pdfVolume 2 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Pál Ács

Holbein’s “Dead Christ” in Basel and the Radical Reformation

My intention in this essay is to examine Hans Holbein’s painting Dead Christ (1521–1522) from a new point of view. Earlier interpretations of the painting which approached it from various perspectives, ranging from late medieval piety and the Renaissance to the Reformation and early modern “modernism,” have proven unsatisfying. I suggest, as an immediate context for the interpretation of the message of the painting, the so-called “Radical Reformation,” the views of which were closely linked to the notions of Erasmus advocating the spiritual reformation of humankind. I argue that both Erasmus and his portrait painter Holbein belonged to the same intellectual group and the painter sought to emphasize the real death and true Resurrection of Christ as a human being. By doing so with great artistic force, he got close to the central message of the radical Reformation, namely the denial of the divinity of Christ and the recognition of his human nature. Consequently, Dead Christ also captures the central tenets of the spiritualism of the Radical Reformation.

keywords: Hans Holbein, iconography of Christ in the grave, Erasmus of Rotterdam, radical reformation, spiritualism

Radical Holbein?

If one speaks about Hans Holbein’s Dead Christ,1 painted in 1521–22, the interpretation in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot inevitably bears mention:

I know that the earliest Christian faith taught that the Saviour suffered actually and not figuratively, and that nature was allowed her own way even while His body was on the cross. […]. It is strange to look on this dreadful picture of the mangled corpse of the Saviour, and to put this question to oneself: Supposing that the disciples […] saw this tortured body […] how could they have gazed upon the dreadful sight and yet have believed that He would rise again?2

In this essay, I seek to answer this question, also discussed by Julia Kristeva in her seminal essay on Holbein’s Dead Christ, in which she interprets the painting as an emblematic demonstration of the “melancholic nature” of Holbein’s art.3 The starting point of Kristeva’s essay is the disturbing effect of Holbein’s Dead Christ, which finds expression in Dostoyevsky’s novel The Idiot. She transformed the shock of the Russian writer into a cultural theory of pre-modern melancholy. As Sara Beardsworth writes in her probing study of the motives behind Kristeva’s choice of subjects, “[i]n Black Sun Holbein’s Dead Christ is the first exemplar of the artwork as indicator of and counterindication to nihilism, the one that stands at the threshold of the modern world and seems, on Kristeva’s analysis, to exhibit the ethic that would support the separation of Church and State. The choice of Holbein as the starting-point for her minor history of works of mourning reveals that Kristeva is not writing a general history of art and melancholia but tackling the problem of modern nihilism.”4 Dostoyevsky scholars who contest Kristeva’s interpretation suggest that perhaps the roots of Dostoyevsky’s response to Holbein lie not in the existential fears of modern man, but rather in the fundamental difference between Eastern and Western visual culture. The Eastern concept of images was in essence transcendental,5 and Dostoyevsky found this transcendence wanting in Holbein’s painting.6

I am not interested here in why the Russian author was so irresistibly fascinated by this painting (he was nearly in a state of shock when standing in front of the Basel picture in 1867),7 but seek rather to answer the question concerning what it was in the picture and in the message it conveyed that moved him with such force.

The story of the interpretation of the painting seems to justify the strange uneasiness it caused in Dostoyevsky.8 Holbein’s Dead Christ has been studied by many people from various perspectives, but there is still no accurate answer regarding the picture’s genre, function, ideological background or precise meaning. The message of the painting has been interpreted within the framework of four different mentalities, but neither medieval piety, nor Renaissance thought, nor the Reformation, nor early modern “modernism” seem to have offered an adequate context for an understanding of the picture.9 This feeling of dissatisfaction urges me to examine Holbein’s painting from a point of view that until now has been neglected.

Hans Holbein

Hans Holbein, Dead Christ

 

I call the point of view in question “Radical Reformation,” although I am fully aware of the fact that the spiritual-religious movements to which this term refers were only in the making at the time the picture was painted.10 They were not yet organized into churches, and if they existed at all, they functioned as loose intellectual circles. Their radicalism targeted not the revolutionary transformation of the world, but rather lay in their ideas concerning the need for an inner rebirth of man. Their spiritual horizons were closely linked to the ideas regarding spiritual Reformation of Erasmus, who can justly be called “radical” in this respect: “The freedom to choose, to approve or reject, was essential to him; no revelation could get in the way of that freedom. Also, he did indeed form a number of new concepts that were radical in the early modern period, and some that still are radical. What is more, he tended to defend, rather than abandon these radical concepts,” writes Peter G. Bietenholz.11 It is important to note that Holbein, Erasmus’s friend and portrait painter and the illustrator of his books,12 also belonged to this path-seeking humanist intellectual group. It seems therefore justified to suppose that his Dead Christ, in addition to its medieval, Renaissance and Protestant contents, also captures the most important traits of the spiritualism of radical Reformation rooted in Erasmus’ ideas. I argue that it was most probably this radicalism that disturbed Dostoyevsky—and later Kristeva13—and they (mis)interpreted it as a challenge to the Christian faith, as a manifestation of enlightened atheism. The Russian author saw Dead Christ as a work of art that denies the Resurrection, and he claimed that “a man looking at that picture might even lose his faith.”14

The Imitation of Christ

Dostoyevsky’s attention was caught by the unusual shape of the picture: “however, there was one of strange and rather striking shape; it was six or seven feet in length, and not more than a foot in height”.15 Those attempting to determine the original genre of the painting began with the same observation. For a long time, the view prevailed according to which Holbein’s picture served as the predella of a winged altarpiece of the Passion that was never completely finished.16 The obvious parallels between the painting in question and Matthias Grünewald’s Isenheim altarpiece reinforced this view. Many signs indicate that Holbein knew the famous Isenheim winged altarpiece, and one discerns Grünewald’s influence in Holbein’s depiction of the blue and green corpse of Christ in the grave.17 Although the minute optical study of the perspective used by Holbein has by now completely invalidated the interpretation of the picture as a predella,18 representations of the Lamentation on Medieval panel paintings could have been natural forerunners to Dead Christ, deeply rooted in late medieval piety.19

According to another ingenious idea, Holbein’s picture could have been the cover of a Holy Grave installation used in the ceremonies of the Holy Week. New research has provided precise proof of the links with the iconographic traditions of the representations of “Christ in the grave” recently found in places of worship near Basel.20 Holbein’s picture, however—given its verism and naturalism (which far exceed Medieval traditions)—was probably inadequate for devotional public use, and there is no concrete proof of its origin as part of a Holy Grave installation.

What is true of all of these speculations is that the Basel painting is inseparable from the idea characteristic of late Medieval Passion mysticism of following Christ. In Holbein’s era, the conviction that Christ put on a mortal body to save humanity with his death dated back a very long time. According to Medieval thought, man must take part in the Savior’s sufferings in order to show gratefulness for God’s goodness.21 Passion altarpieces and Holy Grave installations were intended to give this notion visual expression. In the spiritual turbulence of the first decades of the sixteenth century, these old spiritual teachings were reinforced and given new meanings.22 The words of Theologia Germanica, a fourteenth-century mystical booklet rediscovered in 1516 by Martin Luther, affected people with unusual strength: “Behold! Where the old man dieth and the new man is born there is that second birth of which Christ saith, ‘Except a man be born again, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God’ […] now, if all mankind abode in true obedience, there would be no grief, nor sorrow […] In this obedience a man were one with God and God himself were the man”.23 This booklet spoke of the possibility of the complete integration of divine and human nature (Vergottung), of real death24 and real rebirth, and—together with The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis25—is well-known for becoming one of the basic books of radical Reformation.26 (In the early stage of the Reformation both magisterial Protestant Churches and spiritual movements rejected the idea of Purgatory and Hell and interpreted Christ’s descent to the dead as a “real death.”) “Man could only be ‛deified’ if he renounced his own will and imitated the life and sufferings of Christ,” writes Alastair Hamilton.27 When Holbein painted Christ’s greenish, decomposing corpse, he conveyed the same radical message of death and Resurrection in visual language. The depiction might easily fool someone who does not understand the main point of this message.

Erasmian Piety

In his classical lecture, Holbein and the Reformation, Fritz Saxl presented Holbein as an Erasmian who—with serious reservations—gradually accepted the teachings of the Lutheran Reformation and at the same time could never identify with Luther’s opposition to culture and always remained faithful to Erasmus’s spiritual Humanism.28 In a penetrating study of the relationship of people who commissioned Holbein’s paintings to the ideas of the Reformation, in her monograph on Holbein Jeanne Nuechterlein arrives at a similar conclusion: “The humanist scholars, however, had very mixed reactions to the Reformation: some of them sympathized with it and even became its intellectual leaders, but others were ambivalent or opposed it. Holbein’s direct commissions from scholars, as far as we can tell, were mostly portraits and came from individuals who were ambivalent about reform”.29 We know that when Holbein depicted Luther in ancient costumes as “Hercules Germanicus” he was accused of being “too Erasmian”.30 This ambivalence between Erasmus’ Humanism and Luther’s Reformation can be discerned in Dead Christ as well, although it was painted eight years before the painter officially joined the Reformation.

According to Dostoyevsky, “there was nothing artistic about it”.31 This remark regarding Holbein’s Dead Christ probably alludes to the undoubted lack of decorative elements—in Kristeva’s words, “Holbein’s minimalism”32 – and the striking simplicity of the painting. Research on Holbein also raised the possibility that the painter consciously avoided gilding and overly strong colors,33 in line with the hostility towards pictures (which by that time was growing in strength in Basel as well) of the Reformation.34 Apart from the date and signature in Roman capitals,35 there are no independent all’antica elements of style. On the other hand, this is obviously a refined Renaissance work of art that uses naturalistic allusions, making good use of the symbolic perspective. This is one of the reasons why it is one of the most brilliant pieces of “Northern Renaissance” art.

In studies of the perspectivist illusion-making and inner lighting of the picture, the idea has been raised that Holbein may have done the painting on private commission as part of an epitaph. As the work was preserved in the collection of the Basel family of Amerbach, it is possible that Holbein painted Dead Christ for the family tomb planned by the famous Humanist lawyer Bonifacius Amerbach, which was supposed to be placed in the small cloister of Basel Charterhouse,36 but together with many other Holbein paintings it was taken to a safe place in order to protect it from the particularly destructive burst of Protestant iconoclasm in Basel in 1529, thus becoming part of the so-called Amerbach-Kabinett, a collection of art founded by Bonifacius Amerbach’s son, Basilius.37

Whether this is true or not,38 we do know that the commissioner and first owner of the painting was Bonifacius Amerbach (CE I, 42–46), one of the most faithful disciples of Erasmus in Basel. It is a telling fact that Erasmus trusted him with the handling of his bequest, and he became the first curator of Legatum Erasmianum, a Humanitarian foundation supporting widows, orphans and poor students, founded by the Rotterdam master.39 He was a moderate Protestant, and his active tolerance played a very important role in the fact that for a long time, Basel served as a refuge for the representatives of different spiritual and religious trends who suffered persecution elsewhere.

This tendency to openness also meant that even in the decades following 1529, the strict Reformation Mandate was never implemented to the letter. This in turn gave rise to a climate that enabled late humanism to thrive better than it could elsewhere. Among the many representatives of Basel’s flourishing intellectual life during this period were the staunch defender of religious tolerance, Sebastian Castellio, and the physician and instigator of the Paracelsian renaissance, Theodor Zwinger—to name but two.40

Thus, the commissioner and the painter of Dead Christ both belonged to Erasmus’s innermost circle, so it is a good idea to approach the message of the picture through Erasmus’s teachings. “Holbein understood, like none other, the ‘wiry concord’ of Erasmus’s personality: the fragile delicacy of his body and the strength of his mind; his need for solitude and his craving for friendship; his humor and his seriousness; his love of tranquility and his thirst for action; his urbanity and his sarcastic conceit.” 41

Of course, one cannot avoid the question: which Erasmus did Amerbach and Holbein follow? The “Protestant” Erasmus who rejected mechanical ceremonies and meaningless piety, or the “Catholic” one, who objected to the rude destruction of ecclesiastical traditions? Or perhaps the one who felt sympathy for the persecuted Anabaptists?42 The one who considered the cult of saints and pictures a “folly,” or the one who broke out in tears because of Christ’s sufferings and so realistically described Jesus’s bitter tears and the blood streaming from the thousands of wounds of his tortured body?43 It is difficult to arrive at a definite answer to a question to which Erasmus himself probably could not have given a single reply. It is, however, sure that his life, work and entire spiritual existence centered around the “true philosophy of Christ”: since Christ is the source of life, there is no life outside Christ—he said.44 In a letter dating from 1521, the year of the painting of Holbein’s Dead Christ, Erasmus movingly recalled a Good Friday sermon of his English friend, the interpreter of Saint Paul John Colet; this sermon described Christ’s victory over death with brilliant erudition and also talked about the difficulty of living and dying as a Christian (To Justus Jonas, 13 June 1521, CWE 8: 242). Nevertheless, this was the sine qua non of salvation for them. Erasmus was charmed by Colet’s naively radical interpretation of the Bible. These two scholars and the Christian Humanists who followed them—among them, Holbein—read the Gospels with a new understanding: He died and was resurrected, and if you believe in him and follow him, you will live even if you die (“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” John 11:25). Erasmus’s friends tried to take this literally. They simply wanted people to read the Bible as if it were true.

“The Eyes”

Dostoyevsky writes the following of the painting: “It represented Christ just taken down from the cross. It seems to me that painters as a rule represent the Savior, both on the cross and taken down from it, with great beauty still upon His face. […] But there was no such beauty in Rogojin’s picture. […] This face in the picture was beaten all over, there were swollen, awful bloody and blue traces on it, the eyes were open, the pupils distorted, the white of the eyes shining with a kind of deadly, glassy light”.45

Jeanne Nuechterlin offers a similar description: “The Dead Christ, however, offers no sign at all that this body can or will return to life, or even the usual emotional hints at Christ as a full person. The crabbed hand, stiff limbs, and most of all, the blank-eyed and open-mouthed stare announce that there is no spirit to reverence here”.46

They are right: there is nothing in the painting to mitigate the terrors of death. Christ’s body lies in the grave in complete abandonment, and nothing alludes to his future fate. However, since the picture inarguably represents Jesus with wounded hands, feet and sides (this is evident even if we forget about the inscription47 on the late sixteenth century or more belated frame), an artistic intention emphasizing the impossibility of Christ’s resurrection is out of the question in Holbein’s world.

It has been shown that the dreadful calmness of the painting is broken by stirring elements of scenery, such as the folds of the blanket covering the rocks, which allude to the moment at which Christ was put in the grave. A similarly intensive element is Holbein’s strangely distorted perspective, which shows the legs “from above,” while the shoulders, the neck and the face are shown “from below”. The right hand is placed in the symmetrical center of the picture, “closest” to the viewer; the hand almost reaches out from the tomb, its dark silhouette emphasized by the white shroud into which the improbably long middle finger is digging.48 The hand is flabby but the gesture of the fingers is evidently symbolic, as in the case of all Renaissance pictures: the dead Jesus is showing the ancient sign of the cross, symbolizing resurrection, with the two middle fingers straight, the other three bent.

We see the inner space of the tomb from the left: we see the narrow wall of the tomb by the legs, with the date and the signature: M.DXXI. HH. However, the wall next to the head is invisible. Light enters the space from the opposite direction, from the right, and touches the corpse from bottom to top: it casts a sharp light on the feet, the upper part of the leg, the ribs and the shoulder, but the neck and the face are left in shadows, so that the half-open, distorted eye gives a mystic flash. Light interprets the scene, and this makes the space symbolic. It leads the eyes of the viewer from the leg to the hand, then to the head, settling on the eye, from which the viewer cannot remove his gaze. Dostoyevsky perceives the strange light flashing in the eye. But he may be wrong in saying that this is the empty stare of someone “just taken down from the cross.” The picture shows a corpse that has been dead for several days, and this is emphasized by the well-known but evidently false legend that the artist used a corpse fished from the Rhine as his “model”.49 Jesus’s half-open eyes show not the emptiness of death, but life returning. Those who feel that Holbein depicted Jesus at the moment of the miracle of Resurrection are probably right. The symbolism of gestures and space seems to justify this view.

Conclusions

When the depiction was painted, the Reformation was unquestionably only in its initial stages. Nonetheless, the essential questions of the new teachings clearly interested the painter and his patrons. As I have noted, the painting’s lack of ornamentation almost certainly reflects an affinity with the ideas of Erasmus’ Humanism and the Reformation’s critique of images, which was increasingly adopted by members of the intellectual community in Basel at the time, presumably Holbein among them. According to Nuechterlin, the objectivity of the painting, which resists any abstraction, is also a reflection on the theological debates brought to the surface by the Reformation:

Fundamentally, reformers questioned whether any material object, be it relic, image, or even the Eucharist, could serve as a direct conduit to God. By painting Christ’s body as so startlingly dead, using a descriptive mode as if he were visually re-creating a seen object, Holbein too appears troubled by the same question. Anyone approaching this image hoping to access Christ is confronted instead with a representation of dead matter—which is precisely how reformers perceived religious images and relics. […] His viewers would have to draw their own conclusions.50

According to this view, Holbein’s avoidance of any visual element that might be interpreted as a reference to the invisible essence of the Eucharist or the divine nature of Christ was based on considerations of principle. Precisely this “materialness” of the depiction allowed him to lead the viewer to something essentially imperceptible.

This interpretation seems both logical and historically credible, but one could approach the problem from a different perspective. If one attributes first and foremost not a theological, but rather a spiritual meaning to the painting (and this is justified by the subject, the genre, and the mentality of the circle of people who commissioned the painting, which was influenced by the ideas of Erasmus), then the striking objectivity of the depiction can be seen in a different context. From this perspective, the painting does not so much endeavor to guide the viewer’s gaze from the visible world to the invisible, but rather consistently follows the path that Christ himself (and his followers) had to take. Hans Belting is astute in his observation that “the painter plays with fire” when “he inserts a breathtaking fermata between life and death into the spectacle of the body still spared from decay”.51

The radical message of the painting regarding death and resurrection is found in this enigmatic “fermata.” We have no reason to suppose that Holbein’s painting contributed in any way to the dogmatic, Christological debate of the time. Nonetheless, the disturbing objectivity of the painting is perhaps related to Erasmus’ version of medieval piety, in which the radical implications of this spiritualism can be discerned. But by emphasizing the real death and true Resurrection of Christ known as a human being with such enormous artistic force, Holbein got close to the most important message of the radical Reformation’s rejection of the dogma of the Holy Trinity: namely the denial of Christ’s divinity and the recognition of his human nature. It is a well-known fact that Erasmus’s new translation of the Bible, based on the original Greek sources, served as a philological basis for antitrinitarian radicalism, since it demonstrated that the verses of the New Testament on the Holy Trinity are fake.52

This conclusion is not entirely free of problems in its chronology, but it is perhaps also not entirely anachronistic if we consider that various radical trends in religious reform emerged and made their influence felt at the same time as the magisterial tendencies of Protestantism. Most of the representatives of the dissident trends (Anabaptist, spiritualist, and others) to some extent drew on (if in varying ways) the teachings of Erasmus. As Johan Huizinga notes,

One of the best historians of the Reformation, Walter Köhler, calls Erasmus one of the spiritual fathers of Anabaptism. And certain it is that in its later, peaceful development it has important traits in common with Erasmus: a tendency to acknowledge free will, a certain rationalistic trend, a dislike of an exclusive conception of a Church. It seems possible to prove that the South German Anabaptist Hans Denk derived opinions directly from Erasmus.53

In addition to the meanings suggested above, the painting might have had another, more current message that was self-evident to everyone in Holbein’s time. According to Saint Paul, the Church is Christ’s body: “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Cor 12:27). When Holbein depicted Jesus’s death with such shocking and convincing force, he formulated in pictorial language something that Erasmus, Luther and the radical Protestants all believed: the Church, the old Church—and the old man in it—is dead. He does not exist anymore. Not only symbolically dead, but in the most literal sense of the word. But he will be resurrected if he follows his master, Jesus.

The only question was: when? The answer given by the painting is now. This is probably why the inscription marking the date of the painting is given a particularly important position. The X-ray study of the painting demonstrated that Holbein corrected the date from 1521 to 1522,54 then later returned to the original version for some mysterious reason.55 What we know for sure is that he gave considerable thought to the placement of the inscription. Julia Kristeva explained Holbein’s inscription in the spirit of Nietzsche’s nihilism (“God is dead”): “The painter’s name is not lower than Christ’s body—they are both at the same level, jammed into the recess, united in man’s death, in death as the essential sign of humanity, of which the only surviving evidence is the ephemerid creation of a picture drawn here and now in 1521 and 1522”.56

The inner symbolism of the picture provides a different, in some respects opposite meaning. Light enters the symbolic space precisely at the place of the inscription, moves on from the date 1521 to enter the white flashing eye of the resurrected Christ. It is true that the eye does not show beauty in the classical sense. It burns, however, with the determination of the radical Reformation, which sought to create God’s realm here and now. In this sense, Holbein was not simply a distinctive artist of the “Northern Renaissance,” but also of the “Northern Reformation”.

Abbreviations

CWE 8 (1988): Collected Works of Erasmus, vol. 8. The Correspondence of Erasmus, Letters 1122 to 1251 (1520 to 1521), trans. R. A. B. Mynors, ed. Peter G. Bietenholz. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

CE 1–3 (1985–1987): Contemporaries of Erasmus. A Bibliographical Register of the Renaissance and Reformation, vols 3, ed. Pieter G. Bietenholz, Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Bibliography

Ács, Pál. “The Theory of Soul-sleeping at the Beginning of the Hungarian Reformation Movement,” in Centers and Peripheries in European Renaissance Culture. Essays by East-Central European Mellon Fellows, edited by Endre György Szőnyi and Csaba Maczelka, 95–103. Szeged: JATEPress, 2012.

Bätschmann, Oskar and Griener, Pascal. Hans Holbein. Cologne: DuMont, 2012.

Beardsworth, Sara. Julia Kristeva: Psychoanalysis and Modernity. New York: State University of New York Press, 2004.

Belting, Hans. Bild-Anthropologie: Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft. Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2001.

Bietenholz, Peter G., ed. Contemporaries of Erasmus: A Biographical Register of the Renaissance and the Reformation, vols 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1985.

Bietenholz, Peter G. Encounters with a Radical Erasmus: Erasmus’ Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009.

Constable, Giles. “The ideal of the Imitation of Christ.” In Constable, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought, 143–248. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Cuttler, Charles D. “Holbein’s Inscriptions.” Sixteenth Century Journal 24 (1993): 369–82.

Dostoevskaya, Anna Grigorevna. “Vospominaniya” [Reminiscences]. Edited by S. V. Belov and V. A. Tunimanov. Moscow: Hudozhestvennaya Literatura, 1971. Accessed May 7, 2013. http://az.lib.ru/editors/d/dostoewskij_f_m/text_0610.shtml.

Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Idiot. Translated by Eva Martin. Boston: MobileReference, 2009. Accessed May 7, 2013. http://www.online-literature.com/dostoevsky/idiot/34/.

Florensky, Pavel. Iconostasis. Translated by Donald Sheehan and Olga Andrejev, introduced by Donald Sheehan, Crestwood, N.Y.: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000.

Ganz, Paul. The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger. Enlarged Edition, Oxford: Phaidon, 1956.

Gatrall, Jeff. “Between Iconoclasm and Silence: Representing the Divine in Holbein and Dostoevskii.” Comparative Literature (Oregon) 53, no. 3 (2001): 214–232.

Giese, Rachel. “Erasmus and the Fine Arts.” The Journal of Modern History 7 (1935): 257–79.

Greyerz, Kaspar von. “Basel in Holbein’s Day.” In Müller, Christian et al. Hans Holbein the Younger: The Basel Years, 1515–1532. Munich: Prestel, 2006, 72–78.

Guggisberg, Hans Rudolf. Sebastian Castellio, 1515–1563. Humanist and Defender of Religious Toleration in a Confessional Age. Translated by Bruce Gordon. St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003.

Habsburg, Maximilian von. Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi, 1425–1650: From Late Medieval Classic to Early Modern Bestseller. St Andrews Studies in Reformation History, Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.

Hamilton, Alastair. The Family of Love. Cambridge: Clarke, 1981.

Huizinga, Johan. Erasmus and the Age of Reformation. Translated by F. Hopman. London: Harper Torchbooks, 1957.

Kristeva, Julia. “Le Christ mort, de Holbein.” In Soleil noir: Dépression et mélancolie, 117–50. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1987.

Le Goff, Jacques. The Birth of Purgatory. Translated by Arthur Goldhammer, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Lienhard, Marc. “Die Radikalen des 16. Jahrhunderts und Erasmus.” In Erasmianism: Idea and Reality, edited by M. E. H. N. Mout, Heribert Smolinsky, and Johannes Trapman, 91–104. Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1997.

Müller, Christian, ed. Bonifacius Amerbach 1495–1562: Zum 500. Geburtstag des Basler Juristen und Erben des Erasmus von Rotterdam: Ausstellung. Basel: Kunstmuseum Basel, 1995.

Müller, Christian. “New Evidence for Hans Holbein the Younger’s Wall Paintings in Basel Town Hall.” Burlington Magazine 133 (1991): 21–26.

Müller, Christian et al. Hans Holbein the Younger: The Basel Years, 1515–1532. Munich: Prestel, 2006.

Nuechterlein, Jeanne. Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2011.

Ozment, Steven E.. Mysticism and Dissent: Religious Ideology and Social Protest in the Sixteenth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973.

Panofsky, Erwin. “Erasmus and the Visual Arts.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 32 (1969): 200–27.

Peteghem, P. P. J. L. van. “Erasmus’ Last Will, the Holy Roman Empire and the Low Countries.” In Erasmus of Rotterdam. The Man and the Scholar. Proceedings of the Symposium Held at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, 9–11 November 1986, edited by Jan Sperna Weiland and Willem Th. M. Frijhoff, 88–97. Leiden: Brill, 1988.

Rowlands, John. Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger. Complete Edition, Oxford: Phaidon, 1985.

Sander, Jochen. Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler in Basel 1515–1532. Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2005.

Saxl, Fritz. “Holbein and the Reformation.” In Saxl, Lectures, vol. 1, 277–85. London: Warburg Institute, 1957.

Séguenny, André. “Religions en contacts. Le problème du transfert des idées: Moyen âge, Renaissance et Réformes protestante et catholique.In L’Étude de la Renaissance nunc et cras. Actes du colloque de la Féderation internationale des Sociétés et Instituts d’Étude de la Renaissance, edited by Max Engrammare, Marie-Madelaine Fragonard, Augustin Redondo, and Saverio Ricci, 257–73. Geneva: Librairie DROZ, 2003.

Spinka, Matthew. “Desiderius Erasmus, a Humanistic Reformer.” In Spinka, Advocates of Reform from Wyclif to Erasmus, 281–379. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster, 2006.

Tracy, James D. Erasmus of the Low Countries. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

Trapman, Johannes. “Erasmus’s Precationes.” In Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Torontonensis. Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, edited by Alexander Dalzell, Charles Fantazzi, and Richard J. Schoeck. Medieval And Renaissance Texts And Studies, 86, 769–79. New York: Binghamton University, 1991.

Walker, Daniel Pickering. The Decline of Hell. Seventeenth-Century Discussions of Eternal Torment. London: Warburg Institute, 1964.

Winkworth, Susanna, trans. Theologia Germanica. Introduced by Martin Luther (1893). New York: Cosimo, 2007.

1 Hans Holbein the Younger, The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb, 1521. Oil on wood, 30,5 × 200 cm. Kunstmuseum, Öffentliche Kunstsammlung, Basel.

2 Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Idiot, trans. Eva Martin (Boston: MobileReference, 2009), iii/6, accessed May 7, 2013, http://www.online-literature.com/dostoevsky/idiot/34/.

3 Julia Kristeva, “Le Christ mort, de Holbein,” in Julia Kristeva, Soleil noir: Dépression et mélancolie (Paris: Éditions Gallimard, 1987), 117–50.

4 Sara Beardsworth, Julia Kristeva: Psychoanalysis and Modernity (New York: State University of New York Press, 2004), 152.

5 Pavel Florensky, Iconostasis, trans. Donald Sheehan and Olga Andrejev, intr. Donald Sheehan (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2000).

6 Jeff Gatrall, “Between Iconoclasm and Silence: Representing the Divine in Holbein and Dostoevskii,” Comparative Literature (Oregon) 53, no. 3. (2001): 214–32.

7 Anna Grigorevna Dostoevskaya, “Vospominaniya” [Reminiscences], ed. S. V. Belov and V. A. Tunimanov (Moscow: Hudozhestvennaya Literatura, 1971, iv/5). Accessed May 7, 2013, http://az.lib.ru/editors/d/dostoewskij_f_m/text_0610.shtml; Kristeva, “Le Christ mort, de Holbein,” 119–20.

8 Gatrall, “Between Iconoclasm and Silence,” 214–32.

9 Paul Ganz, The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, Enlarged Edition (Oxford: Phaidon, 1956), no. 15; Kristeva, Le Christ mort de Holbein, 117–50; Oskar Bätschmann and Pascal Griener, Hans Holbein (Cologne: DuMont, 2012), 88–90; Jeanne Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric (Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2011), 85–104.

10 André Séguenny, Religions en contacts. Le problème du transfert des idées: Moyen âge, Renaissance et Réformes protestante et catholique,” in L’Étude de la Renaissance nunc et cras. Actes du colloque de la Féderation internationale des Sociétés et Instituts d’Étude de la Renaissance, ed. Max Engrammare et al. (Geneva: Librairie DROZ, 2003), 257–73.

11 Peter G. Bietenholz, Encounters with a Radical Erasmus. Erasmus’ Work as a Source of Radical Thought in Early Modern Europe (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2009) 4–5; cf. Matthew Spinka, “Desiderius Erasmus, a Humanistic Reformer,” in Spinka, Advocates of Reform from Wyclif to Erasmus (1953) (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster, 2006), 281–379.

12 Rachel Giese, “Erasmus and the Fine Arts,” The Journal of Modern History 7 (1935): 257–79; Erwin Panofsky, “Erasmus and the Visual Arts,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 32 (1969): 219–20; Bätschmann, Hans Holbein, 90–97, 114–19; Jeanne Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art: Holbein, the Reformation, and Renaissance Rhetoric (Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2011), 20.

13 “The Analysis first shows how this image of Christ’s death brings out the full significance of a dead God at the threshold of atheism.” Beardsworth, Julia Kristeva, 147.

14 Dostoevsky, The Idiot, ii/4.

15 The size of the corpse seen on the painting really corresponds to the average size of the human body. Ibid.

16 Ganz, The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger, no. 15; Beardsworth, Julia Kristeva, 150; Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 90; Hans Belting, Bild-Anthropologie: Entwürfe für eine Bildwissenschaft (Munich: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2001), 99–100.

17 Bätschmann and Griener, Hans Holbein, 89; Kristeva, Le Christ mort, de Holbein,” 127–28; Beardsworth, Julia Kristeva, 150.

18 Christian Müller et al., Hans Holbein the Younger: The Basel Years, 1515–1532 (Munich: Prestel, 2006), 257.

19 Jochen Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler in Basel 1515–1532 (München: Hirmer Verlag, 2005), 140.

20 Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler, 137; Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 9–91.

21 Giles Constable, “The Ideal of the Imitation of Christ,” in Constable, Three Studies in Medieval Religious and Social Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 143–248.

22 Steven E. Ozment, Mysticism and Dissent: Religious Ideology and Social Protest in the Sixteenth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973), 20.

23 Susanna Winkworth, trans. Theologia Germanica, intr. Martin Luther (1893) (New York: Cosimo, 2007), xvi.

24 Daniel Pickering Walker, The Decline of Hell. Seventeenth-Century Discussions of Eternal Torment (London: Warburg Institute, 1964), 59–67; Jacques Le Goff, The Birth of Purgatory, trans. Arthur Goldhammer (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1990), 237−87; Pál Ács, “The Theory of Soul-sleeping at the Beginning of the Hungarian Reformation Movement,” in Centers and Peripheries in European Renaissance Culture. Essays by East-Central European Mellon Fellows, ed. Endre György Szőnyi and Csaba Maczelka (Szeged: JATEPress, 2012), 95–103.

25 Maximilian von Habsburg, Catholic and Protestant Translations of the Imitatio Christi, 1425–1650: From Late Medieval Classic to Early Modern Bestseller, St Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011).

26 Both books enjoyed wide popularity also in the late decades of the sixteenth century within “liberal” Erasmian circles of the Reformation in Basel. The book on Following Christ by Thomas à Kempis, published by Sebastian Castellio, a free thinker living in Basel (Basel, 1563) was reprinted many times. Castellio also contributed to the translation of Theologia Deutsch into Latin and French. Hans Rudolf Guggisberg, Sebastian Castellio, 1515–1563. Humanist and Defender of Religious Toleration in a Confessional Age, trans. Bruce Gordon, St. Andrews Studies in Reformation History (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), 239.

27 Alastair Hamilton, The Family of Love (Cambridge: Clarke, 1981), 9.

28 Fritz Saxl, “Holbein and the Reformation,” in Saxl, Lectures, vol. 1 (London: Warburg Institute, University of London, 1957), 277–85.

29 Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 22–23.

30 Ibid., 100.

31 Dostoevsky, The Idiot, iii/6.

32 Kristeva, Le Christ mort, de Holbein,” 132–35.

33 Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 99.

34 Kaspar von Greyerz, “Basel in Holbein’s Day,” in Müller et al., Hans Holbein the Younger, 72–78.

35 Charles D. Cuttler, “Holbein’s Inscriptions,” Sixteenth Century Journal 24 (1993): 372.

36 Müller et al., Hans Holbein the Younger, 257.

37 Christian Müller, ed., Bonifacius Amerbach 1495–1562: Zum 500. Geburtstag des Basler Juristen und Erben des Erasmus von Rotterdam: Ausstellung (Basel: Kunstmuseum Basel, 1995).

38 In John Rowland’s opinion “it was painted to be displayed in isolation” John Rowlands, Holbein: The Paintings of Hans Holbein the Younger (Complete Edition, Oxford: Phaidon, 1985), 53; Jochen Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler in Basel 1515–1532 (Munich: Hirmer Verlag, 2005), 136–37; Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 92.

39 P. P. J. L. van Peteghem, “Erasmus’ Last Will, the Holy Roman Empire and the Low Countries,” in Erasmus of Rotterdam: The Man and the Scholar. Proceedings of the Symposium Held at the Erasmus University, Rotterdam, 9–11 November 1986, ed. Jan Sperna Weiland and Willem Th. M. Frijhoff (Leiden: Brill, 1988), 88–97.; Guggisberg, Sebastian Castellio, 47.

40 Greyerz, “Basel in Holbein’s Day,” 75.

41 Panofsky, “Erasmus and the Visual Arts,” 219.

42 Johan Huizinga, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, trans. F. Hopman (London: Harper Torchbooks, 1957), 178.

43 Johannes Trapman, “Erasmus’s Precationes,” in Acta Conventus Neo-Latini Torontonensis. Proceedings of the Seventh International Congress of Neo-Latin Studies, ed. Alexander Dalzell et al., Medieval And Renaissance Texts And Studies 86 (New York: Binghamton University, 1991), 771–72.

44 Spinka, Desiderius Erasmus, a Humanistic Reformer, 281–379; James D. Tracy, Erasmus of the Low Countries (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), 104–15.

45 Dostoevsky, The Idiot, iii/6.

46 Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 110.

47 IESVS NAZARENVS REX IVDAEORVM cf. Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler, 138; Müller et al., Hans Holbein the Younger, 257.

48 Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler, 132; Müller et al., Hans Holbein the Younger, 257–59.

49 Nuechterlein, Translating Nature into Art, 85.

50 Ibid., 88.

51 Belting, Bild-Anthropologie: Entwürfe, 100.

52 Bietenholz, Encounters with a Radical Erasmus, 33–68.

53 Huizinga, Erasmus and the Age of Reformation, 178; cf. Marc Lienhard, Die Radikalen des 16. Jahrhunderts und Erasmus,” in Erasmianism: Idea and Reality, ed. M. E. H. N. Mout et al. (Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1997), 93–94.

54 At the same time Holbein worked on the wall paintings of the Basel Town Hall. Christian Müller, “New Evidence for Hans Holbein the Younger’s Wall Paintings in Basel Town Hall,” Burlington Magazine 133 (1991): 21–26.

55 Sander, Hans Holbein D. J. Tafelmahler, 134.

56 Kristeva, Le Christ mort, de Holbein,” 125–26; Beardsworth, Psychoanalysis and Modernity, 152.

pdfVolume 2 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Gabriella Erdélyi

Lay Agency in Religious Change: the Role of Communities and Landlords in Reform and Reformation

In this essay I seek to illuminate “from below” the process of growing lay agency in matters of religion within the frame of a case study. Although the expansion of lay control over church affairs is usually considered an urban phenomenon, I focus on the Hungarian countryside, on how peasants living in villages and towns under feudal authority participated in late medieval reform and sixteenth-century reformations. I contend that the late medieval observant reform of the mendicant friary of the market-town of Körmend was initiated by laymen, and the process of reform itself took place primarily in the interplay of the social and religious needs of the community and landlord. In order to assess on a more general level the role of lay participation in church affairs, I test my findings against village parish religion. I investigate negotiations between peasant communities and landlords over issues related to the election of the local parish incumbent, as well his livelihood and the maintenance of the parish church. I conclude that the high level of lay participation and investments in matters of local religion made it possible for Luther to speak about communal rights and transform locally diverse practices into a universal Christian norm.

keywords: observant cloister reform, mendicant orders, parish religion, lay agency, election of pastors

In this essay I explore the role of the laity in late medieval and early sixteenth-century religious changes. The late medieval crisis and observant reform of the mendicant friary in the market-town of Körmend, which offers illuminating insights into the religious practices and mentality of the laity,1 is approached here as an episode in the long-term process of growing lay agency in church affairs, which was shaped, I argue, in the dynamic of communal and seigniorial agendas.2 In the second part of the essay, I draw general lessons from the Körmend story. To what extent was the active participation of community and landlord typical in bringing about religious change? To answer this question, I compare findings concerning lay agency in monastic reform with the achievements of communities and landlords in religious activities centered around the parish church, which has remained (and this constitutes a divergence from West European tendencies) the primary focus of lay devotion, even if the mendicant ethos has increasingly attracted the laity.3 Thus I recreate the original context and reintegrate what has been separated only by historical discourses: local religion centered around two institutions, the friary, if there was one, and the parish church, with their related institutions, such as hospitals, schools and confraternities. In order to be able to reflect on continuities and changes, I also extend the timeframe of the inquiry: how did the scope and limits of communal and seigniorial action change during the early phase of the protestant reformation in the Hungarian countryside?

By the late fifteenth and the early sixteenth century, religious life within the mendicant friary in the town of Körmend in West Hungary had dissipated. Friars were rare and they lived scandalously. Körmend was an average-size late medieval market town of the country, and although it was not a manorial center, its seigniorial and religious institutions placed it among the most important towns of the county. Market-towns were franchised settlements, as the townsmen of Körmend had the right to choose a town judge each year and they traded in the region custom free and had a weekly market. Still, as opposed to free royal cities, their inhabitants were considered serfs by law and lived under the authority of landlords. Körmend underwent conspicuous development in the second half of the fifteenth century under the Ellerbach magnate family. János Ellerbach fortified the medieval castellum at the north-east corner of the town and founded the parish church of Saint Elisabeth in the south-east. When he died, Thomas Bakócz, cardinal-primate of Hungary, took over his estates. Under the pressure caused by local scandals and the laity’s drive for reform, in 1513, during his stay in Rome, he asked the pope’s license to take control of the reform of the friary and introduce observant Franciscan friars in place of the Augustinian hermits.

The relationship between cloister and community oscillated for decades between conflict and solidarity. While the friars were an important media in the local economy of the sacred, the monastery buildings shaped communal identity. However, since the sacred economy was often endangered rather than enhanced by the friars, who proved to be unworthy mediators (and the ruinous monastery was more a source of shame than pride), the general tranquility of the streets was occasionally disturbed by clamorous scenes. The community tried everything to reform the Augustinians, ranging from derision to physical violence. They repeatedly turned to the provincial of the Augustinian mendicant friars, orally as well as in writing, to take care of the cloister of the order “for God and for the salvation of all of us,” to which effect the provincial sent more friars to Körmend.4 At certain times, even the idea of driving the friars away was voiced. One of the witnesses recalled that people were not only talking about driving the friars away, but even had come to the decision that this was the only solution.5 Another eye-witness called the actions of the townsmen against the negligent mendicants a “rebellion.”6 György Király in turn stated that in the end the community did not dare to expel the friars. His words suggest that people perceived this to be beyond their authority, as a breach of prevailing norms and structures of power from which they refrained. How did the presence of the landlord alter the scope and limits of communal needs, aims and action?

While the notion that the Reformation constituted a complete break with the Middle Ages has gained wide acceptance, the ‘observant’ reform, in other words the foundation and reorganization of monasteries implemented by secular authorities (Klosterreform by territorial princes, city magistrates and landlords), was self-evidently described as a process running against the dissolution of the same cloisters by the next generation of the Reformation. In the past thirty years, however, as the paradigm of confessionalization has gained ground and the new focus on continuities between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries has come to the fore, the interpretive gaze has become keener and has noticed, instead of ruptures, the structural parallels and continuities between the two subsequent processes.7 Within this framework, both the late medieval reform and the Protestant reform, including the closure of religious houses, are considered to be movements that began within the church, but as in the course of events the laity took the upper hand in channeling the process, in the end they brought about the “laicization of religion.” The church(es) that had thus evolved­­, the argument goes, responded more actively to the needs of the laity and came increasingly under lay supervision.8 While historians unanimously interpreted both events within the macro-historical process of the laicization of religion, opinions diverge regarding the underlying intentions of actors. Did the laity strive to expand their power over the church, which is more easily recorded subsequently, or were people moved rather by religious goals and values? Answers vary on the matter, granting primacy in the mind of actors either to religious motives or to the expansion of political power, but narratives tend to be reduced to this simplistic alternative.9

Looking closely at the local events in Körmend, I have become increasingly convinced, however, that the long-term processes captured by hindsight and the categories constructed to describe them cannot be adapted to the historical understanding and representation of everyday cultural practices. The experiences, choices, and decisions of social agents can hardly be reduced to a dichotomy of religious versus political variables.10 On the contrary, in order to capture the perspective of historical agents, a more flexible vocabulary and a more inclusive frame of reference is necessary. Therefore, after reconstructing the role played by subsequent landlords of Körmend in religious reform in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, I will interpret their motives and actions as integral to the processes of the legitimization of power and aristocratic self-fashioning.11 Moreover, instead of trying to distinguish between the underlying political and religious agendas of religious reform, it seems more fruitful to acknowledge the fact that medieval (in fact, pre-modern) non-clerical authorities felt as responsible for the Christian religion and the church as they did for the building of society. Inevitably, as will be demonstrated below, the religious-devotional practices and the day-to-day practice of domination (Herrschaft) targeted to harness the loyalties of subjects were inseparable processes at the grassroots level. For contemporaries, the intersection of political and religious dynamics, to which modern sensibilities object, seemed natural.12

Cloister Reform in Körmend

With regard to the relationship of town and landlord it is striking that the community did not—as we might assume based on the silence of witness testimonies on the matter—turn to the landlord, who was the patron of the monastery, with its grievances against the friars. The people of Körmend, however, were very pro-active in their relations with other authorities: on occasion, they mobilized either their parish priest or the castellan against the friars, and they even requested the help of the Augustinian provincial in writing. Moreover, letters of complaint were a well-established manner of communication between peasant communities and landlords. Can we interpret this as an act of passive resistance reflecting the tense relationship between town and landlord? In other instances, however, the people of Körmend readily sought the mediation and protection of Péter Erdődy, who came to govern the earlier Ellerbach-estates on behalf of Bakócz in 1505 and became heir and landlord by law in 1517.13 Erdődy never hesitated to petition the king to request protection for his peasants when they had been done harm in person or in goods by neighboring landlords.14 No surprise, then, that the witnesses commented recurrently that as peasants they were held in respect and honor by their landlord. And even if this is measured as a calculated platitude, one of the witnesses proudly added that Erdődy was a benevolent and generous landlord, which probably reveals something of their actual relationship. In sum, landlord and town seem to have cherished a harmonious relationship.

Perhaps the community did not request the mediation of the patron of the friary, since he was doing what was expected of a good landlord anyway. This would also help to answer our initial dilemma as to why the community’s action did not extend in the end to the often-mentioned “rebellion,” the violent banishing of the friars. Lukács Mindszenti of Hollós, the earlier client (familiaris), recalled at the interrogation regarding his patron, that “he often heard the magnificent (magnificus) lord János Ellerbach, the landlord of the town of Körmend, reproving the Augustinian friars for neglecting the divine services and threatening to expel them from their monastery and replace them with others.”15 Another former client, Ferenc Nádasdy, also remembered the determined conduct of his patron, Ellerbach, who was landlord before Erdődy:

János Ellerbach [...] often intended to exclude and turn the Augustinian friars out from the monastery of Körmend on account of their unbounded negligence and evil life. [...] He has also seen and heard as he threatened the friars with beating and other punishments unless they changed their lives, performed the divine services regularly, and took adequate care of their buildings. Had the landlord lived longer, the friars, he believes, would have already been expelled from the monastery, since he knows that Ellerbach had already taken some steps to this end.16

What did Nádasdy mean when he referred to steps taken by the landlord? Did Ellerbach also­—as Bakócz later did—intervene legally and turn to the general of the Augustinian order or the pope himself with a request for permission to reform the monastery as its patron? The above words of his men, Mindszenti and Nádasdy, who knew him face-to-face, suggest a more pragmatic and authoritative personality. I would therefore assume that Ellerbach started to negotiate the affairs of the friary straight away with the potential newcomers, that is, with the superiors of the religious order whom he had marked out to live in Körmend. The words of Lukács Mindszenti show that Ellerbach had also contacted the observant Franciscans: “he himself is fond of both orders, however, he would prefer that the Franciscans rather than the Augustinians stay in the friary, since the earlier landlords of Körmend had also wished, while they lived, to introduce the Franciscans to the monastery.”17 Ellerbach was probably only prevented from realizing his goal by his sudden death in 1499.

