989. These diverse chapters allow Mitrovits to cover practically all essential aspects of his subject, even if he does so at the price of several rather sudden shifts between different subjects and levels of analysis.

The opening chapter, entitled “Parallel Realities,” contrasts the socialist regimes of Hungary and Poland in the 1960s and 1970s, at one point even calling the former socially inclusive and the latter exclusive (p.20). Mitrovits thereby aims to account for the fact that the opportunity structures for oppositional activities differed radically in the two countries. After all, the institutional foundations for political opposition, societal-worker resistance, and a high level of Catholic independence were all present in Poland, and this was hardly the case in Hungary. Mitrovits subsequently explains that numerous Hungarian dissidents were interested in programmatic articles published in Polish as well as the more mundane techniques of producing samizdat. These dissidents (Bálint Magyar and Gábor Demszky were perhaps the two most notable among them, and their stories and political affairs are covered rather extensively in the book) repeatedly visited Poland from 1977 onwards to experience a political awakening and learn its lessons. However, it was the meteoric rise of Solidarity in 1980–81 that added dynamism to the main flying university in Budapest, the so-called Monday Free University (hétfői szabadegyetem), and catalyzed the launch of various Samizdat initiatives in the country.

Mitrovits is right to conclude in this first section of his book that the newly formed Hungarian democratic opposition, which consisted mostly of sociologists, economists, and philosophers, developed its own fora and conceived of practically all its initial political acts under the impact of recent developments in Poland. He is also correct to note that the involvement of workers in the Hungarian democratic opposition’s activities remained miniscule, and this significantly distinguished it from its Polish counterpart. Put more bluntly, the Hungarian democratic opposition may have seemed much like KOR but without the latter’s crucial relationships to workers. It is rather telling, regarding context, timing, and scope, that Beszélő, the main Hungarian samizdat journal of the 1980s, which was indeed edited, published, and distributed in line with Polish conspirational methods, started to appear only around the time when Wojciech Jaruzelski introduced martial law, and even then, as was critically remarked by György Dalos at the time, no open expressions of “solidarity with Solidarity” could be recorded in Hungary (p.145).

The imposition of martial law in Poland strictly limited personal contacts between opposition members in the two countries. It was also a time to draw new lessons and debate oppositional prospects and strategies in Hungary. As Mitrovits shows, the example of Poland remained pivotal to participants in Hungary’s democratic opposition well beyond December 13, 1981. Demszky’s independent book publishing venture AB would soon release three volumes of Polish writings, and János Kis’ analysis of the Polish and wider regional crisis inaugurated the first extended debate in the pages of Beszélő. However, as Mitrovits rightly notes in one of his rather occasional remarks regarding the history of political thought, such reflections and inspirations could not hide the fact that Hungarian contributors often rehearsed ideas already familiar in Hungary, for instance ideas concerning the need for a “third-way compromise” and the introduction of a new social contract (p.123).

Mitrovits shows that, despite the notable activities in Poland by the likes of Wacław Felczak and (Warsaw-based Hungarian) Ákos Engelmayer and despite some interest in subjects such as the activities of the Hungarian democratic opposition, the lives of Hungarian minority communities abroad, or the aspirations and unfolding of 1956 (which, unlike in Hungary, could be freely discussed and even commemorated in Poland), the relationship clearly remained asymmetrical. The case of Hungary simply did not emerge as a key subject among the much more numerous members of Polish oppositional circles. But translations of historical, literary, and cultural works assured a degree of cross-fertilization, and autonomous intellectuals in the two countries were brought closer via what Mitrovits calls their “legal cultural opposition,” which was chiefly expressed through their “post-colonialist re-imagining” of the Central European idea. As Mitrovits shows, the Hungarian youth of the 1980s may have been vested in a host of new issues, but like its predecessors, it came under the impact of novel forms of Polish activism, such as those practiced by the Freedom and Peace (Wolność i Pokój) movement. This was especially true for university students at the Bibó Special College (Bibó Szakkollégium), who would soon play key roles in launching the Alliance of Young Democrats.

Mitrovits’ closing reflections on 1989 reveal how intertwined and still how different the two countries’ respective exits from their communist regimes were. While the establishment in Hungary of an independent trade union and the initiation of roundtable talks indeed appeared to have closely followed the “Polish recipe,” when parts of Hungarian oppositional forces refused to compromise on fully free parliamentary elections and this intransigence sharply divided the local opposition, Hungarian developments quickly moved beyond their purported model. The foundation of Polish–Hungarian Solidarity and the visit to Hungary of several prominent Poles in 1989 could change little about the fact that Hungarians drew rather different conclusions. By 1989, Poland’s impact may have been widely and profoundly felt, but it was less than decisive.

The monograph thus tells the story of a major foreign inspiration and catalyst behind Hungarian liberal democratization, a catalyst the impressive societal organization and specific political path of which its dedicated Hungarian sympathizers were ultimately unable to imitate. In other words, Miklós Mitrovits has written a book on the impact of Polish ideas, developments, and solutions on Hungary between 1976 and 1989 as well as the clear limits of their influence. Historians of East Central Europe with an interest in late communist regimes and oppositional activities will certainly appreciate Mitrovits’ research, which, all in all, is perhaps more impressive for its abundant detail and precision than as an attempt to reconceptualize its subject.

Ferenc Laczó
Maastricht University

 Dissidents in Communist Central Europe: Human Rights and the Emergence of New Transnational Actors. By Kacper Szulecki. London–New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2019. 257 pp.


Dissidents in Communist Central Europe, the first monograph in a Palgrave book series exploring the history of social movements in the modern era, fits well into the recent historiography on dissident movements in East Central Europe, which has tended to strive towards more complex understandings of dissent and opposition and move beyond simplistic interpretations of the “communist monolith.” By adopting a transnational perspective, Szulecki contributes to more recent historiographical trends which challenge the traditional understanding of communist regimes as isolated nation states by pointing toward the links, networks, and transfers which existed between the so-called “East” and “West.”

What sets Szulecki’s work apart from other studies on dissident movements in East Central Europe is the type of problem it addresses. It explores the meaning of the term “dissent” itself and the history of this term using theoretical insights from cultural sociology and political science. The word dissident, Szulecki points out, invokes certain meanings; his study traces what these meanings were and where they came from. Chapter 2 provides the conceptual framework of the monograph, while Chapters 3–9 offer empirical analyses of the emergence and development of dissidence in Central European states, more specifically Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, and East Germany. Finally, drawing on an array of sources ranging from samizdat, tamizdat, memoirs, (auto)biographies, and interviews, Szulecki arrives at an analytical category which he dubs “dissidentism,” an -ism which has been adopted and used in non-European contexts, so that today, as he points out, we hear about dissidents in Cuba, Russia, Iran, China, and Belarus.

Szulecki identifies three elements of the “dissident triangle” which he contends are essential to the rise of dissidentism. First, dissidence must be open and public and must find expression in legal and non-violent acts of dissent that risk sanction and repression. Thus, the first necessary condition for the emergence of dissidence was de-Stalinization. As Szulecki points out, dissent in Central Europe grew out of post-totalitarian roots and was not initially anti-Marxist. Moreover, Szulecki highlights that dissidence, unlike resistance, exists in a gray zone between legality and illegality. Instead of breaching the rules of the system, or employing violence, it works “within” the system, while concurrently challenging the status quo.

The second element of the “dissident triangle” is requisite domestic recognition. In Chapter 4, Szulecki examines the ways in which dissidents become known as names and faces. For instance, the leaders of the Prague Spring became renowned in the domestic scene and beyond. As Szulecki explains, the public activity of dissidents allowed the communist regimes to label them “foreign intruders” and enemies, which in turn seemed to confirm and strengthen the logic of the totalitarian systems. The “public enemy” was a role ascribed to figures like Václav Havel, Jacek Jan Kuroń, and Adam Michnik, and the imminent threat allegedly posed by a clear and present enemy also justified the presence of the secret police, one of the key institutions of a totalitarian society. Almost simultaneously, a “public enemy” at home became a “prominent dissident” abroad. Western recognition, the third element, was pivotal for dissidentism. Drawing on the insights from Michnik and Havel, Szulecki highlights that international attention, achieved through transnational contacts, transformed individual grievances into political activism.

These two elements became increasingly intense as dissenters employed the language of human rights and were given more and more coverage and attention in the Western media. By using the language of human rights, Eastern European intellectual dissenters were able to mobilize international support. Adopting the claim that the concept of dissident was utilized by the West for the non-Western “Other,” Szulecki argues that transnational contacts and international recognition were crucial. In Chapters 5 and 6, he examines the ways in which human rights language was adopted as a lingua franca with which to articulate the goals of dissidents. By 1977, as he explains, all three elements of the “dissident triangle” were present, and it was the opposition in Central Europe that managed to connect them for the first time. A new, transnational actor appeared: the dissident, although being labeled a dissident did not depend solely on the public display of civil courage and self-sacrifice; rather, it was selective. Western newspaper editors and academics selected a few dissident thinkers and fashioned them into a transnational “pantheon” of dissidence which was also entirely androcentric.

One of the merits of the book is that it acknowledges the absence of women in the historiography of dissident movements in East Central Europe. As Szulecki observes, this was due not only to the persistent machismo within the opposition circles, but also to the fashioning of the dissident figure, which was mainly constructed by the Western media, public, and scholars. Women, however, although absent from the constructed “dissident pantheon,” enabled dissidence to function: Szulecki notes that due to their language skills, women were primary sources of information for the Western media outlets. Furthermore, Szulecki presents a nuanced narrative of the convergences and divergences that existed between the perceptions of dissidents in Central Europe and the Western media and public. Dissidents could at times reject the label “dissident” or could take advantage of it. In any case, the label was rather homogenizing, for it was applied to a diverse array of ideological positions that existed at the time within the democratic opposition in Central Europe. Szulecki highlights the complexities of these strategies, which involved various actors, including interpreters, mainly exiles in the West, who interpreted the ideas and stances of the dissidents and mediated between their home countries and the Western media and public.

On the other hand, because the study draws predominantly on sources which belong to the established traditional canon of dissidents’ writings, such as Havel’s The Power of the Powerless and Miłosz’s The Captive Mind, it necessarily stays within the framework of the dissident historiography which it aims to revise. Furthermore, it would be beneficial if the study could engage more with its starting point, namely that the idea of the term “dissident,” as we know it today, ought to be traced back to the Central European democratic opposition of the second half of the twentieth century. The study focuses on a “Central Europe” that includes the aforementioned non-Soviet states of the Eastern bloc. The study also refers to “Eastern Europe,” encompassing Russia and state socialist countries in Europe (e.g. Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia,) which, as Szulecki explains, had profoundly different contexts and practices of dissent from their Central European homologues. Yet, it would have served the study well—not least because the book’s underlying claim is that the phenomenon of “dissidentism” is comparable across the world—if the monograph would have included these different contexts, even if asymmetrically. Not only would it serve better to explain the uniqueness of Central European dissidence, but it would also have helped clarify the reasons for which the notion of “dissidentism” travelled around the globe—something that makes the study of the history of social movements relevant in today’s context, in which variations of “illiberal democracy” are now thriving around the world.

Una Blagojević
Central European University

Corn Crusade: Khrushchev’s Farming Revolution in the Post-Stalin Soviet Union. By Aaron Hale-Dorrell. New York: Oxford University Press, 2019. 344 pp.


This book gives a detailed picture of the corn-planting movement which was implemented by Khrushchev to enhance the wellbeing of the population in the post-Stalin era. Aaron Hale-Dorell’s aim is to analyze the influence of Khrushchev’s corn policy on agriculture, society, and politics while avoiding the often schematic depictions of the era. Although the corn-planting movement constitutes the main focus of the book, the reader also gets a detailed picture of the problems faced by Soviet agriculture, the positioning of the leaders of the communist party, and the directorate of kolkhozes.

Hale-Dorell supports his argument with a broad range of sources. The analysis is primarily based on declassified materials from the Moscow archives of the Communist Party and the government (the Center for Preservation of Document of Socio-Political History of Moscow, the Central State Archive of Moscow Oblast, the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History, the Russian State Archive of Economy, and the Russian State Archive of Socio-political History), though he also draws on the archives of the local administrations in Vilnius (the Lithuanian Special Archive), Kiev (the Central State Archive of Social Organization of Ukraine), and Stavropol (the State Archive of Contemporary History of Stavropol Krai and the State Archive of Stavropol Krai). As Hale-Dorrell observes, these documents defined the policy and outlined the implementation of Khrushchev’s agrarian reform. In the book, he includes issues that were not publicly addressed by officials but were nonetheless important in Soviet agrarian policy.

This book contains eight thematic chapters. These chapters engage with the ideals, goals, technology, organization, management, and wage systems that shaped the process of establishing new corn plantations and reflect Khrushchev’s efforts to expand industrial farming. Hale-Dorrell offers reliably sourced information concerning why the implementation of Khrushchev’s reforms failed. Chapter by chapter, the reader is given insights into rural policy after Stalin’s death in 1953. The chapters discuss agrarian economic policy with regard to the corn crusade and situate corn technology within Soviet agricultural expertise. Furthermore, they investigate the implementation of corn policy in agriculture and its widespread propaganda coverage.

In the first chapter, Hale-Dorrell offers a history of Soviet agriculture which includes discussion of the main problems faced by the kolkhozes and the living conditions of the kolkhozniks (members of the kolkhoz) during the Stalinist era. He contends that Khrushchev embarked on a program of reforms to solve problems such as the shortage of workers and the backwardness of the agrarian sector by integrating the rural parts of the country into the industrial economy. In the second chapter, Hale-Dorrell describes how the Soviet Union’s agricultural policies were integrated into the larger framework of reforms. In this chapter, the study trips taken by experts in the field of agriculture in the Soviet Union to the United States (trips which contributed to the corn crusade and the modernization of agriculture in the Soviet Union) are discussed in detail. As Hale-Dorrell observes, Khrushchev was convinced that industrial farming was the solution to the Soviet Union’s problems. Corn became the engine and the symbol of industrial farming, as Khrushchev considered corn a cheap source of the livestock feed that could be quickly and relatively easily produced. In other words, it would be precisely what was needed to ramp up meat and dairy output. In this interpretation, corn did not represent just a crop; it signified as the driver of the Soviet Union’s wellbeing.

The third chapter focuses on corn politics and the disorderly implementation of the corn-planting policy. The lack of equipment, machines, the lack of clear instructions, the failures of the implementation process, combined with the disinterest of the kolkhoz and secretary leaders, made the corn yields fall short of even minimal expectations. The fourth chapter gives a detailed analysis of the mass media campaign in the corn crusade. Corn as “queen of the field” became a constant theme in the press, radio broadcasts, and newspapers. Corn came to play an important role in the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition as well. As Hale-Dorrell concludes from Khrushchev’s speeches to mass audiences and the visual imaginary of the time, the entire era was pervaded by the idea that corn was something special, even exceptional. Publications attempted to integrate corn into readers’ daily lives and culture.

The fifth chapter examines the role of the Komsomol in corn planting. The Komsomol corn-growing competitions involved mass participation in corn-planting activities, but the events were mismanaged by kolkhoz and local leaders. For example, in many cases, young people were forced to work in the fields without clear instructions. The sixth chapter outlines the changes in kolkhoznik life. Guaranteed wages, machines, chemicals, and other technologies made work easier and more productive. In one significant change, the introduction of pensions revived rural people’s interest in farming. Hale-Dorrell states that Khrushchev’s labor reforms fell short of expectations because of poor management by local leaders, who misunderstood the kolkhozniks and their moral economy. The benefits of social statutes and regular wages did not make the kolkhozniks efficient corn growers. The seventh chapter shows how the Soviets adopted modern technology from the United States for planting, cultivating, and harvesting corn and other crops. But Hale-Dorrell highlights recurring problems: the necessity of using developed machinery, the hybrid seed program and the negative effects of slow production as well as mistakes in practices which resulted in low yields.

The eighth chapter analyses the roles and mistakes of local kolkhoz leaders in the corn crusade.

Hale-Dorrell’s book is not just an analysis of the propaganda accompanying the popularization of corn planting. It is a detailed assessment of Soviet agrarian policies. It gives a nuanced picture of the mentality of Soviet leaders and workers as well as that of Khrushchev, who believed that his reforms, especially corn planting, would make the success of communism possible. As a result of Khrushchev’s reforms, the kolkhozes lost many of their distinctive features, and kolkhoz workers became wage earners. In this period, industrial farming principles began to define practice. Mechanization and industrial-scale wheat farms, together with initiatives to put genetics, chemistry, and engineering into farming integrated industrialization into everyday agricultural activities. This reform was a part of the transnational agrarian movement.

Hale-Dorrell examines not just Khrushchev’s mistakes in the implementation of the corn crusade, but also mistakes that had nothing to do with Khrushchev. The corn-planting project faced obstacles that remained from Stalin’s era: the resistance of bureaucracy, the obstinacy of secretaries from the directorates in regions where corn planting was rejected, the people who cheated and fiddled the statistics to meet the quotas, the adoption of inappropriate agricultural practices, and the lack of concern for harvesting and fertilizing properly and in a timely fashion.

The importance of the book lies in its multifaceted analysis of corn policy. The book contributes to a rethinking of Khrushchev’s agrarian reforms and discusses both its immediate results and the lasting consequences. The reader gets a picture of the corn crusade in the Soviet Union and Khrushchev as a leader, a man who was enthusiastic in his vision of corn as the driver of the Soviet Union’s wellbeing.

Aaron Hale-Dorrell concludes that the corn crusade was not pointless, even if its permanent legacy was one of failure. The effects of the agrarian reform changed Soviet rural life and exposed Soviet agriculture to a worldwide movement. This book will be useful for historians of the Soviet Union, agrarian historians and non-specialists who are interested in broader issues of Soviet management, the state socialist modernization project, and the transformation of rural regions under state socialist regimes.

Alexandra Bodnár
Eötvös Loránd University

Volume 9 Issue 3 CONTENTS


Eastern Europe in Icelandic Sagas. By Tatjana N. Jackson. Amsterdam: ARC Humanities Press–Amsterdam University Press, 2019. 228 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.556

The series, Beyond Medieval Europe (published by ARC Humanities Press), targets topics previously neglected in Anglophone scholarship which are related to the history of the peripheries of medieval Europe. In this regard, Tatjana Jackson’s new book, her first in English, is a big success, as it presents what people on one edge of the continent, medieval Iceland, knew about the other fringe, Eastern Europe. Jackson is one of the leading Russian experts on medieval Scandinavia and its relations to the Early (or Old) Rus’, and she offers now a reworked and updated version of her findings previously published for the most part in Russian. The title of the book, Eastern Europe in Icelandic Sagas, is a little misleading, as it mostly discusses information pertaining to ninth-eleventh-century Rus’, whilst one would expect to find details in the book about other territories too, such as Poland or Hungary, even if these territories feature less frequently in the Old Norse Icelandic corpus.

Jackson begins with an introductory chapter on her aims, sources, and methodology (pp.1–17). The book is then divided into two major parts, the first and longer of which presents the place of Eastern Europe (actually modern-day European Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus in geographical terms) in the Old Norse worldview (pp.19–114), while the second focuses on the stay of four Norwegian kings in Old Rus’ (pp.115–70). The research questions in both parts are clearly formulated: what do the Old Norse sources reveal concerning knowledge of Eastern Europe, and how much of this information is historically reliable? Given the nature of the source material, namely that the Icelandic sagas usually describe events from the Viking Age (or earlier) but were committed to parchment only beginning in the twelfth century (and most were written down in later centuries), the methodology section is indispensable for an understanding of the whole argument.