His successor, Péter Erdődy, encouraged the friars, as his more gentle manner dictated, with

benevolent words to live as friars should live, and he promised them that he would be ready to support them in any possible way, providing them with food and clothing and helping them restore the devastated buildings, and as a sign of his promise, as the witness himself saw, lord Péter supplied them with bread and wine and made other provisions.18

As all his efforts were to no effect, however, his failure to reform the friars must have urged him to mobilize the authority of his prelate uncle in order to place the observant Franciscan friars in the place of the Augustinians.

Beyond the noble clients of landlords, the townsmen of Körmend most probably also knew about the intentions and the actions of their subsequent landlords. As Mátyás Tapasztó claimed at the hearing, “had the citizens of the town been able, they would already have banished the Augustinians friars, as their landlord at the time, the late János Ellerbach, also wanted to expel them, as far as he knows.”19 Town community and landlord shared the goal of reforming the friars, and although they did not coordinate their actions, they both strove to overcome the crisis of the friary using any means at hand.

Some of the witnesses’ words even suggest that the community’s mental horizon and scope of action went beyond the goal of driving away the bad friars. The parish priest of Kölked, a village in the neighborhood, heard the townsmen murmuring only that “they want to expel the friars on their own and they would rather have the cloister empty than inhabited by these sinful friars to the scandal of the people.”20 But this appears to have been only one of several communal plans, and by no means the most ambitious. No coincidence perhaps that it was Gergely Polgár, a former town judge, who remembered that “at certain moments the indignation of the people rose so high that the citizens murmured that they would banish the negligent friars, who deserved to be driven out and replaced by others of a more religious standing.”21

We have now seen that the landlords of Körmend, who were also patrons of the monastery, all dedicated themselves to overcoming the crisis of the friary. Although with varied tones and varied tools depending on differences in character, they all tried first to prompt the Augustinians to mend their ways, and when they failed, they sought to reform religious life by inviting another religious order to the town. The fundamental uniformity beyond the variety in detail of their actions, which in other words seem to follow a cultural pattern, suggests that a mapping of their motives will render landlord-peasant relations more comprehensible, or framed more generally the everyday practices of power beyond the pursuit of individual purposes.

In the documents designed to record and publicize and, by the same token, to legitimate their actions of religious reform, secular authorities represented their intervention as a practice of private devotion: as a good deed, pleasing to God, intended to mend their ways and help them gain individual salvation. The witnesses echoed the words of the articles of the questionnaire construed by the Erdődys: driven by religious zeal (zelo fidei), their landlord reformed the cloister. Similarly, King Wladislaus (Jagiello) II (1490–1516), who in 1493 closed the monastery of Visegrád because of the scandals of the Benedictine friars and donated it to the Paulines, claimed to have acted pro salute anime nostre.22 In his petitions to Rome, Palatine Mihály Ország argued in 1467 that he wished to restore the desolate monastery in Szécsény because of his own devotion to the Franciscan order and his desire to achieve salvation.23

The Erdődy family also cherished close links with the Franciscan order. The brother of Péter, Simon, bishop of Zagreb in 1519, was granted a share in the spiritual merits accumulated by friars in return for the favors he did for the order.24 Even more interesting, in 1531 Péter founded a friary for the observant Franciscans on his Slavonian estates of Okics (today Okić, Croatia).25

The practice of private devotion, however, was almost always represented simultaneously as a gesture in service of the spiritual needs of subjects. The questionnaire in Körmend gave voice to the seigniorial perspective: the landlord reformed the friary “to promote religion and further the salvation of the Christian flock.” This was paraphrased by the parish priest of Hollós as follows: “so that the people’s devotion to God would increase.” A Körmend townsman thought that the reform “would day-by-day intensify the divine service and the devotion of the people.”26 As repeated unanimously by landlords, they reformed the religious houses in order to increase the faith of the people and to further their salvation.27

Private and collective devotion, or, more precisely, the authority’s responsibility for the spiritual well-being of its subjects, were closely interwoven, but so were the sacred and the secular realms. Péter Erdődy admittedly hoped to provide for the terrestrial safety and prosperity of his family by raising the friary.28 The crisis of religious institutions and the occasional violent brawls and heated quarrels between the laymen and the friars that accompanied it and disturbed everyday tranquility were undesirable for the secular authority. And such street conflicts were foreseeable when the embittered or outraged townsmen lost their temper, as probably happened not only in Körmend but also in the streets of Újlak (today Ilok, Croatia).29 The anxieties of the authorities must have intensified when disrespect for the local friars tended to turn into a general anticlerical attitude on the side of the laity. As some of the witnesses in Körmend confessed, the contempt of the people extended beyond the deviant friars to their religious order and even the entire clergy.30 Any kind of mistrust or challenge of well-established power structures could not be watched idly by those in positions of authority. Kings and landlords alike expected that the “new friars of good life” would provide an example of model behavior for the town: “more than anyone else, with their holy life, they give a daily example for the faithful, by conduct and word alike, worthy of being followed.”31 As King Matthias wrote in his reform edict (1489) of all religious orders in the country: “our forerunners, kings and subjects alike, enjoyed peace and security afforded by the dedicated prayers of the religious to God. It is our duty to follow in their sacred footsteps.”32

The discourse and its central notions concerning the religious reform activity of secular authorities help us understand them as integral to the process of domination at both the local and national levels. In other words, the authorities’ endeavors to provide regular divine service and friars of exemplary lifestyles in monasteries were a symbolic means of soliciting the obedience of their subjects. In this context, the late medieval practice of Hungarian monarchs of transferring monastic houses of substantial wealth but ebbing lay demand to the mendicant orders or the hermit Paulines becomes understandable. Even if such transfers were disadvantageous economically, they functioned as gestures to legitimate and stabilize existing structures of power.33 And returning to the case of Körmend, the fact that the anxiety, rage and contempt of the townsmen towards the friars never amounted in practice to a “rebellion” must have been due to the activities of landlords. As subsequent seigneurs all performed their duties as patrons of the friary, in the end this stopped the community from assuming their role.34

So far we have seen that communal and seigniorial interests ran parallel. Commoners and authorities alike strove to use all available means at hand to restore the religious life of the friary for both sacral and secular benefits, including the salvation of the soul and the restoration of civic peace and communal unity. The communal drive for reform, however, reached a stalemate and was successfully accelerated and channeled by seigniorial intervention.

How can we account for the fact, then, that their shared interests notwithstanding, even if we find no traces of direct communal and seigniorial cooperation, the reform of the friary, in the long run, ended in failure? Rather surprisingly, in later years the Erdődys, going back on their initial promises and the repeated requests of the Franciscans, neglected to restore the ruinous monastery buildings. Since the costs of restoration surpassed the financial capacities of both the town and the Franciscans, the friars eventually abandoned the uncomfortable place in 1524.35 The failure of Péter Erdődy to restore the monastery, either out of disinterest or parsimony, renders the religious reform at Körmend an exception. Other landlords, who similarly engineered the renewal of the religious houses in the territory of their estates, never hesitated to invest financially.

If we compare the circumstances of the above cases of reform, one important difference emerges. The market-towns of Újlak, Sárospatak, and Szécsény, where the reformed monasteries in question stood, were at the same time the residences of their landlords, who came from the highest echelons of society.36 The landlords and their families, the members of their households, often stayed in the castles adjacent to the market-towns, which also functioned as administrative centers and burial places for their kindred.

The reform of the monastery of Körmend seems to have been a more limited enterprise due to the fact that it did not form part of a grandiose plan to create a splendid burial place for an aristocratic family, nor was it integrated into a more general scheme of estate development and urbanization. Can we perhaps attribute the final failure of the reform to this missing context? Péter Erdődy kept his residence in Monyorókerék (now Eberau in Austria), the headquarters of his estates in Vas County, which was well suited to the purpose due to the castle-construction works and foundation of ecclesiastical institutions (a parish church and Pauline monastery) carried out by his predecessors, the Ellerbachs.37 On the other hand, Körmend at that time had no large estates attached to it, and although Erdődy turned the castellum here into a castle by fortification works, he had no earnest reason to spend much time there. Consequently, if Erdődy kept his residence elsewhere, the representation of the sacrality of his seigniorial authority played no role in reforming the monastery of Körmend. This would explain why he did not invest the time and money necessary in order to restore the monastery buildings.

The various strands of this inquiry, especially some of the earlier thoughts on communal action and the present discussion of seigniorial reform, suggest the conclusion that the landlord’s intervention in the life of the Körmend friary seems to have been primarily triggered by clerical abuses and the discontent of the laity. With the observant Franciscans appearing on the scene, however, the scandals stopped and the feeling of insecurity quickly dissipated. The conduct of the new friars after the passing of a year met communal expectations, or at least the witnesses whose testimony has survived attested to a feeling of general satisfaction. The Franciscans made the most pressing repairs to the buildings and were said even to have tidied up the gardens. Once the daily routine set in again, the conditions of the monastery buildings, which did not serve Erdődy as a tool of aristocratic self-fashioning, were of no further interest to him, which reinforces the argument according to which the drive for reform lay with the community.

Reform was shaped in the dynamic of communal and seigniorial agendas. Their common desire to secure private and collective salvation and civic order and peace proved adequate motivation to expel the disobedient Augustinian friars. Subsequent lords of the town deemed it advisable to take charge of religious reform initiated by energy that came “from below,” but which served at the same time their own agenda of restoring peace and stabilizing power structures. In the long run, however, their interests diverged: for the community the cloister was an important factor, which both shaped and represented civic identity. Since communal financial resources were insufficient to accomplish the restoration, however, the fate of the friary was sealed. The final failure of reform resulted from the divergence of communal and seigniorial actions.

The Election of Pastors by Communities and Landlords

In the following, I draw general lessons from the Körmend story. Can we consider the active participation of community and landlord typical in the making of religious change? I contrast experiences with regard to mendicant reform with lay participation in religious life within the parish structure. This approach was prompted by the much contested, but established thesis according to which the protestant reformation created something originally new by turning the medieval church run by the clergy into a church of the laity. As is often claimed, under the impact of the new teachings, communities that previously were conceptualized as entirely passive suddenly realized their rights and began to demand the right to choose their own priests and supervise and control church incomes and properties.38 A more nuanced understanding of the late medieval situation in general and villagers’ busy piety and readiness to run local churches in order to further their work in particular may help us evaluate more precisely the nature of sixteenth-century religious changes. From a more general perspective, instead of assuming that practices automatically followed from ideas and that commoners passively followed the dictates of the elite, I again emphasize the constituent role of everyday practices in bringing about social and religious change.

The analysis is facilitated, furthermore, by an exceptionally rich source material on rural religion in the middle of the sixteenth century. By this time, the new teachings, which were first embraced in the royal court (where Mary of Habsburg arrived in the early 1520s with her courtiers) and the German-speaking cities, had reached the countryside, the Hungarian nobility and peasantry.39 The detailed records of the church visitation carried out in the north-western regions of the country are therefore the early fruits of confessional rivalry. The commissioners of the reform-minded Catholic archbishop, Miklós Oláh (1493–1568), spared no time or energy to record what they had heard and seen in tiny villages and small towns in preparation for the national synod designed to restrain the epidemic spread of “heresy.”40 For the modern reader, their descriptions open a window onto communities in the process of religious change.

This change can best be grasped in the way local clergymen were elected and appointed to parochial positions. The ability of lay agents to elect and call reformed friars into monasteries was the key element, as we have seen, of observant reforms. It was also a crucial moment in the sixteenth century. As Robert Scribner observed writing on the early reformation in German cities:

What made the Reformation a movement rather than a collection of abstract theological ideas was the attempt of ordinary people to put their belief into action. The most important step was to obtain a godly preacher who would proclaim the Word and share in the building of some kind of revivified Christian community. For this reason, the efforts of little communities [...] to find and keep a godly preacher are central to the understanding of Reformation.41

As for the countryside, villages and small towns with feudal authorities above them (which are our primary concern), we can build on Peter Blickle’s convincing claim that city and village shared their basic reformation agenda of “communalizing the church,” the crucial element of which was the appointment of pastors.42

It seems all the more intriguing to approach the appointment of clergy in the interplay of communal and seigniorial attitudes and practices, since historical scholarship, and Hungarian historians in particular, portray the process as orchestrated either by the one or the other. The first modern master narratives of the Hungarian reformation, in accordance with European trends of historical writing of the interwar period, are organized around the alleged “heroes” of the reformation, converted lords and “star” Lutheran pastors working in their courts. Consequently, their narratives rest on the assumption that tenants had to follow the new faith of their landlord passively. This means, on the one hand, that these narratives make no distinction between aristocratic private devotion and patronal conduct, which we observed with regard to cloister reforms conducted by landlords. On the other hand, by conjecturing that the right of patronage mechanically governed social behavior, they leave no space whatsoever for communal action.43

Against this background, the recent account of the rural reformation can be read as a counter narrative. Here, the protagonists are peasants who freely choose their religion, since they can find their ways in matters of religion autonomously and can make rational decisions. Their freedom of religious choice is facilitated, as the argument goes, by the indifference of their landlords. The apparent cases when Lutheran patron lords kept evangelical preachers in their castle churches yet did not remove the old village clergy from their estates made the author conclude that they were simply not interested in the religion (in what kind of divine service they attended and who performed it for them) of their subjects, just as they did not interfere with the choice of spouse and other personal affairs of their serfs. The author accounts for this seigniorial attitude within the process of domination: after the open conflict between lords and peasants in the 1514 peasant revolt, the issue of religion became neither a tool with which to elicit the obedience of subjects nor a means of everyday peasant resistance in the sixteenth century.44

My aim is therefore to draw a more balanced picture of the ways in which communities and landlords participated in religious reform. First of all, the large discrepancy of seigniorial action with regards to the friary and parish church is astonishing. The suggested indifference of lords to the religion of their subjects runs against the sense of responsibility for the spiritual well-being of parishioners manifested by Péter Erdődy and other secular authorities of previous generations through their acts of reforming religious houses. The figure of the indifferent landlord emerged from the church visitation records mentioned briefly above. The thesis of indifferent communities, which is even more shocking, was voiced, moreover, on the basis of their correspondence with their landlord. In this case study on seigniorial-communal relations with regard to religion from the 1520–1530s, not only did George the Pious, Margrave of Brandenburg-Ansbach (1484–1543), a marked Lutheran convert, not take any interest in the spiritual needs of the subjects on his estates in Eastern-Hungary, but the small town communities also passively observed the appointment of his officials to parochial benefices, which consequently left the people with no mass.45 On the one hand, we need to explain how this is compatible with the elevated communal concern for religious matters (aimed at a sufficient provision for sacraments and the preparation for the afterlife) witnessed, as one case among many, in Körmend. On the other hand, it is important to notice that active and passive communities obviously coexisted. Did the level of communal autonomy change in relation to the conduct of the lord? Or are we deceived by our sources? The church visitation record is a product of a dialogue between clergy and commoners: the church officials, when they arrived in the remote little places, asked the parish priest about his flock and the members of the community about their priest, respectively. Lord patrons, who were most often absent magnates, participated in this dialogue only exceptionally, and are mentioned only when they had done something exceptional. Do they appear as more marginal figures in the process of religious change as a consequence of this? And if communities did not negotiate with their landlords in matters of religion, does this necessarily mean that they were passive and indifferent? In order to be able to draw a more balanced picture of communal and seigniorial attitudes in matters of religion, it is worth considering a few relevant but often neglected aspects.

For one thing, if village priests followed different creeds than their patron lords in the mid-sixteenth century, this can be attributed to other factors than the alleged indifference of landlords toward religious practice in the parish. Several communities had the right to elect their own priest, a fact that was first given due attention in the narrative of the communal reformation. While in England a lower level of communal participation in religious life developed in the form of the election of churchwardens, on the Continent (including in Hungary) several examples testify to the control of both town and village governments over the parish church. As the findings of the leading medievalist András Kubinyi suggest, communal participation in late medieval Hungary had diverse origins and involved diverse rights and practices. The right of electing the pastor could be part of the authority of the municipal government granted by royal privilege. In other instances, the “communitas parochialis,” which tended to be identical with the political community, was granted the right to elect the parish incumbent by the local patron lord (subpatronatus).46 But it was not unusual for the patron and community to present their common nominee to the bishop together.47 Random examples attesting to the varied equilibrium of communal-seigniorial roles prop up relatively frequently in the fifteenth-century corpus: members of the local noble patron family, the churchwardens and the entire community of Várkony (today Vrakúň, Slovakia), a village near Pozsony (Bratislava, Slovakia), elected their new pastor together, whom they had previously dismissed for his misbehavior.48 And we have the rare written evidence from Szentendre, a village under royal authority, where the community explicitly claimed to be acting on their right of patronage over the parish church dedicated to Saint Andrew when electing their pastor.49

Patrons, consequently, were probably not indifferent, but rather their scope of action was limited by communal rights. And their willingness to share rights seems to have been a natural consequence of the sharing of fiscal burdens, which is suggested not only by the admittedly scanty medieval evidence, but also by the more systematic data produced by church visitors in the early 1560s. Members of the official church usually met the elected representatives of village and parish community, the judge and the churchwarden (vitricus). In addition to interrogating members of the community about the moral and religious profile of the priest and asking the priest about the morals of the community, visitors were interested in the state of the church, inside and outside. When they found the church building in bad condition (ruinosa, desolata), as was often the case, they admonished the judge and the churchwarden, the elected representatives of the village community and congregation, to see to the repair of the church.50 Decayed, disorderly churches were not exceptional, whatever the creed of the patron and community. In a few instances, however, patrons also appeared on the scene. They were the petty nobles living in the village, as opposed to the distant magnate patrons. And when visitors met patrons, they always urged patron and community together to renovate the church.51 Looking at the ruinous church in the village Kosztolány, the visitor commented: the state of the church is due not to the priest, but to the negligence of patrons [the magnate family Ország] and community.52 Visitors put the blame on the patrons alone when they attributed the decay to the disputes among local petty nobles, who cared little for the church buildings.53 Obviously, the church authorities held patrons and community together responsible for the physical condition of the church. Peasants and nobles shared this view. Usually they promised to do the work.54 When peasants refused, they claimed to be heavily overloaded by their landlord with tasks, but they never argued that it was not their duty.55

The visitation records also offer examples of instances in which communities actively participated in the election of the parish incumbent. For example, the peasants of Garamszentbenedek (today Hronský Beňadik, Slovakia) living under the authority of the local Benedictine abbey, caught a priest in the street themselves. The “heretic” priest of the neighboring village had run away from the visitors. He was arrested in Szentbenedek, and the villagers took the opportunity to fill the vacancy in the parish church by electing him. They asked only the visitor for permission, which was necessary since the priest was obviously a no-good Catholic, wearing a beard but no tonsure.56 In Magasfalva (Vysoká, Slovakia) the parishioners took good care of the church, but it had no incumbent. The visitor apparently asked them why they did not have a parish priest, to which they replied: “they are ready to keep a good Catholic priest if they are authorized.”57 This shows the people’s awareness that the issue was open to negotiation and they could obtain the right to appoint their priest. And they also considered it natural to cover the living expenses of their pastor. In Szentpéter (Liptovský Peter, Slovakia), the priest was a local boy and a fierce heretic, openly refuting Catholic tenets, which the visitor noted: “confident of his parishioners’ support, he fears nothing.”58 There can be little doubt that he was picked by the community.

Even these few examples offer ample testimony to the widespread experience of communal participation, though at different levels, in the election of priests. This does not contradict the contention of historians according to which communal patronage and nomination rights remained an exception throughout the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries in most parts of Europe.59 Nevertheless, several parish communities exerted influence over the choice of the parish priest as a natural consequence of their financial responsibilities in the maintenance of the parish church and the provision of a livelihood for the priest, to which I return later.60

From the perspective of this inquiry, the consequence of communal participation in the election of parish priests is obvious. If the parish priest followed a different religious creed than his patron in the sixteenth century, this might have ensued through varied scenarios. True, the landlord may have been indifferent to parish religion and appointed any priest available. The shortage of priests in the transitional period of the mid-sixteenth century, with the decay of the old Church and the gradual formation of new ones, seriously limited choices. But it is just as possible that the village community selected its own candidate. Either scenario (and the alternation of the two) might have resulted in the confessional diversity of parish priests within the territory of a single estate. Surprisingly, however, this was not the case. When the data of the visitation records are grouped and compared by estates, it becomes clear that in some of the estates one of the confessions, Catholic or non-Catholic, prevailed. The only plausible explanation for this is that the magnate enforced his will over all his lands, since it seems improbable that hundreds of small localities all shared the same religious sympathies. Even if it did not interfere with their feudal authority, for some magnates the creed of the village priests still mattered, as did the kind of religious services they performed for their congregations. Others did not bother. This variance of seigniorial conduct can be accounted for only by personal dispositions, the influence of which was further facilitated by the multiplicity of legal standards providing ample scope for individual action.

András Báthori, who is commonly known as having been a fierce persecutor of “heretics” as voivode of Transylvania (1552–1553) and judge royal (1554–1566), seems not to have endured any opposition in his role as lord patron on his estates either. He made sure to have Catholic priests in all parish churches, and if the community inclined to the new faith, the clashing sympathies of lord and community resulted in vacant churches.61 Under such willful lords, communities that opted to negotiate with the priest instead of the landlord did better, as village clergy adapted more willingly to parishioners and served communion according to different practices, in one or two kinds, to everyone as requested.62 At the same time, the “attentive” landlord rewarded Catholic congregations by renovating the church.63 On the other side of the confessional divide there was another aristocratic combatant of the evangelical movement, György Bebek, who had a similar temperament. The new preachers to whom he had granted the old benefices openly challenged the authority of the visitors, calling Bebek their prelate, king and defendant.64 The bewilderment or, respectively, the fascination of visiting officials, which made them comment profusely when they experienced such an overwhelming power of landlords, suggests, however, that this was not the order of the day.65

In contrast, on the estates of the Forgách brothers, the Révay brothers, Ferenc Thurzó and Gáspár Mágochy, parish priests (as Table 1 shows) followed various creeds, a fact which suggests no intensive seigniorial control over appointments. Whether Catholic or Protestant, their personal dispositions allowed communal tastes to prevail in matters of religion. Finally, the estate of Kristóf Ország also manifested religious diversity, with a strong Catholic majority under a landlord with Calvinist inclinations. Although in Csejte (Čachtice, Slovakia), the place where the landlord had his residence, the parish priest was a “heretic, who infected a great part of the town,” those still clinging to the old faith could attend services held by two different altar-priests.66

While law, legal customs and the principle of reciprocity integral to social relations defined the scope of communal action, on some occasions this could be reduced to nothing by the policies of aggressive magnate lords. The process of domination, if not in relation to their peasants, also influenced seigniorial attitudes to parish religion. The scope of communal participation was limited not only by head-strong landlords, but also by the increasing role played by parish benefices in the system of noble patronage in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. As was the case in German territories, Hungarian magnates, modeling their actions on the royal practice, often rewarded their noble clients (familiares or servitores) for their services in the management of estates with ecclesiastical benefices under their patronage, parish churches featuring high among them.67 In other words, the role of magnates as patrons of churches and as patrons in the system of noble clientele intersected at this point. Although the phenomenon can be documented all over the country, there is no single rule: the conflict of roles was resolved differently depending largely on personal dispositions.

This kind of conflict of seigniorial roles, which affected parish religion, did not arise with regard to monastic affairs. Mendicant houses had no substantial properties, which limited the incentive of patrons to interfere. And although town and city magistrates fostered growing ambitions to control matters of local religion, religious orders, perhaps due to the direct supremacy of the pope over them, more efficiently defended the immunity of their jurisdiction over the nominations of local superiors.68 As a result, mendicant houses could not be turned into a means of fund raising or noble patronage in the hands of secular lords, which rendered them rather predisposed to act as good patrons with no loss. And the reorganization of religious life, a process in which they willingly participated, served also the legitimation of their power, of which they were fully aware. Alongside the contingencies of individual character, the structural variables inherent in the parish and monastic contexts therefore seem sufficient to explain the varied proceedings of magnates as church patrons.

I have considered some of the factors that were at play in the dynamics of communal and seigniorial agendas, which as a consequence meant that the appointment of local clergy could proceed according to varied scripts from place to place. Just as the character of magnates exerted an enormous influence on the scenario of priest appointments, the ability of communities to act autonomously also varied independently of seigniorial behavior, an initial impression reinforced by visitation records. One is astonished by the huge differences between communities living next door to one another. In one place there were people capable of taking care of themselves, or at least the autonomous ones got the lead, whereas a few miles away people seemed to be totally passive. The diverse attitude of congregations towards religion was also reflected, irrespectively of confessional sympathies, by the condition of their churches. Several congregations lived without a priest and did nothing to change the situation. Some of them—willingly or under pressure—ungrudgingly followed the faith of their lord.69 But for example in Liptószentmiklós (Liptovský Mikuláš, Slovakia), the community, going against the Catholic parish priest, was ready to pay a Lutheran pastor in cooperation with the patrons.70 I suspect it is no coincidence that the parish priest of Handlovalehota (Handlová, Slovakia), who was unwilling to serve the communion to his parishioners under both kinds, was replaced the following year by another priest who was ready to do so.71

Finally, for a more realistic portrayal it is essential to stress that religious life at the parish church was multi-layered and complex. The parish incumbent was very often not the only clergymen performing religious services. Rather there were several other clerics employed under various circumstances. Thus even when a community seems to have accepted the nomination of the landlord or the lack of a resident parish priest passively, this did not mean that they were watching helplessly as they were left deprived of priests and sacraments. The subjects of George of Brandenburg may have simply accepted that there was no priest to bury their dead, baptize their babies, and administer the Eucharist in the mass, and they calmly went without. Several other examples, however, attest to the great variety of alternative strategies that were used by communities in order to secure regular and versatile sacramental worship. Although with changing intensity, this seems to have been a general ambition of late medieval small communities.

Temporary vacancies were usually remedied at least at an individual level: some of the people visited the nearby churches to receive the sacraments.72 Several communities, or their elected officials, judges and churchwardens, invited a nearby parish priest to hold mass a few times a week and administer the sacraments in their church in return for communal payment. This kind of mother-filial church relation was organized in the village of Grünau/Grinád (Myslenice, Slovakia) under Serédy. Serédy’s official did not let the alien priest enter and declared himself their parish priest so that—as villagers complained to the investigators—he could take possession of the wine from the church’s vineyard, which the villagers had started to cultivate collectively when their pastor had left them.73 Although perhaps to no avail, even under the worst of landlords the community tried to provide for their spiritual needs.

At other places, people did not satisfy with having no parish priest. The high level of autonomy of the people living in Jánosfalva (Bačka Palanka, Serbia), a tiny village in southern Hungary, is very striking. Although they had a parish priest, he was absent and “ran after worldly affairs” instead of performing his pastoral duties, as they complained repeatedly to the diocesan vicar. Their insistence brought success. As the priest Imre refused to obey the vicar’s summons, the vicar allowed the community to elect and present a new priest.74 What rendered this remote little community capable of acting so independently? Was there a landlord involved in the story, whose authority they tried to evade by appealing instead to the ecclesiastical superior of the non-resident priest? In this case the disobedient incumbent, who perhaps managed the affairs of his lord elsewhere while enjoying the benefice, trusted in the support of his patron. But it is equally possible that the community’s confidence was founded by law or custom and they had long acted as patrons. We are left with the vicar’s words: he allowed the community to choose and present another pastor, acknowledging the danger imminent in their being left without a priest administering the sacraments, especially in times of plague. So be it as it may, the necessity, the ultimate need to perform the last rites for the dying and to bury the dead, must have added additional impetus for communal action.

Petitioning the diocesan court concerning absent priests or vacancies seems to have been an efficient and well-established strategy that the people living on the Brandenburg-estate could also have used. If not, they had other possibilities. The peasants of Jánosfalva were totally dependent on their parish priest, as they argued, since they had no auxiliary clergymen employed at the parish church. In other words, their financial capacities were probably only sufficient to pay for the services of one priest, although they well knew, as their comment suggests, that several other villages could afford to have and did have more than one priest. There is evidence indicating that parochial assistant clergy, chaplains and schoolmasters were often hired directly by parishioners to assist the incumbent.75 Only a systematic collection of the scanty data will persuasively demonstrate that alongside feudal patrons, village and small town communities, or communal institutions like confraternities and guilds were able and eager founders of side-altars and chapels in parish churches (as well as outlying chapels independent of the parochial structure). Yet we have good reason to conjecture that the practice, well documented in German territories, existed in Hungary too.76 Throughout the late middle ages, several churches were founded and built by parishioners, who in consequence had the right of patronage.77

In the case of Körmend, the data available indicates only that some of the altars in the parish church were raised by landlords, while the origin of others is unknown, but the confraternity had its altar in the cloister, which was a financially rational decision, as the friars were able to celebrate the divine services of the confraternity without having to shoulder the burden of maintaining a priest. But even village churches often had two, three, or even more side-altars, as is indicated both by the scattered late medieval data and the findings of the mid-sixteenth-century visitation.78 And like village parish priests, chantry priest not infrequently were local boys, suggesting that the community or their families bestowed the small benefice for their sons, just as citizens also provided in this manner for both the sacred and social prestige of their families.79 And if they had no local candidate, they could freely choose from among the increased number of vagrant priests on the lookout for benefices or at least some temporary employment.80 Peasants in command of more moderate economic resources left their purchased vineyards, mills or the few forints they had in order to pay a priest to say perpetual or temporal masses, wishing to provide for their personal salvation and the salvation of their kindred while also aiming to meet the needs of communal clerical provision.81

To cite one example, a couple in the market-town of Sátoraljaújhely left a deserted mill to contribute to the cost of building a local parish church. Their private legacy came under communal management: the three churchwardens sold it to the parish priest of the neighboring market town, Patak, and through them the tota communitas was responsible for defending him in its peaceful possession.82 Another parochial event in the same place a few years earlier also shows tangibly that parish religion was a communal matter. In 1506, the citizens of the free royal city of Bártfa (Bardejov, Slovakia), who were cultivating vineyards in the wine-growing hills of Újhely, proposed to the councilors of Újhely that they would raise a new chantry in the parish church provided also with living expenses for a chantry-priest. The people of Újhely were so enthusiastic about the enterprise that they added two more vineyards, obviously from the communal asset accumulated by similar pious donations, to the chantry-benefice. The chantry foundation letter issued by the parish priest and councilors of Újhely entrusted the citizens of Bártfa to elect the person of the chantry-priest, whom they subordinated to the incumbent, also specifying his liturgical obligations, which included ministering the incumbent in festive masses. Thus the entire community profited from the religious services of the third chantry-priest in the town.83 The patrons of the parish church, the members of the magnate Pálóci family, played no role in the joint enterprise of the two communities, the actions of which illustrate well the scope and limits of communal participation and financial resources.

Conclusion

Whether communities managed to influence absentee incumbents to nominate as their vicars people from among the assistant clergymen fostered by parishioners is a question that still waits to be answered. As the rich German evidence suggests, in practice this tendency rendered congregations capable of controlling parish religion.84 One nonetheless can conclude that local religious life was manifold and complex, including communal and individual practices that created autonomous levels of parish religion, independent of patrons. Negotiation with landlords was only one means among many for communities to provide for their priests and their sacramental demands. Much as the people of Körmend mobilized their resources in order to restore religious life in the friary, parish communities actively participated in the maintenance of parochial religion. Sacramental piety and clergy served a variety of individual and communal needs, both spiritual and temporal. The vitality of the sacramental mentality is well reflected by the general demand of communion under both kinds. The widespread practice of people taking both the body and the blood of Christ irrespectively of their Catholic or Protestant sympathies was recorded by visitors with little astonishment in the 1560s.85

The appointment of local clergy, which I consider the focal point of religious change, was shaped in the countryside in the matrix of communal and seigniorial agendas. The comparison of the monastic and parish context reveals that the differences in seigniorial behavior, the tendency to be dedicated to monastic reform and disinterested in parochial provision for clergy and sacraments, was unquestionably influenced by individual dispositions, but more importantly was also structurally rooted. As opposed to parochial livelihoods, mendicant houses could not be used to reward their noble clients, and magnates were predisposed to act as good patrons.

Diverse scenarios in relation to the parish church resulted partly from fragmented local conditions. The right of patronage was shared in various forms between lords and communities. And irrespectively of written law, communities had diverse strategies to participate in the election and appointment of local clergy. The late medieval multiplicity of legal standards in turn increased the scope of individual action: we have observed landlords who asserted their will in parish religion as in any other sphere of life, while others did not interfere with the religious choices of their subjects. Communities also manifested different levels of autonomous action in matters of religion, often independently of feudal authority, but rather as a result, presumably, of local politics.

Communal election of local clergy, which in the late middle ages depended on local privileges and negotiations (in other words it was a sporadic secular matter), was turned by Luther into a universal Christian right legitimated by the Gospel, an ideological shift that must have given impetus to communal agendas.86 Similarly, the laicization of religion, the expanding sphere of lay activities in church affairs, had already blurred the distinction between clergy and laity when Luther turned it into a general Christian norm by proposing the principle of the priesthood of all believers. My inquiry thus reinforces the scholarly perception of the interconnected nature of late medieval reform and sixteenth-century reformations, all being part of the long-term processes of Christianization of society and growing lay agency in matters of religion.

Archival Sources

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (The National Archives of Hungary, MNL OL), Mohács előtti gyűjtemény (Pre-Mohács Collection), Diplomatikai Levéltár (Archive of Medieval Charters)

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (The National Archives of Hungary, MNL OL), Fényképgyűjtemény (Photo Collection), Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény (Photo Collection of Medieval Charters)

Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (ÖStA HHStA), Familienarchiv Erdődy (Arch. Erd.)

Bibliography

A pannonhalmi Szent Benedek-rend története [The History of the Order of Saint Benedict of Mons Sacer Pannoniae], edited by László Erdélyi, vols. 12b. Budapest: Stephaneum, 1902–1912.

Andrić, Stanko. The Miracles of St. John of Capistran. Budapest: CEU Press, 2000.

Bándi, Zsuzsanna. Körmend a középkorban [Körmend in the Middle Ages]. Körmend: Körmend Város Tanácsa, 1987.

Blickle, Peter. The Communal Reformation: the Quest for Salvation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, translated by Thomas Dunlap. New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1992.

Bradford Smith, William. Reformation and the German Territorial State: Upper Franconia, 1300–1600. Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008.

Bucko, Vojtech, ed. Reformné hnutie v arcibiskupstve ostrihomskom do r. 1564 (Reformatio in archidioecesi Strigoniensi ad a. 1564). Bratislava: Unia, 1939.

Bullarium Franciscanum, edited by Hüntemann, Fr. Ulricus. Nova Series 1. Quaracchi: Ad Claras Aquas, 1929.

Cabrera, Miguel A. Postsocial History. An Introduction. Oxford: Lexington Books, 2004.

Cevins, Marie-Madeleine. L’Église dans les villes hongroises à la fin du Moyen Age, vers 1320–vers 1490. Paris–Budapest: METEM, 2003.

Csepregi, Zoltán. “A mezőváros és a földesúr diskurzusa vallási kérdésekben Brandenburgi György kelet-magyarországi és felső-sziléziai uradalmaiban 1523–1543” [The Discourse of Market-town and Landlord in Matters of Religion on the Estates of George of Brandenburg-Ansbach in Eastern-Hungary and Upper-Silesia 1523–1543]. In Mezőváros, reformáció és irodalom, 16–18. század [Market-town, Reformation, and Literature], edited by András Szabó, 27–32. Budapest: Universitas, 2005.

Csepregi, Zoltán. “Konfessionsbildung und Einheitsbestrebungen im Königreich Ungarn zur Regierungszeit Ferdinands I.” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 94 (2003): 243–75.

Csepregi, Zoltán. A reformáció nyelve: A magyarországi reformáció első negyedszázadának vizsgálata alapján [The Language of the Reformation: An Analysis of the First 25 Years of the Reformation in Hungary]. DsC dissertation, Budapest, 2010.

„Dass ein christliche Versammlung oder Gemeine Recht und Macht habe, alle Lehre zu urtheilen and Lehrer zu berufen, ein und abzusetzen, Grund und Ursach aus der Schrift.“ In Martin Luther. Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vols 73, 11: 408–16 [1523]. Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–2009.

Davis, Natalie Zemon. “The rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth-Century France,” Past and Present 59 (1973): 5191.

Détschy, Mihály. “Az utolsó Pálóci végrendelete” [The Testament of the Last Palóci]. In Tanulmányok Borsa Iván tiszteletére [Essays in Honor of Iván Borsa], edited by Enikő Csukovits, 37–44. Budapest: MOL, 1988.

Egyháztörténelmi Emlékek a Magyarországi Hitújítás korából [Monumenta ecclesiastica tempora innovatae in Hungaria religionis illustrantia], edited by Vince Bunyitay, Rajmund Rapaics, János Karácsonyi, Ferenc Kollányi, and József Lukcsics, vols 5. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1902–1912.

Elm, Kaspar. “Verfall und Erneuerung des Ordenswesen im Spätmittelalter. Forschungen und Forschungsaufgaben.” In Untersuchungen von Kloster und Stift. Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck Instituts für Geschichte 68, Studien zur Germania Sacra 14, 188–238. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980.

Erdélyi, Gabriella, ed. The Register of a Convent Controversy (1517–1518). Pope Leo X, Cardinal Bakócz, the Augustinians and the Observant Franciscans in Contest. Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae II/1. Budapest–Rome: Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem­–MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 2005.

Erdélyi, Gabriella. “Tales of immoral friars: morality and religion in an early sixteenth-century Hungarian town.” Social History. Hungary – a special issue 34 (2009): 184–203.

Erdélyi, Gabriella. “The Consumption of the Sacred: Popular Piety in a Late Medieval Hungarian Town.” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 63 (2012): 31–60.

Erdélyi, Gabriella. Szökött szerzetesek. Erőszak és fiatalok a késő középkorban [Runaway Friars. Violence and Youth in Late Medieval Hungary]. Budapest: Libri, 2011.

Fedeles, Tamás. “Egy középkori főúri család vallásossága. Az Újlakiak példája” [The Piety of a Medieval Magnate Family. The Case of the Újlakys]. Századok 145/2 (2011): 377–418.

Florea, Carmen. “The Third Path: Charity and Devotion in Late Medieval Transylvanian Towns.” In Communities of Devotion. Religious Orders and Society in East Central Europe, 1450–1800, edited by Maria Crăciun and Elaine Fulton, 91–120. Farnham: Ashgate, 2011.

Fraknói, Vilmos. Oklevéltár a magyar királyi kegyúri jog történetéhez [Chartulary Concerning the History of the Ius Patronii of Hungarian Kings]. Budapest: Athenaeum, 1899.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Gregory, Brad S. The Unintended Reformation. How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012.

Guitman, Barnabás. Reformáció és felekezetszerveződés Bártfán [Reformation and Confessionalization in Bártfa]. In Szentírás, Hagyomány, Reformáció. Teológia- és egyháztörténeti tanulmányok [Holy Scripture, Tradition, and Reformation. Studies on Theology and Church History], edited by Beatrix F. Romhányi and Gábor Kendeffy, 252–62. Budapest: Gondolat, 2009.

Heinzmann, Guido. Gemeinschaft und Identität spätmittelalterlicher Kleinstädte Westfalens. Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2006.

Hóman, Bálint and Szekfű Gyula. Magyar történet [Hungarian History], vol. 3. Budapest: MKENY, 1939.

Horváth, János. A reformáció jegyében. A Mohács utáni félszázad magyar irodalomtörténete [In the Spirit of the Reformation. The Literary History of the Half-Century after Mohács]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1953.

Karácsonyi, János. Szt. Ferencz rendjének története Magyarországon 1711-ig [The History of the Franciscan Order in Hungary before 1711]. vol. 2. Budapest: MTA, 1922–1924.

Kollányi, Ferencz. A magán kegyúri jog hazánkban a középkorban [The Right of Private Patronage in Medieval Hungary]. Budapest: MTA, 1908.

Kovachich Martinus Georgius. Formulae solennes styli. Pesthini, 1799.

Kubinyi, András. “Mátyás király és a monasztikus rendek” [King Matthias and the Monastic Orders]. In Kubinyi András. Főpapok, egyházi intézmények és vallásosság a középkori Magyarországon [Prelates, Ecclesiastical Institutions and Religiosity in Medieval Hungary], 239–48. Budapest: METEM, 1999.

Kubinyi, András. “Nagybirtok és főúri rezidencia Magyarországon a XV. század közepétől Mohácsig” [Great Estates and Aristocratic Residences in Hungary from the Middle of the Fifteenth Century to Mohács]. A Tapolcai Városi Múzeum Közleményei 2 (1991): 214–217.

Kubinyi, András. “Plébánosválasztások és egyházközségi önkormányzat a középkori Magyarországon” [Election of Parish Priests and Congregations in Medieval Hungary]. Aetas 7, no. 2 (1991): 26–45.

Kurze, Dietrich. Pfarrerwahlen im Mittelalter. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Gemeinde und des Niederkirchenwesens. Forschungen zur kirchlichen Rechtsgeschichte und zum Kirchenrecht 6. Cologne–Graz, 1966.

Kümin, Beat. “The English Parish in a European Perspective.” In Katherine French, Gary Gibbs, and Beat Kümin. The Parish in English Life. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997.

Majorossy, Judit and Katalin Szende. “Hospitals in Medieval and Early Modern Hungary.” In Europäishes Spitalwesen: institutionelle Fürsorge in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit, edited by Martin Scheutz, 275–320. Wien–München: Oldenbourg, 2008.

Marosi, Ernő. Magyar falusi templomok [Village Churches in Hungary]. Budapest: Corvina, 1975.

Ozment, Steven. Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution. New York: Double-day, 1992.

Péter, Katalin. “Hungary.” In The Reformation in National Context, edited by Bob Scribner, Roy Porter, and Mikuláš Teich, 150–167. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Péter, Katalin. A reformáció: kényszer vagy választás [The Reformation: Coercion or Free Choice?]. Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 2004.

Reformbemühungen und Observanzbestrebungen im spätmittelalterlichen Ordenswesen, edited by Kaspar Elm. Berliner Historische Studien 14, Ordensstudien 6. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1989.

Regényi, Kund. “Az eperjesi Szentháromság karmelita konvent története” [The History of the Carmelite Cloister Dedicated to the Holy Trinity of Eperjes]. In Tanulmányok a középkori magyar történelemről [Studies on the Medieval History of Hungary], edited by Sarolta Homonnai, Ferenc Piti, and Ildikó Tóth, 103–114. Szeged: SZTE, 1999.

Scheler, Dieter. “Patronage und Aufstieg im Niederkirchenwesen.” In Sozialer Aufstieg. Funktionseliten im Spätmittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, edited by Günther Schulz, 315–36. München: Oldenbourg, 2002.

Schilling, Heinz. “Reformation–Umbruch oder Gipfelpunkt eines Tempts des Réformes.” In Die Frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: wissenschaftliches Symposium des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, edited by Bernd Moeller. Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 199, 13–34. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlag, 1998.

Schmidt, Heinrich Richard. “Die Ethik der Laien in der Reformation.” In Die Frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: wissenschaftliches Symposium des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, edited by Bernd Moeller, Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte, 333–70. Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlag, 1998.

Schulze, Manfred. Fürsten und Reformation. Geistliche Reformpolitik weltlicher Fürsten vor der Reformation. Spätmittelalter und Reformation, Neue Reihe 2. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1991.

Solymosi, László. “Két középkor végi testamentum Szabolcs vármegyéből” [Two Late Medieval Testaments from Szabolcs County]. In Emlékkönyv Rácz István 70. születésnapjára [Festschrift for the 70th Birthday of István Rácz], edited by Ágnes Kovács, 218–20. Debrecen: KLTE, 1999.

Stievermann, Dieter. Landesherrschaft und Klosterwesen im spätmittelalterlichen Württemberg. Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1989.

Lawrence Stone. “The Educational Revolution in England.” Past and Present 28 (1964): 41–80.

Takáts, Sándor. “Bebek György” [György Bebek]. In Sándor Takáts. Régi idők, régi emberek [Old Times and Their People], 67–87. Budapest: Athenaeum, 1922.

Tringli, István. “Sátoraljaújhely egyházai a reformáció előtt” [The Churches of Sátoraljaújhely before the Reformation]. In Erősségénél fogva várépítésre való. Tanulmányok a 70 éves Németh Péter tiszteletére [Proper for Castle Building for its Strength. Studies in Honour of Péter Németh on his 70th Birthday], edited by Juan Cabello and C. Tóth Norbert, 377–96. Nyíregyháza: Jósa András Múzeum, 2011.

1 The making of this essay has been supported by the János Bolyai Research Scholarship granted by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. The register of the papal investigation has been published: Gabriella Erdélyi (ed.), The Register of a Convent Controversy (1517–1518) (cited as: Register). Pope Leo X, Cardinal Bakócz, the Augustinians and the Observant Franciscans in Contest, Collectanea Vaticana Hungariae II/1 (Budapest–Rome: Pázmány Péter Katolikus Egyetem­–MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 2005). For articles in English see: Erdélyi, “Tales of immoral friars: morality and religion in an early sixteenth-century Hungarian town,” Social History. Hungary – a special issue, 34 (2009): 184–203; Erdélyi, “The Consumption of the Sacred: Popular Piety in a Late Medieval Hungarian Town,” The Journal of Ecclesiastical History 63 (2012): 31–60.

2 The concept of agency used here is outlined by Miguel A. Cabrera, Postsocial History. An Introduction (Oxford: Lexington Books, 2004), 97–100.

3 Marie-Madeleine Cevins, L’Église dans les villes hongroises à la fin du Moyan Age, vers 1320vers 1490 (Paris–Budapest: METEM, 2003); Carmen Florea, “The Third Path: Charity and Devotion in Late Medieval Transylvanian Towns,” in Communities of Devotion. Religious Orders and Society in East Central Europe, 1450–1800, ed. Maria Crăciun and Elaine Fulton (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 91–120.

4 The written requests of townspeople are mentioned solely in the Register, fol. 83v.

5 Register, fol. 72v.

6 Ibid., fol. 68v.

7 For a focused overview of how the historiographical perspective changed see: Heinz Schilling, “Reformation–Umbruch oder Gipfelpunkt eines Tempts des Réformes,” in Die Frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: wissenschaftliches Symposium des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, ed. Bernd Moeller, Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 199 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlag, 1998), 13–34. For late medieval and reformation continuities of the reform activities of secular princes see Manfred Schulze, Fürsten und Reformation. Geistliche Reformpolitik weltlicher Fürsten vor der Reformation, Spätmittelalter und Reformation, Neue Reihe 2 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1991); Dieter Stievermann,  Landesherrschaft und Klosterwesen im spätmittelalterlichen Württemberg (Sigmaringen: Thorbecke, 1989). More recently, religious reform and territorial consolidation in German territories have been described as inseparable processes beginning in the fourteenth and culminating in the seventeenth centuries. William Bradford Smith, Reformation and the German Territorial State: Upper Franconia, 1300–1600 (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2008).

8 I use the term of Paul Nyhus designed to describe the laity’s active role in the practice of late medieval cloister reforms in particular, and the growing lay authority in church affairs in general. Paul L. Nyhus, “The Franciscan Observant Reform in Germany,” in Reformbemühungen und Observanzbestrebungen im spätmittelalterlichen Ordenswesen, ed. Kaspar Elm, Berliner Historische Studien 14, Ordensstudien 6 (Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1989), 217.

9   In addition to the literature citated in note 3, see also Walter Ziegler, “Reformation und Klosterauflösung. Ein ordensgeschichtlicher Vergleich,” in Reformbemühungen, ed. Kaspar Elm, 585–614; Kaspar Elm, “Verfall und Erneuerung des Ordenswesen im Spätmittelalter. Forschungen und Forschungsaufgaben,” in Untersuchungen von Kloster und Stift, Veröffentlichungen des Max-Planck Instituts für Geschichte 68, Studien zur Germania Sacra 14 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1980), 188–238, 224–30.

10   The question as to whether the masses were mobilized by the ‘sola fide’ evangelical message about the new logic of salvation or the idea of ‘sola scriptura’ (with its social consequences) remains a central dilemma of the theories designed to explain the reception of Lutheran ideas in Germany. See Heinrich Richard Schmidt, “Die Ethik der Laien in der Reformation,” in Die Frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: wissenschaftliches Symposium des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, ed. Bernd Moeller, Schriften des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 199 (Gütersloh: Gütersloher Verlag, 1998), 333–70.

11 I am utilizing Greenblatt’s concept of Renaissance self-fashioning, designed to denote a self-conscious shaping of personal and social identity, since it seems applicable to all historical periods. Stephen Greenblatt, Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1980).

12 As Smith argues, “for the bishops of Bamberg the idea that religious reform could provide a foundation for the expansion of princely authority seemed natural.” Smith, Reformation, 92.

13 In that year Bakócz’s testament was approved by the king, who acknowledged that the cardinal’s extended estates might descend to his family rather than the church. Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (The National Archives of Hungary, MNL OL), Mohács előtti gyűjtemény (Pre-Mohács Collection), Diplomatikai Levéltár (Archive of Medieval Charters, DF), 89092.

14  See Erdődy’s letter to King Louis II in which he claims that the cellars and wine of the inhabitants of Körmend within the territory of the neighboring manor of the monastery of Zalavár had been forcefully taken by the manor’s governor. Zsuzsanna Bándi, Körmend a középkorban [Körmend in the Middle Ages] (Körmend: Körmend Város Tanácsa, 1987), 60; MNL OL DL 49892 (1526).

15 Register, fol. 60v.

16  Register, fol. 70r.

17  Ibid., fol. 59v.

18 Ibid., fols 62v–63r.

19 Ibid., fol. 100v.

20 Ibid, fol. 74r.

21 Ibid., fols 90rv.

22  Vilmos Fraknói, Oklevéltár a magyar királyi kegyúri jog történetéhez [Chartulary Concerning the History of the Ius Patronii of Hungarian Kings] (Budapest: Athenaeum, 1899), 55–56.

23  Fr. Ulricus Hüntemann, ed., Bullarium Franciscanum, nova series 1 (Quaracchi: Ad Claras Aquas, 1929), no. 1397.

24  Österreichisches Staatsarchiv, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv (ÖStA HHStA), Familienarchiv Erdődy (Arch. Erd.), Urkunden 11106.

25  ÖStA HHStA Arch. Erd., Urkunden 11211, November 27, 1531 (later transcript).

26  Register, fol. 68v.

27  See the petitions of Mihály Ország, the Pálócis and Miklós Újlaki in Bullarium Franciscanum, no. 1397. (1467); MNL OL Fényképgyűjtemény (Photo Collection), Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény (Photo Collection of Medieval Charters, DF) 275516, 275506.

28  See note 25 above.

29  “The inhabitants of the town and its surroundings […] cannot bear further the presence of the infamous friars in the cloister.” MNL OL DF 275506.

30  Register, fols 71r, 74r.

31  The reform decree of King Wladislaus II in 1493 published by Fraknói, Oklevéltár, 55–56.

32  László Erdélyi, ed., A pannonhalmi Szent Benedek-rend története [The History of the Order of Saint Benedict of Mons Sacer Pannoniae], vols 12b (Budapest: Stephaneum, 1902–1912), vol. 3, 540–42.

33  András Kubinyi, “Mátyás király és a monasztikus rendek” [King Matthias and the Monastic Orders], in Kubinyi, Főpapok, egyházi intézmények és vallásosság a középkori Magyarországon [Prelates, Ecclesiastical Institutions and Religiosity in Medieval Hungary] (Budapest: METEM, 1999), 239–48, 246, where the author suggests that the king undertook the economic expenses in return for religious benefits.

34  Natalie Zemon Davis, “The rites of Violence: Religious Riot in Sixteenth-Century France,” Past and Present 59 (1973): 5191.

35 See the letter of pope Clemens VII in 1524, in which, at the request of the observant Franciscan provincial, he grants a license for the friars to leave the friary of Körmend due to the unsuitable conditions. Egyháztörténelmi Emlékek a Magyarországi Hitújítás korából [Monumenta ecclesiastica tempora innovatae in Hungaria religionis illustrantia], ed. Vince Bunyitay et al., vols 5 (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1902–1912), vol. 1, no. 127.

36  On Szécsény and Újlak see: András Kubinyi, “Nagybirtok és főúri rezidencia Magyarországon a XV. század közepétől Mohácsig” [Great Estates and Aristocratic Residences in Hungary from the Middle of the Fifteenth Century to Mohács], A Tapolcai Városi Múzeum Közleményei 2 (1991): 214–17, 225. More on Újlak: Tamás Fedeles, “Egy középkori főúri család vallásossága. Az Újlakiak példája” [The Piety of a Medieval Magnate Family. The Case of the Újlakys], Századok 145/2 (2011): 377–418. On Sárospatak: Mihály Détschy, “Az utolsó Pálóci végrendelete” [The Testament of the Last Pálóci], in Tanulmányok Borsa Iván tiszteletére, ed. Enikő Csukovits (Budapest: MOL, 1988), 37–44.

37  In addition to Erdődy’s choice of name (de Monyorokerek, sometimes de Monozlo et Monyorokerek), the fact that he was summoned to court from Monyorókerék also attests to the place of his residence. ÖStA HHStA Arch. Erd., Urkunden 10268 (1517).

38 See the works of Steven Ozment ans Lawrence Stone and their “liberal protestant” followers who, with a firm belief in progress, argue for the revolutionary impact of the reformation in its religious, social, cultural and political aspects alike. Steven Ozment, Protestants: The Birth of a Revolution (New York: Double-day, 1992); Lawrence Stone, “The Educational Revolution in England,” Past and Present 28 (1964): 41–80. The same argument is applied in service of an apology for Roman Catholicism against the secularization of the Reformation most recently by Brad S. Gregory, The Unintended Reformation. How a Religious Revolution Secularized Society (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2012).

39 On the early reformation in Hungary see two accounts that complement each other: Katalin Péter, “Hungary,” in The Reformation in National Context, ed. Bob Scribner, Roy Porter and Mikuláš Teich, (Cambridge: CUP, 1994), 150–67; Zoltán Csepregi, “Konfessionsbildung und Einheitsbestrebungen im Königreich Ungarn zur Regierungszeit Ferdinands I,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 94 (2003): 243–75. See also Csepregi’s article on the evangelical movement in the present issue.

40 The visitation records are published in Reformné hnutie v arcibiskupstve ostrihomskom do r. 1564 (Reformatio in archidioecesi Strigoniensi ad a. 1564), ed. Vojtech Bucko (Bratislava: Unia, 1939).

41  Scribner, “Preachers and People,” 124.

42 Peter Blickle, The Communal Reformation: the Quest for Salvation in Sixteenth-Century Germany, trans. by Thomas Dunlap (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1992), 98–110.

43 The classic narrative of “seigniorial reformation” by János Horváth (A reformáció jegyében. A Mohács utáni félszázad magyar irodalomtörténete [In the Spirit of the Reformation. The Literary History of the Half-Century after Mohács] [Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1953]) based its social model on interwar narratives, most notably Bálint Hóman and Gyula Szekfű, Magyar történet [Hungarian History], vol. 3 (Budapest: MKENY 1939), 247–78.

44  Katalin Péter, A reformáció: kényszer vagy választás [The Reformation: Coercion or Free Choice?], (Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 2004).

45 Zoltán Csepregi, “A mezőváros és a földesúr diskurzusa vallási kérdésekben Brandenburgi György kelet-magyarországi és felső-sziléziai uradalmaiban 1523–1543” [The Discourse of Market-town and Landlord in Matters of Religion on the Estates of George of Brandenburg-Ansbach in Eastern-Hungary and Upper-Silesia], in Mezőváros, reformáció és irodalom, 16–18. század [Market-town, Reformation, and Literature], ed. András Szabó (Budapest: Universitas, 2005), 27–32.

46 A similar tendency prevailed in the way hospitals were run and supervised, which from the fifteenth century increasingly became urban institutions (several hospitals functioned in market-towns and a few in villages), since communities either founded new hospitals or took over the right of patronage from other founders. As a result, hospital chaplains entrusted with pastoral services were elected by town councilors acting as hospital masters. Judit Majorossy and Katalin Szende, “Hospitals in Medieval and Early Modern Hungary,” in Europäisches Spitalwesen: institutionelle Fürsorge in Mittelalter und früher Neuzeit, ed. Martin Scheutz (Vienna–Munich: Oldenbourg, 2008), 275–320.

47  With slight modifications, Kubinyi supported by ample evidence the arguments of Dietrich Kurze (Pfarrerwahlen im Mittelalter. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Gemeinde und des Niederkirchenwesens, Forschungen zur kirchlichen Rechtsgeschichte und zum Kirchenrecht 6 [Cologne–Graz, 1966] concerning communal rights in the election of parish priests in late medieval Hungary. “Plébánosválasztások és egyházközségi önkormányzat a középkori Magyarországon” [Election of Parish Priests and Congregations in Medieval Hungary], Aetas 7, no. 2 (1991): 26–45.

48 MNL OL DL 48649 (1456).

49 Kovachich Martinus Georgius, Formulae solennes styli (Pest, 1799), 280–81 (ca. 1480).

50 Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie, Galánta (Galanta, Slovakia, 146), Radosna (Radošina, Slovakia, 160), Tapolcsány (Topoľčany, Slovakia, 163), Kacsány (Kvačany, Slovakia, 167).

51 Ibid., for example Bossány (Bošany, Slovakia, 158); Vásárd (Trhovište, Slovakia, 165).

52 Ibid., Kosztolány (Veľké Kostoľany, Slovakia, 187).

53 Ibid., Egyházaskarcsa (Kostolné Kračany, Slovakia, 139); Ruttka (Vrútky, Slovakia, 178); Koros (Krušovce, Slovakia, 183).

54 Ibid., for example Bossány (Bošany, Slovakia, 158). The concern of noble patrons for the state of church buildings, although it varied in intensity, is also reflected by their testamentary legacies for the building and decoration of churches.

55 Ibid., Lapás (Veľký Lapáš, Slovakia, 165); Szentmárton (Martin nad Žitavou, Slovakia, 202).

56 Ibid., 215.

57 Ibid., 142.

58  Ibid., 169.

59 Blickle, Communal Reformation, 166.

60 For England and Europe see Beat Kümin, “The English Parish in a European Perspective,” in The Parish in English Life, ed. Katherine French, et al. (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1997), 24. On churchwardens in the Hungarian countryside see Kubinyi, “Plébánosválasztások,” 35–38.

61   The example of the village Kürt (Mostová, Slovakia) is instructive. In 1561, the visitor found a Catholic priest who, as he perceived, had started to convert the population. A year later, the community argued that the landlord was to blame for their having no priest, and noted that in earlier years they had had Lutheran pastors. So whether the community removed the Catholic priest (and put the blame on the landlord) or the landlord dismissed the Lutheran pastor, the result was that there was, temporarily at least, no incumbent. Ibid., 137–38, 147.

62  Ibid., for example Dévény (Devín, Slovakia, 141); Récse (Rechendorf, Rača, Slovakia, 143); Udvarnok (Dvorníky, Slovakia, 166).

63  Ibid., Bajna (Bojná, Slovakia, 161).

64  Takáts Sándor, “Bebek György,” in Takáts, Régi idők, régi emberek [Old Times and Their People] (Budapest: Athenaeum, 1922), 67–87; Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie, Szögliget, Tornagörgő (Hrhov, Slovakia), 229.

65  Ibid., Zámoly (“omnia floci pendunt ipsi” [patroni Lutherani]) 127., Trsztena (Trstená, Slovakia, 168).

66 Ibid., 188.

67 Zoltán Csepregi, A reformáció nyelve: A magyarországi reformáció első negyedszázadának vizsgálata alapján [The Language of the Reformation: An Analysis of the First 25 Years of the Reformation in Hungary] (Budapest, 2010) DsC dissertation, 36–40.

68 For the scope and limits of communal supervision over mendicant houses and the appointment of superiors see the examples of the relations of the city magistrate of the free royal city of Bártfa (Bardejov, Slovakia) and the Augustinian friary (Guitman Barnabás, Reformáció és felekezetszerveződés Bártfán [Reformation and Confessionalization in Bártfa], in Szentírás, Hagyomány, Reformáció. Teológia- és egyháztörténeti tanulmányok [Holy Scripture, Tradition and Reformation. Studies on Theology and Church History], ed. Beatrix F. Romhányi et al. (Budapest: Gondolat, 2009), 252–62, and the case of the free royal city of Eperjes (Prešov, Slovakia) and the Carmelite house. Kund Regényi, “Az eperjesi Szentháromság karmelita konvent története” [The History of the Carmelite Cloister Dedicated to the Holy Trinity of Eperjes], in Tanulmányok a középkori magyar történelemről [Studies on the Medieval History of Hungary] ed. Sarolta Homonnai (Szeged: SZTE, 1999), 103–14.

69  Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie, see for example Zámoly, under the shared patronage of two noblemen, 127.

70  Ibid., 171.

71  Ibid., 157, 181.

72 See passim in ETE vol. 5, no. 92, and Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie.

73 ETE vol. 5, no. 92, 92.

74 MNL OL DF 266123 (1472).

75 As the villagers of Nyárasd (Topoľníky, Slovakia) said to investigators, in addition to the parish priest, who celebrated two masses a week in exchange for his livelihood, they were also maintaining a chaplain, whom they paid additionally and without detriment to the parish priest. ETE vol. 5, no. 92, 98.

76 Cf. Fuhrmann, Die Kirche im Dorf; Guido Heinzmann, Gemeinschaft und Identität spätmittelalterlicher Kleinstädte Westfalens (Norderstedt: Books on Demand, 2006), 263–72.

77 For examples see Ferencz Kollányi, A magán kegyúri jog hazánkban a középkorban [The Right of Private Patronage in Medieval Hungary], (Budapest: MTA, 1908), 63, 68; Ernő Marosi, Magyar falusi templomok [Village Churches in Hungary] (Budapest: Corvina, 1975), 26–28.

78 Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie, passim, but recorded more thoroughly by visitors in Hont and Bars Counties in 1559, 201–15.

79 A good example is the market-town of Egerszeg in Transdanubia, where three out of its four chantry priests came from some of the trend-setting local families. Pfeiffer, ed., A veszprémi egyházmegye, 36–37. As we have seen, the majority of parish priests, chaplains and chantry-priests in Körmend and the neighborhood of Körmend were also locals.

80 For the growing number of unbeneficed clergy in late medieval Hungary (in line with the general European tendency), see Gabriella Erdélyi, Szökött szerzetesek. Erőszak és fiatalok a késő középkorban [Runaway Friars. Violence and Youth in Late Medieval Hungary] (Budapest: Libri, 2011), 97–114.

81 Examples of peasants’ pious legacies: ETE vol. 1, no. 66, 68 (vineyards for side-altars); Other immovable assets given to local religious houses, primarily the Paulines or parish churches in return for masses for the soul: MNL OL DL 20905, 21175 (1500), 21327 (1504), 21935 (1509). Also László Solymosi, “Két középkor végi testamentum Szabolcs vármegyéből” [Two Late Medieval Testaments from Szabolcs County], in Emlékkönyv Rácz István 70. születésnapjára [Festschrift for the 70th Birthday of István Rácz], ed. Ágnes Kovács (Debrecen: KLTE, 1999), 218–20.

82 MNL OL DL 21935 (1509).

83 Ibid., 216809. For more details on the chantry-foundation in particular and the churches of late medieval Újhely in general see István Tringli, “Sátoraljaújhely egyházai a reformáció előtt” [The Churches of Sátoraljaújhely before the Reformation], in Erősségénél fogva várépítésre való. Tanulmányok a 70 éves Németh Péter tiszteletére [Proper for Castle Building for its Strength. Studies in Honour of Péter Németh on his 70th Birthday], ed. Juan Cabello et. al. (Nyíregyháza: Jósa András Múzeum, 2011), 377–96.

84 Dieter Scheler, “Patronage und Aufstieg im Niederkirchenwesen,” in Sozialer Aufstieg. Funktionseliten im Spätmittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit, ed. Günther Schulz (München: Oldenbourg, 2002), 315–36.

85 Bucko, ed., Reformné hnutie, passim, in fact on all pages. It seems highly probable that in Hungary, as opposed to Germany for example, the earlier practice of communion under both kinds for the laity did not cease by the fifteenth century. Mályusz, Egyházi társadalom, 317–18.

86 “Dass ein christliche Versammlung oder Gemeine Recht und Macht habe, alle Lehre zu urtheilen and Lehrer zu berufen, ein und abzusetzen, Grund und Ursach aus der Schrift,” in Martin Luther, Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vols 73 (Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–2009) 11:408–416 (1523).

The landlord and his private devotion

Sons of János Révay:

unknown

Thurzó Ferenc: bishop of Nyitra, took a wife in 1557

Báthori András: Catholic

Ország Kristóf: with Helvetian symphaties

Simon and Imre Forgách:

Patronizing Lutheran preachers

Mágochy Gáspár: Patronizing Lutheran Preachers

Bebek György: Lutheran

Estate and Year of Visitation

Estate Szklabinya (Túróc County)

1559, 1560

Estate Bajmóc (Nyitra County)


1559, 1560

Estate Sempte (Pozsony County)

1561, 1562

Estate Galgóc

1559

Estate Csejte

1560

Estate Gimes (Bars County

1559, 1561

Estate Torna (Torna County)

1561

Estate Szádvár (Torna County)

1561

Number of Catholic parish priests

4

9

15

14

1

1

0

Number of non-Catholic parish priests

4

3

0

2

1

2

8

Number of parish priests with ‘suspectus’ religion

1

2

0

2

3

0

0

Vacancies

1

2

6

4

1

4

several

Total

10

16

21

22

6

7

Religious profile of estate

Diverse

Diverse with Catholic majority

Catholic

Overwhelming Catholic majority

Diverse

Diverse

Non-Catholic

 

Table 1. Religious affiliation of parish priests on private estates

pdfVolume 2 Issue 1 CONTENTS

Zoltán Csepregi

The Evolution of the Language of the Reformation in Hungary (1522–1526)

The spatial framework of this study is the strip of towns lying in the region that used to be known as Upper Hungary (today Slovakia), communities that in the sixteenth century had German speaking minorities. At the time in question, there were numerous events and historical texts in which one can discern the use of a new ecclesiastical language. These sources are given voice with the help of philological methods, for instance intertextual analysis. A letter written by Bartholomeus Francfordinus Pannonius in 1522 constitutes the first example of church language reform in Hungary, though his words exemplify more the linguistic tendencies of Humanism than of the Reformation. A letter written by Mary of Habsburg in 1523 demonstrates the queen’s interest in and understanding of religious reformation, but also her desire to maintain her distance as sovereign. According to the views revealed during the inquest against alleged heretics in Sopron in 1524, traditional Franciscan criticism of the Church had intermingled with ideas deriving from Lutheran thought. At the time of the mining town revolt (1525), miners used (for instance) Saint Paul’s apostolic greeting (Romans 1:7) as a sign of difference and usually included them in the introductory section of letters to their comrades. As the sources make evident, the apostolic greeting served as a form of identification within the Evangelical Movement. These textual analyses illustrate the significant impact of the Reformation in Hungary in the period before the Battle of Mohács (1526).1

keywords: urbanization, evangelical movement, language event

The Reformation as a Language Event

“Language event” (Sprachereignis) is a key term related to Gerhard Ebeling’s (1912–2001) famous lectures on Luther.2 In 1962–1963 these presentations made this term, originally invented by Ernst Fuchs, popular in historical theology, thus making it a kind of keyword in all of the scholarship and research on the Reformation, not simply the figure of Luther himself.3

Ebeling offers this approach, the concept of the language event, as a dynamic alternative to replace the more fixed, dogmatic and denominational views. He concluded his lecture with the following remarks:

Examining Luther’s way of thinking we should be open to the encounter with him as a language event too, since he did little else than strive to give proper voice to the word (das rechte Zur-Sprache-Bringen des Wortes).4

Addressing the fundamental interdependency of language and theology, Ebeling then cites Luther, who in his pedagogical program of 1524 wrote the following:

Although the gospel came and still comes to us through the Holy Spirit alone, we cannot deny that it came through the medium of languages, was spread abroad by that means, and must be preserved by the same means. […] And let us be sure of this: we will not long preserve the gospel without the languages. […] If through our neglect we let the languages go (which God forbid!), we shall not only lose the gospel, but the time will come when we shall be unable either to speak or write a correct Latin or German.5

To summarize, given the following experiences, which took place primarily in Germany, it is worth examining the Reformation as a language event. The gestures that were made by reformers (breaking monastic oaths, celibacy, the fast, occupying properties and taking possession of goods, innovations in rituals and in the organization of the congregation) were preceded by reform preaching (in oral or written form). Furthermore, as an evangelical movement the Reformation created its own terminology, which served as a means of identification as well, while the spread of the ideas of the Reformation acknowledged linguistic boundaries. Finally, the contents of the textual sources themselves are inseparable from the linguistic context in which they survived.6

I attempt in this essay to address two interrelated questions. Using philological methods, can one discern in Hungary signs of the new language of the Church and the language reform of the Reformation in the most controversial early phase of the history of Reformation in Hungary? And does this constitute adequate substantiation for the contention that in the Hungarian state of the late Middle Ages (in other words before the Battle of Mohács in 1526) the principles of the Reformation were met with some interest and enthusiasm among the burghers of the cities?

I have found three well-known series of events in the early history of the Hungarian Reformation in which the use of the new language of the Church is manifest. The first is the letter of Queen Mary of Habsburg, the wife of King Louis II, dated 7 June, 1523. The second involves the texts related to the inquest launched against people accused of heresy in Sopron (1524). The third involves the documents regarding uprisings in mining towns in the region known at the time as Upper Hungary (today Slovakia, 1525–1526), including a letter of Bartholomaeus Francfordinus, notary of Selmecbánya (today Banská Štiavnica in Slovakia), dated 19 May, 1522.7 Each of these texts was written by a member of a German-speaking community (most of them in cities populated primarily by German-speaking burghers, among the German-speaking miners and in the openly multilingual royal court, where German was used primarily as the lingua franca), and most of the examples of language events in question here survived in German (though there are also some examples in Latin). Although the language of state was Latin (the records of the inquest in Sopron were written in Latin, for instance) and even Humanists tended to prefer to correspond in Latin, private correspondence and documents pertaining to municipal administration were written in the language of the local majority.

Propriety, Piousness and Righteousness: Luther’s language in the Royal Court

In the Brandenburger Literalien of the Nuremberg Staatsarchiv there is a strange file that was first cited by Vilmos Fraknói (1843–1924) when he published one of the twelve letters.8 With one exception, the letters were all addressed to Casimir, Marquis of Brandenburg (1481–1527), the cousin of electors Joachim of Brandenburg and Albert of Mainz, who served as a diplomat and military leader in the service of the Emperor. The authors were Louis II (1506–1526), his elder sister Anne of Bohemia and Hungary (1504–1547, also known as Anna Jagellonica), and his wife, Queen Mary (1505–1558). Letters by Anne that were written in 1520 in Innsbruck involve the problem of her approaching marriage, a topic that is familiar in the secondary literature. Anne wished to marry Charles V (1500–1558) instead of his younger brother, Ferdinand of Habsburg (1503–1564).9 In the earlier of the two letters written by Mary (dated 9 December, 1522), the queen assures Casimir that she is doing her best to foster a ceasefire between the Polish King and the third brother, Albert of Brandenburg, the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order of Knights (1490–1568).10 However, the second of the two letters (dated 7 June, 1523), which was reprinted many times after being published by Fraknói, is a scathingly sarcastic jibe at Albert:

My honorable Prince, dear vicious cousin (poßer vetter), greetings to you. My dear vicious cousin (pößer vetter), I think you must have completely forgotten about your truthful cousin (die frume muem), and that must be why you haven’t written for such a long time. I have not forgotten about you in my pious prayers: I persevered and asked God daily to make you as just (frum machen) as I am. Please, let me know whether my prayer helped or not. If it did not, you can buy some justness (frumkait) me for a few pennies – I will not begrudge it to you; I have too much anyway (fil zu fil frumkayt). I would gladly have written more but must go to George’s garden to eat, and the messenger wishes to tarry no longer.

Written in Buda in a rush, on the Sunday after Corpus Christi in the 1523rd year of the Lord.

Your truthful cousin (euer frume muem), Mary, by her own hand.11

The letters indicate that the two of them shared an intimate relationship. They might also mark a turning point after which the teenage Queen Mary sought no longer to be the object and means of politics, but rather its subject and active agent.12

When Albert received Mary’s letter, he was already considered a supporter of Luther and the Reformation. His first surviving letter to Luther, for instance, was written only a week later.13 Mary’s “frivolous”14 accusations seemed incomprehensible to historians for quite some time. The first persuasive explanation was given by Ute Monika Schwob, who highlighted the linguistic and theological-historical dimensions of the short letter. It is worth touching on her interpretation a bit here.15

As the citation above indicates (and the few words given in the original), the axis of this short letter is the opposition of fromm (or “frum,” meaning pious) and böse (or “pöß,” meaning evil). These two adjectives were used as a kind of opposing pair since the Middle High German period, while also going through numerous changes in meaning. It is therefore not easy to determine whether in the given context the opposition is legal, moral or theological and religious in its content. Referring to a person, the term fromm (and other terms derived from it) implies respect and the respectable burgher lifestyle (including the ability to duel, marry, and socialize politely), in other words clearly a secular meaning. Were this virtue (Frommheit) in question (and this is implied by use of the word böse), the person in question would be brought before the courts, which were able to restore the honor of the offended party (fromm machen).16 Although as early as the fifteenth century one finds scattered occurrences of the use of the word fromm with religious or moral implications (as indicated by the use of the term Frömmigheit to mean “merit”),17 from the perspective of its connotations in this context the court procedure mentioned above was more decisive.

In 1518–1519 Luther deliberately applied the derivatives of the root fromm in order to express the meaning of the Latin theological terms iustus, iustitia and iustificare in German, replacing gerecht and Gerechtigkeit, terms that had been in use earlier. This theological neologism is consistently used in The Freedom of a Christian, a book that was published in 1520 in two languages18 (fortunately there is a parallel Latin version19 of the original German text, so we are spared the task of offering long-winded explanations of its meaning). The everyday process of restoring honor exemplifies the teaching on justification. The impact of Luther’s use of language and word choice was discernible in 1523 at the first disputation of Zurich,20 and it led to further shifts in meaning (for example in the writings of Philipp Melanchthon or Martin Bucer). It came to mean “pious,” an implication that allowed it to serve as the counterpart of the Latin pius, pietas (the first instances are found in the Augsburg Confession, the Apology and some other documents of the same period21). This remains the primary connotation of the word group today. Luther himself made accommodations for this shift in meaning, using the earlier term “gerecht” in his 1534 translation of the Bible and the 1537 Smalcald Articles in order to avoid misinterpretations (in the 1522 translation of the New Testament, the Greek dikaios is translated for the most part as “fromm”), even if he never abandoned his distinctive interpretation of the terms.22

From a chronological perspective, it is worth considering the above-cited letter of Queen Mary in light of the 1520 bilingual tract entitled The Freedom of a Christian. In the citations below the original terms are included in parentheses:

Who then can fully appreciate what this royal marriage means? Who can understand the riches of the glory of this grace? Here this rich and divine (frummer, pius) bridegroom Christ marries this poor, wicked harlot (bößes hürlein, impiam meretriculam), redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all his goodness.23

In the first quote, the dichotomy is obviously of a moral nature, but in the second one it moves on a clearly theological level and acquires connotations of redemption, justification, and salvation:

So it is with the works of man. As the man is, whether believer or unbeliever, so also is his work good (gutt, bonum) if it was done in faith, wicked (boeße, malum) if it was done in unbelief. But the converse is not true, that the work makes the man righteous or a believer (frum odder glaubig). As works do not make a man a believer, so also they do not make him righteous (machen frum, faciunt iustum). But as faith makes a man believer and righteous (frum macht, facit iustum), so faith does good works. Since, then, works justify no one (frum machen, iustificent) and a man must be righteous (frum sein, esse iustum) before he does a good work, it is very evident that it is faith alone which, because of the pure mercy of God through Christ and in his Word, worthily and sufficiently justifies (frum machet, iustificet) and saves the person. [...] Furthermore, no good work helps justify (zur frumkeyt, ad iustitiam) or save an unbeliever.24

One might well contend that perhaps Mary was unfamiliar with this specific tract, but this is hardly a substantial objection, since the terms themselves can be found in all of the pamphlets of the time25 and these pamphlets all found their way to Buda.26 In the context in which it is used in the letter, the opposition between “fromm” and “böse” can only be understood according to the Reformist implication (referring to justification), offering, furthermore, an ironic reflection on it. There are other sources from the period in question indicating that Luther’s use of the term “fromm” was a subject of debate, and in his 1522 Advent postilla Luther himself deals with this problem of translation,27 so Mary’s letter should be seen in the context of this larger discussion. The queen made deliberate use of terms with theological implications in order to demonstrate her erudition and at the same time to make plain that she intended to keep her distance. However, she makes no attempt to circumvent traditional theology of merit. A pun found in a treatise by Hieronymus Emser bears affinities with the playful teasing of her letter:

Luther: Just think it over, we must acknowledge that there are some true (fromm) Christians among us. Then why should we discard this word and its meaning?

Emser: An ass is a fine animal (from), but nonetheless we do not trust it with the treasury, but rather tie it up in the stable.28

Similarly, there is no trace of ostentatious piousness in Mary’s conduct, but behind her ironic taunt one does discern the deliberate and self-conscious tone of the initiated. While she makes no pronouncement in favor of any tenet, she indicates her familiarity with the teachings of the representatives of the reforms.

From Franciscan Tradition to Pub Anticlericalism

The town of Sopron, which lies on the border of the Hungarian and German language regions, has played an important commercial and cultural transmitting role. Its trade network has extended across Austria and Moravia to northern Italy and southern Germany. The Medieval City Archives were unusually fortunate in that they survived both fires and the ravages of war. They contain the most detailed records of the inquest launched against alleged Lutheran heretics.

The Sopron heresy inquest was carried out by Gergely Szegedi, a Franciscan from Nagyvárad (today Oradea in Romania), at the order of King Louis II of 14 October, 1524.29 The first part of the inquest, which began on 22 October, targeted Franciscan preacher Christoph. It was based on eight charges compiled by the Sopron parson Christoph Peck and it involved a total of 29 witnesses. Peck claimed that in his sermons Christoph had made the following contentions:

1. One does not have to obey the Pope;

2. Any priest can absolve a churchgoer from his or her sins;

3. A confession made by the soul can replace a confession made audibly to a priest;

4. One need not venerate the saints or the Virgin Mary, since their intervention is not necessary;

5. Fasting is unnecessary;

6. Churches and altars are unnecessary;

7. It is obvious to everyone that the Sopron clergymen have indulged in fornication, and they therefore should not be allowed to conduct masses;

8. Sopron has no need of Jews, as the priests themselves engage in usury.

The accusation was weakened by the fact that the denunciator himself was able to support only one of the accusations (the sixth) as a witness (having overheard the alleged statement), and it was not the accused (Christoph) that he had heard, but rather an earlier unnamed Franciscan preacher. The rest of the allegations were based on little more than rumor. To sum up the contents of the minutes, responding to the charges Christoph did not confess to having committed the sin of false teachings and the witnesses were unable to offer conclusive evidence.30 While it would be interesting to examine the relationships between the people who participated in the case, such a discussion would constitute too great a digression here, but it is worth noting that Christoph’s fellow priests were considerably less willing to testify against him than later on the mayor, municipal judge and ten other council members were against Paulus Moritz († 1530), a secular councilor of whom the witnesses were all personal rivals.31 Christoph denied or responded persuasively to the first six accusations, but in the case of the last two (the accusations against the city clergy) he insisted on these points so firmly that in his 16 November decree Louis II ordered the Sopron priests to dismiss their lovers.32 This final outcome is seen in the king’s letter of 11 January, 1525, in which he condemns the Sopron parson for having lodged a baseless complaint against the Franciscans and accepts the monastery’s plea for compensation for the damage caused to its reputation.33 Even from the perspective of today, the eight accusations do not seem to constitute aberrations so egregious that they would have represented stark opposition to the accepted views of the Church at the time. Ideas that seem to diverge slightly from the dogma, such as the notion of inner confession, social responsibility, asceticism and the lifestyle of the clergy, still fit within the Franciscan tradition, which was open to mysticism, spiritualism and social issues. The same applies to the statements made by Christoph’s unknown predecessor, a Franciscan preacher who had been active in Sopron two years earlier and who, according to the recollections of the Sopron parson and the witness Leonhardus Hengst, shared views similar to those that Jenő Szűcs has found in Observant sources of the period between 1516 and 1520: the criticism of the construction of altars and churches and the call for the equality of priests with regards to their power to absolve.34 Jenő Házi believes that these teachings show the influence of Lutheranism.35 According to Károly Mollay, the accusations made against Christoph bear affinities with ideas found in the Lutheran text entitled To the Christian Nobility of the German Nation from 1520,36 which was the second largest success on the book market after the German translation of the Bible.37 However, of the other ideas listed in the records, the only one I cannot situate in the radical tendency of the Observant tradition is the notion that one need not call on the saints for succor (the sermon of 6 December, 1522).

The second part of the inquest involves a statement made by vicar Thomas Radinger (in my view simply with the intention of sparking outrage) according to which God is a soul and therefore has neither senses nor limbs and can obtain no knowledge of the world nor give it any care.38 The third part examines the scandalous behavior of Paulus Moritz, a burgher of Sopron.39 In the case of Moritz, the accusations of having broken the fast and being in possession of Lutheran books are upheld, but it is not clear whether the accused actually made the (stereotypical) contentions that he was alleged to have made, for instance derision of wooden and stone idols (it is worth noting, however, that this accusation in closely intertwined, at least from the perspective of its content, with the criticism of Saint Nicholas Day as an example of the veneration of saints). The judges must have arrived at this assessment of the findings of the investigation, since after having surrendered his books (which, as is noted in King Louis II’s letter of 28 January, 1525, were burned on 2 January40) the accused was only punished for a one-time breach of the fast.41

Házi underlines the fact that between 22 February, 1522 and 18 January, 1527 (in other words already at the time when Christoph’s predecessor was active) Paulus Moritz worked as a church caretaker (guardian) for the Franciscans. Furthermore, without offering any detailed argument in support of his contention Házi emphasizes the role of the Sopron clergy, who considered the canonical regulations a nuisance, in the spread of the new teachings.42 Thus the Observants’ criticisms of the Church and the relaxed morals of the Conventuals must be among the sources of the “aberrations” in Sopron, though Luther’s writings and genuinely reformist sermons may also have played a role.

The situation is quite different in the case of the accusation made against Christoph by the parson in the course of the interrogation. Indeed Christoph himself did not deny the accusation, and more than one witness corroborated it, namely the two notaries in the case, Thomas Radinger and city notary Jacob Auer, but also priest Wolfgang Payr. On the basis of their statements, we can reconstruct the train of thought in one of Christoph’s sermons. The saints deserve no veneration for their own merits, and anyone who contends they do tell a terrible lie, rather saints “through faith subdued kingdoms” (Hebrews 11:33). It is natural that theologically the parson and the vicar say precisely (nihil meruerunt coram Deo) what in the simplified words of the layman scrivener is simply the following: the saints would not have made it to heaven (celum non meruissent). It is also no surprise that Christoph explains and justifies his contentions thusly: “but rather out of the merits of the sufferings of Christ.” It is surprising, however, that the testimony of the only layman to bear witness, a man named Auer,43 contains the only other reference to a passage from Scripture: “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves” (2 Corinthians 3:5).44 This argument can be understood as a reformist preaching that shatters the framework of the medieval theology of merit. Furthermore, the above-cited argument of Saint Paul played an important role in the shift of emphasis away from the problem of the veneration of saints and towards the more general question of individual justification.

Berndt Hamm used the term gradualism to refer to the late medieval concept that was thrown into question by the “three solae” of the Reformation45 (sola fide, sola gratia, sola Scriptura) and the focus on Christ and the Evangelium. The latter two are neatly encapsulated by the widespread use of the pair of terms “christlich und evangelisch.” According to the “gradualist” view of the world, fallen man gains salvation step by step, beginning in earthly life and finishing in heavenly eternity, achieving redemption with the help of the means of winning grace offered by the Church, wandering in Purgatory but finally saved in the act of the Last Judgment. This notion of gradual development reflects the hierarchical structure of the Church and the gallery of saints, the priority of the sins and their gravity, the priority of forms of expiation, the monastic oaths and the hierarchy of the church orders. Reform teaching is not (simply) the refusal of certain tenets or criticism of everyday abuses, but a categorical denial of the notion of gradualism itself, in that it insists on the futility of human agency, promulgates the idea that one can achieve redemption without such hierarchical contingencies, and dismisses the significance of good deeds, acts of penitence and formal expressions and oaths of piety as means of making amends. It restructures the previously complex hierarchy into a far simpler one, placing bishops, monks and laymen into a single clerical-civic order. To apply a traditional expression, this is a universal priesthood of all believers. Bernd Moeller uses the term “new monkery,” and Berndt Hamm adopts a model called “normative centering” to emphasize continuity. Evangelical teaching discredited the raison d’être of traditional rules of the game and replaced them with a new system that did not match the old one in any regard. This has been formulated in the well-known oppositions, for instance, “not out of merit but out of grace,” “freedom instead of compulsion,” “the words of the Scripture instead of human contrivance,” or in Lucas Cranach’s famous wood carving series Passional Christi und Antichristi (1521),46 in which depictions of scenes from the Passion of Christ are paired with images deriding the practices of the Catholic clergy.

All three parts of the Sopron inquest contain elements that cast light on the origins and discursive spaces of the new ecclesiastic language. In the first part, one reads:

[…] when they gather in the pub, one who understands them [the Lutheran books], reads them, the others listen, ten, twenty, however many of them there are, and they abuse his Holiness, the bishops and others so terribly that it is terrible to hear it. Then we [Sopron priests] are reproved by the laymen.47

In the investigation of the Radinger case, an introductory half-sentence refers to the same social and communicative context: “while having a drink, they were talking about the priests and the rumor that they should get married.”48 Paulus Moritz’s words precisely evoke the double origins of Hungarian Reformist language: he has drawn his views both from the Germans (ex dominis germanis) and from his own experiences,49 as shown in the abovementioned pub scene, in which the local stories and the Lutheran texts that are read aloud seem to engage in a dialogue with each other.

At the Crossroads of Ideas: Humanism and the Reformation

One could consider the letter written by Bartholomaeus Francfordinus Pannonius, the notary of Selmecbánya,50 on 19 May, 1522 to Georg Eysker, the notary of Körmöcbánya (Kremnica in present day Slovakia), as the first example of the ecclesiastic neologisms in Hungary. In this letter, having just returned from “Babylon,” i.e. Rome, the author greets Conrad Cordatus (ca. 1480–1546), who by that time had become convinced of the teachings of the Reformation, as Cunradum nostrum and then comments on Luther’s alleged summons in Nuremberg: “The emperor holds an imperial gathering in Nuremberg, where our Luther (Lutterus noster) is invited too, who is to be blessed by the Lord Jesus, of whom he is the most steadfast preacher.”51 The letter is a typical example of Humanist correspondence, one link in the vast information network of the Humanist movement. One notes both the unidentifiable nature of its source and the striving to transmit the news. However, Bartholomaeus Francfordinus’s letter is also an authentic document of an age in which contemporaries still saw the Humanist and Evangelist movements as parts of a single trend,52 and following Luther’s appearance they hoped to have an opportunity to create a stir similar to the reception with which the publication of the Epistolae clarorum virorum had been met. But the text nonetheless is more expressive of Humanism in Hungary than the linguistic innovations of the Reformation,53 much as the Wittenberg registration of Georgius Baumheckel from Besztercebánya (today Banská Bystrica in Slovakia) in the summer of 1522 indicates not the reception of Reformation ideas in the mining town, but rather an increase in the general interest in Lutterus noster.

The opening words of the letter are problematic: Reversus ex Babilone. There is no question that the author is referring to Rome, since the news reported from abroad, first and foremost from Rome, makes this abundantly clear even for those who otherwise might not have considered the association of Rome with Babel self-evident (an association that became increasingly widespread in the course of the later religious wars). Gustav Hammann contends that there is a reference here to Luther’s The Babylonian Captivity of the Church,54 which was published in 1520 and quickly became familiar in scholarly circles. One finds support for this contention in two letters of February, 1519 in which Luther explicitly identifies Rome with Babylon, in one case with the beast of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:1–6),55 and in the fact that two years later, in front of the Imperial Assembly in Worms, he used Babylon as an unmistakable metaphor for the Papacy.56 One should note that the data are surprisingly scattered. Many years were yet to pass before a detailed characterization of the Pope as the whore of Babylon was made (1530).57 However, as underlined by a letter by István Brodarics, these words can be interpreted as a reference to Petrarch, a paraphrase of the first line of sonnet 114 (De l’empia Babilonia, ond’è fuggita…). That Petrarch was originally writing about Avignon is incidental. The context of Brodarics’s letter makes it evident that the sixteenth-century reader would clearly have thought of Rome.58 Our ability to arrive at sound conclusions is somewhat complicated by the fact that in each of the instances mentioned the captivity in Babylon of the Old Testament and the notion of the apocalyptic Babel are mixed and even applied to Petrarch’s reference to the Avignon papacy. Nevertheless, it is worth noting that in the period in question Humanist language use and the use of Lutheran metaphors coincide and overlap in meaning and implication. De captivitate Babylonica is a treatise written specifically for Humanist circles, and the aforementioned three abstracts from Luther’s letters also refer to his acquaintances among Humanists. In light of all this, one cannot regard Bartholomaeus Francfordinus’s letter as indisputable evidence of the acceptance of Lutheran ideas in Hungary, even if it is remarkable that the notary of Selmecbánya began his letter of 1522 with the Babylon metaphor, which was still new in the Humanist movement.

Revolt, Movement, and Unity in the vocabulary of the miners

Setting aside the question of the vicissitudes suffered by Conrad Cordatus after 1522,59 let us skip to the year 1525, when the situation in the mining towns began to become particularly tense,60 primarily due to internal political instability and factional struggles (i.e. depreciation of currency, the tempestuous national assemblies in Rákos and Hatvan, the dismissal of the treasurer, the imprisonment and later release of the vice treasurer, and the dispossession of the Fugger company).61

In 1525, Cordatus returned from Wittenberg and went again to Körmöcbánya, now with his former colleague from Buda, Johannes Kresling (ca. 1489–1549). The sources still mention them as people from Buda, so they probably did not have any permanent employment in the mining towns, but rather worked as “guest” preachers. Kreisling is mentioned as the rector of the Saint George Chapel in Buda, while in the report of Guidoto (the envoy from Venice) from 29 May Cordatus is mentioned as “uno Priosto di S. Maria,” i.e. the priest of the Church of the Blessed Virgin,62 a designation that later was misinterpreted as queen Mary’s court priest.63 According to later communications, they were not vagrant itinerant preachers, but rather invited pastors in Körmöcbánya,64 so it is worth clarifying their exact positions in the mining town. There is considerable data indicating that in the 1520s the town councils in Besztercebánya, Selmecbánya, and Körmöcbánya employed guest preachers for shorter or longer periods of time at their own expense. This practice was in part an indication of the tension between the councilors, who were open to the teachings of the Reformation, and the parsons, who sought to halt or slow the spread of these teachings. Where the town councils were unable to fill the posts with preachers willing to spread the new teachings, they found temporary solutions in the form of guest preachers.65

The account books of Church income and expenses in Besztercebánya for 1525 and 1526 indicate the expenses for the accommodation of a preacher from 29 March, 1525 to 3 January, 1526 and two preachers from January 4, 1526 to March 28, 1526.66 If I have understood the information contained in the record books correctly, then from the spring of 1525 to the end of the year a preacher whose name is not given stayed in Besztercebánya, then in the early months of 1526 Simon Bernhard of Silesia and his chaplain filled the post.67 There is at least mention in the account records of Besztercebánya of a preacher named Simon and a preacher named Gilg, as well as the preacher’s chaplain.68

Selmecbánya and Körmöcbánya adopted different solutions to the problem of spreading the word. While Selmecbánya invited temporary preachers, Körmöcbánya maintained the position of preacher for years.69 Both the aforementioned letter of Bartholomaeus Francfordinus and the Besztercebánya inquiry addressed to the Bishop of Esztergom at the end of 1525 indicate that Cordatus and Kresling worked as preachers in communities along the Garam River. They were centered in Körmöcbánya and Kresling received a regular income from the town.