Jackson introduces the three main types of sources of which she makes use: skaldic poetry, sagas, and runic inscriptions. Of these, the first two receive the most attention. Skaldic poetry was usually produced by eyewitnesses or first-hand informants, and due to its metrical complexity, it hardly changed until it was written down in later centuries and thus is usually regarded as authentic. Sagas, on the other hand, are viewed today with much criticism as historical sources due to their literary nature, the fact that they were recorded significantly later, and the fact that their authors included narrative interventions (or least to the consensus in the secondary literature). According to Jackson, the early kings’ sagas, written down before the great compendium of 1220–1230, preserved authentic knowledge of the ninth-tenth-century Scandinavians about the geography of the “east” in the form of place names and navigable river routes. The later sagas, however, continued to rely on the ninth-century and early tenth-century conditions when describing events in Eastern Europe (simply copying the earlier compendium) and did not follow up on the southward advancement of the Scandinavians. In Jackson’s view, this explains why places names such as Kiev (Kænugarðr in the sagas) do not receive prominence in the sagas and Novgorod (Hólmgarðr) is displayed as a capital of the Rus’.

The first part of the book vividly illustrates with a sound handling of the source material how information was transmitted and could change shape (media) during its formation from orality to literacy. More importantly, it shows that the Icelandic sagas reveal details about Eastern Europe left unmentioned in other documents. We learn that Ladoga’s presentation in the sagas as a possible toll and control station where foreigners were checked and safe conduct was issued was a remnant of historical memory, as was Polotsk’s strong fortress and defense system.

In the second part, the logic of applying the methodology twists a little. The Russian sources make no mention of the four Norwegian kings who visited Rus’ (Olaf Tryggvason, Olaf Haraldsson, Magnus Olafsson, Harald Sigurdarson). Jackson, however, feels that their presence in Rus’ cannot be cast into question, since it was confirmed by the skaldic poets. It would thus be inconceivable that they did not travel to Rus’. However, any other information in the sagas which is not confirmed by skaldic poets (Jackson suggests) is either falsification or the projection of later medieval conditions on the Viking Age. Thus, the goal is not really to squeeze out every useful bit of information from the sagas (as in the first part), but to call into question anything from the prose narrative which is unconfirmed by contemporary reports. Jackson questions saga accounts with rigorous source criticism and demonstrates how the great influence and deeds of a “later-Norwegian king abroad” are exaggerated by saga authors.

Jackson notes that in a few cases not all information found in the sagas is unreliable (e.g. Harald Sigurdarson’s stay and activity in Rus’, such as his use of Jaroslav the Wise to bank his amassed Byzantine wealth). I would suggest that by less strict with her methodology, Jackson would have had even more positive results. First of all, skaldic poetry was usually produced precisely to meet the demands made by the kings (and always with the intention of praising the ruler) and thus should not be taken at face value. The magical healing skill of Saint Olaf’s body as recorded in skaldic poetry (p.137) is just one example of overstatement. Second, skaldic poetry was not produced about every event in a saga. This does not mean that every detail of a political history in a saga is de facto a fabrication. The details may not always be accurate, but sagas often present what we call “potentially believable stories,” i.e. situations which probably occurred Even if it is not possible to link them, on the basis of other sources, to a precise person or situation . In this regard, I would not immediately dismiss the possibility that a Scandinavian warlord was exacting tributes (or mustering forces) among the Chuds for a tenth-century prince in Rus’, nor would I see Olaf Tryggvason’s imprisonment as a reflection of fear from thirteenth-century Estonian pirates (pp.121–23), especially since the slave childhood of a future Norwegian king hardly adds anything to the “building-up” of a glorious character and thus could easily have been omitted by a saga author had it not been a well-known fact to other contemporaries.

These critical remarks notwithstanding, the book is a welcome contribution both to the wave of studies which aim to illuminate the Eastern sphere of the continent and to the branch of sagas studies that turns back to the historical reality behind this literature. Although its specialist nature possibly makes it a hard read for scholars untrained in Old Norse philology, Jackson’s work reminds us of the value of consulting Russian scholarship when dealing with Icelandic sagas and the Vikings.

Csete Katona
University of Debrecen

Účtovné registre Bratislavskej kapituly 1417–1529 [Account registers of the chapter of Bratislava, 1417–1529]. By Rastislav Luz. Bratislava: Univerzita Komenského v Bratislave, 2018. 288 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.559

Historians usually approach the history of the medieval ecclesiastic chapters by using the prosopography, focusing on the personnel of the chapter, and drawing on the methods used in archontology. These methods and the findings they yield are no doubt valuable. However, to understand the ecclesiastic chapters entirely, historians should also study their economic and administrative systems. In this sense, the sourcebook edited by Rastislav Luz constitutes a significant contribution to the secondary literature. A young Slovak archivist and a doctoral student at the Comenius University of Bratislava, Luz has published the transcribed account registers of the medieval chapter of Bratislava. It was published as a first book in the framework of the series Documenta Posoniensia. As Luz explains in one of the chapters of the book, the transcription of these sources is not a simple task. Since the registers were subsidiary documents which were usually disposed of immediately after they had fulfilled their purpose, this directly reflected on the way in which the canons fashioned them. They were thus written in the Gothic cursive script, which is difficult to read, and many abbreviations were used, though not uniformly. Even the way in which the registers were bound and folded makes them difficult to read. The book itself consists of two main parts. In the first part (pp.15–51), Luz deals with the chapter of Bratislava and its personnel. He also describes the fond of the chapter of Bratislava in the Slovak National Archive, where the sources he transcribed are kept. Furthermore, he gives a short paleographic and diplomatic analysis of the registers. To make the study of the accounts easier, he has included a chapter on the monetary system which appears in the registers. In the second part (pp.53–242), he presents the transcription of the thirty-three account registers. In the end, the edition includes an index of the names (pp.245–58), places (pp.259–68), items (pp.269–83), and items that appear in German (p.284). The chapter of Bratislava was a collegiate chapter. Its personnel ranged from 10 to 15 canons in the late Middle Ages (the fourteenth century to the sixteenth century). The specificity of the chapter’s personnel was that two canons of the chapter were the rectors of the parish churches in Bratislava. Though the chapter was small, it owned large estates and had the right to collect different incomes, from census and tithes to tolls and parish fees. This led to the development of an elaborate administrative system which relied on written account registers for more efficient administration. The chapter divided the incomes into communal, individual, and those belonging to the provost. The mention of the oldest register, which is not preserved, is from 1400. However, Luz presumes that the account registers had begun to be written earlier, around the second half of the fourteenth century, when the whole institution became more bureaucratized. The canon who supervised the incomes and expenses and wrote the registers was the dean. He had to present the accounts two times a year, on St. George’s Day (April 24) and St. Michael’s Day (September 29), after which the canons distributed the incomes among themselves. The thirty-three account registers which Luz has transcribed in this edition cover the period from 1417 to 1529. Luz put the registers chronologically, but they are not continuous, since not all of them were preserved. Luz endeavored to keep the original distribution of the text as much as possible. He also kept the Roman letters for the numbers and abbreviations for the currencies. The canons originally wrote all the registers on paper, and Luz was able to identify 24 different handwritings, indicating that they were written by 24 different people. The account registers list the incomes and expenses in the span of one or two years and the distribution of the incomes among the canons. The expenses could be both communal and individual. Those could be money for travel, transportation, collectors of the tithe, gifts, lunch, shows of hospitality, new clothes, etc. Since the registers are not uniform, some list all the elements and some only list the expenses. The most significant change noticeable in the inventory management is that from the second half of the fifteenth century, the dues were also paid in kind, not just in money. Accordingly, some of the inventories also list the inhabitants who gave the dues, while the earlier registers note only the amount of the due given for the whole settlement. All in all, historians can use the account registers transcribed by Luz with confidence in further historical analysis. To list just several possibilities: the everyday life of the canons, the social history of the chapter, the administrative and economic system of the chapter, the trends in economic production, environmental history, e.g. the system of dams and fishing on the estates of the chapter. Finally, this edition also makes possible comparative analyses of similar material from different European ecclesiastic chapters.

Petra Vručina
University of Zadar

Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary (1770–1820). Edited by Ágnes Dóbék, Gábor Mészáros, and Gábor Vaderna. Budapest: Reciti, 2019. 285 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.561

Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary (1770–1820) presents the proceedings of a conference held under the same name in April 2018, organized by the Momentum Research Group Literary Culture in Western Hungary, 1770–1820 (Institute for Literary Studies of the Research Centre for Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences). The volume is bilingual, with the contributions written either in English or German. The eighteen studies comprising the book reflect the various research interests and goals of the Research Group, making it clear to the reader the study of the culture of historical western Hungary at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries constitutes an academically relevant if challenging scholarly endeavor.

After the Holy League defeated the Turks in 1687 and thus brought the more than 150-year-long dominance of the Ottoman Empire in Hungary to an end, the Habsburg Monarchy (which had ruled the western third of the country since 1526 as a result of a marital contract with the Jagiellonian dynasty) felt entitled to claim the liberated Hungarian territories. The end of the seventeenth century thus marked another turning point for Hungary, with Austria extending its political power over the country and adding another layer to its already immensely rich culture. It was during the reign of Maria Theresa that the Age of Enlightenment (ca. 1750–1820) came, and new ideas swept through Hungary. As Gábor Vaderna explains in the introductory study of the volume (“Language, Media and Politics in the Hungarian Kingdom between 1770 and 1820”), this era was characterized by remarkable cultural innovation, which brought about the strengthening of Habsburg Hungary both as a political and as an economic power in the region. Development naturally triggers institutional changes, one of which was the expansion of the press and its synergy with other literary media. The period witnessed the emergence of new journalistic genres and the specialization of the press: alongside the conventional economic and political newspapers, readers now had access to scientific periodicals covering specific disciplines. As the press enabled greater accessibility to information, new types of readers and reader behaviors appeared, as did novel forms of editorial attitudes and strategies. Interestingly though, these changes were fueled by the interests of the aristocracy, in part simply because the bourgeoisie was virtually nonexistent in Hungary at the time. In other words, as the smallest yet most privileged and dominant social class of the country, the aristocracy made it possible for the literate population to access information.

One can see from this brief overview that the political and cultural atmosphere in Enlightenment Hungary was peculiar by European standards and, at the same time, unique in that it represented great diversity. The principal aim of the volume is to investigate how media developed and functioned in multilingual and multicultural western Hungary in the approximately fifty years of this period. Such complex research calls for the crossing of disciplinary boundaries. It is therefore natural, if not necessary, that the contributions to this volume focus on the different aspects of life on which the revolutionization of journalism left its mark. The major themes covered in the volume include cultural development (generalization of information, periodicals, and dictionaries), regional outlooks (Croatia, southern Slovakia), language planning, political journalism, literary criticism and publishing, and, last but not least, religion.

Cultural development and the foregrounding of Hungarian identity were tightly connected to the promotion of Hungarian dictionaries and Hungarian-language periodicals. The question of language choice was particularly important in a country in which the official language of administration and education was Latin and German was starting to take over this role. There was an increasing need to write and publish in Hungarian and to balance out the dominance of Latin and German in the media. István Fried’s study, entitled “Mehrsprachigkeit in den ersten Jahrzehnten der ungarischen Zeitschriftenliteratur” examines multilingualism in the press in western Hungary in relation to nationalist movements and language planning endeavors in the 1810s. He concludes that multilingual publishing promoted the use of Hungarian and the spread of knowledge in the regions which were parts of historical Hungary. In a similar vein, Réka Lengyel (“The Newspaper as a Medium for Developing National Language, Literature, and Science”), Margit Kiss (“Magyar Hírmondó and Dictionary Proposals”), and Eva Kowalská (“Die erste slowakische Zeitung Presspurské nowiny zwischen Journalismus und Patriotismus”) all highlight the importance of disseminating information in the vernacular in the strengthening of national identity. The rise of nationalism in the non-Hungarian speaking regions of the kingdom is further discussed in Suzana Coha’s discussion of journalism in the Croatian territories (“History of Journalism in the Croatian Lands from the Beginnings until the Croatian National Revival”).

Language planning went hand in hand with a desire for cultural revival. It is thus no surprise that Hungarian intellectuals were striving to enable the broader diffusion of Hungarian cultural and scientific products. Gábor Vaderna emphasizes József Péczeli’s (1750–1792) merits in organizing intellectual life in Komárom (today Komárno, Slovakia) and publishing Mindenes Gyűjtemény, which is considered by many as the first Hungarian scientific journal (“Möglichkeiten der Urbanität in der ungarischen Zeitschrift Mindenes Gyűjtemény”). Further contributions made by, among others, Rumen István Csörsz (“The Literary Program of István Sándor and the Periodical Sokféle [1791–1808]”), Olga Granasztói (“The Paper Hazai Tudósítások and the Beginnings of the Cult of Monuments Through the Lens of Ferenc Kazincy’s Articles [1806–1808]”), and Béla Hegedűs (“Literary History as an Argument for the Existence of Literature. Miklós Révai’s Call in Magyar Hírmondó and Költeményes Magyar Gyűjtemény”) all provide evidence of the fervent and productive cultural work that was taking place among the Hungarian upper circles at the time. Speaking from a more literary perspective, Piroska Balogh gives an account of the emergence of critical journalism at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and Katalin Czibula reflects on German-language and Hungarian-language theater criticism in western Hungarian newspapers. Norbert Béres presents the most frequent distribution strategies of novels (“‘Roman, und was besser ist, als Roman.’ Über die Vertriebsstrategien des Romans”), providing insights into advertising and selling literature as a form of cultural product. Ágnes Dóbék takes a glance at how the western Hungarian press viewed European journalistic practices, and András Döbör analyses political articles by pro-Enlightenment publicist Sándor Szacsvay in “Magyar Kurír” (Sán­dor Szacsvay’s Un­der­world Dia­lo­gues as Po­li­ti­cal Pub­lic­isms in the 1789 Year of the Enlightenment-Era News­pa­per Ma­gyar Ku­rír”). From a more Austria-focused perspective, Andrea Seidler investigates the presence of the imperial couple in the Preßburger Zeitung, a German-language newspaper in Bratislava (Pressburg, the capital city of today’s Slovakia), published twice a week from 1764 (until 1929). The final contribution to the volume, Zsófia Bárány’s “Catholic and Protestant Union-Plans in the Kingdom of Hungary between 1817 and 1841,” provides insights into the emergence of what we today call “public opinion” in relation to religious tolerance and freedom in the region.

The versatility of the papers published in Media and Literature in Multilingual Hungary (1770–1820) bears testimony to the complexity and richness of the subject. Through close and detailed examination of how the press evolved and functioned in western Hungary in the fifty years that were crucial to the unfolding of the ideas of the Enlightenment in the region, one can understand the role the press played in the wide distribution of knowledge and the promotion of national identity. With its illuminating contributions, the volume serves as a helpful source of information for any scholar or student venturing into this vast territory of Hungarian cultural studies.

Csenge Aradi
University of Szeged

The Secular Enlightenment. By Margaret C. Jacob. Princeton & Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2019. xi+339 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.565

The concept of secularization is without doubt one of the most paradoxical notions within eighteenth-century and Enlightenment studies. Although the notion of secularity and the Enlightenment seem to make strange bedfellows, secular tendencies, such as profanation and laicization, have been widely disputed phenomena in early modern scholarship. As far as the history of the concept is concerned, it should be noted that, alongside the predominant ecclesiastical interpretation (canon law), the eighteenth century witnessed a significant expansion in the semantics of the notion. Therefore, secularization and the notion of secularity became counter-concepts of religious life and tended to describe both the distance from monastic life and those persons who were freed from vows and lived at liberty in the world (Cyclopædia, or an Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, 1728, vol. 2, 45). In this respect, this semantic extension per se covers two approaches with regard to the Enlightenment. First, it stands for a religious movement which, in the course of the eighteenth century, became more and more profane by putting religious sentiment in the background. Second, it is identified with the stance of the so-called “High Enlightenment,” which by no later than the mid-eighteenth century had irrevocably distanced itself from the religious and spiritual Weltanschauung. From among the two diffuse interpretations, The Secular Enlightenment seems to choose the second path. The position of the author on this matter is clear. Jacob, however, tends to see enlightened secularism as also having had religious sources, and her book only aims to register the shift when this religious agenda gave place to a secular setting.

Margaret C. Jacob (University of California) is one of the few prominent scholars who has made significant contributions to the intellectual history of the Enlightenment in the past half century. Jacob’s view expressed in this book seems to synthesize her results in the volumes on Newtonianism (1995, with Betty Jo Teeter Dobbs) and Enlightenment Radicalism (1981). In her book published in 2019, she attempts to provide a panoramic account of the secular tendencies of the Enlightenment. From a historiographical point of view, Jacob’s perspective, on which she reflects in the Prologue (p.5), can be taken as a fresh addition to the ongoing debates (David Sorkin, John Robertson) on Enlightenment modernity. The Secular Enlightenment is in multiple ways connected to this traditional historiography forged by leading historians, such as Peter Gay, Franco Venturi, Daniel Roche, and John Marshall.

First, it upholds the “radical thesis,” which proclaimed that the Enlightenment project fundamentally impacted the cultural, social, and political basis on which modernity was built. However, Jacob seeks to find the balance between the religious initiations and the social and political circumstances. Second, in the Epilogue (pp.263–65), Jacob attributes to the notion of the “secular Enlightenment” a long-lasting impact on the twentieth-century European and American liberal project of democracy when she claims that, “[w]here enlightened principles survived the repression of the 1790s and beyond, democracy had a greater chance of emerging.”

As for the roots of these intellectual initiatives, Jacob’s central question is concerned with the redefinition of the narrative of secularization by displaying the transition from the religious antecedents to the secular period: “The Enlightenment was an eighteenth-century movement of ideas and practices that made the secular world its point of departure. It did not necessarily deny the meaning or emotional hold of religion, but it gradually shifted attention away from religious questions toward secular ones” (p.1).

In addition to the historiographical implications, Jacob lists other arguments central to the thesis throughout the eight chapters. The first three chapters explore how human life changed in the eighteenth century. Chapter 1 (“The Setting: Space Expanded and Filled Anew”) focuses on the question of how, beginning in the seventeenth century, colonial experience reshaped the existing narratives on the role of God’s providence and “celestial and terrestrial” reality. In the new intellectual setting, space tended to lose its Cartesian conceptualization and became neutral, parallel to the expansion of the new language of Newtonian physics. Chapter 2 (“Time Reinvented”), using the well-known cultural historical thesis and personal examples (such as the example of the Huygens family), aims to renegotiate how the expansion of material culture and technological improvements laid the groundwork for everyday materialism by profoundly altering the perception of biblical and religious time. As a consequence, the perception of time multiplied and secular punctuality became predominant, while “[t]he Christian meaning of time remained, but like predestination, millennial time seemed less and less relevant” (p.52). Following this logic, Chapter 3 (“Secular Lives”) pays attention to the scope of ordinary people. It offers glimpses into the cacophony of small and unheard voices of the literate, represented by freethinkers, industrialists, travelling booksellers, scholars, religious and sexual heretics, and unnamed producers of erotic poetry, pornography, and other genres of forbidden literature. By using personal and unpublished sources, in this chapter Jacob aims to provide a comprehensive account of the wider social foundations of secularity.