At Easter, 1525 the parson of Besztercebánya, Nicolaus Cibinius, denounced Cordatus and Kresling to László Szalkay, the Bishop of Esztergom (ca. 1475–1526), who was only then ordained as a priest by Lorenzo Campeggio (1474–1539), the cardinal legate of the Pope in Esztergom (even though, having served as the Bishop of Vác, he had occupied the highest position in the Hungarian Church a year earlier). The prelate, who was also serving as chancellor, was glad to have the opportunity, through the inquest, to restore his reputation, which had been shaken in the eyes of the lesser nobility. The only accusations involved the Lutheran sermon and Kresling’s marriage.70 In other words, no one blamed the preachers for the miners’ uprising that was breaking out at the time (this association wasn’t made until a year later, by István Werbőczy).71 No formal measures were taken against Cordatus or his partner, and at first they were shown forbearance.72 Primate Szalkay probably had no need of a show trial, and the collective intervention of the mining towns in December was also perhaps not without effect.73

The data related to the Besztercebánya preacher whose name is unknown (though he might be identified as Gilg) are important, because on 21 and 22 September, 1525 three letters were written in Besztercebánya by the same hand. On the basis of their phrasing, Gusztáv Heckenast has quite astutely attributed them to a preacher with Lutheran inclinations.74 Each of the letters begins with the same greeting: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7).75 One of them, which was sent by the Besztercebánya workers to the people of Hodrusbánya (Banská Hodruša), contains the following lines:

Furthermore, we kindly ask you, our dear siblings, to proceed with your case in a Christian and Evangelic manner. […] Also, we ask you, our siblings, not to use violence against God, the king or the divine orders.76

I do not share Peter Ratkoš’ conclusion according to which this is a case of popular or radical Reformation,77 but I would argue that the evangelical movement was present in Besztercebánya at the time of the miner revolt and the imprisonment of Cordatus and Kresling, and indeed this was most probably in part a consequence of their work. The use of the words cristes unnd ewangeliß clearly indicate the spread of the evangelical movement, and the short sentence calling for respect for the social order is not simply a paraphrase of the familiar idea of Saint Paul (Romans 13:1), but rather corresponds quite precisely to the relevant Wittenberg teaching, a detailed exposition of which one finds in Luther’s Temporal authority: to what extent it should be obeyed of 1523.78 One sees this clearly on the addressee’s page in Hodrusbánya, where two days later chaplain Jacob Zanacker gave a considerably more nuanced version of the same ideas, fearlessly admonishing the secular authorities.79 Data from 1524 indicate that the printing of German Reformation books was as much an issue in the mining towns of northern Hungary as it was in Sopron or Nagyszeben (Hermannstadt in German, today Sibiu in Romania).80

In the documents pertaining to the uprising, five of the authors of letters use indisputably Lutheran introductory greetings and closing regards or greetings and closings reminiscent of Luthern formulas.81 One of them is Benedikt Lang of Hodrusbánya, presumably a layman.82 He offered a decisive argument in the debate regarding whether or not the ideas of the Reformation played a role in the uprising and whether the Reformation itself had a significant influence in Hungary in the period before the Battle of Mohács. However, one must also bear in mind the fact that the use of apostolic greetings was not peculiar exclusively to the rebels and the clergy who were in contact with them. In the summer of 1526, following the suppression of the uprising, representatives of the mining towns (who were most probably of the patrician class) began their report, which was sent from Buda to Besztercebánya, with the same words: Gnade unnd fride in Christo Jesu beivor.83

It is not easy to decide whether one can take the miners’ letter of 29 December as an example of literary remnants of significant language use. It contains the phrase verbi Dei ministri, which was later to rise to considerable importance as a designation.84 Gustav Hammann (1922–1978) considers it less a medium of conveying an idea and more a technical term referring to the preacher employed by the town,85 and he may well be correct. János Breznyik quotes a Slavicus verbi Dei minister from Selmecbánya in 1521 and makes mention of other information from 1515 too.86 It is worth noting, however, that the former Besztercebánya guest priest Simon Bernhard used the innovations of Reformation language in his letter of May 1526 to Selmecbánya. He begins with the apostolic greetings and writes that he is going to a place “where they gladly hear the word of the Lord and let it be spread freely.”87

The question of the Corpus Christi Fraternity of Besztercebánya and the similar organizations of the neighboring mining towns (the Corpus Christi Fraternity of Körmöcbánya and the Blessed Virgin Fraternities of Selmecbánya and Hodrusbánya) seems distant from the search for traces of the new language of the Reformation. In the case of such institutions, it is difficult to draw clear distinctions between their religious and secular functions, in other words the roles they played in promoting piety and the roles they played in serving specific interests. The problem can be briefly summarized as follows. During the days of the revolt, the miners had taken their guild boxes from their original guarding posts, the chapels, and did not pay their religious dues, but rather spent the money of the fraternity to address their “own” needs. With the suppression of the uprising, the boxes had to be returned and the miners’ roles in the handling of their finances were limited. One finds the first interpretation of these events in a letter of judgment written by palatine Werbőczy (who opposed the miners) and the investigation reports of the local authorities. The miners’ act is considered theft and sacrilege.88 Given analogous situations abroad, one could not exclude an explanation according to which the handling of the funds constituted a Reformation reinterpretation of old Church institutions, though the available sources do not provide any specific support for this view. One can however take seriously the notion that the loss of prestige of the tradition of the Eucharist and the spread of new communal forms of piety had some influence on the events.

The peculiarly medieval world of the fraternities and the old Church vocabulary were enriched with new elements. An organization above the townships appeared, the collaboration of the aforementioned fraternities, a new “unity” (anikait),89 a treaty of mutual defense and alliance “in body and soul” (mit leib, guett unnd leben).90 This mutual cooperation did not go so far as to bring about the unification of the guild treasuries, though this would not have been practical anyway, but there were signs of collaboration across the borders of the guilds: the manner in which members of the guilds greeted one another. The term “Bruder” no longer referred solely to the members of one’s guild, but also included allied fraternities,91 and the apostolic greeting and its variants functioned as another tool for identification.

The aforementioned unidentified scrivener and preacher (possibly Gilg) can perhaps be identified with the help of some of the letters written at the time by Heinrich Keschinger, the preacher of Korpona (today Krupina in Slovakia). The primary topic of the correspondence between Keschinger and the council of the town of Bártfa (today Bardejov in Slovakia) in the spring of 1525 was the frustration of the people of Bártfa that they were unable to acquire the preacher, who in his letters used an unmistakably “evangelical” style, for their city. Keschinger hesitated not simply because of the promise he had made to the people of Korpona and his sense of responsibility with regards to them, but also because of information indicating that the archbishop of Esztergom (who was the sovereign pontiff of the parish of Bártfa) had written a letter endeavoring to prevent his invitation.92 The Korpona council intervened in the exchange of letters on Keschinger’s side on 7 May, 1525, arguing in support of maintaining his status:

[…] since your Prudences can obtain a good or even better preacher far more easily than we could, much as for instance preacher Gorg from Teschen, a true, scholarly and evangelical man (ain frumer, gelerter, ewangelischer man), came to Besztercebánya to substitute for the preacher until his return, if your Prudences were to ask him in a Christian manner, we do not think he would refuse.93

This sentence suggests that the chaplain or deputy of the preacher Simon Bernhard (who was invited from Teschen) was Georg (Gorg, Gilg), who at the time of the revolt and in the absence of Bernhard, Cordatus and Kresling stayed in Besztercebánya, and he may have been the author of the letters, the style of which is “evangelical,” on behalf of the miners. On the basis of the style of his letter written in 1539, this particular Teschen preacher Georg, who in May 1525 played a role in a criminal investigation in Besztercebánya94 and who was also invited to the mining towns in 1528,95 can be identified as Georg Rother, who in the end succeeds in sending one of his colleagues to Hungary.96

Cordatus and Kresling were released from the prison in Esztergom in February, 1526 and from the next year on they worked in Lower Silesia. Cordatus taught at the academy in Liegnitz,97 while Johannes Kresling probably regained his strength in the mining towns before beginning his service at the Church of Saint Barbara in Wrocław (Boroszló).98 According to the municipal account books, in the summer of 1526 he received wine at the expense of the town, and as did a certain pfarrer von Ofen (a person who can be only identified as Kresling), once in Selmecbánya and twice in Besztercebánya.99 This conclusion is also supported by the fact that after working in more Silesian towns and then in Korpona, from 1541 until his death he was the parson of Selmecbánya.100

The close relationship between Kresling and the mining towns, and more specifically Selmecbánya, was guaranteed by his ties to the notary of Selmecbánya, Francfordinus, who influenced his invitation to serve as preacher and his rehabilitation following his imprisonment. Francfordinus was not only Kreslinger’s peer and schoolmate in Vienna and Krakow but also a Humanist co-author belonging to the circle of primate György Szatmári. Since Francfordinus’s fate is obscure after 1536, it is hard to tell if he had any direct role in Kresling’s invitation to Selmecbánya in 1541.101

On the Language of the Defenders of Faith

There is considerably more documentation available regarding the language of those who rejected the teachings of the Reformers in the period in question, and it is replete with more stereotypes than the sources I have discussed so far, so I will not provide a detailed examination of it. However, in her essay on the Reformation Katalin Péter makes an observation that merits more thorough analysis. In 1514, Tamás Bakócz labeled the ideas of the Reformers “zizania,” a wild species of grass. This term, however, is absent from the texts written against Luther, in which one finds instead characterizations such as “schism,” “sect,” and “heresy,” alongside other dismissive terms.102 The difference in the notions is evident: the schismatic, the sectarian and the heretic break away from the body of Christ, from the Mother Church, and are considered enemies, like the Hussites, the heretics par excellence of the age and region. Zizania, in contrast, is a weed that mixes with the grain, and Christ himself offers a parable against destroying it: “lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them” (Matthew 13:29). The implication is that the preachers of falsehoods cannot be distinguished from the true children of the Church on the basis of recognizable markers and thus they cause it to break up from within. Thus it is clear that while primate Tamás Bakócz acknowledged the false preachers as members of his own Church, since the 1521 Bull of Pope Leo X the followers of Luther, like the Hussites, did not belong to the Church.

One does find one mention of zizania with reference to Reformation ideas in Hungary, but this finding supports the interpretation given above. In the spring of 1526 the city of Kassa (today Košice in Slovakia) came to the defense of its accused preacher (in all likelihood Wolfgang Schustel), explaining to the vicar of Eger that he did not listen to false teachings.103 The author of the letter presumably used the zizania metaphor (which is more mild in the traditional language of the church) in order to avoid any open and unambiguous condemnation of the false teachings against which objections had been raised.

Following the Leipzig debate of 1519 there were clear political and propaganda reasons behind the use of a single term by their opponents for the Czech Hussites and the Saxon Lutherans, and following the issue of the aforementioned Bull of 1521 there was no longer any real need to explain this. Nonetheless, there is a deeper explanation for the fact that in the eyes of its critics the “hopeless confusion” (“ein heilloses Durcheinander”)104 of the early Reformation was seen as such a unified system or worldview that it could be denoted with reference to a single person: “Lutheran.” The defenders of the faith, whose verdict, according to Dorothea Wendebourg’s famous thesis, made the Reformation what it was,105 were absolutely aware of the fact that the new faith fundamentally rejected the established system, even if in individual elements of the teachings there was not that much that was new. However, the categorical call of the Reformation to draw qualitative distinctions (between divine right and human right, the law and Scripture, faith and love, the kingdom of Christ and the world of mortals, etc.106) made it more dangerous than any spiritualist or Humanist critique of the Church.

Conclusion

On the basis of the intertextual analysis I have offered here, one can consider the 1522 letter of Bartholomeus Francfordinus Pannonius one of the texts of Hungarian Humanism. In contrast, the 1523 letter of Queen Mary of Habsburg demonstrated the queen’s interest in and knowledge of Lutheran theology, but also was expressive of her desire to maintain distance as a sovereign from the Reformation. The views that found expression in the course of the 1524 heretic inquest in Sopron manifest a mix of traditional Franciscan criticism of the Church and Lutheran ideas. At the time of the mining town revolt (1525), clearly following Luther’s example, the miners use the apostolic greeting of Saint Paul (Romans 1:7) as a distinguishing marker with which to begin their letters to their comrades. In their use, the greeting served as a means of identification, as was also true in the case of the so-called evangelical movement in Germany. In addition, the pairing of the terms “Christian and evangelical” was also a new linguistic turn that marked the new language of the Reformers. These details and the sources cited here indicate the significant influence of the Reformation in the pre-Mohács German speaking communities in Hungary, but there is little data to suggest that the movement ever crossed the border between German and Hungarian speaking communities at the time.

As for questions pertaining to the use of language in sixteenth-century Hungary, language varied considerably depending on whether it was written or oral use. In the multilingual communities each language had its own spaces and functions, and languages could not easily be switched or substituted one for the other. I have examined only a slice of this polyglot system in this essay, first and foremost the Latin and German written sources, and while I hope to have demonstrated the relevance of peculiar turns of phrase that are indicators of the spread of the ideas of the Reformation, I nonetheless would not venture to say exactly how these and similar turns of speech figured within the complex systems of written vs. oral culture, religious and profane use of language, or “mother” tongue vs. “father” tongue.

It has become something of a cliché in the scholarship on the German and Hungarian Reformation that the ideas of the Reformers exerted a fundamental influence on society in part because they were expressed in the mother tongues of the congregations and in part because of the medium of printing. Neither of these two factors was entirely new at the time, but together they released energies that until then had not been seen. We can assess the dimensions of the linguistic event by examining bibliographies of the re-printings of individual texts, but the question remains as to whether or not contemporaries were themselves aware of these processes.107 One of the most prominent representatives of the Reformation in Hungary, Gáspár Heltai (ca. 1510–1574), definitely was, for in his work entitled “Háló” (or “Net”), when writing on the 1538 religious debate of Segesvár (Schäßburg in German, today Sighişoara in Romania), he used a metaphor that is poetic but also captures the storminess of the new uses of language: “And at the time here and there the word of the Lord began to flash like lightening, both in Hungary and in Transylvania.”108

 

Archival Sources

Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára (MNL OL) – [The National Archives of Hungary] Fényképgyűjtemény [Photo Collection] Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény [Photo Collection of Medieval Charters] (DF) Nr. 267658–267669.

Staatsarchiv Nürnberg (StAN), Brandenburger Literalien (BL) Nr. 1193.

Bibliography

Arnold, Matthieu. “Luther, imitateur de Paul: ses lettres aux communautés évangéliques.” Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses 72 (1992): 99–112.

Bauch, Gustav. Valentin Trozendorf und die Goldberger Schule. Berlin: Weidmann, 1921.

Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1930.

Beutel, Albrecht. In dem Anfang war das Wort: Studien zu Luthers Sprachverständnis [1991], Studienausgabe. Tübingen: Mohr, 2006.

Breznyik, János. A selmecbányai ágost. hitv. evang. egyház és lyceum története [History of the Evangelical Church and Lyceum of Selmecbánya], vol. 1. Selmecbánya: Joerges, 1883.

Csepregi, Zoltán. “Die Anfänge der Reformation im Königreich Ungarn bis 1548.” In Die Reformation in Mitteleuropa. Reformacija v strednji Evropi, edited by Vincenc Rajšp, Karl W. Schwarz, Bogusław Dybaś, and Christian Gastgeber, 127–47. Ljubljana: Založba ZRC; Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2011.

Csepregi, Zoltán. “Court Priests in the Entourage of Queen Mary of Hungary.” In Mary of Hungary, Widow of Mohács. The Queen and Her Court 1521–1531, edited by Orsolya Réthelyi, Beatrix Romhányi, Enikő Spekner, and András Végh, 49–61. Budapest: Budapest Történeti Múzeum, 2005.

Csepregi, Zoltán. “...ich will kain fleis nit sparen – Königin Maria von Ungarn und das Haus Brandenburg.” In Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, edited by Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi, 59–72. Münster: Aschendorff, 2007.

Deutschsprachige Handschriften in slowakischen Archiven. Vom Mittelalter bis zur Frühen Neuzeit. Westslowakei – Mittelslowakei – Ostslowakei, edited by Jörg Meier, Ilpo Tapani Piirainen, and Klaus-Peter Wegera, vols 3. Berlin–New York: de Gruyter, 2009.

Ebeling, Gerhard. Luther: Einführung in sein Denken. Tübingen: Mohr, 1981.

Ebeling, Gerhard. Luthers Seelsorge. Theologie in der Vielfalt der Lebenssituationen; an seinen Briefen dargestellt. Tübingen: Mohr, 1997.

Egyháztörténelmi emlékek a magyarországi hitújítás korából [Memories of Church History from the Age of Reformation], edited by Vince Bunyitay, Rajmund Rapaics, János Karácsonyi, Ferenc Kollányi, and József Lukcsics, vols 5. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1902–1912.

Erasmus von Rotterdam. Ausgewählte Schriften. Ausgabe in acht Bänden lateinisch und deutsch, edited by Werner Welzig, vols 8. Darmstadt: WBG, 1967–1990.

Erdélyi, Gabriella. Egy kolostorper története. Hatalom, vallás és mindennapok a középkor és az újkor határán [The History of a Cloister Trial. Power, Religion, and the Everyday at the Meeting point of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era]. Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 2005.

Fraknói [Frankl], Vilmos. Ungarn vor der Schlacht von Mohács. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1886.

Günther, Veronika. “’Fromm’ in der Zürcher Reformation.” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur (Halle) 77 (1955): 464–89.

Hamm, Berndt. “What was the reformation doctrine of justification?” In The reformation of faith in the context of late medieval theology and piety: essays by Berndt Hamm, edited by Robert B. Bast, 179–216. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2004.

Hamm, Berndt. “Normative centering in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries: Observations on religiosity, theology and iconology.” In The reformation of faith in the context of late medieval theology and piety: essays by Berndt Hamm, edited by Robert B. Bast, vols 49. Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2004.

Hammann, Gustav. “Conradus Cordatus Leombachensis.“ Jahrbuch des Oberösterreichischen Musealvereins 109 (1964): 250–78.

Hammann, Gustav. “Bartholomeus Francofordinus Pannonius – Simon Grynäus in Ungarn.” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 14 (1965): 228–42.

Hammann, Gustav. “Johannes Kresling.” Jahrbuch für Schlesische Kirchengeschichte 44 (1965): 7–12.

Hammann, Gustav. “Mag. Nicolaus von Sabinov: Ein Beitrag über den Humanismus und die frühe Reformation in der Slowakei.” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 16 (1967): 25–44.

Házi, Jenő. Sopron szabad királyi város története, vol. I/7: Oklevelek, levelek és iratok 1521-től 1531-ig [The History of the Free Royal City of Sopron, vol. I/7: Charters, Correspondence, and Documents from 1521 to 1531]. Sopron: Székely, 1929.

Házi, Jenő. Sopron szabad királyi város története, vol. II/5: Különféle számadások és adójegyzékek 1489-től 1530-ig [The History of the Free Royal City of Sopron, II/5: Various Renderings of Accounts and Notes on Taxation]. Sopron: Székely, 1938.

Házi, Jenő. Sopron középkori egyháztörténete [The Church History of Sopron in the Middle Ages]. Sopron: Székely, 1939.

Heckenast, Gusztáv. “A besztercebányai bányászfelkelés (1525–26)”, [The Miners’ Uprising of Besztercebánya (1525–1526)] Századok 86 (1952): 364–96.

Heltai, Gáspár. Háló: válogatás Heltai Gáspár műveiből [Net: Selected Writings of Gáspár Heltai], edited by Péter Kőszeghy. Budapest: Magvető, 1979.

Kiss, Farkas Gábor. “Dramen am Wiener und Ofener Hof: Benedictus Chelidonius und Bartholomaeus Frankfordinus Pannonius (1515–1519).” In Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, edited by Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi, 293–312. Münster: Aschendorff, 2007.

Konrad, Paul. “Die beiden ersten ev. Geistlichen des Hospitals zum heiligen Geist zu Breslau (1525–1553).” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Geschichte und Alterthum Schlesiens 29 (1895): 133–158.

Kubinyi, András. “The court of Queen Mary and politics between 1521 and 1526.” In Mary of Hungary, Widow of Mohács. The Queen and Her Court 1521–1531, edited by Orsolya Réthelyi, Beatrix Romhányi, Enikő Spekner, and András Végh, 13–25. Budapest: Budapest Történeti Múzeum, 2005.

Luther, Martin. Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vols 73. Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–2009.

Luther, Martin. Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Briefwechsel, vols 18. Weimar: Böhlau, 1930–1985.

Luther, Martin. Werke. Kritische Gesamtausgabe. Deutsche Bibel, vols 12. Weimar: Böhlau, 1906–1961.

Luther, Martin. Luther’s works, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan, vols 55. Saint Louis [MO]: Concordia Publishing House, 1958–1986.

Maurer, Wilhelm. Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen: Zwei Untersuchungen zu Luthers Reformationsschriften 1520/21. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1949.

Moeller, Bernd. “Die deutschen Humanisten und die Anfänge der Reformation.” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 70 (1959): 46–61.

Moeller, Bernd. Deutschland im Zeitalter der Reformation. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1977.

Moeller, Bernd. “Was wurde in der Frühzeit der Reformation in den deutschen Städten gepredigt?” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 75 (1984): 176–193.

Moeller, Bernd. “Das Berühmtwerden Luthers.” Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 15 (1988): 65–92.

Moeller, Bernd. “Die Rezeption Luthers in der frühen Reformation.” Lutherjahrbuch 57 (1990): 57–71.

Moeller, Bernd. “Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als neues Mönchtum.” In Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: Wissenschaftliches Symposion des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, edited by Bernd Moeller, 76–91. Gütersloh: GVH, 1998.

Moeller, Bernd and Karl Stackmann. Städtische Predigt in der Frühzeit der Reformation: eine Untersuchung deutscher Flugschriften der Jahre 1522 bis 1529. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1996.

Mollay, Károly. “Kereskedők, kalmárok, árosok. Moritz Pál kalmár 1511–1530 [Traders, Merchants, Venders. Merchant Pál Moritz].” Soproni Szemle 45 (1991): 1–31.

Mollay, Károly. Das Geschäftsbuch des Krämers Paul Moritz 1520–1529. Sopron: Soproni Levéltár, 1994.

Moser, Hugo. “‚Fromm‘ bei Luther und Melanchthon: Ein Beitrag zur Wortgeschichte in der Reformationszeit.” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 86 (1967): 161–182.

Müller, Ernst Erhard. “Das mittelalterliche und das reformatorische ‚Fromm‘.” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur (Tübingen) 95 (1973): 333–357.

Ogris, Werner. “Die habsburg–jagiellonische Doppelheirat von 1515.“ Österreichisches Archiv für Recht und Religion 50 (2003): 322–335.

Péter, Katalin. “Die Reformation in Ungarn.” In European Intellectual Trends and Hungary, edited by Ferenc Glatz, Études historiques hongroises 4, 39–52. Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 1990.

Péter, Katalin. A reformáció: kényszer vagy választás? [The Reformation: By Force or Free Choice?] Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 2004.

Planitz, Hans von der. Hans von der Planitz’ Berichte aus dem Reichsregiment in Nürnberg 1521–1523, edited by Ernst Wülcker and Hans Virck. Leipzig, 1899. Reprint, Hildesheim–New York: Olms, 1979.

Probszt, Günther. “Die sozialen Ursachen des ungarischen Bergarbeiteraufstandes von 1525/26.” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 10 (1961): 401–32.

Ratkoš, Peter. Dokumenty k baníckemu povstaniu na Slovensku (1525–1526) [Documents on the Miners’ Uprising in Slovakia]. Bratislava: SAV, 1957.

Ratkoš, Peter. Povstanie baníkov na Slovensku roku 1525–1526 [Miners’ Uprising in Slovakia]. Bratislava: SAV, 1963.

Reinerth, Karl. Die Gründung der evangelischen Kirchen in Siebenbürgen. Cologne-Vienna: Böhlau, 1979.

Réthelyi, Orsolya. “Mary of Hungary in Court Context 1521–1531.” PhD. diss., Central European University, Budapest, 2010.

Rieger, Reinhold. Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen. De libertate christiana. Tübingen: Mohr, 2007.

Ringleben, Joachim. Gott im Wort: Luthers Theologie von der Sprache her. Tübingen: Mohr, 2010.

Schwob, Ute Monika. “Der Ofener Humanistenkreis der Königin Maria von Ungarn.” Südostdeutsches Archiv 17/18 (1974/75): 50–73.

Spekner, Enikő. “Die Geschichte der habsburgisch–jagiellonischen Heiratsverträge im Spiegel der Quellen.” In Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, edited by Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi, 25–46. Münster: Aschendorff, 2007.

Stolt, Birgit. Studien zu Luthers Freiheitstraktat mit besonderer Rücksicht auf das Verhältnis der lateinischen und der deutschen Fassung zu einander und die Stilmittel der Rethorik. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1969.

Stracke, Wilhelm. Die Anfänge der Königin Maria von Ungarn, späteren Statthalterin Karls V. in den Niederlanden. Göttingen: Dietrich, 1940.

Szűcs, Jenő. “Ferences ellenzéki áramlat a magyar parasztháború és reformáció hátterében [Franciscan Oppositional Currents in the Background of the Hungarian Peasant War and the Reformation].” Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények 78 (1974): 409–35.

Trencsényi-Waldapfel, Imre. “Petrarca szonettje Brodarics levelében [Petrarch’s Sonnet in Brodarics’s Letter].” Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények 61 (1957): 227–29.

Wendebourg, Dorothea. “Die Einheit der Reformation als historisches Problem.” In Reformationstheorien: Ein kirchenhistorischer Disput über Einheit und Vielfalt der Reformation, 31–51. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1995.

Wunder, Heide. “iustitia, Teutonice fromkeyt: Theologische Rechtfertigung und bürgerliche Rechtschaffenheit. Ein Beitrag zur Sozialgeschichte eines theologischen Konzepts.” In Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: Wissenschaftliches Symposion des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, edited by Bernd Moeller, 307–32. Gütersloh: GVH, 1998.

Zoványi, Jenő. A reformáczió Magyarországon 1565-ig [The Reformation in Hungary until 1565]. Reprint, Budapest: Genius, [1922] 1986.

Translated by Thomas Cooper

1 I use the following abbreviations for archival sources: MNL OL DF = Magyar Nemzeti Levéltár Országos Levéltára, Fényképgyűjtemény, Diplomatikai Fényképgyűjtemény (The National Archives of Hungary, Photo Collection, Photo Collection of Medieval Charters); StAN BL = Staatsarchiv Nürnberg, Brandenburger Literalien. I use the following abbreviations for publications of source materials: BSLK = Bekenntnisschriften der evangelisch-lutherischen Kirche (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1998); DHSA = Deutschsprachige Handschriften in slowakischen Archiven: Vom Mittelalter bis zur Frühen Neuzeit. Westslowakei – Mittelslowakei – Ostslowakei, ed. Jörg Meier, Ilpo Tapani Piirainen, and Klaus-Peter Wegera, vols 3 (Berlin–New York: de Gruyter, 2009); ETE = Egyháztörténelmi emlékek a magyarországi hitújítás korából [Monumenta ecclesiastica tempora innovatae in Hungaria religionis illustrantia], ed. Vince Bunyitay et al., vols 5 (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1902–1912); Házi, Oklevelek [Charters] = Jenő Házi, Sopron szabad királyi város története, I/7: Oklevelek, levelek és iratok 1521-től 1531-ig [The History of the Free Royal City of Sopron, I/7: Charters, Correspondence, and Documents from 1521 to 1531], (Sopron: Székely, 1929); Házi, Számadások [Accounts] = Jenő Házi, Sopron szabad királyi város története, vol. II/5: Különféle számadások és adójegyzékek 1489-től 1530-ig
[The History of the Free Royal City of Sopron, II/5: Various Renderings of Accounts and Notes on Taxation] (Sopron: Székely, 1938); LW = Luther’s Works, ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, vols 55 (Saint Louis [MO]: Concordia Publishing House, 1958–1986); Ratkoš, Dokumenty = Peter Ratkoš, Dokumenty k baníckemu povstaniu na Slovensku (1525–1526) [Documents on the Miner Revolt in Slovakia (1525–1526)] (Bratislava: SAV, 1957); WA = Martin Luther, Werke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, vols 73 (Weimar: Böhlau, 1883–2009); WA.B = WA: Briefwechsel, vols 18 (Weimar: Böhlau, 1930–1985); WA.DB = WA: Deutsche Bibel, vols 12 (Weimar: Böhlau, 1906–1961).

2 Gerhard Ebeling, Luther: Einführung in sein Denken (Tübingen: Mohr, 1981). One comes across the use of the term word event (Wortgeschehen) in a similar sense in the study of hermeneutics. In his theological hermeneutics, Ernst Fuchs began in the 1940s (in other words before the so-called “linguistic turn” of the social sciences) to characterize the word and language not as passive media or tools, but rather as active agents that influenced people in the moment of the “word event.” Ebeling applied this idea to the study of history.

3 For a linguistic approach to Lutheran thinking, see Albrecht Beutel, In dem Anfang war das Wort: Studien zu Luthers Sprachverständnis [1991], Studienausgabe (Tübingen: Mohr, 2006); Joachim Ringleben, Gott im Wort: Luthers Theologie von der Sprache her (Tübingen: Mohr, 2010).

4 Ebeling, Luther, 16–17.

5 To the councilmen of all cities in Germany that they establish and maintain Christian schools: WA 15: 27–53, 37–38; LW 45: 339–78, 358–60; cf. Ebeling, Luther, 21–22.

6 For a summary of the linguistic world of the Reformation see Bernd Moeller, “Was wurde in der Frühzeit der Reformation in den deutschen Städten gepredigt?,” Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 75 (1984): 176–93; Bernd Moeller and Karl Stackmann, Städtische Predigt in der Frühzeit der Reformation: eine Untersuchung deutscher Flugschriften der Jahre 1522 bis 1529 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1996).

7 The inquest held against alleged heretics in Nagyszeben (which took place at roughly the same time as the inquest in Sopron) examined accusations that didn’t imply an unambiguous relationship with Reformation teachings. Furthermore, the general phrasing in the sources cannot really be considered or analyzed as monuments to distinctive language use. ETE, vol. 1: passim; Jenő Zoványi, A reformáczió Magyarországon 1565-ig [The Reformation in Hungary until 1565] (Budapest: Genius, 1922), 42–45; Karl Reinerth, Die Gründung der evangelischen Kirchen in Siebenbürgen (Cologne–Vienna: Böhlau, 1979), 8–25.

8 StAN BL 1193; MNL OL DF 267658–267669. Vilmos Fraknói [Frankl], Ungarn vor der Schlacht von Mohács (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 1886), 122, note 1

9 Werner Ogris, “Die habsburg–jagiellonische Doppelheirat von 1515,“ Österreichisches Archiv für Recht und Religion 50 (2003): 322–35; Enikő Spekner, “Die Geschichte der habsburgisch–jagiellonischen Heiratsverträge im Spiegel der Quellen,” in Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, ed. Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi (Münster: Aschendorff, 2007), 25–46. Louis also cautiously touches on this theme, while also urging the knightly fittings Casimir had long promised. It is not easy to explain why Casimir had his last “Louis-letter” reflecting on the German peasant war written (on 4 June, 1525) by his younger brother George of Brandenburg (1484–1543), who lived in Buda and whose handwriting is unmistakable, but signed by Louis. (StAN BL 1193:12; MNL OL DF 267669).

10 Ich wil noch kain fleis sparen, damit die sach ein fiergang hat, wolt Gott, das die sach an mier leg, ich wol palt ein gut end darin machen, wen ir und die ewer haben wol ein grösers ferdient. Ich pit euch, ir welt mich nit in argen auff nemen, das ich euch nit for lengst hab antwurt geschriben. Ich hab schtetz gehofft, mit ein gute antwurt zw kumen, ich wil kain fleis nit sparen, damit es noch geschicht.” StAN BL 1193:10; MNL OL DF 267667.

11 StAN BL 1193:11; MNL OL DF 267668; Fraknói, Ungarn, 122, no. 1; ETE, vol. 1: 85–86 (the date and regesta given are incorrect); Wilhelm Stracke, Die Anfänge der Königin Maria von Ungarn, späteren Statthalterin Karls V. in den Niederlanden (Göttingen: Dietrich, 1940), 42.

12 Cf. Zoltán Csepregi, “...ich will kain fleis nit sparen – Königin Maria von Ungarn und das Haus Brandenburg,” in Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, ed. Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi (Münster: Aschendorff, 2007), 59–72; Orsolya Réthelyi, “Mary of Hungary in Court Context 1521–1531” (PhD. diss., Budapest: Central European University, 2010).

13 Nuremberg, 1523.6.14. WA.B 3: 86–87 (no. 622).

14 This is the term that was used by Fraknói himself: Fraknói, Ungarn, 122.

15 Ute Monika Schwob, “Der Ofener Humanistenkreis der Königin Maria von Ungarn,” Südostdeutsches Archiv 17/18 (1974/75): 50–73, 63–64.

16 Ernst Erhard Müller, “Das mittelalterliche und das reformatorische ‚Fromm‘,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur (Tübingen) 95 (1973): 333–57, 336–49; Wunder, Heide, “iustitia, Teutonice fromkeyt: Theologische Rechtfertigung und bürgerliche Rechtschaffenheit. Ein Beitrag zur Sozialgeschichte eines theologischen Konzepts,” in Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: Wissenschaftliches Symposion des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, ed. Bernd Moeller (Gütersloh: GVH, 1998), 307–32, 313–26.

17 Hugo Moser, “‚Fromm‘ bei Luther und Melanchthon: Ein Beitrag zur Wortgeschichte in der Reformationszeit,” Zeitschrift für deutsche Philologie 86 (1967): 161–82, 162.

18 WA 7: 20–38; Müller, “Das mittelalterliche,” 350–54; Wunder, “iustitia, Teutonice fromkeyt“, 327–32.

19 WA 7: 49–73; LW 31: 327–77. On the primacy of the German version see: Wilhelm Maurer, Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen: Zwei Untersuchungen zu Luthers Reformationsschriften 1520/21 (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1949), 64–78; Birgit Stolt, Studien zu Luthers Freiheitstraktat mit besonderer Rücksicht auf das Verhältnis der lateinischen und der deutschen Fassung zu einander und die Stilmittel der Rethorik (Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell, 1969); Reinhold Rieger, Von der Freiheit eines Christenmenschen. De libertate christiana (Tübingen: Mohr, 2007).

20 Veronika Günther, “‚Fromm‘ in der Zürcher Reformation,” Beiträge zur Geschichte der deutschen Sprache und Literatur (Halle) 77 (1955): 464–89; Moser, “‚Fromm‘,” 178; Müller, “Das mittelalterliche,” 353–54.

21 BSLK 72, 92, 111, 146–47, 172–73, 177–78, 205, 252–53, 277; Moser, “‚Fromm‘,” 167–73; Müller, “Das mittelalterliche,” 355–56.

22 BSLK 455, 460; Moser, “‘Fromm’,” 173, 176–77.

23 WA 7: 26, 55; LW 31: 352.

24 WA 7: 32, 61; LW 31: 360–61.

25 Moser, “‘Fromm’,” 178.

26 “Man hatt zu Ungernn die lutherischen lehr und sein anhenger vast verfolget auch bis in den tott, aber es seind zeitung anher komen, das die konnigin zu Ungernn sehr gut evangelisch worden sei und mit dem konig deshalben ssovill gehandelt, das man die lutherischen weiter nicht vorfolget und nunalls das evangelium frei in Ungernn geprediget werde. Welches mir nicht ungleublich, das ich weiss, das ir der hoemeister aus Preussen von hinnen vill lutherisch bucher auf ir begere zugeschigkt.” Nuremberg, 1523.10.15. Hans von der Planitz’ Berichte aus dem Reichsregiment in Nürnberg 1521–1523, ed. Ernst Wülcker and Hans Virck (Leipzig, 1899; Reprint: Hildesheim–New York: Olms, 1979), 356.

27 WA 10 I 2: 36; Moser, “‘Fromm’,” 179-80; Müller, “Das mittelalterliche,” 354–55.

28 “Luter: Denck doch bey dir selber Sie mussen bekennen das fromme Christen vnder vns sein, Warumb wolt man den der selben wort vnd vorstand vorwerffen.

Emßer: Ist doch ein Esel ouch from, man trawet ym aber dannocht nit vber die silber kamer, sonder stelt yn in ein stall.” Wider das unchristliche buch Martini Luthers Augustiners an den Tewtschen Adel außgangen. Leipzig: Landsberg, 1521. VD 16. E 1137. Cited in: Moser, “‘Fromm’,” 180.

29 ETE, vol. 1: 158–59; Házi, Oklevelek, 113–15 (no. 82). Cf. Jenő Házi, Sopron középkori egyháztörténete [The Church History of Sopron in the Middle Ages], (Sopron: Székely, 1939), 44–61. In 1535 Gergely Szegedi wrote against Mátyás Dévai and in 1538 he debated with István Szántai in Segesvár. He had been the prebend of Csanád, the Father Superior of Nagyvárad and later Provincial Superior (1546–1550).

30 Ibid., vol. 1: 159–71; Házi, Oklevelek, 115–31 (no. 83). In my study of the records books I have profited methodologically from the ascertainments of Gabriella Erdélyi regarding source criticism: Gabriella Erdélyi, Egy kolostorper története. Hatalom, vallás és mindennapok a középkor és az újkor határán [The History of a Cloister Trial. Power, Religion, and the Everyday at the Meeting Point of the Middle Ages and the Modern Era], (Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 2005), 106–26.

31 For more on the silence and unity of the clergy and, in contrast, the volubility of the laymen, see Erdélyi, Egy kolostorper, 122–23. Károly Goda has written several essays on the prosopography of Sopron in the Reformation.

32 ETE, vol. 1: 181–82; Házi, Oklevelek, 136 (no. 89) regesta.

33 Ibid., vol. 1: 187; Házi, Oklevelek, 139 (no. 93) regesta.

34 Ibid., vol. 1: 161–63; Házi, Oklevelek, 118–20 (no. 83). Cf. Jenő Szűcs, Ferences ellenzéki áramlat a magyar parasztháború és reformáció hátterében” [Franciscan Oppositional Currents in the Background of the Hungarian Peasant War and the Reformation], Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények 78 (1974): 409–35, 425–26.

35 Házi, Sopron középkori, 56.

36 Mollay regards the first, second, fifth, and eight points as clearly bearing affinities with Luther’s teachings, as well as the seventh: Károly Mollay, “Kereskedők, kalmárok, árosok. Moritz Pál kalmár 1511–1530” [Traders, Merchants, Venders. Merchant Pál Moritz], Soproni Szemle 45 (1991): 1–31, 15–17.

37 WA 6: 404–69; LW 44: 115–217. On its widespread popularity see Bernd Moeller, Deutschland im Zeitalter der Reformation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1977), 62; Bernd Moeller, “Das Berühmtwerden Luthers,” Zeitschrift für Historische Forschung 15 (1988): 65–92.

38 ETE, vol. 1: 165; Házi, Oklevelek, 122 (no. 83). Cf. Katalin Péter, A reformáció: kényszer vagy választás? [The Reformation: Coercion or Free Choice?] (Budapest: Nemzeti Tankönyvkiadó, 2004), 64. I have been unable here to demonstrate the connection drawn by Katalin Péter with Luther’s A Treatise of good works, from 1520. (WA 6: 202–76; LW 44: 15–114).

39 Paulus Moritz later became city magistrate (1526–1529): Házi, Sopron középkori, 58.

40 The account book of Peter Vischer, chamberlain of Sopron, 1524/25: Házi, Számadások, 382–440, 431 (no. 27).

41 ETE, vol. 1: 188–89; Házi, Oklevelek, 140 (no. 94).

42 Házi, Sopron középkori, 57. The account book of Paulus Moritz, Franciscan church guardian: Házi, Számadások, 367–82 (no. 26).

43 Házi identifies 26 witnesses as members of the clergy, without exception, alongside the parson and the two notaries, Radinger and Auer: Házi, Sopron középkori, 49. It is worth noting that Auer was Paulus Moritz’s brother-in-law and business partner. Károly Mollay, Das Geschäftsbuch des Krämers Paul Moritz 1520–1529 (Sopron: Sopron Archives, 1994), 26.

44 ETE, vol. 1: 162, 164; Házi, Oklevelek, 119, 121 (no. 83).

45 A precursor to the Reformation “solus Christus” motto can be found in Erasmus’s Paraclesis of 1516: “Certe solus hic e caelo profectus est doctor, solus certa docere potuit, cum sit aeterna sapientia, solus salutaria docuit unicus humanae salutis auctor, solus absolute praestitit, quicquid unquam docuit, solus exhibere potest, quicquid promisit.” Erasmus von Rotterdam, Ausgewählte Schriften. Ausgabe in acht Bänden lateinisch und deutsch, ed. Werner Welzig, vol. 3 (Darmstadt: WBG, 1990), 10.

46 Bernd Moeller, “Die Rezeption Luthers in der frühen Reformation,” Lutherjahrbuch 57 (1990): 57–71, 68–70; Bernd Moeller, “Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als neues Mönchtum,” in Die frühe Reformation in Deutschland als Umbruch: Wissenschaftliches Symposion des Vereins für Reformationsgeschichte 1996, ed. Bernd Moeller (Gütersloh: GVH, 1998), 76–91; Berndt Hamm, The reformation of faith in the context of late medieval theology and piety, ed. Robert B. Bast (Leiden–Boston: Brill, 2004), 1–49, 179–216; Ebeling, Luther, 16.

47 ETE, vol. 1: 161; Házi, Oklevelek, 118 (no. 83).

48 Ibid., vol. 1: 166; Házi, Oklevelek, 123 (no. 83).

49 Ibid., vol. 1: 170–71.

50 Cf. Gábor Kiss Farkas, Dramen am Wiener und Ofener Hof: Benedictus Chelidonius und Bartholomaeus Frankfordinus Pannonius (1515–1519),” in Maria von Ungarn (1505–1558) – Eine Renaissancefürstin, ed. Martina Fuchs and Orsolya Réthelyi (Münster: Aschendorff, 2007), 293–312.

51 ETE, vol. 1: 57–58; The section on Cordatus has been corrected on the basis of MNL OL DF 249874: “Salutabis meo nomine (si apud vos est, nam ex fama quottidie huc ad nos expectatur) Cunradum nostrum, ad quem litteras meas dedissem, ni eum expectarem, is tamen, si aderit, sit novorum presencium te indice particeps.”

52 Bernd Moeller, “Die deutschen Humanisten und die Anfänge der Reformation,” Zeitschrift für Kirchengeschichte 70 (1959): 46–61.

53 The alliance of Humanism and the Reformation in Hungary was deeper and proved longer-lasting than in the Holy Roman Empire. The country had but a single intelligentsia, and a single author (usually a teacher at city schools, a preacher, or a tutor for a noble family) would write both Humanist literary and reformist religious works. The prestige Erasmus had acquired made him the determining influence in the first decades of the Reformation. Later Melanchthon was to become the decisive figure and point of reference.

54 Gustav Hammann, “Bartholomeus Francofordinus Pannonius – Simon Grynäus in Ungarn,” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 14 (1965): 228–42, 233–34. Luther’s book: WA 6: 497–573; LW 36: 3–126.

55 WA.B 1: 344, 351 (no. 152, 156).

56 Wittenberg, 1521.2.9. WA.B 2: 264 (no. 376): “Huttenus et multi alii fortiter scribunt pro me et parantur indies cantica, quae Babylonem istam parum delectabunt.”

57 WA.DB 7: 406–21; LW 35: 399–411. The development of this interpretation was influenced by the German translation of the Book of Daniel, which was also published in 1530.

58 Imre Trencsényi-Waldapfel, Petrarca szonettje Brodarics levelében” [Petrarch’s Sonnet in Brodarics’s Letter], Irodalomtörténeti Közlemények 61 (1957): 227–29.

59 Zoltán Csepregi, “Court Priests in the Entourage of Queen Mary of Hungary,” in Mary of Hungary, Widow of Hungary. The Queen and Her Court 1521–1531, ed. Orsolya Réthelyi et al. (Budapest: Budapest Történeti Múzeum, 2005), 49–61, 53.

60 Günther Probszt, “Die sozialen Ursachen des ungarischen Bergarbeiteraufstandes von 1525/26,” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 10 (1961): 401–32. The seven mining towns of Upper Hungary became important nodes of an international cultural network primarily because of their economic role (the production of precious metals and copper and the minting of coins). Members of the intelligentsia of these cities were brought in part from abroad, but members of the intellectual elite from the cities often found important positions in distant lands as well. The interests of the Fugger house of Augsburg in copper mining played a significant role in nurturing the close relationship of the town with the Holy Roman Empire. According to studies in the history of reading, the cities were at the vanguard of country in their refinement.

61 András Kubinyi, “The Court of Queen Mary and Politics Between 1521 and 1526,” in Mary of Hungary: The Queen and Her Court 1521–1531, ed. Orsolya Réthelyi et al. (Budapest: Budapest Történeti Múzeum, 2005), 13–25.

62 ETE, vol. 1: 203–4; cf. László Szalkay’s letter of 21 May: ETE, vol. 1: 202–3; Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 29–30 (no. 2): “Conradum presbiterum et Johannem Cryslyngh plebanum sancti Georgij Budensis”. Gustav Hammann, “Conradus Cordatus Leombachensis,“ Jahrbuch des Oberösterreichischen Musealvereins 109 (1964): 250–78; Gustav Hammann, “Johannes Kresling,” Jahrbuch für Schlesische Kirchengeschichte 44 (1965): 7–12.

63 Pl. Zoványi, A reformáczió, 41.

64 Letter of the people of Besztercebánya to László Szalkay, 29 December, 1525: “qui olim verbi Dei ministri fuerunt apud illos [in Körmöcbánya!]” (ETE, vol. 1: 227–28; Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 101–102, no. 54). A recommendatory letter from Wittenberg on behalf of Cordatus (1540.10.12.): WA.B 9: 245 (no. 3540). Pál Schaider’s letter to Pál Várdai, December, 1532: ETE, vol. 2: 216–24.

65 Gustav Hammann, “Mag. Nicolaus von Sabinov: Ein Beitrag über den Humanismus und die frühe Reformation in der Slowakei,” Zeitschrift für Ostforschung 16 (1967): 25–44, 38–39.

66 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 417–18.

67 He enrolled in Vienna in 1513 in the summer semester: Simon Bernhardi de Frawnstat from the Pernstein estates near Teschen, preacher of Troppau (1522–1528) and later Brieg. Following lengthy negotiations and several months of residence as a guest Bernhard still did not accept the position of preacher that was offered to him in Besztercebánya, nor for that matter did he accept the vicarage of Selmecbánya (he feared the uncertainty of the situation, not to mention the authorities, primarily the parson of Besztercebánya and the archbishop of Esztergom). Instead he returned to Teschen. He died sometime after 1537 as the evangelical superintendent of the city of Brieg in Lower Silesia. ETE, vol. 3: 195; Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 103, 174–75 (no. 55, 98); DHSA 2: 107; János Breznyik, A selmecbányai ágost. hitv. evang. egyház és lyceum története [History of the Evangelical Church and Lyceum of Selmecbánya], vol. 1 (Selmecbánya: Joerges, 1883), 39; Zoványi, A reformáczió, 23; Hammann, “Mag. Nicolaus von Sabinov,” 35–38.

68 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 333–34.

69 Ibid., 344–56, 379–80.

70 ETE 1: 204: “per auersi maridato“. Cf. Legat Campeggio’s report, 18 June, 1525: ETE 1: 207.

71 April 13, 1526. ETE, vol. 1: 253; Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 155 (no. 86): “populum [...] Lutherana eciam heresi per preallegatos concionatores imbutum ac depravatum”.

72 Dionysius Schneyder’s letter from Buda to Körmöc, 19 August, 1525. (Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 71, no. 32): “Dy prediger sitzn noch, aber nit hartt. Ir sach ist verschoben, byß der pyschpeck reverendissimus von Gron perschändlich hinauff (kan Gron) kumbt.“

73 The letter of the people of Besztercebánya to László Szalkay, see above note no. 65.

74 Gusztáv Heckenast, “A besztercebányai bányászfelkelés (1525–26)” [The Miners’ Uprising of Beszterce­bánya (1525–1526)], Századok 86 (1952): 364–96, 379. For more on the handwriting see MNL OL DF 235583, 235584, 267069, 286902.

75 On the use of the apostolic greeting in the correspondence of the reformers see: Zoltán Csepregi, Die Anfänge der Reformation im Königreich Ungarn bis 1548,” in Die Reformation in Mitteleuropa. Reformacija v strednji Evropi, ed. Vincenc Rajšp et al. (Ljubljana: Založba ZRC; Vienna: Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften 2011), 127–47.

76 “Yber daß pitten wyr euch als unßeren lieben bruederr, ir wolt alßo handeln in eueren handell, daß do cristes unnd ewangeliß werde […]. Yber daß seyt gepeten, alß unßerr bruder, ir wolt gewalt nit prauchen wider gott unnd den kunig, auch vyder dy gottliche ornuge [!].” Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 89–90 (no. 43). The other two letters: ibid. 88, 90–91. (no. 42, 44); DHSA 2: 533.

77 Peter Ratkoš, Povstanie baníkov na Slovensku roku 1525–1526. [Miners’ Uprising in Slovakia] (Bratislava: SAV, 1963), 148–55.

78 WA 11: 245–81; LW 45: 75–129.

79 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 93–95 (no. 47); DHSA 2: 533–34. Ratkoš here contends to discern the influence of Müntzer, Zwingli and Andreas Fischer, but he errs: Ratkoš, Povstanie, 150–55.

80 Ibid., Povstanie, 165. note 5.

81 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 88–90, 93, 108 (no. 42–44, 47, 60). E.g.: “Fryd undt anige libe in Christo Iesu zuvoran.” “Fryd yn Chrysto Jesu bevor.”

82 Ibid., 108 (no. 60).

83 Ibid., (no. 106).

84 See note 64. The signatories to the Besztercebánya letter included members of all layers of city society, from magistrate to laborer.

85 Hammann, “Mag. Nicolaus von Sabinov,” 39. note 72.

86 Breznyik, A selmecbányai, 39.

87 “…wo man gottes wort gern horet undt frey lest predigen”. Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 174–75 (no. 98); DHSA 2: 535.

88 ETE, vol. 1: 251–56; Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 77 (no. 35): “Decimo: Propterea ipsi sectores et fraternitas deliberarunt interim, quod ipse Thobias et Swoger Hans vitrici essent, neque obulum neque denarium ad eclesiam dare vellent, in quo eclesia magno patitur defectu. Similimodo plebanus, ex quo se sic non exhibent cum offertoriis et aliis rebus uti prius et dedecus ac scandalum est, quod propter duas personas divinum servicium impediri debet.” See also ibid. 119–33, 156–57, 196 (no. 72, 86, 119).

89 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 94 (no. 47).

90 Ibid., 92 (no. 45).

91 Ibid., 88–91, 102, 140–43 (no. 42–44, 54, 78–80). Ratkoš sees derivatives of the word “Bruder,” such as Brüderpfennig and Brüdergeld, as innovations, though the use of these terms within fraternity was in fact customary.

92 MNL OL DF 218309, 218327, 218341; DHSA 3: 606-07.

93 MNL OL DF 218342; DHSA 3: 607.

94 DHSA 2: 122–23.

95 ETE, vol. 1: 361

96 Ibid., vol. 3: 352, 362–63.

97 WA.B 4: 138–40, 163 (no. 1055, 1076).

98 Paul Konrad, Die beiden ersten ev. Geistlichen des Hospitals zum heiligen Geist zu Breslau (1525–1553),” Zeitschrift des Vereins für Geschichte und Alterthum Schlesiens 29 (1895): 133–58, 140; Gustav Bauch, Valentin Trozendorf und die Goldberger Schule (Berlin: Weidmann, 1921), 75–76.

99 Ratkoš, Dokumenty, 336, 386.

100 Breznyik, A selmecbányai, 65, 80–82.

101 Ibid., 16–17.

102 Péter, A reformáció, 48, 62.

103 ETE, vol. 1: 245.

104 Katalin Péter, Die Reformation in Ungarn,” in European Intellectual Trends and Hungary, ed. Ferenc Glatz, Études historiques hongroises 4 (Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézet, 1990), 39–52, 40.

105 Dorothea Wendebourg, Die Einheit der Reformation als historisches Problem,” in Reformationstheorien: Ein kirchenhistorischer Disput über Einheit und Vielfalt der Reformation (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1995), 31–51, 34–35.

106 Ebeling, Luther, 16.

107 At the same time, in an open debate Pál Ács quite rightly warned of the danger of over-interpretation and misreading in linguistic analyses. As we well know, even the most thorough philological erudition and linguistic-historical methodology cannot serve as a substitute for the sensitivities to connotation and implication that the people at the time had, sensitivities that today cannot be reconjured or reconstructed, the historical and communal context, the unrepeatable meaning “here and now.”

108 Háló: válogatás Heltai Gáspár műveiből [Net: Selected Writings of Gáspár Heltai], ed. Péter Kőszeghy (Budapest: Magvető, 1979), 130.

Gábor Gyáni

Migration as a Cultural Phenomenon

 

For a long time conceptual explanations of mass migrations rested on economic and social premises. The notion of chain-migration, for instance, was given considerable reinforcement with the adoption of the economic “cost-benefit” terminology, as was the phenomenon of transplanted networks. In time, however, scholars began to consider structural mechanisms less and aspects of individual selection more. The latter included giving greater attention to cultural factors. However, mass physical relocation, explained with reference to series of individual decisions either accepted or encouraged by the community, goes against the attachment to place necessary for the strengthening of the nation state, which finds form in the institutionalization of citizenship. Growing internal (national) integration and the social disintegration that accompanies mass migrations makes it necessary to devise compulsions that encourage and hasten assimilation. Under its influence, the significance of foreignness and the phenomenon of otherness as a fact of everyday life intensifies. In the case of Hungary, this is illustrated the most clearly by the metaphorical conflation of Budapest’s alleged “foreignness” with its alleged “Jewishness.”

 

keywords: chain-migration, citizenship, mass migration, assimilation, nation state, networks

 

For a long time the decisions of multitudes to migrate were explained primarily with reference to material needs and promptings. Both in public discourse and in scholarship poverty was considered the most powerful stimulus to venture to new lands, and it was considered self-evident that material considerations explained the floods of masses to urban settlements, as well as the decision of huge numbers of Europeans to depart for the Americas. Over the course of the past several decades, however, there has been a change in approach regarding this question. Gradually there has been increasing recognition of the fact that while pressing economic exigencies often influenced (and influence) trends in migration, in fact it is the motivational mechanisms that raise awareness of economic interests that determined and determine the intensity of processes of migration, including both destination and scope. When scholars began to pursue more nuanced inquiry into the influences of push and pull factors, it became possible to offer an analysis according to which the decision to migrate was almost never motivated solely by material considerations. In other words poverty or impoverishment alone were never enough to prompt people to leave their homes and set out for unfamiliar lands.

While economists referred in their explanations of trends and tendencies to the distinction between so-called push and pull factors as early as the 1920s and 1930s,1 historians by contrast only began to adopt and adapt this distinction and these terms in the 1960s.2 The fact that these terms first came into use in the study of economics explains why their adoption often involved the implicit or even explicit use of the cost-benefit analytical perspective in examinations of the social phenomenon of migration. This later led to the widespread acceptance of chain-migration as a concept of general validity. Chain-migration implies that migratory processes are induced by the destinations themselves, if not initially, then with the passing of time. Thus the role of pull factors is decisive. The emergence of chain-migration as an explanatory principle in the dynamics of migratory processes also implies that the decision to migrate cannot be explained by the influences of material promptings, at least not entirely. Thus the theory of migratory networks came to the fore, a theory that was dubbed “transplanted networks” by Charles Tilly3 and was used decades later to great advantage by historian John Bodnar,4 who himself drew on the scholarship of Rudolph Vecoli.5 Network theory also rested on the foundations of the principle of cost-benefit, as the more recent definition of the concept illustrates:

 

 

Migrant networks are sets of interpersonal ties that connect migrants, former migrants, and non-migrants in origin and destination areas through ties of kinship, friendship, and shared community origin […]. Network connections constitute a form of social capital that people can draw upon to gain access to foreign employment. Once the number of migrants reaches a critical threshold, the expansion of networks reduces the costs and risks of movement, which causes the probability of migration to rise, which causes additional movement, which further expands the networks, and so on.6

The fact that scholars and historians came to focus less on masses of migrants and increasingly on individuals in their study of migratory processes was also related to the above-sketched changes in the explanatory models. The individual migrant became the primary subject of research, not the general economic and social circumstances of the local communities of migrants or macro-groups (such as poor peasants). The narrowing of perspective seemed to favor the rise of sociological and, even more so, psychological approaches and theories. Sociological explanations of migratory processes in general set out from the premise that the subject in the interactive process of migration is not the isolated individual, but rather the person (or agent) who himself or herself is deeply embedded in societal processes. In this case, however, the influences underlying the decision to migrate are felt primarily on the cultural and social level, and first and foremost in the network of personal relations.7

In the course of the adaption of the structural and functional sociological approach of Talcott Parsons8 considerable emphasis was given to the concepts of norm, status, and institution. According to this approach, changes in norm, status, and institution alone were enough to explain trends in migratory phenomena, both from the perspective of the place of departure and the place of arrival.

The psychological analysis of the proliferating promptings that thus influenced patterns of migration also did not seem an inaccessible path of inquiry. In this case the conceptual point of departure was the following: who was it who sensed the external influences that prompted and even enticed people to migrate, and when and how? Thus the distinctive personality characteristics of the migrating individual (who was potentially mobile) became the focus of study, and from this perspective the selective mechanisms of migration seem adequately explainable. One still could not completely ignore the incentives and motives of the process of this selectivity that lay beyond individual agency, more precisely above the individual level, in the economic and social structure. Nonetheless, an increasing number of scholars on the subject agree that in the course of arriving at an explanation one must also take into consideration factors that are first and foremost cultural (one might even say spiritual or psychological).9

Thus if we propose that a physical change of place is the consequence of a series of individual decisions in which cultural forces also play a part, then we must give thorough consideration to the cultural-historical problems of social diversity, the vast majority of which arose precisely as a consequence of migrations. This mix is relevant with regards both to ethnic diversity and the composition of mass society in large urban centers. I address these questions separately in this essay.

Migration Versus Nationalist Attachment to Place

 

The first big wave in the internal and interregional (even intercontinental) migratory movement came in the nineteenth century, a period of history during which the modern European nations and nation-states developed or were becoming more firmly established. Drawing on the work of Ernest Gellner, we tend to associate national development with modernity, by which we mean market economies, class-based societies, and the liberal constitutional state. According to this interpretation, the modern nation as a construct is both a precondition and a consequence of cultural homogenization: “The general emergence of modernity hinged on the erosion of the multiple petty binding local organizations and their replacement by mobile, anonymous, literate, identity-conferring cultures.”10 Modern (national) societies burn with the fever of continuous growth, a force that drives them ceaselessly to reject traditions. One of the natural concomitants of this unparalleled dynamism is the similarly ceaseless physical change of place of huge masses of people, which is both a source and consequence of social mobility as well.

Gellner’s influential (if also often passionately contested) theory of nation and nationalism thus links the concept of modern (industrial, urban, civic) society to the process of national and cultural homogenization, a process that occurs in the symbolic sphere. One discerns a paradoxical temporal coincidence that was widespread across Europe at the time, namely the concurrence of the process of national homogenization, itself a precondition of economic, social and political modernity, and the immensely intense process of internal and intercontinental migration. The mutually reinforcing relationship between the two is self-evident, expressed for instance in rapid urbanization, unbridled industrialization, and in general the spread of notions that placed increasing emphasis on the individual. Thus migration itself is one of the indispensable driving forces and fundamental mechanisms of the process of modernization. The question arises, what is the effect of migration, which by its nature creates disorder, disarray, and diversity (heterogeneity) on national homogenization, which is also an essential goal of modernization? This is the real problem here, or more precisely the riddle, a riddle that merits a thorough inquiry that does not simply fall back on customary approaches or explanations.

The pressing need for national integration and the creation of a unified nation arose over the course of the long nineteenth century under circumstances in which migration had evolved to an earlier unknown scale and, as a result, the possible sources of social disintegration had proliferated. Earlier (and for a relatively long time) scholars and historians emphasized this latter consequence of the process of migration in the modern era by using the metaphor of uprootedness. At the same time they used this notion as a principle of explanation to which they also attributed a narrative function. As a social reality, this scholarly notion of mass uprootedness created by migration, however, merely represents a mapping of the ambivalent relationship of nationalism with any human phenomenon that constitutes a challenge to sedentariness. This is entirely understandable, since migration and the destabilizing consequences it has clearly do not pave an easy path to the fashioning of an “imagined community, ”to use Benedict Anderson’s term. On the contrary migration seems to set the stage for immeasurable and lasting internal social differentiation and chaos. The indisputably paradoxical nature of the situation lies in the fact that migrants continuously put the “engineers” of national inclusiveness and exclusiveness to the test. Indeed they put the liberal nation state itself to the test, and even themselves, since the formation of the nation as an imagined community takes place through simultaneous gestures of inclusion and exclusion.

One should not forget that under these circumstances, actual or symbolic migrants almost always found themselves standing at a crossroad. They were continuously faced with two dilemmas. The first, if they were to integrate into a (modern) national community, they would be compelled to pay the price of “membership” (as it were), namely some loss of distinctive cultural identity. Acculturation involves some assimilation, in other words to some degree the abandonment of one’s original ethnic/cultural identity and the replacement of this identity with another. True, their chances of mobility in a modern society would improve, and this would offset the cultural loss. The second, if, in contrast, they did not wish or simply were unable for whatever reason to integrate (or assimilate) then their chances of mobility would decrease. Of course in this case they would not suffer a crisis of identity and they would not be compelled to change their cultural affiliations.

Thus from the perspective of integration on the one hand and the maintenance (whether by choice or not) of a distinct, separate cultural identity on the other, the decisions that were reached with regards to the question of migration are of great significance, since migration eases even if automatically does not occasion direct connection with the process of national assimilation. If an individual conspicuously and successfully managed to resist the forces that otherwise would have prompted migration, then he or she would be able better to resist the inducements (sometimes spontaneous, sometimes violent) of national assimilation. The possibility of adapting to the majority (national) culture arises on the one hand, while on the other one has the chance to escape this kind of national assimilation (which in the given case amounts to the adoption of the Hungarian cultural identity) by departing for other lands, for instance beyond the seas. The mass influx of Slovaks residing in the lands of the Hungarian kingdom into Budapest offers a paradigmatic example of the first, while the departure of Hungarian Slovaks in equally large numbers for America is an example of the second. If the Slovaks moved to the Hungarian capital, they nonetheless grew distant from the culture of the Slovak people more rapidly and utterly than those who remained in the communities of their birth.11 In contrast, among those who left for America quite the opposite trend can be discerned. Influenced by their decision to migrate to the other side of the ocean, they became crucibles of Slovak national consciousness.12

One explanation for the latter phenomenon lies in the fact that the Slovaks who emigrated to the United States did not integrate into any kind of “mother” (more simply put majority) nation, but rather formed (by choice or compulsion) somewhat discrete communities, strengthening and in some cases even creating for the first time an awareness of their own ethnic-national identity: “In the second wave of American immigration, the period of the so-called ‘New Immigration’ from the 1880s, the American public was not very friendly to immigrants. In the interests of their own survival, the immigrants were forced to join together and economically support themselves on an ethnic basis.” This in fact enabled them to acquire experiences of national emancipation even before members of the Slovak national community in the Hungarian lands, which in part explains the phenomenon noted by Elena Mannová and Roman Holec: “Before the First World War, the American Slovak community already financially supported the Slovak national movement in the Kingdom of Hungary.”13

The Hungarian Jewry, which was similarly mobile but which unlike the Slovaks migrated only internally in this time period, from rural settlements to urban communities, constitutes an example of a group of “aliens” who were particularly susceptible to assimilation into the national community. In contrast, Hungarian Roma and Ruthenians, who were markedly immobile, successfully resisted the pressures to assimilate.14 This may well be the reason why, as Hungarian historiography ascertained long ago, “assimilation did not much effect territories inhabited predominantly by national minorities, the dividing lines did not change discernibly.”15

Thus to no small degree the ability of individual local ethnic communities to resist the pressures to assimilate culturally determined the effectiveness of the nationalities policies of the era. Gérard Noiriel came to a similar conclusion in his assessment—and reinterpretation—of the French version of the melting pot. Noiriel characterized the process of French national assimilation as a form of forced integration, and in doing so contested the widespread notion according to which the political nation is a distinctively French historical model.16

In the case of migration we are speaking of more, however, or rather of something other than a mere phenomenon of allocation of a work force on the labor market (to summarize briefly the manner in which historians have often addressed this question). Nor is migration simply the expression of some development in the history of settlements and population shifts (the manner in which social history has tended to regard it). Migration (including overseas migration) has immeasurable historical significance from the perspective of the evolution of social (national) integration. Emigration, then, can (also) be understood as the latent manifestation of individual everyday decisions (for the most part unconscious) taken in the matter of national assimilation. This decision is not particularly influenced by when this “national assimilation” takes place, or even whether it really takes place or not.

If this conjecture is correct, then the contradictory situation, so often referred to as paradoxical, is perhaps not as contradictory as has been presumed. As I have noted, the physical movement of people and peoples in Europe reached massive proportions precisely when social integration as a process characterized by movement towards national homogeneity reached its peak. Earlier the suggestion was also often made that the growth in the tendency to emigrate offered a kind of choice in the face of the pressures to assimilate to a national culture, a response that could be seen as affirmative or negative. This was entirely independent of the question of the actual reasons and exigencies that lay behind an individual’s decision to emigrate (for instance the hope of earning higher wages, flight from famine, or simply the desire for greater personal freedom).

Oddly enough, the process of national (cultural) homogenization met with the greatest successes where the communities were the most diverse, both from the ethnic and the social perspective, namely the big cities, which were homes to growing migrant communities. It is commonly acknowledged that integration, or rather assimilation, has always been the most palpably rapid in the melting pots of large cities. From this perspective, migration is an important stage and motor of cultural enervation and dissimilation, a catalyst that exercised its influence through the mechanism of rapid urbanization. If one regards migration as a cultural phenomenon par excellence, then it is reasonable to venture the following contention: the masses of people who made the decision to move to the cities were addressing a question in which the fundamental issue at hand was the issue of social integration. Thus while the decision to stay or depart may well seem at first glance to be determined merely by economic considerations, its consequences and often (if not always) the promptings that underlie it touch quite directly on the successes and nature of the process of national homogenization.

I do not believe, however, that migration as a cultural phenomenon is entirely independent of the broader historical context. Migration can only have this significance and these implications in relation to the endeavors towards internal integration that accompanied the processes of nation building of the nineteenth century. Borrowing the distinction drawn by Robert K. Merton, the cultural significance I ascribe to migration is relevant with respect not to its manifest function, but rather to its latent function. Merton sets out from the premise according to which in sociological scholarship the conscious motives of social behavior are often conflated with the objective consequences of this behavior. By doing this, Merton contends, we confuse motives with functions. In order to preclude misunderstandings, he suggests drawing a distinction between manifest and latent functions. Merton defines manifest functions as “those objective consequences contributing to the adjustment or adaptation of the system which are intended and recognized by participants in the system.” By contrast, latent functions are “those which are neither intended nor recognized.”17

Over the course of the twentieth century migration (or more precisely immigration) in Canada and the United States, countries the cultures of which could hardly be said to have resembled the nation-building cultures of Europe, did not really play this kind of cultural role, neither in the manifest nor in the latent sense. This is precisely what gives true meaning to the notion of the cultural melting pot and the various models of assimilation that are associated with cultural pluralism. In this case of this kind of cultural mix, the kind denoted by the metaphor of the melting pot, integration is not uni-directional assimilation, a matter of carrying into effect a dictate issued from “above.” It represents rather the evolution of a new national identity through the admixture of diverse groups. According to the models of cultural pluralism, immigrants are no longer expected to acculturate. This allows for ethnic enclaves to develop and thrive, and also to become the foundation of a kind of community built on the coexistence of structurally separate constituent societies. It would be inappropriate in the case of North American to speak of assimilation, since the adaptation did not take place according to the rules familiar from the nation building processes of Europe of inclusion versus exclusion.18 This is why American scholars of migration today speak of “incorporation,” instead of using the term assimilation (or integration) to describe the processes in question.19 And they use this term in reference to the mechanisms of social integration with which today some European (primarily Western European) societies are gradually compelled to acquaint themselves (and indeed accept) in part because of unanticipated consequences of immigration that took place after the Second World War. One thinks of the communities of Turkish immigrants in Germany, Muslim (primarily Pakistani) communities in England, and Arab immigrants in France. These developments are for the most part unknown in Hungary. However, if one thinks of Chinese immigrants in Hungary and the questions of identity and belonging these communities (and the reception they are given by the “national” culture) raise, it gradually becomes clear that these issues will soon be (or already are) of pressing immediacy in Hungary as well.20

The Big City as a Metaphor for Alienness

 

The disarray, diversity, and chaos of migration come about when there is a flood of people from villages and rural homesteads into cities. The process of urbanization, which is a crucial part of the formation of the modern nation-state, is a paradigmatic example of modernity. Whether we are speaking of emigration or internal migration, the intense physical movement of people (and peoples) that is always one of the primary stimuli of urbanization directly imperils the basic values of human existence that seem (and for a long time have been understood as) natural and fundamental. It disrupts the life of a community and an individual by undermining attachments to stability (permanent settlements, continuity of place), an ideal that never dies out entirely, even in so-called modernity. It is worth noting that the shift that occurred in the speed with which people traveled, a change that was brought about by rail travel in the nineteenth century, had a dramatic and even a traumatic effect on the notions of time and space as they had been traditionally grasped, and more specifically on the human perception of time and space.21

With regards to the contradictory responses with which continuous mass migration was met in the context of modernity, the historically new concept and construct22 of national identity lies at the heart of the matter. Bound to spatial terms that correspond to the territorial assertion of the nation state as the embodiment and prerogative of political power and will, communal identity wins a new meaning, a meaning that, crucially, is invested with exclusive and absolute validity. In the ideological and cultural sense, the universalization of national identity, expressed in “biological” metaphors, stem from this. This constitutes as assertion of the “natural” obligation of belonging, which applies with equal force and validity to everyone who was born, lives, and will die in the sacred homeland.

So what became of the multitudes that choose, instead of remaining in the communities of their birth, to emigrate in search of a better life? First, one could ask what became of those who did not happen to have been born in a country like Hungary, but who made their new homes there? If one applies the biological metaphor so prominent in the discourses of “authentic” national identity in order to describe their place (their identity), they were “rootless,” in part because they had left the physical place of their origins (the place of their “national” identity) and thereby had lost their “roots,” and in part because they were not laying new roots in the “national” soil. As people who had come from “outside” (from abroad), from the ethnic or denominational perspective they were aliens and remained rootless for the rest of their lives. Second, one could ask what became of the floods of people who migrated into the cities (in the case of Hungary this meant primarily Budapest), thereby moving merely to a different kind of settlement, from village life to urban life? Regarding their “classification” from the nationalist perspective, the designation of their place in the allegedly “natural” social order of the “homeland” was no less categorical. This question arose in the context of the discourse on Budapest at the turn of the century in Hungary, and this discourse had a vibrant kind of afterlife in the interwar period.23 But at the same time one can hardly afford to overlook the fact that the entire problem was directly affected by experiences and view of physical mobility, i.e. the physical change of place, something that was made possible, at least in part, by increasing social mobility.

The identification of “alienness” as such was closely tied to the discourses on civic and bourgeois culture and life and on Budapest itself. If one considers, for instance, the writings of László Németh, an author of fiction and essayist who expressed his views on the subject on many occasions, one finds an unsparing assessment of Budapest, not to mention congruence or rather overlap of his disapprobation of bourgeois society and Jewish society. Németh was of course by no means the first or only person to write of the “alluvial character” of the big city, which in his view was what gave the city its non-Hungarian character from the perspective of national culture or society. Quite unsurprisingly, when he writes on this question he makes frequent use of geographical and biological (botanical) metaphors. Budapest, he contended in one of his writings, came into being by “sucking in” the great hoards of peoples living in the “Hungarian Basin,” i.e. the plain lands, and then swelled to number 1.5 million.24 In his essay Kisebbségben [In the minority], which to this day continues to be a subject of heated debates, Németh used a similar metaphor but wrote in an even more condemning tone: “In the half-century since 1860 this Budapest has done nothing other than swell, as the capitalist order and the new centralized state have commanded.” And he does not fail to mention the bloated city’s character as an “assortment of wash and waste.”25 The “natives [of the city] are Germans and Jews […] and those who have been swept there, the fortune hunters of a multi-lingual empire of twenty-million people: fewer Romanians or Serbs, more Slovaks and Schwabians than would be proportional, and in the middle Hungarians.” If one acknowledges this, Németh notes, one can hardly be surprised to see that “here Germans and Jews have been more at home than Hungarians.”26 He draws the conclusion: “under these unfortunate circumstances a ‘provincialism of the capital’ had to develop in Budapest, which was saved from complete apostasy not so much by the Hungarians who stood out so conspicuously as by the fact that its non-natives had also come from the provinces as the acolytes of a dilute Hungarian-ness.”27

In Németh’s assessment, Budapest was just like the Hungarian bourgeoisie and middle class, which both were the products of the monstrous capital city: it was a Hungarian province created by them. When Németh writes critically of the phenomenon of the middle class, again he often uses biological metaphors, for instance, in a lecture held in the city of Kolozsvár (or Cluj by its present Romanian name) in 1940:

It was necessary to build a new, modern Hungarian state [following the Compromise of 1867], with a plethora of bureaus, with an administrative intelligentsia and other kinds of intellectuals, and industry and the economy had to grow with it, the most dizzying pace of growth that Europe had ever seen at the time. This Hungarian state and Hungarian intelligentsia grew steadily. I cannot say whether it swelled tenfold or twentyfold over the course of a half-century, but it is quite certain that the swollen city had far less in common with Hungarian traditions and the millions who remained at the bottom than what it replaced. […] Why did the threads, which elsewhere [in France, in Germany] grew thicker, break among us? Every rapidly growing organism draws what it needs from where it finds sustenance. The bureaucratic capitalist state drew the necessary intelligentsia from where it could be found the most quickly and readily: the people of the cities […] To our misfortune, however, there were many aliens among the inhabitants of the cities.28

It is quite telling that Németh chose the title Ágak és gyökerek [Branches and roots] in an essay in which he recommends, as a kind of antidote to what he saw as the alien mentality and social life of Budapest, “those who wish to be Hungarians and truly to display Hungarian identity.” “We must be Europeans, naturally,” he wrote. “But like the French or the English, true to place. For them, as West Europeans, for us, as East Europeans. For true Balkanism is not to be at home in the Balkans, but rather to be there and not be at home.”29

The popular practice of classification that was part of the nationalist sentiment and manner of thinking lurking in this rhetoric drew a clear distinction between ethnic qualities (groups) on the basis of an assumed link between individual and place. Regarding the culture of Budapest and the notion of the alienness of the Jewry (and the German speaking communities) so closely interlinked with Budapest culture, it is worth considering the question in the broader context of social history and the history of mentalities. I offer a modest attempt to do so in the following.

What was it, then, about Budapest that made it “Jewish” in the eyes of Németh and others? Principally, it was the fact, that it was “bourgeois.” And what made it that made the city “bourgeois”? Primarily the fact, that it was “Jewish.” Was a numerical minority really capable of exercising such an influence on the whole of the urban population?30 And if so, then how? The answer that is often given to this question is the following: social mobility gave this numerical minority an exceptionally large influence.

 

 

 

At first in Budapest only the middle class is alien [non-native]. But then the middle class grows rich and a certain percentage becomes upper class. By the time the mentality of the rural schools, which itself has undergone a change, in turn changes the profile of the higher order of educated people at the university, in literature, in the arts, in scholarship and in the press an almost unchangeable situation awaits the new army of intellectual life: the false-Hungarian lifestyle that has developed in the meantime of the industrialists, wholesalers, financiers of Budapest, which again has become alien.31

 

The majority (and not only the majority in Budapest, but the majority in Hungary) sought to find the “Hungarian” in the city, which was vain of its Hungarian character and indeed presented itself as a model to be followed, even if it was “for the greater part Jewish, Schwabian, and international.” Yet Budapest was a false place, a “European quarter,” and not “the splendid, magnificent flower of our roots and tree of life.”32 The hostility to the city at the time was aggravated by the intricate intertwining of the notion of the Jewry as a non-native element with the milieu of urban society. This “European quarter” was also foreign to allegedly “authentic” Hungarians, according to Németh’s maxim, because it was dominated by an alien, Jewish spirit (although not all Jews lived in Budapest, a city in which they were, furthermore, a numerical minority). And while only part of the upper classes of Budapest consisted of members of the Jewry, much as at most only individual segments of the middle class were comprised of Jews and furthermore the bulk of the political and in particular the intellectual elite could hardly be said to have been Jewish,33 this in no way seemed to cast into doubt in Németh’s mind his contention concerning the fundamentally “Jewish” character of the city. These facts were rendered rhetorically meaningless through the frequent use of terms like “elzsidósodás” (“Jewified”) and “elzsidósodott” (“gone Jewish”), and in the anti-Semitic political vocabulary of the Horthy era “zsidóbérenc,” or “Jewish hireling.”

The expression “gone Jewish” implies that a “Jew” has also undergone a transformation to some extent, for in order to be able to assimilate to the other, to the “pure” Hungarian, he must strip himself in part of his foreignness or alterity. How else would he be able to exercise an influence on the Hungarian or induce the Hungarian to adapt to him? These questions foreground the complexity of the issue of assimilation as it was conceived of at the time.

Assimilation demands mutual accommodation, in other words some resignation of the self, from everyone, and anyone who participates in this interaction clearly both is able and desires to become someone different. However, regarding the question of who assimilates and who is assimilated, perceptions are likely to vary. This is in part because at least on the level of everyday life this process is experienced more as one of dissimilation, an experience that gives both sides the sensation of loss, including those who do not partake, i.e. who do not choose to be assimilated. An orthodox or rural Jew could easily think that the neolog Jews of Budapest had irrevocably estranged themselves from the “flock” (to borrow a Christian metaphor), and thereby also from their own identities as Jews. Christian inhabitants of Budapest or (even more so) of a rural community, on the other hand, could easily have felt that by “going Jewish,” Budapest had become entirely foreign to them, even if it had donned a “Hungarian guise.”

Seen from the perspective of everyday social practices, actual historical experience is never entirely congruent with the views held by the “social imagination.”34 A more penetrating inquiry into lifestyles, for instance, reveals that the urban (“Jewish”) character of consumption, social survival strategies (such as the education of children), and numerous other practices of the urban community was in general an integrating factor at the time, which put Jews and Christians, Hungarians and Germans almost without exception into a well-defined bourgeois and urban social order.35 This was not the case beyond the borders of Budapest, where the organizing principle of daily life in most cases was not urban bourgeois society (even if some trace of this is nonetheless discernible in places). Nonetheless, a non-Jew living in “Jewish” Budapest could give voice to the stock phrases according to which Budapest was a hotbed of Jewish influence, even if in his everyday life he was in no way immune to the “Jewish” (bourgeois or middle-class) culture strictly speaking (indeed Németh, who was born in Budapest and for the most part lived there, does precisely this). This, however, is at most an ideology, in other words a distorting representation, to borrow from the ideas of Mannheim.36

Those whose everyday lives and lifestyles in contrast were not “Jewish” could explain the foreign character of Budapest (particularly with reference to the “Jewification” of the non-Jewish population of the city) with the contention that it stemmed from the essential (and inevitable, unchangeable) strangeness of the city. In other words, for them Budapest was a kind of Moloch that devoured the hapless people continuously flooding into it, people who originally had not shared its character, in other words, Hungarians. Seen from the outside (from the provinces, and from the social substrata), the “Jewishness” of Budapest thus was no longer merely a matter of ideological conviction, but rather was understood as a genuine experience that resulted from the manifold nature of lifestyles at the time, the large-scale diversity, and the tremendous (historically almost paralleled at the time) dissimilarities. This latter variety of the discourse, however, still has little in common with the actual world of metropolitan society, which was experienced and indeed was portrayed as a kind of other. Nonetheless it speaks to (and of) the exterior conditions of the conceptual and sentimental construct of otherness and the actual circumstances, bound up with social life, of the ways in which this otherness was experienced at the time.

Epilogue

 

One of the concomitants of modernity has been the mass movements of peoples. Indeed mass migration can even be seen as a clear manifestation of modernity. When one considers the phenomenon of mass migration in the context of the constructing the nation state, however, then from the perspective of modernity it can at times seem dysfunctional, for it exerts its destructive influence as a process that upsets integration and can cause newly forged unities to unravel. Social imagination has often foregrounded this aspect of processes of migration in order with the passing of time to nourish ideological imaginaries. The widespread use and acceptance of the metaphor of rootlessness remained powerful for some time thanks in part to nationalist discourses, but also to the sustenance it was given as a species of scholarly theory. It constitutes a striking example, pregnant with significances, of the manner in which terminologies weighted with meaning and assumption are fashioned.37 Almost limitless physical and social mobility as a precondition and consequence of modernity (and also one of its primary virtues) collided with the principle of continuity of place that was so dear to nationalist doctrines. In this context, migration became a frequent subject of harsh assessments on the part of those according to whom continuous mass movement gives rise to a form of foreignness and otherness that cannot be undone. The true peculiarity and significance of migration as a cultural phenomenon may well lie in this.

 

Bibliography

 

Åkerman, Sune. “Theories and Methods of Migration Research.” In From Sweden to America. A History of the Migration, edited by Harald Runblom and Hans Norman, 19–75. Minneapolis–Uppsala: University of Minnesota Press–University of Uppsala, 1976.

Bodnar, John. The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism. Oxford: Blackwell, 1983.

Gordon, Milton M. Assimilation in American Life. The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins. New York: Oxford University Press, 1964.

Gyáni, Gábor, György Kövér, and Tibor Valuch. Social History of Hungary from the Reform Era to the End of the Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Gyáni, Gábor. “Budapest Beyond Good and Evil.” The Hungarian Quarterly, 46, Winter (2005): 68–81.

Gyáni, Gábor. Identity and the Urban Experience: Fin-de-Siècle Budapest. New York: Columbia University Press, 2004.

Gyáni, Gábor. Parlor and Kitchen. Housing and Domestic Culture in Budapest, 1870–1940. Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2002.

Handlin, Oscar. The Uprooted. The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made American People. Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1951.

Karácsony, Sándor. Ocsudó magyarság [Magyar Awakening]. Budapest: Exodus, 1942.

Karády, Viktor. “Egyenlőtlen elmagyarosodás, avagy hogyan vált Magyarország magyar nyelvű országgá?” [Uneven Magyarization, or How Hungary Became a Hungarian Speaking Country]. In Viktor Karády, Zsidóság, polgárosodás, asszimiláció. Tanulmányok [Jewry, Embourgeoisement, Assimilation]. 151–96. Budapest: Cserépfalvi Kiadó, 1997.

Katus, László. “Szlovák politikai és társadalmi élet Budapesten a dualizmus korában” [Slovak Political and Social Life in Budapest in the Dualist Era]. In A pesti polgár. Tanulmányok Vörös Károly emlékére [The Citizen of Pest. Essays in Memory of Károly Vörös], edited by Gábor Gyáni, and Gábor Pajkossy, 137–51. Debrecen: Csokonai Kiadó, 1999.

Mannheim, Karl. Ideology and Utopia. An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge. Translated by Louis Wirth and Edward Shils. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1936.

Mannová, Elena and Roman Holec. “On the Road to Modernization 1848–1918.” In A Concise History of Slovakia. Edited by Elena Mannová, 185–240. Bratislava: Historicky ústav SAV, 2000.

Massey, Douglas S., Joaquin Arango, Graeme Hugo, Ali Kouaouci, Adela Pellegrino, and J. Edward Taylor “Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal.” Population and Development Review 19, 3 (1993): 431–66.

Maza, Sarah. The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie. An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Merton, Robert K. Social Theory and Social Structure. Revised ed., Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1957.

Németh, László. “Ágak és gyökerek” [Branches and Roots]. In Németh László, Sorskérdések [Questions of Fate]. Edited and with notes by Ferenc Grezsa, 609–11. Budapest: Magvető Kiadó–Szépirodalmi Kiadó, 1989.

Németh, László. “Kisebbségben” [In the Minority]. In Németh, Sorskérdések, 408–82.

Németh, László. “Kisebbségből – kisebbségbe” [From Minority—to Minority]. In Németh, Sorskérdések, 635–38.

Németh, László. A Medve-utcai polgári [The Medve Street High School]. Budapest: Magyar Élet Kiadása, 1943.

Noiriel, Gérard. The French Melting Pot. Immigration, Citizenship, and National Identity. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996.

Nyíri, Pál. “Kivándorolni hazafias? Peking szerepe a kínai diaszpóra identitásépítésében” [Is it Patriotic to Emigrate? The Role of Bejing in the Construction of Identity among the Chinese Diaspora]. In Diskurzusok a vándorlásról [Discourses of Emigration], edited by Endre Sík and Judit Tóth, 82–91. Budapest: MTA Politikatudományi Intézet, 2000.

Parsons, Talcott. Essays in Sociological Theory. New York: The Free Press, 1964.

Pedrazza-Baily, Silvia. “Immigration Research: A Conceptual Map.” Social Science History 14, 1 (1990): 43–67.

Puskás, Julianna. Kivándorló magyarok az Egyesült Államokban 1880–1940 [Hungarian Emigrants in the United States: 1880–1940]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982.

Schievelbusch, Wolfgang. Geschichte der Eisenbahnreise. Zur Industrialisierung von Raum und Zeit im 19. Jahrhundert. Frankfurt am Main: Ficher Taschenbuchverlag, 2007.

Smith, Anthony D. National Identity. London: Penguin, 1991.

Söderberg, Kjell. “Personal Characteristics and Selective Migration.” American Studies in Scandinavia 9, 1–2 (1977): 127–55.

Szabó, István. A magyarság életrajza [A Biography of the Hungarians]. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990. Original edition: 1941.

Tajták, Ladislav. “Slovak Emigration: its Causes and Consequences.” In Overseas Migration from East-Central and Southeastern Europe 1880–1940, edited by Julianna Puskás, 74–89. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990.

Taylor, Charles. Modern Social Imaginaries. Durham: Duke University Press, 2004.

Tilly, Charles. “Transplanted Networks.” In Immigration Reconsidered, edited by Virginia Yans-McLaughlin, 79–95. New York–Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Vecoli, Rudolph J. “Contadini in Chicago: a critique of The Uprooted.” Journal of American History 51 (1964): 404–17.

Vörös, Károly. “A budapesti zsidóság két forradalom között” [The Jewry of Budapest between Two Revolutions]. In Károly Vörös, Hétköznapok a polgári Magyarországon [Everyday Life in Bourgeois Hungary], 187–205. Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1997.

 

Translated by Thomas Cooper.

1 Sune Åkerman, “Theories and Methods of Migration Research,” in From Sweden to America. A History of the Migration, ed. Harald Runblom et al. (Minneapolis–Uppsala: University of Minnesota Press–University of Uppsala, 1976), 19–75, 56.

2 Julianna Puskás, Kivándorló magyarok az Egyesült Államokban 1880–1940 [Hungarian Emigrants in the United States: 1880–1940] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1982), 20–32.

3 Charles Tilly, “Transplanted Networks,” in Immigration Reconsidered, ed. Virginia Yans-McLaughlin (New York–Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), 79–95.

4 John Bodnar, The Transplanted: A History of Immigrants in Urban America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985).

5 Rudolph J. Vecoli, “Contadini in Chicago: a Critique of The Uprooted,” Journal of American History 51 (1964): 404–17.

6 Douglas S. Massey et al., “Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal,” Population and Development Review 19, 3 (1993): 431–66, 448–49.

7 Åkerman, “Theories and Methods,” 64–71.

8 See Talcott Parsons, Essays in Sociological Theory (New York: The Free Press, 1964).

9 Kjell Söderberg, “Personal Characteristics and Selective Migration,” American Studies in Scandinavia 9, 1–2 (1977): 127–55.

10 Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Oxford: Blackwell, 1983), 86.

11 László Katus, “Szlovák politikai és társadalmi élet Budapesten a dualizmus korában,” [Slovak Political and Social Life in Budapest in the Dualist Era], in A pesti polgár. Tanulmányok Vörös Károly emlékére [The Citizen of Pest. Essays in Memory of Károly Vörös], ed. Gábor Gyáni et al. (Debrecen: Csokonai Kiadó, 1999), 137–51; Gábor Gyáni, Identity and the Urban Experience: Fin-de-Siécle Budapest (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 173–79.

12 Ladislav Tajták, “Slovak Emigration: its Causes and Consequences,” in Overseas Migration from East-Central and Southeastern Europe 1880–1940, ed. Julianna Puskás (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990), 86–7.

13 Elena Mannová and Roman Holec, “On the Road to Modernization 1848–1918,” in A Concise History of Slovakia, ed. Elena Mannová (Bratislava: Historicky ústav SAV, 2000), 185–240, 191.

14 Viktor Karády, “Egyenlőtlen elmagyarosodás, avagy hogyan vált Magyarország magyar nyelvű országgá?” [Uneven Magyarization, or How Hungary Became a Hungarian Speaking Country], in Viktor Karády, Zsidóság, polgárosodás, asszimiláció. Tanulmányok [Jewry, Embourgeoisement, Assimilation] (Budapest: Cserépfalvi Kiadó, 1997), 151–96.

15 István Szabó, A magyarság életrajza [A Biography of the Hungarians] (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990), 243. Original edition: 1941.

16 Gérard Noiriel, The French Melting Pot. Immigration, Citizenship, and National Identity (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996).

17 Robert K. Merton, Social Theory and Social Structure (revised ed., Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1957), 51.

18 See Milton M. Gordon, Assimilation in American Life. The Role of Race, Religion, and National Origins (New York: Oxford University Press, 1964).

19 Silvia Pedrazza-Baily, “Immigration Research: A Conceptual Map,” Social Science History 14, 1 (1990): 43–67.

20 Pál Nyíri, “Kivándorolni hazafias? Peking szerepe a kínai diaszpóra identitásépítésében,” [Is it Patriotic to Emigrate? The Role of Bejing in the Construction of Identity among the Chinese Diaspora], in Diskurzusok a vándorlásról [Discourses of Emigration], ed. Endre Sík et al. (Budapest: MTA Politikatudományi Intézet, 2000), 82–91.

21 Wolfgang Schievelbusch, Geschichte der Eisenbahnreise. Zur Industrialisierung von Raum und Zeit im 19. Jahrhundert (Frankfurt am Main: Ficher Taschenbuchverlag, 2007).