In the remaining five chapters, the Enlightenment is portrayed as a collective project which had its own entangled geographical and cultural characteristics. Concentrating on these geographical and cultural differences, each part discusses one of the most virulent European centers (Paris, Edinburgh, Berlin, Vienna, Naples, and Milan) between the 1700s and the caesura of the 1790s. As far as the themes are concerned, the scope of the chapters is very broad; they cover a wide variety of topics, including economic, moral, theological, political, and scientific quarrels. The leading principle behind these chapters is that the emergence of enlightened ideas was confused everywhere in Europe, though at the same time it was inseparable from secular(ized) sentiment. Although Jacob’s goal is to retell the “well-known” topoi in a subversive way by adding pieces of information that go beyond the narrow thematical frame, the orientation towards the great names and the philosophical and theological debates remains a persistent feature of her analyses. The thematical blocks, however, appear to stand on their own and to resist comparison. Thus, the case studies, even though they represent the depth of the author’s knowledge impressively, seem to lose sight of the latest findings in the scholarship on the Enlightenment.

Chapter 4 (“Paris and the Materialist Alternative: The Widow Stockdorff”) places the Francophone Enlightenment in the contexts of anti-royalism, Anglophone political literature, and natural scientific discourses shaped by materialist ideas. According to Jacob, secularism in the French Enlightenment was preoccupied by a set of vibrant political and social visions which were debated extensively in unofficial literature. Therefore, the radical ideas could find expression “more commonly in cities rather than in the countryside” (p.89). Chapter 5 (“The Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh”) depicts a more balanced and sophisticated image of the Scottish tendencies. As Jacob argues, the beginning of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 1690s was rather hesitant. In contrast to French radical sentiment, the lack of forbidden literature and the alliance between the moderate Presbyterian clergy and the university elite proved to be constitutive throughout the century. Here, the secular framework was equivalent to discussing a set of issues (such as literary works, agriculture, manufacturing, politeness, social progression, Newtonian science, and the participation of women in society) in front of a wider audience.

Chapter 7 (“Berlin and Vienna”) with its almost fifty pages aims to extend the scope of the investigation to the German-speaking lands by outlining the developments from the post-Westphalian intellectual climate to German idealism. Here, the two most substantial assets advancing secularization were the advanced university culture and the widespread anti-scholastic sentiment. Thus, as Jacob argues, in the early Enlightenment, more attention was paid to theology and religion than in France or Scotland (p.159). The search for “secular freedom” had a significant impact on the later philosophies represented by the prominent thinkers of the High Enlightenment, Lessing, Mendelssohn, Kant, and Herder (p.166).

Chapter 7 (“Naples and Milan”) brings further arguments into negotiating the Italian experience, where secular tendencies appeared to have met the need for pragmatic reform. As the cases of eighteenth-century Naples and Milan exemplify, the enlightened vision could be channeled via the cultural transfers of experimental physics, political economy, and anti-tyrannical literature, into the Catholic scholastic mindset in various forms. As for the reform of agriculture and the penalty system, they were unquestionably connected to social and political needs.

As the title indicates, chapter 8 (“The 1790s”) provides an outlook on how the French Revolution impacted the Enlightenment. By accepting the conventional explanation that the Enlightenment came to an end with the French Revolution, Jacob offers glimpses into the variety of reactions to the French tendencies, such as the Irish rebels, the distant supporters of the Revolution, the members of secret societies and masonic lodges, and the rejection of the Low Countries and German-speaking lands. Although the chapter begins with an evocation of the Romantic vision when, for the vast majority of people, it seemed like “everything could be questioned, rethought, reimagined, and even lived in new and unprecedented ways” (p. 237), it portrays an incomplete victory over enlightened secularism. This dramatization of the revolutionary sentiment has its purpose, as the earlier reviews have already pointed out, but many notable developments which would have merited more attention have been left out of the book.

While Jacob’s scholarly experience, which draws on American, Scottish, English, Dutch-Belgian, German, French, and Italian narrative and archival sources, is impressive, the book focuses mainly on a conventionally Western-centered canon, and it fails to reflect on the experiences of the enlightened peripheries, such as Northern Europe (the Swedish and Danish Kingdoms), the Iberian peninsula, and East Central Europe (Austria, Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, and Russia). The disproportion is the most visible in chapter 6, in which the assessment of Habsburg absolutism is restricted to the culture of the masonic lodges and Mozart’s Zauberflöte (p.172–78). Apart from these, Jacob’s book takes the secular experience as evidently accessible in the context of the eighteenth century but pays no attention to the conceptual and contextual concerns that may make the notion of “secularity” less apt for historical analysis. Jacob’s distinctly secular view implies that the progress of secularism as a Western-born phenomenon which became closely related to enlightened sentiment proceeded from the late sixteenth century onwards, contributing to the development of a set of seemingly “modern” questions, the effect of which on nineteenth-century modernization is hardly deniable.

All in all, The Secular Enlightenment is a thought-provoking collection of ideas, which provides an impressive account of the secular tendencies of the eighteenth century which were most substantial to the intellectual movement. Jacob guides her readers with considerable confidence and compassion over a set of topics which demand serious attention even from experts. Thanks to her elegant and fluent prose, the book reads easily. Merely with its choice of subject, the book merits scholarly attention, and Jacob approaches the topic in a way which will lead to constructive debates on the field.

Tibor Bodnár-Király
Eötvös Loránd University

“Kedves Hazámfiai, mozdulni kell...” Georgikoni peregrinatio oeconomica a 19. század elején [“Dear fellow countrymen, we must move...” The technological journeys of Hungary’s first college of farming in the early nineteenth century]. By György Kurucz. Budapest: Corvina–Ráday Gyűjtemény, 2020. 303 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.570

The practice of international travel went through exponential growth from the early to mid-sixteenth century, but it was perceived as dangerous and frivolous by many intellectual authorities. In order to provide a framework for a possible practice of useful travel, a specific genre emerged in the second half of the century: ars apodemica, normative texts aiming to shape the “art of being abroad.” Young men were to be exposed to the dangers and temptations of foreign travel and to invest both time and extensive resources (their own, their family’s or their sponsors’) only if a clear benefit was in sight. A beneficial travel experience had a dual goal: service to the state and development of the self. Personal development itself was only an intermediary step towards service to the state: thanks to individual’s experience abroad, the state would gain a trained and experienced specialist able to fill crucial roles. Within the development of traveling practices over the following centuries, a key novelty was the emergence of new entities which completed and modified this schema. Service to the supranational Republic of Letters, learned societies, and particular institutions could complement or, indeed, replace the idea of traveling in the service of the nation.

György Kurucz’s monograph tackles one such case, drawing on a corpus of international significance. The Georgikon school of agricultural studies of Keszthely, founded and directed by members of the Festetics family, was an institution of European importance. In order to keep up with innovations abroad and to maintain essential interpersonal and scholarly networks, the school regularly sent students and also staff on European trips. The book tackles the most extensive of these expeditions, the 1820–1825 peregrinatio oeconomica of two teachers, physician Pál Gerics and horticulturist József Lehrmann, using the large amount of materials in diverse genres (instructions, journals, reports, correspondence) resulting from these trips. One of the strongest features of the book is the careful distinction between these various writings: Kurucz is careful to consider which text targeted which audience.

Finding a format that does justice to the practice discussed and acknowledges the work that remains to be done must have been a difficult task. The structure of the book is one possible solution. After an introductory chapter, Chapter 2 sketches the immediate local and national intellectual context, followed by a chapter (which offers a welcome range of international parallels) on the genre and practice of instructions for travel. A central chapter describes the journey step by step, helpfully complemented by maps of the itinerary of the two scholars (who sometimes traveled together and sometimes parted ways) on the inner cover at the beginning and end of the book. The last two chapters shed light in particular on two types of interactions and experiences at various stages of the journey: Chapter 5 provides an excellent summary of all things related to innovation in agriculture and related fields; Chapter 6 tackles what relates to the human experience of such a journey. The book comes to an end with a quick conclusion which mostly highlights the extensive work yet to be completed.

While this structure is logical, I was left uncertain about some of the editorial decisions regarding the length of the various chapters. The central chapter, which presents the trip itself, stands out. It is a 96-page behemoth, without any subchapters, giving a quick summary of every stop the travelers made. The subsequent chapters provide a more detailed analysis of the main centers of interest at various stages of the trip (agrarian innovations and the human aspects of travel). Since these survey chapters are present, would it not have been possible to shorten (or even do away with) the central chapter and to extend the chapters which contain analyses? Particularly the last chapter on the human element (described here as “sentimental journey,” a term I do not necessarily find appropriate) flits a little too quickly through multiple topics, including meetings and networks, infrastructure, and curiosity concerning politics and religion, etc. Breaking up chapters into subchapters would have increased the book’s readability, as would have a more extensive index featuring key subjects at the end of the book. The volume is richly illustrated with relatively contemporary illustrations of the places visited and some key persons. These illustrations provide some sense of “getting closer,” but ultimately, they remain only decorative; at times the link between the illustration and the text is tenuous.

While the surviving material is of exceptional depth, the trip taken by Gerics and Lehrmann has some parallels. Chapter 3 explores comparisons of a range of instructions for and practices of travel. To complement this, I would suggest two additional paths to be explored for further research. One of these paths revolves around schools, and especially schools of technical education, to which both teachers and advanced pupils regularly traveled: by the late eighteenth century, this had become regular practice in the cases of two major French schools of engineering, the École des Ponts et Chaussées and the École des Mines. Another possible comparison would be the tradition of instructions for “patriotic” travel, or in other words journeys which were expected to serve the improvement of the nation (and, ultimately, humankind) through the scientific knowledge gained by the travelers. This corpus grew out of two traditions discussed in the book, that of travel instructions issued by learned societies and the Göttingen tradition of traveling methodology; however, it went even further in developing a meticulous methodology of observation, often using tables of observation. The best-known example is Moravian aristocrat Leopold Berchtold’s influential An Essay to Direct and Extend the Enquiries of Patriotic Travellers (London, 1789), considered a “total” methodology of travel.

The work on the Georgikon traveling practices clearly merits further exploration. Some aspects of these practices would be of interest to historians of agriculture, while others would be of interest to historians of education, intellectual historians, and specialists on travel. Kurucz’s monograph attempts to cater to all these audiences at once, and even to the general public, as shown by its use of illustrations. This ambition comes with some challenges. Nevertheless, the volume is a fitting tribute to the major endeavor it presents, and its findings should be shared with an international audience.

Gábor Gelléri
Aberystwyth University

Universities in Imperial Austria 1848–1918: A Social History of a Multicultural Space. By Surman, Jan. West Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 2019. 460 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.573

A revised and updated version of his doctoral dissertation Habsburg Universities 1848–1918: Biography of a Space (University of Vienna, 2012), Jan Surman’s new book is an ambitious study of universities as spaces of knowledge, multilingualism in the Habsburg Empire, and changing landscapes and networks of academic mobility in Cisleithania in the long nineteenth century. The book follows a chronological structure while engaging with a multi-layered thematic framework which draws on historiographical traditions and debates in the history of science and knowledge, the spatial turn, and imperial history, making an important contribution to understandings of the history of the Habsburg Empire. Surman’s work will surely be of interest to scholars in these fields, as well as to readers interested in the history of education, migration, and nationalism.

While the title indicates that the narrative will focus primarily on the period between 1848 and 1918, Surman takes a broader view, exploring the transformations of what he calls “imperial academic space” (p.3) from the late eighteenth century to the afterlife of the empire in the late 1930s. He starts with an introduction of the Habsburg academic landscape of the eighteenth century and the early nineteenth century, when universities were seen as institutions which made civil servants rather than scholarship, and the production of “real” scientific knowledge in the empire took place in other spaces, such as museums, botanical and zoological gardens, clubs and associations, libraries and other (state) collections. 1848 is identified as a turning point for Habsburg universities in Chapter 2, when new agendas emerged and universities were reorganized under Minister of Education Leo Thun-Hohenstein. Surman argues that Thun saw science as a panacea for the various problems, national and social, of the Habsburg composite state: universities were part of an agenda of imperialism, and the new policies aimed to create universities which were positive towards the monarchy and furthered the idea of German linguistic and cultural superiority. At the same time, Surman calls for a more nuanced view of the 1850s and the changes it brought forth, pointing out that the matter of university autonomy remained a central point of debate. He also argues against the forced Germanisation discourse in earlier historiography. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 consider the transformation of the intellectual geography of Cisleithania from the 1860s as a consequence of the implementation of university autonomy, with a particular focus on changes to the language of instruction at universities across the empire. These chapters focus on changes to imperial, regional, and local academic landscapes, academic hierarchies, academic mobility and migration, and scholarly identities across three main language spaces: Czech, German, and Polish. Surman maps a network of tensions around issues of language, education, scholarship, and identity, pointing to parallels and differences in, for instance, Bohemia and Galicia, and he shows that there were definite similarities, for example, in Czech and Ruthenian language activism from the perspective of political stability. At the same time, these spaces developed very differently, as shown through examples of disciplinary diversification, patterns of academic mobility and exchange, and the stabilization of the institutional hierarchy, with Vienna at the top. The question of identity is explored further in Chapter 6, which considers the experience of being an “Other” at Habsburg universities, with a focus on the role of religious denomination in academic advancement in a context of increasing anti-Semitism, Catholic anti-modernism, and nationalism. Finally, the last chapter moves beyond 1918 and explores the pervasiveness of the Habsburg system in the successor states, not only through the survival of personal connections and scholarly entanglements, but as a consequence of the fact that prominent universities (Cracow, Prague, Vienna) had already been acting according to national geographies before the war.

Surman defines the Habsburg Empire as a “linguistically divided but still culturally entangled scientific space” (p.279). The engagement with the concept of entanglement (or multiple entanglements, in fact) is one of the most interesting aspects of the book. Surman focuses on the productive nature of multiculturalism, which, he argues, outweighed monoculturalism and nationally oriented intellectual retreat. In this sense, when he argues that language change and linguistic plurality did not lead to the dissolution of the empire, he is very much in conversation with recent revisionist histories of the Habsburg imperial space and imperial Austria in particular. The originality of Surman’s book is in that it depicts the Habsburg Austrian university sphere as a moveable, dynamic environment, in which universities were part of an agenda of imperialism, even if, at the same time, they also pursued their own, autonomous agendas. This is illustrated, for instance, through the question of language equality: the book shows that these agendas could be very different in Bohemia and Galicia, two of the book’s most important case studies, but as Surman argues, one cannot understand processes in one without looking at the other.

Space and its limits/limitations is one of the central themes that runs through the narrative as Surman maps the parallel transformations of the academic and imperial landscape. There are multiple, overlapping spaces under the lens here, both vertically and horizontally: Surman quotes Theodor Mommsen as saying that “Habsburg scholars are sentenced to Chernivtsi, pardoned to Graz, promoted to Vienna” (p.154), showing that the institutional and academic hierarchy in the Habsburg Empire was inseparable from imperial symbolic geography. The limitations of the academic space are also demonstrated through the analysis of academic appointments and scholars’ careers outside universities, with Surman crafting a nuanced picture of career insecurity and the role of untenured and unpaid university instructors. Privatdozenten (unsalaried university lecturers) are identified as key victims and, at the same time, important pillars of the Habsburg imperial academic landscape. They constituted a precarious teaching force which, for the most part, worked for no pay and which, through the work the members of this teaching force did outside universities, made an important contribution to local and urban developments. Another instance where the significance of multidirectional spatiality is made clear is when in Chapter 6 Surman writes about the anti-Semitism of academic participation and appointments, delineating the “invisible ghetto walls” and glass ceilings that affected Jewish scholars horizontally and vertically.

Language is another key theme used by Surman to argue that Habsburg universities were both spatial and imperial projects. The book uses the question of language use in university education and research to address various tensions in the empire, not only in terms of how nationalism affected academia at a more universal level, but also down to the more particular questions of local sciences or disciplines, such as the development of regional historiographies. Surman identifies changes to the language of instruction as a particular turning point, and he shows that it affected not only demands for language equality, but also the intellectual geography of the empire, its regions, and cities. Chapter 5 examines these processes through comparative analysis of the appointment processes in Galicia and Bohemia, looking at linguistic and geopolitical aspects of how the universities in Cracow and L’viv sought Polish-speaking professors, while Prague looked to appoint Czechs from the 1860s in a different fashion. Ultimately, the book convincingly argues that while science was, and remained, an overall universal enterprise for Habsburg scholars, pursuing it in the national language was seen as essential for national development, as the use of the national language in the sciences was seen as serving and securing loyalty to the national cause.

A meticulously researched work based on extensive archival research in an impressive number of languages and countries, the book offers detailed and nuanced analysis of the source material. In addition to several tables offering statistical evidence about academic salaries, appointments, and other social patterns of university life (including the percentage of professors’ offspring who entered the professoriat), the narrative is also interspersed with some well-placed anecdotes. As Surman states himself in the introduction, the book would have benefitted from more attention to women (or rather, the virtual absence of women) in the Habsburg academic system, and, as evident from the title, Hungary is largely missing from this history of a Habsburg multilingual university space. This criticism notwithstanding, the book shows remarkable range in its coverage and analysis, and it is a significant achievement for the history of science in Central Europe.

Katalin Stráner
University of Manchester

Slovutný pán prezident. Listy Jozefovi Tisovi [Your Honor, Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso]. By Madeline Vadkerty. Žilina: Absynt, 2020. 228 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.577

Since the struggles and debates over the memory of World War II and the Holocaust have not come to an end in most of the countries concerned, including Slovakia, the German position concerning its allegedly exclusive responsibility for the Holocaust has become an obstacle not only to independent scholars, but also to the society which needs to confront its own troubled history and its own responsibility. While the Holocaust was exclusively a German plan, as Jan Grabowski correctly claims, the Germans found many willing allies and enablers. Thus, the Slovaks too should take responsibility for the acts of the Slovak authorities, the Hlinka Guards, and collaborators who helped facilitate the deportation of tens of thousands of Slovak Jews to their deaths. The Holocaust in Slovakia happened smoothly in large part because the local representatives and populations participated. And among those who represented the whole regime responsible for the destruction of the Slovak Jewry was Jozef Tiso.

There are not many Slovak personalities who are more controversial than Jozef Tiso, the Catholic priest and president of the wartime Slovak Republic. While every serious academic research has proven his role and participation in the Holocaust in Slovakia, nationalistic sentiment tends either to rehabilitate him and point out his role in saving Slovaks (including some Jews) or bluntly admire him for his alliance with Nazi Germany and his participation in the persecution and massacre of Jews, Roma, and political opponents. American author Madeline Vadkerty decided not to write a major biography of Tiso or an academic analysis of existing debates on the role of Tiso in the Holocaust. In her book Your Honor, Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso, she used archival sources to demask the Catholic compassion of this man, who was a politician and a clergyman, and shed light on the helplessness of the persecuted Slovak Jewry. In her book, Tiso stands in the background, yet his persona is omnipresent. The central figures of her book are people whose lives had been brutally affected by the anti-Semitic policies of the Slovak Republic, i.e. the Jews of Slovakia. The ongoing adoption of anti-Jewish measures gradually had a devastating effect on the lives of about 89,000 people. And when the economic destruction of Slovak Jewry was completed, the Slovak authorities led by President Tiso decided to “solve” the “Jewish question” by stripping the Slovak Jews of their citizenship and deporting them in collaboration with Nazi Germany to the “East.”