22 See Anthony D. Smith, National Identity (London: Penguin, 1991).

23 Gábor Gyáni, “Budapest Beyond Good and Evil,” The Hungarian Quarterly 46, Winter (2005): 68–81.

24 László Németh, A Medve-utcai polgári [The Medve Street High School] (Budapest: Magyar Élet Kiadása, 1943), 32–3. The characterization of Budapest as “alluvial” is Németh’s turn of phrase.

25 László Németh, “Kisebbségben” [In the Minority], in: László Németh, Sorskérdések [Questions of fate]. Edited and with notes by Ferenc Grezsa. (Budapest: Magvető Kiadó–Szépirodalmi Kiadó, 1989), 408–82, 442–43.

26 Németh, “Kisebbségben,” 443.

27 Ibid..

28 László Németh, “Kisebbségből – kisebbségbe” [From Minority—to Minority], in Németh, Sorskérdések, 635–38, 636.

29 László Németh, “Ágak és gyökerek” [Branches and Roots], in Németh, Sorskérdések, 609–611, 611.

30 The proportion of people of the Jewish faith in Budapest at the time certainly never exceeded 24 percent of the total population of the city, but in all probability was lower than this. See Károly Vörös, “A budapesti zsidóság két forradalom között” [The Jewry of Budapest between two Revolutions], in Károly Vörös, Hétköznapok a polgári Magyarországon [Everyday Life in Bourgeois Hungary] (Budapest: MTA Történettudományi Intézete, 1997), 187–205, 200.

31 Sándor Karácsony, Ocsudó magyarság [Magyar Awakening] (Budapest: Exodus, 1942), 319.

32 Karácsony, Ocsudó magyarság, 322, 324 (my emphasis).

33 For more on the social and denominational composition of the Hungarian (Budapest) political elite at the time see Gábor Gyáni, György Kövér and Tibor Valuch, Social History of Hungary from the Reform Era to the End of the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 164–68, 319–26.

34 For more on this concept see Sarah Maza, The Myth of the French Bourgeoisie. An Essay on the Social Imaginary, 1750–1850. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003), 6–7; Charles Taylor, Modern Social Imaginaries. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2004), in particular 23–30.

35 See Gábor Gyáni, Parlor and Kitchen. Housing and Domestic Culture in Budapest, 1870–1940 (Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2002); Gyáni, Identity and the Urban Experience.

36 The following citation, for instance: “Ideas which later turned out to have been only distorted representations of a past or potential social order were ideological.” Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia. An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge, trans. Louis Wirth and Edward Shils (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc., 1936), 204.

37 For a single, but all the more striking example, see Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted. The Epic Story of the Great Migrations that Made American People (Boston: Little Brown and Co., 1951).

Heléna Tóth

The Historian’s Scales: Families in Exile in the Aftermath of the Revolutions of 1848

 

This essay examines political exile in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions from the perspective of the history of the family on the basis of case studies from the Habsburg Empire and the German lands. I focus on two processes: first, the ways in which family members of political refugees (and political prisoners) became refugees themselves; and second, the role of family members of political refugees in obtaining amnesty for the entire family. Although officially most of the family members of political refugees were immigrants who went through the official channels to obtain passports, they treated their own migration as a political matter and, equally importantly, they were treated by bureaucrats in their home countries as political migrants. These perceptions, in turn, had consequences when the family decided to return from abroad. An understanding of the process whereby families became unwilling migrants in the aftermath of the revolutions of 1848 sheds light on how amorphous the practice of political exile was in the middle of the nineteenth century, as well as on the breadth of the collective aspects of this punishment.

 

keywords: political exile, 1848 revolutions, history of the family, Habsburg Empire, Germany, refugees

 

There are many ways in which historians of migration think of political exile during the nineteenth century: we look at individual biographies, we study groups defined by political affinities, or we choose a geographical approach and look at the home countries of émigrés and the countries in which they lived as exiles.1 We seem to alternate roughly between two levels of analysis: the individual biography and a politically or geographically defined prosopography. This article chooses a level of inquiry that lies in-between: the family. The family is not a new category of analysis in the secondary literature on exile in this time period. Rosemary Ashton’s classical study on German political émigrés in London, Little Germany: German Refugees in Victorian Britain, contains an entire chapter on women in exile, including the “wives of exile,” and Sabine Sundermann also includes extensive material on women and families in her exploration of the same émigré community.2 A collection of biographies edited by Sabine Freitag contains several essays on politically engaged couples, and Christian Jansen writes in detail about family relations in his prosopography of representatives of the left-wing of the Paulskirche parliament.3 In the literature on Hungarian political émigrés, Hajnalka Merényi has called for a general conceptualization of women’s role in exile and individual biographies also often incorporate the history of family life, as does Tibor Frank in his biography of Gustav Zerffi.4 Most of these articles and book chapters explore one of four questions: the ways in which women experienced exile; the degree to which exile challenged traditional gender rolesi, the role women played in building new lives for their families abroad; and finally, the political significance of family relations in exile.5

This article poses two different questions. Instead of looking at family life in exile, I take a step back to explore how families went into exile in the first place and the role they played in obtaining amnesty for political refugees. Studying the various ways in which families became unwilling migrants in Central Europe in the aftermath of the revolutions of 1848 sheds light on the breadth of the spectrum of political exile in the middle of the nineteenth century and contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of exile as a form of punishment.

Exile in the Middle of the Nineteenth Century: The Collective Aspects
of Punishment

A wide range of acts committed in the upheavals of 1848–1849 resulted in punishment in the aftermath of the revolutions. Clearly, the commission of violent acts (whether as part of the Hungarian war of independence against the Habsburg Monarchy or the republican uprisings across the German lands) had to be accounted for after the military defeat of the revolutions. In addition, various non-violent acts, such as denouncing the monarchy, signing petitions, publishing critical articles, supporting the revolution publically, or supporting the revolutionaries in some tangible way, were also grounds for persecution and punishment.6 The criteria of what counted as a political crime remained amorphous to some degree, since the political reforms, which had been accepted as legitimate in the spring months of 1848 and had won the approval of individual monarchs, were gradually revoked as early as the fall of that year. Political trials were initiated years after the events had taken place.7 The broken promises of monarchs played a key role in the émigrés’ perceptions of themselves as representatives of a political counterculture.8 One of the most brilliant pieces of political satire published in the 1850s was a collection of newspaper articles from 1848 compiled without commentary in order to illustrate that something that had seemed politically acceptable in March 1848 could become the basis of a political crime within the space of only a few months.9

For all its various forms, ultimately the basis of a political crime was a breach of loyalty, which compromised the bond that connected the monarch to his subjects.10 In theory, therefore, the “unit of punishment” was the individual. In practice, however, punishment for political crimes often took collective forms, which included not only the culprit but also his (most often it was a he) most immediate social environment. Forms of collective punishment included the confiscation of property (common practice in the Habsburg Empire and the Grand Duchy of Baden), the imprisonment of family members, and also political exile.11

The most tangible and perhaps extreme example of collective punishment was a series of imprisonments in the Habsburg Empire in the fall of 1849. In August 1849 the remnants of the Hungarian army crossed the border into the Ottoman Empire and requested political asylum. Amongst the refugees were soldiers of all ranks (from foot soldiers to the highest echelons of the army), Lajos Kossuth, the head of the first independent Hungarian government, and a number of camp followers. As the Habsburg Empire initiated diplomatic negotiations with the Ottoman Empire for the extradition of these refugees, several of the refugees’ family members were arrested at home.

The case of Richard Guyon, a general in the Hungarian army, offers an example. His wife, three small children, mother-in-law and sister-in-law were imprisoned on charges of treason in August 1849. Similarly, the wife of General Mór Perczel was also sent to prison.12 It was not difficult to find evidence in the private correspondence of these families indicating that they had supported the war of independence, which, in the face of military defeat, amounted to treason. That, however, was not the only reason why these families were singled out for this punishment. The main rationale behind their imprisonment was a double one. First, they were suspected of knowing where family members of Lajos Kossuth were hiding. Second, they were held captive to put pressure on political refugees to return home. Ultimately, the imprisonment of these families failed to produce the desired results on both counts. Kossuth’s wife fled with a fake passport and joined her husband in exile in January 1850, and none of those refugees whose family members had been arrested returned from Ottoman asylum. In the end, responding to public pressure, the government in Vienna decided to release also Kossuth’s children, who had been arrested with their tutor in the meantime, and allow them to follow their parents to exile in the Ottoman Empire.13

For some of these women and their children, imprisonment was the first station on a longer journey that ended in political exile. Their release from prison often amounted to an expulsion from their home country. Although their departure from the Habsburg Empire was registered as emigration, in practice the wives of émigrés were often treated as political criminals. For example, although Guyon’s wife was allowed to leave prison with her children and join her husband in Constantinople in March 1850, she was given hardly any time to organize properly the relocation of her family from the Kingdom of Hungary to the Ottoman Empire. During the journey, the family was accompanied by an “inconspicuous” policeman “in civilian dress,” who made sure that they did not change their travel destination on the way.14 The travel costs for the family (wife, children and a nursemaid) were paid by the Habsburg authorities. At least in part this financial support was a diplomatic gesture on the part of the Habsburg Empire towards Great Britain. Richard Guyon had been born in England. He had joined the Habsburg army in the 1830s, married Mária Splényi, and bought some land near Pest before the revolution of 1848. Upon hearing of her release from prison and the conditions of her journey to the Ottoman Empire, Guyon’s wife turned to the British foreign secretary for help as “the wife of an Englishman and the mother of English children.”15 In her letter she explained that the Habsburg government had confiscated her property as punishment for her husband’s role in the war of independence and she had no means of her own to undertake the journey. Great Britain had been observing with great interest the heated diplomatic negotiations taking place in the fall of 1849 between the Habsburg foreign ministry and the Ottoman Empire about the internment of the refugees of the war of independence, and it is likely that the Habsburg authorities considered the investment, i.e. the costs of the journey of the Guyon family, a relatively cheap way to avoid further diplomatic problems. Although officially not registered as exile, the relocation of the Guyon family amounted in practice to banishment.

Banishment from prison to exile was the most radical form of a broader practice, in which family members of refugees became refugees themselves. In most cases, family members of refugees had, at least theoretically, some room for agency in determining whether or not they wanted to reunite the family in exile. For example, when the wife of Pál Hajnik, former minister of police, applied for permission to visit her husband in exile in Paris, she did not receive a regular passport, only a document that served as a one-way pass. The passport contained a clause, “not for return,” and amounted in practice to permission to emigrate. It was up to Henrietta Hajnik to decide whether to undertake the journey to France. But she knew that were she to do so, her decision to visit her husband effectively would amount to emigration from the Habsburg Empire.16 Since she was a “politically compromised” person, her wish to travel abroad with her two children to visit her husband was seen as evidence of her unreliable political loyalty to the Habsburg House. In her decision to travel or not she literally had to choose between her home (her parents and extended family) and her husband.

On the surface, Henrietta Hajnik faced essentially the same choice that many other spouses had to make when they fled the Kingdom of Hungary clandestinely with falsified documents. As the wife of diplomat Ferenc Pulszky formulated eloquently in a petition in 1855, “Led by a natural sense of duty and on account of the oath I gave my husband, Ferenc Pulszky, at the altar: that I would not abandon him in any turn of fate; that I would share sorrow and happiness with him, I followed him into exile with my three children… in 1849 and now I am in England with him.”17 According to this letter, the duties of the wife had priority over other loyalties, including the loyalty to the Habsburg House. When Theresa Pulszky used the word “followed,” she referred to the fact that she had fled the Habsburg Empire using falsified papers. Six years later she applied for a regular passport to legalize her status in London. Although the choice Theresa Pulszky and Henrietta Hajnik had to make between home and exile was similar, the institutional frameworks in which their decisions were made were significantly different. In the case of Theresa Pulszky, the foreign ministry could argue that by having illegally crossed the borders of the Habsburg Empire, she had forfeited her citizenship rights, which included her right to emigrate legally. In this spirit, her application for a regular passport was rejected in 1855. In turn, the case of Henrietta Hajnik, who went through the proper legal channels, made clear that the price of visiting her husband abroad was to join him permanently in exile. Thus, even if a spouse used the proper legal channels, her choice remained either permanent separation or emigration, which amounted to political exile.

Special passports with the clause “not valid for return” were not reserved exclusively for the family members of émigrés. People who were “politically compromised” during the revolution of 1848 and wanted to travel abroad were also given such passports: Albert Kövy, for instance, who had been an officer of the artillery and applied for a passport in Pest to visit his uncle in the United States. Because he had participated in the war of independence and publically denounced the Habsburg House, he received a passport valid for departure from the Habsburg Empire, but not for return.18 Similarly, when he decided to follow the Kossuth family to exile, Ignác Karády, the tutor of Kossuth’s children, was given a passport valid for emigration. In 1857, when Karády’s parents applied on their son’s behalf for permission to return, the ministry of foreign affairs acknowledged that “without doubt, Ignác Karády is not a political refugee in the usual sense of the word, since he left his fatherland with legal permission and at a time when there was no cause for prosecution against him or any other form of intervention by the authorities.” Nonetheless, he was considered to have “exiled himself” when he used a passport that had not been valid for return.19 Thus, voluntary emigration became the de facto punishment for a wide range of people, including those who participated in the events of the war of independence, those who were associated with emblematic figures of the revolution, and family members of émigrés.

The contours of this practice, however, remained amorphous. This became most apparent when the spouses of refugees, who were banished as “voluntary emigrants,” decided to return to their home countries. There was considerable confusion regarding the proper procedure. For example, when Henrietta Hajnik decided to return from France to be with her parents in Pest in 1851, the petition she handed in at the consulate in Paris went unanswered for months. Time, however, was of crucial importance for her, as she was expecting her third child and was eager to return to Hungary precisely so that she would be able to give birth at home. Her request was forwarded to the ministry of the interior in Vienna, but she received no answer.20 She waited more than two months for official permission before finally setting out on the journey without the proper documents. She made it all the way to Dresden, where she applied for a visa again. It was only when her brother, who lived in Vienna, contacted the foreign ministry on her behalf that her case was opened again. From Dresden she was officially allowed to continue her journey to Pest. Her bold decision to travel without documents and the fact that she made it all the way to Dresden surprised the authorities.21 Henrietta Hajnik’s case was not unique. The wife of Zsigmond Thaly, a general in the Hungarian army, also had left Hungary for France with permission to emigrate, but she returned in 1851 to give birth to her child. Her request for a visa went unanswered at first, as had Henrietta Hajnik’s, and she too began her journey home without a valid passport.22 In both cases, the foreign ministry eventually gave in and issued a passport valid for return. This decision was not based on a consistent principle, however, but rather simply on the fact that both women had taken a risk and thereby created a situation that the Habsburg authorities could not ignore. The fact that both of them made it to Dresden forced the ministry of foreign affairs either to grant or refuse a visa officially. Considering that each of the two women was nearing the end of her pregnancy, it would have reflected badly on the Habsburg Empire had they been refused permission to travel. It was no coincidence that both women framed their initial, unanswered petitions in apolitical terms, appealing to “general human empathy.”23

Most spouses of émigrés left the Habsburg Empire with permission to emigrate, but their emigration had political significance. When Richard Guyon died and his wife applied for permission to return from Constantinople with her children in 1857, her application prompted the ministry of foreign affairs to reflect on the status of the spouses of political refugees in general. The consul in Constantinople “seems to work under the impression that the return of the spouses of political refugees to their home countries depends on special permission from the imperial government and thus that [their stay abroad] equals banishment.”24 Certainly this was an impression shared not only by the consuls but also by the spouses of political refugees. Aware that their emigration was emigration only in form, spouses of émigrés asked for permission to return in the same manner as political émigrés who requested amnesty if they wanted to return. Like the petitions for amnesty of émigrés, the applications of their spouses for permission to return home were judged case by case. In arriving at a decision, authorities took into account the behavior of the applicant in exile, the political activities of their husbands during the war of independence as well as in exile, and, finally, the political history of their extended families. In most respects, therefore, the families of émigrés experienced their migration, consciously, as political exile.

The practice of sending families into exile in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions was neither unique to the Habsburg Empire nor restricted to the political elite. In Baden and Württemberg, a traditional way to relieve the judicial system was to sentence people to forced migration, or exile (usually to the United States), instead of prison.25 The aftermath of the revolutions of 1848 presented a formidable challenge, both to the courts and the prisons, generating thousands of cases. The practice of “amnesty on the condition of emigration” accomplished two goals in this context: it cut the costs related to the investigation (including the costs incurred by the courts and the prisons) and it relieved the prison administration of the burden of having to manage overfilled prisons.26 In exchange for their freedom, political prisoners promised to emigrate across the Atlantic and never return to their home countries. The act of migration did not abolish the prison sentence, however. Were the emigrants to return, in theory they would be imprisoned and would have to serve the remainder of their time. Although the hope that distance would effectively hinder the movement of political ideas was increasingly becoming an illusion in the middle of the 19th century, a period that bore witness to the rapid growth of transportation and information infrastructure, the practice of sending political trouble-makers from prison abroad remained widespread.

The exchange of a prison sentence for migration was the result of extended negotiations, which involved not only the prisoners and the state but the entire family. In Baden, where the state financially supported the emigration of political prisoners in the aftermath of the 1848 revolutions, prisoners often made it a condition of their migration that they receive travel subsidies for their families as well. Franz Lederle, for example, a political prisoner who considered emigrating with his family from Baden, even gave a specific sum. He was willing to go to America, he wrote, on condition that the state paid him at least 3,000 florins to enable him to support his family of six children. It is striking that Lederle used the expression “on the condition” in his letter, the same term used by the state to designate this particular kind of banishment: amnesty on the condition of emigration.27 We know little about the outcome of these negotiations, but the fact that requests of this kind were made suggests that appeals for financial support for an entire family must have met with approval in some cases at least. Amnesty on the condition of emigration was a possibility not only for prisoners but also for some individuals whose cases were still under investigation. Wilhelm Köhlreuter, for example, a pharmacist in the small township of Malsch, left Baden with official permission to emigrate before the investigation against him had been completed. In 1849 he served as the leader of the local Volksverein. He publically denounced the Duke of Baden and was a member of the local militia. After the revolution, Köhlreuter emigrated to Switzerland with his wife and children, while his case was still open. His departure did not bring an end to the investigation, however. In absentia, Köhlreuter was sentenced to nine months in the penitentiary and his property in Baden was confiscated.28

In the Kingdom of Württemberg, the same practice existed but on a smaller scale and in a form that allowed more agency for the family. In Württemberg, it was the prerogative of Wilhelm I to grant amnesty on condition of migration, and he used this to add to punishments he found too lenient and ease sentences he found too harsh. The judicial system was thoroughly reformed in Württemberg in August 1849, when the practice of trial by jury was introduced, a reform that survived the end of the revolution.29 This meant that the removal of prisoners through emigration, a practice that had existed before the revolution, acquired a new political significance, when Wilhelm I used it to revise verdicts that had been reached by a jury. Families in Württemberg used several strategies to try to convert a prison sentence to emigration. Most often, they promised to cover the costs of the relocation of the family overseas. To demonstrate their willingness to contribute to the process of substituting emigration for a prison sentence, some families would actually move to the United States before amnesty on the condition of emigration had been officially granted, and they then would continue to submit petitions from abroad. On the surface, these cases resembled instances of regular chain migration, only with reversed gendered roles.30 For instance, Johannes Reichle, an innkeeper from the small town of Tuttlingen, was imprisoned because he freed the local bookseller, a well-known Democrat, from prison in 1849.31 His wife, Elisabeth Reichle, corresponded for years with the ministry of justice, requesting amnesty on the grounds that the absence of the family provider punished the entire family. It was only after Reichle’s father offered to pay the cost of relocating his son, his son’s wife and their children across the Atlantic, however, that the ministry of justice was willing to consider granting him amnesty.32 Elisabeth Reichle moved to New York with her children a year before her husband was allowed to follow. Similarly, in the case of August Spreng, a young waiter and former soldier, his mother moved to New York to guarantee that upon being released from prison her son would also emigrate.33 Elisabeth Reichle and the mother of August Spreng from Württemberg or the family of Wilhelm Köhlreuter from Baden were emigrants from regions that already had high rates of migration to North America. Yet their decisions to emigrate, like the decisions of the spouses of Hungarian political refugees to emigrate, amounted in effect to a collective form of political exile.

“I pardoned the abovementioned Eduard Zeller on account of the services
his father rendered me:” Reversing the Logic of Collective Punishments

If the breach of loyalty between one family member and the monarch usually had consequences for the entire family, families often closed ranks as authors of amnesty petitions and tried to make the same logic work in the opposite direction. This strategy allowed them to “bundle together” compromised and uncompromised relationships of loyalty to the monarch within a family, so that one would balance out the other. While the prisoner or émigré had broken the bonds that connected him to the monarch, the rest of the family, so went the argument, had not. This asymmetry served as the basis for most petitions framed with reference to an entire family.

These petitions can be divided roughly into two groups, based on the arguments that were made. The first type of argument emphasized relationships of dependency and the injustice of collective punishment. According to this argument, the removal of the family provider in prison or exile punished collaterally those who depended on him financially. In these petitions, family members asked for mercy not for the prisoner or émigré (an act that would have implicitly questioned the punishment itself), but for themselves or for their children. When Christine Rau, the wife of Württemberg’s best-known Democrat, Gottlieb Rau, wrote a petition for clemency on behalf of her imprisoned husband in 1853, her argument echoed and reinforced the arguments of many other petitioners: “Should a man’s crime not seem to deserve merciful consideration, then I ask for clemency for my family.”34

Most of the authors of this first type of petition argued from a position of supplication: they presented themselves (and often were indeed), widows, wives, mostly people with no independent income, who placed themselves and their families at the mercy of the monarch.35 They did not contest the justice of the punishment their sons or husbands received. Yet these letters, whose language was often not significantly different from the pre-revolutionary era, had a subversive ring to them in the years following the revolution of 1848 nonetheless. Instead of dutifully accepting the punishment meted out on the revolutionaries with all of the corollaries of exile or a prison sentence, the authors all implicitly pointed to the inherent injustice of collective punishment. Few of them were as bold (or as desperate) as a certain Friederika Storz from Markgröningen (Württemberg), who made this point clear in her petition on behalf of her husband: “What good does it do to ruin our family?”36

If the first type of argument measured innocence against guilt, the second type emphasized the value of loyal service. Just as the first type of petition, the second type, too, had a subversive element. After all, instead of treating their yearlong loyal service to the monarch as the basis of the natural order of things, the authors used their service almost as grounds for certain entitlements. Such was the argument marshaled by Martin Schwenk, a decorated veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, on behalf of his son in Württemberg in 1853. Schwenk referred to his own military service as a foundation for his claim according to which he should be able to spend his old age in comfort and not have to fear being deprived of his sole source of financial support.37 Theoretically, this strategy could have worked, since Wilhelm I, the king of Württemberg, was particularly fond of the military and the Napoleonic Wars were a formative period in his own biography. Nonetheless, Schwenk’s petition was rejected in 1853, presumably because the crimes of the son were considered grave enough to warrant a longer prison sentence. In the case of Eduard Zeller, however, the king of Württemberg granted a pardon explicitly because of the services Zeller’s father had rendered him. In a handwritten note on Zeller’s letter of amnesty Wilhelm I wrote, “I pardoned the abovementioned Eduard Zeller on account of the services his father rendered me.”38 Unfortunately, the archive in Stuttgart did not preserve the father’s petition on behalf of his son, but his letter of thanks to the king for having granted clemency, only a brief note, survives.39 Zeller the elder was a doctor, and although there is no mention of the specific services he rendered, it is likely that at one point he treated the ailing king, who was over seventy years old by that point. Ultimately, it is difficult to generalize about the extent to which the financial difficulties of the extended family or the loyalty of parents functioned as political capital for political prisoners or émigrés when it came to evaluating petitions for amnesty. They were certainly among the many variables that were considered, and it is safe to say that in many cases they may well have been the grounds for a positive response.40

The scores of petitions written by family members or the appeals to the loyal service of parents and spouses to the monarchy, however, were no substitute for the émigrés’ personal participation in the amnesty process. Even the most “bieder and loyal” parents could not be the sole spokespeople for their children in exile.41 Punishments for political crimes had several collective aspects, but reconciliation between monarchs and their subjects was handled individually. If “bundling together” compromised and uncompromised bonds of loyalty served as a basis for collective punishments (whether the exile of a family or the confiscation of family property), the restoration of the bonds of loyalty retained a personal element. Most importantly, until the general amnesties of the 1860s, one necessary component of the requests for amnesty was some expression of supplication. The form of supplication varied depending on place and time.

In Baden, petitions for amnesty from those who had been amnestied on the condition of emigration were considered only if the petitioner returned to his home country, risking the completion of his prison sentence.42 To take the example of Wilhelm Köhlreuter again, in 1856 Köhlreuter’s wife returned to Baden from Swiss exile and wrote several petitions on her husband’s behalf. She argued, as did her mother-in-law in similar letters, that the personal trials of the family in the years they had spent abroad amounted to a punishment much worse than nine months in the penitentiary (Köhlreuter’s original sentence) would have been. It was, however, not until Köhlreuter himself returned from exile and put himself at the mercy of the authorities that his case was opened again and he was amnestied.43 Had Köhlreuter waited one more year, in other words until after the amnesty decree of July 9, 1857, the procedure would have been faster and he would not have had to go to prison.

The amnesty decree of 1857 in Baden made return easier for all émigrés who had been sentenced to less than eight years in prison.44 In other words, this amnesty institutionalized the logic of the argument that Köhlreuter’s wife had made: the eight years émigrés had spent in exile were now considered equal to eight years in prison. Yet even this streamlining of the amnesty process did not abolish the importance of personal supplication. According to the files of the Upper Rhine district (Oberrheinkreis), return followed a similar pattern across the region. Émigrés traveled directly to their hometowns, where they announced their wish to partake in the amnesty and declared remorse for their past acts. They were told, in return, to abide by the law. After this point, émigrés did not have to compose long petitions to state their cases. Formalities were dealt with orally. The declaration of intent and remorse remained compulsory elements of the process. As late as 1860, it was still duly noted that Friedrich Müller, an inn-owner, “was dragging his feet” with his declaration. “He excused this with illness, and by the time we ordered a medical examination, he had already returned to Switzerland.”45 Similarly, Hermann Friedmann, a lawyer who had been sentenced only to half a year in the penitentiary in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, was still not officially amnestied in 1860 after he had returned from exile because “he has not yet stated his assurance regarding his remorse in front of the court, so he has not fulfilled the condition [of the amnesty].”46 Although this did not mean that Friedmann was arrested (by the 1860s émigrés were treated with more lenience) he was not fully instated in his civil rights either. The decree of amnesty therefore was not tantamount to an entitlement to return or automatic reintegration into the body politic. It only made the evaluation process of the applications faster and ensured the outcome if the application fulfilled all formal requirements.

In the Habsburg Empire, émigrés did not have to return from abroad in order to apply for amnesty, but the declarations of intent and remorse were just as indispensable parts of their petitions as they were in Baden. The inclusion or omission of such a declaration was an important element in the report from the consul’s office that accompanied individual petitions. Some consuls merely noted whether the applicant complied with this requirement or not. Others, notably the consul in Brussels, took a more active role in the application process and “reminded” émigrés to include the clause in their petitions.47 This requirement remained constant even as the overall framework for evaluating petitions for amnesty was changing. Increasingly, the “content” of exile evolved into a defining element in the decision regarding possible reconciliation between the emperor and his subjects. By the middle of the 1850s, investigations into the events of 1848 were closed and petitions for amnesty were judged on the basis of the information already available on individual cases, and, most importantly, in light of everything that had happened since the revolution. This shift in the criteria of the evaluation of petitions for amnesty was at the core of the proposal made to Franz Joseph by the Council of Ministers in July 1856. The petitions were either to be accepted or rejected “on the basis of circumstances which are to be carefully considered.” The circumstances included émigrés’ behavior in exile and their family background.48 Even so, a favorable overall assessment of an émigré’s suitability for amnesty merely laid the ground for an application that had to include a clause expressing some form of remorse.

Even if the declaration of remorse was little more than a phrase that an applicant for amnesty had to say in the office of a local clerk in Baden or include at the end of a letter when prompted by the Austrian consul in Brussels, it fulfilled a crucial role. It propped up the fiction according to which exile had had a reformatory effect on the applicant, similar to the effect a prison sentence was supposed to have. In contrast to imprisonment, political exile was a punishment with no set time frame or structure, so it was up to the applicant for amnesty to demonstrate that the time spent abroad had resulted in a change of behavior and views or that he was at least willing to speak the political language of the post-revolutionary era.49 Only the general amnesties in the 1860s closed the chapter of individual petitions for amnesty.50 Although the general amnesty did not mean that “forty-eighters” were all reconciled with their home countries, it created a framework for émigrés to return home without necessarily compromising the ideas for which they had fought during the revolution.

Conclusion

 

Political exile in Central Europe in the aftermath of the revolutions of 1848 was an established practice, but one with amorphous boundaries. Lacking overseas colonies and vast territories, where political delinquents could be officially exiled, as it was done in the British Empire or in the Russian Empire, states in Central Europe developed different strategies to make exile work as a punishment. Political refugees broadly fell into two categories. The first category consisted of former revolutionaries who left their countries without official permission, mostly in the course of military events, or with falsified papers in the aftermath of the revolution. Most of the refugees of the Hungarian war of independence belong to this category as do the members of republican militias in Southwest Germany. The second category was made up of former revolutionaries who traded their prison sentence for migration. Such was the case, for example, for the above mentioned inn-keeper from Tuttlingen, Johannes Reichle. For both groups, political exile had neither definite temporal nor geographic boundaries. In other words: exile was not meted out for a specific length of time and neither was it connected to a special place. Even in cases where a prison sentence was traded for emigration to North America, Central European states lacked the infrastructure to effectively control that the former prisoners, now migrants, in fact permanently settled in America as they were supposed to do. For both groups, the length of exile depended on how convincing the deterrents against returning were: threats of imprisonment or even worse punishment upon returning home. Individual and group amnesties provided a venue for negotiating the terms of returning and thereby for setting the boundaries of exile.

The case studies discussed in this article revealed further aspects of the amorphous borders of exile as punishment in this time period. Although family members of former revolutionaries often officially emigrated with all the necessary documents in order to unite the family abroad, they thought of themselves and were treated by authorities in their home countries as political refugees. Notably, if they wanted to return from abroad, they often had to go through an application process that was not unlike the procedure political refugees followed when they applied for amnesty. Their stories suggest that various forms of migration closely intertwined in the aftermath of the mid-nineteenth century revolutions.

Besides functioning as units of migration, the families of former revolutionaries often closed ranks as effective lobbies in amnesty processes. In their petitions, they used the family not only as an actual social resource but also as a frame of argumentation. If the state often punished the entire family collaterally and collectively for the political crimes committed by one family member, the authors of amnesty petitions often reversed the logic of collective punishments to plea for clemency on behalf of exiled or imprisoned former revolutionaries. Although reverence and gestures of supplication characterized the language of petitions, the argument of the petitions also contained elements of subversion. As such, they reflect the peculiar mixture of continuity and change that characterized the emerging political culture of the post-revolutionary era.

 

 

Bibliography

 

Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hauptamtlicher Archivare in Städtetag Baden-Württemberg. Revolution im Südwesten. Stätten der Demokratiebewegung 1848/1849 in Baden-Württemberg. Karlsruhe: Info Verlag-Gesellschaft, 1998.

Ashton, Rosemary. Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian England. Oxford–New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Borbíró, Fanni. “A magyar–francia kapcsolatok elfeledett hőse, Teleki Emma élete és művei” [The Life and Works of a Forgotten Hero of Hungaro-French Relations, Emma Teleki]. Sic Itur ad Astra 47, no. 3. (2000): 93.

Eichele, Klaus-Peter. Traum und Fiasko des Gottlieb Rau (1816–1854). Leben und Zeit des Revolutionärs und Glasfabrikanten aus Gailsdorf. Tübingen: Klaus-Peter Eichele, 1991.

Evans, Richard J. Tales from the German Underworld: Crime and Punishment in the Nineteenth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998.

Fábri, Anna, ed. Splényi Béla emlékiratai [The Memoirs of Béla Splényi]. Budapest: Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1984.

Fahrmeir, Andreas. “British Exceptionalism in Perspective: Political Asylum in Continental Europe.” In Exiles from European Revolutions, Refugees in Mid-Victorian England, edited by Sabine Freitag, 32–42. New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2003.

Freitag, Sabine, ed. Die Achtundvierziger: Lebensbilder aus der deutschen Revolution 1848/49. München: C. H. Beck, 1998.

Frank, Tibor. From Habsburg Agent to Victorian Scholar: G. G. Zerffi, 1830–1892. Boulder, Colorado: Social Science Monographs, 2000.

Hermann, Róbert. Megtorlás az 1848–49-es forradalom és szabadságharc után [Repression after the Hungarian Revolution and Fight for Independence of 1848–49]. Budapest: Változó Világ, 1999.

Hoerder, Dirk. Geschichte der deutschen Migration. Vom Mittelalter bis heute. Munich: C. H. Beck, 2010.

Honeck, Mischa. We are the Revolutionists: German-speaking Immigrants and American Abolitionists After 1848. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011.

Jansen, Christian. Einheit, Macht und Freiheit: die Paulskirchelinke und die deutsche Politik in der nachrevolutionären Epoche, 1849–1867. Düsseldorf: Dorste, 2000.

———. “Ludwig, Simon, Arnold Ruge und Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Über das Selbstverständnis der Protagonisten der Revolution und ihre Verarbeitung der Niederlage.” In Die Revolutionen von 1848/49: Erfahrung, Verarbeitung, Deutung, edited by Christian Jansen and Thomas Mergel, 227–32. Göttingen: Vandhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998.

Klemke, Ulrich. Eine Anzahl überflüssiger Menschen. Die Exilierung politischer Straftäter nach Übersee, Vormärz und Revolution 1848/49. Frankfurt am Main–New York: Lang, 1994.

Krause, Albert, and Erich Viehöfer. Auf den Bergen ist Freiheit: der Hohenasperg und das Gericht über die Revolution. Stuttgart: Haus der Geschichte Baden Württemberg, 1998.

László, Ferenc. “A nők mint a reformkori társas élet főszereplői” [Women as Protagonists of Public Life in Hungary in the Reform Era]. In A nők világa [The World of Women], edited by Anna Fábri and Gábor Várkonyi, 161–70. Budapest: Argumentum, 2007.

Lukács, Lajos. Magyar politikai emigráció, 1849–1867 [Hungarian Political Emigration, 1849–1867]. [Budapest]: Kossuth Könyvkiadó, 1984.

Maier, Hans. Die Hochverratsprozesse gegen Gottlieb Rau und August Becher nach der Revolution von 1848 in Württemberg. Pfaffenweiler: Centaurus-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1992.

Merényi, Hajnalka. “‘Átültetett virágok.’ Nők a magyar szabadságharc utáni emigráció-ban” [“Transplanted Flowers,” Women in Emigration after the Hungarian Fight for Freedom of 1848–1849]. In A nők világa [The World of Women], edited by Anna Fábri and Gábor Várkonyi, 171–84. Budapest: Argumentum, 2007.

Nagel, Daniel. Von republikanischen Deutschen zu deutsch-amerikanischen Republikanern. Ein Beitrag zum Identitätswandel der deutschen Achtundvierziger in den Vereinigten Staaten, 1850–1861. St. Ingbert: Röhrig Universitätsverlag, 2012.

O’Reilly, William. “Emigration from the Habsburg Monarchy and Salzburg to the New World, 1700–1848.” Wiener Zeitschrift zur Geschichte der Neuzeit 1 (2005): 7–20.

Piereth, Wolfgang. “Von repressiver Milde zu politischer Bewältigung. Begnadigung und Amnestie der badischen Revolutionäre (1849–1862).” In Baden 1848/1849. Bewältigung und Nachwirkung einer Revolution, edited by Clemens Rehm, Hans-Peter Becht, Kurt Hochsuhl, 255–90. Stuttgart: Jan Thorbecke Verlag, 2002.

Raab, Heinrich and Alexander Mohr. Revolutionäre in Baden 1848/49. Biographisches Inventar für die Quellen im Generallandesarchiv Karlsruhe und im Staatsarchiv Freiburg. Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1998.

Reiss, Ansgar. “Home Alone? Reflections on Political Exiles Returning to their Native Countries.” In Exiles from European Revolutions. Refugees in Mid-Victorian England, edited by Sabine Freitag, 297–318. New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2003.

Reiter, Herbert. Politisches Asyl im 19. Jahrhundert: die deutschen politischen Flüchtlinge des Vormärz und der Revolution von 1848/49 in Europa und den USA. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot, 1992.

Ress, Imre. “Két emigráns az olasz egyesülés évtizedében: Kossuth és Tkalac” [Two Emigrants in the Decade of Italian Unification, Kossuth and Tkalac]. In Imre Ress, Kapcsolatok és keresztutak. Horvátok, szerbek, bosnyákok a nemzetállam vonzásában [Relationships and Crossroads. Croats, Serbs and Bosnians in the Magnetic Field of the Nation State], 85–100. Budapest: L‘Harmattan, 2004.

Sáfrán, Györgyi, ed. Teleki Blanka és köre: Karacs Teréz, Teleki Blanka, Lővei Klára [Blanka Teleki and her Circle: Teréz Karacs, Blanka Teleki, Klára Lővei]. Budapest: Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1963.

Sundermann, Sabine. Deutscher Nationalismus im englischen Exil. Zum sozialen und politischen Inneleben der deutschen Kolonie in London 1848–1871. Padeborn: Schöningh, 1997.

Vida, István Kornél. Hungarian Émigrés in the American Civil War. A History and Biographical Dictionary. Jefferson, NC–London: McFarland and Co., 2011.

 

1 Examples from the recent secondary literature include Mischa Honeck, We are the Revolutionists: German-speaking Immigrants and American Abolitionists After 1848 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2011); Daniel Nagel, Von republikanischen Deutschen zu deutsch-amerikanischen Republikanern. Ein Beitrag zum Identitätswandel der deutschen Achtundvierziger in den Vereinigten Staaten, 1850–1861 (St. Ingbert: Röhrig Universitätsverlag, 2012); István Kornél Vida, Hungarian Émigrés in the American Civil War. A History and Biographical Dictionary (Jefferson, NC–London: McFarland and Co., 2011).

2 Rosemary Ashton discusses Johanna Kinkel, Malwida von Meysenbug, Amely Bölte and the “wives of the exile”: Amalie Struve, Agnes Ruge and Jenny Marx. Rosemary Ashton, Little Germany: Exile and Asylum in Victorian Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), 188–224; Sabine Sundermann, Deutscher Nationalismus im englischen Exil: Zum sozialen und politischen Innenleben der deutschen Kolonie in London 1848 bis 1871 (Padeborn: Schöningh, 1997), 80–4.

3 Ingo Fellrath, “Georg Herwegh–Emma Herwegh: Vive la République!,” in Die Achtundvierziger: Lebensbilder aus der deutschen Revolution 1848/49, ed. Sabine Freitag (Munich: C. H. Beck, 1998), 33–44.; Irmtraud Götz von Olenhusen, “Gustav Struve–Amalie Struve: Wohlstand, Bildung und Freiheit für alle,” ibid., 63–80; and Birgit Bublies-Godau, “Jakob Venedey–Henriette Obermüller Venedey: Der Held des Parlaments und die Heckerin,” ibid., 237–48.; Christian Jansen, Einheit, Macht und Freiheit: die Paulskirchelinke und die deutsche Politik in der nachrevolutionären Epoche, 1849–1867 (Düsseldorf: Dorste, 2000).

4 Hajnalka Merényi, “‘Átültetett virágok,’ Nők a magyar szabadságharc utáni emigrációban,” [“Transplanted Flowers,” Women in Emigration after the Hungarian Fight for Freedom of 1848–1849], in eds. Anna Fábri and Gábor Várkonyi, A nők világa [The World of Women] (Budapest: Argumentum, 2007), 171–72. In Hungarian historiography there is a considerably broader literature on emblematic female figures who took part in the revolution itself than on women in exile. See the introductory essay by Györgyi Sáfrán to Teleki Blanka és köre: Karacs Teréz, Teleki Blanka, Lővei Klára [Blanka Teleki and her Circle: Teréz Karacs, Blanka Teleki and Klára Lővei] (Budapest: Szépirodalmi Könyvkiadó, 1963), 5–35. On the role of women in the reform era preceding the revolution of 1848 see Ferenc László, “A nők mint a reformkori társas élet főszereplői” [Women as Protagonists of Public Life in Hungary in the Reform Era], in A nők világa, 161–70. On Blanka Teleki’s sister and the circle emerging around her in France see: Fanni Borbíró, “A magyar–francia kapcsolatok elfeledett hőse, Teleki Emma élete és művei” [The Life and Works of a Forgotten Hero of Hungaro-French Relations, Emma Teleki], Sic Itur ad Astra, no. 3 (2000): 47–92. An example for the integration of family history into the political history of exile in the context of a biography see Tibor Frank, From Habsburg Agent to Victorian Scholar: G. G. Zerffi, 1830–1892 (Boulder, Colo.: Social Science Monographs, 2000).

5 For example Imre Ress argues that the fact that the Croatian émigré, Imbro Ignatijević Tkalac, asked Lajos Kossuth to be the godfather of his daughter had both symbolical and practical significance in the early 1860s. Imre Ress, “Két emigráns az olasz egyesülés évtizedében: Kossuth és Tkalac” [Two Emigrants in the Decade of Italian Unification, Kossuth and Tkalac], in Imre Ress, Kapcsolatok és keresztutak. Horvátok, szerbek, bosnyákok a nemzetállam vonzásában [Relationships and Crossroads. Croats, Serbs and Bosnians in the Magnetic Field of the Nation State] (Budapest: L’Harmattan, 2004), 91–6.

6 On the definitions of “political crime”: Andreas Fahrmeir, “British Exceptionalism in Perspective: Political Asylum in Continental Europe,” in Exiles from European Revolutions, Refugees in Mid-Victorian England, ed. Sabine Freitag (New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2003), 32–42, 33.

7 For example, in the small town of Utzmemmingen (Württemberg) it was not until December 1851 that an investigation into the events of the tumultuous days of 1848 was initiated. The investigation led to a series of prison sentences. Report of the district prosecutor for the Jagstkreis to the royal ministry of justice, Ellwangen January 8, 1852, Hauptstaatsarchiv, Stuttgart (HStAS) E 301, Bü 844, 6.

8 Christian Jansen, “Ludwig Simon, Arnold Ruge und Friedrich Wilhelm IV. Über das Selbstverständnis der Protagonisten der Revolution und ihre Verarbeitung der Niederlage,” in Die Revolutionen von 1848/49: Erfahrung, Verarbeitung, Deutung, eds. Christian Jansen and Thomas Mergel (Göttingen: Vandhoeck & Ruprecht, 1998), 227–32.

9 Ludwig Simon, Reden und Trinksprüche Sr. Majestät Friedrich Wilhelm des Vierten, Königes der Preußen (Leipzig: Herbig, 1855); Jansen, “Ludwig Simon,“ 227–32.

10 On the expansion and the differentiation of the definition of crimes against the state in the eighteenth century and onwards, see Sundermann, Deutscher Nationalismus im englischen Exil, 65.

11 For a comprehensive overview of punishments meted out in the Habsburg Empire see Róbert Hermann, Megtorlás az 1848–49-es forradalom és szabadságharc után [Repression after the Hungarian Revolution and Fight for Independence of 1848–49] (Budapest: Változó Világ, 1999).

12 Anna Fábri, ed., Splényi Béla emlékiratai [The Memoirs of Béla Splényi] (Budapest: Magvető Könyvkiadó, 1984), vol. 2, 136.

13 Lajos Lukács, Magyar politikai emigráció, 1849–1867 [Hungarian Political Emigration, 1849–1867] ([Budapest]: Kossuth Könyvkiadó, 1984), 36.

14 Letter of the royal and imperial military district commander to the minister of internal affairs, dated Pressburg (today Bratislava in Slovakia), April 16, 1850, Haus-, Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna (HHStA), Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 5078, 661.

15 Letter of Mária Guyon to Lord Palmerston, dated March 25, 1850, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 5078.

16 Letter from the ministry of foreign affairs to Alexander von Bach, minister of internal affairs, June 8, 1851, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 6926, 208–9.

17 Letter of Theresa Pulszky, London, February 7, 1855., HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, BM Akten, 1855: 850, 699.

18 Letter of the ministry of foreign affairs to the interim-governor of Hungary, dated September 3, 1851, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 6692.

19 Summary of Karády’s case, dated Vienna, May 24, 1858, In HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, BM Akten 1858: 1999.

20 Letter of Henrietta Hajnik to Alexander von Bach, minister of the interior, dated Paris, May 24, 1851, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 6926, 212.

21 Report on Henrietta Hajnik’s travel, ibid., 221–22.

22 Petition of the wife of Zsigmond Thaly, dated Paris, June 7, 1851, and the response to her petition in HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, A-Akten (1849–1851), 7716.

23 The quotation comes from Mrs. Thaly’s petition, ibid., 315.

24 Report on Mária Guyon’s request for permission to return to the Habsburg Empire from Constantinople, dated Vienna, February 10, 1857, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro, BM Akten 1857: 326.

25 For a discussion on the evolution of the deportation of criminals and paupers from the German lands to North America, see Richard J. Evans, Tales from the German Underworld: Crime and Punishment in the 19th Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998), 51–70.

26 Ulrich Klemke, Eine Anzahl überflüssiger Menschen: die Exilierung politischer Straftäter nach Übersee, Vormärz und Revolution 1848/49 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 1994), 119; Albrecht Krause and Erich Viehöfer, Auf die Bergen ist Freiheit: der Hohenasperg und das Gericht über die Revolution (Stuttgart: Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg, 1998), 66.

27 Klemke, Eine Anzahl überflüssiger Menschen, 275.

28 Heinrich Raab and Alexander Mohr, eds. Revolutionäre in Baden 1848/49 (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer, 1998), 503–4.

29 Krause, Auf den Bergen ist Freiheit, 21. On the implications of the reform of the judicial system for political trials in Württemberg: Hans Maier, Die Hochverratsprozesse gegen Gottlieb Rau und August Becher nach der Revolution von 1848 in Württemberg (Pfaffenweiler: Centaurus-Verlagsgesellschaft, 1992).

30 For a brief overview on the history of migration in the German lands and the Habsburg Empire: Dirk Hoerder, Geschichte der deutschen Migration. Vom Mittelalter bis heute (Munich: C. H. Beck, 2010); William O‘Reilly, “Emigration from the Habsburg Monarchy and Salzburg to the New World, 1700–1848,“ Wiener Zeitschrift zur Geschichte der Neuzeit, 1 (2005): 7–20.

31 Report of the ministry of justice of Württemberg dated November 20, 1849 in HStAS E 301, Fasz. 243, 208. For a short history of the revolution of 1848 in Tuttlingen see: Arbeitsgemeinschaft Hauptamtlicher Archivare in Städtetag Baden-Württemberg, Revolution im Südwesten, Stätten der Demokratiebewegung 1848/49 in Baden-Württemberg (Karlsruhe: Info Verlag-Gesellschaft, 1998), 635–40.

32 Petition of Johannes Reichle on behalf of his son to the ministry of justice, Tuttlingen, September 16, 1849, in HStAS E 301, Fasz. 243, 185. On the basis of the tone of the petition it is safe to assume that this was not the first one Reichle’s father had handed in, but this is the earliest of his petitions that was preserved in the archive.

33 Petition of the relatives of August Spreng to the ministry of justice, dated July 12, 1851, HStAS E 301, Fasz. 243, 293, 1.

34 Christine Rau’s petition to Wilhelm I, Gaildorf, January 26, 1853, HStAS E 301, Fasz. 243, 328. For a general history of Rau and his times see Klaus-Peter Eichele, Traum und Fiasko des Gottlieb Rau (1816–1854): Leben und Zeit des Revolutionärs und Glasfabrikanten aus Gaildorf (Tübingen: Klaus-Peter Eichele, 1991); Maier, Die Hochverratsprozesse.

35 A note on authorship: it is often difficult to determine the exact authorship by petitions. For example, we rarely know whether the person who signed the petition asked someone for official legal or simply strategic advice. Some petitions include the note of a scribe, while others contain the phrase “by his own hand.” None of the sources cited in this section give any explicit indication that a legal counselor helped in formulating the text.

36 Petition of Friederika Storz to the ministry of justice, August 5, 1849, Markgröningen, HStAS E 301, Fasz. 243, 176.

37 Martin Schwenk’s petition to Wilhelm I, Utzmemmingen, March 24, 1853, HStAS E 301, Bü 844, 9, 1. The basic argument holds even when one takes into consideration the conclusion of the petition, in which Schwenk showed his practical side by insisting that if his son were not permitted to return, at the very least he, the father, deserved a pension for the services he had rendered as a soldier. Ibid.

38 Declaration of amnesty for Eduard Zeller, signed by Wilhelm I on September 27, 1858, HStAS E 9, 105, 132.

39 The “thank you” note from Eduard Zeller’s father dated Stuttgart, October 5, 1858, in HStAS E 9, 105, 130–33.

40 For example, when Pál Hajnik applied for amnesty in 1857, the fact that his in-laws were “honorable and loyally-minded” people was duly noted in the deliberations of the foreign ministry. Letter of Archduke Albrecht of Austria, civil and military governor of Hungary to Alexander von Bach, minister of internal affairs, dated Buda, August 17, 1857 in HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro BM-Akten, 1857: 2556.

41 The term “bieder and loyal” comes from the reports of the foreign ministry on the petition for amnesty of the parents of Lajos Dancs. Summary of the petitions handed in on behalf of Lajos Dancs and the subsequent decisions in a report dated Vienna, February 10, 1858, HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro BM Akten 1858: 601. Dancs’s own petition arrived in August 1858 and he received permission to return on August 26, 1858.

42 Case of Dr. Albert Frech, Ingelfingen (1854), HStAS E 14, Bü 652, 38.

43 Petition dated October 6, 1856, Generallandesarchiv, Karlsruhe (GLA) 243-1807. The Köhlreuter family’s case is a representative example of a broader phenomenon. Another example is J. S. Lendau, a teacher from Sulzbach who petitioned for amnesty in 1855, on the occasion of Friedrich I’s engagement to princess Louise. Lendau lived in Switzerland at the time with his family. His petition was rejected on similar grounds as Köhlreuter’s: Lendau would have to return to Baden first before he could be considered for amnesty. Unlike Köhlreuter, however, Lendau stayed in Switzerland and returned only in 1857, when he was also included in the amnesty decree of July 9. GLA 234-1933f.

44 Wolfgang Piereth, “Von repressiver Milde zu politischer Bewältigung. Begnadigung und Amnestie der badischen Revolutionäre (1849–1862),” in Baden 1848/1849, Bewältigung und Nachwirkung einer Revolution, eds. Clemens Rehm, Hans-Peter Becht and Kurt Hochstuhl (Stuttgart: Jahn Thorbecke Verlag, 2002), 279.

45 Report of the district Lörrach to the ministry of internal affairs dated Lörrach, March 10, 1860, GLA 236-8587, 50.

46 Report of the ministry of justice regarding the possibility of reinstating full civil rights to lawyers who participated in the revolution, Karlsruhe, June 30, 1860, GLA 233-31153, 215.

47 Report of the ministry of foreign affairs on Mihály Horváth’s application for amnesty and its rejection dated July 21, 1857 in HHStA, Ministerium des Äußeren, Informationsbüro BM Akten 1857: 1545.

48 Quoted in Eduard Wertheimer, Gróf Andrássy Gyula élete és kora [The Life and Age of Count Gyula Andrássy] (Budapest: Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, 1913), 86.

49 On the various compromises involved in remigration: Ansgar Reiss, “Home Alone? Reflections on Political Exiles Returning to their Native Countries,” in Exiles from European Revolutions, Refugees in Mid-Victorian England, ed. Sabine Freitag (New York–Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2003), 297–318.

50 1862 in Baden, 1863 in Württemberg and 1867 in the Habsburg Empire. In each of these states the actual practice of amnesty was becoming increasingly lenient in the 1860s. For example, a new partial amnesty was declared in Baden in December 1860, which applied even to members of the military (a group which had been excluded from all previous rounds of amnesty). In addition, all references to “good conduct” in exile and future good behavior at home, which were included in previous amnesties, were also dropped. Piereth, “Von repressiver Milde zu politischer Bewältigung,” 284.

Tibor Frank

Approaches to Interwar Hungarian Migrations, 1919–1945

 

The social upheavals that followed the First World War drove astonishing numbers of people in all directions. Russian and Ukrainian refugees escaped Bolshevism in Belgrade; Poles were relocated into reemerging Poland; Hungarians escaped from Romania and the newly established states of Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia. Many people went on substantial and extended study tours to Germany, much as others had done before the war. Migrations were not limited to Jews suffering from the political and educational consequences of the White Terror in Hungary. Yet Jewish migrations were a definitive pattern of the 1920s, when the “Numerus Clausus” act of XXV: 1920 excluded many of them from college. A significant, though smaller, group of non-Jews also left Hungary at the same time. Motivated by anti-liberal politics, poverty, or curiosity, gentiles of mixed convictions and confessions hit the road and tried their luck in Paris, Berlin, or Hollywood.

 

keywords: intellectual migration, interwar period, Jewish-Hungarian emigrants, prosopography

1

 

Research on the history of intellectual migrations from Europe, a broad and complex international field, was based initially on eye-witness accounts which served as primary sources, rather than on scholarly literature.1 Laura Fermi’s classic study on Illustrious Immigrants, which focused on intellectual migration from Europe between 1930 and 1941, falls into this category.2 Research proper first began to yield results in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Soon after Fermi’s pioneering venture, Donald Fleming and Bernard Bailyn significantly extended the period of investigation through a series of related articles in their work, The Intellectual Migration – Europe and America, 1930–1960.3

From the outset, German-Jewish emigration was the most thoroughly researched sub-topic, a pattern that was partly reinforced by H. Stuart Hughes’ The Sea Change – The Migration of Social Thought, 1930–1965, an excellent survey of the movement of European thinkers and thinking before and after World War II.4 By the end of the 1970s, the first guide to the archival sources related to German-American emigration during the Third Reich had been compiled.5 The 1980s produced a much-needed biographical encyclopedia, which paved the way for further quantitative research.6 Soon the results of this research became available in a variety of German, English, and French publications focusing on German, German-Jewish, and other Central European emigration in the Nazi era.7 The primary foci of the research of the 1980s were the émigré scientists and artists who fled Hitler, with growing interest in U.S. immigration policies during the period of Nazi persecution of the Jews of Europe.8

In contemporary statistics and journalism, most refugees from Germany were hurriedly lumped together as “Germans” or “German-Jews” without their actual birthplace, land of origin, mother tongue or national background being considered as they were forced to leave Germany. This unfortunate tradition has persisted in the otherwise rich and impressive historical literature on the subject. The great and unsolved problem for further research on refugees from Hitler’s Germany remained how to distinguish the non-German (including Hungarian) elements: people, problems, and cases in this complex area. This is important, not only for Hungarian research, but also because it may result in a more realistic assessment of what we should (and should not) consider “German science” or “German scholarship” of the interwar period.

Laura Fermi was probably the first person to notice the significant difference between German refugee scientists and Hungarians forced to leave Germany. Her Illustrious Immigrants included a few pages on what she termed the “Hungarian mystery,” referring to the unprecedented number of especially talented Hungarians in the interwar period.9 The systematic, predominantly biographical treatment of the subject was begun by Lee Congdon in his eminent work, Exile and Social Thought, which surveyed some of the most brilliant careers of Hungarians in Austria and Germany between 1919 and 1933.10 Physicist George Marx made a similar contribution, mostly biographical in nature, to our understanding of the achievements of the great Hungarian-born scientists of this century.11 In a recent book, the outstanding chemist and historian of science István Hargittai assessed the achievements of five of the most notable Hungarian-born scientists who contributed to the U.S. war effort.12 My own Double Exile, on which much of this article is based, is an extensive history of this generation.13

2

 

Intellectual fermentation in Hungary, particularly in fin-de-siècle Budapest, brought about and was created by a uniquely gifted generation. Changes in the structure and organization of Hungarian society, along with the distinctive features of Hungarian assimilation, helped to nurture a typically Hungarian, and more specifically Budapest, talent. These patterns of assimilation in pre-World War I Austria-Hungary and Hungary, as well as in the United States, share a number of remarkable similarities.

This article discusses some of the impulses that influenced a generation of mostly Jewish-Hungarian emigrants, presenting them by way of prosopography, a vision of a group rather than merely a series of personal biographies. Severeal of these émigré Hungarians were not Jewish, but the overall nature of emigration from Hungary in the interwar period was in fact Jewish. In an effort to identify the conditions of “Hungarian genius,” one can make the following propositions.By the late nineteenth century, feudal privilege was on the decline in Hungary, with hereditary prerogatives challenged and occupational status gradually evolving as a source of prestige.14 This constituted a particularly welcome opportunity for the transformation of a variety of marginal ethnic, social, and religious groups that had never had access to hereditary privilege, and this social change encouraged the greater participation of Jews in the world of learning—in exchange, as it were, for their growing willingness to assimilate. The fact that the state wished to increase the number of people self-identified as Magyars in the multiethnic country opened doors that were closed elsewhere, at least for a time. Previously excluded groups flooded into these professional domains and made a mark for themselves.

The rapidly developing economy15 of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy put a premium on the development of technology, mathematics, medicine, science, and finance, whereas conservative control was often exercised over the humanities and the arts, which were viewed as more political.

The newly established (1873) capital city of Budapest played an outstanding role in generating this new, modern culture and spreading an innovative spirit in and out of the country. Budapest developed as a center of economy, culture, and learning, and by the beginning of the twentieth century, the special social and intellectual chemistry of the city resulted in unusually creative and productive thinking, with mathematics and music as the most evident examples.

Because of the traditionally elitist nature of Hungarian (and Central European) education, universities could absorb only a fragment of the available research talent, and many great minds found themselves teaching in high schools. Moreover, as the very definition of the teaching occupation included original research, gifted students at the best schools encountered brilliant researchers at a much earlier age than they did in the U.S. or, sometimes, even in Western Europe.16

Intellectual, artistic, and musical talent was accorded high prestige. A cultural premium on the idea of competitive knowledge poured into education. Practices such as student competitions and specialized journals for high school students, designed to help identify outstanding talents, led to the celebration of gifted students and provided a different kind of prestige than occupational status alone. Cultural emphasis on modernism paved the way to an increasing educational experimentalism, mainly in the best schools of fin-de-siècle Budapest, which prized inductive reasoning, pattern-breaking innovation, less formal relations between teacher and student, and personalized education.17 

3

 

In the new political framework of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy (based on the 1867 Compromise between Austria and Hungary), Hungary bore witness to unprecedented and unrepeated economic expansion, social transformation, and cultural upsurge.18 In the period that began with the unification of Pest, Buda, and Óbuda in 1873 and ended with the outbreak of World War I, the newly established capital city of Budapest became a thriving metropolis. Migrations in and out of the multiethnic, multicultural, and multilingual Habsburg Empire produced a vivid, lively, and flourishing cultural climate in which Jews made significant contributions to a blossoming urban lifestyle. The rapidly changing social structure, the appearance of daring social ambitions, and the emergence of new classes all contributed to a need for a modern school system, which was, after Habsburg beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century, largely imported from Germany.

The gimnázium (a type of grammar school) was an elitist institution for the burgeoning middle class. It offered academic studies and approaches that were recognized as appropriate tools for training the mind and nurturing talent. Teaching was typically based upon providing factual knowledge with the intention of using inductive reasoning. Most of the best high schools were under the direct control of the Roman Catholic, Calvinist, or Lutheran Church, which represented a high level of discipline and strict moral expectations. They also had faculties that included highly educated and very demanding priests. The Mintagimnázium was a state school (established in 1872, its official name was the Magyar Királyi Tanárképző Intézet Gyakorló Főgymnasiuma) experimental in nature and different from the average gimnázium in many ways. It represented a forerunner of modern educational principles.

Mathematics education was given particular emphasis and promoted by professional organizations, journals, and competitions. Competition was strongly supported and advocated. Outstanding students in mathematics enjoyed both acknowledgment and appreciation.

German influence had a long tradition in Hungary. Hungarian city dwellers were mostly German-speaking, even as late as the middle of the nineteenth century. Partly because of the influence of the Habsburg court, German was the language of government and administration before the Austro-Hungarian Compromise, and German played a prominent role among members of the mercantile class well into the 1870s and 1880s. German was the language of culture in general, and as a lingua franca in the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy it functioned as a bridge between Germany and the Monarchy. For example Hungarian students often attended universities in German-speaking countries.19

A subsequent step in the transfer of educational expertise occurred after 1919–1920, when émigré scholars and scientists took the fruits of their outstanding Hungarian education with them as they left the country, mostly for Germany and then on to the United States.

It would be tempting to think that a careful analysis of the conditions under which talent prospered in fin-de-siècle Budapest would yield a reliable method for the creation of genius. When discussing the achievements of mathematician John von Neumann (János Neumann, 1903–1957) and his near equals, a cautious distinction has to be made between talent as teachable and genius as inborn. Furthermore, formal education, however innovative and exemplary its methods may be, existed within the larger social context of the culture and its many influences on the mind of the student.

In a pioneering inquiry into the nature of problems and their solutions, Michael Polanyi (Mihály Polányi, 1891–1976) raised one of the most crucial questions of his generation: “To recognize a problem which can be solved and is worth solving is in fact a discovery in its own right.” Declaring this as the creed of his generation in a 1957 article for The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science,20 Polanyi spoke for and of his generation when discussing originality and invention, discovery and the heuristic act, investigation and problem solving. “The interpretative frame of the educated mind,” he continued, “is ever ready to meet somewhat novel experiences and to deal with them in a somewhat novel manner.” Polanyi had his own views of genius:

 

genius makes contact with reality on an exceptionally wide range: by seeing problems and reaching out to hidden possibilities for solving them, far beyond the anticipatory powers of current conceptions. Moreover, by deploying such powers in an exceptional measure—far surpassing our own as onlookers—the work of genius offers us a massive demonstration of a creativity which can never be explained in other terms nor taken unquestioningly for granted.21

The extraordinary intellects nurtured by the Mintagimnázium or the Fasori gimnázium (a Lutheran grammar school in Budapest, founded originally in 1823 in Pest) and other élite schools of fin-de-siècle Hungary cannot be attributed exclusively to the unique social and cultural features of the period, the innovative educational approaches, or the characteristics of innate genius, but to an unusual confluence of these three powerful factors, none of which exists in isolation. While we should attempt to discover talent at an early age and continue to cultivate it through personal attention and acknowledgment, creating a competitive spirit and training minds through problem solving, simply by instituting more of these educational practices into today’s pedagogy we would still remain unable to recreate the Hungarian geniuses of the past as long as we are not also able to ensure that the other economic, social, political, and cultural factors that helped create Hungary’s legendary minds are brought into play.

Culture transfer helped shape the arts and sciences in Hungary near the highest level of European education. The influence of the Prussian school system and of European art, music, and science, directly benefited Hungary and had a major impact on teaching, learning, and research. Much of the result was once again exported by eminent exiles—from Hungary to Germany, and then from Germany to the United States.

4

 

The period of 1918–1920 marked the end of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and historical Hungary within it, and heralded a vastly different period in national history during which some of the best minds, most of them Jewish-Hungarian mathematicians, scientists, and musicians, found themselves compelled to leave the country.22

The social and legal interplay of Jewish-Gentile relations—which included religious conversion, mixed marriages, forced and voluntary assimilation (Magyarization) and ennoblement—had become prevalent by World War I. Post-World War I social dynamics coalesced to give rise to a significant intellectual and professional emigration from Hungary. It was in this post-War social upheaval, and particularly at the time of the short-lived Hungarian Soviet Republic (Magyarországi Tanácsköztársaság) of 1919, that professional and intellectual emigration became widespread; moreover, intellectual emigration came to be seen as one possible solution to the problems of Hungary’s upwardly mobile and suddenly overgrown Jewish middle and, particularly, upper-middle classes, the Jewish-Hungarian intellectual élite.

Most of the people who left Hungary in 1919 and the early 1920s were directly involved in the so called “aster revolution” of 1918 (headed by the government of Count Mihály Károlyi, who led the first republic in the history of Hungary) or the Bolshevik-type Hungarian Soviet Republic of 1919, and/or were, as a consequence, threatened by the ensuing anti-Semitism unleashed in the wake of this disastrous political and social experiment. It is sadly ironic that most Hungarian Jews who felt endangered after 1919 were from the perspective of many of their everyday cultural habits more Hungarian than Jewish, representing mostly an assimilated, Magyarized, typically non-religious middle or upper-middle class which had profoundly contributed to the socio-economic development and, indeed, modernization of Hungary. Their exodus was a tremendous loss for the country and a welcome gain for the countries in which they chose to settle.

For the intellectually gifted Hungarians, often of Jewish origin, who started their migration toward other European countries and the United States after the political changes of 1918/1920, the typical choice was to move to one of the German-speaking countries, most often Austria or Germany, but also Czechoslovakia and even Switzerland, all of which boasted prestigious German-speaking universities. Berlin was certainly not the only destination, though many of the emigrants chose to settle there and the German capital became a powerful symbol of interwar migration centers. After what often proved to be the first step in a chain- or step-migration, most Hungarian émigrés found that with the rise of Hitler as Chancellor of Germany they had to leave the countries in which they had settled and continue on their way, in most cases ultimately to the United States. This was not the only pattern that emerged, but it was the most typical.

5

 

As a European phenomenon, professional migration after World War I was not peculiar to Hungary. The War was followed by immense social convulsions that drove astonishing numbers of people in all directions. Russian and Ukrainian refugees escaped Bolshevism, Poles were relocated into reemerging Poland, Hungarians escaped from the newly established (or aggrandized) states of Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia and tried to find some place in the new Hungary.23

Outward movements from Hungary in the 1920s were part of this emerging pattern and cannot be defined as emigration proper. Many people went on substantial and extended study tours of varied length—just as others had done before World War I. Contrary to general belief, migrations were not limited to Jews suffering from the political and educational consequences of the counterrevolutionary White Terror in Hungary, a reaction to the two revolutions of 1918/1919. A significant, though smaller, group of non-Jews also left Hungary at the same time. Motivated by anti-liberal politics, poverty, or curiosity, gentiles with dramatically mixed convictions hit the road and tried their luck in Paris, Berlin, or Hollywood. Future Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi (1893–1986), authors Sándor Márai (1900–1989) and Gyula Illyés (1902–1983), artists Aurél Bernáth (1895–1982) and Sándor Bortnyik (1893–1976), and other prospective gentile luminaries were among the most distinguished émigrés after 1919.24 Yet Jewish migrations were a definitive pattern of the 1920s, when the “Numerus Clausus” law of XXV: 1920 excluded many of them from colleges, limiting the number of students attending university on the basis of the proportions of the religious and ethnic groups in the Hungarian population.

In an effort to increase their chances of getting into the United States, many Hungarians who left the successor states of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy deliberately identified themselves as “Romanians,” “Czechoslovaks,” or “Yugoslavs,” since the U.S. Quota Laws of 1921 and 1924 enabled very few Hungarians to enter the country. Nevertheless, most migrants were directed to centers in Europe, primarily in Germany. German centers of culture, education, and research represented the pre-eminent opportunity for young Hungarians searching for patterns and norms of modernization.

6

 

One of my intentions in this article has been to show and document both the transit role of Germany, and particularly Berlin, in the history of Hungarian intellectual migrations and the role of Hungarians in the great exodus from Germany after the Nazi takeover.

Links between the two countries were anything but new. During much of its modern history, Hungary in some way formed a part of or was strongly influenced by the greater German cultural realm. Indeed it developed on the fringes of German civilization. The tendency to frequent German cultural and educational centers was natural for the Hungarian upper and upper-middle classes throughout the eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Most Hungarians who went to Germany after World War I were of Jewish origin. Many were forced to leave Hungary because they had been politically involved in the Hungarian revolutions of 1918/1919. Others became innocent victims of the anti-Semitic campaign and legislation that followed the abortive Bolshevik-type coup in 1919, the first of its kind in Europe. These groups typically spoke good German, had been educated in the German cultural tradition, and had had many earlier contacts with Germany and other German-speaking cultural and scientific centers in Central Europe. It seemed natural for them to seek what turned out to be temporary refuge in the intellectually flourishing and politically tolerant atmosphere of Weimar Germany.

Though the Hungarian government realized the potential loss the country would suffer from intellectual exile, most émigrés resisted official endeavors to lure them back to Hungary and chose to stay in Germany until Hitler took over as Chancellor in January 1933.25 Hungarian scientists, scholars, artists, musicians, filmmakers, authors, and other professionals enjoyed recognition and prestige in Weimar Germany. This “German” reputation helped them rebuild their subsequent careers in England and, particularly, the United States, where after 1933 most of these “German” Hungarians were headed.

The rise of anti-Semitism and the Nazi takeover reminded Jewish-Hungarians in Germany of their earlier experiences in Hungary, and this historical déjà-vu often spurred them to take action more quickly than many native Germans did. Prompted by the lessons of their double exile, several Hungarians played important roles in rescuing victims of Nazi Germany and also became active in anti-Nazi movements and instrumental in promoting the A-bomb and other Allied efforts to defeat Germany and Japan.

Continuing research is needed to provide further statistical evidence regarding the actual number of immigrants in Weimar Germany, including the number of émigré Hungarians and their social composition. It would be important to learn more about social networking, bonding and inter-group relations among the various émigré groups and individuals, including Hungarians, as well as the relationship between immigrants and the German population. Little is known of the politics of many of the immigrants: their political sympathies, party affiliations and political organizations await study.

Individual immigrant groups had specific ways of thinking, communicating and arguing. A comparison would offer insights into their cultural differences and their varied contributions to German civilization. A systematic study of the pre-Nazi German periodical literature might well cast more light on the achievements and contributions of Hungarians and other émigré intellectuals in Weimar Germany.

7

 

Many refugee Hungarians were mistaken by American agencies and individuals as German refugees. Born in the last decades of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, Jewish-Hungarian professionals often spoke German as a mother tongue and had attended some of the best schools of the Monarchy. Many of them had studied and received their degrees in Germany and been employed by German universities and other institutions. Members of the large group of Hungarian-Jewish scholars and scientists with German training were often invisible to immigration authorities because they were lumped together with German and German-Jewish scholars fleeing Nazi Germany. This raises the question as to whether in the case of scholars and scientists it makes more sense to speak of the country (or culture) of origin or the country (or culture) of education as the site of natural connection.

Many requests for assistance were denied by the Emergency Committee in Aid of Displaced Foreign Scholars in the U.S. because the applicants had Hungarian rather than German citizenship. Until 1938, when the first anti-Jewish Bill was passed in Budapest, Hungarians did not seem to be an endangered species, and the Committee focused its efforts on the Germans and German-Hungarians who were in acute trouble. This explains why the Committee (and probably several other organizations) turned to those Hungarians who were closely associated with Germany, were German citizens, had German jobs, and were under actual threat after the rise of Hitler and the Nazi party.

Ousted from Germany in or soon after 1933, many Jewish-Hungarian professional and intellectual refugees were still able to return to Hungary to work or visit. Between 1929 and 1938 (the year of the first anti-Jewish bill), Hungary provided a modicum of shelter for its Jewish population, increasingly an illusion that proved to be deceptive and ultimately lethal.

The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and the Peace Treaty of Trianon eliminated much of the geographic and social mobility in the area or made it very difficult. Escaping interwar Hungary was, in fact, not only a form of geographic relocation, but also a vehicle of social mobility. Weimar Germany was one of the great European centers of modernization, science and culture. It attracted migrants from all regions, mostly the peripheries of Europe, as did the United States, which from a global perspective had also increasingly become such a center. Emigration facilitated the transfer of Hungarian middle class values and possibilities into the much larger and more articulate German and American middle-class. This made the integration of newcomers usually quick, effective, and lasting, and led to professional success. Upon arrival in the U.S., immigrants from socially backward Hungary found themselves in an incomparably larger, more modern, dynamic, and professional middle-class where talent was appreciated and fostered. American middle class values and institutions made integration relatively easy, both socially and mentally.

Rescue operations in the pre-World War II period were made extremely difficult by the restrictionist 1924 quota law (in effect until 1965), raging unemployment, and growing anti-Semitism in the U.S. As only the top people from even the German group were wanted, the agencies carefully skimmed the very best and turned away “second-class” professionals. The growing need of European professionalism and know-how, and especially the later demands of the war effort, made it imperative for the U.S. to allow the immigration of the most brilliant specialists.

Refugee organizations in the United States were not based on charity. They had their own American professional motives and interests and served their country and institutions, while also saving European lives. Interwar migration did not stop upon arrival in the U.S., but continued from institution to institution until the newcomer found his/her “final” place or destination. Step-migration was to become an almost global phenomenon.

Networking, cohorting, and bonding were strong among the Hungarian refugees, and some, like physicist Leo Szilard (Leó Szilárd, 1898–1964) and engineer and aviation pioneer Theodore von Kármán (Tódor Kármán, 1881–1963) did their best to help fellow refugees.26 Their “private” or combined private/institutional rescue operations were part of U.S. relief, an effort often shared by outstanding American scholars, themselves mostly of European origin.

Jews arriving from Hungary seemed to have been more Hungarian than Jewish (at least from the perspective of their observable cultural habits), though the question of their religious affiliation awaits further research. Assimilation in Hungary certainly left a lasting imprint on their faith. Many of the American citizens initiating or participating in the rescue missions were themselves Jewish and were driven by special sensitivity to the bond of shared background, as well as a more keen sense of danger.

Contrary to common belief, not all émigré Hungarians were Jewish in the period of 1919–1945. Though the overwhelming majority of exiles were Jewish, a relatively small group of Hungarian gentiles, politically liberal, radical, or leftist, also left the country, as did others who simply hoped to pursue more rewarding careers. Some of them returned to Hungary at a later point, though many such as Nobel Laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi and author Sándor Márai left again after 1945.

The lack of a sufficient knowledge of English isolated many of the immigrants and hampered their social integration into the American community. However, their repeated traumata in interwar Europe led them to become militant anti-Nazis and anti-Communists, who looked upon the United States as a bulwark of freedom and fought against all forms of totalitarianism. Coming from this background, some of the very best and ablest minds joined the U.S. war effort and contributed to the fall of tyranny in Japan and German-dominated Europe.

The number of notable Hungarian-American refugees in the interwar years is difficult to assess. I have compiled a list of some 250 eminent Hungarian professionals who immigrated to the U.S. between 1919 and 1945 that is attached as an appendix to my book Double Exile.27 Though the list is incomplete, it presents a wide variety of outstanding specialists whose presence in the United States was, and in some cases still continues to be, an important contribution to American science, education and culture. That the bulk of this outstanding group lived relatively happy and successful lives in America is further evidenced by their life span. As documented by the list, a surprisingly large percentage of immigrant Hungarian-Americans lived well into old age: approximately 33 percent lived to 85 or more, 20 percent to 90, and 1,5 percent to more than 100. In other words, every third member of this group reached an age that was unusual even for Americans, as the elderly U.S. population during the period between 1920 and 2000 represented only 0,2 to 1,5 percent of the total U.S. population.28

The group of Jewish-Hungarian refugees may be considered to have had something of a group-biography. One can look upon the members of this large and diverse group as having lived essentially the same life and write their shared, common biography in terms of a prosopography. Yet, this prosopography must not fail to transmit the extent to which Hungary’s loss of some of its most outstanding talent remains a source of pain, pride, fear and anger in the national consciousness. Hungary’s fundamental educational contributions to these outstanding minds, in combination with the energizing modernism of Germany and other western European countries, were fertilized again by the nurturing soil of their new homeland in the U.S. The step-migrations of this transient generation, tossed and turned as it was by the traumatizing historical-political events of the era, produced a range of contributions that are rightly owned by many countries, and can be seen as foreshadowing the emergence of a global human identity in the twenty-first century.

Bibliography

 

Barraclough, Geoffrey, ed. The Times Atlas of World History. Maplewood, N.J.: Hammond, rev. ed. 1984, repr. 1988.

Bentwich, Norman. The Refugees from Germany, April 1933 to December 1935. London: Allen and Unwin, 1936.

Bentwich, Norman. The Rescue and Achievement of Refugee Scholars: The Story of Displaced Scholars and Scientists 1933–1952. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1953.

Breitman, Richard and Alan M. Kraut. American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933–1945. Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987.

Congdon, Lee. Exile and Social Thought. Hungarian Intellectuals in Germany and Austria 1919–1933. Princeton N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Fermi, Laura. Illustrious Immigrants. The Intellectual Migration from Europe 1930–1941. Chicago–London: University of Chicago Press, 1968.

Fleming, Donald and Bernard Baylin, eds. The Intellectual Migration. Europe and America, 1930–1960. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969.

Frank, Tibor. Double Exile: Migrations of Jewish-Hungarian Professionals through Germany to the United States, 1919–1945. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009.

Good, David F. The Economic Rise of the Habsburg Empire, 1750–1914. Berkeley–Los Angeles­–London: University of California Press, 1984.

Hanák, Péter. „Problems of Jewish Assimilation in Austria-Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries.” In The Power of the Past. Essays for Eric Hobsbawm, 235–50. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Hargittai, István. The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Hughes, H. Stuart. The Sea Change. The Migration of Social Thought, 1930–1965. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975.

Jackman, Jarrel C. and Carla M. Borden, eds. The Muses Flee Hitler. Cultural Transfer and Adaptation 1930–1945. Washington D.C.: Smithsonian, 1983.

Kármán, Theodore von, with Lee Edson. The Wind and Beyond: Theodore von Kármán, Pioneer in Aviation and Pathfinder in Space. Boston–Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1967.

Komlos, John. The Habsburg Monarchy As a Customs Union: Economic Development in Austria-Hungary in the Nineteenth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Kröner, Peter, ed. Vor fünfzig Jahren. Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Wissenschaftler 1933–1939. Münster: Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 1983.

Marx, George. The Voice of the Martians. 2nd ed. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1997.

Palmier, Jean Michel. Weimar en Exil. Le destin de l’émigration intellectuelle allemande antinazie en Europe et aux Etats-Unis. Paris: Payot, 1988.

Polanyi, Michael. “Problem solving.” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science VIII, no. 30 (1957): 89–103.

Ránki, György. “Die Entwicklung des ungarischen Bürgertums vom späten 18. zum frühen 20. Jahrhundert.” In Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert. Deutschland im europäischen Vergleich. (Eine Auswahl), edited by Jürgen Kocka. Vol. 1 of Einheit und Vielfalt Europas, edited by Jürgen Kocka, 230–48. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1995 [1988].

Rider, Robin E. “Alarm and Opportunity: Emigration of Mathematicians and Physicists to Britain and the United States, 1933–1945.” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 15, Part I (1984): 107–76.

Spalek, John M. Guide to the Archival Materials of the German-speaking Emigration to the United States after 1933. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978.

Strauss, Herbert A. and Werner Röder, eds. International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945. Munich–New York–London–Paris: K. G. Saur, 1980–1983.

Sugar, Peter, Péter Hanák, Tibor Frank, eds. A History of Hungary. Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Szögi, László. Magyarországi diákok németországi egyetemeken és főiskolákon, 1789–1919. [Hungarian Students at German Universities and Colleges, 1789–1919], vol. 5 of Magyarországi diákok egyetemjárása az újkorban [Hungarian Students at Universities Abroad in the Modern Times]. Budapest: Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Levéltára, 2001.

The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012. New York: World Almanac Books, 2012.

1 Norman Bentwich, The Refugees from Germany, April 1933 to December 1935 (London: Allen and Unwin, 1936); Norman Bentwich, The Rescue and Achievement of Refugee Scholars: The Story of Displaced Scholars and Scientists 1933–1952 (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1953).

2 Laura Fermi, Illustrious Immigrants. The Intellectual Migration from Europe 1930–41 (Chicago–London: University of Chicago Press, 1968).

3 Donald Fleming and Bernard Baylin, eds., The Intellectual Migration. Europe and America, 1930–1960 (Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1969).

4 H. Stuart Hughes, The Sea Change. The Migration of Social Thought, 1930–1965 (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1975).

5 John M. Spalek, Guide to the Archival Materials of the German-speaking Emigration to the United States after 1933 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1978).

6 Herbert A. Strauss and Werner Röder, eds., International Biographical Dictionary of Central European Emigrés 1933–1945 (Munich–New York–London–Paris: K.G. Saur, 1980–1983).

7 Peter Kröner, ed., Vor fünfzig Jahren. Die Emigration deutschsprachiger Wissenschaftler 1933–1939 (Münster: Gesellschaft für Wissenschaftsgeschichte, 1983); Jarrel C. Jackman and Carla M. Borden, eds., The Muses Flee Hitler. Cultural Transfer and Adaptation 1930–1945 (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian, 1983); Robin E. Rider, “Alarm and Opportunity: Emigration of Mathematicians and Physicists to Britain and the United States, 1933–1945,” Historical Studies in the Physical Sciences 15, Part I (1984): 107–76; Jean Michel Palmier, Weimar en Exil. Le destin de l’émigration intellectuelle allemande antinazie en Europe et aux Etats-Unis (Paris: Payot, 1988).

8 Richard Breitman and Alan M. Kraut, American Refugee Policy and European Jewry, 1933–1945 (Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987).

9 Fermi, Illustrious Immigrants, 53–9.

10 Lee Congdon, Exile and Social Thought. Hungarian Intellectuals in Germany and Austria 1919–1933 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1991).

11 George Marx, The Voice of the Martians, 2nd ed. (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1997).

12 István Hargittai, The Martians of Science: Five Physicists Who Changed the Twentieth Century (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006).

13 Tibor Frank, Double Exile: Migrations of Jewish-Hungarian Professionals through Germany to the United States, 1919–1945 (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2009).

14 Péter Hanák, “Problems of Jewish Assimilation in Austria-Hungary in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” in The Power of the Past. Essays for Eric Hobsbawm (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 235–50; György Ránki, “Die Entwicklung des ungarischen Bürgertums vom späten 18. zum frühen 20. Jahrhundert,” in Bürgertum im 19. Jahrhundert. Deutschland im europäischen Vergleich. (Eine Auswahl), ed. Jürgen Kocka, vol. 1 of Einheit und Vielfalt Europas, ed. Jürgen Kocka (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1995 [1988]), 230–48.

15 David F. Good, The Economic Rise of the Habsburg Empire, 1750–1914 (Berkeley–Los Angeles­–London: University of California Press, 1984); John Komlos, The Habsburg Monarchy As a Customs Union: Economic Development in Austria-Hungary in the Nineteenth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983).

16 Frank, Double Exile, 55–73.

17 Theodore von Kármán with Lee Edson, The Wind and Beyond: Theodore von Kármán, Pioneer in Aviation and Pathfinder in Space (Boston–Toronto: Little, Brown and Co., 1967), 20–2.

18 Tibor Frank, “Hungary and the Dual Monarchy, 1867–1890,” in Peter F. Sugar, Péter Hanák, Tibor Frank, eds., A History of Hungary (Bloomington–Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994), 252–66.

19 László Szögi, Magyarországi diákok németországi egyetemeken és főiskolákon, 1789–1919 [Hungarian Students at German Universities and Colleges, 1789–1919], vol. 5 of Magyarországi diákok egyetemjárása az újkorban [Hungarian Students at Universities Abroad in the Modern Times] (Budapest: Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem Levéltára, 2001).

20 Michael Polanyi, “Problem Solving,” The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science VIII, no. 30 (1957): 89.

21 Polanyi, “Problem Solving,” 93–4.

22 Despite profoundly different political conditions that followed, some of the great traditions of education, particularly science and mathematics education have survived even to the present day.

23 Geoffrey Barraclough, ed., The Times Atlas of World History (Maplewood, N.J.: Hammond, rev. ed. 1984, repr. 1988), 265.

24 Frank, Double Exile, 140–2, 153–4.

25 Frank, Double Exile, 121–66.

26 Frank, Double Exile, 243–63, 270–78.

27 Frank, Double Exile, 439–52.

28 For the survey of the U.S. Census Bureau see The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012 (New York: World Almanac Books, 2012), 617.

Balázs Ablonczy

Instead of America. Immigration and Governmental Influence in the Hungarian Émigré Community of France between the Two World Wars*

 

Using the typology of French sociologist Stéphane Dufoix, this essay attempts to discern the moment at which an emigrant community based on political opposition begins to function according to a dynamic of center and periphery. Following this shift, influential figures of the home country take its institutions and its direction from their political opponents. A physical fight that broke out in August 1929 in Roubaix, an industrial city in northern France, between Hungarian communists and Catholic workers offers a case study that sheds light on the change of strategy of the Hungarian government in its approach to the Hungarian emigrant communities. Before 1914, the liberal politicians of the time made little effort to organize the several hundred-thousand Hungarian speaking emigrants living abroad, for the most part in North America (in part because the national minorities of Hungary were overrepresented among the emigrants). In contrast, after 1918, at a moment of history when the notion of the nation as an organic entity had risen to prominence, Hungarian speakers living outside Hungary were seen self-evidently as subjects of political policy. After 1920, the United States closed its gates to immigrants from Eastern Europe. France consequently became important, in part as a country in which there was a dire need of labor for reconstruction following the war. While the community of Hungarian emigrants was never as large numerically as the Polish, Russian, or Italian communities, by the end of the 1920s and the early 1930s there were some 50,000 Hungarians living in France. This essay is an examination of the political policies adopted with regards to them.

 

keywords: emigrant community, center and periphery, political opposition, diaspora

 

Research into the history of the émigré community does not at present represent one of the favored research topics of the Hungarian historical profession. After the proper historiographical perspective emerged, historians in Hungary were expected and allowed to deal with these topics only from the viewpoint of the history of the labor movement, and in any event delving into the topic did not hold out the promise of a major historical synthesis. The situation did not change radically after 1990 either: exploration of the history of the emigration remained largely stuck in the same place, with the initiative in many cases passing into the hands of sociologists and ethnographers.1 In France, meanwhile, exploration of the history of the Hungarian emigration in France has not gone beyond a few doctoral theses at best; the focal point of these, moreover, falls rather after 1945. Linguistic barriers obviously play a role in this fact, as does the circumstance that even at the height of immigration the Hungarian community never numbered more than a few tens of thousands and, as such, in terms of institutional structure does not bear comparison to the mass of Russian, Polish, Portuguese or Italian migrants, not to mention those arriving more recently from the countries of the Far East and the Maghreb.2

In what follows I shall attempt, out of an case almost encountered by chance, to discern a few of the basic motifs in the history of the Hungarian émigré community in France, reflect on the historiographical topoi linked to it and try to explore the social and political motivations of those involved in the events. According to my hypothesis, a brawl that took place in a northern industrial town, its presentation and treatment not only tell us much about the event but also demonstrates the preconceptions and expectations of interwar Hungary concerning her own economic and political émigrés as well as the instrumentalization of certain organizations and individuals. In addition, the case presented here serves also to capture the shift in strategy of the émigré (or, from the viewpoint of the receiving country, immigrant) community.

 

 

The Battle

 

An answer to the question “what happened?” is not impossible, though somewhat complicated. On the afternoon of August 18, 1929 a group of Hungarians in the French city of Roubaix celebrated Saint Stephen’s Day in a ballroom not far from the city center, on the Rue Saint-Antoine. This venue was provided by the benefactor of the local Hungarians, a spinster from a well-to-do industrialist family, Louise Derville, for the Saint Stephen Circle (Szent István Kör), an organization gathering together the Catholic Hungarians of the northern industrial town. While we do not know the precise schedule of the festivities for that year, the program for 1928 has survived: this included a celebratory mass, ceremonial assembly, and cultural evening, followed by a ball. The mass was celebrated by Imre Kurcz, the parish priest assigned by the bishop of Szombathely to minister to the spiritual needs of the locals; the children appearing in the cultural performance were taught by the missionary sisters Mária Logojda and Irén Tergina, while organizing work was overseen by László Ölvedi, the secretary assigned by the Hungarian Association of Paris (Párizsi Magyar Egyesület – PME). According to the data uncovered during the subsequent investigation, at around six-thirty in the evening a group of some fifty to seventy, consisting overwhelmingly of Hungarian men, appeared at the entrance. They struck the caretaker, Géza Pálinkás, in the head; then about twenty people remained outside on the sidewalk in front of the cultural center (making sure that those inside did not receive reinforcements), while some thirty to fifty forced their way into the building. Here they first began singing the Internationale, then cut to pieces the garments hanging in the coatroom and set about breaking the furniture. Upon hearing the noise, the members of the Catholic workers’ circle streamed out of the upstairs auditorium and tried to repulse the attack. Soon brass knuckles, knives and other striking or cutting weapons appeared in the hands of the attackers, and a desperate fight ensued in the stairwell of the building, during which a part of the stairway was also destroyed. After a struggle lasting about half an hour, the male members of the crowd of approximately 150 inside forced the attackers out. In the meantime 15 (according to other sources 16) were wounded, six of them seriously (one of the attackers was slightly wounded). The Hungarians’ benefactor, Louise Derville, also received a punch, while others were stabbed (like Secretary Ölvedi) or suffered contusions. The police forces notified after the scuffle set about rounding up the culprits that very night, and a day later six persons were under remand and the first interrogations and even witness confrontations had taken place. And already on August 19 the examining judge went out to the crime scene in order to reconstruct the events.3 The leaders of the perpetrators were caught, and during a judicial proceeding held in October 1929 11 of the 12 defendants received prison sentences ranging from three months to half a year, with one acquittal. The defendants were even obligated to pay for the financial and physical damages. A sad postscript to the story was that one of those sentenced, a twenty-eight-year-old loader named Márton Molnár, committed suicide. His funeral provided an occasion for a Communist demonstration in Wattrelos (near Roubaix) in April 1930.

The Battle Scene

 

Before attempting to uncover the background, antecedents and epilogue to the events, it is worth reviewing two competing historiographical interpretations of what happened. In 1982 a researcher at the Institute for Party History, Anna Pécsi, after numerous preliminary studies, published her synthesis of the history of Hungarian workers’ movement in France between the two world wars. In it she covered the happenings in Roubaix in a separate subchapter, under the title “The Bloody Saint Stephen’s Day in Roubaix” (A roubaix-i véres Szent István-nap).4 On these pages (based partially on the source materials used by the present author, too), she offers an interpretation of what happened that fully tallies with the Communist propaganda of the era: in her view the attackers who could be connected to the Communist Party had been lured into a trap; the Catholics were ready for them and “awaited the leftist Hungarians armed with knives and rubber truncheons.” The latter, however, held their ground, since “they dealt more blows than they received.” The text does not discuss what precisely the Communist workers were doing at the gathering of the Catholic circle. In her presentation, the affair appears as a sort of self-defense, which was intended to stem the continuous ideological encroachment of official Hungary and to eliminate the provocation represented by the Saint Stephen Circle. In Pécsi’s interpretation, the French police pounced on the workers despite the “justifiable self-defense” and the trap, and together with the court they had served definite class interests when meting out the punishment. Rounding out the passion story, she depicted Márton Molnár’s death, too, as if the French jailers had thrown him out the prison window and he had not taken his own life.5 It must be added that already at the time of its appearance this one-sided and orthodox party approach garnered critics. In the journal of the Institute for Party History, János Johancsik expressed his displeasure thus: “The historical appraisal nevertheless becomes questionable when the brave determination and heroic sacrifice of the movement’s participants gain expression in actions aimed at asserting an erroneous line. Thus, for example, the description and appraisal of the disruption of the Saint Stephen’s Day celebration in 1929 may confuse today’s reader.”6 Pécsi therefore fully identified with the discourse used by the party historiography of the era, was highly selective in her use of the available sources (the Hungarian National Archives, as well as the documents of the Archives Nationales, which she herself had probably filmed in Paris and for which she prepared the finding aid at the Institute for Party History, later Institute of Political History, etc.), and in every respect accepted the descriptions of the incident by Frigyes Karikás, the Hungarian party functionary reporting on the case, as well as the Communist press and brochure literature. All this she wrote, however, in the language customary of the era’s scholarship, with the expected (albeit occasionally somewhat difficult to retrace) scholarly apparatus, and even if the correct spelling of names (in the cases of Kurcz, Ölvedi and party delegate Wolf) occasionally caused her trouble, her work follows standard academic models. Thus it may appear that, freed from the clichés of the history of the workers’ movement, the narrative may provide a credible answer to the question “what happened?”