Vadkerty examines the prelude to the deportation, and she sheds light on the time of permanent persecution, which included the loss of jobs and thus livelihoods, the loss of property, and relationships broken up due to the racial laws regulating sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews. Vadkerty’s book brings the reader to the moment when thousands of people decided to write to the president of the republic of which they were citizens with the hope that they could trust in the compassion and moral commitment of the head of the state, who was also a Catholic priest. Thousands wrote to Tiso hoping that their letters would prompt him to recognize their fundamental human rights, for instance by helping them keep their jobs, shops, or property or by granting them the “famous” presidential exception, awarded to the “economically important” Jews. These exceptions protected approximately 1,000 people (the exceptions also included family members, and thus they involved an estimated 5,000 people) from deportation in 1942.

Through these letters, which can be read as testimonies to the destruction of the Slovak Jewry, readers can learn about the Holocaust through the fates of individuals. These 13 real stories, which Vadkerty had chosen, are presented in the form of short novels, based on actual historical events. Vadkerty recreates (fictionalizes) possible monologues, dialogues, and backstories while she writes about little-known chapters of the Holocaust in Slovakia. Using the format of a short novel, she introduces readers to real Jewish and non-Jewish women and men of all ages from numerous Slovak villages and towns as they reacted to the regime’s anti-Jewish measures. Each of 13 stories is based on deportation records, archival documents, and interviews with family members, and they are all accompanied by pictures of the original letters. Vadkerty switches back and forth from fictional dialogues and recreated stories inspired by historical sources and historical narrative based on references to historical sources, so she keeps reminding the reader of historical facts and documents which are the base of these stories. The book shows how the anti-Jewish policy of the wartime Slovak republic destroyed the lives of ordinary people simply because these people were regarded as Jews. Vadkerty describes how these people not only asked for mercy, but also proclaimed their own integrity, diligence, love of country, and other civic virtues in their letters. However, the President’s Office did not respond to many of the letters. In some cases, the President’s Office simply declined the requests or called on other local authorities to investigate the situation. Often, replies arrived after the people who had written the letters had been deported.

Thanks to archival research and her focus on story-telling, in collaboration with Ján Púček, Vadkerty manages to shed light on the unhealed wounds of recent Slovak history. While the introduction of the book by Ivan Kamenec, one of the most important Holocaust scholars from Slovakia, gives an academic frame to a book which is intended for a general audience, it points out this problem in Slovak historiography. In Slovakia, the gap between best-selling memoirs of Slovak Jews who survived the Holocaust and the highly exclusive academic works on the Holocaust, which are almost inaccessible in their vocabulary and approach to a reader who is not a specialist in the field of history, calls attention to the need for more approachable historical narratives on the Holocaust in Slovakia. Yet more and more scholars in Slovakia, such as Hana Kubátová, Monika Vrzgulová, Marína Zavacká, Ján Hlavika, Anton Hruboň, and Jakub Drábik, have begun to recognize the potential roles for scholars of this area and the need not only for extensive research but also for comprehensive and accessible publications which meet high scholarly standards while also appealing to wider audiences.

Vadkerty’s book follows a trend of semi-fictional writing in the international Holocaust literature. Yet, unlike many other similar books based on real stories, such as Heather Morris’s best-selling novel The Tattooist of Auschwitz, Vadkerty does not blur the authenticity of the history. Vadkerty’s book uses primary historical sources, including photographs and testimonies, and thus it can be recommended not only to readers looking for interesting literature about tragic stories of Jewish fates in Slovakia during the Holocaust, but also for scholars who search for new formats to share their research findings. Nevertheless, Your Honor, Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso does not fulfil the function of a standard work of historical scholarship. Hopefully, Vadkerty will add to her book an additional publication which will allow her to combine archival research with a more academic approach. Her research would thus be an important addition to Holocaust historiography, and her style of writing could hopefully be an inspiration for professional scholars and an example of how to write more accessible academic texts, which are still rare in the historiography of the Holocaust in Slovakia.

Denisa Nešťáková
Comenius University, Bratislava / Herder Institute, Marburg

Budapest–Bergen-Belsen–Svájc: A Kasztner-vonat fővárosi utasai [Budapest–Bergen-Belsen–Switzerland: The Budapest passengers of the Kasztner train]. Edited by Anikó Lukács. Budapest: Budapest City Archives, 2020.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.580

The story of the so-called Kasztner train and Rezső Kasztner’s activities were parts of one of the controversial episodes of the Hungarian Holocaust. Kasztner worked as the deputy chairman of the Vaada, the Zionist Aid and Rescue Committee. In 1944, as a result of his negotiations with the SS, he was able to organize the escape of several hundred Hungarian Jews to Switzerland. For each of the 1,684 passengers, thousand dollars had to be paid to the Nazis, and the train, which departed from Budapest on June 30, first took the refugees to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. Many of them managed to reach the safety of Switzerland only half a year later. Kasztner was criticized then and is still criticized today for having “sold his soul to the devil,” (a phrase used by the judge in his trial) in part because some people assume that only rich, prominent Jews were able to get on the list of passengers. As a consequence, Kasztner became involved in a trial in 1953, where he was accused of collaborating ­with the Nazis, and the trial drew attention to him which may have caused his death: three members of Lehi, a Zionist paramilitary underground group assassinated him.

Budapest–Bergen-Belsen–Switzerland: The Budapest passengers of the Kasztner train, a book published by the Budapest City Archives, contains the material from the exhibition of the same name, which was opened in June 2019. The material for this exhibition was compiled in the course of an exciting international cooperative endeavor connected to the discovery of approximately 7,000 data sheets with information concerning the owners and tenants of Budapest apartments from 1944 (the digitalized documents are available at https://archives.hungaricana.hu/en/lear/Lakasiv/). In this volume, documents concerning the life of Kasztner train passengers are combined from two collections: the Budapest City Archives and the Verband Schweizerischer Jüdischer Fürsorgen (VSJF), the Swiss association which aided Jewish refugees.

The book applies a previously neglected approach: the story of the Kasztner train is introduced through the fates of ten rescued persons or families on the basis of a variety of archival sources, photographs, documents, letters collected from private individuals, recollections, and diaries. The book is attractive, with photographs and documents arranged in a “scrapbook style.” Both the main text and captions have been translated into English, making it accessible and engaging to the English readership too.

In Holocaust research, the perspectives of victims and microhistory are becoming increasingly prominent; this book is an example of this trend, as the core consists of the stories of survivors. Editor Anikó Lukács also mentions this in her foreword, where she emphasizes that the main focus was not on Kasztner’s activity and its political aspects but on the refugees themselves.

A short writing by Annie Szamosi, in which she gives an account of how she learned of her family’s past, fits into this concept. Szamosi’s story is typical: her parents were reluctant to tell her and her brother what had happened to them during World War II; however, during a trip she took to Budapest, a relative disclosed the entire story. Thus, her interest was raised in how Kasztner had saved her grandparents from certain death, and the story of Zebulon Jonatán Sternberg and Margit Dach became part of the volume.

The family stories are contextualized by a short historical introduction. The reader learns of the actions of Kasztner and the Zionists and the story of the train. The recollections of the refugees themselves and the suggestive postcards by graphic designer István Irsai, in which he depicts the characteristic objects and scenes of the camp behind barbed wire, provide an expressive picture of their experiences during the time spent in Bergen-Belsen. Nonetheless, the lack of information about the camp’s history and structure may be bothering. Finally, photographs, documents, and a short account describe the circumstances of the refugees after their arrival in Switzerland.

Then come the stories of the ten families, among whom we may find a contractor, an industrialist, a lawyer, a goldsmith, a scientist, and a merchant. The family stories are based on a rich collection of sources, and the main text is complemented with quotes from ego-documents and letters. Since the fugitives are in focus, they could have been given more space to tell their stories in their own words; but alongside the historical text, an abundance of photographs, forms, letters, and other documents also speak for them, providing further details about the families’ lives.

The volume offers the reader a picture of the passengers’ prewar situation, how their careers and lives were broken by the Holocaust, what it meant for them to get a chance to escape, and how they lived in Switzerland and after the war. From the point of view of the latter, the families whose stories were chosen for inclusion in the volume may be representative. Most of them never returned to Hungary. Instead, they settled in various countries throughout the world, from countries in South America to Israel.

Though according to the historical introduction “almost every class of Hungarian Jewry was represented” on the Kasztner train, most of the ten families whose narratives were chosen for inclusion here were prominent members of the Budapest community: for instance, György Bamberger and his wife, Rózsa Stern, who was the daughter of Samu Stern, leader of the Pest Israelite Congregation; Nison Kahan, one of the leaders of Zionism in Hungary and Gábor Munk, a member of the board of the Pest Israelite Congregation, whose daughter married Nison Kahan. Others were given places on the train due to their outstanding artistic or scientific achievements, such as the abovementioned graphic designer, István Irsai, contractor József Apor, and world-famous physician and psychiatrist Lipót Szondi. This asymmetry is probably a result of the disproportionately larger number of sources documenting the lives of well-known personalities or those who were in leading positions. Given this abundance of sources, it is easier to write about their lives. However, the material compiled for the book seems to underpin the assumption that only rich or famous people were given places on the train. This is contradicted only by the fact that the young Gádor–Donáth couple and Zebulon Jonatán Sternberg and his wife, Margit Dach, were also included on Kasztner’s list, together with numerous other less wealthy persons whose stories are not well-documented and are not mentioned in the book.

The moral implications of the Kasztner train cannot be avoided, even if the lives of the refugees remain the focus and the process according to which passengers were selected is touched upon only indirectly. A final conclusion would be hard to draw, but one factor must be underlined, which can be demonstrated through the life of the Gádor–Donáth couple. László Gádor was 32 years old in 1944, and Blanka Donáth was 23. After they returned to Hungary in 1945, Gádor worked for the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and Donáth had a long and successful career as a doctor of educational psychology. Had they stayed in Hungary in 1944, probably they would not have survived until the end of the war. Kasztner’s train made it possible for some 1,700 persons to survive the Holocaust. The life stories of the passengers effectively illuminate this simple but important truth.

Borbála Klacsmann
University of Szeged

Hóman Bálint és népbírósági pere [Bálint Hóman and his trial at the People’s Court]. Edited by Gábor Ujváry. Budapest: Ráció Kiadó; Székesfehérvár: Városi Levéltár és Kutatóintézet, 2019. 668 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.583

Bálint Hóman (1885–1951) a long-serving Minister of Culture of the Horthy regime, became a recent symbol of “historical revisionism.” By revisionism, I am referring not only to the revisions of indictments made by the people’s court after 1945 but also to the history of the period between 1945 and 1989 and thus, indirectly, to the attempt to revalue the whole period before 1945, which is a constitutive part of the memory politics of illiberal regimes. A thick volume entitled Historical Revisionism was also published in 2011. It was edited by Gábor Ujváry, a founding member of the controversial government-sponsored Veritas Historical Institute and Archive, in which the most outstanding contemporary Hungarian historians presented Hóman as a historian, a public collection specialist (as he was the director of the National Museum), and a politician while also examining his networks of valuable contacts (without which his upward career would have been unthinkable) and his connection to Székesfehérvár. However, this edited volume did not bring any closure on the subject. Rather, it was followed in 2015 by the ultimately failed plan to erect a statue of Hóman and, in 2016, the also failed lawsuit against the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia – MTA), which demanded the restoration of Hóman’s MTA membership.

The volume under review, which offers the text of the documents in Bálint Hóman’s people’s court files and analyses of these documents surprisingly begins with a detailed, almost hundred-page, extremely thoroughly compiled chronology (pp.11–108). Although there are usually chronologies at the end of publications of historical sources, this chronology at the beginning of the volume provides a primary framework for interpreting the publication: the volume sticks to sources and facts and seeks to give the impression of a scholarly endeavor that is objective, clearly substantiated, and apolitical. The chronology and bibliography of Hóman’s works are followed by Tibor Zinner’s 40-page study on the history of the people’s courts. The basic tenet of illiberal “revisionist historiography” is the emphasis on the need for a fresh start on the grounds that, until the work we have in our hands now was written, no one had dealt with the topic being analyzed. Zinner, who published his first work on the history of people’s courts already in 1983, also uses this topos. Another reflection on the history of the people’s court by Zsolt Horváth (which for some reason is at the end of the volume) mentions only the book by Tibor Lukács published in 1979 as the only summarizing work on the topic.

The volume contains two introductions concerning the people’s courts and one about the 2015 retrial. This is followed by material from the people’s court case in 1946. The real starting point of the volume is the thorough research work carried out by Gábor Ujváry as an expert for the case in 2015 (pp.537–610) and his analysis of the public debate (pp.162–99). This is followed by the documents of a court case in 1946 and then the 2015 trial.

The larger, more substantial part of the volume (about 300 pages) is the thoroughly annotated publication of the documents of the People’s Court. The rules concerning the publication of these documents are explained in a preface to the collection (as is fitting). In this volume, the studies about the court case exceed in length the documents of the court case themselves, so the reader gets two loosely connected books. The largest theoretical problem of the volume is the authors’ ambiguous attitude towards the empirical source of the volume, i.e. the minutes of the people’s court proceedings.

Anyone who has ever worked with people’s court documents knows this is a very challenging genre. The materials from a single case are sometimes held in different archives, and it can be extremely difficult to determine what documents the people’s court used and often how it used them. The version of the Hóman court case published in the book was also created by merging two archival files (one from the Budapest City Archives, the other from the Historical Archives of the State Security Services). It is therefore strange that the documents’ archival references are completely missing and, furthermore, that there is no reference to the missing materials that have been removed from the files in the meantime.

There are other methodological and theoretical problems which the authors fail to raise concerning the genre of people’s court protocols as a source. The first problem concerns the transitional nature of the institution of the people’s court itself. In an ever-changing legal environment, the authorities ran and used an institution which gained its legitimacy precisely from its ignorance of this constant change.

The second problem concerns the fact that, as is true in all court sources, since these kinds of written sources are available, they can be analyzed in two ways. The first approach is to consider these lawsuits as theatrical productions in which the actors performed the events of their past for the audience and the community according to the rules they thought were known. This, of course, had political consequences. In the case of the Hungarian people’s courts, for example, if the defendants were female, they referred to themselves as “weak women” and were usually given lighter sentences for crimes for which a male defendant would have been given a more seriously punishment.1 Hóman tried to use this tactic. According to the interrogating investigators’ summary report he behaved “womanly”: “[He] describes his role as insignificant, denies his influence, and omits from his role the moments that show his unbroken German friendship, fascist attitude, and anti-Semitic attitude throughout.” (p.210) He was not successful, given the court’s politics and context. In other cases, defendants try to arouse emotions. Female defendants, for instance, may try crying. In the case of Hóman, however, the “old woman’s complaint” (p.210), his strategy to portray himself as a victim, which is also mentioned in the report, did not help and may have hurt him. In this interpretive framework, the emphasis is on the fact that the trial, regardless of whether it happened incidentally in the transitional justice system of the extraordinary transitional period, never returns “the truth.”

The other methodological approach typical of this volume is to consider what was happening in the court as “objective.” The courts as institutions of post–World War II political justice did not function in this manner. The publication insists on factual accountability of the people’s courts with great commitment and a huge footnote apparatus. This interpretation, even if consistent in its own methodological approach, would still be questionable. First of all, it is not clear that the lawyers, police officers, and investigators working in Budapest (a city largely in ruins) in 1945 and 1946 can be expected to have the same insights, knowledge, and source knowledge that today’s researchers have. Second, this approach is inconsistent in the volume. For example, the investigative report of November 29, 1945 mentions 147 pieces of attached evidence in support of the allegations against Hóman, on which the volume does not reflect here. It is incumbent on the historian who is editing the text not simply to check and (quite legitimately) criticize the professionalism of the people’s courts but also to explain why and how this kind of legal institution and procedure developed. Analyses of large, highly symbolic court cases like the Hóman hearing, however, are not suitable for this purpose.2

In this review, I would not go into the controversial points of judging Hóman’s professional life, which was extensively analyzed in the 2011 volume. The volume under review is interesting in part because it returns to the pre-2011 framework without meaningfully reflecting on the failure to erect a statue of Hóman and the failure to rehabilitate him as a historian and scholar. The book seems to have been intended as a monument of sorts, like a book to create a memory of the trial.

The volume concludes with a history of attempts to rehabilitate Hóman, analyzing the process that resulted in neither the erection of a statue of Hóman nor the restoration of his membership in Hungarian Academy of Sciences. István Varga (FIDESZ MP), who has been the political engine behind the rehabilitation of Hóman in recent decades, gained significant space in this part of the volume. In his writing, Varga puts himself at the center of these attempts, saying “without the two-thirds parliamentary majority, I would have found it much harder to take up the obstacles” (p.505). Thus, the legal process of rehabilitation became just as much a political process as the verdict against Hóman in 1946. When the volume mercilessly and meticulously footnotes the court case, it fights a battle that it had already lost when it was launched.

Andrea Pető
Central European University

New Perspectives in Transnational History of Communism in East Central Europe. Edited by Krzysztof Brzechczyn. Dia-Logos 26. Bern: Peter Lang Verlag, 2019. pp. 384.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.587

New Perspectives in Transnational History of Communism in East Central Europe, edited by Krzysztof Brzechczyn, is the result of a renaissance in the research on the twentieth-century totalitarian systems in Central and Eastern Europe and an attempt to evaluate new theoretical proposals from various fields of study. It was published in 2019 as the twenty-sixth book in the Peter Lang series Dia-Logos. Studies in Philosophy and Social Sciences.

First, I should say that the very title promises to introduce new perspectives on the historiography of European communism. That promise is not easy to keep, especially with respect to such a well-established sphere of research. Although the subject matter has been examined in depth, it is obvious to me that there are still too few studies that go beyond the national perspective. An examination of a phenomenon like communism should not, by definition, be restricted to one historiography. It should be global and comparative.

Brzechczyn outlines precisely this perspective in his introductory remarks. He draws a clear distinction between transnational and comparative studies, and he argues convincingly that they are based on different premises. From the comparative approach, the existing national historiographies are assumed to be ready-made, independent beings, and they are compared by means of a derivative determination of the criteria for their evaluation. Such a concept can be developed with the use of the available material, and in that sense, it does not constitute an entirely new perspective, but it does make it possible, as it were, to put the existing descriptions in order and contextualize them (p.15).

Brzechczyn suggests that the transnational perspective is methodologically more challenging, as it requires one to forget the existence of borders and national differences in order to allow the consideration of communism as a global movement, and only then is the implementation of the discovered model analyzed in the particular context. The national aspect is not the original context here. On the contrary, it is the global perspective that makes it possible to define and understand the local situation. This intriguing assumption could rightly be termed a “new perspective.”

It is worth noting that that term was also used during the Third Annual Conference of the OSI–CEU Comparative History Project. Comparative Studies of Communism: New Perspectives (Budapest, May 27–29, 2010). It was also used in a 2009 book edited by Heinz-Gerhard Haupt and Jürgen Kocka entitled Comparative and Transnational History: Central European Approaches and New Perspectives. It seems clear that Brzechczyn would like to enter this discussion.