The situation is different with the work of the theologian and canonist József Borovi (1917–2005).7 The relevant chapter of the well-structured work of church history, despite the fact that its author conducted research in both the episcopal archives of Szombathely and the Hungarian National Archives and analyzed some of the press material of the era, is simply unaware of the Roubaix affair. (Its handling of sources, however, is quite weak, and the citations, where given, cannot be verified.) Although from the correspondence and the documents available to him he detected the existence of some sort of tension between the local Hungarians and the French ecclesiastical and secular authorities, leading all the way to a trial, he saw the roots of this in something completely different. He wrote of the “events of September 18, 1929,” in the course of which the Bishopric of Lille raised an objection to Imre Kurcz’s service there, particularly because the priest was conducting propaganda in favor of territorial revision and against the Treaty of Trianon.8 Aware of the legal trial as well (but completely misunderstanding its purpose), Borovi writes as though it had been conducted against the Hungarian Catholic pastor of Roubaix. He detects the conflict and fashions a narrative in order to fill in the gaps in information. He, too, has trouble with the correct spelling of certain names (e.g., Ölvedi), while at the same time the clerical and anti-Communist outlook brings about a text which squares with such an arbitrarily assembled series of events on only very few points. In his attempt to fill in the gaps in the story, the author of the text, which is openly empathetic to the church, produces a narrative which fails to mention the very circumstance that launched the sequence of events (the fight). In this way the two competing narratives (Catholic and Communist) each give a false interpretation to the events. The present author (without thinking himself the champion of a kind of absolute truth either) believes that use of the available sources (sources available to the two authors presented above as well) makes it possible to draw a much more nuanced and differentiated picture. And the fight, which obviously is impossible, and even inadvisable, to describe,9 creates an excellent opportunity for discussing the social structure of the Hungarians of France and the nature of Hungarian-French relations.

Commanders

 

The year 1929 was an eventful one in the history of Hungarian-French relations and in Hungarian history generally. It was at this time that relations between Budapest and Paris, which had deteriorated notably following the franc forgery scandal in 1925–26, seemed to improve: in June 1929 Prime Minister István Bethlen was cordially received in Paris.10 In the so-called Optants’ Trial—with and at French urging—the Hungarian and Romanian positions moved beyond the impasse.11 In August 1929 the World Congress of Hungarians opened in Budapest, the famous tale writer, Elek Benedek passed away in his native village of Kisbacon, and the Third World Scout Jamboree was held at Arrowe Park in England, where the Hungarian troop achieved a fine success. And the average newspaper reader would have been preoccupied by the growing reports about the later infamous arsenic murders in the villages of the region of Tiszazug. It was in this context that the fight in Roubaix would for a few days become a short-lived sensation.

A few circumstances not widely known at the time also may have helped to mythologize what happened. In fact, on either side of the fight two literary intellectuals confronted one another. The organizing secretary of the Hungarian Association of Paris sent to northern France was by no means unknown to the literature-reading public of the era. Born in Érsekújvár (today Nové Zámky, Slovakia) in 1903, László Ölvedi appeared on the Hungarian literary scene in Slovakia with his poems in the early 1920s.12 His first volumes, Valakit várunk (Waiting for Someone, 1922) and A bányász éneke (The Miner’s Song, 1923) were enthusiastically received by the critics. Thanks to the backing of the newspaper Prágai Magyar Hírlap his name was soon being mentioned alongside that of the noted Catholic priest and poet László Mécs, and he was touted as one of the great hopes of Hungarian lyric poetry in former Upper Hungary. Following his university studies abroad, however, Ölvedi was unable to return to Czechoslovakia because—allegedly—he had vehemently spoken out against the Czechoslovak state at an international student debate in Geneva.13 (At the same time, this is contradicted somewhat by the fact that as late as the late spring of 1929 the poet was still a Czechoslovak citizen and attempting to evade the Czechoslovak recruiting board).14 In early 1928 he was sent from Paris to the industrial region of northern France to help to develop local Hungarian institutions. Ölvedi assiduously sent his reports, but he encountered many problems. In 1928 the jurisdiction of the Hungarian Association of Paris, which ideologically stood close to the government in Budapest (it described itself as “apolitical”), was extended to all of France. The decision did not always meet with the approval of the local communities. The Saint Stephen Circle in Roubaix was the chosen center for organizational work in the north. In operation since 1926, the Catholic-run association was the only such organization in provincial France, the political mobilization of the Hungarians having been monopolized until then largely by the Communist, and to a lesser extent the Socialist, workers’ movement. Ölvedi was soon sending dissatisfied reports from the northern textile city: the leaders of the Circle were at times too lenient with Communist sympathizers and did not accept the instructions of the Paris headquarters. The caretaker, István Szalay, three times tore down a resolution of the PME decreeing the expulsion of one of their fellow members, and he declared that he did not takes orders from the Parisians.15 And in 1928 they had wanted to hold their vintage celebration right when the Hungarians of the neighboring settlement were preparing for the house-warming of their own social circle, and they were dissuaded from their plans only with the utmost difficulty.16 The focal point of organizational work in the north was soon transferred to nearby Hénin-Liétard (today: Hénin-Beaumont, Pas-de-Calais Department), where a vibrant Hungarian cultural life unfolded under the leadership of Ödön Bodnár, a teacher commissioned by the Julian Association from Budapest and with Ölvedi’s collaboration. Soon a singing circle and an amateur theatrical group were formed. The Saint Stephen Boy Scout Troop was also established with 12 members, and the local Hungarians were regularly visited by the doctor of the Hungarian House in Paris, Karola Papp (in certain cases she treated Communist patients as well), which likewise enhanced the Circle’s popularity. However, apparently Ölvedi not only encountered trouble with the Hungarians of Roubaix but also quarreled with the circle’s benefactor, Mademoiselle Derville, in late 1928. In fact, in the spring of 1929 his superiors emphatically warned him a number of times to observe accounting and financial discipline, and on one occasion they even reproached him for his “sleepiness,” because of which he had been late to important meetings.17

He was injured in the fight of August 1929, though his injury could not have been serious because on September 2 he was already back at work. His position, however, changed: he was transferred to Paris, and then in December 1929 he left France and went to Budapest, citing among other things his illness. “And I would be very happy if through two or three months of expensive medical treatment I could avoid the operation,” he wrote, then adding bitterly, “this, too, is one of my fond memories of the PME.”18 In Budapest he found work at the headquarters of the Hungarian National Alliance (Magyar Nemzeti Szövetség), which engaged in domestic and foreign propaganda, and continued his literary activity. His illness did not improve, however, and only worsened following a trip to Sofia in 1931: the young poet passed away in June of that year in Budapest, soon after his twenty-eighth birthday. Although the obituaries appearing at the time of his death did not mention the cause of death, already in that year there appeared the first small booklet tracing the cause back to a kick received in the fight with the Communists.19 A decade later, according to Marcell Jankovics (and along with him Lajos Tamás, who wrote an appreciation of the poet), Ölvedi had been kicked about by Communists in Paris, and this was the cause of his premature death.20 For his part Lajos Turczel in the encyclopedia entry he wrote mentions the cancerous knife wound that hit a lung as the cause.21 Because there is no record of Ölvedi having been attacked a second time in Paris, the knifing probably must have been the “scratch” received in Roubaix. Naturally, we do not know Ölvedi’s exact illness, but there is no doubt that he was ailing already prior to August 1929: in late 1928 he requested leave citing the fact that the climate was undermining his health.

Although he did not take part in the fight (in fact he was not even in the town during these days), Frigyes Karikás (1895–1938; according to other sources 1942), who acted as the official leader of the Hungarian Communists in France, similarly played a key role in the events. A locksmith by training, the party worker was sent to France by the External Committee of the Communist Party of Hungary (KMP) in 1928 to restore the party organizations, riven by earlier factional battles and expulsions. After the fall of the Republic of Councils in 1919, Karikás fled via Vienna to the Soviet Union, where he obtained a diploma. There his career as a writer, during which he portrayed mainly the battles of the Hungarian Soviet Republic, also commenced; the film A harminckilences dandár (The Thirty-Ninth Brigade, 1960), which would become a ritual element of remembering 1919 in Hungary during the Kádár era, was based on his cycle of short stories. From Karikás’s reports there emerges the portrait of a Communist activist, one ready for action who occasionally even dispensed with the party jargon and who under the names “Fritz” and “Ferenc Virág” dashed off his letters and reports to the party headquarters in Vienna. His relationship with the latter was far from harmonious,22 firstly because in the factional battles raging within the KMP in the 1920s between Béla Kun and Jenő Landler,23 he had taken the latter’s side, and after the politician’s death in 1928 this did not cast too favorable a light on Karikás. Secondly, the leader of the organization in France made no effort to conceal his objections about the state of affairs prevailing in the headquarters in Vienna: he criticized the uncoordinated personnel policy, confusion and doctrinaire direction. Nor were his spirits dampened by the constant disparagement he regularly received from Vienna. Karikás developed good relations with the leader of the short-lived Hungarian People’s Republic in 1918–1919, Count Mihály Károlyi,24 who happened to be living in France and who in this period was turning ever more resolutely towards the Comintern. Karikás succeeded in winning over the prestige and bearing of the count, the “Hungarian Kerensky,” for numerous causes important to the Communist movement.25 In the second half of 1929 Károlyi acted on behalf of Communist prisoners conducting a hunger strike in the prison at Sopronkőhida, and the party devoted a role to him in the Roubaix trial as well, even though the count had not been present during the clash. Karikás at the same time approved of and encouraged physical violence against the “embassy fascists.”26 Roubaix was by no means an isolated case: there had been an attempt to disrupt the celebration of the Saint Stephen Circle (in Communist parlance, the “Stevie Circle”) on August 19, 1928, but Ölvedi’s action had prevented this at the time.27 And that the happenings in Roubaix had by no means come about spontaneously is unmistakably indicated by Karikás’s account as well: “back in the spring we decided we would take care of them when the opportunity arose.”28 In October 1928 the Communists beat up Ödön Bodnár, the Hungarian teacher in Hénin-Liétard, and Kálmán Ivics, a miner in Méricourt. Karikás did not at all disapprove of the brawl in Roubaix in August 1929 and in fact sang the praises of the perpetrators. Over the course of 1930 similar such attacks befell the Hungarian Students’ Association of Paris (Párizsi Magyar Diákegyesület), meeting in the Hungarian House in Paris, as well as the participants in the Hungarian revisionist rally gathering in the Wagram Hall in Paris.29 In 1931 Karikás (undoubtedly because of his clashes with the party leadership as well) was recalled from Paris and illegally sent to Hungary. In 1932, together with the leaders of the illegal party, Imre Sallai and Sándor Fürst, he was arrested and sentenced to death. Due to international protest in 1935 he was released to the Soviet Union, where during the Stalinist terror in 1938 he was arrested, convicted and sent to the Gulag. He likely perished in 1942.

Of the story’s other, central figure we know substantially less: Imre Kurcz, born in Szentpéterfa and of Croat nationality, went out to northern France as a young chaplain, having been consecrated a priest in the Diocese of Szombathely in 1924. The fight did not enhance his renown either: although the truth is difficult to piece together from József Borovi’s euphemisms, it appears that his participation in irredentist propaganda (the Circle joined the Revisionist League in July 1929) embarrassed the superior French ecclesiastical authorities, namely the bishop of Lille, Liénart, and the auxiliary bishop of Paris, Chaptal; the latter was entrusted within the episcopate with supervising the pastoral care of the foreign-speaking faithful living in the country. Kurcz must not have enjoyed himself in France, because in June 1930 he was transferred to Paris, then in late 1931 he returned home and served in smaller parishes under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Szombathely: between 1932 and 1936 in Tótszentmárton, and later in Vaskeresztes.

Combatants

 

After the First World War, France, which emerged from the war victorious though calamitously bled dry and to a great extent (in the north and east) lying in ruins, was in urgent need of labor. Taking advantage of this economic trend, tens of thousands of Hungarians took to the road to try their fortune in Paris or some industrial region. Their exact number is difficult to estimate, especially because a significant portion of the incoming workers resided in France illegally, and in addition the occasional shifts in economic trends also seriously impacted the colony’s numbers. In 1922–1923 emigration received new impetus from the unemployment generated by the closing of mines in Hungary: the size of the Hungarian colony multiplied from the few hundred persons previously resident in France to several tens of thousands by the middle of the 1920s.30 To illustrate the numbers of legal and illegal immigrants, let it suffice here to point out that whereas Hungarian publicists estimated the number of Hungarians living in Paris and its environs at between 15 and 30 thousand, a police report dated 1932 put their number at nine thousand.31 The geographical distribution within France, too, was uneven: a significant portion of them tried to earn a living in the capital and its immediate environs. Another major group was formed by those working in the northern mining and industrial region (Lens, Méricourt, Lille, Valenciennes, Sallaumines, Hénin-Liétard and Roubaix). The third major group was employed by the large towns and industrial establishments of the Rhône Valley: of the Hungarians of Lyon, Grenoble and Isieux the contemporary chronicler noted that almost all hailed from the town of Sárvár; the closing of the silk factory there had prompted them to try their fortune in France. In the east, larger-sized Hungarian populations could be found in a few industrial establishments in Alsace: Mulhouse and for instance (briefly) the industrial works of Creutzwald–Falck. Hungarian colonies existed in other major cities (Bordeaux, Marseille and Rouen) as well; Sándor Molnár, general secretary of the Hungarian Association of Paris, estimated the number of Hungarians living in Algeria under French administration at a further 4,000–5,000 in 1931.32 Regarding the number of Hungarians living in northern France, once again we can rely only on estimates, but their number may be put at several thousands. According to one report well acquainted with the local conditions, in 1929 the Hungarians of Roubaix numbered 900, approximately 100 of whom had arrived from Czechoslovakia.33 Another report that emerged almost simultaneously provides an entirely precise figure: it indicated 635 Hungarians living in Roubaix – true, it cannot be known whether this number also included the labor force of the industrial establishments that had virtually grown together with the city.34

The “French Manchester” of the nineteenth century and one of the international centers of the textile industry, Roubaix experienced its golden age in the years prior to the First World War. The nearly four years of German occupation had bled it dry, and the repeated crises of the industry made the instability permanent. The city had its greatest number of inhabitants in 1896 (124,000), but from this time on the population entered into a gradual decline (today 30,000 fewer live here); in 1929 the city had around 117,000 inhabitants.35 In the period between the two world wars the municipality was led by a socialist mayor: Jean-Baptiste Lebas (1878–1944) was not only a successful city leader whose socio-political program in some cases was ahead of its time, but as the labor minister in the first Blum government (1936–1937) he had a key role in introducing, for example, the forty-hour work week, paid vacation and other socio-political measures. Lebas belonged to that group of French socialists (SFIO: Section française de l’Internationale Ouvrière) who immediately following the break at the Tours Congress had displayed an aversion to the Communists.

We find in the city a sharply divided Hungarian community, which—unlike the miners, who enjoyed relatively good living conditions—had to struggle mightily for its daily bread. Nearly half of the local Hungarians worked as wool-combers, which was quite toilsome and exhausting work, and approximately eighty found employment at one of the iron or timber enterprises. The employers as a rule were satisfied with the Hungarian workers, whom they considered more conscientious than the Polish guest workers typical of the region; the Hungarians also showed a lesser propensity to commit crime than the latter. One point of interest from the reporting of the bourgeois radical monthly merits particular attention: a significant number of Hungarians were “living in sin” because it was necessary to wait months, or even years, for the official procedure due to the slowness of the Hungarian consulate in Paris.36 The majority of Hungarians arrived from two regions of Hungary: from along the eastern border (the vicinity of Csenger, Sima and Nagygéc) and from the industrial region of the central part of Transdanubia: Felsőgalla, Bánhida, Oroszlány and Lábatlan. Of the 11 captured combatants whose personal data we know, five (or six) came from this region. One person was born in Hódmezővásárhely, while the tragically deceased Márton Molnár was the only one born in Budapest.37

However, this Hungarian community, the size of a small village, lived its everyday life amidst rather profound political and ideological antagonisms. In the (at least) three-way field it is undoubtedly the Communists who appear the most organized. According to contemporary observers (and the reports of the party organization), workers connected to the party in one way or another, either as party members or members of the Communist-controlled trade union, the CGTU (Confédération générale du travail unitaire), may have numbered between 150 and 200 persons. The disciplined group, which appeared closed to outsiders, was one of the most active Communist groupings in the region. Although comprising only 33-35 party members, 175 copies of the Communist-run Párisi Munkás were circulated in their circle. The group organized regular gatherings, balls, excursions and proletkult lectures for its members, indeed (and here it is impossible not to recognize the allusion to the church liturgy) on Sunday mornings at ten o’clock they listened to the broadcast of Radio Moscow together. Information on the exact content of the gatherings may be provided by an extant leaflet about the celebration of September 1, 1929, which the Roubaix group organized along with the Hungarian workers of Lens, Méricourt and even Brussels. Here, the program of the festivity, which was combined with a picnic, included a chess tournament, football match, dance and proletkult lecture. Children paid nothing, and the organizers even thought to have someone with local knowledge meet the comrades coming from farther away at the end-station of the tramline to direct them. “Supporting this celebration of the revolutionary Hungarian working class is a comradely obligation!” emphasized the leaflet.38 According to a police report, thanks to this deliberate, disciplined conduct there were almost as many Hungarian members in the local Communist party organization as there were French. The local party organization as a rule gathered at a local café, the Prolétarienne, or in restaurants. In view of this type of organized operation, it appears inconceivable that the Hungarian party organization would have attacked the Catholic workers’ circle without the knowledge of the higher party organs (especially since there were French workers among the attackers as well, one of whom was even brought to trial).39 The party inspectors visiting them, including Ernő Gerő (one of the later leaders of Communist Hungary, who visited in 1928), declared their satisfaction with the group’s activity. The weight of the locals is indicated by the fact that outside of Paris only Roubaix was allowed to send three delegates to the national conference held under the aegis of the CGTU in 1928, the rest had to make due with fewer.40 At the same time, by 1929 the signs of stagnation, in certain cases a retrogression, began to show in the Roubaix organization, too, thus the presence of the Catholics’ circle meant increased provocation to the Hungarian Communists active in the industrial region. This closed, sectarian behavior obviously was not independent of the policy reversal implemented by the French Communist Party in 1927 on the orders of the Comintern, which called for an intensification of the class struggle and rejected any form of cooperation with other left-wing forces, including the “social fascists.” As a consequence of this policy, the party would record a significant setback in the 1928 parliamentary elections: its number of deputies fell from 24 to 12.

The Socialists also possessed a group in the town (Világosság), but it was not nearly as populous and in numerous respects was divided in its estimation of Hungarian politics. In addition to politicians from the mother country (e.g., Károly Peyer), émigrés also visited them (Sándor Garbai, Mihály Károlyi), and at some unspecified date (at least according to the recollection of one of the founders, Ernő Bóta) the Hungarian League of Human Rights (Emberi Jogok Magyar Ligája) had also possessed a branch organization in the town. A few of the leaders of the Socialist groups living in the surrounding towns (Sándor Cézár) sought out the Hungarian Association of Paris, for example, to partake in the medical treatment provided by the Hungarian House.41 Their number in Roubaix amounted to a few dozen.

The other circle comparable to that of the Communists was that of the Catholics; several times in 1927–1928, though, it was deemed undeserving of the Hungarian legation’s trust (despite the fact that the sponsor, Mademoiselle Derville, had also received a high Hungarian state decoration in November 1927). The teacher in Hénin-Liétard, Ödön Bodnár, considered the missionary sisters and Father Kurcz unsuitable for directing the local Hungarians. He wrote in a letter that “due in part to incompetence, and in part to the excessive bias stemming from their calling they are incapable of overseeing the Circle’s cultural leadership and organizing the Hungarians outside of it,” noting also that their program included an overabundance of frivolous pursuits, such as dances.42 At these occasions (including the ominous August 18) 150–200 persons regularly appeared—even if fewer attended the masses.

Strategy and Consequences

 

As we mentioned, the brawl could not have been an accident. The Communists felt their hitherto exclusive sovereign territory to be in danger, and by no means without reason.

From the mid-1920s on numerous actions, initiated partly locally and partly in Budapest, were launched in France which were aimed at organizing the non-left-wing (in official usage: “apolitical”) émigrés. Teachers, priests and missionary sisters arrived. The Catholic Church reacted somewhat earlier than the Reformed, but in the late 1920s permanent Reformed ministers also appeared among the Hungarians of France. To counter the Párisi Munkás, in the summer of 1928 the Párisi Magyarság was launched; published by Sándor Pető, it was actually edited by Ferenc Honti, secretary of the Revisionist League in Paris and the later founder of Le Monde diplomatique. The aim of the biweekly paper, which at first struggled with difficulties and later changed format several times, was to hold the communities together and serve as a kind of newsletter among the scattered colonies. After a lengthy period of construction and wrangling, in June 1929 the new center of the Hungarians in Paris and France, the Hungarian House of Paris, was inaugurated. Located along the Rue Vaugirard, on the Square Vergennes, the house not only provided a home for the Hungarian associations (athletic clubs, singing circles, students) and Hungarian clergy operating in Paris, but also served as a school, assembly hall, employment office and, not least, a medical clinic, where patients found doctor’s and dentist’s consulting rooms furnished with modern equipment subsidized by the Hungarian Ministry of Welfare. Likewise in 1928–29 the building of a Collegium Hungaricum in Paris, intended for Hungarian students studying abroad, also nearly became a tangible reality: ultimately this project was thwarted by the world economic crisis. This was not the only field of the offensive: in 1928 the children’s summer holiday campaign was launched. Through this program, which likewise exerted a significant attraction, special trains took Hungarian children in France to the resorts of the Children’s Defense League in Szigetmonostor and Bakony in Hungary.

Under such circumstances physical violence, even if not leading to lasting results, in any case left its mark on the community. The pamphlets of the Hungarian Communists, which agitated against the “Hungarian cleric whores,” the “lackeys of the franc forgers” and the “Trianon imposters,” hit their target to the extent that in the spring of 1930 the local prefect wrote that in Roubaix the “Hungarian Fascists and Communists” had gotten into a fight.43 This was largely reminiscent of how the French state viewed the clashes between the Fascists and leftists within the Italian community in France. The local, and indeed the national, public sharply condemned the events: while the national papers (except, naturally, for the paper of the FCP, L’Humanité) generally blamed the “foreign Communists,” the Journal de Roubaix wrote uniformly about the “foreign subversives coming to France,” without regard to their ideological stance.44 In contrast to the idealism of the period immediately following the war, the attitude of the French administration and public at this time became much more reserved, even outright closed, towards the immigrant workers. This conduct would become even more explicit in the crisis milieu of the thirties and become filled with stereotypes.45 At the same time, the Hungarian community in France always remained small in number in comparison to the members of other nations; thus, it did not form its own distinct stereotypes around itself, but rather judgment of it followed the judgment of the great masses of immigrants.

At the judicial proceedings of the Roubaix affair in October 1929, the Communists produced Mihály Károlyi and the secretary of the local Red Aid, the later resistance fighter and pre-eminent mayor of Montreuil, Daniel Renoult (the latter had to be removed from the trial for insulting the court) as witnesses. Both drew parallels with and highlighted the oppressiveness of the dictatorship in Hungary: the Catholics were operating a spy network in the town, and by paving the way for revision they were plotting to ignite a new war in Europe. The Communist press also presented the affair in this light.46

In fact the propaganda did succeed: the intensity of the Roubaix Hungarian Catholic circle’s activity receded, temporarily fewer people attended the events, the pastors were replaced in rapid succession, and Kurcz’s successor, Ferenc Kozma, a religious instructor from Zalaegerszeg, also remained in his post for a brief time only. In addition, the doctor’s visits, viewed as the main attraction, were also eliminated in 1930. The Circle nearly ceased to function.47 Furthermore, in the 1930s unemployment caused by the economic crisis, and later the winds of the approaching war, diminished the number of local Hungarians. By 1941 barely eighty Reformed Hungarians “worthy of care” remained in all of northern France, and the number of Catholics could not have been considerably higher either.48 At the same time the émigré Communist movement also suffered a blow: the Párisi Munkás, which had been appearing for six years, was banned by the French authorities in November 1929 (formally for insulting the police prefect of Paris, Chiappe). Until mid-1930 it was able to appear under five other names (Harcos, Új Harcos, Fáklya, etc.); after some hesitation, however, all met this same fate. A seemingly permanent Hungarian-language Communist press publication would appear again only in the late thirties, in the form of Szabad Szó.

Conclusion

 

As we mentioned in the introduction, the 1929 brawl in and of itself is uninteresting: much rather it is those tensions and processes which led to the explosion of violence. And the seemingly simple Sunday brawl conceals motifs which point far beyond the simple struggle over hegemony or the urban space or the local Hungarian community. In his summary work about ethnic diasporas, the French sociologist Stéphane Dufoix, who began his scholarly career by researching the Hungarian community in France, has distinguished four operating modes of the diaspora: 1. the centroperipheral mode (mode centro-périphérique), when the mother country plays a key role in the life of the community through its official institutions, be it the consulate, the embassy or the cultural institute; 2. the enclaved diaspora mode (mode enclavé), which is characterized by locality, meaning a local community organizes itself and it is not citizenship but rather identity that plays the decisive role in its functioning; 3. the antagonistic mode (mode antagonique), designating that situation in Dufoix’s categorization in which the community living abroad defines itself along political principles against those in power in the mother country, and not infrequently the groups of the exile polity (expolitie – Dufoix) oppose one another as well; and 4. the atopic mode (mode atopique), which defines itself along transnational principles, but not necessarily against something, but rather it is precisely the (ethnic or religious) diaspora, dispersion, that is the true form of identity. In each mode what is important is the attitude to the space and/or the state, or to the lack thereof.49

In the late nineteenth century the Hungarian state and administration, in accordance with their liberal principles and latent nationality policy stance, (i. e., that the national minorities living in Hungary were strongly overrepresented among the émigrés) for a long time ignored the masses of émigrés. Tending to those who immigrated to America, too, was long confined to dispatching pastors or teachers. Like the other communities, the Hungarians in America had begun to live lives independent of the mother country, and new forms of identity also appeared which did not fit easily into the social and political model of the mother country.50 However, the shock of Trianon, the appearance of a new, more bellicose and organic (or thought to be so) Hungarian concept of nation and its official adoption no longer recognized “lost souls,” thus the previous enclaved diaspora model (United States) or the antagonistic mode, as the great masses of Hungarian workers pouring into France at first were drawn by left-wing organizations under their intellectual and cultural direction, was no longer acceptable to the mother country. The 1928 Saint Stephen’s Day brawl is an important stage in a process, beginning sometime around 1927 and reaching its culmination by the end of the decade, whereby the antagonistic diaspora model was gradually replaced by the centroperipheral model: the mother country offers members of the diaspora social assistance (medical treatment, subsidies, organizing holidays for children), cultural services (press) and institutions (school), organizing its activity around a central core, and it attempts to turn the masses away from the political emigration hostile to it. For its part, the left-wing emigration, and its Communist wing in particular, sensed the threat facing it: the meeting of the dynamic Hungarian government offensive and the revisionist movement threatened the positions of the local Hungarian Communists, who had just entered into decline and turned in a strongly sectarian direction, and their leaders believed terror as political means to be legitimate and permissible. And the colliding, seemingly inextinguishable tempers exploded into a bloody fight.

 

Bibliography

 

Ablonczy, Balázs. “A frankhamisítás. Hálók, személyek, döntések” [The Franc Forgery Affair. Networks, Persons, Decisions]. Múltunk 1 (2008): 29–56.

Ádám, Magda. The Versailles System and Central Europe. Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2004.

Aranyossi, Magda. “A franciaországi magyar munkásemigráció történetéhez” [To the History of the Hungarian Worker Emigration in France]. Párttörténeti Közlemények 3 (1961): 59–85.

Bodnar, John. The Transplanted. A History of Immigrants in Urban America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985.

Borovi, József. A franciaországi magyar katolikus lelkészségek története. Vol. I, 1925–1945 [History of the Hungarian Catholic Ministries in France]. Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2000.

Csanda, Sándor. Első nemzedék [First Generation]. Bratislava: Madách, 1982.

Deak, Francis. The Hungarian-Rumanian Land Dispute: a Study of Hungarian Property Rights in Transylvania Under the Treaty of Trianon. New York: Columbia University Press, 1928.

Dufoix, Stéphane. Les diasporas. Collection “Que sais-je?” Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2003.

Fejős, Zoltán. A chicagói magyarok két nemzedéke 1890–1940. Az etnikai örökség megőrzése és változása [Two Generations of Hungarians in Chicago 1890–1940. Preservation and Trans­formation of an Ethnic Heritage]. Budapest: Közép-Európa Intézet, 1993.

Fejős, Zoltán. “Variants of Ethnicity. Identities in the Hungarian Diaspora in the United States.” Acta Ethnographica Hungarica 3–4, 47 (2002). (3–4): 363–82.

Fónod, Zoltán, ed. A cseh/szlovákiai magyar irodalom lexikona [Encyclopedia of Czech/Slovak Hungarian Literature]. Pozsony: Madách-Posonium, 1997.

Frank, Tibor. Double Exile: Migrations of Jewish-Hungarian Professionals Through Germany to the United States, 1919–1945. Oxford–New York: Peter Lang, 2009.

Dr. Gábor, Géza. Ölvedi László. Sopron: v. Tóth Alajos könyvnyomdája, 1931.

Gyáni, Gábor. “Elbeszélhető-e egy csata hiteles története? Metatörténeti megfontolások” [Can the Authentic History of a Battle be Told? Metahistorical Considerations]. Hadtörténelmi Közlemények 1 (2006): 121–33.

Janicaud, Benjamin. “Le rejet des Hongrois en France (1919–1939): un exemple de rejet ordinaire.” Mediterrán Tanulmányok (Szeged) XIII, (2004), 6, n. 6.

Janicaud, Benjamin. “L’immigration hongroise en France au XXème siècle (1919–1989) – vie politique et associative.” Historiens & Géographes 383, July–August, (2003): 311–23.

Janicaud, Benjamin. “Les missions religieuses au sein de l’immigration hongroise en France (19271940).” Cahiers de la Mediterranée 78 (2009): 13140.

Jankovics, Marcell. Ölvedi László emlékezete. Elmondotta Érsekújvárott, 1941. június 22-én [In Memoriam László Ölvedi. Delivered in Érsekújvár, June 22, 1941]. Érsekújvár: Farkas Könyvnyomda, 1941.

Lewis, Mary D. Les frontières de la République. Immigration et limites de l’universalisme en France (1918–1940). Marseille: Agone, 2010.

Molnár, Sándor. Magyar sors francia földön [Hungarian Fate on French Soil]. Paris: Párisi Magyar Akadémia, n.d. [1932].

Namont, Jean-Philippe. La Colonie tchécoslovaque. Une histoire de l’immigration tchèque et slovaque en France (1914–1940). Paris: Institut des Études Slaves, 2011.

Pécsi, Anna. Magyarok a franciaországi forradalmi munkásmozgalomban, 1920–1945 [Hungarians in the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement in France, 1920–1945]. Budapest: Kossuth, 1982.

Romsics, Ignác. Dismantling of Historic Hungary: the Peace Treaty of Trianon, 1920. Translated by Mario D. Fenyo. Wayne, NJ: Center for Hungarian Studies and Publications, 2002.

Puskás, Julianna. Ties That Bind, Ties That Divide: 100 Years of Hungarian Experience in the United States. New York: Holmes and Meier, 2000.

Puskás, Julianna. ed. Overseas Migration from East-Central and Southeastern Europe, 1880–1940. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990.

Tokes, Rudolf. Béla Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic: the Origins and Role of the Communist Party of Hungary in the Revolutions of 19181919. New York: Praeger, 1967.

Trénard, Louis. Histoire de Roubaix. Dunkerque: Éditions des Beffrois, 1984.

 

Translated by Matthew W. Caples.

 

1 See Julianna Puskás, Ties That Bind, Ties That Divide: 100 Years of Hungarian Experience in the United States (Ellis Island Series: Holmes and Meier, 2000), however her researches in this matter begun in the early 1960’s. Julianna Puskás, ed., Overseas Migration from East-Central and Southeastern Europe, 1880–1940 (Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1990); Zoltán Fejős, A chicagói magyarok két nemzedéke 1890–1940. Az etnikai örökség megőrzése és változása [Two Generations of Hungarians in Chicago 1890–1940. Preservation and Trans­formation of an Ethnic Heritage] (Budapest: Közép-Európa Intézet, 1993); With the noticeable exception of Tibor Frank’s, Double Exile: Migrations of Jewish-Hungarian Professionals Through Germany to the United States, 1919–1945 (Oxford–New York: Peter Lang, 2009).

2 At the same time there are examples of the inclusion of smaller colonies in the historiographical field. See Jean-Philippe Namont, La Colonie tchécoslovaque. Une histoire de l’immigration tchèque et slovaque en France (1914–1940) (Paris: Institut des Études Slaves, 2011). On the interwar Hungarian emigration Benjamin Janicaud, a doctoral candidate at the University of Nice, gave a few conference talks and published a few brief articles; see Benjamin Janicaud, “L’immigration hongroise en France au XXème siècle (1919–1989) – vie politique et associative,” Historiens & Géographes 383 (July-August 2003): 311–23; and idem, “Les missions religieuses au sein de l’immigration hongroise en France (19271940),” Cahiers de la Mediterranée 78 (2009): 13140, accessed September 15, 2012, http://cdlm.revues.org/index4684.html.

3 Although the sources and their reliability will be discussed in several places, in this description I have relied on the following: Károly Kotzig, “Ólmosbotos kommunisták megzavarták a roubaix-i Szent István Kör Istvánnapi ünnepségét” [Communists with Leaded Sticks Disrupted the Stephen’s Day Celebration of the Saint Stephen Circle in Roubaix], Magyarság, August 23, 1929, 7 (the Párisi Magyarság also carried the article). Politikatörténeti és Szakszervezeti Levéltár [Archives of Political and Syndical History, Budapest, hereafter: PIL], 878 f. 8. cs. 270. ő. e. 122–24. f. report of Ferenc Virág (Frigyes Karikás) to the Vienna Bureau of the KMP [Hungarian Communist Party], Paris, September 3, 1929; and Archives Nationales (Paris, hereafter AN) F7 13542, report of Chief Inspector Desmettre to the prefect of Nord Department, Roubaix, August 20, 1929. The report can be found in the PIL as well, reference: 508 f. 4/2 ő. e. II. dosszié, 142–44. f. (Hereafter, wherever possible, I cite the more easily verifiable Hungarian references.)

4 Anna Pécsi, Magyarok a franciaországi forradalmi munkásmozgalomban, 1920–1945 [Hungarians in the Revolutionary Workers’ Movement in France, 1920–1945] (Budapest: Kossuth, 1982), 127–32.

5 Ibid., 131.

6 Párttörténeti Közlemények 1 (1983): 203. Here I would like to point out that it is not my aim to obtain some sort of historiographical justice.

7 József Borovi, A franciaországi magyar katolikus lelkészségek története. Vol. I, 1925–1945 [History of the Hungarian Catholic Ministries in France] (Budapest: Szent István Társulat, 2000). Here the Roubaix mission is discussed in the subchapter dealing with the activity of Imre Kurcz: 77–84.

8 The Treaty of Trianon was signed between the Allies of World War I and Hungary in 1920. Post-Trianon Hungary had 72 percent less territory and 64 percent less population than the pre-war kingdom. See Ignác Romsics, Dismantling of Historic Hungary: the Peace Treaty of Trianon, 1920 trans. Mario D. Fenyo. (Wayne, NJ: Center for Hungarian Studies and Publications, 2002).

9 See Gábor Gyáni’s reservations concerning the constructedness and describability of the “battle” as historical event: “Elbeszélhető-e egy csata hiteles története? Metatörténeti megfontolások” [Can the Authentic History of a Battle be Told? Metahistorical Considerations], Hadtörténelmi Közlemények 1 (2006): 121–33. Although it requires great generosity to regard a fight similar to what occurred in Roubaix as a battle, the conclusions that may be drawn are similar.

10 On the franc forgery affair that erupted in late 1925, see Balázs Ablonczy, “A frankhamisítás. Hálók, személyek, döntések” [The Franc Forgery Affair. Networks, Persons, Decisions], Múltunk 1 (2008): 29–56.

11 In the wake of the Treaty of Trianon, during the land reform the Romanian state confiscated the lands of Transylvanian estate owners who had chosen Hungarian citizenship (optants), resulting in a legal dispute between the two states that dragged on for almost ten years. From a Hungarian point of view, see: Francis Deak, The Hungarian-Rumanian Land Dispute: a Study of Hungarian Property Rights in Transylvania Under the Treaty of Trianon (New York: Columbia University Press, 1928).

12 For an assessment of Ölvedi, see Sándor Csanda, Első nemzedék [First Generation] (Bratislava: Madách, 1982), 108–12.

13 On his life, among contemporaries see Dr. Géza Gábor, Ölvedi László (Sopron: v. Tóth Alajos könyvnyomdája, 1931), and Marcell Jankovics, Ölvedi László emlékezete. Elmondotta Érsekújvárott, 1941. június 22-én [In Memoriam László Ölvedi. Delivered in Érsekújvár, June 22, 1941] (Érsekújvár: Farkas Könyvnyomda, 1941), as well as Zoltán Fónod, ed., A cseh/szlovákiai magyar irodalom lexikona [Encyclopedia of Czech/Slovak Hungarian Literature] (Pozsony: Madách-Posonium, 1997), 246–47 (the entry was written by Lajos Turczel).

14 Magyar Országos Levéltár [Hungarian National Archives, Budapest, hereafter: MOL] K 708, a Franciaországi Magyarok Demokratikus Egyesületének iratai, 3. cs. 3. t., a Párisi Magyar Egyesület levelezése 1928–1934. Ölvedi-dosszié, 323. f. Unknown correspondent to László Ölvedi, Paris, May 6, 1929.

15 Ibid., 1. cs. 2. t. László Ölvedi to the presidium of the PME, Paris, September 11, 1928. 546–48. f.

16 Ibid., László Ölvedi to the presidium of the PME, Hénin-Liétard, October 21, 1928. 558–59. f.

17 MOL K 708, 3. cs. 3. t. managing vice-chairman Dvortsák to Ölvedi. Paris, June 18, 1929. 332. f.

18 Ibid., 336. f. Ölvedi’s letter to an unknown recipient, Paris, December 10, 1929.

19 See “Ölvedy László dr.,” Prágai Magyar Hírlap, June 24, 1931, 3, “Szlovenszkó magyarsága is képviseltette magát Ölvedi László temetésén” [The Hungarians of Slovakia Also Had Themselves Represented at László Ölvedi’s Funeral], PMH, June 25, 1931, 5–6; Dr. Gyula Alapy, “In memoriam – emlékezés Ölvedi Lászlóra” [In Memoriam – Remembering László Ölvedi], PMH, June 28, 1931, 6. On the complications arising from the brawl, see Gábor, Ölvedi László, 5.

20 Jankovics, Ölvedi László emlékezete, 4, 8.

21 Fónod, A Cseh/szlovákiai magyar irodalom lexikona, 246.

22 See Pécsi, Magyarok a franciaországi…, 111–18.

23 See Rudolf Tokes, Béla Kun and the Hungarian Soviet Republic: the Origins and Role of the Communist Party of Hungary in the Revolutions of 19181919 (New York: Praeger, 1967), 215.

24 Former Prime Minister (1–16 November 1918) and President of Hungary (November 16, 1918– March 21, 1919). See Bryan Cartledge, Mihály Károlyi & István Bethlen (London: Haus Publishing, 2009).

25 On Karikás’s activities, see PIL, 878. f. 8. cs. 270. ő. e. passim.

26 The expression is present in the brochure literature of the era also, and is used by the first attempt at creating a synthesis of the Hungarian workers’ movement in France: Magda Aranyossi, “A franciaországi magyar munkásemigráció történetéhez” [To the History of the Hungarian Worker Emigration in France], Párttörténeti Közlemények 3 (1961): 59–85.

27 MOL K 708, 1. cs. 2. t. report of László Ölvedi, Paris, August 28, 1928. 538–39. f.

28 PIL 878 f. 8. cs. 270. ő. e., 122–24. f. Report of Ferenc Virág (Frigyes Karikás), Paris, September 3, 1929.

29 Archives de la Préfecture de Police de Paris (hereafter: APP), BA-2182, dossier: Ligue Hongroise oppositioniste au Traité de Trianon, information report, Paris, June 5, 1930.

30 Pécsi, Magyarok a franciaországi…, 27–28, puts the permanent number of Hungarians at 40,000. Sándor Molnár speaks of 70,000 persons together with family members; Sándor Molnár, Magyar sors francia földön [Hungarian Fate on French Soil] (Paris: Párisi Magyar Akadémia, n.d. [1932]), 5–8. Estimating the number of Hungarian speakers who emigrated from the successor states represents a separate problem. On the other hand, the 1926 French census found only 13,577 Hungarians among 2.5 million foreigners; Benjamin Janicaud, “Le rejet des Hongrois en France (1919–1939): un exemple de rejet ordinaire,” Mediterrán Tanulmányok (Szeged) XIII, (2004), 6, n. 6.

31 AN F7, vol. 13542. Summary report about the Hungarian emigration living in the vicinity of Paris, Paris, August 9, 1932. At the same time a confidential police report in 1940 gives the number of the Hungarian colony in France relatively accurately (perhaps even overestimating it somewhat) as 30,000 people. See APP, BA-2182, rapports, divers, strictly confidential report, Paris, April 5, 1940.

32 Molnár, Magyar sors francia földön, 5–7. For a vivid description of the émigrés’ society, see PIL, 794. f. Bóta Ernő iratai, 2. ő. e. I. dosszié, 22–23. f.

33 MOL K 28, Miniszterelnökség, Kisebbségi és Nemzetiségi Osztály iratai, 166. cs., 286. t. 26. f. report of teacher Ödön Bodnár to the Julián Association, Hénin-Liétard, March 12, 1929.

34 János Pilis, “Magyarok Roubaix-ban” [Hungarians in Roubaix], Századunk (August–September 1928): 401–8.

35 See Louis Trénard, Histoire de Roubaix (Dunkerque: Éditions des Beffrois, 1984).

36 Ibid., 406.

37 PIL 508 f. 4/2. ő. e. I. dosszié, 48–49. f. report to the director of the Sûreté Générale, Lille, August 20, 1929. The above-noted uncertainty derives from the fact that the birthplace of one of the perpetrators, the house-painter József Madarász, is indicated as “Szentmiklós.” There were at least half a dozen settlements with such a name in Trianon Hungary. If this refers to the village of Dunaszentmiklós, located near Tata, then this would be the sixth settlement in the area.

38 For the leaflet, see PIL, 508 f. 4/2. ő. e. II. dosszié, 147–51. f. Prefect of Nord Department to the interior minister, Lille, August 29, 1929.

39 On the Hungarian Communists in Roubaix: Pilis, op. cit.; PIL, 508 f. 4/2. ő. e. II. dosszié, 185–86. f. Special Inspector Blanquart to the director of the Sûreté Générale, Lille, March 16, 1931; and ibid., 878 f. 8. cs. 270. ő. e. passim.

40 PIL 878 f. 8. cs. 270. ő. e., report by Ernő Gerő, September 23, 1928. 73–74. f.

41 On this see OSZK Kézirattár [Széchényi National Library, Manuscript Collection], Fol. Hung. 3574/3. Sándor B. Molnár, “A francia nyelv hullámhosszán” [On the Wave-Length of the French Language], 72–77. f.; and Molnár, Magyar sors francia földön, 170–74.

42 MOL K 28, Miniszterelnökség, Kisebbségi és Nemzetiségi Osztály iratai, 166. cs., 286. t. 26. f. report of teacher Ödön Bodnár to the Julián Association, Hénin-Liétard, March 12, 1929.

43 AN F7, vol. 13542, Prefect of Nord Department to the prime minister, Lille, April 4, 1930.

44 See Janicaud, “Le rejet…,”, 11.

45 For the same in the context of southern France, Mary D. Lewis, Les frontières de la République. Immigration et limites de l’universalisme en France (1918–1940) (Marseille: Agone, 2010), 219–59.

46 It should be added that neither Károlyi nor his wife mentions this involvement in their memoirs (in either the Hungarian- or English-language versions). Cf.: “Une bagarre éclate à Roubaix au Cercle Catholique Hongrois,” L’Humanité, August 20, 1929; “Le guêt-apens des fascistes hongrois à Roubaix,” L’Humanité, October 13, 1929. The tabloid press likewise presented the case as sensational and exotic, albeit with emphases closer to reality: “L’agression communiste à Roubaix,” Petit Parisien, August 20, 1929.

47 MOL K 708, 2. cs. Kozma Ferenc-dosszié, passim (f. 995-1018)

48 MOL K 28, 166. cs., 286. t. 1941-D-15497, Bishop László Ravasz and Jenő Balogh to István Csáky, Budapest, January 16, 1941 (based on the report of Deaconess Ida Molnár).

49 Stéphane Dufoix, Les diasporas. Collection “Que sais-je?” (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2003), 72–75.

50 On this, see John Bodnar, The Transplanted. A History of Immigrants in Urban America (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1985), 184–205.