Although making paths for new perspectives is theoretically fascinating, it is also practically complicated. It is not easy to “set aside” the context in which the researchers have been raised and educated and in which they have been working all their lives. Can they free themselves from their particularistic histories? When we look through the biographical notes about the authors, we see that many of them lived and worked in more than one national context. That is an interesting Central and Eastern European phenomenon, which explains the possibility of a sensible implementation of the project. We are just entering a time in which the generation which was not shaped or, at least, was not solely shaped by the experience of communism is undertaking the theoretical reinterpretation of this experience.

In the introduction, Brzechczyn rightly notes that in the nineteenth-century scientific European historiography, the nation state was a widely accepted foundation for research. The paradigm of the “national historiography” survived, in a more or less covert form, the whole twentieth century, and it turned out to be one of the most durable assumptions of narratives about the past. Brzechczyn considers this to be both a natural consequence of the emergence of nation states and a construct of the cultural politics of those states. There is no doubt that the book ties in with the trend in transnational studies, discernible since the beginning of the twenty-first century. On the other hand, Brzechczyn correctly points out that the greater popularity of such research has yet not led to a clear theoretical position on the phenomena under study.

Consequently, Brzechczyn draws the logical conclusion that the very definition of transnational history has become a research problem. In his view, some doubts can be dispelled by separating transnational history from comparative history (p.16). This perspective is then rationally explained in a convincing manner. Brzechczyn explains why transnational historiography has recently become so popular and why it was not possible before. He focuses, on the one hand, on the new generations of researchers and, on the other, on the technical possibilities created by the Internet. Brzechczyn points out three areas of transnational research: (1) totalitarization and de-totalitarization; (2) modernist theories; and (3) the history of everyday life. In his opinion, modernist concepts were the first metanarratives of the process of transnational interpretation of communism in Eastern Europe, and the differences between the natures of communism in Eastern and Western Europe were first noted in those narratives.

The research on totalitarianism and the history of everyday life is also a traditional element of the scholarship on communism in Eastern Europe. Brzechczyn openly agrees with Peter Apor’s and Constantin Iordachi’s views on the topic. However, these authors do not see the need to draw a clear distinction between the comparative and transnational approaches, and they appear to wish to enrich the former with the latter. Indeed, for many scholars, it seems as if transnational studies are to expand and continue the main assumptions of comparative history, despite some tension between the two approaches.

Brzechczyn points to the fundamental differences between the methodological assumptions of the transnational and comparative approaches. The latter has enjoyed an established position since Marc Bloch, but it is especially popular in contemporary research on communism. One reason for this boost in popularity is the inclusion of new strategies of transnational research to that methodology. At the same time, Brzechczyn argues for the actual existence of two separate approaches here (p.17). On the other hand, Brzechczyn’s examples do not contradict directly the assumptions of comparative history.

The articles in the book are based on the papers from the 2014 conference (Poznań, October 16–17). They are essentially 16 independent texts written by various authors from different countries. This diversity makes it possible to preserve the interdisciplinary and transnational perspective, however, this comes at the cost of consistency, despite the editor’s evident efforts to maintain it. One advantage is doubtless the very broad representation of most national historiographies of the countries of the former Eastern Bloc. Also, various topics are covered, and many postulated “new perspectives” are shown.

Brzechczyn indicates three ways in which the transnationality of the authors’ approaches finds expression: (1) in the analysis of the usefulness of the theories and models characteristic of transnational studies; (2) in the research on the use of these methods; and (3) in the research carried out with the use of universal categories which may be effectively applied to many societies. It is easy to notice that point three belongs to the comparative perspective. This very perspective appears to dictate the tone of many fragments of the book, and it indicates how difficult it is to maintain the postulated sharp distinction between comparative and transnational research in practice.

The book consists of five parts. In the first three parts, the general subject matter (communism) is divided into three aspects: political (i), ideological (ii), and economic/social (iii), while the two last parts are called, respectively, the states and societies of Central and Eastern Europe (iv) and the memory and narratives about the communism in Central and Eastern Europe (v). The texts are consistently impressive, but it seems that not all the authors share the editor’s vision of the transnational perspective. Most of them focus on traditional descriptions which emphasize the historical specificity of the given country and nation, with references to comparative methods. In the remaining texts, the comparative method is assumed from the start and effectively applied. The transnationality of the methods and subject matter of research remains in the background, but we see that it is still more of an interesting idea with perspectives for the future than a specific, independent research program. Especially interesting are articles from Chapter Three offering new spheres for study from the transnational perspective: consumerism and emotion studies; and from Chapter Five that shows problems of transnationalism when challenged by official memory politics in Belarus and Ukraine.

To sum up, in most texts in the book, including Brzechczyn’s article, transnational studies are not clearly separated from comparative studies. The book does not exhaust the topic of this mutual relation, but that is not the objective of researchers who propose new points of view. It shows, in theory and practice, that there is still much work to be done before we could consider the transnational perspective to be fully conceptualized and standardized. It is difficult to separate the comparative and transnational histories, which gives rise to the question as to whether the endeavor is even justified.

In this respect, the third chapter, which is devoted to consumerism, instills optimism, as it proves that such research is not only possible but, in some areas, necessary. In the fifth chapter, ambitious plans are made for further work on the transnational perspective in historiography, and the last two texts indicate the urgency of that work, which, after all, does not take place in a political vacuum. The historiography of Central and Eastern Europe remains as complicated as its history. This is another reason why we should appreciate this publication, which presents a very broad spectrum of the theoretical and practical problems awaiting new generations of researchers. There is still no unequivocal answer to the question about the relationship between transnational and comparative perspectives in that research. The discussion continues, and Brzechczyn and his coauthors have made an important contribution to that conversation. Altogether, they have provided a good introductory book for everyone interested in transnational perspective, especially from the methodological standpoint, and for the wide range of researchers who focus on the comparative history of European communism.

Piotr Kowalewski Jahromi
University of Silesia

Magyar-zsidó identitásminták [Hungarian-Jewish identity patterns]. Edited by Iván Zoltán Dénes. Budapest: Ráció, 2019. 267 pp.

DOI 10.38145/2020.3.591

An interesting volume entitled Hungarian-Jewish Identity Patterns was published by the Budapest-based Ráció Kiadó in Hungary. The volume aims to trace the spiritual path of Hungarian (Neolog) Jewry through the fates of two Hungarian Jewish scholars, Henrik Marczali (1856–1940) and Bernát Alexander (1850–1927). The editor, Iván Zoltán Dénes, is the leader of the Henrik Marczali Research Group at the Jewish Theological Seminary at the University of Jewish Studies. Dénes analyzes how a 2018 conference which was held at the Institute of Philosophy of the Center for the Humanities of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences led to this volume. The spiritual foundation of the book is also provided by Károly Kecskeméti in his introduction, which focuses on the activities and identities of Neolog scholars or, as he writes in connection with the two scholars, “Jewish scholar[s] who at the same time identif[y] with the Hungarian nation” (p.9). Dénes also doubts the apologetics of assimilation, orthodoxy, and Zionism, as well as their idealization as an eternal explanation for every event, thus giving the ars poetica of the book, at least to be assumed.

We can read Mihály Huszár’s thorough study on Henrik Marczali’s father, Mihály Marczali, in the “Chapter of Identity Samples,” who was the first rabbi of the village of Marcali. Huszár writes about the role Mihály Marczali he played in the formation of the identity of the family. Dénes analyzes the Hungarian-Jewish identity of Henrik Marczali, and then Szilvia Peremiczky describes the appearance of three Hungarian Jewish authors (Bertalan Ormódi, József Kiss, and Emil Makai) in Hungarian literary life.

The next chapter is entitled “Situation Assessments, Strategies, Pathways I.” Here, Miklós Konrád deals with the problems of depictions of the Dualist era as the Hungarian Jewish golden age. András Zima writes about modern Jewish integration strategies at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Gábor Schweitzer examines the search for the Neolog rabbi identity in Hungary by analyzing the events between the rabbinical meeting in Győr and the foundation of the National Rabbinical Association.

In the next section, entitled “Location Assessments, Strategies, Findings 2,” Péter Zóka analyzes the role of Alexander Bernát at the Hungarian National Congress of Free Teaching. Péter Turbucz describes the views of Bernát Alexander and Henrik Marczali in a long study on World War I, and Péter András Varga writes about Alexander Bernát and his circle of students as a “problem of philosophical history writing.”

The volume strives to situate a defining part of Hungarian Jewry within the framework marked by the oeuvre of the two great Neolog scholars. In this respect, this book can be said to have been successful, because not many professionals have tried to trace the process of the historical formation of the Neolog Jewish identity. Moreover, it is important to keep in mind that we are not talking about all of the Hungarian Jews at that time, but only about a community within this larger group, which means that we are only talking about a kind of intellectual history.

However, if we assume that historian Henrik Marczali and philosopher Bernát Alexander were role models for Hungarian Neolog Jewry, their unbroken enthusiasm for Hungarian national goals, for instance, which made them apologists for the “Great War” (as Péter Turbucz makes clear in his study), seems a bit odd today. Of course, it would be anachronistic to question the degree of enthusiasm at the time, yet at the same time, this unconditional loyalty and enthusiasm proved to be an illusion from a historical perspective.

I would like to highlight a few studies from the book which I feel are essential to an understanding of the message this collection of essays seems to endeavor to convey to the general readership. The essay by Miklós Konrád, which analyzes the attitude of the Hungarian Neolog public and intellectuals about dualism, is extremely interesting. Konrád convincingly demonstrates that, contrary to popular belief, the Neolog Jewry was dissatisfied with the conditions and was increasingly frustrated, and in the end, many of them took a left-wing turn, which in this case meant supporting the revolution of 1918.

The book offers insightful articles about Alexander Bernát and Henrik Marczali, which examine certain stages of their lives and their relationships to decisive historical events. Péter Zóka analyzes Alexander’s speech in Pécs (October 1907), which was delivered at the Hungarian National Congress of Free Teaching, where many people were present, from Oszkár Jászi to Ottokár Prohászka. Alexander, in whose view nurturing the desire for knowledge and raising the level of general education were the fundamental goals, condemned all uses of education for partisan political purposes and denied the accusation brought against him that he sought to relativize the truth.

At the end of the volume, Péter András Varga analyzes the circle of students of Alexander Bernát. Bernát’s disciples were extremely important people in the history of Hungarian fiction. Béla Zalai, who died in a Russian prisoner of war camp, Jenő Varga, head of the Moscow Institute of World Economy, Vilmos Szilasi, who had a “European career,” and Béla Fogarasi, an important personality of Hungarian Marxist-Leninist philosophy, were all talents whose early interests were significantly influenced by Alexander. Varga sees in the phenomenological philosophical connection the point where these personalities were also connected to one another.

My main criticism of the book would be that it is a somewhat haphazard compilation of very high-quality studies. It sheds light on the careers of the two prominent Hungarian Jewish scholars in many respects, and it offers clear explanations of the relevance of their activities to the Hungarian Jewish intelligentsia in general. We are talking about people who were Jews but who considered themselves Jewish on the basis of religion only and who were otherwise essentially assimilated. They identified themselves as Hungarian, and in this respect, they also stressed the importance of being more than a member of a given nation. However, their unflinching Hungarian nationalism proved to be a failure in all respects, and this caused them great frustration and, paradoxically, prompted them to identify more passionately with the idea of the integral Hungarian state. This was paradoxical given the events of the subsequent decades, when the notion of the Hungarian state as defined by the borders of the medieval Hungarian kingdom proved a mirage, as did the notion that Hungarian society accepted Jews as Hungarians.

This volume is a significant contribution to the secondary literature in part because it brings identity disputes off the emotional plane and places them between the cornerstones of the historical facts and science.

Attila Novák
Thomas Molnár Institute for Advanced Studies /
National University for Public Service

1 See more on this: Andrea Pető, The Women of the Arrow Cross Party. Invisible Hungarian Perpetrators in the Second World War (Palgrave: Macmillan, 2020).

2 See more Ildikó Barna, and Andrea Pető, Political Justice in Budapest after World War II (Budapest–New York: CEU Press, 2015).


Volume 9 Issue 4 CONTENTS


IV. Iván és I. Péter mikrohistoriográfiája [A micro-historiography of Ivan IV and Peter I). By Gyula Szvák. Edited by Gábor Klaniczay and István M. Szijártó. Budapest: L’Harmattan, 2019. 175 pp.

Volume 9 of the series Mikrotörténelem [Microhistory], edited by Gábor Klaniczay and István M. Szijártó, offers an overview of professor Gyula Szvák’s research career on Russian historiography, a career which stretched over a period of some 40 years. The volume IV. Iván és I. Péter mikrohistoriográfiája [A micro-historiography of Ivan IV and Peter I] contains studies previously published in various journals and other volumes. Szvák explains the importance of publishing these papers again in a single volume in the introduction: “The present microhistory is in fact a micro-historiography, and it seeks to make claims about the entirety of Russian history through excavation. Thus, the series of micro-examinations focusing on the periods of the rule of Ivan IV and Peter I provide a picture of 200 years of Russian historical science” (p.8). As a result, the volume may catch the attention not only of those interested in Ivan IV and Peter I, but, as Szvák suggests, anyone interested in Russian historiography or history.

The introduction is followed by six papers of various lengths. The first two focus primarily on the Russian and Soviet historiography on Ivan IV, while the third discusses all the historiographical works published on Peter I in Russia. These three studies constitute the bulk of the volume (pp.19–136). Although the volume is not divided thematically, after the first section, which clearly deals with (micro)historiography, the second part, which begins with Chapter 4, focuses more on the oeuvre of a selected few historiographers. The first study discusses Russian historian Ruslan Skrynnikov and his historical conception of Ivan IV. The following chapter provides a comparison of Skyrnnikov’s career and the career of Hungarian historian József Perényi. The final chapter, the third thematic part of the volume, is a study on attempts to compare Ivan IV and Peter I.

As my intention with this review is to introduce a volume the studies of which have been published earlier, I will not discuss the studies themselves individually. It is worth paying attention to the introduction, however, which was written specifically for the volume. The introductory chapter consists of four smaller sections. The first one discusses a recent Russian-language anthology of Gyula Szvák’s studies, the main inspiration for the volume reviewed here. Since, according to the author, Hungarian readers are interested mainly in Ivan IV and Peter I, the Hungarian edition only contains studies written about the two rulers. Based on the decades the author has spent in the field of Russistics, this claim is supposedly justified. However, it might have been worth including at least a short list of the studies that were not selected for this volume. In the same section, we are given a brief discussion of the tenets and development of Gyula Szvák’s historiographical works, as well as of his “arrival” at “micro-historiography” as a concept. In the following sections, Szvák reflects on changes in Soviet historiography and the role of Russian studies in Hungary, with special regard to Szvák’s own experiences and expertise. The section provides an exciting insight into life as a historian in the period prior to the change of regimes through the eyes of Gyula Szvák and the “lens” of Russian studies in Hungary, of course. Szvák recalls limitations to academic freedom in Soviet historiography and, later, the loosening of these constraints, as compared with a more enabling Hungarian social and academic life.

The concluding thoughts of the introduction appear to be a summary of a historian’s career in the context of current political events. Although Szvák does not primarily deal with Russian historiography here, he does not fully digress from it either, since as the papers in the volume shed light on the relationship of historians of the given period to the state powers of the times, the final section of the introduction likewise mentions some major conflicts concerning the academic sphere in the past few years. In the author’s view, the parallel between the historical perspective of the volume and the situation report of the present time, formulated at the end of the introduction, is manifested in the tendencies of the development of an authoritarian rule and historians’ relationships to these tendencies. The selected subjects of the volume (Ivan IV and Peter I) practically determine the questions of this kind, as the historical assessment of the two monarchs was never an issue to which state power could afford to be indifferent.

The first three studies present the entirety of the Russian and Soviet historiography on Ivan IV and Peter I, thus achieving the aims laid out in the introduction: they provide a comprehensive picture of 300 years of Russian and Soviet historiography. The relationship between historian and state power, emphasized in the introduction, appears as merely a minor topic next to more imposing themes, such as the use of sources, the importance of belonging to certain schools of historiography, academic discourse, and the impacts of international Russian studies, among others. The spelling of Russian names to Hungarian can be done in several ways, and, in my assessment, Szvák is not consistent in this respect. Nevertheless, this obviously does not affect the value of the studies from the perspective of their content.

The second part of the volume foregrounds the work of historiographers Ruslan Skrynnikov and József Perényi, who have become historical figures themselves. The Soviet historiographer is mentioned in two studies, one of which discusses his works on Ivan IV. The greatest merit of the volume is this very in-depth examination: considering the previous study on the historiography of Ivan IV, the reader is given an opportunity to get to know the deeper connections and the oeuvre and mindset of the Soviet historian. At first glance, the only study which seems to fall somewhat outside of the scope of the topics of the volume is the one comparing the career of the Soviet historian and József Perényi, but the claims made in the introduction and the study on Skyrnnikov’s oeuvre create a logical connection between the studies. The two historians are connected not only by their works but also by the author himself, Gyula Szvák. This paves the way for the final study in the volume, IV. Iván és I. Péter [Ivan IV and Peter I], which is by Szvák and which offers a comparative analysis of the two monarchs. Szvák approaches the comparison from basic perspective, such as systems of historical theory, socio-political processes, autocracy, individual lives, and personality traits. It is important to mention here that, while the other studies in the volume meet the criteria of scholarly publications, the final section lacks proper references. It would have been worth spending a bit more time on correcting these oversights.

Overall, volume 9 of the series Mikrotörténelem offers much more than the title suggests, since, in accordance with the objectives, in addition to an (undoubtedly detailed) Russian historiography on Ivan IV and Peter I, it also provides a comprehensive picture of the entirety of historiography in Russia. It also offers insights into Gyula Szvák’s oeuvre and the achievements and professional life of Hungarian scholars of Russian history and culture in the past few decades, hallmarked by Szvák’s name. I recommend the volume for all those interested in the aforementioned topics.

Patrik Dinnyés
Eszterházy Károly University

Érzelmek és mostohák: Mozaikcsaládok a régi Magyarországon (1500–1850) [Emotions and stepparents: Mosaic families in old Hungary, 1500–1850]. Edited by Gabriella Erdélyi. Budapest: Research Centre for the Humanities, 2019. 307 pp.

While not entirely unprecedented, it is by no means common for someone to launch her own books series when also working as an instrumental member of a research group. With the support of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Momentum “Integrating Families” Research Group, which has been active for three years now, published both study volumes and source publications in the Hungarian Family Stories series. The fourth volume, entitled Érzelmek és mostohák. Mozaikcsaládok a régi Magyarországon (1500–1850) [Emotions and stepparents: Mosaic families in old Hungary, 1500–1850], was published in 2019. In 2020, the fifth volume, Özvegyek és árvák a régi Magyarországon, 1550–1940 [Widows, widowers, and orphans in old Hungary, 1550–1940] was also published. As the titles (which at first may seem surprising) indicate, these works constitute examples of scholarship on the history of emotions, a trend in the secondary literature which is relatively new in Hungary and which promises an array of important insights and conclusions.

The title is surprising not simply from a linguistic perspective. This linking of something abstract (emotions) with a specific group (stepparents) may arouse some suspicion in the reader. The title, which begs some interpretation, may seem bold or far-reaching, while the subtitle maintains a discrete distance. The image on the cover, however, which depicts the Old Testament scene when Hagar is driven away by Abraham, offers a vivid visual portrayal of the mix of sentiments involved in this relationship, which arguably remains a less familiar part of our image repertoire even today. It also reminds us that these complex relationships were a form of cohabitation in Old Testament times. Apropos of this, one may well raise the question found on the inside cover, which can be considered the basic question of the volume: did family life actually change radically in the eighteenth century, a moment in our history at which, if one is to believe the discourses which have emerged on the subject, there was a new intimacy to the relationships among people living in the same household? The lines which follow this and the chapter by Gabriella Erdélyi, who is also the editor of the volume, make very clear that the authors focus on instances in which the family unit, understood in its classical sense, broke up and new family members (stepparents and stepsiblings) were added to it. Their discussions examine the emotional responses among family members to these changes.

The enterprise fits well into the arc of family history that has unfolded since the 1970s, following the work of Philippe Ariès and Lawrence Stone, whose contributions constitute points of departure in the field. However, as the work of Hans Medick and David Warren Sabean, whose writings are quoted several times in the volume, shows, historical demographics, which is closely intertwined with anthropology, has been able to spring to new life from its earlier seemingly dead state precisely by adopting this multifaceted approach, so the volume seems to show a sense of the existing anticipation when it sets, as one of its aims, the goal of taking the first steps in research in Hungary on stepchildren in the early modern era (p.11). After this (and thus notably at the beginning of the book and not the end, where one might otherwise expect a summary of the conclusions of the various studies), in the introduction, Erdélyi describes the individual texts and contextualizes them in relation to one another. For a reader who is less familiar with the field and the existing secondary literature, the second half of this introduction may become more difficult to read, since it is structured according to the chapters of the book and thus does not acquaint the reader with the chains of reasoning on the basis of which the final ascertainments are made. Thus, for me, once I accepted the more complex intellectual challenge inherent in postmodern propositions, the introduction was more of a revelation when I read it a second time, after having read the volume itself. Perhaps this was the one of the editor’s goals.

For the most part, the authors who contributed to the volume are researchers tied to the Research Centre for the Humanities and Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), as well as one working at the University of Pécs and one at Central European University. Thus, one finds among them historians, art and literary historians, and an ethnographer.

The overviews of the secondary literature on the subject, which were done quite conscientiously by most of the contributors, are arguably important to research and scholarship in Hungary on the history of emotions. Dóra Mérai, Gabriella Erdélyi, Petra Bálint, and Mónika Mátay all draw on Judith Butler’s theory of performativity. This is understandable, since the essence of the idea that emotions are social phenomena not only in their expression but also in and of themselves already increases the distance between the researcher and his or her topic. This notion forces the researcher to arrive at a premise which has been more scrupulously interrogated and also to ask about the place and validity of each emotion. Thus, the secondary literature on which the individual authors draw is linked to this, necessitating a rethinking of the research questions. This is true whether one is thinking of Susan Broomhall (on whom Gabriella Erdélyi and Emese Gyimesi draw), who analyzes approaches in the study of the history of emotions emphatically from the perspective of family relationships, Richard van Dülmen (on who Eleonóra Géra draws), who specifically examines sexual sensuality, or Thomas Khuen and Simona Cerutti (on whom Mónika Mátay draws), who consider the historical aspects of flexible legal interpretation. Thus, this volume, which can and indeed should be read (also) as a bibliography of the secondary literature on the history of emotions constitutes a major contribution to the secondary literature on the subject in Hungary, a contribution which drastically enriches the available palette of works on the topic.

From the perspective of the questions raised in the book, three chapters help orient the reader. In the section entitled “Family Objects and Practices,” Orsolya Bubryák of the Research Centre for the Humanities Institute of Art History uses the last will and testament of Palatine Pál Esterházy (among other sources) to examine the extent to which the emotional relationships between a testator and his heirs and shifts in these relationships influenced hereditary strategies. Dóra Mérai of CEU draws conclusions about the emotional bonds among close family members on the basis of differences in scripts on gravestones. Dalma Bódai of ELTE examines the gifts given to the daughters of Erzsébet Czobor, who was the second wife of Palatine György Thurzó. The chapter concludes with the study by Gabriella Erdélyi of the Research Centre for the Humanities Institute of History. Drawing on the seventeenth-century correspondence among members of the Esterházy family, Erdélyi examines how family correspondence went beyond the simple exchange of information and became a discursive space for the expression of emotions.

Although the first chapter contains discussions of some arguably acute situations, the second chapter, “Discussions of Family Conflicts,” dwells even more on family relationships that were rife with tension. A micro-historical study by Eleonóra Géra’s of ELTE recounts the story of a woman who married three times. Géra situates the narrative within the interpretative framework of the history of emotions, putting emphasis on the considerations which played a role in the decisions of this woman, who married first because she was compelled to do so, but who later remarried a second and third time as a consequence of her own wishes. The study by Petra Bálint, also of ELTE, begins with a question which may appear shocking at first: “Were girls and women who committed infanticide and child murder really evil and heartless? […] What did they feel, or did they feel anything when they did what they did?” (p.172) Bálint’s study is interesting in part because the protagonists belonged to the lower and peripheral strata of the feudal world. Research which draws on court documents and investigates the fates of women who committed infanticide or who poisoned their husbands is a new element in the scholarship on family history in Hungary. The third author of the chapter, Mónika Mátay, also of ELTE, pursues research on middle-class families in the city of Debrecen. She draws on an array of sources in her discussion of the implications, from the perspective of family history, of the last will and testament of a pig slaughterer who, as a denizen of one of the market towns in Hungary, enjoyed essentially the same rights as a citizen of a free royal city. Mátay makes subtle and sophisticated use of the tools of legal anthropology and offers an analysis of an intricate network of relationships.

The third chapter, entitled “Family Spaces, Identities, and Roles,” offers another exciting installment in Emese Gyimesi’s research on the life of Júlia Szendrey. Gyimesi acquaints her reader with the correspondence of the widowed Szendrey’s children born from her marriage to Árpád Horvát. She strives to arrive at some impression of the image that Szendrey’s children by her second husband had of their closest family members, for instance of their half-brother Zoltán Petőfi and their aunt Mária Szendrey (the complete correspondence among the children has since been published in a volume edited by Gyimesi). Zsófia Kucserka of the University of Pécs examines the diaries and correspondence of Etelka Slachta, sources which have already been published and which have been familiar for a long time to social scientists. Kucserka considers the impacts of the texts which Slachta wrote in various genres on her private life and the roles she played in the public sphere.

Some of the authors make use of an array of different types of sources, while others use a narrower range of source types. Naturally, when available, letters constitute an excellent source for the kinds of inquiries one finds here, and not surprisingly, many of the authors draw heavily on family correspondence (Erdélyi, Gyimesi, and Kucserka, for instance). In the absence of these kinds of sources, however, researchers are sometimes refreshingly innovative. Orsolya Bubryák, Eleonóra Géra, and Mónika Mátay make seasoned use of last wills and testaments, documents from litigation, and lists pertaining to bequests, among other things. Dóra Mérai tears her reader from the world of two-dimensional sources (i.e. the written word) and bases her conclusions on a database containing information pertaining to 314 tombstones from Transylvania. The sheer quantity of sources used by the authors and the impressive variety of sources compel the reader to be creative and open, as if reminding us that even sources which have been familiar to people in the field for a long time can show a very new face if one asks a few well-aimed questions.

I do not intend, in this review, to offer a detailed presentation of the results of the various endeavors. Rather, in conclusion, I would prefer simply to share a few thoughts. Orsolya Bubryák’s article provides a very revealing example of how a nobleman from the so-called highlands (or Upper Hungary, what today is Slovakia) could treat his children very differently in his will even though he loved them equally. Mérai does a masterful job acquainting us with the tombstones on which she basis her conclusions concerning emotional bonds in the family and the community. Dalma Bódai guides her reader through the intimate exchange of information among Erzsébet Czobor and her daughters, and Gabriella Erdélyi calls attention to descriptions of body language in the letters written by members of the Esterházy family (and others), descriptions which serve as expressions of emotion and complement textual communication. Géra Eleonóra offers an enjoyable narrative of Eva Elisabetha Wittmann’s three marriages, full of twists and turns, and she points out Wittmann’s character flaws. Petra Bálint makes a penetrating statement when she notes that what may appear to the historian who draws on court and litigation documents as the witnesses’ lack of sensitivity is more a feature of the source itself, as a type, than of the people involved. Emese Gyimesi’s focused and dense text presents and analyzes the Horvát family home in Hársfa Street and, thus, the private spaces used by the family and the rooms they used as spaces in which to welcome guests and members of the public. She also presents the practices used by the children in their correspondence and the roles of family celebrations. In Kucserka’s discussion of Slachta, writing again is given an important role both as tool and as act in the Biedermeier notion of the family and the ideal of the patriotic Hungarian woman.

In varying and arguably mutually reinforcing ways, the articles all proffer answers of a sort to the basic question. Ariès’s contention concerning the process which began in the eighteenth century and which saw emotional bonds come to enjoy an increasingly prominent place in family life has now found corroboration not only in the international secondary literature, but also in the secondary literature, more narrowly, in Hungary, thus prodding further research into the history of emotions. This is not simply some closing flourish, as clearly shown by the fact that, in 2019, a similarly monumental work was published on the subject in Hungary, Az érzelmek története [The history of emotions], a collection of conference papers compiled by the István Hajnal Circle and edited by Anikó Lukács and Árpád Tóth. Thus, this impressive volume edited by Gabriella Erdélyi both fills a lacuna in the secondary literature and will serve to nurture further research.

Gábor Koloh
Eötvös Loránd University

The Fiume Crisis: Life in the Wake of the Habsburg Empire. By Dominique Kirchner Reill. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2020. 312 pp.

Dominique Reill, professor at the University of Miami, has done something that Hungarian, Croatian, and Italian historians have failed to do so far: in a coherent monograph, she has broken with a chronological, somewhat nationalist discussion of the political and diplomatic issues of the events in Fiume that followed World War I. This comes as no surprise, since Reill’s thinking has been greatly influenced by the ideas and arguments of István Deák, Pieter M. Judson, and Hannah Arendt, who tended to emphasize the diversity and plurality of the Habsburg Monarchy and reconsidered nationalism, as well as the studies by William Klinger, Ivan Jeličić, and Vanni d’Alessio on Fiume, in which the authors adopted a more modern approach and dispensed with stereotypes. Although Reill does not distance herself from theoretical postmodern theories and models, instead of oversimplifying theoretical discussions and relying on convenient absolutes, she builds her Fiume-narrative on empirical, source-centered research. This means that Reill summarizes the arguments laid out in previous individual studies explicitly and shapes them into a consistent narrative, while also verifying or refuting them by adding her own examples.

The subject matter of the volume is thus neither Gabriele d’Annunzio’s extravagant rule nor the career of some prominent figures or the endless disputes about where Fiume belonged. Reill is most interested in the community’s and people’s attitudes in various situations, as well as the continuation, gradual shift, and waning of structures of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. In other words, instead of examining “what happened when,” she searches for answers concerning the reasons for the social and mental processes behind the historical events, such as why the ruling elite, which trumpeted nationalist slogans, so firmly insisted on the annexation of the Italian town when at least half of the inhabitants did not claim Italian as their mother tongue. Why did a multilingual and multiethnic small town want to insert itself into the Italian nation-state? In what ways, with what slogans, and under what conditions did it hope to do so? How compatible could nationalist and localist interests be? And finally, what was the experience of the inhabitants, living in existential uncertainty; in what forms did they experience this transitional phase?

Reill’s first thesis is that the basic situation of Fiume after the war was determined by its extensive autonomy under the Dual Monarchy, its state of being a corpus separatum, a “semiautonomous city-state.” As part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and, within that, the Kingdom of Hungary, the port could count on generous support by Hungarian governments, as well as the hinterland function of the entire empire: it had a large market and was part of a protective network. Without these favorable circumstances, the elites of Fiume were forced to take steps. The town councilors knew that Fiume was incapable of functioning on its own, so they looked for a new strong “protective shield,” a hinterland to replace the monarchy. Under the new circumstances, the most suitable alternative for a hinterland was Italy, regarded as the “Madrepatria” (mother country).

This leads to two other major arguments by Reill. First, the nationalization of Fiume or its transformation into “Italianissima,” as expressed at least by symbols and through statistical ratios, were justified by the abovementioned concerns. Second, although the people of Fiume did all they could to make their town part of the Kingdom of Italy, they remained localists with local interests, including the safeguarding of their privileges, even in their most nationalist moments. For them “Patria” meant their birthplace and place of residence, not Italy. This “theory of continuity” is closely linked to Reill’s fourth thesis, which queries the view that the end of World War I and Gabriele d’Annunzio’s endeavor of Fiume, ending with the Bloody Christmas of 1920, were simple and clear watersheds which divided political systems. Reill foregrounds continuities instead of breaking points, and she emphasizes the political elite’s opportunities and competencies to preserve their positions, as well as their adaptation strategies.

This firm emphasis on interests and the focus on aims could easily lead to a simplified, instrumental concept of nationalism, but that is not the case here. It enables Reill to avoid denying the residents’ zeal for and sentimental attachment to the Italian nation and to examine the local interpretations of “nationalism,” “localism,” and “autonomy” in a period which included the era of the Dual Monarchy as well. Furthermore, Reill offers a more nuanced picture and avoids banalities in part because she analyzes the transformation of structures and changes in people’s life circumstances in five large units, alongside the introductory and concluding chapter, through the dimensions of economic and financial difficulties (money), the relationship between power and autonomy (laws and independence), belonging (pertinency and citizenship), as well as internal and external manifestations of identity (symbols and propaganda), with a list of representative micro-historical examples from everyday life.

The part about the economy, for instance, begins with the example of a young legionary in Italy, who, with naïve enthusiasm, tells his fiancée about the beauty of the town and (an alleged) Italian localism, as well as the pretty, easy girls of Fiume (no doubt his purse was full of Italian lire and Hungarian/Austrian crowns). Reill, on the other hand, points out that the local inhabitants were acquainted with more currencies than these two. Borislavo Gjurić, for example, was arrested because in addition to Italian lire, he also had French francs, Serbian dinars, and Croatian-Slovenian and Fiume crowns on him. With the help of these examples, Reill illustrates how the monetary union of the empire collapsed, and by the spring of 1919, at least four different currencies and fake banknotes were circulating in Fiume. The uncontrolled circulation of money made the economic situation of both individuals and the town unstable.

Although restoring financial conditions was paramount, the elites of Fiume believed that settling currency issues was the duty of the state, so they expected the Italian government to do something about it. This gave a new impetus to the annexation program, indicated by converging Fiume crown to Italian lire, that is, gradually coordinating the economy of Fiume and Italy. Rome, however, believed that the Italian state had the exclusive right to annexation and was appalled by the town’s demand to be annexed in accordance with predetermined conditions (keeping its autonomy). There were further aspects to this questioning of the relationship between power and autonomy, in no small part simply because the issue of where the port belonged was debated for long time to come, so Fiume practically had to function as an independent state for a time. This position was difficult to manage, however, mainly as a result of an economic and financial crisis, growing unemployment, and permanent coal and food shortages due to consecutive blockades and military occupations.

Reill presents one way of dealing with procurement difficulties through the failed deal between Slavko Ivančić, a “trader in comestibles” from Fiume, and Ivan Rošić, an inn owner and agricultural supplier from a Croatian village. The story may also help demonstrate the continuity of the legal system and jurisdiction of Fiume, since it clearly shows that until the fall of 1920, the denizens of the city operated in accordance with the former laws and orders. Furthermore, by offering a comparison of financial and legal conditions, Reill also points out one relevant difference: while the multi-currency system was the result of the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the challenges and opportunities of multi-system jurisdiction had shaped the lives of the inhabitants of Fiume for generations.

In her discussion of the everyday conflicts of the tobacco factory and the post office, Reill identifies similar elements of continuity in terms of the issue of language use. She comes to the conclusion that although the elites of Fiume strove for the establishment of monolingual (Italian) administration, this was mainly a façade to show to the rest of the world, as internal communication continued to be multilingual. The same is true of the implementation of the regulation concerning the Italianization of names, in connection with which Reill notes that while the measure served the purpose of emphasizing the Italian character and dedication of the inhabitants, there were huge differences between theory and practice. All this indicates that these laws were either not implemented at all or only to some degree and that there were individual preferences and choices. To underlie this claim, Reill mentions two concrete examples from among the many: despite their Italian nationalist convictions, Antonio Grossich, the widely respected elderly president of the Italian National Council in Fiume, kept the name Grossich, and his ambitious secretary, Salvatore Bellasich, continued to be called Bellasich.

One of Reill’s greatest merits is that she does not shy away from treating legal categories in a nuanced way. She dedicates a whole chapter to content-related and qualitative differences between concepts of citizenship and residence. This is justified by her emphasis on the continued validity of the municipal statute of 1872 regulating civic entitlement, which provided the elite of Fiume with an effective tool to enforce their rights under the shifting (and financially limited) conditions. In fact, by regulating the conditions of “Fiume pertinency” and concomitant active political participation (electoral reform), the elite of Fiume could both strengthen the support they received and their legitimacy and protect the (in a classical sense) “lawful” members of the community from competition in the form of a flood of “strangers” coming to the town. In this respect, even Gabriele d’Annunzio’s soldiers could not have been exempt from the rule: like the civilian “newcomers,” they could only receive the “citizenship to the Free City of Fiume,” reserved for “others.”

In addition to the redistribution of social, economic, and political privileges, education also served the purpose of preserving the positions and transmitting localist values. Reill proves this by pointing out that even in the fall of 1919, elementary schools in the city used traditional didactic teaching methods and Fiume-centered maps. Although the town seemed to become an “Italianissima” dressed in the Italian tricolored flag, for the locals it remained, for a long time, what it was before: the “true Patria,” which everyone had to know. Thus, mapping the district, the country, and the world could only start after one had acquired a rich knowledge of Fiume itself.

Overall, Reill offers a new interpretation of Fiume, using modern approaches and methodologies. Her volume will surely be one of the most, if not the most influential monograph on Fiume in years to come for two reasons. First, her monograph is impressive in its thoroughness, the precise use of terms, its clever methodological solutions, its welcoming style, and its use of convincing examples based on a rich and diverse collection of sources. Second, thanks to the distance Reill keeps when using theories and examining sources, she is able to see and show different phenomena in all their complexity.

Ágnes Ordasi
National Archives of Hungary

Language Diversity in the Late Habsburg Empire. By Markian Prokopovych, Carl Bethke, and Tamara Scheer. Leiden: Brill, 2020. 268 pp.

This volume about linguistic issues in the late Habsburg monarchy builds on both recent work in nationalism theory and Habsburg historical sociolinguistics. The contributions vary pleasingly in their geographic and methodological focus, yet converge on a few key issues: the influence of nationalist agitation, the role of the state, multilingualism, language shift, and the social domains assigned to different varieties.

Two initial chapters contextualize the volume in various scholarly literatures. The editors’ forward provides an excellent historiography while signalling an interest in the everyday practices which the volume’s strongest contributions examine. With his customary eloquence, Pieter Judson then considers Habsburg multilingualism in the context of other multilingual states, problematizing traditional assumptions according to which linguistic diversity leads inevitably to national conflict.

The remaining chapters provide the case studies which give the book substance. Csilla Fedinec and István Csernicskó’s study of language use in Transcarpathia is the only chapter to betray a nationalist perspective. The authors on three (!) separate occasions claim that the partition of Hungary transformed ethnic Hungarians into “a new minority” in the region (pp.161, 163, 193), even though Magyars have in fact never been Transcarpathia’s majority community. Their survey of Transcarpathia’s various nationalities treats each in a separate section, thus reifying sharp borders between them. They rely disproportionately on Hungarian-language sources: indeed, their discussion of Rusyns begins with two parish priests who wrote in Hungarian, and thus appear rather unrepresentative of Slavic opinion. Ultimately, the authors contradict themselves, claiming e.g. both that “Hungarian as the language of power did not become prestigious among the local Slavic speakers” (p.190) and that proficiency in Hungarian “was seen as a key to success in life” (p.175); both that “national indifference was also linguistic indifference” (p.193) and that “language has always had a key role in the self-identification process of the nation state and individuals” (p.162). The editors might have done better to have cut this chapter.

Carl Bethke examines the history of Sarajevo’s German-language newspaper, the Bosnische Post. Bethke describes the newspaper’s various editors, their editorial interests, their family lives, and their financial difficulties. Since the newspaper addressed various local constituencies and eschewed nationalism, Bethke ultimately concludes that “the German-language … did not ‘belong’ to one group” (p.114). While a respectable contribution to the history of Habsburg journalism, the chapter seems somewhat misplaced in this volume.

The remaining chapters, however, are not only strong, but complement each other. Anamarija Lukić emphasizes local particularism in a study of language use in Osijek, even providing lexical examples of Osijek German. By studying linguistic usage in local newspapers and the theatre, she documents the linguistic shift to Croatian without national triumphalism. Matthäus Wehowski views linguistic issues through the lens of a secondary school in Teschen, examining school yearbooks and considering student enrolments in Czech and Polish classes. Imperial loyalties and the desire for social mobility feature more prominently than nationalist agitation. Wehowski views his narrative as characteristic for borderlands generally, urging “scholars to take a closer look at the periphery” (p.217).

Marta Verginella considers the expansion of Slavic into Trieste, a town which had hitherto balanced Italian and German. Though Italian-speaking elites looked down on Slovene and sought to exclude it, Verginella’s research shows that Slavic increasingly gained ground in legal documents, such as testaments. Though her narrative follows traditional historiographic themes of discrimination and resistance, Verginella’s conclusion emphasizes “the fluidity of … identities and the fragility of the national historiographical paradigm (p.49).”

While Irina Marin narrowly restricts her attention to four Romanian generals, she compensates for this limited breadth with depth and insight. She shows that her four generals, though loyal to the Habsburg monarch and the Empire as a whole, both formed sophisticated opinions about linguistic issues and engaged in linguistic activism. She finds that they accepted multilingualism and opposed “language hierarchies, whereby one language took precedence over and stifled another,” concluding that such opinions “did not go against the grain of their military standing, but rather were derived organically thereof” (pp.133–34).

In a fascinating study of language use at the urban level, Ágoston Berecz documents the surprising impotence of Hungary’s Magyarization policies. Considering a handful of towns in Transylvania and the Banat, Berecz shows that city governments not only continued using German and Romanian for local business, such as minute-keeping, minor court cases, public notices, and job advertisements, but did so with the tacit approval of central authorities. The surprising and well-documented narrative emphasizes estate hierarchies and social exclusions, but above all the inability of the Magyarizing parliament to affect local use. Berecz also provocatively contrasts the relatively placid situation in Hungary, where “local governments seldom engaged in symbolic politics” (p.157), with the bitter nationalization of local politics of Cisleithania.

Rok Stergar places the military within the context of local politics, specifically examining the role of the army garrison in Ljubljana. While local patriots became involved in Slavic philological controversies and increasingly sought to promote Slavic even at the expense of German, the city council also sought good relations with the garrison, a source of income for innkeepers, tailors and so forth. Stergar shows that different actors invested linguistic acts with different symbolic meanings, grounding his general points with a variety of illuminating incidents laboriously gathered from an impressively diverse array of sources.

Jan Fellerer’s analysis of language use in Lviv also rests on concrete examples from particular events. Examining transcripts of court cases, he pieces together the linguistic backgrounds of the various litigants, persuasively surmising their various linguistic competencies, the means through which those competencies were achieved, and the social domains in which they were exercised. While a tour-de-force of painstaking and tenacious archival research, Fellerer’s chapter offers relatively meagre conclusions: it “offers glimpses of everyday multilingual practices” (p.242).

Jeroen van Drunen, finally, places his analysis of linguistic usage in Bukovina within a broader historiographical context. Problematizing both popular descriptions of Bukovinans as habitually multilingual and what he calls the “multilingualism-monolingualism dichotomy” (p.246), van Drunen documents language mixing affecting speakers of German, Romanian and Slavic. In a provocative conclusion, Drunen urges scholars to cease viewing languages “as monolithic entities without internal distinctions” (p.267).

The question of borders within languages seems most pressing for the Monarchy’s Slavs. The belief that all Slavs spoke the same language, hegemonic in the early nineteenth century, evidently persisted, since traces of Pan-Slavism appear in several chapters. Yet only Stergar alludes to a transition from “Carniolan Slavic” to “Slovene” (p.53–55). Verginella’s texts often refer to “Slavic,” but Verginella usually glosses such usage as references to “Slovene” (p.31, 34, 35, 43). Wehowski seems baffled by the designation “Czechoslavic” (p.205). Fedinec and Csernicskó mistakenly conflate Pan-Slavism with Russianism (p.194).

The various contributions thus differ widely in their geographic focus, though the volume as a whole curiously neglects Vienna, Budapest and Prague. The contributions also consider different social domains: schools, courts, the military, journalism, theatre, and different levels of state administration. Methodologically, the articles obviously vary in sophistication, both in relationship to linguistic theory and nationalism studies, but overall the volume reaches a very high standard. This work enhances our knowledge in myriad ways, and will make a welcome contribution to scholarship.

Alexander Maxwell
Victoria University of Wellington

Intellectuals and Fascism in Interwar Romania: The Criterion Association. By Cristina A. Bejan. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019. xxix + 323 pp.

The relationship between intellectuals and politics in interwar Romania emerged as a crucial topic after the fall of communism, and it generated cultural and often ideological debates that deeply marked the public life of the country. Attitudes ranged from an idealized rediscovery of the interwar period to a more critical approach towards what was a highly complex and controversial period in Romanian history. These debates generated an impressive amount of works, varying in size and quality, which maintain a certain level of interest in the topic even today. In this context, Cristina Bejan’s well-researched book represents a welcome addition to an already very crowded field of study, providing a fresh perspective on a highly controversial topic.

As has been the case with other works on this topic, the broad intellectual drive behind this book is the search for an explanation regarding the fascist sympathies of some members of what was termed “the 1927 Generation” or “the Young Generation” of Romanian interwar intellectuals. Among representatives of this trend, one could mention Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Constantin Noica, Mihail Sebastian, and Petru Comarnescu. Bejan tells the story of this generation by focusing on the Criterion Association, a cultural circle founded in 1932 which included many of the young intellectuals of the time. One of Bejan’s merits is that she has provided the first book-length account on Criterion ever published in English.

While much has been written about the fascist allegiances of a sizable part of the “1927 Generation,” the fact that some of its members did not join their colleagues on the path to “rhinocerisation”(to borrow the metaphor from Eugène Ionesco’s play, Rhinocéros) received less attention, and Bejan’s work is, in this regard, a step in the right direction.

The book is divided into nine chapters, including an introduction and a conclusion. It begins by setting the stage conceptually and historically. In the introduction, Bejan discusses the sensitive issue of the connection between intellectuals and political extremism, and she places the Young Generation in the proper cultural context by situating it among previous Romanian intellectual traditions. She also pays close attention to the historical context in which this generation was active, marked by the growth of the political extremism which ultimately affected its own existence.

The next chapter documents the beginnings of the 1927 Generation and the influence exerted by Nae Ionescu, a philosophy professor at the University of Bucharest who also became a staunch supporter of the Iron Guard. Mircea Eliade’s prominence as a leading member of this generation is also presented in great detail, as well as the way in which these young intellectuals came together as a group, some being from similar backgrounds (former Bucharest high school colleagues), while others came from outside the capital city. Bejan puts particular emphasis on the importance of education abroad, especially for those who chose to study outside of Europe in places such as India (Eliade) and the United States (Comarnescu), instead of going to Western Europe.

Bejan is careful to make an important distinction in Chapter 3, aptly stating that the Young Generation and the Criterion Association did not fully overlap and should be seen as distinct manifestations of the interactions among young interwar Romanian intellectuals. In her discussion of the founding of the movement, the attention she gives to episodes regarding life in interwar Bucharest and the bohemian side of this group of young intellectuals helps further a more nuanced understanding of what brought these people together in the first place, the same way the brutal political turn from second part of the 1930s shows why this camaraderie did not suffice anymore to keep them on the same side. Bejan also points out the inner rivalries that marked Criterion’s activity, thus avoiding a rosy picture that would not do justice to the diversity of the group. Another salient and seldom covered aspect of the volume is the insistence on the way in which Criterion was organized and managed by its founder, Petru Comarnescu.

The activity of the group in 1932, its first and most prolific year of existence, is detailed in Chapter 4, including the public lecture series, which was followed by debates focusing on a wide array of cultural and even political issues, with diverse topics ranging from Lenin to Mussolini, Greta Garbo to Krishnamurti, and Gandhi to Picasso. These topics reflected the desire of the group to serve as a hub which would connect the Romanian audience with the most important cultural and political trends of the day. In a way, the group became a victim of its own success. The conferences, which were held at the Royal Foundation building in the center of Bucharest, were very popular, but with success came controversy, contestation, and also violence. Accused of having a hidden communist agenda, some of Criterion’s public conferences were targeted by far-right agitators, and this brought the group to the attention of the authorities.

Comarnescu’s rich plans for 1933, carefully detailed by Bejan in Chapter 5, were torn apart by what in the terms of that age could be described as history catching up with this generation. The political events of 1933, beginning with the February workers’ strike in Bucharest and ending with the assassination of the liberal prime minster I. G. Duca by members of the Iron Guard in December, paralleled a troubled year for Criterionists, who could no longer hide their political allegiances. The backlash following the assassination was also felt by intellectuals close to the Iron Guard, including some of the Criterionists. The dissolution of the group, thus, became imminent. A last attempt to maintain its presence was the publication of the homonymous journal in 1934, but the Association never returned to its former glory. Bejan credits the publication of the Criterion journal as having been a salient moment, and she offers a close reading of the main topics discussed in the seven issues that were published. While this analysis of the “last throb” (Zigu Ornea) of the group constitutes a novel and useful enterprise, it is also true that the journal never enjoyed the fame or influence that the group promisingly started to have in 1932–1933.

The commonly accepted explanation regarding the dissolution of the Criterion Association underlines the insurmountable political differences that permeated the group following the rise of the Iron Guard. This rise was made possible in part because of the contributions of several young intellectuals, some of them members of or close to Criterion. To this already beaten explanatory path, Chapter 6 adds another possible explanation for the dissolution of the group, namely a well-known public scandal from the mid-1930s in which members of the group were accused of promoting homosexuality. Petru Comarnescu, Criterion’s factotum, was one of the main targets of the scandal. As Bejan notes, this scandal marked the public and even personal trajectories of those involved, and Criterion would no longer be a part of their plans.

The “rhinocerisation” of parts of the Young Generation did not come as a surprise, and it accompanied the growth of the Iron Guard. Bejan documents the paths taken by famous Criterionists who sympathized with and supported this movement, and she also focuses on those lesser-known members who did not join their colleagues down this path. Among those who became fierce Iron Guardists, Marietta Sadova’s case has never been made the focus of serious scholarly discussion, and it is to Bejan’s credit that she has accomplished this by using relevant information from Sadova’s Securitate file, though it may be a bit of an overstatement to call Sadova the Romanian Leni Riefenstahl.

The book is at its best when it takes advantage of the rich primary sources which Bejan has diligently studied over the years in archives and libraries, bringing to light little known aspects such as those regarding the inner management and functioning of Criterion in its beginnings. Her style is neither dry nor pretentious, offering instead a lively and passionate reading experience that does not come at the expense of academic rigorousness.

In a sense, the story of the Criterion Association matches, up to a point, the story of interwar Romania. It is to Cristina Bejan’s merit that she has managed to capture the histories of this group so well, while also providing the reader with a portrait of interwar Romania in its best and worst moments. This well-documented work on a highly intriguing topic has been written in an enjoyable manner, thus making it a suitable reading for specialists and non-specialists alike.

Valentin Săndulescu
University of Bucharest

Sixties Europe. By Timothy Scott Brown. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. ix+241 pp.

1968 and the “long sixties” have been at the forefront of scholarly and public interest since their rediscovery in 2008, on the 40th anniversary of perhaps the most salient year of the decade. This is true in no small part because “1968,” as a kind of shorthand, is a way to refer to the transnational and global character of contemporary culture and politics. Timothy Scott Brown, professor of history at Northeastern University, Boston, is one of the most important historians of this period, and his contributions have been paramount to dismantling the national framings of the 1960s protests and revolts and the reframing of 1968 in a global setting.1 His new book, Sixties Europe, continues and revisits themes he has touched on before. This book adheres firmly to a discussion of 1968 as a range of cross-national and interconnected struggles and affirms the deeply shared, global nature of its concerns. Admitting the relevance of anti-colonial struggles, particularly, Vietnam for radicals in Europe and their connections to extra-European activists, Brown nonetheless makes an important revisionist claim that Europe was central in shaping the forms and content of 1960s activism worldwide and that 1968 was a deeply European project. In Brown’s words, Europe provided the most important pool of postmaterialist values, movements in Europe rendered ways of living and the role of culture central for any critique of society and it was the most important site of negotiating the ways of organization of societies (p.3).

Brown makes three important points when he explains why Europe was of central importance in making 1968 a global event. First, he argues that politics was the emphatic concern of the revolt of the 1960s. Second, he highlights that 1968 presumed the transformation of everyday life as a condition for political change and strove for a coalition of movements in art, ways of life, and politics proper. Third, Brown considers the European scenes as vital in transforming decolonization and the antiimperialist struggles into a genuine global issue. However, while it is impossible to cover everything in equal depth, the narrative which he presents seems to miss a few important points. It ignores the fact that one of the crucial motors of the revolt of the 1960s was a generational shift. The book also underestimates the centrality of the Third World in making 1968 a genuine political revolt. The similarity of rebellion in the West and in the East is often taken for granted too hastily. Last, violence and gender, perhaps, were more important in shaping 1968 than Brown seems to assume.

Brown explores the intensification of personal encounters of activists from various countries and the emergence of international networks. Nonetheless, as the book argues, internationalism for 1968 activists meant more than the physical crossing of national borders. As Brown convincingly shows, activists in Europe were deeply convinced that “all struggles were connected” and that their revolt in Europe against their national establishments were parallel with the anti-imperialist fights overseas. The apparently shared concerns to fight oppression and authority led activists both in the West and in the East to believe that rebellion in Paris or Prague and the war in Vietnam were interconnected, they were parts of the same struggle against imperialism outside of Europe and exploitation at home, and they also saw themselves as members of the same international army of revolution.

Social criticism (ideology) and action furthering social change (politics) went hand in hand in the 1960s. One of the book’s most original points is that these programs were sensitive to history. Brown explores how various groups and movements evoked historical antecedents of revolt, particularly the anarchist and libertarian communist traditions of Rosa Luxemburg, the Kronstadt mutiny, the Spanish Republic, or the workers’ councils in 1956 Budapest. The revival of suppressed knowledge of alternative forms of social organization provided intellectual and political ammunition in the assault against both capitalism in the West and official socialism in the East. Brown emphasizes that the politics of 1968 was inherently a politics of the left, and as such, it embraced ideas like liberation from exploitation, self-determination, and social organization based on solidarity. This left, the “New Left,” as Brown highlights, was based on knowledge suppressed both by capitalist and official socialist establishments. Hence, it represented alternative socialisms.

1968 activists had to reconcile anti-capitalism and the abrogation of private ownership of capital and means of production with the emancipation of the individual, who apparently was not alienated only amidst the soul-breaking routines of factory production in the West, but also living under the overly bureaucratic labor regimes of collectivist state ownership in the socialist dictatorships of Eastern Europe. Brown argues that such tensions explain why the question of what the left really was in this new context became inevitable for 1968. Notwithstanding the broad consensus in the East and the West that the new left must be defined against the Stalinist type of official socialism in the East and like-minded communist parties in the West, the character of the left in the 1960s was seen as most clearly discernible in the field of culture in a broad sense. The most typical forms of organization were various movements of lifestyle, famously, the communes of K1 in West Berlin and their followers across Europe. Brown is keen to establish that 1968 activism understood political liberation from authority and oppression as a fundamental liberation of the self, which included experimentations with new forms of living, work, leisure, sexuality, and womanhood.

Brown is shrewd to note that the move beyond the conventional frames of politics was not always peaceful. Protesters in France, Italy, and Yugoslavia were not reluctant to attack police squads, party headquarters, or office buildings of the press. Brown argues that activists were prone to see their violence as defensive and as a response to the violence of oppression used by the authorities. In this perspective, they understood violence as a strategic choice of resistance: to fight against oppression and authority sustained by inherent forms of violence, one needed to become violent, too. Post-1968 terrorism in Europe should be considered in this context, Brown argues. Whereas many discovered the possibility of change in the field of everyday life when the direct political protest began to flag in the West and was clamped down in the East, some embraced clandestine urban guerrilla violence as the proper form of triggering change in an ever-narrowing field of political opposition.

Brown’s discussion of violence and feminism suggests that both were conclusions to the story of 1968. Nonetheless, the story of these components as presented by Brown opens up new perspective from which to approach the history of activism in the 1960s. How important was gender in shaping the character of 1968? What were the implications of staging of the revolution as men’s affair and the iconic macho image of 1968 portrayed by Cohn-Bendit, Dutschke, or Che for reconsiderations of the meanings of revolt, resistance, and protest? Similarly, how was violence important in shaping the politics of 1968? How did the legacies of revolutionary cultures which embraced the violent smashing of the system shape activists’ programs and expectations? These questions suggest that both violence and gender may have been core constituents of 1968 activism, rather than elements of its outcome.

Connections with the extra-European world were crucial here. Radicals in Europe swiftly became passionate about what they perceived as the intransient commitment to revolutionary change: wars of liberation in the extra-European world. This, however, provided more than simple templates for the use of violence at home, and it did more than prompt global solidarities in Europe, as Brown seems to argue. Wars of liberation and antiimperialist revolutions in Asia, Africa and Latin-America were evidence for young revisionists, new left radicals, and, in some ways, old left elites of the validity of class-based revolutionary theories and the vitality of socialism. In short, the left (in its many groupings) saw the revolutionary struggles of Europe coming to new life in the jungles of Vietnam and the mountains of Cuba. Links to the Global South were crucial to a narrative of the politics of 1968 in the language of the left. In turn, one may wonder if the demise of the left in Europe and the loss of belief in viable anti-capitalist alternatives were linked more to the dissolution of the promises of decolonization as a cradle for possibly more just and democratic states in these regions. 1968 was a global event not simply because it was made so in Europe, but rather because the extra-European world had crucial agency in making 1968 a leftist project worldwide.

Whereas the Czechoslovak and to some extent the Polish cases may fit the portrait of 1968 as painted by Brown, other societies in Eastern Europe, particularly, Hungary, Romania, and Yugoslavia, were different in many important ways. Several major concerns of the left, such as working-class autonomy, third worldism, and the power of art, helped mobilize activism in these countries, as well. But many activists were motivated by different reasons. Some activists in Hungary were keen on protecting national sovereignty and allegedly authentic, traditional village lifestyles, issues which tend to have more resonance with the populist and conservative right than with a revolutionary left. Nationalism and national self-determination were crucial concerns of the Croatian Spring movement, too. Furthermore, religious activism was important in both Hungary and Poland. This activism strove to reform Christian culture and render it more flexible and socially concerned, including Christian practices such as the introduction of beat music and modern popular culture. Thus, the groups and scenes of 1968 were connected by a solid idea and the consensus of generation, which went beyond political comradeship.

Timothy Brown’s book proves that 1968, as a shorthand term for the complex process of reshaping contemporary Europe and the world, was an immensely multifaceted moment in history which cries for a plurality of approaches and interpretations. Sixties Europe pinpoints extremely important aspects of this history, such as the roles of politics, the global imagination, the reinterpretation of the agendas of the left, and communication across various areas of the world. It renders this history open to contestation and also offers a persuasive illustration of the potentials of polyphonic narratives of the past. It thus constitutes a work worthy of the admiration of any historian.

Péter Apor
Research Centre for the Humanities

Censorship in Czech and Hungarian Academic Publishing, 1969–1989: Snakes and Ladders. By Libora Oates-Indruchová. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2020. 384 pp.

In Snakes and Ladders, Libora Oates-Indruchová constructs a rigorous theory of censorship based on the case of normalization-era Czechoslovakia (with Hungary as an asymmetrical comparison) and offers a compelling methodological vision for the future of cultural histories of state socialism. The book has been long in the making and, as a result, is layered in its source material and analysis. Originating in late 1990s Czech Republic with the author’s interest in the scholarly writing and publishing practices of her own professors before 1989, its main source base was collected in the early 2000s: twenty oral history interviews with Czech academics and eight interviews with their Hungarian peers. The interviewees were chosen from among scholars active before 1989 who still enjoyed the professional appreciation of their peers in the post-socialist period, which underscores Oates-Indruchová’s case for taking knowledge produced under state socialism and the agency of scholars seriously, yet also raises the question of how the boundaries between the scholarly and the non-scholarly have shifted over the past 50 years.

By the time the interviews were done, the “archive fever” of the 1990s was being critically reviewed,2 whereas the “ethnography of the archive” strand of research had not yet been fully articulated in studies of state socialism.3 This shows in Oates-Indruchová’s approach to the book’s archival source base. Chapter 2 reconstructs the official policies regulating scholarly life during normalization based on officially published documents from the Czechoslovak press that were collected in the 1960s and 1970s by the Radio Free Europe Research Institute and are now held at the Vera and Donald Blinken Open Society Archives in Budapest. The complex context of their collection, classification, and archival processing remains largely unexplored, and although this is unlikely to change the general outline of the party policy which they document, one wonders what Oates-Indruchová’s sophisticated methodological approach to the oral history interviews would yield if it were applied to this archival source base as well. As for the archives of the Editorial Board of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, they represent the counterpart to Chapter 4, where they are carefully discussed in the footnotes. To use the author’s conceptual distinction borrowed from James C. Scott, the “public transcript” of party and state institutions is thus “hidden” in what is doubtlessly Oates-Indruchová’s conscious choice to put the voices of the scholars themselves center stage.

These voices form the core of the book, five chapters which weave together the interviewees’ recollections on themes related to academic writing and publishing during the normalization period in Czechoslovakia: the institutional and personal strategies for surviving and navigating the constraints on academic scholarship after the Prague Spring (Chapter 3); the “highway code” of the publication process which saw a manuscript through various institutional loops (Chapter 4); censorship (including self-censorship, “friendly censorship,” and post-publication censorship) and how it related to authorship and authoring, that is, the articulation of the authorial self (Chapter 5); the language of publishing, from the acceptability of various research topics to the scholarly vocabulary to the use of subversive “code” (Chapter 6); and perceptions on the past and the afterlife of state socialist scholarly practices in the narrators’ present (Chapter 7). These five chapters are structured as “imagined conversations” among the Czech scholars in which Hungarian authors intervene as a counterpart to the Czech story. They consist of quotes from the oral history interviews, identified through a pseudonym (which indicates the age cohort, gender, nationality, and profession of the narrator) and ordered by the author with minimal textual interventions in her capacity of a “novice” initiated by her “mentors” in the workings of academic publishing under state socialism. This unique approach, dubbed “post-academic writing,” takes inspiration from feminist methodology and literary studies. As Oates-Indruchová argues in the introduction, it seeks to “make visible the lives and experiences of my narrators, treat them ethically by allowing them to represent themselves to the greatest possible degree, make visible the power relationship of the research situation, and lay the research process bare, while not shunning the emotional and the subjective.” Eight photographs placed immediately before and after the oral history chapters stand as visual representation of this fraught, usually invisible process.

The last chapter of the book is a rigorously crafted theory of academic publishing and censorship under state socialism, which (despite the fact that the author gives her reader permission to skip it in the introduction) is likely to become the go-to text on the topic for the university classroom and for scholars of intellectual production under late socialism. Oates-Indruchová argues that although the system of ideological control tightened from 1969 onwards, there was a noticeable shift in its target from content to form, or from scholars’ convictions to the appearance of loyalty. The system suffered from over-centralization, and scholars responded by developing a host of individual and institutional strategies to survive repression, the access to and experience of which were divided along generational lines. The “publish and perish” dynamics of academic publishing under state socialism meant that a manuscript’s entire journey from inception to publication was fraught with danger and regulated by an intricate code which was neither transparent nor entirely predictable.

Oates-Indruchová considers who could publish, how a text was approved, how the process could be helped or hindered and through whose agency, what was considered unpublishable, and what happened when the unpublishable was published. She distinguishes between (the authors’ experiences of) no censorship and preventive, post-publishing, and self-censorship, offering rich accounts of each. Most interestingly, Oates-Indruchová pairs censorship with authorship, highlighting how the pervasiveness of the first, especially in its preventive forms, contributed to the attrition of the latter. It is on the issue of censorship that the cases of Czechoslovakia and Hungary appear to diverge the most, suggesting the potential for a broader comparative analysis of the issue in the countries of East Central Europe. As a consequence of the politicization of research topics and the erosion of scholarly language, Oates-Indruchová argues, authors invested in the idea that a “code of communication” existed between them and the readers. Showing how elusive such a complex code is, she concludes that what developed was rather a vocabulary of expressions – the meanings of which were quickly lost for the post-1989 generations. The latter observation in particular leads Oates-Indruchová to explore the authors’ perceptions of the past and the consequences the system had for the interviewees in the present, both in terms of a lasting ideological dualism and the practices of academic research, publishing, and employment.

Oates-Indruchová has crafted a study of censorship at a time when both the fervent debates of the 1990s over issues of coercion, collaboration, and, importantly, moral responsibility have waned and the notion of writing against the totalitarian paradigm in studies of state socialism has itself become something of a cliché. This allows her both to state carefully and to answer unequivocally the main dilemma of the book in the introduction: why do some authors experience censorship as a set of practices which has the potential to nurture creativity while other authors experience it simply as stifling? The key is in the double effect of censorship, broadly defined, of creating (self-contained) academic communities of trust on the one hand and instilling a hyper-attentiveness to language in both authors and readers on the other. Oates-Indruchová shows that both have productive and restrictive dimensions, reflected in the authors’ contradictory evaluations of the past. Ultimately, however, she concludes that the game of “snakes and ladders” to which she compares academic publishing under state socialism worked to the detriment of authors, scholarship, and readers. Oates-Indruchová’s volume stands as an innovative model of how to explore a complexly mediated past through oral history and overcome legacies of dualistic thinking, overly cautious scholarship, and limited communication within and among self-contained academic communities.

Adela Hîncu
New Europe College, Bucharest

Polio Across the Iron Curtain: Hungary’s Cold War with an Epidemic. By Dóra Vargha. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018. 254 pp.

In the early spring of 2020, steps were taken by governments in the so-called West which would make what was a long-forgotten part of world history an everyday reality again. In order to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, measures were introduced which compelled societies to rethink their value systems and perceptions, and even many experts in various fields had little clear sense of the long-term consequences these changes would have. The current epidemic prompted nation-state governments to implement rapid and, in some cases, comparatively effective policies. In general, in the secondary literature on epidemiological history, pandemics have been viewed as transient and clearly defined periods which begin with the first cases and end with the last. This approach has exerted a considerable influence on the communication concerning the current pandemic. In her first monograph, which was published in 2018, Dóra Vargha, a lecturer at the University of Exeter, discusses the various waves of the polio epidemic in Hungary and the fight against it in the second half of the twentieth century. Significantly from the perspective of the health crisis today, she offers an entirely different approach to the concept of a “pandemic.”

Vargha’s monograph raises a question of historiographical significance when she asks whether the history of an epidemic in a given country should really be seen as coming to an end when mass illness has come to an end. This is a question with moral, biopolitical, and general implications for the writing of epidemiological history. Are we embarking down the right path, when we seek to write an epidemiological history within a “nation-state framework,” by examining a well-defined period of time? In part to investigate this question, Vargha discusses the flare-ups of polio in Hungary between 1952 and 1963 in a broader international context, and she traces the fates of survivors until the change of regimes in 1990.

The spread of polio in Hungary may serve as an appropriate empirical context for Vargha’s analysis in part because the illness was a concern not because of the high number of cases or the high rate of fatalities. It was dreaded, rather, in no small part because of the serious risk of permanent bodily harm to members of a social group whose health was seen as symbolic of the country’s allegedly bright future. According to the logic of the era, this group was supposed to determine the ultimate outcome of the Cold War as an ideological and socioeconomic conflict. Polio therefore could not be treated merely as a (nation) state affair. This is precisely why Vargha raises the question of how and within what framework it was possible, ten years after the beginning of the Cold War, to organize a wide-ranging cooperative international medical and humanitarian effort to defeat an enemy “unfamiliar with the Iron Curtain.” And what were the social consequences of this cooperative endeavor in Hungary, a country which abutted the Iron Curtain and a country in which the protection of the population from biological threats (such as polio) was indeed an ideological question which cut to the heart of the emerging welfare society, but where the political changes which were underway at precisely this moment of history determined the country’s domestic and foreign policy positions?

Vargha addresses these questions, but she does a great deal more than that. She sheds light on the social status of modern, Western medical knowledge in Hungary in the 1950s, which was precarious in many ways. At times, it met with a skeptical or even hostile reception. Vargha also helps her reader understand a situation which, at first glance, seems contradictory. If the authoritarian political-social systems were never hesitant to use physical force to harass or even destroy individuals who lived under their reign when it seemed to serve their interests, how is it that, at other times, they were capable, when facing challenges similar to the challenges faced by the democratic societies of the West, sometimes to address the needs of their citizens, from certain perspectives, even more effectively?

The monograph consists of six chapters, which are arranged in chronological order, given the fundamental importance of the course of epidemics over time. The organizing thread, however, is not merely chronology. Rather, it is provided by the three major issues raised in the discussion, issues which are turned into analytical perspectives and which, with varying emphasis, run through the argument as a whole and outline the macro, meso, and micro levels of analysis. One of these issues is the problem of the global production and distribution of knowledge concerning polio in a global policy context in which the biological protection of citizens and the production of scientific knowledge in general were the basis for competition. Vargha’s analysis clearly shows something that historians of medical science in the second half of the twentieth century have been striving in recent years to emphasize in more and more empirical fields, namely that the Iron Curtain proved to be a “loosely woven fabric” when it came to the flow of scientific knowledge. The joint testing of polio vaccines which were originally developed in the United States (it is perhaps worth noting that the vaccine developed by Albert Sabin was first tested in the Soviet Union on large populations a few years before it was used in the United States) and the polio-conferences held until the early 1960s clearly indicated wide-ranging cooperation. At the same time, an examination of the discourses in the countries involved in the fight against the epidemic also allows Vargha to identify subtle distinctions: the East-West opposition appears as a topos to be broken down, but one also has a clear sense of the dilemma that was created by the fragility of the trust the two sides had for each other in the Cold War, despite their shared achievements.

By adopting an approach that goes beyond the national framework, Vargha reminds us of the permeability of the Iron Curtain and the global nature of the flow of knowledge. Furthermore, she offers an alternative to the approach based on the assumption according to which the flow of scientific knowledge generally considered to be modern consistently went from West to East. She argues convincingly that the immunization campaign introduced in Hungary in 1959, the manner in which the state-organized program was administered, and the monitoring of vaccinations and complications later served as a model in Cuba and Brazil, and they were also points of departure for the global strategy adopted by the WHO to eradicate polio. Hungary, which was the first country to introduce a vaccination program on the national level, served as a prominent example in these efforts, but, as Vargha indicates, so did several other communist countries.

The meso-level of Vargha’s study is her analysis of biopower intentions, which she presents mostly in the context of the fight against and prevention of epidemics in Hungary. Given her comparative approach, these phenomena can be traced, at least in part, in the context of the Soviet Union and the United States, and she shows how, due to certain historical features, similar tools available in epidemic management led, at least temporarily, to different successes in the prevention of infection. In the case of Hungary, for a health care system which had suffered catastrophic damage in World War II, the measures taken in the course of the 1956 Revolution and the offers of international assistance created the foundations for the fight against polio at the end of the decade.

In the case of Hungary, the state had a strong intention to provide care for the population, and there was, similarly, a strong demand for intervention. Nonetheless, the question of state jurisdiction over children’s bodies still put the issue of the relationship between power and the individual in the foreground, as well as the question of paternalism as the fundamental stance of the socialist state. Although policy with regards to children in the modern state has tended to see state participation in the rearing of children as essential even from the moment of birth, in order for the campaign to slow the spread of the virus to be effective, the state still needed to convince parents of the importance of its efforts and to clarify their role. Vargha shows that, at the initial stages of the epidemic, attempts by the state to insist on the urgency of protective measures appeared in the press and the narratives of health policy-makers as a common struggle by the state and parents, even if there were paternalistic motifs in the discourse. However, this rhetoric also made it possible to blame parents for the failure of the Salk vaccination in 1957.

The micro-level of the analysis concerns the discussion of the problems which arose in the everyday lives of individuals, problems which, effective international cooperation and state intervention notwithstanding, sometimes made it impossible or at least more difficult to protect the population. As Vargha’s analysis shows, the epidemic was not always taken as seriously by the general population as it should have been, and compliance with state regulations fell short of expectations, as did the actual number of vaccinations. When the epidemic flared up in 1959 and caused more destruction than it had in earlier bouts, it may have been tempting to attribute this to the decisions made by parents who went against the will of the state. However, as Vargha makes clear, defiant parents were not the only cause of the flare-up. The administrative confusion of the first vaccination campaigns and the early technical uncertainties concerning inoculation with the Salk vaccine, which was used first as a prophylactic measure, created a situation in which even large-scale immunization did not provide complete protection for the population belonging to the most vulnerable age group.

Vargha offers subtle insights into the contradictory and tense relationship between the paternalistic state and society through a discussion of a pressing issue of health care policy, and she also considers the ways in which the intentions of the state and the wishes of the population diverged or collided, sometimes because of problems with implementation and sometimes simply because of individual aims or perceptions. She does a great deal more than this, however. Because she uses a conceptualization of “epidemic” which is broad both in time and space, she also incorporates into her discussion an examination of the circumstances of those who survived the pandemic, stretching all the way up to the change of regimes in 1990. Thus, she also considers phenomena which were part of the larger strategies used by individuals during the Kádár era to assert or achieve their perceived interests, and she casts light from a new angle on the social and political dysfunctionalities which were, ultimately, the foundation on which these strategies were built.

Furthermore, since the early 1960s, the social circumstances of the individual fundamentally determined the circumstances of survivors of the polio epidemic. Since new cases of polio began to decline, polio itself no longer constituted a medical, social, or political problem. The Heine-Medin Hospital, which had been set up during Imre Nagy’s second term as prime minister, was closed, and knowledge concerning the disease was less and less a part of a practicing physician’s immediate repertoire. In the absence of reliable, organized state care, the quality of life for the people who had survived polio and who had been left with lasting handicaps depended on their circumstances and/or the circumstances of their families. By dwelling on this question, Vargha very justifiably suggests that, even if the epidemic was cured on the larger societal status, the Kádár regime ultimately failed to provide professional medical care, available regardless of one’s social background, even though this was one of its most prominent sociopolitical aims. For survivors of polio, differences in social level were factors which had a strong influence on the individual’s ability merely to exist.

Vargha makes persuasive use, in support of her various propositions, of a diverse array of sources, including archival documents, printed sources and sources from the press, an impressive body of secondary literature, and even oral history interviews done earlier with patients. Her use of the interviews allows her to present subjective perspectives on the illness and care and treatment, thus providing, to some extent, a “patient’s view,” or in other words, a perspective which is often seen as a worthy goal in the scholarship on medical history, but which, given the nature of the sources, is hard to provide (in the case of Vargha’s book, this perspective is particularly significant in the second, fourth, and sixth chapters). The interviews also enable her to make the changes of scale which are used in the other chapters and which constitute the most exciting points of her analysis. These changes of scale vividly show the reader how the decisions that were made in the interests of protecting the population from disease (decisions which, with small changes, ultimately did provide protection) were different, during the first wave of vaccinations, on the individual level because of the administrative chaos. In other cases, the shifts in scale show how, as gradually there were no cases of new infections, the question of providing care for polio survivors was no longer an issue that could be easily integrated into the communist social vision, and thus the provision of care essentially became the task of the families and friends who lived with or around people grappling with handicaps of various seriousness.

It is difficult to imagine a subject which could be more pertinent at the moment, considering the pandemic currently underway. But beyond its im­mediate relevance, given the questions she raises, the scholarship on which she draws, and the scientific and social-scientific perspectives she offers, Vargha’s book will be an essential work in the international scholarship on medical history in the next few years, as well as a substantial contribution to the scholarship on state socialism in Hungary during the Kádár era.

Viola Lászlófi
Eötvös Loránd University – École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales

1 West Germany and the Global Sixties: The Anti-Authoritarian Revolt, 1962–1978 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013).

2 For example, Stephen Kotkin, “The State—Is It Us? Memoires, Archives, and Kremlinologists,” Russian Review 61, no. 1 (2002): 35–51.

3 This strand of research has picked up in the 2010s, in works such as: Cristina Vatulescu, Police Aesthetics: Literature, Film, and the Secret Police in Soviet Times (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010); Katherine Verdery, Secrets and Truth: Ethnography in the Archive of Romania’s Secret Police (Budapest: CEU Press, 2014); Ioana Macrea-Toma, “The Eyes of Radio Free Europe: Regimes of Visibility in the Cold War Archives,” East Central Europe 44, no. 1 (2017): 99–127, and her introduction to the edited issue.